The Potter’s Promise: Revised and Expanded

The Potter’s Promise has now been published in print with almost double the content.

In addition to the commentary on Romans 9, new content on Romans 8, Ephesians 1, John 6, and much more has been added. Thanks to Trinity Academic Press and a host of wonderful donors and volunteers for making this labor of love of a reality. I pray this will be a blessing to the church. Order your copy today!

thepotterspromisecover


Endorsements for The Potter’s Promise: A Biblical Defense of Traditional Soteriology

The Potter’s Promise is the fascinating pilgrimage of Leighton Flowers, Director of Apologetics and Youth Evangelism for Texas Baptists. Chronicled here is his journey out of Calvinism and into a New Testament faith through the saving grace of our Lord. This may well be the most important volume published this year for the reading of every young servant of Christ. Do you have the courage to read it?

– Dr. Paige Patterson, President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


Some passages (especially Romans 9) appear to support Calvinism, but does God really predestine particular persons for heaven or hell? And where is the knowledgeable expositor who also possesses an irenic disposition to answer such critical questions? Leighton Flowers nobly meets these qualifications and approaches the Scripture with a passion for the original language and context. We are all deeply in his debt for teaching us to hear God’s Word so much better than we did before this book was written. Highly recommended.

– Dr. Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Author of God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits and Royal Priesthood in the English Reformation and The Formation of Christian Doctrine


Dr. Flowers’ masterful treatment of Romans 9 demonstrates that the Calvinist interpretation of this passage leaves much to be desired. He writes with remarkable clarity. Every Calvinist and every non-Calvinist should read this book. Highly recommended.

-Dr. David L. Allen, Dean, School of Preaching, former Dean of the School of Theology, and Distinguished Professor of Preaching Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


God loves everyone the same, Jesus died for everyone the same, and anyone can be saved. This is the glorious message of the New Testament. It is also the thrust of Dr. Flowers’ wonderful new book. All who are serious about theology should read this book and learn from this bright, young man of God.

– Dr. Steve Gaines, Senior Pastor, Bellevue Baptist Church, President of the Southern Baptist Convention


In The Potter’s Promise, Dr. Leighton Flowers reveals, by means of a refreshingly clear and persuasive writing style, the theological and philosophical arguments that compelled him to abandon his previously Calvinistic convictions. While some Traditionalists have a tendency to avoid certain Bible verses, Dr. Flowers tackles them fearlessly, placing them in their proper context in a manner consistent with the entirety of God’s Word. Calvinists have sometimes been known to object to Traditional writers and thinkers by making the claim, “You just don’t understand Calvinism.” Any such charge leveled against Dr. Flowers rings hollow. Having heard all the arguments Calvinism has to offer, he nevertheless disaffirms it. Every Calvinist needs to read this book to challenge their thinking and consider the other side. Every Traditionalist needs to read this book to become better equipped in defending their own view of salvation doctrine.

– Dr. Rick Patrick, Executive Director of Connect 316 and Senior Pastor


Confused by the issues surrounding Calvinism? Does Romans 9 teach unconditional predestination? Want to cut through some of the red tape? Then read Leighton’s book. He is charitable but gets right to the point, making a strong, biblical case for a God who is glorified by sacrificing Himself for creation and not by sacrificing creation for Himself. He makes a strong case for the God of Jesus Christ.

– Austin Fischer, Pastor and Author of Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed.


Dr. Flowers’ masterful treatment of the biblical text, and his philosophically consistent reasoning, is sure to satisfy the pallet of the academically interested. Yet, his accessible writing leads to a rare accomplishment. Lay readers will have no difficulty understanding the Calvinist positions and the best responses to them. Any related bibliography that does not include Dr. Flowers masterful work will, henceforth, surely look odd.

– Dr. Braxton Hunter, President of Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary


 

Dr. Flowers is timely, thorough and insightful in his study and presentation. He skillfully combines scholarship and evangelistic zeal. He is a blessing to Texas Baptists and the Kingdom.

– Dr. David W. Hardage, Executive Director for Texas Baptists


 

About the Author: 

Leighton Flowers serves as the Director of Apologetics for Texas Baptists, an adjunct Professor of Theology, and a Teaching Pastor. He earned a Bachelors Degree in Applied Theology from Hardin-Simmons University; a Masters of Divinity with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and a Doctorate in Ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His doctoral dissertation covered the soteriological perspectives within the Southern Baptist context and he now has a popular website and podcast dedicated to answering the difficult questions surrounding this controversial subject (www.soteriology101.com).

303 thoughts on “The Potter’s Promise: Revised and Expanded

  1. Dr. Flowers does an exceptional job on his footnotes. I got the kindle edition and read them first. Worth the price.

    The kindle edition does not have the table of contents set so navigating through the book is impossible. So, you either start at the beginning and work forward or at the back with the footnotes like I did – which turned out to be a real treat. The footnotes include not just bare citations but extensive quotes from various sources and those quotes tend to be the more important and often discussed quotes. I found it very enjoyable just going through the footnotes and reading the quoted material.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Roger, as a Calvinist, if you can give Leighton a four or five star review, if you haven’t already… even copying the one you just made onto the Amazon site, I am sure it would be much appreciated!

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      1. Unfortunately, I have a lot of problems with the book. It’s not that Leighton is on the opposite side on the issue; it’s that he had an opportunity to really confront the Calvinist doctrines he doesn’t like and do so directly – he wimped out (not unusual for those who write books against Calvinism). One example is the final section answering the Calvinist question, “Why does one person accept Christ and another does not?” Leighton’s answer, “I don’t have a clue.” That’s OK, because Calvinists answer the same with regard to, “Why did Adam choose to sin?” – as Leighton notes – but then nobody has a clue about that. But then he adds a bunch of other stuff that was really disappointing to me. I have read the appendix twice and after the third time, I’ll write some comments for this forum – don’t know if I’ll do anything for Amazon. Of course, I have started from the back and am working my way to the front. I saw a really negative comment on Amazon and thought it unfair – if a person can’t point to specifics, why even bother writing anything.

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      2. Well Roger, I wasn’t saying that you shouldn’t point out things you might have thought could have been better in the book. But if you thought it was worth having and could give it 4 or 5 stars because of that, that is the point I was making. I like seeing good reviews from the other side when I purchase books, especially if they think the book is still a valuable purchase to have.

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    2. The Table of Contents has now been keyed in so one may navigate to each chapter separately and easily. For some reason the Appendix was omitted from the TOC, but that is a minor annoyance.

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  2. The Appendix in the book is titled, “Answering the Calvinist’s Most Popular Argument”

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

    Dr. Flowers then identifies four problems with the question. The first:

    “1) Question Begging Fallacy.
    A question begging fallacy presumes true the very point up for debate, and the question above presumes a deterministic answer is required…The question presumes determinism is true and that libertarian free will is not possible. I…accept the mystery associated with the functioning of that free will in making its own determinations.”

    Dr. Flowers has erred. The purpose of the question is not to elicit a “determinist” response but to elicit a “non-Calvinist/non-determinist response” That response is that which Dr. Flowers now finds that he now must advance, ” I…accept the mystery associated with the functioning of that free will in making its own determinations.” In other words, the non-Calvinist must respond, “I do not know why one person will believe the gospel and another will not; it’s a mystery.”

    Having received this response, the Calvinist can then explain that one does not have to retreat into mystery and that Calvinism offers a Scripturally supported explanation. That explanation is:
    (1) People are depraved and naturally reject the gospel; No person would be saved if salvation depended on their initiative,
    (2) For a person to be saved, God must extend mercy to the person.
    (3) God has mercy on whom He will have mercy – it is solely God’s decision as to whom to show mercy; thus whom to save.

    We have an example with the outgoing President. President Obama pardoned certain individuals but not others; He chose whom to show mercy and whom to pass over. God does the same thing with sinful humanity; He chooses whom to show mercy and whom to pass over.

    There is no “question begging” fallacy in the question asked by the Calvinist; it does not presume a determinist answer but is designed to elicit a non-determinist response and presumes, if anything, only that different responses are possible. The question can be a conversation starter with a person who is largely ignorant of Calvinism and has never thought much about salvation. This is how Dr. Flowers used the question, as he writes, “when I was a Calvinist, I used this argument more often than any other, and it was quite effective.”

    On this first point, we see that Dr. Flowers has devised a straw man to provide fodder for an objection.

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    1. You didn’t represent my answer fully brother. I did say the cause of the choice is the chooser. The point of a self determined choice is that the self determined it even if we can’t fully explain how one chooser comes to his conclusion in contrast to another. As pointed out, Calvinists ultimately appeal to the same mystery when it comes to free will.

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      1. “the point of a self determined choice is that the self determined it even if we can’t fully explain how one chooser comes to his conclusion in contrast to another.”

        Calvinists say that we can explain why sinful humanity makes a self-determined choice to reject Christ and why a regenerated person makes a self-determined choice to accept Christ. To say that “a self determined choice is that the self determined it” is to state a truism that says the obvious.

        Then, “As pointed out, Calvinists ultimately appeal to the same mystery when it comes to free will.”

        Recognizing that such free will existed with Adam, was lost when Adam sinned, and can be regained only through regeneration. The mystery applies only to Adam and everyone admits to mystery in that situation. There is no mystery regarding the choices of the unsaved – they always reject the gospel until God enables them to do otherwise. There is also no mystery with regard to those who come to salvation – it is the faith that God gives to the person that enables, and guarantees, his choice to accept Christ.

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      2. Right. Calvinists blame God for man’s rejection of His own appeals, which is as unacceptable as blaming God for the Fall IMO, thus we’re back to which mystery are you willing to live with.

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      3. “Calvinists blame God for man’s rejection of His own appeals,…”

        I guess one can draw that conclusion. This is attributable to the “horrible decree” as Calvin called it whereby God decreed that the corruption that accrued to Adam because of his sin would be inherited by all humanity. The explanation is somewhat more extravagant involving Adam being the Federal head of humanity but it traces back to a decree God made. Of course, this follows God’s decree that Satan should be free to enter the garden and mess with Adam and Eve with predictable results (and the certainty of God’s foreknowledge).

        This is basically the crux of the argument between Augustine and Pelagius whereby God must now grant a person the ability to respond positively to His appeals.

        “…which is as unacceptable as blaming God for the Fall IMO,…”

        Yet, it was God who placed Adam and Eve in the garden and then decreed that Satan should be free to operate in the garden. There is no aspect of the events in the garden over which God did not exercise complete and absolute control – Those events could not transpire without God deciding that they should.

        “…thus we’re back to which mystery are you willing to live with.”

        The only true mystery deals with the explanation for Adam’s choice to sin – this because the Scriptures do not give us any insight into Adam’s mind and thoughts leading to his eating the fruit. After Adam sinned, there is no mystery surrounding people’s rejection of God’s appeals. As Paul explained in Romans 8, “…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;”

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  3. The Appendix in the book is titled, “Answering the Calvinist’s Most Popular Argument”

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

    The second problem Dr. Flowers identifies is:

    “2) Calvinists Ultimately Appeal to the Same Mystery.
    Whether discussing Satan’s first act of rebellion or Adam’s first choice to sin, it becomes quite evident that the Calvinist has painted himself into a corner by denying libertarian free will. While arguing that mankind will always act in accordance with his nature (assuming the nature could not be libertarianly free, mind you), the Calvinist has no rational answer as to why Adam (or Lucifer) chose to rebel…They eventually appeal to the same mystery that we do, all the while thinking they are taking the higher moral ground by giving God all the credit for the Christian’s choice to trust in Christ. In reality, however, by not accepting the mystery of man’s free will, the Calvinist has created a new mystery that is simply not afforded by the text of Scripture. This problem is made evident by turning the question around and asking this of the Calvinist, “Why has your lost friend continued to hate and reject God?”

    This is where Dr. Flowers should have confronted the Calvinists head-on concerning the major point on which he disagrees with the Calvinists – Total Depravity.

    The Calvinist has no answer for Adam to choose to sin (of course, no one has that answer). Calvinist readily agree that Adam had libertarian free will (as Augustine explained). Yet Adam did not have a sin nature. Here the Calvinist appeals to mystery because the Scriptures provide no insight into Adam’s thinking as he chose to eat the fruit. That is not the case after Adam sins and this is the elephant in the room that Dr. Flowers chose to ignore. Calvinists maintain that Adam’s sin corrupted all mankind so that each person is born with a sin nature. This answers the question,“Why has your lost friend continued to hate and reject God?” Dr. Flowers maintains that people are not Totally Depraved. Thus, Dr. Flowers set the stage for a great discussion and then declined to engage that discussion.

    So, what exactly is the second problem Dr. Flowers sees here? I think it this, “the Calvinist rejects the mystery of libertarian freedom [in mankind after Adam sins] only to adopt another even more difficult mystery [libertarian freedom in Adam].” I don’t really understand why this is a problem related to the question posed by Calvinists that began the discussion. Regardless, an explanation that addressed Total Depravity would seem to be in order.

    Dr. Flowers makes one strange comment in this section – “Most Calvinists do not want to admit that the reprobate of their system ultimately hates and rejects God because God first hated and rejected them.”

    Calvinists openly admit this. This is the idea behind Unconditional Election where God chose those He would save and those He would pass over even before anyone was born and irrespective of any sin the person would commit. When we say that God hates someone (e.g., Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.) we know that God’s hatred for Esau was not out of malice toward Esau as would be the case for a human who hated. God’s hatred is expressed in his passing over people for salvation – we know that such decisions are “in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1) Anyway, I think Calvinists, in general, openly admit to this.

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    1. Roger, it is interesting how you can be so sure that Adam had libertarian freedom, but without any verse that says so, (and still claim to be a determinist). And yet you can also be so sure (because of your loyalty to determinism) to deny that God could allow sufficient libertarian freedom to remain in the human will after Adam so that it might respond freely to God’s gracious initiatives, or be so sure to deny that God might grant libertarian freedom a few times to each human will so that it can freely respond to God’s gracious initiatives. And you make those denials in the face of many verses that indicate that God does desire those free-will responses, and has provided for the exercise of it… even for Esau, who appears to have been later converted by the time of the events recorded in Gen 33:4, 10!

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      1. brianwagner writes, “it is interesting how you can be so sure that Adam had libertarian freedom, but without any verse that says so”

        It seems clear that whatever freedom Adam had before he sinned was different than after he sinned. Jesus describes people as being slaves to sin, a condition that could not apply to Adam prior to his sin but would afterwards. Libertarian freedom is a pretty nebulous concept , so I don’t have problems identifying that as the freedom Adam enjoyed. If you have a better sense of the freedom Adam enjoyed, I’m up for a new idea.

        Then, “…you can also be so sure…to deny that God could allow sufficient libertarian freedom to remain in the human will after Adam so that it might respond freely to God’s gracious initiatives,…”

        This is because there are some very strong statements against this conclusion. In John 6, Jesus said twice, “No one can come to me…” v44;65 Then, Paul writes in Romans 8, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Certainly, responding to God’s gracious initiatives would please to God. So, how do we accept the contention that, “God could allow sufficient libertarian freedom to remain in the human will after Adam so that it might respond freely to God’s gracious initiatives,…” given these verses?

        Then, “or be so sure to deny that God might grant libertarian freedom a few times to each human will so that it can freely respond to God’s gracious initiatives.”

        Again, libertarian freedom might be necessary to salvation but is not sufficient. One must also have faith. Yet faith is conveyed to a person through the preaching of the gospel – yet not all who attend the preaching of the gospel appear to receive faith, as the only way to know that they did is by their commitment to Christ. I have no problem with God granting people libertarian freedom as I see this a necessity after Adam’s sin. Where God’s gracious initiatives include the conveyance of faith to the person, a free response to commit to Christ can follow.

        Then, “you make those denials in the face of many verses that indicate that God does desire those free-will responses, and has provided for the exercise of it… even for Esau, who appears to have been later converted by the time of the events recorded in Gen 33:4, 10!”

        I deny that people are born with libertarian freedom and faith. I think God has to grant these to people sometime during their life else they cannot be saved. God desires free will responses from people and then grants them the ability to make free will responses.

        In context with Dr. Flowers book, he clearly takes a position against Total Depravity making statements suggesting that people are born with libertarian freedom and with faith – for example, stating that Traditionalists “are the ones who teach that anyone can believe the gospel.”

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      2. Roger… my query was how you could be so sure about one thing without Scriptural evidence and also about another thing when Scriptural evidence runs contrary to your certainty. Your response did not answer the query, it only confirmed how sure you were in spite of the lack of Scriptural evidence for the one thing and in spite of the Scriptural evidence for the other. Thanks for trying.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “…when Scriptural evidence runs contrary to your certainty. ”

        You did not cite Scriptural evidence to which I might respond. You made personal comments; I responded with personal comments. What did you expect?

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      4. Let me amend my comments. You have in the past provided a listing of verses that would support free-will responses. The issue is to define the context in which free will responses occur and here we seem to disagree. The issue is whether the “compatibilist” view of free will decisions takes precedence such that people are corrupt and have a sin nature and make free will decisions consistent with that corruption and sin nature. When speaking of “libertarian” free will decisions, there is always the issue of what that means – For example, does this mean that a person makes spontaneous decisions without regard to any influences on those decisions (like a sin nature)? Do you know? Just saying, as Dr. Flowers says, that libertarian freedom is the ability to choose otherwise means what??

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      5. Thank you for the acknowledgment, Roger, of the past Scriptures that I had provided. So the issue is back to justifying your certainty that Adam had free will even though it’s a mystery to you how he had it (IN SPITE OF your deterministic view of reality) but then also justifying your certainty that everyone is NOT given sufficient ability for a free will choice, like Adam’s, (BECAUSE OF your deterministic view of reality). I guess, what I am saying is your appeal to mystery for Adam’s free-will sin is no more justified than Leighton’s appeal to mystery for a free-will acceptance or rejection, especially since you have no verses in support of your view of Adam’s free will and there are reasonable verses in support of a free-will acceptance or rejection of grace leading to salvation as well as verses that might sound like there is not any free-will in the acceptance of salvation (though the Calvinist wants to call it a freed will, irresistibly given for one irresistible task only, that of expression faith for salvation).

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      6. brianwagner writes, “So the issue is back to justifying your certainty that Adam had free will even though it’s a mystery to you how he had it (IN SPITE OF your deterministic view of reality)…”

        Not exactly. The freedom of will that Adam enjoyed before he sinned was greater than after he sinned. After he sinned, Adam became a slave to sin resulting from a spiritual death consequent to his sin and this restricted the freedom he previously enjoyed. After Adam sins, he still exercises free will within the constraints imposed by his sin nature and spiritual depravity. Using a not so great analogy, we might think of a dog that is free to roam wherever he desires but abuses that freedom and is then confined to a fenced yard where he is still free to roam but now only within the confines of the fenced yard.

        Then, “but then also justifying your certainty that everyone is NOT given sufficient ability for a free will choice, like Adam’s, (BECAUSE OF your deterministic view of reality).”

        After Adam sinned, both he and his progeny became slaves to sin, marked by spiritual depravity, with the constraints imposed on that freedom by that sin nature/depravity. The question is whether God then conveys a freedom of will to some or all people by restoring spiritual life to an individual in preparation for their submission to Christ. We can know with certainty that God restored spiritual life to those who then submit to Christ. Whether God did the same for those who continue to reject Christ is speculative.

        Then, “I guess, what I am saying is your appeal to mystery for Adam’s free-will sin is no more justified than Leighton’s appeal to mystery for a free-will acceptance or rejection,…”

        The appeal to mystery relates to the exercise of free will in making decisions and not the presence of free will. Both Leighton and I presume Adam had a free will (how free would still be unknown, but I am fine with the presumption of libertarian free will) prior to his sin. No one can specify with certainty the degree of freedom enjoyed by Adam, but we can say that the slavery to sin consequent to Adam’s sin means that the freedom Adam enjoyed was greater before he sinned than after.

        Then, “…especially since you have no verses in support of your view of Adam’s free will and there are reasonable verses in support of a free-will acceptance or rejection of grace leading to salvation as well as verses that might sound like there is not any free-will in the acceptance of salvation (though the Calvinist wants to call it a freed will, irresistibly given for one irresistible task only, that of expression faith for salvation).”

        There are abundant verses describing the will of people following Adam’s sin. Ephesians 2 is especially graphic as is Romans 8 in describing the manner in which sinful humanity exercises the freedom of will. Ephesians 2, speaking of believers, describes how God intruded into their lives making them alive – providing a will freed from slavery to sin – and in context, this action precedes the ability to exercise faith unto salvation.

        The whole issue of free will is wrapped up in the doctrine of Total Depravity. The Calvinist claim of Total Depravity describes a limited freedom enjoyed by people after Adam sinned. AS you seem to accept the idea of Total Depravity, you would accept some reduction of free will in depraved people. Leighton rejects Total Depravity. Is this a valid position in light of Jesus’ claim that people are slaves to sin or the description of depraved people being dead in sin in Ephesians 2? I don’t think so. However, if Leighton is going to oppose Calvinism, he has to reject Total Depravity, so he has no real choice in the matter, does he?.

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      7. Sorry Roger that I can not get you to see the inconsistency in your professed certainty concerning Adam’s free will as contrasted with your professed certainty in rejecting whatever pre-salvation freed will is made available to all by God. I tried enough and can only hope you will give it some more consideration some time later. Blessings.

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      8. brianwagner writes, “I can not get you to see the inconsistency in your professed certainty concerning Adam’s free will as contrasted with your professed certainty in rejecting whatever pre-salvation freed will is made available to all by God.”

        That’s because you didn’t really try. All you did was say that I had no verses speaking to the degree of Adam’s freedom of will and that there were verses that support a free will decision on salvation. You never argued a position – you only stated a position. What did you expect; if you cannot explain an inconsistency that you think exists, why should I believe that one actually does exist? The existence or lack of supporting verses does not establish an inconsistency unless the inconsistency relates to the citing of verses.

        We both subscribe to Total Depravity. Thus, all people are born depraved with a corrupted will so that God must make a “pre-salvation freed will…available” to people if any are to be saved. The issue is whether God makes a freed will available to all or just some. Somehow, you see this issue related to whatever free will was conferred on Adam by God when He created Adam such that I am inconsistent in doing something. You don’t seem to accept my argument that the uncorrupted will of Adam prior to his sin was more free than the corrupted will of Adam after he sinned. Yet, while you argue for God having to make a free will available to the unsaved, you don’t argue that God had to make a free will available to Adam prior to his sin. The workings of your mind escape me on whatever inconsistency you see that is banging around in there.

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    2. Rhutchin

      You wrote:
      Calvinists maintain that Adam’s sin corrupted all mankind so that each person is born with a sin nature. This answers the question,“Why has your lost friend continued to hate and reject God?” Dr. Flowers maintains that people are not Totally Depraved. Thus, Dr. Flowers set the stage for a great discussion and then declined to engage that discussion.

      My question are:

      1st question:
      Is that “Sin Nature” that is passed on to all mankind includes “unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”?

      2nd question:
      WHO gives and who decides the term of Adams Disobedience? which includes “unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”?

      Genesis 1:29-30 says
      And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

      It looks like humans and animals alike are Herbivores before the Fall. There is no indication in Genesis 1 and 2 that God provided Meat flesh from His creations as food for His other creations.

      But why is it that now, we can see in the animal Kingdom, animals are designed in such a way that they co-exist harmoniously on which they are designed,, the Predators meat eaters and Plant eaters are designed to still live together.

      So who decided and who designed it? Who decide that after the Fall,, these are the Animals that eats Flesh meat? and these are the animals that remains Plant eating animals?

      And its the same question with Adam and Eve,,
      Did Adam and Eve know about Jesus and the Gospel?
      Did Adam decide that the consequence of their Disobedience includes “Unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”?

      Correct me if I’m wrong.
      This is how Calvinism is

      1) God Warned Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit
      2) God told Adam and Eve the Consequence if they will disobey “for in the day that you eat[d] of it you shall surely die.”
      3) God didn’t told Adam the specifics of that “DIE” in His warning
      4) One of the Specifics of that Die that only God knows and God decided prior to Adams Disobedience is “unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”
      5) God also decided that the term of the consequence He set will be passed on to Humanity
      6) God also set the Term that to escape God’s wrath of Eternal Hell Fire Torment, one must respond positively to the Gospel
      7) Then God Punishes those “lost friend continued to hate and reject God” and “unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”?

      In summary
      God Ordains/Decreed/Determined/Programmed those lost friend to be “unable to respond to the Gospel positively”
      Then
      God Punishes them in “Eternal Hell Fire Torment” for not responding positively to the Gospel appea.

      Is this correct?

      Thank you. Blessings..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jun asks “1st question: Is that “Sin Nature” that is passed on to all mankind includes “unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”?”

        Ephesians 2, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” This is a description of the sin nature. Paul then describes one way that this nature can be neutralized, “God… made us alive together with Christ.” No other means is described that affects change in the sin nature. The action by God to “make alive” is part of what Calvinists call regeneration.

        That people are not able to respond to the gospel is emphasized in Romans 8, “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…For the mind set on the flesh is death,…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; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

        In addition people are not born with faith – “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10) and “by grace you have been saved through faith…it is the gift of God;” (Ephesians 2)

        Thus, the unsaved are unable to respond to the gospel because (1) they have a sin nature, and (2) they have no faith. For a person to respond positively to the gospel, God must do two things: (1) make the person alive, and (2) give the person faith (both of these are part of regeneration).

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      2. Jun asks, “2nd question: WHO gives and who decides the term of Adams Disobedience? which includes “unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”?”

        I say God did. In Romans 5, we read, “…through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men,…” God created mankind and declared His creation good. Satan could not enter the garden without God decreeing that Satan should be free to enter the garden. Satan entered and got Adam to sin. Adam’s sin brought death to all born of him. God brought all this about and God enforces the decree of death – (Calvin referred to this as a horrible decree).

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      3. Jun writes, “In summary
        God Ordains/Decreed/Determined/Programmed those lost friend to be “unable to respond to the Gospel positively”
        Then
        God Punishes them in “Eternal Hell Fire Torment” for not responding positively to the Gospel appeal.
        Is this correct?”

        I don’t think so. There are two issues here. (1) People are spiritually dead when they are born. God told Adam, “…in the day that you eat[d] of it you shall surely die.” This included spiritual death. Because Adam was separated from God, all born to Adam are separated from God. They are technically called sinners (or unrighteous) even though not having actually physically sinned. (2) People all sin. Thus, a person cannot get into heaven because of his sin, but even if he never sinned, he could not get into heaven because he is a sinner (unrighteous). The condition the person finds himself in is that he cannot get into heaven – and outside heaven is hell. Believing the gospel allows a person to enter heaven. Not believing the gospel maintains the status quo. Technically, I see God punishing a person – refusing to allow them into heaven – because they are sinners (unrighteous) and they have sinned.

        We read in Romans 4, “Christ was delivered up because of our transgressions (Christ died for our (we who come to be believers) sin), and was raised because of our justification (The righteousness of Christ was imputed to believers). By those two actions, dying and being raised, Christ provided salvation to those who believe.

        Like

  4. The Appendix in the book is titled, “Answering the Calvinist’s Most Popular Argument”

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

    The third problem Dr. Flowers identifies is:

    “3) Better by Choice or Divine Decree is Still Better
    Why does one individual believe and the other one does not? The Traditionalist can rightly say that God created both individuals with genuine responsibility (ability-to-respond), whereas the consistent Calvinist must admit that one individual was made “better” than the other by means outside of either individual’s control (i.e. irresistible grace or effectual regeneration)…Traditionalist would say, “No, everyone has the same God given moral capacity to believe in Christ, no one is made morally ‘better’ by God. If you refuse to believe there is no one to blame but yourself, because God gave you everything you needed…We are the ones who teach that anyone can believe the gospel.”

    Dr. Flowers sets the table for a discussion on Total Depravity but he refused to engage that discussion.

    What I got from this section was that Dr. Flowers turned the question around to ask, ““Why did you believe the gospel? Did God do something to you that enabled you to believe that He did not do for others?” The Calvinist answers, Yes, had not God done this, I would not have believed.

    I did not see this to be a problem related to the original question. It seemed to be an effort to provide an answer to the question – but only from the Calvinist perspective. I did not get much out of this section.

    Like

  5. The Appendix in the book is titled, “Answering the Calvinist’s Most Popular Argument”

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

    The fourth problem Dr. Flowers identifies is:

    “4) A Decision does not Merit Salvation, even if it’s a Libertarianly Free Decision.

    a. In his introduction, Dr. Flowers states, “The implication seems to be that one who makes the libertarianly free decision to accept the gospel appeal is meriting salvation.”

    This is not quite right. The Calvinist says that God intrudes into the unsaved giving life to the unsaved and then actively brings the unsaved to glorification. God’s involvement is such that the “acceptance of salvation” is a foregone conclusion following on God’s actions. Thus, salvation is entirely by God’s grace. The non-Calvinist makes salvation dependent on a person’s decision, a decision over which God has no control, and this makes salvation a work – something that is merited by a right decision and not merited by a wrong decision. Dr. Flowers argues, “…asking for forgiveness does not merit being forgiven,…” However, if forgiveness is conditioned on the a requirement that the person ask for forgiveness, then meeting that condition is a work.

    b. Dr. Flowers states, “Calvinists often conflate man’s choice to confess with God’s choice to forgive…”

    I don’t know what he means by this. As a former Calvinist, he knows that God’s choice to forgive is “Unconditional Election” while man’s choice to confess is “Irresistible Grace” in the TULIP scheme. They are clearly separated in the mind of the Calvinist. As he then says, “It would be tantamount to the father being just as in control over his son’s return home as he was over his gracious choice to receive him back when he got there,” I think Dr. Flowers is just saying that the Calvinist have the order of events wrong. The order of events according to the non-Calvinist is this: (1) man chooses to confess followed by (2) God’s choice to forgive. Which is the correct order? Including a discussion of that would enhance the book.

    c. Dr. Flowers states, “there is no biblical reason to suggest we are not morally able to respond to God’s own gracious appeals to do so.”

    This theme occupies the rest of this somewhat lengthy section. There is a problem with “moral ability” however the argument sets the stage for a discussion of Total Depravity as the Calvinist claim that man is not morally able by virtue of a corrupt and sinful nature necessitating that God remedy that condition if a person is to be saved. Having set the table for a discussion on Total Depravity, Dr. Flowers again declines to engage that discussion.

    Dr. Flowers then states, “God has given us the responsibility to repent in faith and there is no biblical reason to suggest we are not morally able to respond to God’s own gracious appeals to do so.”

    This confuses the entire argument as the Calvinist/non-Calvinist disagreement is over “spiritual” ability and not “moral” ability. Morally, the unsaved is corrupt and does nothing except for his own glory and this because he is “spiritually dead.” Paul describes the one who is spiritually dead as being, “dead in transgressions and sins.” (Ephesians 2) The moral condition of the unsaved has nothing to do with the overriding question, “Why did you believe the gospel, but your friend did not?” That question calls for the investigation of the spiritual condition of the unsaved. Thus, I don’t think anything was really accomplished in this section.

    Under a subsection titled, “Should implies Could,” Dr. Flowers states, “a Calvinist will often insist that the biblical commands to humble yourself, like the rest of the law, cannot be fulfilled by a fallen person. They will argue that apart from God’s irresistible work of grace, no one would humble themselves and confess their sins. But, doesn’t the command strongly imply one’s ability to fulfill that command?”

    We see this question being central to an earlier controversy when Augustine prayed something like “Grant what Thou commandest, and command what Thou dost desire,” that raised the ire of Pelagius. Pelagius said that God’s command that people do X, implies that they should be able to do so. Dr. Flowers basically takes Pelagius’ side in the controversy.

    Then Dr. Flowers states, “Are you following the Calvinistic argument? Here it is put very simply:
    – God tells man they SHOULD keep all the commandments.
    – Man CANNOT keep all the commandments.
    – God also tells man they SHOULD humbly repent for breaking commandments.
    – Therefore man also CANNOT humbly repent for breaking commandments.
    If the fallacy in this argument is not obvious to you,…”

    There is no fallacy because the argument is not properly specified. The Calvinist argument is this:

    – By analogy, God tells man they SHOULD keep all the commandments.
    – Man CANNOT keep all the commandments.
    – In the same manner, God also tells man they SHOULD humbly repent for breaking commandments.
    – Man also CANNOT humbly repent for breaking commandments.
    – Therefore, man is unable to save himself.

    As quoted by Dr. Flowers, Wayne Grudem explains, “Even faith itself is a divine command that we cannot fulfill without the application of God’s regenerative grace by the Holy Spirit.”

    Then Dr. Flowers states, “Scripture never once says that we will perish because of Adam’s sin.”

    Scripture says, “…sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…” (Romans 5) Calvinists do not argue that people perish because of Adam’s sin but that they are dead because of Adam’s sin. The issue is the extent of this death and its effect on man’s ability to seek salvation.

    Finally, Dr. Flowers writes, “over and over again [the Scriptures] says that we will each be held accountable for our response to the clear the revelation of God.”

    The Calvinists disagree saying that people will be held accountable for their sin. That a person cannot do anything about his sin doesn’t negate his responsibility for his sin.

    That’s the end of this part of the book.

    Like

    1. John 8:24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.

      Like

      1. So. Jesus is saying that their present condition is that they are dead because of their sins. Not believing did not create that situation and does not change that situation. The only way to escape that condition is to believe. Thus, the person who never hears word one about Christ – certainly not a clear revelation from God – is condemned for his sin. That is why we give priority to send out missionaries.

        Like

      2. Rom 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
        Rom 10:17 So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
        Rom 10:18 But I say, Have they [Jews and Greeks, vs 12] not heard [the gospel, from vs 16, the word of God from vs 17]? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world [Ps 19, God using creation and conscience to speak plainly enough for Him, cf Rom 1, 2].

        Heb 4:1 Let us therefore fear [for the welfare of others around us], lest, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
        Heb 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them [in the wilderness in the OT]: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them [or by them] that heard [it] [in the OT times].
        Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said …

        [Words in brackets added to clarify what I hear when reading these contexts that mention how the gospel was available in the OT to everyone on some level]

        Like

      3. Common to both – “…the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them…” The problem is that faith was absent in some, faith being a gift from God conveyed to whom He will. So, “hearing” the gospel involves more than being in a church service (or other venue) where the gospel is preached. The gospel is preached; God determines who hears it. Thus, some (those to whom God gives faith) attend the preaching of the gospel and believe while some (who do not receive faith) attend the preaching of the gospel and do not believe.

        Like

      4. Roger, The passage in Hebrews did not indicate that faith was absent in those that heard the gospel, but only that they did not mix that hearing with faith. The context is an exhortation to be among those that help others mix it with faith so that they won’t be like their Jewish forefathers in the wilderness who didn’t. One would assume that such a exhortation proves the possibility that none might miss entering the rest.

        I’m glad at least that you seem to concur that the gospel is indeed heard by all in some way throughout the OT and throughout the world. At least your silence on that point I am taking as concession! Thanks.

        Like

      5. brianwagner writes, “I’m glad at least that you seem to concur that the gospel is indeed heard by all in some way throughout the OT and throughout the world.”

        No, I agree that many people attend the proclamation of the gospel. Whether a person “hears” the gospel can only be determined by those who then submit to Christ. Otherwise, the presumption would be that the person did not “hear” the gospel. There are still people in the world today who never have and maybe never will have the gospel proclaimed to them. It seems a stretch to conclude that many people outside Israel ever knew that Israel existed much less had any awareness of the gospel.

        Like

      6. Did you read those verses I listed, Roger? Did you hear Paul’s answer to the question – “Have they not heard?” Rom 10:18. He said – “Yes, truly!” Your argument is with him, not me! 🙂

        Even Paul said that everyone shows the work God’s law written on their heart and they will be judged according to his gospel – Rom 2:15-16

        He also said about God’s consistent planning among all nations – that He “has determined… that they should seek the Lord… that they might… find Him.” (Acts 17:26-27)

        Your argument is with Paul, my friend! Take the last word, if you wish, in this brief discussion, unless you have a specific question for me.

        Like

      7. brianwagner writes, “Did you hear Paul’s answer to the question – “Have they not heard?” Rom 10:18. He said – “Yes, truly!” Your argument is with him, not me! 🙂 ”

        OK. But I still hear stories of missionaries who found some tribe of people back in the woods who have never heard the gospel (or much of anything outside their small territory).

        Like

      8. Roger, it’s interesting that it seems all tribal groups are found to believe there is a creator and all powerful God. They also have a sense of morality and a fear the judgment of death. I would have no problem believing that God might put the thought in their mind a few times, Why don’t you ask me for My mercy and trust in My goodness?

        Have you ever read the book, Eternity in their Hearts?

        Like

      9. brianwagner writes, “it seems all tribal groups are found to believe there is a creator and all powerful God.”

        That’s fine but knowledge of God does not save. A person is saved by God’s grace through a specific means – faith. We are told that faith comes by hearing the gospel. They also have a sense of morality and a fear the judgment of death but do not know what to do about it apart from the gospel.

        Then, “I would have no problem believing that God might put the thought in their mind a few times, Why don’t you ask me for My mercy and trust in My goodness? ”

        At least we agree that God must take the initiate to save them else they could not be saved. If God does that, then could we not also conclude that God will put the desire on the hearts of missionaries to venture out to find them and proclaim the gospel to them? God has everything under control, doesn’t He?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Rhutchin
    Thank you very much for your responses.

    You wrote:
    I don’t think so. There are two issues here. (1) People are spiritually dead when they are born. God told Adam, “…in the day that you eat[d] of it you shall surely die.” This included spiritual death. Because Adam was separated from God, all born to Adam are separated from God.

    Me:
    You just Admitted in my 2nd question that its God who sets the Term of the consequence of Adams disobedience,,
    and one of the term is they will be “unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”.
    But you denied my summary, this

    “In summary
    God Ordains/Decreed/Determined/Programmed those lost friend to be “unable to respond to the Gospel positively”
    Then
    God Punishes them in “Eternal Hell Fire Torment” for not responding positively to the Gospel appeal.
    Is this correct?”

    It seems to me that your reasoning is Circular,,

    Can you explain it.

    Thank you. Blessings..

    Like

    1. Jun asks, “It seems to me that your reasoning is Circular,”

      Not that I can see and not that you explained. If you see a circular argument, you should make an attempt to explain what you see as circular.

      In this instance, we have:

      1. God who sets the Term of the consequence of Adams disobedience, (To eat the fruit is to incur spiritual death, a sinful nature).
      2. Adam’s spiritual death is then conveyed to his all people. (All are born spiritually dead, have sinful natures)
      3. God Ordains/Decreed/Determined/Programmed those lost friend to be “unable to respond to the Gospel positively” (The spiritually dead – those with sinful natures – have no ability to respond to the gospel).
      4. God does not allow sinners into heaven, so those with sin natures cannot enter heaven.

      Your alternative is:
      4a. God Punishes them in “Eternal Hell Fire Torment” for not responding positively to the Gospel appeal.

      God does not punish people for what they do not do; God punishes people for who they are and what they do. Let’s take the example of someone who lives in the back woods and never hears the gospel preached; he has no knowledge of his sin or of Christ. He has no opportunity to respond to the gospel much less reject the gospel. Can he enter heaven – No. Why? Because he is a sinner and no sinner can enter heaven.

      Like

  7. Rutchin

    You wrote:
    Jun asks, “It seems to me that your reasoning is Circular,”
    Not that I can see and not that you explained. If you see a circular argument, you should make an attempt to explain what you see as circular.

    Me:
    Apology for not explaining.
    Ok, this is the part where I see circular reasoning.
    1) God Decreed/Ordained that humanity will be Unrighteous as a result of Adams disobedience
    2) God Decreed that the punishment of Being Unrighteous is to be Burn in Eternal Fire Torment
    3) God Decreed that the Only Way of Escape of punishment is for man to “Hear the Gospel” and “Respond to it positively”
    4) God Decreed/Ordained that man will be “Unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from Regeneration”

    The part where i see circular reasoning is you seem to Deflect the Reason why man will surely be Punished of Eternal Torment because he is Unable to Respond to the Gospel, the solution and point to the Unrighteousness of man which God also Decreed to be Punishable by Eternal Hell Fire Torment. I’m not sure if this is Circular reasoning, but looks like it.

    You wrote:
    (2) People all sin. Thus, a person cannot get into heaven because of his sin, but even if he never sinned, he could not get into heaven because he is a sinner (unrighteous). The condition the person finds himself in is that he cannot get into heaven – and outside heaven is hell. Believing the gospel allows a person to enter heaven. Not believing the gospel maintains the status quo. Technically, I see God punishing a person – refusing to allow them into heaven – because they are sinners (unrighteous) and they have sinned.

    and you Wrote:
    God does not punish people for what they do not do; God punishes people for who they are and what they do. Let’s take the example of someone who lives in the back woods and never hears the gospel preached; he has no knowledge of his sin or of Christ. He has no opportunity to respond to the gospel much less reject the gospel. Can he enter heaven – No. Why? Because he is a sinner and no sinner can enter heaven.

    Me:
    Based on what you wrote
    This is how I summarized it. (Correct me if i’m wrong)

    Set A
    1) God Decreed/Ordained and makes Sure that Humanity will be “UNRIGHTEOUS” (Who they are) as a result of Adams Disobedience
    2) God then Punishes Humanity to Eternal Hell Fire Torment for being “UNRIGHTEOUS” (Who they are)

    Set B
    1) God Decreed/Ordained that the Solution of “Set A” problem is for Humanity to
    A) Hear the Gospel
    B) and Respond to it Positively

    2) But God Decreed/Ordained/Programmed and makes sure that some
    A) Will not hear the Gospel and
    B) For those who Hears the Gospel, God decreed that Humanity will be “Unable to respond to the Gospel positively apart from
    Regeneration

    In the most compact Summary, this is how I see it. (Correct me if ‘Im wrong)

    God Decreed/Ordained/Programmed/Decided that the PUNISHMENT of
    1) Being UNRIGHTEOUS
    2) Not Hearing the Gospel
    3) Not Responding to the Gospel positively

    Will be “ETERNAL TORMENT IN HELL FIRE”

    God then Decreed/Ordained/Programmed/Decided and Makes Sure that
    1) All Humanity will be “Unrighteous”
    2) Some Will not Hear the Gospel
    3) and for those who Hears the Gospel, they CANNOT Respond to it Positively.

    Is this Correct?

    Thank you very much. Blessings. 🙂

    Like

    1. Jun writes, “The part where i see circular reasoning is you seem to Deflect the Reason why man will surely be Punished of Eternal Torment because he is Unable to Respond to the Gospel,…”

      That man is unable to respond to the gospel is not the reason that he cannot enter heaven. A person is denied entry into heaven if he is unrighteous. So, when the Scriptures tell us, “there is none righteous,” we know that no person can enter heaven. The inability to respond to the gospel – to take advantage of a means to escape damnation – does not have any effect on a person other than to maintain the unrighteous condition. God was under no obligation to send Christ to the cross in order to provide unrighteous people a way to enter heaven and escape hell. So, if Christ never went to the cross, all humanity would have been consigned to hell. So, do you hold that God is obligated to provided a means of salvation since it was God who decreed that people inherit the unrighteousness of Adam? I assume your answer is, Yes.

      If not, then you must also agree that there would be no obligation on God’s part to enable the unrighteous person to avail himself of salvation by regenerating the person. Thus, the only way a person can be saved is for God to decide that He will save them.

      It seems to me that you either must obligate God to provide a means of salvation – by sending Christ to the cross – or obligate God to enable people to choose freely whether to avail themselves of salvation once He provides a means of salvation.

      Like

    2. Jun writes, “In the most compact Summary, this is how I see it. (Correct me if ‘Im wrong)

      God Decreed/Ordained/Programmed/Decided that the PUNISHMENT of
      1) Being UNRIGHTEOUS
      2) Not Hearing the Gospel
      3) Not Responding to the Gospel positively

      Will be “ETERNAL TORMENT IN HELL FIRE”

      God then Decreed/Ordained/Programmed/Decided and Makes Sure that
      1) All Humanity will be “Unrighteous”
      2) Some Will not Hear the Gospel
      3) and for those who Hears the Gospel, they CANNOT Respond to it Positively.

      Is this Correct?”

      It is sufficient to have this:

      God Decreed/Ordained/Programmed/Decided that the PUNISHMENT of
      1) Being UNRIGHTEOUS

      Will be “ETERNAL TORMENT IN HELL FIRE”

      God then Decreed/Ordained/Programmed/Decided and Makes Sure that
      1) All Humanity will be “Unrighteous”

      Like

  8. Hi Jun Terez,
    You make some excellent points!!

    Calvinist theology has, historically, been described as “decretal” theology, because of how heavily it is founded upon, (or emphasizes) divine decrees as the foundational determinant of all things which exist. In Calvinism, even divine omniscience is a byproduct of foreordination. God only knows X because god ordains/decrees X.

    Connecting the dots between sinful/evil events which “come to pass” with Calvin’s view of divine decrees, although it is true within Calvinism, is considered by Calvinists to be a subject avoided at all cost with outsiders.

    If you try to pursue that line of questioning with a Calvinist, you may eventually liken your experience to chasing a greased pig.
    The Calvinist will consistently work to craft language designed to distance his god, or the divine decrees as much as possible from sinful/evil events.

    Or to even try to paint his god as seeking to prevent sinful/evil events, which you and would I recognize as a double-minded deity who resists himself by seeking to hinder the very events he has decreed to infallibly occur.

    In the Calvinist’s process of avoiding connecting of these dots with outsiders, you will find numerous self-contradictions. Also, Calvinists are taught an “AS-IF” form of thinking, in regard to divine determinism and human thoughts-choices-actions.

    When enunciating divine sovereignty, the Calvinist is to acknowledge PROPOSITION [A]: That god is the absolute sole determiner of all things. And nothing occurs or exists unless god decrees it to occur or exist.

    However, in contradiction to that, the Calvinist is also taught, when considering human thoughts-choices-actions, to treat PROPOSITION [A] **AS-IF** it is not true. This manifests as double-think to outsiders. But has become so thoroughly embraced by Calvinists that they do not have the ability to conceive it as double-think.

    Try as we might, to reason with the Calvinist, these aspects of double-think and denial-ism are ***conditioned*** thinking for them. Anything that contradicts that model of thinking is confusion to them. And the concept of double-think and denialism within their model of thinking is totally inconceivable.

    Blessings!!

    Like

  9. Rhutchin,

    Thank you.

    That was my point.
    It’s the same,
    Either God Decreed/Decided that man cannot able to respond to the Gospel positively for Him to escape the Decreed ETERNAL HELL FIRE Torment,,
    OR
    God Decreed/Decided that being Unrighteous itself without the Hearing and Responding to the Gospel is ENOUGH to condemn man to Eternal Hell Fire.

    So, either way, God’s ultimate Goal is to MAKE SURE that Humanity will surely be Burn in Eternal Hell Fire Torment. His Primary Objective is to make Sure that no-one Escapes Hell unless He decides to Regenerate them. Is this correct?

    You wrote:
    God was under no obligation to send Christ to the cross in order to provide unrighteous people a way to enter heaven and escape hell. So, if Christ never went to the cross, all humanity would have been consigned to hell. So, do you hold that God is obligated to provided a means of salvation since it was God who decreed that people inherit the unrighteousness of Adam? I assume your answer is, Yes.

    My response:
    YES and NO.
    YES, in the sense that Man cannot tell God what to do, God alone decides What He Wants to DO. If God designed it that way then God is not Obligated to any man’s
    NO, in the sense that God will never do that setup, to create people for the ultimate purpose of Tormenting them in Hell Fire.

    Correct me If I’m wrong.
    These are your equation.
    GOD IS NOT OBLIGATED in designing THESE Equations
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS = ETERNAL HELL FIRE TORMENT
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS + NOT HEARING THE GOSPEL = ETERNAL HELL FIRE TORMENT
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS + HEARING THE GOSPEL + UNABLE TO RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL = ETERNAL HELL FIRE TORMENT

    God then MAke’s Sure, Decided/Decreed,Program/EQUATED that
    HUMANITY = UNRIGHTEOUS
    HUMANITY = SOME WILL NOT HEAR THE GOSPEL
    HUMANITY = CANNOT RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL POSITIVELY unless Regenerated

    That’s why you said, being UNRIGHTEOUS is enough to Punish man of Eternal Hell Fire Torment.

    The Question is, is GOD Willing to designed and do that Equations based on our Revelation of His Perfect Image Jesus?
    Yes, i say, God is not Obligated, only in the sense that Man cannot Tell God what to do, what to decide, what to design.
    But the real question is, Is God willing to do that?

    God would be Perfectly NOT Obligated if He designed it this way.
    GOD IS NOT OBLIGATED in designing THESE Equations
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS = CEASES TO EXIST
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS + NOT HEARING THE GOSPEL = CEASES TO EXIST
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS + HEARING THE GOSPEL + UNABLE TO RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL = CEASES TO EXIST
    God then MAke’s Sure, Decided/Decreed,Program/EQUATED that
    HUMANITY = UNRIGHTEOUS
    HUMANITY = SOME WILL NOT HEAR THE GOSPEL
    HUMANITY = CANNOT RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL POSITIVELY unless Regenerated

    If the Consequence is just like what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Man Simply CEASES TO EXIST then, God is surely NOT OBLIGATED to Send Christ to Cross, And we no longer have to ask the Question, “IS GOD WILLING TO DO THAT?”

    So I will present my equations also
    GOD IS NOT OBLIGATED in designing THESE Equations
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS = ETERNAL HELL FIRE TORMENT
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS + NOT HEARING THE GOSPEL = ETERNAL HELL FIRE TORMENT
    UNRIGHTEOUSNESS + HEARING THE GOSPEL + NOT RESPONDING TO THE GOSPEL POSITIVELY = ETERNAL HELL FIRE TORMENT

    God then MAke’s Sure, Decided/Decreed,Program/EQUATED that
    HUMANITY = UNRIGHTEOUS
    HUMANITY = SOME WILL NOT HEAR THE GOSPEL (but provides General Revelation)
    HUMANITY = CAN RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL POSITIVELY PRIOR to being Regenerated

    See,
    Our Equations are almost the same, except for the Equation made by God for the way of Escape of the Punishment.

    Thank you very much. Blessings..

    Like

    1. Jun writes, “His Primary Objective is to make Sure that no-one Escapes Hell unless He decides to Regenerate them. Is this correct?”

      I think the primary objective is for God to glorify Himself. To do this, He created a universe that would fit into the palm of His hand (metaphorically speaking) and within that universe created a world with a variety of life including humans that would have no value if God did not give them value. Why God did this is beyond human comprehension. In this world, God decreed specific events that led to the condemnation of each and every human. Now, only God can save them. God controls the salvation of each and every human being and God is exactly the one we want to have that control.

      Jun, “NO, in the sense that God will never do that setup, to create people for the ultimate purpose of Tormenting them in Hell Fire…But the real question is, Is God willing to do that?”

      I don’t think anyone will complain if the Universalists are right.

      Like

  10. BR.D

    Thank you very much.

    All of what you said is true.
    Your statement “you may eventually liken your experience to chasing a greased pig.” captures me.

    I think the frustrating part is that when we get to the Crux of the differences, they then Appeal to Mystery or Paradox of the Obvious contradictions of their Arguments. Just for example, Sovereignty and Human Responsibility are Twin Parallel truths, its not understandable to us Humans but only God can reconcile.
    And tells us, you just have to accept that. It’s like saying “Just Accept it Blindly”.

    In my experience with a Forum called Filipino Theologians and Christians Forum, they easily get Irritated when I get to the Core issues of their Theology. There are a lot of Misrepresentations, Deflections, Group Characterization and Inconsistencies that I have to explain to them Ptr Leightons “5 reasons of Misrepresentations” so that our Discussion will be more productive. Eventually, they all stop Responding to me.

    Also, I asked them if they consider the Discussion an “In-House” discussion but no one answered me. I have stated clearly and respectfully that I consider the Discussion an “In-House” discussion, but when I asked them if they see it the same, i get no answer.

    I’m still glad though that I was able to share them a different perspectives, perhaps a more Robust perspective than they have. And the good thing is they Haven’t deleted my account.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jun Terez!

      I agree with you. And I think we both find the situation with Calvinism’s dishonesty unfortunate.

      Austin Farrer (1904) an Anglican theologian and philosopher, in “Faith and Speculation”, warns that every time man attempts to frame God’s providential activity into causal terms, placing God into a chain of sequential causalities, he risks degrading God to the creaturely level, ultimately creating a monstrosity and confusion.

      I think that is the heart of the Calvinist conundrum. Sometimes we humans treat beliefs as possessions, and as earthly power-bases. We promote them, because doing so validates our personal power-base. And we do that while pretending to be honoring god. But we may, in fact be, only honoring a graven image.

      The joke says: “god created man in his image, and John Calvin decided to return the favor” 🙂

      Calvinism, of course, originates with Augustine, who synchronized Gnosticism and Neo-platonism into Catholic doctrine. That is why Calvinism has its characteristic of being oxymoronic. Calvin’s deity is “Unholy-Holiness”, “Good-Evil”, “Truthful-lier”. It is an image of a deity who is the supreme utilitarian. A utilitarian treats all others as nothing more than assets for his good pleasure. Some he blesses, only if it pleases him. Others he torments, only as it pleases him. Created beings are nothing more than objects he loves or hates, only for his own personal pleasure.

      But Calvinists know this image of god is very distasteful to the non-indoctrinated. So they become dishonest, working to paint an image of their deity as benevolent. But when their language is scrutinized, it manifests dishonesty. Their deity tells Adam and Eve not to disobey. But before they were created he (foreknew through fore-ordination and eternal decree) they would disobey, and he allows no alternate possibility to exist. So he tells them to obey, while predestining the opposite. This is a deity who speaks with forked tongue. And the scripture teaches us, the worshiper becomes like unto his god. And this is what forces Calvinists to be dishonest.

      Warm blessings Jun Terez
      And thank you very much for your posts. :-]

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Br. D. Have you ever considered the idea that those who accept and tenaciously defend Calvinism had a controlling, duty-oriented father from whom they felt great rejection? The Calvinist God becomes a way to redeem that rejection mentally – “Deep down he really did choose me, love me, as his child above everyone else… because God did the same thing.”

        I don’t know how valid this idea is… I was just wondering. I know that one’s theology affects their translation/interpretation choices, and I’m thinking one’s view of God influenced by their view of their fathers has affected the presuppositions of their theology.

        I am continuing to find unnecessary Calvinistic translation/interpretation choices in the KJV and now the ESV and by those who use them.

        Like

      2. Hi Brian,
        Great to hear from you. Margaret Singer and Steven Hassan are asked this question quite often, especially from worried parents asking what was it that attracted a son or daughter to an abhorrent religious group. I think the answer has much more to do with persons of influence in a young person’s life more than the relationship with a father. Although its conceivable that a young person who has an emotionally absent father may find a form of psychological normalcy within a Calvinist group.

        I think the carrot on the string is more frequently spiritual pride. Calvinism is presented with an observable degree of “puffery”. A person who is not inclined to see “puffery” as a sign of religious flesh or religious pride, is vulnerable to get lured into it, especially by a pastor.
        Religious pride is not a sin in Calvinism. That is pretty evident if one is a consistent observer.

        I think people get sucked into it because influential Calvinists tend to be boastful, and because these people are seen through star-gazed eyes, youth get lured into it without any discernment of the spiritual pride that is at work in it.

        Additionally, there is the power of “Milieu Control” which is characteristic in Calvinism. The society of Calvinists dramatically differs from mainstream protestant Christianity and Catholicism, in the emphasis it puts on adherence to doctrine. The doctrine becomes a cherished identity marker, and a trophy, which separates the Calvinist from all other Christian groups. The doctrine sets them apart as superior. The doctrine is therefore sacred.

        Calvinist pastors can be observed brooding over their congregation’s assimilation of the doctrine. It is quite common for Calvinist leaders to counsel congregations against exposing themselves to alternative forms of biblical scholarship, no matter how highly that scholarship is recognized internationally.

        The Calvinist authority structure seeks to exert a much higher degree of control over information. Thus Calvinism sociologically, has for many years, been a closed system, with its own unique values and its own unique language, applying what social psychologists call, milieu control. The control processes at work within the authoritarian social structure, controls feedback from group members and refuses to be modified, which results in a closed system of logic.

        It is consistently observed that Calvinists manifest a pronounced degree of partisanship—an almost obsessive allegiance to the doctrine and to idolized persons within the society, prompting the concern that the respecting of persons within the system is so pervasive, that it may represent a form of seductive entrenchment to which Christian youth are significantly vulnerable.

        Hope this finds you well!!

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      3. Thanks for the indepth reply Br. D. I was thinking as i was reading your thoughts of how applicable they are to the KJV-only circle of pastors and churches. Of course that is a much smaller and less scholarly and a couple centuries younger group.

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      4. Never thought of it that way. Isn’t it true that there is a strong inclination to the KJV for many ministries, because it tends towards a pronounced rendering of ministerial authority? Seeing that it was a translation designed to support England’s hierarchical authority structure, and gives the reader the impression of a church that is an institution rather than a family? Doesn’t it seem like whenever a pastor want’s to preach submission, the KJV is not far away? You are very blessed to be able to read the original language of the N.T. documents and not have to rely on secondary translations!! :-]

        Liked by 1 person

      5. brianwagner writes, “Have you ever considered the idea that those who accept and tenaciously defend Calvinism had a controlling, duty-oriented father from whom they felt great rejection?…I don’t know how valid this idea is… I was just wondering.”

        WOW!!! Someone has been living rent free in your head.

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      6. Why would I charge the HS rent since He owns my mind, Roger? 🤔 It’s not my mind that says it is certain that God made it so Adam could make a freewill decision to sin, but is also certain that God can not give Adam’s offspring the ability to make a freewill decision before regeneration.

        And it’s not my mind that is convinced Scripture “clearly” teaches regeneration must happen first, before any freewill decision can be made (however, also believing all decisions are predetermined) but is also convinced God chose not to make clear in Scripture that necessary premise of theistic determinism of all things as eternal and immutable.

        I think you need to charge the renter in your mind double for all the damage and confusion! 😂

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      7. brianwagner writes, “Why would I charge the HS rent since He owns my mind,…”

        I don’t think the HS was behind that comment. Seems to me like the old self was strutting his stuff.

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      8. Roger… so you dont think one’s experience can influence their choices in interpretation, even the extent of being a little unwilling to test their dogmatic stance more reasonably against Scripture?

        My own observations of those raised RC or those who have had an experience they have labeled “spiritual” has made me think otherwise. Why couldn’t there be a psychological basis for the same unwillingness I see in Calvinists?

        I have also considered it may be a blind loyalty to an esteemed “scholarship” and self-declared “orthodoxy” or the fear of being reckoned out of the “main stream” by others… though the last fear is often replaced by a feeling of pride of being in the small upper eschalon of those who really “understand”.

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      9. brianwagner writes, “Why couldn’t there be a psychological basis for the same unwillingness I see in Calvinists?”

        Could be, but I have not seen you to be so harsh – even cruel – in speculation.

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      10. Wow… I didn’t think I was being “harsh” or “cruel”, Roger. Please let me know what I said that contributed to your thinking that. I want to try to see it from your perspective.

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      11. “Have you ever considered the idea that those who accept and tenaciously defend Calvinism had a controlling, duty-oriented father from whom they felt great rejection? The Calvinist God becomes a way to redeem that rejection mentally…”

        Like

      12. rhutchin write concerning Calvin’s deity:

        “The Calvinist God becomes a way to redeem that rejection mentality”

        Lets see how John Calvin describes that father:

        quote:
        “There is the *general* call, by which God invites *ALL* equally to himself through the outward preaching of the word.

        Even to those whom he **HOLDS IT OUT AS A SAVOR OF DEATH AND AS THE OCCASION OF SEVERER CONDEMNATION**…………

        Then there is the *Special* call, which god deigns *FOR THE MOST PART* to the believer alone…..

        Yet, sometimes he [god] also **CAUSES THOSE WHOM HE ILLUMINES** only for a time, to partake of it.
        Then he *FORSAKES THEM*, and *STRIKES THEM WITH EVEN GREATER BLINDNESS*. end-quote

        Hmmmm…. such a loving father is SURE to redeem one from a rejected mentality. 😉

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      13. Thank you, Roger, for pointing out the offending language. I can see how it would be taken by some to indicate that I was suggesting this psychological idea as the contributing factor for all Calvinists who “accept and tenaciously defend Calvinism.” I should have sounded less certain and less inclusive. I also should not have said just “Calvinist God”. Please forgive me. Here is an improvement, I think. “Have you ever considered [the possibility of] the idea that [some of] those who accept and tenaciously defend Calvinism [might have] had a controlling, duty-oriented father from whom they felt great rejection? The Calvinist [view of] God [in that scenario, if true] becomes a way to redeem that rejection mentally…” Please forgive me for not proof-reading my thoughts more carefully.

        Also, I just thought as I am typing now, how you may have thought I was specifically thinking of you when I put forward that idea, since you are primarily the only Calvinist seen in this blog! I assure you, that though I have often wondered why you are so tenacious in view of evidence, I was thinking generally of all Calvinists that I presently interact with on a few FB sites. That includes you, but I was not asking Br. D. as a way of confronting you with the idea, unless it was subconscious 🙂 … I just know Br. D. likes the psychology of debate and wondered if he had thought of or read about that idea.

        I too like the psychology behind why people adopt various theological positions. Everyone has met those who have softened their view “theologically” of divorce and remarriage based on personal experience. Years ago I read an interesting conjecture made by a Presbyterian pastor writing about Celtic Christian history who suggested Pelagius’ stance on free-will was encouraged by his being brought up throughout childhood as a professing Christian, and that Augustine’s stance on determinism was encouraged by the dramatic transformation of his will from rebellion in his early adulthood.

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      14. brianwagner writes, “Please forgive me for not proof-reading my thoughts more carefully. ”

        I though the statement itself was in poor taste – unredeemable by any amount of tweaking of the language. The people that I have encountered who favor the Calvinist system – even if not full-fledged Calvinists – have been serious students of the Scriptures often derived from a background of family/friend interaction without a hint of daddy issues.

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      15. brianwagner writes, “I too like the psychology behind why people adopt various theological positions.”

        I don’t think “psychology” is a factor. There are two basic doctrines that generally lead a person to the Calvinist position and which will be the first mentioned in a Calvinist/non-Calvinist discussion. They are omniscience and Total Depravity. The importance of these doctrines are evidenced by your rejection of omniscience in favor of Open something that now escapes me and Pastor Flowers’ rejection of Total Depravity. If one is going to argue against Calvinism, one must go in one of those directions. If there is a psychology involved, I think it is with the non-Calvinist who first decides that he doesn’t like Calvinism and then begins the search for arguments to support his position.

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      16. Thank you Roger for sharing your view. We will just have to disagree whether people are influenced by experiences that influence how they evaluate or ignore clear Scriptures on a theological topic.

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      17. brianwagner writes, ” We will just have to disagree whether people are influenced by experiences that influence how they evaluate or ignore clear Scriptures on a theological topic.”

        We are not disagreeing about whether “people are influenced by experiences…” because you did not make an argument for this. We disagree about whether you should be “speculating” about such things using what I would label extreme language given that you have no evidence of this nor any basis to make such an argument.

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      18. I missed them. I even went back through the comments and missed them again. Perhaps you and I have differing views on that which should constitute an argument with examples.

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      19. Here’s what I was thinking that I said were examples that supported my argument – I said:
        “My own observations of those raised RC or those who have had an experience they have labeled ‘spiritual’ has made me think otherwise. Why couldn’t there be a psychological basis for the same unwillingness I see in Calvinists?

        I have also considered it may be a blind loyalty to an esteemed ‘scholarship’ and self-declared ‘orthodoxy’ or the fear of being reckoned out of the ‘main stream’ by others… though the last fear is often replaced by a feeling of pride of being in the small upper eschalon of those who really ‘understand’.”

        Like

      20. Yes, I think spiritual pride does factor in, without a doubt. One only has to listen to or read, one of many Calvinists, to evidence the “puffery”, pride and boastfulness that is a consistent component of the language. Many years ago, I happened to purchase a book by loraine boettner….can’t remember the title. But the spirit of pride and boasting in the writing was so extensive, I actually had sensations of being sickened. Had to put it down starting into the second chapter, and threw that book in the trash.

        In the fellowship backgrounds I grew up in, preaching on manifestations of the flesh and carnality, were an intense focus. And so over the years I developed a strong sensitivity to religious flesh in all of its manifestations. As I’ve said previously, that was the first red-flag when I first came into contact with Calvinism.

        Watchman Knee called it a “party” spirit….likening it to the same spirit at work within political parties, power-gamer’s and their wars.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I also very much agree with your analysis here: [Calvinism requires] “you just have to accept it Blindly”.

      Yes, Calvin himself presses this line of reasoning where he criticizes anyone who disagrees with him, or where they quote “who are you oh man to judge god”. NO….the non-Calvinist is not judging god, he is judging a graven image.

      But you are absolutely right, Calvinism requires blind faith.
      The most respected bible scholars tell us that we interpret scripture, to conform to what we already believe is true. If I am persuaded to believe the earth is flat, then when I read scripture, certain verses will affirm the earth is flat.

      Jesus asked two very pointed questions of the lawyer in Luke 10. 1) what does the scripture say? 2) How do you read it?
      We take note of the fact that the lawyer refused to answer Jesus’ second question.
      This is because he did not want to love his neighbor as himself. So he created a distorted definition of “neighbor”.
      So it is true…..every man reads scripture according to the light that is in him.

      Steps to make a Calvinist:
      1) Teach the person Universal Divine Determinism….that not one atomic particle moves, unless god decrees it to move.
      2) Re-enforce step 1 repeatedly until the person fully embraces it as truth.
      3) Open the bible and all verses now suddenly affirm Universal Divine Determinism.

      Like

      1. br.d writes, “Steps to make a Calvinist:
        1) Teach the person Universal Divine Determinism….that not one atomic particle moves, unless god decrees it to move.
        2) Re-enforce step 1 repeatedly until the person fully embraces it as truth.
        3) Open the bible and all verses now suddenly affirm Universal Divine Determinism.”

        The process that Calvinists use is:
        1. Teach people the sovereignty of God – His control extends to the smallest elements of His creation.
        2. Teach people the depravity of man.

        From those two points flows all of Calvinism (as far as soteriology is concerned).

        Like

  11. Rhutchin,

    Thank you.

    You wrote:
    I think the primary objective is for God to glorify Himself. To do this, He created a universe that would fit into the palm of His hand (metaphorically speaking) and within that universe created a world with a variety of life including humans that would have no value if God did not give them value. Why God did this is beyond human comprehension. In this world, God decreed specific events that led to the condemnation of each and every human. Now, only God can save them. God controls the salvation of each and every human being and God is exactly the one we want to have that control.

    Me:
    This is how I see it or Interpret what you wrote:
    God Glorifies Himself by sending Humanity to Eternal Hell Fire Torment, He send them Actively, Decree-ably, Programmed so as to make Sure that they will really go to Hell with nothing of their decision whatsoever.

    You wrote:
    Why God did this is beyond human comprehension.

    Me:
    This for me sounds like John MacArthurs Interpretation of John chapter 3 about 2 TWIN Truths, 2 Parallel Lines that only God can make it Meet.
    In summary, it sounds something like “JUST ACCEPT IT BLINDLY”

    You wrote:
    In this world, God decreed specific events that led to the condemnation of each and every human. Now, only God can save them. God controls the salvation of each and every human being and God is exactly the one we want to have that control.

    Me:
    I agree with this, but we differ on our definitions.

    Thank you very much. Blessings.. 🙂

    Like

    1. Jun writes, “This is how I see it or Interpret what you wrote: God Glorifies Himself by sending Humanity to Eternal Hell Fire Torment, He send them Actively, Decree-ably, Programmed so as to make Sure that they will really go to Hell with nothing of their decision whatsoever.”

      OK, that’s basically it. Do you know of a viable alternative?

      then, “In summary, it sounds something like “JUST ACCEPT IT BLINDLY””

      Unless you know somewhere in the Scriptures where God explains Himself on this point, I don’t see another conclusion. Do you know something that you are not telling us?

      Then, I had said, “In this world, God decreed specific events that led to the condemnation of each and every human. Now, only God can save them. God controls the salvation of each and every human being and God is exactly the one we want to have that control.”
      Jun replied, “I agree with this, but we differ on our definitions.”

      That would seem to get to the crux of the matter – What definitions did you have in mind?

      Like

  12. Rhutchin,

    Thank you.

    You wrote:
    Jun, “NO, in the sense that God will never do that setup, to create people for the ultimate purpose of Tormenting them in Hell Fire…But the real question is, Is God willing to do that?”
    I don’t think anyone will complain if the Universalists are right.

    Me:
    Can you explain the relevance of Universalists to our topic?

    Thank you.

    Like

    1. Jun asks, “Can you explain the relevance of Universalists to our topic?”

      You had written, “God will never do that setup, to create people for the ultimate purpose of Tormenting them in Hell Fire…But the real question is, Is God willing to do that?

      Given that God creates all people with the knowledge that some of those people will end up in hell, then it must be true that God willed that end. The exception would be if God intends to save everyone He creates (as the Universalists say). So, on what point do you disagree?

      1. God creates all people.
      2. God knows when He creates all people that some will end up in hell.
      3. God creates people anyway.

      Like

  13. HOW TO SPOT CALVINIST TEXT BRIDGES:

    Text Bridges, is a term coined by Dr. Jack Schafer Ph.D. , a psychologist, and FBI truth/lie consultant.

    A husband suspected of killing his wife arrived home at 5:00 p.m. and made the following statement to the investigating detective, “After I came home, I found my wife dead.”

    The word **AFTER** is here used to create an **INFORMATION GAP** designed to hide information concerning the husband’s role in the event.

    The husband’s language **GIVES THE IMPRESSION** he arrived home and immediately found his wife dead; however, this was not the case.

    The **INFORMATION GAP** the husband omitted, included the truth, that he and his wife had an intense emotional altercation, and he then killed her. The **TEXT BRIDGE BECAME A RED FLAG** within the husband’s language, which alerted the investigator, that the husband was not telling the whole truth.

    Dr. Schafer states: **LYING BY OMISSION** is the preferred method to lie. Liars tell the truth up to the point where they want to conceal information. Their language is designed to introduce **INFORMATION GAPS**. This allows them to appear to be telling the truth, without telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Successful liars construct sentences that allow them to skip over withheld information to make their statements appear truthful.

    People who are unaware of these types of language strategies are easily misled.

    SOT101 is a totally excellent platform to examine and analyze Calvinist statements. If you take Calvinist statements at face value, you are bound to be misled. If you keep a sharp eye out for **INFORMATION GAPS** within Calvinist statements, concerning god’s role in sinful/evil events (as logically entailed in Calvin’s theology), you will be rewarded with a rich abundance of **TRUTH OMITTING** language techniques.

    Put on your investigator cap and give it a try!
    Have fun!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Br.D.

      I think that you know that I work with inmates. So some of the inmates who are now Christians have shared their “techniques” with me (i.e. they are literally folks who were con men and know how to use language to deceive and manipulate). That is one of the reasons I have such a low tolerance for the word games, semantic games that a certain calvinist uses at this blog.

      You mentioned Schafer’s concept of text bridges and lying by omissions. Here is a real life example of how conning usually involves omissions not primarily lies. One converted con told me once: “It is not things that I used to say that are not true that fool you, it is the things that I didn’t say that fooled people.” Well there it is, not outright lies, but what is intentionally left out (cf. “**LYING BY OMISSION** is the preferred method to lie. Liars tell the truth up to the point where they want to conceal information.”).

      You are correct that “People who are unaware of these types of language strategies are easily misled.”

      Sadly, I used to see these language tricks from cultists, now I see them often from calvinists and sometimes from open theists. A forthright person does not need to engage in these techniques, they can speak directly and with no ambiguity about what they believe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robert writes, “Sadly, I used to see these language tricks from cultists, now I see them often from calvinists and sometimes from open theists. ”

        Any chance that you have actual examples from the Calvinist side?

        Like

      2. Hi Robert,
        Excellent comments!!
        I just purchased Schafer’s book “Fibs to Facts” and I’m interested to check out more tips on the subject of the tell-tale signs of evasive, misleading language.

        I think its obvious, at this point, that we understand, Calvinist’s are **conditioned** to use evasive language, since double-think is such a prevalent component within the psychology of their belief system. And we know that connecting the dots, as William Lane Craig does, between Calvinism’s brand of theological determinism making god the author of evil, is something Calvinists avoid at all costs. So I can totally understand how they would become so completely adept at evasive, and misleading language over time. Denialism is part of the Calvinist sociology.

        Blessings!!

        Like

    2. br.d writes, “If you keep a sharp eye out for **INFORMATION GAPS** within Calvinist statements, concerning god’s role in sinful/evil events (as logically entailed in Calvin’s theology), you will be rewarded with a rich abundance of **TRUTH OMITTING** language techniques.”

      Any examples of this or are you just wishing it were so?

      Like

      1. Hi Rhutchin, hope your well.
        My invitation is to those here who are not indoctrinated with Calvinist thinking. Since they have never be subject to that type of indoctrination, they are much more free to identify evasive, truth-omitting language **IF** they are alerted to be looking for it.

        Helping one’s neighbor to fish for himself, is the best strategy. Alerting people that they can easily be manipulated by Calvinism’s evasive, truth-omitting language, enables them to learn how to discern it for themselves.

        Jesus follows this pattern. There are very few times he argues directly with people. Doing so, often times, just turns into a prolonged tit-for-tat with a game-playing individual, which simply goes nowhere. For the most part Jesus provides parables, which enable people with concepts they need to connect the dots for themselves. Very powerful way for him to alert people, how to discern religious games. I LOVE JESUS!!!! TOTALLY AWESOME!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Jun Terez pointed me to Dr. Flower’s article “5 Reasons for misrepresentations in Calvinism” which I hadn’t seen before.
    Thank you Jun!!

    For those who haven’t seen this article, I think it quite critical for understanding characteristics of dialog with Calvinists.
    https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/5-reasons-for-the-accusation-of-misrepresentation-when-debating-calvinism/

    But I would like to unpackage a few things a little further… things I have discovered about Calvinism through the years.
    1) There are variants among Calvinists
    Yes, this has been used as a dishonest strategy by Calvinists where they can argue that you have not identified “Calvinism Proper” because you have not identified “Their unique particular Calvinism”.

    But a more serious dishonesty is when we observe Calvinist A posturing his view as “the golden standard”, in abject contradiction with Calvinist B, posturing his view as “the golden standard”. Yet they maintain an agreement, where Calvinist A can misrepresent Calvinist B’s version by disavowing it. And Calvinist B is allowed to do the same. This agreement appears as a strategy for promoting Calvinism in any form. But it has Calvinists treating each others views dishonestly in order to camouflage a contradicting theology. So we have an “End justifies the means” modus operandi where dishonesty is a necessary evil.

    2) Defining the terms:
    Dr. William D. Lutz work on DoubleSpeak, is a wonderful resource for dissecting Calvinist language trickery. Dr. Jerry Walls sometimes refers to Calvinists as “magicians”. Obviously he means “semantic magicians”. The strategy is to make an “author of evil” deity **APPEAR** benevolent. This is done by a multitude of very a subtly massaged language. Calvinist statements are highly scripted. There is only one reason for such a highly scripted language, and its not honesty. As Dr. Flowers points out, Calvinist language is full of euphemistic terminology, designed to paint cosmetic benevolence on the face of a 100% utilitarian deity. Calvinists when discussing sinful/evil events will avoid the role of divine decrees in these events, by pointing to 1001 tangential secondary causes. Calvinist language is simply a form of marketing language.

    3) Correct but not palatable
    This is a reiteration of (2). Every logical proposition has logical entailments and logical consequences. The “author of evil” consequences logically entailed in Calvin’s doctrine is to be avoided at all cost. And massaging language is the primary trick.

    4) Rationalizations
    Yes, Calvinism, in order to avoid its logical consequences, is plagued with double-think, denialism and dishonest language. So in order to avoid repentance from these things, a multitude of rationalizations has evolved over its history. Young Calvinists, are especially mentored in rationalizations, supporting the variant stream of Calvinism in which they are reared.

    5) NEFARIOUS MOTIVATIONS:
    No I don’t believe Calvinists have the INTENT to be dishonest. But Calvinists are human. And religious societies can evolve into what Margaret T. Singer, Ph.D. calls a “closed system of logic”. Calvinists are **conditioned** to think the way they do. A compartmentalized thinking, where one can believe PROPOSITION [A]….that god determines all things which come to pass, including every sinful neurological impulse that will ever occur in the believer’s mind. And yet in compartment [B] the believer is conditioned to treat PROPOSITION [A] **AS-IF** it doesn’t exist, in order to maintain a sense of normalcy and personal responsibility for sin.

    I understand Calvinism in movements:
    1) Learn the mechanics of theological determinism (ala Calvin)
    2) Learn the psychology of doublethink, and denialism (ala Calvin)
    3) Learn the language techniques of evasion and misrepresentation.(ala Calvin)

    Like

  15. First observations on the Introduction to The Potter’s Promise.

    Dr, Flowers writes, “Traditionalists, in contrast to Calvin’s quote above, would be more likely to explain soteriology in this manner:
    1. By predestination we mean the predetermined redemptive plan of God to justify, sanctify and glorify whosoever freely[ 8] believes (Rom. 10: 11; Jn. 3: 16; Eph. 1: 1-14).
    2. All people are created with equal value as image bearers of God (Jms. 3: 9; Gen. 1: 27).
    3. Because God desires mercy over justice and self-sacrificially loves everyone (Jms. 2: 13; Mt. 9: 13; 1 Jn. 2: 2), He has graciously provided the means of salvation to every man, woman, boy and girl.
    4. No person is created for damnation, or predetermined by God to that end (2 Pt. 3: 9; 1 Tim. 2: 4; Ezk. 18: 30-32).
    5. Those who perish only do so because they refused to accept the truth so as to be saved (2 Thess. 2: 10).”

    Calvinists can agree with 1, 2, 3 (if only with clarification of very general statements. Calvinists would delete the word, “only, ” from 6 because people perish because of their sin not all people even hear the gospel much less have opportunity to accept it.

    There is a point of contention on 4. Do Traditionalists mean to deny that God is omniscient and knew the future perfectly when He created the world? If not, then they must concede that God determined the destiny of each and every person when He created the world and in creating each person, God created some people knowing that their destiny was damnation and that he was not going to change that outcome. Thus, some people were created for damnation. Traditionalists (and non-Calvinists) have yet to come to grips with God’s omniscience as it extends to the future.

    Then, Dr. Flowers seeks (I think) to contrast Calvinism with Traditionalism, “Clearly, there is a stark difference between the two soteriological perspectives:
    Calvinists teach that Christ self-sacrificially loves a preselected number of individuals.
    Traditionalists teach that Christ loves every single person so much that He died for them all.”

    For consistency in context, the first should read: Calvinists teach that Christ so loved the world but self-sacrificially died for a preselected number of individuals (whosoever believes). John 3:16 is clear – God gave His son so that whosoever believes would not perish. Christ did not die for those who would choose not to believe, and by omniscience, God knew who would believe and who would not believe when He created the world.

    Then, we read:

    “Calvinists teach that before the world began God predestined some individuals to salvation and the rest to eternal damnation based on nothing having to do with the individual’s choices or actions.
    Traditionalists teach that God has predestined every individual who is “marked in Christ” through faith to be saved (Eph. 1: 13), and it is each individual’s responsibility to humble themselves and trust Christ in faith (Lk. 18: 8-14).

    There is no substantive difference between the two statements. To say that, “God has predestined every individual who is ‘marked in Christ’ through faith to be saved” is no different than, “God predestined some individuals to salvation.”

    When the Traditionalists say, “it is each individual’s responsibility to humble themselves and trust Christ in faith,” do they mean that this is the condition for God to save them or do they agree with the Calvinists that “every individual who is ‘marked in Christ’” will “humble themselves and trust Christ in faith,” while those not marked in Christ will not. Traditionalists tend to opt for countering the specificity of Calvinist doctrine with a very general statement of doctrine which tends not to make a clear distinction from Calvinism.

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  16. Second observations on the Introduction to The Potter’s Promise.

    Dr. Flowers writes, “In chapter 3,…we will expound on what I believe is the most woefully misunderstood doctrine in all of Scripture as it relates to soteriology, the doctrine of “Judicial hardening”… In my experience, very few Calvinists give this doctrine the attention it deserves because it requires a shift in perspective that, if recognized, would undermine their entire premise.”

    The doctrine of Judicial Hardening is that which Calvin called a horrible doctrine, because by it God condemned all of humanity for the sin of Adam. As a consequence of Adam’s sin, God decreed that all humanity would be judicially hardened whereby Adam’s nature, corrupted by his sin, would be transferred to his progeny. Thus, Pharaoh could harden himself against God because of the corrupt nature with which he was born, but God could further judicially harden Pharaoh to lead him into greater corruption and this to accomplish His purposes (which included Pharaoh’s death in the Red Sea). That God was judicially hardening Israel to bring about the crucifixion of Jesus does not present problems with Calvinists as they see God intimately involved in every aspect of His creation to fulfill His eternal plan. It was God who decreed that Satan be free to enter Judas (serving as God’s agent to judicially harden Judas) thereby leading Judas to betray Jesus and ultimately to kill himself.

    While Calvinists do not use the term, “judicial hardening, in their writings, the concept of judicial hardening is expressed particularly in God’s ordaining some to damnation (Pharaoh and Judas are examples).

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  17. First Observations on Chapter One – The Potter’s Character

    In the first section, Dr, Flowers states, “Calvinists believe God’s glory is best displayed through the attribute of control (typically referred to as “sovereignty”), whereas Traditionalists are convinced, by Christ’s revelation, that God’s glory is best displayed through the attribute of mercy motivated by His genuine self-sacrificial love for all.”

    The issue here seems to be the modifier, “best.” Calvinists believe that God displays His glory through His sovereign actions and among these sovereign actions is the mercy He shows to people through His self-sacrificial love. Traditionalists believe the same. The difference: Calvinists give emphasis to God’s love for His elect – those who come to salvation – and Traditionalists give emphasis to God’s love for all – both the saved and the damned. God’s love for those that are saved is surely different from His love for those not saved because of His promise to preserve the saved and to allow the damned to be damned. We may argue this point while still agreeing that all will not be saved; some will be lost. At the end of the section, Dr. Flowers then poses three questions to tease out the purpose of the book.

    1. “What significance does mercy have in a worldview where there is Divine meticulous control (i.e. “sovereignty”) of the sinful desires and choices of each vessel?”

    Great significance, we can conclude. God’s control of sinful desires is exercised in His restraint of those desires so that people cannot be as evil as they want. In exercising mercy, God acts in the lives of people to deal with their sinful desires. So, in the one case, God decrees people be free to sin; in the other God decrees to change people so that they will not desire sin.

    2. “Is the Potter merely remolding the vessel that He Himself marred from the beginning by divine decree?”

    The divine decree – called a horrible decree by Calvin – was that all humanity was to inherit the unrighteousness incurred by Adam when he sinned. Thus, all people are born unrighteous and in need of salvation. The Calvinists say that God does remold some while Dr. Flowers says that people have to express the desire to be remolded before God will remold them.

    3. “Or, has our Sovereign Potter molded vessels with the responsibility of choice and graciously provided the means of redemption for the broken?”

    Both Calvinists and Traditionalists agree that God has done this. The disagreement occurs when the Calvinists claim that God does more to ensure that some of the broken vessels are saved.

    So, what is the point of all this? We don’t know, because Dr. Flowers is just setting everything up for his exposition of Romans 9 that comes later in the book.

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    1. rhutchin writes representing god ordaining/decreeing all things that come to pass, including all sin and evil:

      Quote “God’s control of sinful desires is exercised in His restraint of those desires so that people cannot be as evil as they want.”

      Here we have god ordaining/decreeing **ALL** things which come to pass, (in this case sin) and in this model the deity:
      1) Ordains/decrees sin to infallibly occur
      2) Resists the very sin that he decrees to infallibly occur.

      But remember, in this model, **ALL** things are decreed.
      So in this model, the deity must decree that he will decree that he will resist what he has decreed.

      Here we have a god who is ad odds with himself. The Calvinist is taught this model is not **DOUBLE-THINK**!

      This is one good example of how indoctrination can make double-think look normal.
      It makes perfect sense to the indoctrinated mind.
      But its obviously double-think to those not subject to Calvinism’s unique indoctrinations.

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      1. br.d writes, “Here we have god ordaining/decreeing **ALL** things which come to pass, (in this case sin) and in this model the deity:
        1) Ordains/decrees sin to infallibly occur
        2) Resists the very sin that he decrees to infallibly occur.”

        Are you disagreeing either that:
        1. God ordained that Adam’s sin and resulting unrighteousness be conveyed to his progeny so that all are unrighteous, and/or
        2. God restrains people from engaging in all sin they desire to do.

        How is God at odds with Himself and what makes this **DOUBLE-THINK**?

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      2. Rhutchin: Are you disagreeing either that:
        1. God ordained that Adam’s sin and resulting unrighteousness be conveyed to his progeny so that all are unrighteous, and/or
        2. God restrains people from engaging in all sin they desire to do.

        The problem with this language is that it *EVADES* Calvin’s divine **DECREES**. I was careful and precise, and did not omit the role that decrees play in Calvin’s scheme. Readers of your posts consistently observe that when you are in defense mode, you strategically OBFUSCATE Calvin’s decrees in EVERY one of your posts.

        Calvinism’s claim to fame is a UNIVERSAL POSITIVE PROPOSITION
        1) **ALL** things which come to pass, do so because god DECREES them to do so, and exactly the way the do.

        The language in Calvinism’s UNIVERSAL POSITIVE PROPOSITION is **PAST TENSE**.
        So lets follow Calvin’s logic.

        Calvin’s Syllogism:
        Premise 1) **ALL** things which come to pass do so because god decrees them to do so, exactly as they do
        Premise 2) It came to pass that Adam disobeyed god’s command.

        Calvin’s NECESSARY conclusion:
        Adam disobeyed exactly the way he did, because god decreed Adam to do so, and did not give Adam any alternative reality.

        Now the double-think and denialism come into play where Calvin additionally teaches:

        The believer is to KNOW PROPOSITION [A] – that god predestines his every neurological impulse
        But concerning sin, the believer is to ***MAKE BELIEVE*** (in Calvin’s words “go about his office”) that PROPOSITION [A] does not exist.

        So in order to retain a sense of normalcy, and to make Calvinism **APPEAR** orthodox, the Calvinist say’s god resists the very things he decrees to happen. And the Calvinist is so thoroughly indoctrinated in that DOUBLE-THINK that it is normal for him.

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      3. br.d writes, “The believer is to KNOW PROPOSITION [A] – that god predestines his every neurological impulse
        But concerning sin, the believer is to ***MAKE BELIEVE*** (in Calvin’s words “go about his office”) that PROPOSITION [A] does not exist.”

        I doubt that this is true for the majority of Calvinists. Calvinists are pretty solid on “providence” whereby all that comes to pass is the will of God. I don’t see any make believe in the doctrine of providence — everything is as God ordains it. I tend to think your “***MAKE BELIEVE***” is just something you made up (even with your attempt to tar Calvin with it).

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      4. br.d writes, “The believer is to KNOW PROPOSITION [A] – that god predestines his every neurological impulse
        But concerning sin, the believer is to ***MAKE BELIEVE*** (in Calvin’s words “go about his office”) that PROPOSITION [A] does not exist.”

        rhutchin writes:
        “I doubt that this is true for the majority of Calvinists. Calvinists are pretty solid on “providence” whereby all that comes to pass is the will of God. I don’t see any make believe in the doctrine of providence — everything is as God ordains it. ”

        Your statement again only confirms everything previously explained. In your defense mode, there is a consistent strategy to OBFUSCATE Calvin’s decrees. In your last example of this you refer to gods “will”. In the previous statement god “ordains”. Both statements avoid “decrees” like the plague…and their direct and explicit role in sin/evil.

        We understand, in order to make Calvinism APPEAR orthodox and non-malevolent, there is a need to obfuscate Calvin’s decrees. This is consistent in Calvinist marketing strategies. Nothing new there!!

        I do appreciative the consistent examples you provide. They help SOT101 readers learn how to recognize smoke and mirror statements.

        Now back to the ***MAKE BELIEVE*** , DOUBLE-THINK, and Denailism in Calvinism:

        Paul Helm explains Calvin’s double-think was started by Calvin, where Calvin instructs his disciples to give intellectual assent to the belief that his every neurological impulse is predestined by god via decrees at the foundation of the world, while at the same time, he is to treat them ***AS-IF*** they are self-determined. This is Calvin’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.”

        So what we seen in Calvinism’s psychology of self-contradicting double-think, is:
        1) Proposition [A] = **ALL** things which occur (without exception) do so by divine decrees IS TRUE
        2) The believer is to treat Proposition [A] **AS THOUGH** it is NOT TRUE

        Psychologists call this “compartmentalized” thinking, and it is well understood that liars utilize compartmentalized thinking in order to minimize the self-deception effect…a vulnerability for an individual who holds to self-contradictions.

        Now in Calvinism, these self-contradictions are to be TAKEN BY FAITH.
        So:
        1) In the Calvinist’s (theology compartment) he is to: BELIEVE PROPOSITION [A] is TRUE
        2) In the Calvinist’s (daily life compartment) he is to: MAKE BELIEVE PROPOSITION [A] is NOT TRUE

        This MAKE BELIEVE state of mind allows him to go about his daily life having a sense of normalcy, and personal responsibility for sin. Even though, (in another compartment in his mind) he is taught to BELIEVE, every sinful neurological impulse that occurs in his mind is **FIXED** at the foundation of the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. br.d rites, “Your statement again only confirms everything previously explained. In your defense mode, there is a consistent strategy to OBFUSCATE Calvin’s decrees. In your last example of this you refer to gods “will”. In the previous statement god “ordains”. Both statements avoid “decrees” like the plague…and their direct and explicit role in sin/evil.”

        I don’t understand your confusion about this. There is no real difference in the terms, “ordain” and “decree.” They are synonyms. God’s will is expressed in that which He ordains/decrees. You are trying to build a mountain out of a molehill and not doing so successfully.

        Then, “…he is to treat them ***AS-IF*** they are self-determined.”

        I suspect that both Helm and Calvin made these comments in a particular context that you are ignoring. For many Calvinists, the assurance that God has determined the future and controls all events leading to that future is the source of much comfort especially when evil is rampant and seems to be overwhelming. My guess is that Helm and Calvin made these comments in an effort to avoid people becoming lackadaisical or lazy in their pursuit of God. It would not be a general attitude toward all things, nor would it be necessary in all but a few limited instances.

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      6. This again illustrates the effect of indoctrination and the unique world-view Calvinist are conditioned to believe. The Calvinist embraces the double-think which is inherent in Calvin’s world of theological determinism,
        He is taught to believe PROPOSITION [A], that god has **FIXED** his every sinful neurological impulse, and that he is to treat PROPOSITION [A] **AS-IF** it is NOT true, in order to retain a sense of normalcy and orthodoxy.

        So again, to understand why Calvinist make all sorts of double-think statements one must:
        1) Understand the mechanics of theological determinism
        2) Understand the psychology of double-think and denialism.
        3) Understand the language of truth-omission and evasion.

        Then you can understand how Calvinists can convince themselves their god resists the very things he infallibly decrees to occur.
        And talk about sin and evil **AS-IF** their god does not meticulously decree its every detail.
        Its a world of double-think that makes perfect sense if one is indoctrinated in it.

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      7. br.d writes “the Calvinist say’s god resists the very things he decrees to happen.”

        Yet God’s restraining of sin is also that which He decrees, so that God does not decree that which He does not want to happen. I think you are conflating God’s general decree (e.g., that people be free to pursue sin) with God’s specific decrees (e.g., Joseph’s brothers are restrained from killing him). I see nothing wrong with God’s actions. God may decree a general freedom for people to act and then restrain people from pursuing specific acts of sin. I don’t see you explaining why this is a problem.

        I still don’t know what you mean by the term, DOUBLE-THINK.

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  18. br.d writes concerning Calvinist statements that god resists sin:
    “But remember, in this model, **ALL** things are decreed. So in this model, the deity must decree that he will decree that he will resist what he has decreed.”

    rutchin responds: “Yet God’s restraining of sin is also that which He decrees…..”

    Yes, thanks rhutchin, for confirming my statement above.

    Then:
    ” I think you are conflating God’s general decree with God’s specific decrees”

    IMHO Calvin’s decrees are all simply his own vain imaginations. So he can make them an ever expanding spider-web of obfuscations in order to hide their logical entailments.

    Again, these statements are designed to hide Calvinism’s one single claim to fame:
    ***ALL** things which come to pass, do so because god decrees them to, and explicitly so.”

    Again, we understand the Calvin recognizes “author of evil” is logically entailed in his claim to fame. So he must find ways of evading it. As Jerry Walls observers, Calvinist evasions consistently take the form of semantic magicianry. William Lane Craig laments something similar.

    Again, to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth:
    1) Understand the “mechanics” of theological determinism (ala Calvin)
    2) Understand the psychology of double-think and denialism (ala Calvin)
    3) Understand the language of truth-ommision and evasion (ala Calvin)

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    1. br.d writes, “Yes, thanks rhutchin, for confirming my statement above.”

      I still don’t understand the issue you have with this. God decrees a general freedom of people to sin and then places boundaries on the sin that people can do – thus, people are Totally Depraved but not Utterly Depraved. It is like the sate of Texas telling people that they are free to drive on the highways and then putting up speed limit signs restricting how fast they can drive. I don’t see an issue here.

      Then, “these statements are designed to hide Calvinism’s one single claim to fame:
      ***ALL** things which come to pass, do so because god decrees them to, and explicitly so.”

      This is the logical conclusion of God’s sovereignty. Do you mean to deny that God is sovereign; if not, what other conclusion can be drawn.

      Then, “Again, we understand the Calvin recognizes “author of evil” is logically entailed in his claim to fame. ”

      By “author of evil” we understand that God controls evil but does not cause evil. I don’t see your problem with that.

      Then, “As Jerry Walls observers, Calvinist evasions consistently take the form of semantic magicianry. William Lane Craig laments something similar.”

      Jerry Walls has a vivid imagination and I still cannot figure out Craig’s complaint even after having read his objections to Calvinism a couple times now. I doubt that you (or anyone else) could explain what either Walls or Craig actually is arguing.

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      1. rhutchin: “Jerry Walls has a vivid imagination and I still cannot figure out Craig’s complaint even after having read his objections to Calvinism a couple times now. I doubt that you (or anyone else) could explain what either Walls or Craig actually is arguing.”

        Yes, I know, and John Piper calls N.T. Wright’s understanding of Pauline Greek “confusion”.

        It makes perfect sense to me. Calvinism does indeed have it’s own “closed system of logic”, as Margaret T. Singer, Ph.D. notes about numerous religious systems which put an extreme emphasis on the sacredness of their doctrine, and who put an extreme focus on getting people to assimilate the sacred doctrine. The doctrine separates the believer from outsiders, and gives him a sense of unflinching self-confidence. Outsiders are wrong and confused. It is the same “Gnosis” (divine illuminatoin given to the elect) which is characteristic of historical Gnosticism.

        Calvinist doctrine contains double-think in order for people to retain a sense of normalcy. Take the “dreaded hope” within historical Calvinism for example. The person believes (as Calvin teaches) that god may quote: “illumine him for only time, only to forsake him and cast him into outer darkness on account of his ingratitude [which the divine potter has designed… a vessel of wrath, for god’s sovereign glory].

        Calvin teaches the believer to compartmentalize these concepts. In other words, to make-believe (in one specific compartment of the mind) they don’t exist. This allows the Calvinist to quote: “go about his office” **AS-IF** he is one of god’s elect, thereby taking comfort. And Calvinist are so thoroughly indoctrinated in this, that it is the only normal way for them to think. So it makes perfect sense to them, but appears as double-think and denailism to those who have not come under the control of this form of indoctrination.

        So it makes perfect sense to me that John Piper calls an international bible scholar “confused”, and that you would call Dr. Jerry Walls “vivid imagination”, Dr. William Lane Craig “non-understandable”,…… Dr. Peter Van Inwagen, and Dr. Alvin Plantinga etc…. also fit into that some line of puzzlement for you. What they clearly see, has been made taboo for you to think. A person thoroughly conditioned in a certain doctrine is conditioned to not be able to comprehend things outside of the paradime (world view) established in the doctrine.

        This is exactly what Margaret Singer calls a “closed system of logic” and Steve Hassan shows us that a religious group of this nature has its own “insider” language. All of these indicators are characteristic of Calvinism’s psychology. So I understand your puzzlement. And I understand Calvinism has evolved an equivocal language in order to maximize its marketability.

        And I completely understand how it is that you are unable to comprehend the logic in this line of thinking. If contradicts everything you’ve been taught.

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      2. br.d writes, “Yes, I know, and John Piper calls N.T. Wright’s understanding of Pauline Greek “confusion”. ”

        As evidenced from your comments, even you cannot explain Craig’s objections to Calvinism. It’s hard to understand people like Wright and Walls, also. Not only for Calvinists but for non-Calvinists also.

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      3. As evidenced from your comments, even you cannot explain Craig’s objections to Calvinism. It’s hard to understand people like Wright and Walls, also. Not only for Calvinists but for non-Calvinists also.

        Explain it to who? Craig’s analysis of Calvinism is crystal clear to me, as he has said many things about it repeatedly. I don’t expect you to connect with it rhutchin. It would be counter to your indoctrination.

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      4. br.d writes, “Craig’s analysis of Calvinism is crystal clear to me,”

        Good. How about providing a summary of Craig’s analysis – limit to the points on which he disagrees with Calvinism.

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  19. rhutchin writes: “There is no real difference in the terms, “ordain” and “decree.” They are synonyms. God’s will is expressed in that which He ordains/decrees. ”

    Well then, if it is really true for you, that “ordain” and “decree” are synonymous, then I fully expect to see you use “decree” from now on, instead of “ordain” and “will” when referring to Calvin’s god’s role in sinf/evil events. But I think you strategically don’t. 😉

    Lets say you grant, that I replace the word “decree” in your statements that evade it from now on.
    Hmmmmm…. we could try that right now….Let me look for one.

    Here is a post which ommited “decrees” in response to a post to you specially focused on decrees.
    I’ll just go ahead and put decrees in there for you since its synonymous:

    rhutchin
    February 9, 2017 at 1:19 am
    1. God DECREES Adam’s sin and resulting unrighteousness be conveyed to his progeny so that all are unrighteous.
    2. God restrains people from engaging in all sin they desire to do.[which he DECREES they will infallibly do]

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      1. rhutchin
        February 9, 2017 at 1:19 am
        1. God DECREES Adam’s sin and resulting unrighteousness be conveyed to his progeny so that all are unrighteous.
        2. God restrains people from engaging in all sin they desire to do.[which he DECREES they will infallibly do]

        Actually rhutchin, I am happy with the clarity in this language. And since you assert that “ordain” “will” are synonymous with “decree”, I understand from that, that you are happy with this language also.

        Perhaps this is a step forward! :-]

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  20. How many times have you heard it said, “Calvinism stacks the deck”?

    It’s interesting to note this observation by William Lane Craig, concerning the authors selected for the book: “Four Views On Divine Providence”. The title of the book is misleading because, of the authors, the editor, a Calvinist selected two additional Calvinists as authors.

    Dr. Craig states: “This was one of the odd features about the book. I wondered why our editor, Dennis Jowers, selected two Calvinists [Paul Helseth and Ron Highfield], whose views are virtually indistinguishable. I thought it would have been better to pick someone, for example, who represents the view that there is genuine libertarian freedom, and there is full divine sovereignty, and there reconciliation is simply a mystery. But there is no one in the book who really represents that point of view. Rather our two Calvinist participants are determinists. They are Universal Divine Determinists, who hold to a compatiblistic view of human freedom. And then on the libertarian side you’ve got Greg Boyd the Open-Theist and myself the Molinist”.

    The editor, Mr. Jowers authors a finalizing chapter, which he uses to reinforce the Calvinist view, while attempting to critique the other two views and deems their arguments invalid. The result is a book with a dishonest title: “Four Views”, in which 60% of its content stacks the deck in favor of one view.

    A 2010 survey of approximately 300,000 protestant churches in the U.S. by the Barna group, resulted in 47% of main-line church pastors who identify as Wesleyan/Arminian, while 29% adopted the Reformed categorization. And yet the Calvinist editor has ensured that the Wesleyan/Arminian view, which significantly out-weighs the Reformed population in the U.S. is completely omitted from the book.

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  21. Final Observation on Chapter One – The Potter’s Character

    Dr. Flowers has an interesting section entitled “Used By God?” In it we find a contrast between the reprobate and the believer. The reprobate looks at God and says, “You were just using me.” Think of Pharaoh or Judas standing before God and saying that God used them but denying that they were pleased to seek to destroy the Israelites or to betray Jesus. By contrast, the believer says with Isaiah, ““Here am I. Send me!” Use me! Dr. Flowers then illustrates this in his life with his relationship to his father. As a child, he was like a reprobate mechanically doing what his father told him to do; later in life, he sought out his father because he wanted to do things with him. Dr. Flowers concludes, “I believe that God was seeking to mature our relationship beyond a master/ slave mentality.” No objection from the Calvinist on this.

    The last section in this chapter is, “God’s Character of Love.” Whenever the non-Calvinist argues on the basis of God’s love, they essentially use the arguments presented by the Universalists. Dr Flowers says, “some Calvinistic brethren, when discussing the sincerity of God’s love for all people, seem to distance themselves from the logically inevitable conclusions drawn by the implications of their own systematic.” I found this confusing. John 3:16 tells us that God loved the world, but He gave His son to save only those who believe. What about those who do not believe? Does God love them enough to save them? The Universalist says, Yes. The non-Universalist ultimately must say, No. Dr. Flowers asks the obvious question, “…can one objectively conclude that God’s treatment of the reprobate within the Calvinistic system is truly “loving” according to God’s own definition above?” If God will not save the reprobate, can He be truly “loving”? This is an area where difficulties abound. However, Dr. Flowers has not yet sided with the Universalists, so they are his difficulties also. Nonetheless, he presents the case for Universalism with a couple nice quotes from Jerry Walls to make the Universalist case. He ends this section with the Universalist question, ““How does a loving God express His sovereignty?” To the Universalist, the answer is obvious, God saves everyone.

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    1. “’How does a loving God express His sovereignty?’ To the Universalist, the answer is obvious, God saves everyone.”

      I guess you would say, Roger, that to a Calvinist the answer to that question is also obvious, God must save only the eternally, immutably selected ones to be saved.

      But to this non-Universalist, non-Calvinist, the answer is that God’s love is a love that is not immutably locked in, for a few or for all, but is able to suffer loss and rejection when it is universally offered to sufficiently save all who are created in His image, but must freely decide to accept or reject.

      This is consistent, imo, with how God describes His love and the offer of it in Scripture. The Calvinist and Universalist views are not consistent with the tenor of Scripture revelation about God’s love.

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      1. William Lane Craig agrees.

        quote: “when “one’s interpretation of Scripture leads one into this sort of cul de sac, it is a good idea to reassess whether one has, indeed, rightly interpreted Scripture” – Four Views on Divine Providence – pg 55

        Liked by 1 person

      2. brianwagner writes, “…to a Calvinist the answer to that question is also obvious, God must save only the eternally, immutably selected ones to be saved.”

        Certainly, Calvinists conclude that God has chosen to save certain individuals. I don’t think Calvinists would object to God saving any others who petition Him for salvation – the more, the merrier. It is still less than all people.

        Then, “…God’s love is a love that is not immutably locked in, for a few or for all, but is able to suffer loss and rejection when it is universally offered to sufficiently save all who are created in His image, but must freely decide to accept or reject.”

        If God should desire, would you object to God jumping in to save some additional number from among those who reject salvation?

        Then, “This is consistent, imo, with how God describes His love and the offer of it in Scripture.”

        As Dave Hunt said, “What Love is This?”

        Then, “The Calvinist and Universalist views are not consistent with the tenor of Scripture revelation about God’s love.”

        Under Calvinism and Universalism, God saves more people than under your system. That would seem to indicate God extending greater grace and this in response to His love for His creation. The tenor of Scripture would seem to be that God saves as many as He wants (by whatever method available).

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      3. You’re so funny Roger! 🙂 You like the theological dance when you have no Scriptural or reasonable response… imo.

        You said – “Under Calvinism and Universalism, God saves more people than under your system. That would seem to indicate God extending greater grace and this in response to His love for His creation. The tenor of Scripture would seem to be that God saves as many as He wants (by whatever method available).”

        You know Roger that God is not under any system of man… And are you omniscient to know the hypothetical numbers of the saved in each one if He were! I think Universalism wins every time, don’t you! 🙂

        And you probably know that I actually agree “that God saves as many as He wants (by whatever method available)” though I am cutting you some slack on that last parenthetical, since salvation is only by Christ, who is the mercy and righteousness of God.

        But He “wants” to save those that freely accept His gracious offer that enables them to seek and find Him. And there is no “greater grace” if that is how the Scripture defines it. An eternally, immutable fantasy love locked in God’s mind for characters in a completed story in His mind before they ever breathe their first breath does not seem too “great” a grace or love to me, nor biblical.

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      4. You’re so funny Roger! 🙂 You like the theological dance when you have no Scriptural or reasonable response… imo.

        Not by accident either! Wisdom and due diligence….being watchful for pretense and strategies. 😉

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      5. brianwagner writes, “..are you omniscient to know the hypothetical numbers of the saved in each one if He were! I think Universalism wins every time, don’t you! :-)”

        Under your system, only those who freely accept salvation are saved. That leaves a category of people who reject salvation. Under Calvinism, all those under your system are saved plus we add some whom God chooses to save from among those who freely rejected salvation – these are the really totally depraved. Under Universalism, all those under your system are saved and then God saves all those who reject salvation under your system. Relative to each other, the fewest people are saved under your system, the most (i.e., all) are saved under Universalism, and Calvinism is in the middle.

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      6. Do you really want to keep this dance going? 😂 I could posit that under your system only a few infants and imbeciles were probably elect if the ratio Calvinism maintains for older oned is used to guess their number. In my system they all are saved since non inherited Adam’s guilt. And we aren’t even considering how many multitudes in non-reformed covenant countries are saved when they cry out for mercy in response to God’s enlightenment of everyone! I WIN… I WIN… the dance marathon. You have tripped over your own weak reasoning!

        But the argument is silly… for the Universalist wins it every time. What Scripture clearly teaches about God’s universal mercy is what is most important! And it doesn’t teach universal salvation or eternal immutable fantasy salvation for a few, damning the rest.

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      7. What Scripture clearly teaches about God’s universal mercy is what is most important! And it doesn’t teach universal salvation or eternal immutable fantasy salvation for a few, damning the rest.

        Yes, but Gnosticism does, resurfacing in Augustine, and then later in an ardent admirer Calvin.

        Encyclopedia Britannica points to Christianity’s, most notable period of doctrinal syncretism:

        Gnosticism (a religious dualistic system that incorporated elements from the Oriental mystery religions), Judaism, Christianity, and Greek religious philosophical concepts—was particularly prevalent during the Hellenistic period (c. 300 bc–c. ad 300). The fusion of cultures that was effected by the conquest of Alexander the Great (4th century bc), his successors, and the Roman Empire tended to bring together a variety of religious and philosophical views that resulted in a strong tendency toward religious syncretism…….

        Syncretistic movements in the Orient, such as Manichaeism (a dualistic religion founded by the 3rd-century-ad Iranian prophet Mani, who combined elements of Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism) and Sikhism (a religion founded by the 15th–16th-century Indian reformer Guru Nānak, who combined elements of Islām and Hinduism), also met with resistance from the prevailing religions of their respective areas.”

        Kam-lun E. Lee, in his treaties “Augustine, Manichaeism and the Good” writes:

        “Augustine borrowed from the Manichees their dual notion of evil as ‘wickedness’ and as ‘mortality’. These were considered evil because they are the antithesis of tranquil pleasure at the spiritual and the physical levels of existence. He shared with the Manichees the view that these aspects of evil are inevitable so long as life is lived in this world. Together, these borrowed approaches to evil helped Augustine to formulate an alterative explanation of the principle of personal evil. (p.205)

        The Manichees arrive at the conclusion that the present universe is a mixture of both good and evil. Augustine, reasoning along similar lines, however, concludes differently. He argues that an individual creature is good because of the harmonious congruence of its parts, just as the universe is good by reason of its harmonious order (mon. II.v.7-ix.18).” [as held in NeoPlatonism] (p.153). The notion of cosmic order is actually the framework of Augustine’s doctrine of predestination, and is his response to the Manichaean view of the universe as a mixture of good and evil.” (p.144) As such, the determinism inspired by the Manichaean notion of the Good in terms of the concepts of consuetudo [sinful inclinations] and concupiscentia [depravity], under the aspect of limited salvation, is brought to its logical conclusion.” (p.204).

        Johannes van Oort, Professor of Patristics and Gnosticism, and past-President of the International Association of Manichaean Studies, in “The Search of Truth. Augustine, Manichaeism and Other Gnosticism” writes:

        “Several philosophers and religious figures influenced Augustine, amongst them Cicero, Mani, Plotinus, Ambrosius and, not least, the apostle Paul. In the research on influences on Augustine, NeoPlatonism certainly received the most attention. However, next to the Catholic component no single phase in his spiritual development is as important as the Gnostic one. Manichaeism is indeed a ‘gnosis’—religious knowledge to which access is gained by way of the revelation contained in a sacred discourse. Gnosis is not a philosophy. At any rate, ancient gnosis culminated and in a certain sense also ended in Manichaeism.

        Augustine chose this religion especially because of its rationality, and evidently commended it as a higher form of Christianity. He was a member of this sect from his nineteenth year. Only later (nearly ten years later) did he feel deceived in these expectations. Even after he departed from the religion of Mani, THE GNOSTIC COMPONENT GUIDED THE CATHOLIC COMPONENT PERMANENTLY.”

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      8. Br. D. It may be only speculation at this point on my part, but just after the evangelical Spanish Bishop was falsely accused and beheaded for Manichaeism and other false accusations… Augustine had his miraculous “conversion” from Manichaeism almost immediately, and lost none of his popularity as a public speaker in Milan, a powerful Christian center in his day, under Ambrose.

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      9. br.d writes, “What Scripture clearly teaches about God’s universal mercy…it doesn’t teach universal salvation or eternal immutable fantasy salvation for a few, damning the rest.”

        If all are not saved, then aren’t just a few saved (or are you quibbling over the definition of “few” or are you denying that hell is real)?

        Then, “Even after he departed from the religion of Mani, THE GNOSTIC COMPONENT GUIDED THE CATHOLIC COMPONENT PERMANENTLY.”

        It is always possible that God had some influence in Augustine’s life especially through His word – Augustine might even say that it was the dominant factor.

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      10. “It is always **POSSIBLE** that God had **SOME INFLUENCE** in Augustine’s life especially through His word” rhutchin – February 14, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        Thanks rhutchin,
        This provides a good example of double-think for us to unpackage:

        CONCEPT [A]
        Asserted as Universal Divine Determinism, recognized as a ***Universal Positive Proposition***:
        A Universal Positive Proposition asserts absoluteness in scope, where absolutely **NO** possible exceptions exist.

        FORM: ALL [S] ARE [P]

        see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_of_opposition

        Example [A].1
        “The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”. Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees

        Example [A].2
        “Man by the righteous impulsion of God does that which is unlawful” (Institutes 1-16).

        Example [A].3
        “I concede more, that thieves and murderers, and other evil-doers are INSTRUMENTS of divine providence [decrees], being deployed by the lord himself, to EXECUTE the judgments which he has resolved [decreed] to inflict.” (Institutes: 1.17.5)

        CONTRADICTION TO [A]:
        “It is always **POSSIBLE** that God had **SOME INFLUENCE** in Augustine’s life especially through His word” rhutchin – February 14, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        If conclusions are inconsistent and logically contradictory, and we are commanded by god to “examine all things”, then the contradiction is a warning sign of human error. And Jesus asks the question: “How great is the darkness”?

        Nobody has “perfect” theology, we should be on red alert when Calvin or anyone even slightly infers his theology infallible. And Calvin often appears obsessed with his doctrines infallibility.

        God says: “How long will you halt between two opinions?” 1 Kings 18:21

        And scripture teaches: Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ be ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

        But Calvin’s doctrine teaches a ‘YES/NO’ double-think psychology, and he berates anyone who doesn’t take the teaching as “ex cathedra” which is psychological conditioning, antithetical to the pattern of N.T. authorship. He needs logic to forward his teaching, then attacks it when his contradictions surface.

        Either [A] god’s influence on Augustine’s mind is **PROGRAMMED** by divine decrees, without exception, or [NOT A] it isn’t. But logic stipulates, two opposing conceptions cannot both be true at the same time.

        Like a woman who knows her husband is dead, but is taught by her priest, to go about cooking her husbands meals and washing his clothes as if he’s alive, unflinchingly holding two opposing beliefs as both true, is not (for me) the mind of Christ.

        Hope this helps provide a non-Calvinistic perspective.

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      11. br.d writes, “Example [A].1
        “The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”. Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees”

        The Calvinist take on this is that the divine decrees program God’s omniscience – God knows that which He decrees.

        Then, “Example [A].2
        “Man by the righteous impulsion of God does that which is unlawful” (Institutes 1-16).”

        In Calvin’s own words, “..the Providence of God, as taught in Scripture, is opposed to fortune and fortuitous causes…let us be assured that all creatures above and below are ready at his service, that he may employ them in whatever way he pleases. Hence we infer, not only that the general providence of God, continuing the order of nature, extends over the creatures, but that by his wonderful counsel they are
        adapted to a certain and special purpose…in this way, while acting wickedly, we serve his righteous ordination, since in his boundless wisdom he well knows how to use bad instruments for good purposes.”

        Then, “CONTRADICTION TO [A]:
        “It is always **POSSIBLE** that God had **SOME INFLUENCE** in Augustine’s life especially through His word” rhutchin – February 14, 2017 at 2:10 pm”

        Did you notice the slight witticism in that statement? Perhaps it went over your head.

        Then, “Either [A] god’s influence on Augustine’s mind is **PROGRAMMED** by divine decrees, without exception, or [NOT A] it isn’t. But logic stipulates, two opposing conceptions cannot both be true at the same time.”

        I think Calvin was consistent is saying that any influence of God on people is by divine decree. In other words, God does nothing without first deciding that He will do it.

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      12. rhutchin writes: “Did you notice the slight witticism in that statement? Perhaps it went over your head.”

        I always notice how crafty you are with words rhutchin. Word games and lawyer-speak, is one of Calvinism’s primary characteristics. Fun for me, as I get tons of tons of examples to work with. 😉

        And yes, on Calvin being more forthright on how the decrees are for him, ultimate sacred thing, I agree. That’s why I notice Calvinists today avoid his quotes. In the book of revelations, in the German translation, the dragon speaks strategically with soft voice. Today’s Calvinist language magician mentors have learned the art well.

        Blessings :-]

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      13. brianwagner writes, “I could posit that under your system only a few infants and imbeciles were probably elect if the ratio Calvinism maintains for older oned is used to guess their number. In my system they all are saved since non inherited Adam’s guilt.”

        Under your system, you tell God what to do (i.e., not to condemn all people for Adam’s sin, save all people having certain characteristics, save those who want to be saved). Under my system, God is in control, He chooses whom to save, and He sets the rules.

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      14. Now Roger, you have not only changed the tune of the dance, but have criticized falsely how I danced to your last tune. You know I have always affirmed that it is God’s plan… no one in my view is to “tell God what to do.” Why would you misrepresent me that way?

        God does make the rules… you and I just disagree on what they are. On fact you really don’t believe He makes the rules… for you believe they were eternally, immutably set. But we were dancing about whose system gets more saved… I’ve proven mine does and you didn’t want to keep dancing! 😂

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      15. brianwagner writes, “God does make the rules… you and I just disagree on what they are.”

        Sort of. Maybe, we both take the Calvinist view on certain types of people (e.g., babies) where we both could agree that God saves them unconditionally and sets the rules for doing so. Or maybe you believe that babies don’t need to be saved, since the rule is that they have not done anything necessitating that they be saved. In that case, God creates the baby without sin and then withdraws His life sustaining hand from them and taking them into heaven. But, would this be your rule or God’s rule?

        Then, “On fact you really don’t believe He makes the rules… for you believe they were eternally, immutably set.”

        I like your use of the passive tense to disguise the one who “eternally, immutably set” set the rules. Gee, I wonder who could have done that. Would you like to take a stab at rewriting your statement in the active tense.

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      16. Roger… I am an old man and get tired of dancing much sooner than you do, it appears. So take the last word again in this thread and dance as long as you like after my closing comments! 🙂 All infants need their bodies redeemed, tainted as they were with indwelling sin from Adam’s body/flesh. And I believe Jesus’ redemption covers that for all of them. In fact, all mankind will be resurrected into everlasting bodies, according to God’s “rule”/promise (John 5).

        Calvinism has to believe God is passive as far as what is eternally, immutably set, within His mind, which for the Calvinist is everything that will come into being, for there was no moment or sequence when everything was not set. But Calvinists love to use sequential language to hide what they know God could have just as easily said about His nature, will, and decree of all things, if everything was truly eternally, immutably set within His mind. But of course the Scripture reads differently and the Calvinist must dance around what God could have easily said by declaring that God chose instead to speak “anthropomorphically” in Scripture, instead of clearly, about such a foundational truth to their system!

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      17. brianwagner writes, “…Calvinists love to use sequential language…”

        We can rephrase this to say, Calvinists think there is a logical order to what God is doing.

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      18. Calling it a “logical order” when there is no actual “order” (sequence with a before and after) is neither logical or a real order of events but an obfuscation and a contradiction! It’s a shame Calvinists do not want to own up to their twisting and denial of the perspicuity of many Scriptures to fit their theology as well as their misuse of the terms “logical order.”

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      19. brianwagner writes, “Calling it a “logical order” when there is no actual “order” (sequence with a before and after) is neither logical or a real order of events but an obfuscation and a contradiction!”

        Logically, Adam sins before Christ dies on the cross. Logically, Christ is born before He dies. Logical order can certainly entail actual order. Actual order can be known to God before the event occurs in time. God could known the events of Genesis 1 before He brought them about. I don’t think that is the real issue with you.

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      20. You must know you are still dancing and drawing me into the circle! We were talking about God’s decree… not the order in which events play out in creation. It is because the logical order is so evident in the events of reality after creation that it is natural to see events being in logical sequential order before creation, like the decisions God makes about the future. But Calvinism rejects that view of pre-creation reality, though it wants to employ the words of it as proof for its unbiblical idea of eternal, immutable set decree of everything. Thus the contradiction of “logical order” when there is no order before creation.

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  22. Observations on Chapter Two – “The Potter’s Choices”

    Dr. Flowers focuses attention on Matthew 22, the parable of the wedding feast. I think his intent is to tie this parable into Romans 9 and the Potter. He writes, “our Potter has made several distinct choices in His redemptive plan to ensure the fulfillment of His promise, none of which need involve choosing to effectually save and/or condemn people before the world began.”

    He uses the parable to identify “choices” that God has made. Here he says, “It is my contention that Calvinists have confounded these three choices by treating them as if they are all one in the same.” Yet, Calvinists can agree with Dr. Flowers on the choices he identifies. The problem is that Dr. Flowers focuses on this parable as a key element in the Calvinist doctrine of election. It is not. He has exaggerated the importance of this parable in Calvinist theology and I think, is confused about Calvinist interpretation and application of the parable – something that seems no different than his.

    Dr. Flowers refers to the first two choices (to send the gospel to the Jew and then the gentile) and then says, “these elective purposes are not about individuals being chosen to salvation.” Calvinists agree – one of the major points made by Calvinists is that the Scriptures specifically speak of the gospel going to both Jews and gentiles (Ephesians 3, 1 Timothy 2). So, both can agree that individual election is not in view in the first section of the parable.

    The third choice involves the “wedding garment.” Here Calvinists agree that God requires that believers be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. This is a requirement for salvation., and here is where the parable is not clear and different opinions exist on what has happened. Dr. Flowers writes, “The kingly choice to save whosoever believes and responds to the divine invitation is seen in the “few” who are “chosen” portion of Christ’s parable (Divine Choice #3)…” Then, he says, “That choice is anything but unconditional.” The king of the parable had instructed, “‘Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.” As the servants “gathered together all they found,” it would appear the the “invitation” was actually a command – those invited really had no choice. Then comes the issue of the wedding garments – Who supplied them? Were the guests allowed to go home and change or did the King supply the wedding garments? We don’t know, but commentators speculate in favor of each position. However, because of the need to speculate, no Calvinist would, nor any non-Calvinist should, use this parable to substantiate any doctrine.

    Dr. Flowers continues “The confusion comes when one convolutes these three distinct choices.” He then embarks on a discussion that I found confusing. He says, “Calvinists are using Divine Choice #1 as proof for their belief about Divine Choice #3.” Actually, the Calvinist interpretation of Divine Choice #3 reflects their position that the King provides the wedding garments. He then writes, “Calvinists often argue that God has “granted repentance or faith” to some individuals but not others, yet clearly such passages represent Divine Choice #2.” That’s fine, but we are now dealing with Divine Choice #3, so why backtrack?

    As good a job as Dr. Flowers does on footnotes, he missed it in this chapter. Several times he refers to positions that Calvinists take with regard to the parable. Each occurrence should be footnoted with specific citations of those Calvinists taking these positions. because such is lacking, Dr. Flowers’ comments are reduced to personal opinion or reflect no more than anecdotal evidence.

    Overall, I did not understand why this particular parable was so important to Dr. Flowers or to his argument concerning Romans 9. He seems to want to show how Calvinists have misunderstood the parable, but he ignores the major issue with the parable – that concerning who supplied the wedding garments. I think you could delete the chapter from the book and not miss a beat.

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  23. Observations on Chapter Three – The Potter’s Freedom

    Dr. Flowers makes several interesting statements in this chapter.

    1. “Some seem to believe that for God to be considered “sovereign” then individuals cannot have a libertarian free will.”

    I had not heard this before (good place for a footnote). In Calvinist theology, sovereignty has no effect on “libertarian free will” as Adam/Eve had LFW and regenerated Christians have LFW. As he begins with this statement, he is not necessarily disagreeing with Calvinism at this point. I think this statement – leading to the chess illustration – was just a means for him to introduce the subject of sovereignty.

    2. “One must understand that the attribute of God’s sovereignty, if defined as His providence over creation, is not an eternal attribute. Divine sovereignty is complete power and authority over all that has been created.”

    The key phrase here is “if defined as His providence over creation.” It’s not necessary to define sovereignty in this manner, but it is important to Dr. Flowers. I didn’t see that the discussion contributed much to the key theme of the book – the exegesis of Romans 9.

    3. “Traditionalists believe this means that it pleased God to give man a certain level of “autonomy” or “libertarian freedom.”…for the Calvinist…God is pleased to create a world under His meticulous deterministic control (i.e. “sovereignty”).”

    The statements do not oppose or contradict each other. God created Adam/Eve with LFW (so Calvinists agree with Traditionalists in some respect) and God also created a world that was under His meticulous deterministic control (i.e. “sovereignty”). The real issue concerns the effect Adam’s sin had on his free will – the issue of Original Sin. Calvinists also hold that people have free will but subordinate to God’s will (so their may be a “certain level of ‘autonomy…’”). Some discussion of “autonomy” and ‘libertarian freedom” would be helpful – if only in a footnote.

    4. “If the all-powerful One chooses to refrain from meticulously ruling over every aspect of that which He creates, that in no way denies His eternal attribute of omnipotence, but indeed affirms it. It is the Calvinist who denies the eternal attribute of omnipotence, by presuming the all-powerful One has no alternative to meticulous deterministic rule over His creation. In short, the Calvinist denies God’s eternal attribute (omnipotence) in his effort to protect the temporal one (sovereignty).”

    Can God really “refrain from meticulously ruling over every aspect of that which He creates”? In Colossians 1, we read, “by Him all things were created…and in Him all things hold together.” God continuously sustains his creation and must do so less it cease to exist. In addition, from Hebrews 4, “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Then in Romans 9, “[God] will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion….Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardens.” It is God who sustains His creation down to the smallest atom or particle and should God not sustain it, it would be destroyed. It is God who extends mercy to one and in refusing mercy, hardens another – there is no neutral position. However, how does the Calvinist deny omnipotence – certainly not to preserve sovereignty as there can be no sovereignty without omnipotence. I found this part confused.

    5. “Arguing that God’s nature demands that He remains in meticulous deterministic control over every dust particle and all our moral sinful desires is not an argument in defense of His sovereign freedom, but a repudiation of it.”

    Calvinists argue that God is in absolute control of His creation simply because He is God and must continuously sustain that creation if it is to continue to exist. In addition, God is said to exercise His control in one way or another. God may directly determine the course of His creation (e.g., Noah’s flood; Sodom; the impregnation of Mary), give Satan freedom to act (e.g., the garden; numbering of Israel; entering Judas to betray Jesus) or just do nothing and allow, while sustaining, the natural course of events as they play out (e.g., Cain’s murder of Abel; the conquering of nations by Assyria or Babylon; the stoning of Stephen). In these and other ways, God is always exercising, in some manner, meticulous control over His creation – not an atom so much as shivers without God decreeing that it should shiver. Where is the repudiation of sovereignty in any of this? I did not see it. At the least, Dr. Flowers needs to explain how he arrived at his conclusion (at least in a footnote).

    6. “[God] accomplishes all things in conjunction with libertarian free will…”

    The Calvinist says, “[God] accomplishes all things in conjunction with free will…” The dispute is over free will, and whether it continues to be “libertarian” after Adam sinned and this goes back to the doctrine of original sin.

    7. Dr. Flowers has a nice quote from Calvin and then writes, “Many modern day Calvinists would not go so far as to candidly admit what John Calvin does in the quote above.”

    Why this would be true escapes me. Calvin makes a solid argument and explains his position well. Could we just agree that Calvinists agree with Calvin on anything he writes including on this point.

    8. “One presumption that we should bring to Scripture is that our God is good and He is in no way implicit in the bringing about of moral evil.”

    This deserves more discussion. It was God who created Adam and Eve, put them in a garden, gave them the commandment, and then released Satan in the garden knowing that this would end in Adam eating the fruit. Maybe a different word than “implicit” is called for.

    9. “…[God] provided the means by which their sins would be atoned…”

    A thoroughly Arminian statement. But, we already knew that.

    Beyond this, Dr. Flowers discusses “linear logic” and the “eternal now” which I found confused and confusing. The chapter makes use of many questions while not really developing an argument to respond to the issues raised by the questions. I got to the end of the chapter and was asking myself, “What did this chapter accomplish?” It certainly failed to show that God is not exercising absolute control over His creation – but it did ask a lot of unanswered questions about the issue.

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  24. Dr. Flowers sites the word “Autonomos” to describe the traditionalist’s understanding of man created God’s image.

    AUTO-NOMOS: From Greek autonomia. [auto=self + nomos=law] meaning “self-governed” or “self-determined”

    This is in contrast to Calvinism’s commitment to Universal Divine Determinism, in which every human neurological impulse is predestined (i.e., pre-programmed) at the foundation of the world.

    A Greek word to describe man in this view is: μηχανικός = MACHINE.

    quote:
    “The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”.
    Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees”

    That man is ROBOT-IC in Calvinism becomes clear when one examines all of the “forms” of freewill claimed by Calvinism.
    All “forms” of freewill in Calvinism are just as applicable to machines as they are to humans.

    The Calvinist will point out that humans are not robots….merely an ontological distinction, just as apples are not oranges.
    However, apples and oranges both function as fruit, and in Calvinism, humans and robots both function robotically.
    See Robert R. McLaughlin’s quote above.

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    1. One last note. The laughable irony in Calvinism’s ROBOT-IC world, is that in order for Calvin’s disciples to retain a sense of normalcy, he teaches them to MAKE-BELIEVE they function as “Autonomos” while also denying that man was created “Autonomos”.

      How is that for a psychology of DOUBLE-THINK! And that, we are told is a “superior” belief system?!?
      Thanks but no thanks!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And the Calvinist continues to try to make his view of God’s sovereignty sound more palatable by using present tense language. He says God is “decreeing” as if it wasn’t all eternally immutably set before. He refuses to see that as a misrepresentation. I wonder why.

        Perhaps it is because he is wrongly convinced that God has hid the truth about His nature and activity often in Scripture with analogous and anthropomorphic language that appears opposite of Calvinistic teaching. So the Calvinist thinks, “If God can be deceptive about Himself, so can we be a little deceptive about His sovereignty.” Maybe he would be better off assuming Calvinism is wrong and God was not speaking deceptively.

        And then there is the deceptive talk about LFW for Adam and those who are regenerated, as if any of their choices made were/are any less caused by deterministic sovereignty than those made by the unregenerate.

        It surprises me that smart men can feel comfortable… even confident… of using such deceptive talk. Paul’s example of transparency would be a better example to follow.

        2Cor 1:12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.

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      2. I totally agree Brian!
        The scripture reveals something interesting about human graven images:

        “They that make them become like unto them, and so is every one that trusts in them”. Psalm 135:18

        The worshiper becomes like unto the deity he worships.

        In Calvinism, the deity speaks with forked tongue.
        He makes Adam and Eve’s disobedience: fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternate possibility.
        And then he commands them to do the opposite of what he decrees they will infallibly do.
        Calvinism’s deity is dishonest, and speaks double-speak.
        And scripture says, the worshiper is “Like Unto” the deity.

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      3. Br. D. I am not sure I can bring myself yet to see Calvinism as having a false deity rather than a misrepresentation of the true deity. To me it would not be like Judaism, Islam or Mormonism, who claim to have the same God of the Bible but reject the deity of Jesus. And salvation for the Calvinist is still by grace through faith, apart from works, though they completely misrepresent God as to how He displays His mercy and sovereignty as revealed clearly in Scripture.

        I certainly do see Calvinism dishonoring the glory of God in His nature and works and harming evangelism and prayer by their loyalty to philosophical determinism. And I guess that is a form of idolatry, like the golden calf that Aaron called YHWH who brought them out of Egypt!

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      4. Hi Brian,
        Yes I agree with you there. Wouldn’t it be true to say, as humans we do have misconceptions of god, as a normal part of our humanity. And strictly speaking, any conception of god that is false, must be humanly derived, and would therefore fall into the biblical definition of a ‘graven’ image. I anticipate this weakness to myself, given my own humanity. so who knows how many fingers I’m pointing at myself?

        I think you are absolutely correct to point out that Calvin’s god is biblical to a degree. And Calvinism does acknowledge many critical points of protestant orthodoxy. But Calvinism, by its Syncretism with Gnostic and NeoPlatnonic doctrines, results in an image of a god, which distorts the biblical definitions of holiness, godliness, righteousness, and truth.

        Calvinist/Gnostic elements contain moral dualism. And in moral dualism you have unholy-holiness, ungodly-godliness, unfree-freewill, and false-truth. Both Gnosticisim and NeoPlatonism hold that evil is beautiful. Calvinists reflect this dualism, by stating the horrible decrees are both terrible and beautiful. Edwards states that god requires evil in order to make his glory shine forth. Double-predestination is a natural doctrinal outcome of moral dualism.

        Dualism is why Calvin depicts god as doing [A] and speaking NOT [A]. Dualism is why Calvin teaches his disciples to believe their every neurological impulse is fated, while simultaneously making believe they aren’t.

        Paul speaks of “Having a form of godliness while denying the power thereof”. Having a “morphos” of godliness is having godliness that does not exist in reality, but only in “morphos” = facade. This system has a facade (morphos) of free-will, a (morphose) of “do otherwise” and a (morphos) of “alternative possibilities”.

        This is why the Calvinist can believe God resists X, while at the same time he has already (foreknown by foreordination by immutable decrees) X will infallibly occur. The “resist” appears in the form of a “morphos” = facade.

        A world of dualism is a world of “unreal-reality”. That is the respect in which I see Calvin’s deity as a graven image.

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      5. Would you think Br. D. that most adopt Calvinism after true conversion? Then as novices they are lifted up with pride and fall into the devil’s snare of misrepresenting the true God, while still actually being saved. They just do not spiritually mature as evidenced by their rejection of clear Scripture authority concerning God’s mercy and relational free will, but rely instead on the authority of manmade theological and philosophical tradition.

        Loyalty to any tradition is hard to break the longer it lasts and the more heartily it is defended. What is needed, I think is a constant drive to maintain a loyalty for dogma that is only based on the clarity of Scripture and is also conformed to the rules of logic.

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      6. Well you have a father’s heart Brian, and your questions are very important for the conversation.
        I am convinced the average evangelical Christian doesn’t have first-hand experience in seeing the difference between teachers who present biblical information, in a true scholarly manner, leaving believers free to be Berean independent thinkers, vs ministries who systematically indoctrinate people and brood over their assimilation of doctrine made sacred.

        It is very apparent that Calvinism contains very radical philosophical elements, as William Lane Craig is always quick to point out.

        I seriously think Dr. Margaret Singer and Dr. Steven Hassan would give us the best answers concerning the socialization processes at work within Calvinist society. Experts on these topics will tell you that socialization influences are very powerful….especially to young starry-eyed Christians, highly idealistic, easily influenced, and unsuspecting of ministries who become experts at influence.

        I think the carrot on the string is often- times the presentation of Calvinism as philosophically and spiritually superior. And its not unusual for Calvinism to be advertised with a blatant spirit of boasting. It is well recognized Calvinists exhibit a spirit of elitism.
        So I think socialization processes need to be taken into consideration, to understand Calvinism’s social psychology.

        We are, after all, humans, subject to psychological influences.
        Great questions!!! :-]

        Liked by 1 person

      7. brianwagner writes, “I certainly do see Calvinism dishonoring the glory of God in His nature and works …”

        Because they say that God is absolutely sovereign over His creation, has absolute control, and does as He pleases decreeing who is born, when they die and whether He will save them??? How does Calvinism dishonor the glory of God in either His nature or works?

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      8. You’ll have to go back and read the whole sentence again Roger. The answer to your question is there. Cherry picking side points we may agree on doesn’t discount what was said about Calvinism’s “loyalty to philosophical determinism” and its affect on evangelism and prayer which clearly is also based on their misrepresentation of the mercy and love that God shows to all those created in His image, and their misrepresentation of His desire to clearly reveal His will in Scripture. I will stick with what I believe glorifies His character and works in all these areas.

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      9. brianwagner writes, “And then there is the deceptive talk about LFW for Adam and those who are regenerated, as if any of their choices made were/are any less caused by deterministic sovereignty than those made by the unregenerate.”

        Where is the deception? It is the doctrine of original sin that argues that the freedom enjoyed by Adam before he sinned in different, and lesser, than the freedom he enjoyed after he sinned. In the doctrine of regeneration, it is argued that the freedom enjoyed by those regenerated is different, and greater, than the freedom enjoyed when they were unregenerate. So the deception cannot be in the claims of freedom enjoyed by various people – Adam, the unregenerate and the regenerate.

        So, the issue is whether a person’s choices are “caused by deterministic sovereignty” regardless what state they are in. What proof is offered that a person’s choices are “caused by deterministic sovereignty” or that such must necessarily be so, other than that which the Scriptures tell us such as the heart of the king being in God’s hand to turn however He wants or that those who come to Christ are taught by God. However, even here it is not necessary that God cause the person’s choices as God’s influence upon a person to open eyes that were previously blind enabling a new appreciation of the things of God is more than sufficient to accomplish His purpose while preserving the freedom of the person to choose.

        The unregenerate pursue their depraved desires inherited from Adam consequent to his sin and God need only restrain them in the sin they pursue. The regenerate pursue the kingdom of God by virtue of the faith God gives to them with this faith being the conviction of the truth of those things written in the Scriptures seen through eyes no longer blind.

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      10. Just more deceptive anthropomorphic descriptions… just like the Calvinist believes God uses in Scriptures. Logically there is no free choice for anyone… even God… in the playing out of what was the only one eternally immutable set way for everything to play out before even one created will came into being. You can deny the logic… but there it is. LFW does not exist for Adam or the regenerate in an eternally immutable deterministic reality. Sorry.

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    2. br.d writes, ““The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”.
      Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees””

      William Craig has shown that knowledge of a future event does not cause the event. Even Dr. Flowers seems to recognize that Calvinists do not attribute the future to God’s omniscience – see his footnote 31 in Potter’s Promise.

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      1. Yes, that is true, and a good point rhutchin.

        That’s why I was careful in my description to state it as Calvinism does:
        (Foreknowledge by Fore-ordination i.e., immutable decrees) which make every human neurological impulse: fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility.

        Now technically, we can remove “fated” from that list, which William Lane Craig would most astutely do.

        But we must do so with the knowledge that theological-determinism and theological-fatalism, although technically not the same thing, are of the same species. And they are so similar that Calvinists consistently cross over into fatalistic language when enunciating sovereignty.

        They both make things fixed, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible and without alternate possibility.
        Good point….thanks! :-]

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      2. br.d writes, “That’s why I was careful in my description to state it as Calvinism does: (Foreknowledge by Fore-ordination i.e., immutable decrees) which make every human neurological impulse: fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility.”

        As William Craig points out, it is the foreknowledge of God that makes such things certain (fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility) yet not necessary (factors other than foreknowledge contributing to their necessity).”

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      3. rhutchin writes:

        As William Craig points out, it is the foreknowledge of God that makes such things certain (fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility) yet not necessary (factors other than foreknowledge contributing to their necessity).”

        William Lane Craig rightly ascribes that list (above) to Theological Determinism, which is Calvinism’s commitment.

        Quote: “Determinism annihilates free choice. So God must know future free choices in some other way.”

        Quote: “The free decisions of human beings determine what foreknowledge God has of them, rather than the reverse. God’s foreknowledge is chronologically prior to a human’s free choice, but the human’s free choice is logically prior to God’s foreknowledge”

        Craig’s construal of divine foreknowledge does not make future events (fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility)

        Perhaps you have a quote from Craig that you feel affirms foreknowledge eradicates alternate possibilities?

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      4. br.d writes, “William Lane Craig rightly ascribes that list (above) to Theological Determinism, which is Calvinism’s commitment.”

        Craig ascribes God’s foreknowledge under Calvinism to His decrees – so foreknowledge is the common issue. He posits Molinism as an alternative to determinism to explain God’s foreknowledge but has yet to explain how this happens.

        Then, “Craig’s construal of divine foreknowledge does not make future events (fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility)”

        Of course he does. Craig is clear that future events are certain but not necessary and God has full knowledge of all future events – this knowledge having been gained in eternity past as posited by Molinism.

        Then, “Perhaps you have a quote from Craig that you feel affirms foreknowledge eradicates alternate possibilities?”

        “From God’s knowledge that I shall do x, it does not follow that I must do x but only that I shall do x. That is in no way incompatible with my doing x freely. Undoubtedly, a major source of the fatalist’s confusion is his conflating ‘certainty’ with ‘necessity.’” William Lane Craig, Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views (p. 127).

        Craig’s language, “…that I shall do x,” eradicates alternate possibilities but does not eradicate the freedom of the individual in choosing to do x..

        This is footnote 40 from Dr. Flowers’ book.

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      5. Although this clearly distinguishes the fallacy of fatalism (i.e., that “I shall do” does not logically entail “necessity”).

        It doesn’t establish that William Lane Craig asserts: “I shall do” logically entails (fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility).

        In an interview with Closer to truth Dr. Craig states to the effect: “with determinism, ‘do otherwise’ is not logically consistent”.
        Its clear that Dr. Craig does not embrace determinism, having the “modus of necessity”, which does make future events (fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility).

        And its clear that Dr. Craig asserts “future contingent events” (i.e., events that are not fixed, inevitable etc) as part of divine knowledge.

        A quote from Dr. Craig that precisely and unambiguously states foreknowledge eradicates alternate possibilities is needed.

        Also, footnote 40 in Dr. Flowers book appears to be a reference to Mark R. Talbot

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      6. br.d writes, “Also, footnote 40 in Dr. Flowers book appears to be a reference to Mark R. Talbot”

        Even the spell checker cannot always overcome fumble fingers. It’s # 49.

        Like

      7. br.d writes, “It doesn’t establish that William Lane Craig asserts: “I shall do” logically entails (fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility).”

        The language “I shall do” allows no other outcome.

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  25. Wagner writes:

    “I certainly do see Calvinism dishonoring the glory of God in His nature and works and harming evangelism and prayer by their loyalty to philosophical determinism. And I guess that is a form of idolatry, like the golden calf that Aaron called YHWH who brought them out of Egypt!”

    An idol is any representation of God that does not fit what He reveals about Himself in scripture.

    By this standard calvinism at some points does not fit what He reveals about Himself in scripture (e.g. He says He is merciful to all, calvinists come along and tell us that He intends to be merciful only to the elect when it comes to salvation): thus creating an idol. Open Theism does the same thing when it denies clear scripture such as the passages in Isaiah where God contrasts himself with false gods by declaring He knows the future and they do not. So denying that God knows the future creates an idol as it does not fit what He reveals about Himself in scripture.

    All of us have to beware of idols, especially those which people create out of their own imaginations. In the prophets including Isaiah, one of the things that is brought out about Idolatry is that people love physical representations of God that they can control. This explains why so many idols are reflected in physical representations and why the God of the Bible speaks of graven images. The idolatry also may be purely mental as is the case with those who say that since He is a God of love He would never send anyone to Hell. Another example in Christian circles would include the positive confession preachers who proof text from certain verses falsely representing God as intending to make everyone rich if you trust these promises (claims that are completely contrary to what God says about Himself in scripture, e.g. He never promises that He will make you rich, He does promise that if you are in this world and faithful you will suffer for being faithful). Idolatry is a subtle sin that we all have to be on guard against.

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    1. I agree with what you’ve recognized as another one of Calvin’s images of god. The Calvinist deity is the ultimate supreme utilitarian who treats his created beings as nothing more than assets to either bless or torment, for his good pleasure, or for his glory.

      Jesus Christ, (the very image and likeness of God) on the other hand is self-sacrificing.
      The difference between the two characterizations couldn’t be more antithetical to each other.

      And they worshiped and served the beast, saying “who is like the beast….who can make war with him….who can overcome him?”

      The reason they worship and serve the beast is because, in their eyes he is “sovereign”.
      Can you imagine Christians declaring they worship and serve god for the same reason the people of the world worship the beast?
      God forbid!!

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      1. br.d writes, “The Calvinist deity is the ultimate supreme utilitarian who treats his created beings as nothing more than assets to either bless or torment, for his good pleasure, or for his glory.”

        Calvinists follow Paul on this, “For [God] said to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that [works], but of God that shows mercy.” (Romans 9) and “…we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1)

        Like

    2. Robert writes, “[Calvinists say God] intends to be merciful only to the elect when it comes to salvation): thus creating an idol.”

      Yet, even you say that God knew His elect before He created the world and will be merciful only to them – in saving them while not saving any of the reprobate. Perhaps, Brian is slowly enticing you to the Open Theist side!!

      Like

  26. Observations on Chapter 4 – The Potter’s Promise

    Dr. Flowers gets into the doctrine of “Judicial Hardening” (comments on this later) and I like his efforts to think outside the box in looking for a way to counteract Calvinism. In this chapter, He makes some interesting comments about sin. Let’s look at them.

    1. Dr. Flowers raises a challenging issue, “Mark Talbot, John Piper…are teaching that God actually brings about the sexual abuse of children in order to glorify Himself, yet He does so without sinning. In other words, they believe that God does these seemingly horrible things while somehow not being held culpable. How can that be? How can God meticulously and purposefully bring about child molestation for His glory while avoiding culpability? No consistent Calvinist has ever provided an answer to this question.”

    Yet, he then writes as if he were a Calvinist defender in saying, “All Christian scholars can agree that God at least allowed sinful actions to take place for a greater plan and purpose. We can also all agree that God’s involvement was completely sinless.” He raises an objection and then agrees with the Calvinists.

    After this, he engages Hendryx and writes, “In this theory, God is involved at the level of determining men’s evil desires in such a manner that they could not have refrained from the given moral action… In other words, Hendryx supposes that God brings these evil events about by meticulously determining all the circumstances and the evil desires of man.”

    I think Dr. Flowers means to distinguish between “God at least allowed sinful actions” and “God brings these evil events about by meticulously determining all the circumstances and the evil desires of man.” As a former Calvinist, he knows that there is no difference in these statements. Even when God “allows,” God is “meticulously determining” and this is because God is sovereign and exercises absolute control over His creation (down to any movement of the smallest particles) – thus, God “allows” by decree. God is able to meticulously determine all things and does so through active direction of those events or through a passive response whereby natural events play out naturally only after God’s decree not to interfere. I think Dr. Flowers could have collected his thoughts on this issue into one section and presented a more lucid discussion of the issue.

    2. Dr. Flowers asks, “Do Calvinists really affirm the universal divine causal determinism of every single thing that comes to pass, including heinous moral evil?”

    He then cites William Crain who “regularly describes Calvinism as ‘universal divine causal determinism,’ which he defines as meaning, ‘God determines everything that happens in the world.’” Notice that in using the word, “causal,” Craig does not mean that God is the direct cause of those things that He determines – e.g., God does not cause a person to think evil thoughts as depraved people are more than capable of thinking evil without God’s help.

    The interesting part of Dr. Flowers comment is “…including heinous moral evil.” He presents two very good examples – the policeman and the speeder and his little girl and the cookie jar. In explaining the examples, he provides a thoroughly Calvinist statement, “I allowed my daughter to be tempted and to act in sin. Am I in any way culpable for that sin? No. I merely allowed it though I could have stopped it.” We can use his two examples and substitute any heinous moral evil – thus, he also affirms, “the universal divine causal determinism of every single thing that comes to pass, including heinous moral evil” and that God can do this without culpability.

    Dr. Flowers reinforces the Calvinist position in the example of Joseph, by using Calvinist reasoning, “God’s intention is only to redeem, save, and restore throughout this entire event, yet to do so He must permit evil men to fulfill their own autonomously [heinous moral] evil desires.” In the example of Pharaoh, he writes, “The Potter sinlessly used a [heinous moral] sinful will to accomplish His promise.” On the crucifixion, Dr. Flowers again agrees with the Calvinist, “I agree that God did determine the crucifixion by actively intervening in our fallen world to ensure it came to pass…”

    Dr. Flowers then seeks to distance himself from Calvinism by saying, “I believe God knows the choices of His creatures because He is omniscient, not because He is ‘omni-deterministic.'” Dr. Flowers does not agree with the Calvinist that God is omniscient because God decrees all things. Ask Dr. Flowers how God can be omniscient, he will tell you that it’s a mystery – but we cannot accept the Calvinist explanation.

    Dr. Flowers demonstrates that a person may not like the things that Calvinist says, but it is difficult to explain things without appealing to Calvinist arguments.

    Like

    1. rhutchin writes:

      “Dr. Flowers demonstrates that a person may not like the things that Calvinist says, but it is difficult to explain things without appealing to Calvinist arguments.”

      We can interpret this as Calvinist arguments being designed as appeals to abstract hypotheticals, like subjunctive conditionals. Manufactured “images”, “facades” or “spin-offs” of attributes inherent within Christianity having, libertarian freewill and libertarian moral culpability.

      Consider that Calvinism’s libertarian “spin-offs” are manufactured in order to give the impression that Calvinism offers features, biblical people find desirable.

      In the marketplace, a product having low market-share, will always advertise itself as having characteristics of the products having high market-share. But these advertised characteristics are promoted only through subtle misleading language.

      Discipline yourself to carefully scrutinize Calvinist statments, and you will learn the science of misleading and truth-omitting language.

      Like

      1. br.d writes, “We can interpret this as Calvinist arguments…”

        Unable to deal with the Calvinist arguments to which Dr. Flowers appeals and and cited by me, Br.d takes off on an unresponsive rabbit trail that does not require the discipline needed to carefully scrutinize Calvinist statements. Maybe, he is not reading Dr. Flowers book.

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      2. Coming from he whom everyone at SOT101 sites as the “rabbit trail” king, this is hugely ironic! 😉

        Again, discipline yourself to carefully scrutinize Calvinist statements, and you will learn the science of misleading and truth-omitting language. And don’t forget to have fun!

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  27. Rhutchin writes:

    “As William Craig points out, it is the foreknowledge of God that makes such things certain (fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidable, irresistible, and without alternative possibility) yet not necessary (factors other than foreknowledge contributing to their necessity).”

    It is uncontroversial that Luis D. Molina believed in a libertarian form of free will, which espouses PAP, (Principle of Alternate Possibilities). William Lane Craig, following the Molinist view concurs, both in his “Reasonable Faith” doctrines series as well as in Four Views on Divine Providence:

    quote:
    In contrast to the Molinist view of simultaneous concurrence, the deterministic view holds that even the movement of the human will is caused by god. God moves people to choose evil, and they CANNOT DO OTHERWISE. God determines their choices and makes them do wrong. If it is evil to make another person do wrong, then in this view god not only is the cause of sin and evil, but he becomes evil himself, which is absurd. Four Views on Divine Providence – page 910 – kindle version

    quote:
    “Consider, for example, Paul’s promise in 1st Corinthians 10:13…….He [the believer] has the power to act OTHERWISE than he did. To say that he was causally determined to succumb and so was unable to DO OTHERWISE, is to deny this promise of scripture”. Page 825 kindle version

    Having said that, it is also true that Dr. Craig would insist that PAP is not necessary to affirm LFW. But that is not the equivalent of asserting that divine foreknowledge annihilates PAP, which would be contradictory to a central tenet of Molinism.

    Like

    1. br.d writes, “It is uncontroversial that Luis D. Molina believed in a libertarian form of free will, which espouses PAP, (Principle of Alternate Possibilities). William Lane Craig, following the Molinist view concurs, both in his “Reasonable Faith” doctrines series as well as in Four Views on Divine Providence:”

      Molinism explains that God considered all the possible worlds that He could create in eternity past. The libertarian free will occurs in the mind of God as God manipulates events to produce different worlds. In the world God chose to create, and of which we read beginning in Genesis, everything has been determined and nothing will deviate from God’s eternal plan for that world – Calvinism accurately describes that world.

      Then, in the quotation, “the deterministic view holds that even the movement of the human will is caused by god.”

      This describes that form of determinism where fate is god. It is not the theological determinism espoused by Calvinism and Molinism.

      Another quotation, ““Consider, for example, Paul’s promise in 1st Corinthians 10:13…….He [the believer] has the power to act OTHERWISE than he did.”

      The promises of God are certain. People are free to chose whether to live according to God’s promises. That which people chose to do, is known to God before he created the world and as Craig explains, God’s foreknowledge of the future makes that future certain but not necessary.

      Like

      1. All of Dr. Craig’s comments in Four Views on Divine Providence are “according to him” what he understands as the logical entailments of Universal Divine Determinism (i.e., Calvinism). It is not Dr. Craig’s purpose in the book to detail a distinction between determinism and fatalism, however he does an excellent job of that in his “Reasonable Faith” doctrine series. In fact Paul Kjoss Helseth is the only author in the book who brings up the subject of fatalism.

        But of course, god leaves you free to re-interpret anything you want, in such a way to force it to affirm whatever belief you need to affirm. Dr. Craig would say you are free to do that, and you are also free to DO OTHERWISE. And god’s foreknowledge will track your free choice like an infallible barometer….but in no way does god’s foreknowledge constrain or prejudice that free choice. 😉

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      2. Roger are you telling us you are now a Molinist and not a Calvinist? You said – “The promises of God are certain. People are free to choose whether to live according to God’s promises. That which people choose to do, is known to God before he created the world and as Craig explains, God’s foreknowledge of the future makes that future certain but not necessary.”

        You really do not believe now that “God’s foreknowledge of the future MAKES that future certain”, right? The Calvinist believes it is God’s will that MAKES the future certain, and His will also creates His foreknowledge. And of course, the Calvinist then equivocates and says making the future certain does not equal making it necessary! But he chooses to live with that contradiction instead of yielding to the revelation of Scripture that not all things have been divinely willed as certain for the future.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “Roger are you telling us you are now a Molinist and not a Calvinist? ”

        I think I can be both Molinist and Calvinist. Molinism concerns events that occurred prior to Genesis. Calvinism concerns that which occurs Genesis onward. The unique world that God decided to create under Molinism is the world that God did create under Calvinism. I don’t see a conflict between Molinism and Calvinism.

        Then, “You really do not believe now that “God’s foreknowledge of the future MAKES that future certain”, right? The Calvinist believes it is God’s will that MAKES the future certain, and His will also creates His foreknowledge. ”

        William Craig distinguishes between that future that is certain and that which is necessary. He then says that the future is certain under foreknowledge but not necessary. Following Calvinism, God’s decrees make the future both necessary and certain with foreknowledge able to tell us what is certain but not why it is necessary. So, I’ll yield on your complaint about my using the term, “makes” – under foreknowledge, the future is certain.

        Then, “And of course, the Calvinist then equivocates and says making the future certain does not equal making it necessary!”

        I guess the Calvinist should not use the term, “make,” when referring to foreknowledge alone but can do so when referring to God’s decrees.

        Then, “But [the Calvinist] chooses to live with that contradiction instead of yielding to the revelation of Scripture that not all things have been divinely willed as certain for the future.”

        I’ll yield to Craig on this in his distinction between certain and necessary (after correcting for using the term, “make”). The critical language you use is “not all things” which allows that some things are divinely willed as certain [and necessary] for the future.

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      4. Exactly! Thank you Roger for taking the time to clarify where you currently stand on pre-creation omniscience and conceding your overstatement by using the word “makes” with foreknowledge.

        But I think if you go the route of affirming Molinism for their definition of omniscience before creation, you run the risk of affirming sequential divine thought (at least once) before creation for the choice between possible worlds.

        That of course abandons the Calvinist idea of eternally immutable will from which came certain foreknowledge. For if the divine will can make one sequential choice in the divine mind, why not more… leaving others for later? The Scripture certainly affirms sequential thinking in God.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “if you go the route of affirming Molinism for their definition of omniscience before creation,…”

        I wasn’t aware that the Molinists had a definition of omniscience – other than as simple foreknowledge where it is a mystery as to how God knows all things that could be before creation.

        Then, “For if the divine will can make one sequential choice in the divine mind,…”

        I think we can say is that God can express choices that are to follow a sequential order in the world to be created. If we have God making choices sequentially, then it is either because He chooses to do so or because He needs to wait to see what happens before He can make a following choice. Taking the former, we have no reason to think that the choices God chooses to make in sequential fashion over time would be any different from those choices He could make all at once before creation.

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      6. Really… Roger? Then you need to read more as to how God arrived at His total knowledge of the future according to Molinism. It is not a static eternal immutable foreknowledge, but one that is altered by a choice between possible worlds, which Calvinism cannot allow. There is no choice in Calvinism in God’s mind, only one eternal immutably fixed foreknowledge that logical flows from His eternal immutably fixed will.

        The Calvinist says God’s power theoretically is free to create other worlds, but His will won’t let Him for there is only one so-called “perfect” world. The Molinist avers that other possible worlds are available to God’s will and He chooses one. That is a mental choice, in the normal definition of things.

        And I already know your rejection of God making choices after creation, even though the Scripture clearly says He does.

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      7. Hi Brian,
        These statements concerning Molinism and Dr. Craig are wishful thinking on rhutchins part, in a futile attempt to paint William Lane Craig and Molina as “inevitablists”. Rhutchin is an “inevitablist” and (foreknowledge = inevitability) is a key stronghold in his thinking.

        Dr. Craig, espouses Molinism, and is definitely not an “inevitablist”, for Molina, and Craig both assert god has knowledge of future contingent events, where alternate possibilities do exist, and where a libertarian form of freewill exists.

        In contrast to Calvinism’s determinism with a compatibilistic form of freewill.

        For Dr. Craig, would say, the event is not inevitable, but rather god’s infallible foreknowledge of the event is inevitable.
        But of course that does not support Universal Divine Determinism, which Dr. Craig consistently asserts makes god the author of evil.

        So rhutchin, of late has been trying to paint Dr. Craig’s criticisms of Calvinism AS IF they were criticisms of fatalism. But there is so much an abundance of material on video and in writing from Dr. Craig, anyone can see for themselves, this backfires.

        BTW: Classical Modal Logic, in which Calvinism dabbles, logically entails “possibility” as well as “necessity”.

        For example:
        It is POSSIBLE that it will rain today IF AND ONLY IF IT IS NOT NECESSARY that it will not rain today; and IT IS NECESSARY that it will rain today IF AND ONLY IF IT IS NOT POSSIBLE if that it will not rain today. – Introduction to Modal Logic – G. E. Hughes

        So even while the Calvinist escapes fatalism by rejecting “necessity”, his rejection of PAP (principle of alternate possibilities) still gives him fatalism’s outcome, where before man was born, all of his neurological impulses will be (programmed, fixed, fated, inevitable, unavoidably and irresistible).

        But of course in their view the programmed-human-robot does whatever he does “MOST FREELY”. 😀

        Like

      8. Br. D. As I understand Molinism and Craig, it is only before creation and only in God’s mind as a logical choice that “both assert god has knowledge of future contingent events, where alternate possibilities do exist, and where a libertarian form of freewill exists.” Once a possible world with contingents is decreed (which to me is an impossibility… that is, impossible to decree a world where all freewill choices are made in God’s mind before any free will is created to exercise itself) then there are no more true contingents and alternate possibilities that exist. God has played out all His choices in His mind and has thus limited man’s choices drastically to one set, including only one set of human beings that will ever be brought into existence, and only one set of choices that He will permit or cause them to choose. That is the only way foreknowledge could be complete logically. And free will after creation is thus abrogated.

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      9. I think Dr. Craig would say, in Molina’s scheme, god does not cause a person to choose. But he guarantees an outcome, by putting a person in a situation in which he knows they will freely choose, in a libertarian sense of free choice, by leaving man with genuine alternate possibilities.

        In contrast to Calvin, Molina does not have Adam’s disobedience pre-programmed. And Molina does not have god predestining a “door of disobedience” as the only possible door which exists for Adam to walk through. Molina sees god giving Adam two doors to walk through, both doors having genuine existence, and god ALLOWING Adam to make his own independent choice, where ALLOW is genuine and not a facade.

        I agree with Dr. Flowers that Molina’s scheme is theoretical. Yet even so, it provides a feasible way for god to ensure events obtain that he wants to obtain, but not in such a way that genuine free choice (in a libertarian sense) is annihilated. In Dr. Craig’s analysis of Molinism, man bears full responsibility for sin or evil, because god does not determine man’s choices for him. Dr. Craig would say Calvinism makes god the author of evil because in Calvin’s scheme, god programs man like a robot and the programming determines what choices the robot will make.

        Did I address what you were focusing on?

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      10. Br. D. I may be wrong, but what you said sounds very similar to the marketing language we often see Calvinists use! lol 🙂

        You said – “But he guarantees an outcome, by putting a person in a situation in which he knows they will freely choose, in a libertarian sense of free choice, by leaving man with genuine alternate possibilities.”

        I heard “God guarantees the outcome of every so-called ‘free choice’ by -in His mind before creation – putting a person in a situation in which He knows only what outcomes will occur.” I see “putting” equal to “decreeing” and “causing”. And since it all happens before creation, I only now “feel” like my choices are being freely made. In reality the situations God chose before creation in His mind to put me in have limited me to only one choice.

        Besides that, it does not answer the fundamental question – “If God could make mental choices like that before creation, why did He chose to make them all ahead of creation? Wouldn’t there be more freedom for Him and man to express themselves in relationship if God had not made all His choices of “putting” man in situations for known outcomes before even making man.

        There is a desire to remain loyal to the concept of a completed foreknowledge, in my view, that continues to rob God of His free-will after creation and also misrepresents the record of Scripture that God is still making decisions.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. I heard “God guarantees the outcome of every so-called ‘free choice’ by -in His mind before creation – putting a person in a situation in which He knows only what outcomes will occur.”

        I think you are right…that statement does strongly infer there is no REAL choice…just the one god guarantees will occur. So yes, I agree, that paints too deterministic a picture. So I stand corrected, and thanks for pointing that out!!

        On the issue of when god makes choices at a fixed point in or out of time, and not being able to make “present” choices , I’m not familiar with Molina coming to that conclusion. Are you?

        Thanks my friend :-]

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      12. brian wagner writes, “There is a desire to remain loyal to the concept of a completed foreknowledge, in my view, that continues to rob God of His free-will after creation…”

        How do you seen this robbing God of His free will? Under concepts of completed foreknowledge, God still makes His decisions as He desires. Even under your system where God knows all possible future contingencies – and thereby can decide how He will respond in each event – God’s decisions will be no different than under any other system (other than those which expressly deny God information about the future). When God makes His decisions – whether before creation or in time, as history plays out, does not affect the decisions God makes nor the freedom He has to make them. I still don’t understand your position where the timing of decisions affects the freedom God has in making those decisions.

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      13. brianwagner writes, “…free will after creation is thus abrogated.”

        Do you mean that there is no way to define “free will” such that it is not abrogated?

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      14. You know that there is, Roger, and you could probably repeat back to me the only way I think freewill can not be abrogated after creation like it logically must be in Calvinism, Molinism, and Arminians. 😊

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  28. BTW, another aspect of Molina’s scheme in contrast to Calvin’s, is that it takes “Love Hopes All things” at face value. In Molina’s scheme, god actually does “HOPE” (in a genuine sense) the person will make the choice that provides a redemptive outcome. So Molina’s god is not a utilitarian deity, like in Calvinism, where creatures are nothing more than assets to bless or torment.

    In Calvinism god sets man up like a domino, and determines the force to which he will be pushed, and the direction he will fall, making his eternal torment inevitable.

    Molina’s god is redemptive, while Calvin’s god is “yin-yang” / “good-evil” based upon Christian/Gnostic/NeoPlatonism, where evil is a necessary component of the deity.

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    1. Br. D. I may have to read Molina’s own words, for I am getting the wrong impression I think, if am linking his view as being identical with what I have read others say is middle knowledge and credit him. I am not sure how “hope” plays into Molina’s view or the view of middle knowledge. Maybe you can give me a quote. If the word “hope” just means, as we understand it from God’s perspective, “assurance” then I would think the Calvinist could affirm that word as well for Calvinism, Molinism and Arminianism all have assurance that only one set future will occur in accordance with God’s set foreknowledge. They just arrived at that set foreknowledge before creation differently.

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      1. Calvinism, Molinism and Arminianism all have assurance that only one set future will occur in accordance with God’s set foreknowledge.

        Are you certain that notion is entailed in Molinism and Arminianism? Doesn’t that infer a doctrine of inevitability? If a theology embraces libertarian free will and alternate possibilities, how can that theology assert one set future in accordance to god’s set foreknowledge? Everything I read, indicates theological determinism entails one set future in accordance to god’s foreknowledge.
        If a theology rejects determinism, (from what I’m familiar, both Molinism and Arminianism do) it would seem to me, to assert one set future would be a logical contradiction.

        Also, Arminianism, unlike Calvinism does not impose a high degree of doctrinal control over people, where pastors brood over believers assimilating doctrine, like we see in Calvinism. So, I don’t see Arminians getting much involved in these conversations, and I get the sense there is a wide variance in what they believe. Do you have quotes from Arminian leaders concerning?

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      2. Br. D. Thank you for recognizing the determinism sounding language in your statement of Molinism. As far as studying Molinism to find a quote proving they believe all God’s decisions are made before creation, it may take some time. I assume that from what I read in their idea of God choosing a possible world.

        It is always a possible world that is completed so that foreknowledge of it is also completed. It must therefore include all of God’s choices being made ahead of the actual events.

        I still think you need to work through the eternality of God, whether it is sequential or non-sequential. It cannot be both without being contradictory, and it cannot be non-sequential without Scripture being viewed not clear at all on the nature of reality.

        The idea of set foreknowledge before creation is in Calvinism, Molinism, and Arminianism (“before” being a sequential term that must mean something about reality). They each arrive at it differently, but they all affirm it is “set” and immutable once creation begins.

        God, according to Calvinism has eternally immutably willed that set foreknowledge. According to Molinism, God makes one choice before creation of a possible world that supposedly has all His and man’s free-will choices already made in it, thus making the foreknowledge set. And Arminianism somehow has an incomplete foreknowledge with all man’s choices that God then responds to making it fully set before creation.

        The first tenet of the Remonstrance of Arminianism confirms this divine predetermination before creation for salvation and damnation of individuals, which means God foreknows who will be saved and who will be damned. You will be hard pressed to find an Arminian that does not affirm God has had knowledge of a completed future since creation. That would have to include knowledge of all His own choices, which means that all have already been made.

        The Greek word for “hope” is contextually understood… with man’s being with incomplete knowledge of the future, so we normally think of some uncertainty. If our hope is in a divine promise to be fulfilled, then our hope is certain. If you are speaking of God having hope… then it can only have some uncertainty if you are an open futurist! 🙂

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      3. Thanks Brian,
        In your reading, you may be interested in this article by Dr. Craig:

        http://www.reasonablefaith.org/hasker-on-divine-knowledge

        You will find in this article a reference where he states he, with Molina, follows an “Ockhamist” solution, which Dr. Alvin Plantiga also embraces. And one of the formulations sited is:

        “S has it within his power to act in such a way that, were he to act in that way, God would not have believed that p,”

        This does seem to infer a certain type of “openness”, which god leaves to human determinism, even if Dr. Craig doesn’t use the word “open”. Its possible that he doesn’t because perhaps in his mind it would infer a compromise of god’s knowledge of future possibilities. But I’m only guessing. But it goes without saying that if, as Dr. Craig holds (foreknowledge does not necessitate inevitability), then there are events occurring, which god did not determine at the foundation of the world, or at any other time.

        I would like you to know that I consider myself fortunate to be your friend!! And I know you’ve come under some malicious attacks for views that, for you, represent a loving and benevolent god. It would be understandable that some of those wounds are sensitive.
        Please know, its the heart of a loving Jesus, to always pour out the oil and the wine, and bind up the bruised and wounded. And my heart leans into that also!

        Your posts are always generous and Christ-like, even when Christ is not returned.
        Ur. Frnd….br.d :-]

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      4. Your friendship and compassion are so evident towards me and much appreciated. I am not too hurt by what might be considered personal attacks on this site, but your encouragement spills over as a balm for other spiritual attacks, much more painful, that I am currently facing.

        I need to do more investigation of Craig, when I have the time. The semester is heating up right now! 🙂 But the quote – “S has it within his power to act in such a way that, were he to act in that way, God would not have believed that p” seems to reveal to me the loop hole for determinism in the words “have believed” which is the perfect tense pointing back to foreknowledge before creation.

        Some try to obfuscate by saying “before creation” only meaning “outside time” and then they posit that God’s foreknowledge is simple, and, as such, that somehow solves the problem of man’s free choices as always in agreement with it.

        I think an open futurist would say – “S has it within his power to act in such a way that, were he to act in that way, God would come to believe that p as the settled one but that change in His foreknowledge of that p from possibility to concluded event in His knowledge does not make any substantive change in His omniscience.” your friend – Brian

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      5. Thanks Brian!!

        The Lord is always doing a good work in us who cling to his loving-kindness, even though the process can be painful. I speak from very personal experience. We are so blessed to have the Lord!!

        I can see, in your slight revision of the formula, the change, (for my part) makes no significant difference. I also remember two significant points in the “Closer to truth” documentary concerning free-will, with Robert Lawrence Kuhn.

        First, where he is interviewing one of the scientists, concerning neurological research on human decision making. The gentleman he is interviewing says something revealing. He states that, if we scrutinize the different beliefs that scientists posit on human free will, we find that each person starts from a philosophical position, and then searches for data to affirm that position. That certainly pops the inflated ego of the person who insists his position is “of the holy spirit”.

        Secondly, Peter Van Inwagen’s interview where he states that a disciplined logician may have to conclude, there are some things that are not possible for god to know. He likened it to god not being able to create a square circle.

        Some of the controversies in Christianity, I think start from someone taking a humanly conceived position on something concerning god, and then posture speaking “ex-cathedra”, and then masquerading that as “the true gospel” or orthodoxy. Personally, I tend to look on the fruits of the tree as the real indicator, rather than a person’s doctrines. :-]
        Blessings my friend!!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. brianwagner writes, “As far as studying Molinism to find a quote proving they believe all God’s decisions are made before creation, it may take some time.”

        William Craig seems to be one who has spen time thinking about Molinism and how it differs from Calvinism. He seems to argue that the logical order of Gods’ decisions before creation explain the difference between Molinism and determinism (e.g., Calvinism) and here he gets into a discussion of the “logical moment” where God makes decisions. For example, I will say that God knows all the possible worlds He can create before Genesis and chooses that one world that He will create. Craig will say that God’s decision can be broken down into three logical moments in this order:

        1. God knows the range of possible worlds
        2. God knows the range of feasible worlds
        3. God knows the actual world.

        By identifying possible and feasible worlds, Craig seems to argue that free will occurs as God first removes unfeasible worlds and then decides on the one world to create. Key to this is that Craig says that there is one possible world where Peter denies Jesus and another possible world where, under the exact same circumstances, where Peter does not deny Jesus. Craig does not explain how this could happen – I think at least one part of those circumstances, no matter how small or unimportant, would have to be different to explain two different outcomes – but it is a significant premise. Craig explains this in the book, “Four Views of Divine Providence.”

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      7. good post rhutchin:

        To add to that…Dr. Craig understands Calvinism is fundamentally committed to determinism with a compatiblist form of free will.

        Molina, and thus Dr. Craig reject determinism, being committed to a libertarian form of free will.

        Quote:
        “Molina was an unrelenting libertarian about freedom. He was not a compatibilist. He believed that human beings have significant freedom to act as they choose independent of being causally determined. Certainly there are causal antecedents of our choices but they are not so specific as to determine everything that we choose and do. Molina believed that we have significant freedom to choose as we will among various options.” – More Questions on Free Will – Reasonable Faith ministries.

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      8. br.d writes, “Molina, and thus Dr. Craig reject determinism, being committed to a libertarian form of free will.”

        That is what they claim. Whether they can avoid determinism in the Molinist scheme has yet to to shown. Maybe in the future, someone will take a stab at putting some flesh on the bare bones offered by Molinism. Not to mention explaining what libertarian free will is all about.

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      9. In your reading of the passage, wouldn’t you say the Greek has “HOPE” as something god desires but does not control? Wouldn’t “HOPE” in that sense infer a form of “openness”?

        I was thinking about that word “openness” a while ago after posting “Love HOPES all things”. :-]

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    2. br.d writes, “In Calvinism god sets man up like a domino, and determines the force to which he will be pushed, and the direction he will fall, making his eternal torment inevitable.”

      This happened in the garden when God gave Satan access to the garden knowing the end result – even we mortal humans would have seen it coming. After Adam’s sin – after which people are born with a sin nature but without faith or the Spirit to help – the result is that which we see described before the flood. It is only by God’s restraining influence that sinful man is not utterly depraved now.

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      1. rhutchin writes:
        “In Calvinism god sets man up like a domino, and determines the force to which he will be pushed, and the direction he will fall, making his eternal torment inevitable.”

        “This happened in the garden when God gave Satan access to the garden knowing the end result.”

        Right….in Calvinism….following your domino scheme……Satan is a domino and Adam is a domino. And god determines the force which he pushes Satan, and the direction he will make Satan fall, and god determines the force which he will push Adam, and the direction in which he will make Adam fall. Additionally, In Calvin’s scheme, there are a fixed number (THE MANY) of dominoes (human souls) which god sets up, and pushes into an eternal lake of fire and torment…….for his good pleasure and for his glory….of course!!

        That’s why people observe humans as bio-robots in Calvinism.

        And that’s one of the reasons William Lane Craig says concerning Calvinism:

        quote:
        “It is deeply insulting to God to think that He would create beings which are in every respect causally determined by Him and then treat them as though they were free agents, punishing them for the wrong actions He made them do or loving them as though they were freely responding agents.

        God would be like a child who sets up his **TOY SOLDIERS** and moves them about his play world, PRETENDING THEY ARE REAL PERSONS whose every motion is not in fact of his own doing and pretending that they merit praise or blame.”

        Thanks for your post rhutchin.

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      2. br.d writes, “And god determines the force which he pushes Satan, and the direction he will make Satan fall, and god determines the force which he will push Adam, and the direction in which he will make Adam fall. ”

        Not under Calvinism. It is not necessary for God to push as both Satan and Adam, as free beings, are self motivated.

        Then, “Additionally, In Calvin’s scheme, there are a fixed number (THE MANY) of dominoes (human souls) which god sets up, and pushes into an eternal lake of fire and torment…….for his good pleasure and for his glory….of course!!”

        Not under Calvinism. It is only necessary that God give the blind man sight and the now seeing man acts.

        Then, “That’s why people observe humans as bio-robots in Calvinism.”

        This reflects the ignorance of Calvinism by many.

        Quoting Crag, “God would be like a child who sets up his **TOY SOLDIERS** and moves them about his play world, PRETENDING THEY ARE REAL PERSONS whose every motion is not in fact of his own doing and pretending that they merit praise or blame.”

        This is a straw man created by Craig for lack of argument. God creates real people self motivated by real desires and God is in the position of restraining those people from pursuing sinful desires. The complaint is that God does not completely restrain people from sin but has determined that people be free to sin and thereby merit well earned blame for which they cannot enter heaven.

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      3. “And god determines the force which he pushes Satan, and the direction he will make Satan fall, and god determines the force which he will push Adam, and the direction in which he will make Adam fall. ”

        rhutchin responds:
        “under Calvinism. It is NOT NECESSARY for God to push as both Satan and Adam, as free beings, are self motivated.”

        Here “Self Motivated” cannot possibly mean “Self Determined” because in Calvinism god determines **ALL** Satan’s and Adam’s neurological impulses before they are created. We recognize how well “Self Motivated” is just as applicable to robots and machines. A robot can be “Self Motivated”, and yet all of of its neurological impulses determined before it is created, just like Satan and Adam are in Calvinism.

        William Lane Craig:
        “God would be like a child who sets up his **TOY SOLDIERS** and moves them about his play world, PRETENDING THEY ARE REAL PERSONS whose every motion is not in fact of his own doing and pretending that they merit praise or blame.”

        rhutchin responds”
        “This is a straw man created by Craig for lack of argument”

        Yes….I’m sure the average double-speak Calvinist with all of his double-speak answers is much much smarter than William Lane Craig will ever be! 😛

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      4. br.d writes, “Here “Self Motivated” cannot possibly mean “Self Determined” because in Calvinism god determines **ALL** Satan’s and Adam’s neurological impulses before they are created.”

        God made both Adam and Satan with freely operating neurological impulses that comprise all their desires. All those impulses are known to God down to the minutest detail making them certain but not necessary. God, as sovereign, exercises absolute control over even our neurological impulses but this does not require that God propel them in one direction or another. With the freedom God has given to Satan and people, they tug against God’s restraining hand seeking their will, but can only express their will is subordination to God’s will. Even under Calvinism, self motivated means self determined because of the freedom God has given people to pursue their desires.

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      5. rhutchin writes:
        “God made both Adam and Satan with freely operating neurological impulses that comprise all their desires.”

        And Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin fills in the missing information:
        quote:
        “The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”. Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees

        What ever kind of “freely” being spoken of here, its obvious it is robotic.

        Thank the Lord there is at least ONE honest Calvinist in the fold. :-]

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      6. br.d writes, “And Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin fills in the missing information: quote:
        “The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”. Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees
        What ever kind of “freely” being spoken of here, its obvious it is robotic.”

        The key here is that the programming is “into the divine decrees” and not the individual – thus not a robotic concept. The divine decrees can be active or passive in their influence on people and can use primary and secondary sources to accomplish God’s purposes. Robotic control would involve “direct” programming of the thoughts, motives, etc. and not programming of the divine decrees as the means to control thoughts, motives, etc..

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      7. “The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”. Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees
        What ever kind of “freely” being spoken of here, its obvious it is robotic.”

        rhutchin writes:
        “The key here is that the programming is “into the divine decrees” and not the individual – thus not a robotic concept. The divine decrees can be active or passive in their influence on people and can use primary and secondary sources to accomplish God’s purposes. Robotic control would involve “direct” programming of the thoughts, motives, etc. and not programming of the divine decrees as the means to control thoughts, motives, etc..”

        Yes…exactly robotic in every way. When I program a microprocessor, I don’t program the device directly either. I program it using binary CODE which is downloaded into the device. The code is made up of binary DECREES which function exactly as Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin indicates: All of the devices thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include its sins and failures as well its successes, are programmed into it, in the form of binary DECREES.

        When I’m done, I have a nice little “Self-Motivated” domino that functions “freely” in the Calvinistic sense.

        Hmmmmm……It never occurred to me to program some Self-Motivated Calvinists as my next project. It would be easy to create a binary CODE to make grace irresistible! 😉

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      8. bw writes, “When I program a microprocessor, I don’t program the device directly either. I program it using binary CODE which is downloaded into the device. The code is made up of binary DECREES which function exactly as Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin indicates: All of the devices thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include its sins and failures as well its successes, are programmed into it, in the form of binary DECREES.”

        Your program puts into the microprocessor the exact instructions and procedures it will follow to accomplish the specific tasks that you want to do. The programming does not convey “life” in any sense to the microprocessor. Your “decrees” are given directly to the processor and tell it what to do. You must then take direct action to cause the microprocessor to do a task. If you left the microprocessor alone to decide what it would do, it would remain inactive.

        When God created Adam/Eve, He breathed into them the “breath of life” – something impossible for you to convey to your processor even with the most elaborate programming. With that “breath of life,” Adam was enabled to think on his own – to recognize his surroundings and have those surroundings affect feelings and desires in him that would then cause him to respond in various ways – felling elated or depressed, happy or sad, etc. He became independent of God in that God did not have to tell him everything that he should do but he was not so independent as not to be under God’s control – he could exercise his desires and will to do things only subordinate to God’s will – or under God’s restraining influence.

        Even with your programming of thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include its sins and failures as well its successes into your microprocessor, it does not have “life” and only does things in the fashion you have programmed – if x, then y. God did not program Adam to respond, if X, then Y but to respond, if X then Y or not Y. Adam could freely choose what path to take – again within constraint of God’s will. So, we see that Adam could choose to eat the fruit or not eat the fruit. Cain could choose to kill Abel or not kill able. The brothers of Joseph were restrained from killing Joseph but could see him as a slave. Herod could put James to death but was restrained from putting Peter to death.

        So, your programming of a microprocessor is a poor analogy to what God did in creating a human.

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      9. rhutchin writes:
        “Your program puts into the microprocessor the exact instructions and procedures it will follow to accomplish the specific tasks that you want to do. The programming does not convey “life” in any sense to the microprocessor. Your “decrees” are given directly to the processor and tell it what to do. You must then take direct action to cause the microprocessor to do a task. If you left the microprocessor alone to decide what it would do, it would remain inactive.”

        This is simply a lack of understanding of the world of robotics based upon determinism with compatibalistic freedom. Now we have a new appeal to some kind of “LIFE”. As you say….in Calvinism god PROGRAMS decrees which DETERMINE the neurological impulses of “Self-Motivated” dominoes. Whatever “free” there is here is predetermined/compatiblistic and whatever “Life” you have here is also pre-determined/compatiblistic…..and it is thus robotic.

        Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin is honest about it, where he shows “**ALL** of the “Self Motivated” dominoes (thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include its sins and failures as well as its successes) are PROGRAMMED into the decrees, which are then used as the MEANS which DETERMINE every neurological impulse the “Self Motivated” domino will have.

        To assert determinism/compatibilistic freedom, and then paint it as indeterministic/non-compatiblistic freedom is double-think.

        “Self Motivated” domonoes simply function as gears in a machine.

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      10. br.d writes, “…sins and failures as well as its successes) are PROGRAMMED into the decrees…”

        Again, the key language is “…PROGRAMMED into the decrees…” He does not say, “…PROGRAMMED into humans…”

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      11. Again, the decrees are not programmed into the robot. They are programmed into the code. Everything that the robot determines is predetermined by the programming of the decrees. Now the Calvinist cannot say exactly HOW the decrees determine the “Self-Motivated” domino to determine what it determines. Certainly god does not have to “download” the decrees into the “Self Motivated domino. Calvin’s deity can just as easy have the his decrees function supernaturally. But the Calvinist is committed to a world of determinism with compatiblistic freedom.

        Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are ***COMPATIBLE***. Therefore, compatibilist free will is a form of free will that is PRE-DETERMINED.

        It doesn’t matter the entity’s life-form….whether its a robot or Satan or Adam or all Calvinists. They all exist in a determined world, in which **EVERYTHING** is PRE-DETERMINED before they are created.

        And Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin is honest about it, where he shows “**ALL** of the “Self Motivated” dominoes (thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include its sins and failures as well as its successes) are PROGRAMMED into the decrees, which are then used as the MEANS which DETERMINE every neurological impulse the “Self Motivated” dominoes will have.

        In a deterministic world, there is no way of escaping determinism. However one can attempt to escape it through double-think. 😉

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      12. br.d writes, “Again, the decrees are not programmed into the robot. They are programmed into the code. Everything that the robot determines is predetermined by the programming of the decrees.”

        In a robot, there is no difference. The decrees are part of the code and the code is internal to the robot and distinguishes it as a robot. Without the code, the robot is a pile of metal. All agree that God made Adam/Eve and created them with the breath of life and they became living human beings. God’s decrees are then outside the human “programming” (as analogy) and are not internal to the human programming. To make a human analogous to a robot is to misunderstand the unique creation that God made.

        Then, “Now the Calvinist cannot say exactly HOW the decrees determine the “Self-Motivated” domino to determine what it determines. Certainly god does not have to “download” the decrees into the “Self Motivated domino. Calvin’s deity can just as easy have the his decrees function supernaturally.”

        Actually, the Calvinist can say something. God make humans less than Himself – thus humans are not omniscient (but have the ability to gather and retain new information), they do not understand all things (but have the ability to figure things out), are not all wise (but have decision making ability), are not omnipotent (but can exercise limited control either individually, with others, or using other animals or means). Within this framework, humans are vulnerable and God’s decrees can reduce or limit this vulnerability. For example, God decrees not to prohibit Satan from entering the garden and further decrees not to protect Adam/Eve (presumably unless they ask for help). Satan exploits their vulnerabilities with the end result that they sin – the outcome God knew all along. Adam and Eve were self motivated and made decisions resulting from their interaction with Satan.

        Then, “… the Calvinist is committed to a world of determinism with compatiblistic freedom. Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are ***COMPATIBLE***. Therefore, compatibilist free will is a form of free will that is PRE-DETERMINED.”

        Compatibilist free will is pre-predetermined only in a synergistic relationship with God – it is not a free will whose decisions and actions are pre-determined by God except as God is able to influence decisions. God acts freely; people act with a lesser freedom; and human actions are subordinate to God’s will.

        Then, “It doesn’t matter the entity’s life-form….whether its a robot or Satan or Adam or all Calvinists. They all exist in a determined world, in which **EVERYTHING** is PRE-DETERMINED before they are created.”

        Determined in the sense that God has an omniscient knowledge of all that happens and this knowledge encompasses all the various interactions that determined the events that take place. This is not unique to Calvinists as Arminians and others also hold to the omniscience of God in this respect acknowledging that God knows everything that will happen making everything certain (thereby determined) but not necessary based on God’s knowledge alone.

        Then, “And Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin is honest about it, where he shows “**ALL** of the “Self Motivated” dominoes (thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include its sins and failures as well as its successes) are PROGRAMMED into the decrees, which are then used as the MEANS which DETERMINE every neurological impulse the “Self Motivated” dominoes will have.”

        In other words, God’s decrees influence everything down to the every neurological impulse but are not the necessary cause of those impulses.

        Then, “In a deterministic world, there is no way of escaping determinism. However one can attempt to escape it through double-think”

        No double think required. Deterministic worlds are, by definition, deterministic. We live in a deterministic world where all things have been determined from God’s perspective. There is no way to avoid that – unless one follows the open theists and deny that God knows the future.

        Like

      13. Rhutchin, the “Self-Motivated” domino/bio-robot writes:

        “No double think required. Deterministic worlds are, by definition, deterministic. We live in a deterministic world where all things have been determined ***FROM GOD’S PERSPECTIVE***.

        Of course it goes without saying that a double-thinker that doesn’t recognize double-think….too funny!! 😀

        Remember that Calvinists (i.e. “Self-Motivated” domino/bio-robots) speak in “EVEN-THOUGH”-“AS-IF” patterns.

        “EVEN-THOUGH” the Calvinist holds [A]: god determines every neurological impulse they will ever have = TRUE.
        For them [A] is NOT TRUE, therefore they speak “AS-IF” [A] is NOT TRUE

        In this example:
        “All things HAVE BEEN determined **FROM GOD’s PERSPECTIVE**”…….But NOT from the “Self-Motivated” domino/bio-robot’s perspective.

        Perhaps Calvin’s “Self-Motivated” domino/bio-robots are not self-aware??

        But I think the real answer is simply double-think! 😀

        Like

      14. br.d writes, “In this example: “All things HAVE BEEN determined **FROM GOD’s PERSPECTIVE**”…….But NOT from the “Self-Motivated” domino/bio-robot’s perspective.”

        God is omniscient and knows everything that will happen till the end of time and those factors that determine everything that happens. A person exists in time and only knows that which has happened in time and may not know the determinants of the things that have happened. Perspective is always an important consideration.

        Then, “Perhaps Calvin’s “Self-Motivated” domino/bio-robots are not self-aware??”

        Self-aawareness is not omniscience nor does self-awareness capture all the determinants of one’s actions.

        It now appears, from what br.d writes, that anything a person does not understand is to be defined as double think. He could just as well have said, “Of course it goes without saying that an ignorant person doesn’t recognize his ignorance….too funny!!” That would help explain the many weird things people say about Calvinism without recognizing how weird they are.

        Like

      15. rhutching the self proclaimed “Self-Motivated domino writes:

        All things HAVE BEEN determined **FROM GOD’s PERSPECTIVE**”…….

        But NOT from the “Self-Motivated” domino/bio-robot’s perspective.”

        The “Self-Motivated” domino continues:
        “God is omniscient and knows everything that will happen till the end of time and those factors that determine everything that happens. A person exists in time and only knows that which has happened in time and may not know the determinants of the things that have happened. Perspective is always an important consideration.”

        Sure, it goes without saying that in a deterministic world god’s perspective is one in which all of the logical entailments of determinism are known. But that doesn’t get the double-think person off the hook for believing [A] that determinism is TRUE and going about making up 1001 fanciful imaginations AS-IF determinism is NOT TRUE.

        Peter Van Inwagen helps get us back on the right track:
        quote:
        “If determinism is true, then human choices and human actions are the consequences of:
        1) Laws which govern the universe in which we live
        2) Events (e.g. divine decrees), which took place in the remote past.

        But:
        1) It is not up to us what went on before we were born (e.g. divine decrees).
        2) Neither is it up to us what laws which govern the universe.

        Therefore, if determinism is true, then the consequences of (1 & 2) , including our present choices and actions, are not up to us.”
        Peter Van Inwagen – Essay on Free Will, 1983, p.16

        I have had a few “weird” ideas in my time, but I thank god I don’t sees people as “Self-Motivated dominoes! 😉

        Like

      16. br.d writes, “‘Therefore, if determinism is true, then the consequences of (1 & 2) , including our present choices and actions, are not up to us.’ Peter Van Inwagen – Essay on Free Will, 1983, p.16”

        That is what makes the doctrine of Original Sin critical (and controversial). If the effects of Adam’s sin are (among other things) that people are born with a sin nature while being born without faith to overcome that sin nature, then the present choices and actions of the unsaved are consistent with the sin nature – thus there are none good and none who seek God. The works of the flesh (i.e., the sin nature) are listed in Galatians 5. These are contrasted with the fruit of the Spirit, and this fruit – Love, joy, peace, etc. – is beyond the flesh and the flesh cannot do such things until the Spirit takes up residence in the person.

        If determinism is true, then Adam’s sin determined the nature of all born to Adam and all our present choices and actions are ruled by that sin nature. We can conclude that this is not up to us but this does not preclude us freely desiring and choosing the things that we do just because our choices are limited, and we can only choose from among the works of the flesh.

        The problem for the non-Calvinist is to demonstrate that the doctrine of Original Sin does not capture the effects of Adam’s sin, and this is not the condition into which people are born – something they have not been able to do.

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      17. rhutchin, who as a Calvinist, is taught to view people as “Self-Motivated” dominoes writes:
        “If determinism is true, then Adam’s sin determined the nature of all born to Adam and all our present choices and actions are ruled by that sin nature”

        This is good. It shows us what William Lane Craig recognizes about the PSYCHOLOGY of Calvinism.

        You assert Dr. Craig is not smart enough to recognize subtle philosophical nuances, which you somehow are smart enough to see. And thus his critical analysis of Calvinistic determinism is, in your words “a straw man”.

        But is that really true? Or is it just an excuse?

        There are logical entailments to determinism a disciplined logician whose [love for the truth], forces him to come to grips with. While double-think is simply a psychological maneuver for denying them.

        Calvin understood the psychological consequences of his doctrines. So he taught his disciples to: Believe [A]: determinism = TRUE. But “go about your office” AS-IF [A] is NOT TRUE.

        EVEN-THOUGH [A]: god – quote: programs into the decrees all of the Calvinist’s (thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include his sins and failures as well as his successes) = TRUE . The Calvinist is to speak/write AS-IF [A] is NOT TRUE

        Your current supporting argument for the double-think is: God is omniscience and thus knows [A] is TRUE, but I am not omniscience so I can believe [A] = TRUE and NOT TRUE at the same time. This is not [love for truth], its [love for a sacred doctrine].

        Take for example, Calvinism’s “dreaded-false-hope”. Again double-think comes to the rescue.

        The reason the Calvinist asserts Dr. Craig, Plantinga and Van Iwagen are ignorant, has to do with the Calvinist’s psychology.
        Under the detrimental influences of Calvin’s doctrines, the Calvinist is taught double-think, in order to retain a sense of normalcy.

        Like

  29. My BDAG points to Romans 8:24 as a good example of “ἐλπὶς” – HOPE. “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who “ἐλπὶς” for what they already have?” So this “ἐλπὶς” ( Present, Indicative, Active) would seem to indicate something not yet seen. But I defer to the Greek teacher :-]

    Like

  30. Brian Wagner writes:

    “But the quote – “S has it within his power to act in such a way that, were he to act in that way, God would not have believed that p” seems to reveal to me the loop hole for determinism in the words “have believed” which is the perfect tense pointing back to foreknowledge before creation.”

    Both Craig and Plantinga believe that God had exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events “before creation”. THAT is the orthodox view, that is the ordinary view held by virtually all Christians across all theological traditions (except for open theists who deny that God has exhaustive foreknowledge before creation).

    “Some try to obfuscate by saying “before creation” only meaning “outside time” and then they posit that God’s foreknowledge is simple, and, as such, that somehow solves the problem of man’s free choices as always in agreement with it.”

    This is not an “obfuscation”. This is taking a shot at Christians who believe that God really is eternal, really is outside of time, really is transcendent. Wagner like other open theists believe that God is in time just like the rest of us, that His relationship with time is the same as ours. Open theists do not maintain a view of God where He is truly transcendent. Most Christians beg to differ, as God is creator and we are creature there are major distinctions between how God relates to time and how we do. As time is part of creation it has been a standard Christian belief that God is eternal, i.e. outside of space and time. This is why some including Aquinas, C. S. Lewis and Eleonore Stump have posited that God exists in an “eternal now” (because he is outside of time He views all of time at once). You may disagree with intelligent folks like Aquinas and Lewis and Stump, but it is no “obfuscation”.

    “I think an open futurist would say – “S has it within his power to act in such a way that, were he to act in that way, God would come to believe that p as the settled one but that change in His foreknowledge of that p from possibility to concluded event in His knowledge does not make any substantive change in His omniscience.””

    Well there it is yet again, if God “would come to believe that p”, that means He did not know P before it occurred. He came to know it, He learned it, which means He did not know it before it occurred (again the denial of omniscience by open theists). If God knows everything including future events, then He does not come to know them, He does not learn about them as they occur.

    And the claim that this open theist understanding “does not make any substantive change in His omniscience” is a false claim. It makes a big difference, as virtually all Christians who are not open theists recognize, it is a denial that God is omniscient. Now the open theist may obfuscate by trying to redefine the meaning of omniscience, but it is not the omniscience that most Christians believe in. It is an “omniscience” in which God comes to know, learns about future events just as we do, only as they occur. A view in which God is not transcendent in relation to space and time, but in time just like the rest of us.

    Br. D I notice that you like to cite Craig and Plantinga a lot on omniscience. You are aware they both hold the traditional view of omniscience? You are aware they both deny open theism and find all sorts of problems with it?

    Br. D I still believe if you want to know what they believe contact them directly. Speculating about what they think is not the same as directly asking them what they think.

    Like

    1. Thanks Robert.
      Actually I do have some *limited* and indirect contact with Dr. Craig, but I don’t have immediate access for every possible question I might ask. I like Dr. Craig, Plantinga and Van Inwagen because they are careful and precise thinkers, and they are gentlemen and Christlike, which I honor.

      Can you provide a quote from either Dr. Craig or Plantinga, stipulating at what exact point in time god had knowledge of any specific true proposition?

      Thanks in advance.

      Like

      1. Bro.D,

        “Can you provide a quote from either Dr. Craig or Plantinga, stipulating at what exact point in time god had knowledge of any specific true proposition?”

        I will leave that to you **right now**, sort of busy with some other things to go look in their books. When I get a chance I may look for an exact quote, and then send it your way. I have seen both make the same point, that God knows all true propositions and that He knows them at all times (which would logically imply He had to know them before He created the world, i.e. the ordinary understanding of foreknowledge that virtually all Christians hold to).

        Like

  31. rhutchin the “Self-Motivated” domino writes:

    “Compatibilist free will is pre-predetermined only in a synergistic relationship with God – it is not a free will whose decisions and actions are pre-determined by God except as God is able to influence decisions. God acts freely; people act with a lesser freedom; and human actions are subordinate to God’s will.”

    Now this again, is another attempt at denying determinism by making it appear less deterministic. More like semi-determinism.

    Further, Calvinists are divided about what type of freedom they believe god has, since for many of them, libertarian freedom does not exist. And therefore god can’t have it any more than his “Self-Motivated dominoes can.

    Like

    1. br.d writes, “Now this again, is another attempt at denying determinism by making it appear less deterministic. More like semi-determinism.”

      It recognizes that God is not the only influence on events (thus determining events) but that many other factors influence events and are determinants of events. If br.d could define what he thinks determinism means, even he might see that distinction.

      Then, “Further, Calvinists are divided about what type of freedom they believe god has, since for many of them, libertarian freedom does not exist. And therefore god can’t have it any more than his “Self-Motivated dominoes can.”

      That’s because no one can define libertarian freedom. Calvinists say that the freedom God enjoys results from His omniscience, infinite understanding, perfect wisdom, and omnipotence. If we use those qualities to define libertarian freedom, then only God has libertarian freedom. The freedom people enjoy is always a relative freedom – relative to one’s knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and power.

      Like

      1. Its very obvious that Calvinists are good at making stuff up on the fly concerning free will etc, You for example, will assert in one post that a person has libertarian free will once they are elected and saved. Only to later post that libertarian free will doesn’t exist.

        If Calvinists are consistent with anything its double-think. 😛

        Like

      2. br.d writes, “You for example, will assert in one post that a person has libertarian free will once they are elected and saved. Only to later post that libertarian free will doesn’t exist.”

        If you could provide a solid definition of “libertarian” free will, we could sort all this out. However, because the definition of libertarian free will is so fluid, it is possible to get seemingly contradictory statements (which is why context is so important whenever the term is used). Unfortunately, non-Calvinists have not settled on a definition of LFW that distinguishes it from just “free will.” If you could develop such a definition, the non-Calvinists would probably confer on you the status that the Catholics give to Mary.

        The Calvinists have done the most work on free will (e.g., Jonathan Edwards) and nobody else seems to be able to add anything else substantive to that.

        Like

      3. Previous post:
        You [rhutchin] for example, will assert in one post that a person has libertarian free will once they are elected and saved. Only to later post that libertarian free will doesn’t exist.

        rhutchin responds:
        “If you could provide a solid definition of “libertarian” free will, we could sort all this out.”

        rhutchin….you are taught to believe:
        1) Satan, Adam and all Calvinists are: “Self-Motivated dominoes
        2) Who live in a fully deterministic world, subject to all of determinism logical entailments
        3) But contrarily , have sinful/evil neurological impulses which operate “synergistically”, with god
        4) And contrarily, have good neurological impulses which function “monergistically” with god.

        With that as an example, its easy to see why you spend 99% of your time here crafting language designed to obfuscate the law of non-contradiction.

        That there can be any “sorting of things out” in this context, is IMHO, either a ruse or a vain imagination.
        And we anticipate the ruse, as everyone here knows “sorting things out” is not what you are here for.

        CrossTheology for example, after a few interactions with you said “I don’t think I’m going to get an honest answer from a Calvinist”.

        The best I can hope for in my participation here is to help readers recognize:
        1) The mechanics of determinism (ala Calvin)
        2) The psychology of double-think (ala Calvin)
        3) The language of truth-omission and evasion. (ala Calvin)

        William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, and Peter Van Inwagen, provide the truth concerning (1).
        And your posts provide examples of (2-3), so they are very helpful.
        Blessings :-]

        Like

      4. br.d writes, “you are taught to believe:
        1) Satan, Adam and all Calvinists are: “Self-Motivated dominoes
        2) Who live in a fully deterministic world, subject to all of determinism logical entailments
        3) But contrarily , have sinful/evil neurological impulses which operate “synergistically”, with god
        4) And contrarily, have good neurological impulses which function “monergistically” with god.”

        I am taught to believe:

        1. Satan, Adam, and all people have a self-motivated will that is free to pursue their desires.
        2. We live in a world of influences that contribute to determining what we think and the actions we take.
        3. We have a sin nature that works synergistically with God – able to disobey God but subordinate to God’s will.
        4. Because of our sin nature and lack of faith, we can do no good nor seek God except as God enables us.

        Then, “With that as an example, its easy to see why you spend 99% of your time here crafting language designed to obfuscate the law of non-contradiction.”

        This is called “Fake News” – you made it up.

        Then, “That there can be any “sorting of things out” in this context, is IMHO, either a ruse or a vain imagination.
        And we anticipate the ruse, as everyone here knows “sorting things out” is not what you are here for.”

        The key phrase: IMHO. Maybe you should try to address the Scriptures that I point out for there is no ruse or vain imagination in them.

        Like

      5. It is obvious I am willing to say IMHO. Where you always claim to be smarter than William Lane Craig, Alvin Platinga and Peter Van Inwagen. They are always wrong and you are always right. You can assert [A] and NOT [A] at the same time and not recognize double-think. So everyone recognized, there is a stark absence of IMHO in your posts. And that, of-course, is consistent with Calvinistiscit/Gnotsic/NeoPlatonic elitism. The tree continues to bring forth fruits after its own kind.

        Just keep on crafting those cosmetic facades of libertarian aspects on the face of Calvin’s doctrine, so I can point them at.
        That works for me. :-]

        Like

  32. WHEN THE CALVINIST FUNCTIONS AS ANGEL OF LIGHT

    The Greek word here is: Μετασχηματίζω Meta-Schema-Tizo
    Meaning: To transfer an IMAGINATION – To TRANS-FORM, – To give [A] the APPEARANCE of [B]

    Now how does the Calvinist function this way, you ask?
    1) Calvinism appeals to the philosophical notion of determinism.
    2) Determinism is the thesis that all future events are the consequences of:
    a. The laws of the universe (boundaries within which events can occur)
    b. Events which occurred in the remote past
    3) Calvinism also appeals to the philosophical notion of Compatiblistic free-will
    a. Freedom to act according to one’s MOTIVES without arbitrary hindrance from other INDIVIDUALS or institutions. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compatibilism

    But notice how Calvinism’s Compatiblistic free-will is AMORPHOUS!

    Because Calvinism also incorporates god into their cosmology, and god is an INDIVIDUAL.
    And the poor Calvinist is additionally obligated to assert god as the author of (the laws of the universe) and (events which occurred in the remote past (in the form of decrees), including every human thought/action, down to the slightest vibration of the smallest atom. Otherwise Calvinism’s definition of divine sovereignty collapses like a deflating balloon.

    So exactly what ***FORM*** (i.e., Morpheus) does Compatiblistic free-will take in Calvinism’s scheme?

    The answer:
    Whatever **FORM** the Calvinist can fabricate, to make it **APPEAR** as autonomous/libertarian, as possible!

    – Calvinists know that bible-based Christians, are repelled by an (author of evil) deity.
    – Calvinists know that bible-based Christians are repelled by the notion of human thoughts/actions manipulated/controlled by god.
    – Calvinist’s know that if they market their product using honest, forthright, clear, unambiguous language, bible-based Christians will most likely reject its pagan GOOD-EVIL deity.

    The strategy is to assert a fully deterministic cosmology, and simultaneously paint on top of it, cosmetic characterizations of autonomous/libertarian free-will, by the strategic use of ***MISLEADING*** words and terms.

    Thus the poor Calvinist functions as an ANGEL of autonomous/libertarian LIGHT.

    When reviewing Calvinist posts, make sure you scrutinize EVERY word and EVERY term.
    Because they are designed to carry hidden nuances, in order to be AMORPHOUS and misleading.

    Like

    1. br.d writes, “Now how does the Calvinist function this way, you ask?
      1) Calvinism appeals to the philosophical notion of determinism.”

      To be precise, this should read, “…the philosophical notion of theological determinism.”

      This br.d actual admits later in saying, “Because Calvinism also incorporates god into their cosmology,…” thereby negating what he wrote earlier.

      Then, he adds, “… and god is an INDIVIDUAL.”

      Calvinism does not, nor do christian theologies generally, agree to this.

      Then, “And the poor Calvinist is additionally obligated to assert god as the author of (the laws of the universe)…”

      God created the universe, established the laws that govern the universe, and sustains those laws.

      Then, “…and (events which occurred in the remote past (in the form of decrees), including every human thought/action, down to the slightest vibration of the smallest atom. Otherwise Calvinism’s definition of divine sovereignty collapses like a deflating balloon.”

      Actually, Calvinism asserts that God, as sovereign, exercises absolute control over all things so that all things that happen are subordinate to His will.

      Then, “– Calvinist’s know that if they market their product using honest, forthright, clear, unambiguous language, bible-based Christians will most likely reject its pagan GOOD-EVIL deity.”

      Calvinists present a uniquely Scripture based theology using honest, forthright, clear, unambiguous language, that bible-based Christians come to accept as they work to resolve difficult issues through their own personal study of the Scriptures.

      Like

      1. BTW: on this one rhutchin:

        “Actually, Calvinism asserts that God, as sovereign, exercises absolute control over all things so that all things that happen are subordinate to His will.”

        That presentation is actually a good example of presenting Calvinism with a libertarian appearance, by obfuscating the radical implications of determinism within Calvin’s scheme. It could easily be stated by any libertarian leaning Christian…so perhaps it provides a good example of how Calvinists present their system in as much of an autonomous/libertarian light as possible.

        God does not need a deterministic world in which **ALL** things including human thoughts/actions are the consequence of divine decrees, in order to have all things subordinate to his will. So that statement again is not honest in conveying the radical implications of determinism, and makes Calvinism APPEAR more autonomous/libertarian than it really is.

        William Lane Craig: “Unfortunately, yet consistently Calvinist fail to enunciate the RADICAL distinctions entailed within their system.”
        I wonder why!!!

        Blessings. :-]

        Like

      2. br.d writes, “God does not need a deterministic world in which **ALL** things including human thoughts/actions are the consequence of divine decrees, in order to have all things subordinate to his will.”

        As sovereign, God must necessarily decree all things and the result must be a deterministic world. While non-Calvinists do not like this, they have not found a way to avoid it.

        Then, ” So that statement again is not honest in conveying the radical implications of determinism, and makes Calvinism APPEAR more autonomous/libertarian than it really is.”

        Unfortunately, br.d cannot explain how this is so. Many claims by non-Calvinists that they can never explain.

        Like

  33. Rhucthin writes:
    “Calvinists present a uniquely Scripture based theology using honest, forthright, clear, unambiguous language”

    “unique” Yes that is for sure! Scripture Based?…not so fast…..we’re actually back to “unique” on that one in the wide-spectrum of biblical exegesis.

    Honest, forthright, clear, unambiguous language? …… William Lane Craig, and Jerry Walls strongly disagree.

    May readers be watchful, discerning, and decide for themselves if Dr. Craig, and Dr. Walls are correct about Calvinism’s language.
    Thanks for your post rhutchin :-]

    Like

  34. br.d writes, “God does not need a deterministic world in which **ALL** things including human thoughts/actions are the consequence of divine decrees, in order to have all things subordinate to his will.”

    rhutchin responds:
    As sovereign, God must necessarily decree all things and the result must be a deterministic world. While non-Calvinists do not like this, they have not found a way to avoid it.

    A sovereign God must NECESSARILY? There you go again, using language that crosses over into fatalism again.
    Personally, I would not assume to dictate to god what he must NECESSARILY do, in order to be god.

    But I would commend you for your honesty in that statement, because it doesn’t attempt to present Calvinism as more mainstream/libertarian like you typically do, and therefore its is a more honest representation of Calvinistic determinism.

    And also, your statement acknowledges that Calvinistic determinism entails, **ALL* things, including human thoughts/actions are the consequences of divine decrees. So thanks for that honesty.

    On the last comment – – too trivial to deserve a response.
    Thanks rhutchin.

    Like

    1. br.d writes, “On the last comment – – too trivial to deserve a response.”

      As sovereign, God must necessarily decree all things and the result must be a deterministic world. While non-Calvinists do not like this, they have not found a way to avoid it. Thanks br.d for proving my point.

      Like

      1. rhutchin writes:
        “Thanks br.d for proving my point.”

        Sorry, that’s called an Ad hoc rescue. The only point I proved was what I clearly stated.
        quote
        “But I would commend you for your honesty in that statement, because it doesn’t attempt to present Calvinism as more mainstream/libertarian like you typically do, and therefore its is a more honest representation of Calvinistic determinism.”

        I’m not in a disciple of Calvin, so I don’t follow his dictate of using double-think to obfuscate his system’s self-contradictions.

        BTW: An additional thought on your “God must necessarily do X in order to be god” statement:
        It infers god’s omnipotence is inadequate, such that he is required to do X in order to be fully god.

        It represents an example of inference, common with Calvin’s dictatorial assertions concerning god.
        One of the reasons mainstream Christianity finds Calvinism a kind of “graven image” theology, dishonoring to god.

        Thus the perennial joke:
        “It is said, God made man in his image and John Calvin decided to return the favor.” :-]
        Thanks rhutchin.

        Like

      2. br.d writes, “I’m not in a disciple of Calvin, so I don’t follow his dictate of using double-think to obfuscate his system’s self-contradictions.”

        “Double-think” is the preferred response to questions posed by Calvinists that non-Calvinists cannot answer. Here is the current example.of what one non-Calvinist calls a self-contradiction. “As sovereign, God must necessarily decree all things and the result must be a deterministic world. While non-Calvinists do not like this, they have not found a way to avoid it.”

        Mucho thanks to br.d for proving this point (not once but twice in this one instance).

        Like

      3. br.d, wrote, “Now your simply not making sense. That was your statement not mine ;)”

        I had originally said, As sovereign, God must necessarily decree all things and the result must be a deterministic world. While non-Calvinists do not like this, they have not found a way to avoid it. So, I repeated it in a later message and put it in quotes. brianwagner understood the flow of the dialogue but br.d did not.

        Regardless, br.d, like any non-Calvinist, still has not response to the statement.

        Like

      4. Not worth responding to or wasting space on irrational ad hoc rescues.

        I think however, my post on Calvinists operating as ANGELS OF autonomous/libertarian LIGHT, struck a nerve!

        Like

      5. “As sovereign, God must necessarily decree all things and the result must be a deterministic world.”

        Another example of a Calvinist professing to own a right definition of a theological term that must then be imposed upon Scripture. But in the end, that definition undermines the Scripture’s definition. In this case, the term is “sovereignty”.

        Like

      6. Hey Brian!
        Hope you’re well!

        I was pondering Calvin’s disproportionate obsession with a deity whose primary attribute is voluntaristic. A known principle of physics is that nature, as god designed it, seeks to maintain a balance…as its commonly stated “abhors a vacuum”. In a balanced system, when one inflates or expands one constituent, over the others, the others become proportionately compromised/marginalized. Consider the possibility that god, as a perfect being, contains all of his attributes in a perfect balance.

        If a spirit of katakurieuousin (which is common, since Lucifer is the theos of this world) is at work within Calvin’s thinking, then he would quite naturally view god as an αρχόντων (ruler). In such case, god would take on the “mourphous” (form) of a “principality and power”. But of course, he would be the supreme “principality and power”. He would “Out Lucifer – Lucifer”. Would his attribute of holiness and self-sacrificing love, become compromised/marginalized by this? I think it would, and I think I see it compromised within Calvin’s scheme.

        This αρχόντων (ruler) “image” of a deity, is, in fact, the norm among all theistic pagan religions. In Revelations, the deceived people of the world, worship and serve the beast because, he is the supreme αρχόντων (ruler). In their view, “no one can overcome him”. In other words, their primary emphasis of him, is that he is sovereign.

        Would classical theologians say that god’s omniscience is perfect, and god’s omnipotence is perfect. And if we put them on a balancing scale, that scale would be perfectly balanced. But what if we over emphasized one over the other? If, for example we emphasize omniscience, then quite naturally, divine omnipotence would be compromised. Doe we see tell-tale signs of this in Calvinism? I think so.

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      7. Very busy right now, this semester… but have been looking it from time to time on the continued dialog here. You have shared some very good observations.

        I think it is a safe assumption that the evil continues to want us to misrepresent God in our thinking, as he wanted Adam and Eve to in the garden. I think there was also a change in the human nature resulting from the fall that affected our thinking so that we come up with our own delusions about God and the meaning of “perfect” in connection to His attributes.

        I actually do not think it is so much a balance between omniscience and omnipotence as it is in defining those terms within the delimitations that Scripture gives to them. God cannot know something as existing that does not exist in His mind (like a completely settled future). And God does not have the power to lie.

        Perhaps a bigger problem is defining a “perfect” sovereignty. If one believes “sovereignty” cannot be perfect if God is able and does express some intentions of His will that He knows and allows for the possibility of their being thwarted, then that person’s beliefs have not yet submitted to the biblical evidence in defining God’s sovereignty, in my view. It may be because they chose to believe a demonically inspired thought representing God as the ultimate controller personality. Or it may be a response to their own fears about life’s uncertainties by drawing false comfort from the false notion that “in the end, there is nothing that they can do to change or be responsible for what happens.”

        It is an important observation that you have made about how determinism underlies other religions… in fact all major religions. Is that a vestige of intuitive truth about God or a demonic lie as a foundation of all religions? I lean towards the later.

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      8. Yes….well said. I lean towards the later also. And we see that conceptual problem in other contemplations on divine attributes. I don’t see Lucifer, as a “mini-me” or “sub-set” of God. And historians detail these types of distorted views of God, arising heavily during the medieval period, like with Nemesius – bishop of Emesa…who heavily synthesized doctrines of Plotinus into Christian doctrine. And later even more so, Augustine, who made Gnostic/NeoPlatonic doctrines his orthodoxy, to be later consumed by his adoring disciple Calvin.

        I always appreciate how you closely you leans towards the plum-line of scripture! :-]

        Liked by 1 person

      9. brianwagner writes, “I think there was also a change in the human nature resulting from the fall that affected our thinking so that we come up with our own delusions about God and the meaning of “perfect” in connection to His attributes.”

        A great statement on Original Sin – Even you have a spark of Calvinism within you.

        Then, “God cannot know something as existing that does not exist in His mind (like a completely settled future).”

        BUT, you allow that God can know all possible events that can occur in the future. All possible futures exist in God’s mind under your Open Futurism” view – don’t they? Your major point is that God “waits” to decide what action He will take in response to any particular event that might occur in the future. I have said that God’s decision is the same whether He makes that decision in eternity past or “waits” until the event actually occurs in time. Your premise that God “waits” to make decisions is required for your contention for an unsettled future, however, there is nothing that requires that God wait to make such decisions – as God already knows all possible future events, He is able to make decisions now (or in eternity past). Your argument begins, “Let’s assume that God waits.”

        Then, “Perhaps a bigger problem is defining a “perfect” sovereignty.”

        I have read this paragraph several times and still don’t know what you are talking about. However, it now seems that you see it necessary to distinguish between “sovereignty” and “perfect sovereignty.” Isn’t the term, “perfect,” redundant when speaking of God’s sovereignty?

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      10. God waits because Scripture reveals that He does in the sequential eternal reality that comes from His nature. God waits because He is not limited to one immutable eternally set future that He is unable to exercise free-will in, making choices between two or more good options. God waits because He expresses love and humility that way in His relationship with mankind who are created in His image and are enabled to make decisions freely that affect the depth of that relationship.

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      11. I had said, “As sovereign, God must necessarily decree all things and the result must be a deterministic world.”

        brianwagner responds, “Another example of a Calvinist professing to own a right definition of a theological term that must then be imposed upon Scripture. But in the end, that definition undermines the Scripture’s definition. In this case, the term is “sovereignty”.”

        You basically say, “I don’t like it” You then claim to know the Scriptural definition of “sovereignty” but don’t want to take the time to explain what that is. How about offering something constructive on the issue rather than just being a grinch – which serves no useful purpose.

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      12. Roger… no Grinch here! We have discussed passages were God allows man to thwart His intentions. You usually aver to the Calvinism’s “anthropomorphism” defense, as if God does not really reveal in Scriptures what His sovereignty is like as well as the Calvinist can reveal it.

        Here’s one verse we have not discussed – Ps 78:41 – (KJV) Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

        But we have discussed other passages where God showed His original intentions were thwarted – Gen 6:6-7, Is 5:1-4, Jer 18:1-4. And we have talked about how His universal invitations and warnings show that He was exercising His sovereignty to allow for His universal desires and intentions of love to be thwarted.

        Going over this old ground again will probably not help, since only you can choose the source for how you want to define theological terms, and you have put your trust in man for those definitions, in my opinion.

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      13. brianwagner writes, “no Grinch here! We have discussed passages were God allows man to thwart His intentions. You usually aver to the Calvinism’s “anthropomorphism” defense, as if God does not really reveal in Scriptures what His sovereignty is like as well as the Calvinist can reveal it… And we have talked about how His universal invitations and warnings show that He was exercising His sovereignty to allow for His universal desires and intentions of love to be thwarted.”

        The issue is to define “sovereignty” from the Scriptures. You wrote, “in the end, that definition undermines the Scripture’s definition.” So, I asked you to tell us the Scriptural definition of the term, “sovereignty.” My guess is that you could easily provide that definition off the top of your head (so to speak – i.e, without having to look it up).

        I don’t see an issue on man’s thwarting God’s intentions. I think we both see obedience to God as a synergistic relationship between God and man. God gives Israel the ten commandments and Israel may choose to obey or not. That people can choose to disobey God has no relation to God’s sovereignty as God in the exercise of His sovereignty can grant to people the freedom to choose whether to obey/disobey Him.

        The “anthropomorphism” defense concerned our discussions on God’s knowledge of the future, didn’t it? It had nothing to do with he “sovereignty” of God. Did it??

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      14. I did define it, Roger, and gave verses to illustrate it. If you are asking for a succinct one sentence countering yours – for which you provided no Scriptural examples that counter the clear implications of the ones I gave… then how about this –
        “As sovereign, God has not necessarily decreed all things with the result there is not a deterministic world, but a world revealed in Scriptures where God and man freely interact in making decisions, showing clearly that God allows His own intentions to sometimes be thwarted.”

        And you know that you believe omniscience flows from what you believe is a settled will of God (His sovereignty). So to say – “people can choose to disobey God” is disingenuous, for their natures are predetermined for only one action between what only “appears” as a choice to them and their physical capabilities. And to say that such a “can choose”…”has no relation to God’s sovereignty” because God theoretically has an ability to “grant…freedom”, which He will never use, is once again an obvious misrepresentation of Scripture’s evidence.

        And why would you say that God’s “knowledge of the future” had “nothing to do with his ‘sovereignty'” for you believe His determinative will (sovereignty) is the source for that foreknowledge? Why would you say something so opposite to your view?

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      15. Brian makes points:
        “you [the Calvinist] know that you believe omniscience flows from what you believe is a **settled** will of God (His sovereignty). So to say – “people can choose to disobey God” is disingenuous, for their natures are **predetermined for only one action**

        Yes! this is because Calvinism is founded upon determinism, in which god decrees only one door for man (e.g. Adam) to walk through. In Calvinism, all human “choice” is predestined in advance. As Peter Van Inwagen states concerning determinism: “our choices are not up to us” because in determinism, our choices have already been made for us. In Calvinism, a door of [obedience] did not exist for Adam to walk through. But that doesn’t stop the Calvinists from crafting an IMAGINARY one. So this is another example of Calvinists operating as ANGELS of autonomous/libertarian LIGHT, trying to present Calvinistic-choice with a facade of autonomous/libertarian choice which has no existence in determinism.

        Brian shows Calvin teaches his disciples to “embrace an illusion” of autonomous choice:
        “what only “APPEARS” as a choice to them [humans] and their physical capabilities. And to say that such a person “CAN CHOSE”…”has no relation to God’s sovereignty” because God theoretically has an ability to “grant…freedom”, which He will never use, is once again an obvious misrepresentation of Scripture’s evidence.

        Brian shows Calvinists evade/obfuscate a foundational axiom of Calvin (foreknowledge is merely the byproduct of fore-ordination)
        “And why would you say that God’s “knowledge of the future” had “nothing to do with his ‘sovereignty’” for you believe His determinate will (sovereignty) is the source for that foreknowledge? Why would you say something so opposite to your view?”

        Answer: Normative Calvinist psychology – To function as an ANGEL of autonomous/libertarian LIGHT.

        Great points Brian! :-]

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      16. brianwagner writes, ““As sovereign, God has not necessarily decreed all things with the result there is not a deterministic world, but a world revealed in Scriptures where God and man freely interact in making decisions, showing clearly that God allows His own intentions to sometimes be thwarted.”

        When we write, “As sovereign,…” we are not defining sovereign – we are applying it to a situation. So, neither of us has defined the term, “sovereign.” You just got a little off track. Your issue is not really about the definition of sovereign – your issue is God’s exercise of His sovereignty (I suspect we could both agree that God is sovereign and what “sovereign” means in this context).

        If God is sovereign, then is your statement, “…there is not a deterministic world..” a true statement? Do you know of anything that happens in this world that is hidden from God and can occur without God’s knowledge? If not, and God knows everything that happens, do you know of anything that happens where God could not exercise His power to give an outcome different than if He did not exercise His power to give that outcome? Hopefully not. Thus, for any event that happens, can’t we say that any event happens only after God chooses whether to affect a different outcome. If we can, then we conclude that God determined the outcome (either by inaction allowing naturally occurring outcomes or by action to gain a specific outcome.). All this happens in the present. Does it apply to all future events? It must or else, some future events must be hidden from God or God does not have the power to affect change in some future events.

        The issue here is what you mean by the term, “deterministic,” and I suspect this has everything to do with free will. So, to understand what you mean by “deterministic,” we need to know what you mean by “free will.” Have you, by any chance, developed a definition of free will that gets you what you want?

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      17. Roger… we have been down this road also! And I am continuing to notice that you have ignored Scriptural evidence that I provided in conversation today.

        Anyway, “free-will” in my view does not just exist theoretically, as it does according to Calvinism, but it exists and is exercised by actual choices being made. And for God, there are choices between two or more good possibilities, which your definition of “perfect” will not allow. You claim God knows all possible futures… but you have to admit that such a statement is not accurate in the deterministic reality that you also profess. For there is only one eternally, immutably set future in that reality, and all others are not “possible” but only counterfactual.

        The Calvinist wants to say there are “possible” because God’s nature supposedly includes the power to do those things, but the Calvinist must admit that all but one future are impossible because of the immutable will of God that has eternally determined the future must take place. (Keep in mind the term “determined” in this instance is for the Calvinist an anthropomorphic expression – since God never actually decided between options).

        So “free-will” is only a theoretical expression in Calvinism, and it cannot be proved that it actually exists for God or man for it is not demonstrated as being exercised and indeed cannot be in an eternally, immutably determined world. Do you have verses that prove it exists?

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      18. brianwagner writes, “So “free-will” is only a theoretical expression in Calvinism, and it cannot be proved that it actually exists for God or man for it is not demonstrated as being exercised and indeed cannot be in an eternally, immutably determined world. Do you have verses that prove it exists?”

        1. “…if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,…” James 1

        2. “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” 1 John 5

        3. Jesus said, ““If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7

        No one but a believer would care what the Scriptures say. Only the believer would be excited to ask of God for those things that these verses speak. The will can ignore these verses but is compelled to ask – not under coercion but by compulsion of the Holy Spirit that resides within him.

        Nothing theoretical in these verses. The believer who can ask knowing that God has already answered; certain according to God’s omniscience and necessary by the believer’s request.

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      19. Verses on prayer, Roger, do show free-will exists. I especially like where Jesus asks the disciples to pray that their flight from Jerusalem would not be in winter (Matt 24). That shows how Jesus understood that God had not determined in a settled way when the destruction of Jerusalem would take place, and that the prayers of the disciples could effect the decision of God on that matter.

        But you must be double minded about what “free-will” for God and man actually is, for you then undermine it by saying – “God has already answered; certain according to God’s omniscience…” But God says – “I will answer” (Jer 33)… not “I have already answered”. I do understand you must think that way because of your loyalty to a man-made definition of omniscience that doesn’t agree with Scripture’s revelation… so you need not respond. 🙂

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      20. Hi Brian,
        To see how embedded Double-Think is in Calvinism, lets follow quotes from Calvin, illustrating, (1) he recognizes psychological duress of his doctrines cause, and (2) teaches his disciples to remove that duress with “thought-stopping” techniques and double-think.

        1) WHAT ARE GOD’S INTENTIONS FOR THE CALVINIST (life or eternal torment)?
        quote:
        “Sometimes he [god] causes those whom he illumines, only for a time to partake of it.
        Then he justly FORSAKES THEM on account of their ungratefulness, and STRIKES THEM WITH GREATER BLINDNESS”

        quote:
        “He holds it [salvation] out [to them] AS A SAVOR OF DEATH AND SEVERER CONDEMNATION”

        2) HOW IS THE CALVINIST TO FUNCTION GIVEN GOD MAY WANT HIS TORMENT?

        quote:
        “Hence as to future time, because the issue of all things is hidden from us, EACH OUGHT TO APPLY HIMSELF TO HIS OFFICE, ***AS THOUGH*** NOTHING WERE DETERMINED ABOUT ANY PART. Or, to speak more properly, he ought so to hope for the success that issues from the command of God in all things, as to reconcile in himself the CONTINGENCY of unknown things and the CERTAIN PROVIDENCE of God.”

        John Piper adds to that counsel:
        quote
        “Mine is to bow before His unimpeachable character, and BELIEVE the judge of all the earth, has ever and always will **DO RIGHT**”

        But notice here that **DO RIGHT** is unknown!
        He has one of two possible predestined, fixed, inevitable, unavoidable, fates.
        Do Right can mean God will preserve him to eternal life
        Do Right can mean God has destined him for eternal torment in a lake of fire

        QUESTION: How can a person TRUST what is impossible to know?
        Does the Calvinist believe God is trust-worthy?
        Yes, but trust-worthy for what?
        The Calvinist can only HOPE or DREAD God’s intentions for him are not eternal torment.
        But the odds are against him because in Calvinism God designs the MANY for the lake of fire.

        Now we understand the need for the double-think!!

        Liked by 1 person

      21. brianwagner writes, “Verses on prayer, Roger, do show free-will exists.”

        Meaning that we have choices. The meaning of “free” can be that we are not coerced or that we can choose otherwise – both work (free-will is not an issue).

        Then, “I especially like where Jesus asks the disciples to pray that their flight from Jerusalem would not be in winter (Matt 24). That shows how Jesus understood that God had not determined in a settled way when the destruction of Jerusalem would take place, and that the prayers of the disciples could effect the decision of God on that matter.”

        I see one purpose of the prayer being to ask God to warn them way ahead of time (e.g., opening their eyes so that they recognize the abomination), so that they can get out early. By not asking God for an early warning, the disciples would risk getting caught up in a lot of bad stuff in trying to escape. Or it could be a prayer for God to provide a nice sunny, warm day when they are getting out of town. Several ways to understand what Jesus says. As Jesus was known to speak in parables, event he term, “winter,” may have a meaning consistent with a parable.

        Then, “But you must be double minded about what “free-will” for God and man actually is, for you then undermine it by saying – “God has already answered; certain according to God’s omniscience…” But God says – “I will answer” (Jer 33)… not “I have already answered”. I do understand you must think that way because of your loyalty to a man-made definition of omniscience that doesn’t agree with Scripture’s revelation… ”

        By saying, “I will answer,” we know with certainty that God will answer. It says nothing about God’s knowledge of the future but does tell us something about that future – God will answer. God has free will to make decisions and nothing prevents Him having made those decisions in eternity past. Even if God were to “wait” as you propose, the decision He makes is the same.

        God could have said “I have already answered,” but He was not required to do so, is He? The outcome is just as certain either way, and we understand it to be so, don’t we? We can read, “I will answer” as “I have already answered,” and not loose a beat.

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      22. Thank you Roger for giving two clear examples as to how you have to undermine the normal reading of Scripture to maintain your loyalty to Calvinism. Did Jesus really not mean – “Pray that your flight be not in winter?” Did God really mean, “I will answer” means “I have already answered.” Those who read your response can judge for themselves if you have ignored and rejected the normal meaning of those passages.

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      23. brianwagner writes, “I am continuing to notice that you have ignored Scriptural evidence that I provided in conversation today.”

        Do you mean this?

        “Ps 78:41 – (KJV) Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.

        But we have discussed other passages where God showed His original intentions were thwarted – Gen 6:6-7, Is 5:1-4, Jer 18:1-4. And we have talked about how His universal invitations and warnings show that He was exercising His sovereignty to allow for His universal desires and intentions of love to be thwarted.”

        If so, there is no disagreement between us, because we both seem to agree that God grants the unsaved freedom to disobey Him should they desire and by His grace of His spirit opens the eyes of the saved to obey Him and do so freely.

        If you had something else in mind, I forgot them and could not find them.

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      24. The disagreement Roger, as I am sure you know, but for some reason have decided not to mention it here, is that I believe the Scriptures I just listed clearly show God allowing His original intentions to be thwarted by man’s choices and your theology cannot allow for God’s intentions or desires to be thwarted in that way.

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      25. brainwagner writes, “I believe the Scriptures I just listed clearly show God allowing His original intentions to be thwarted by man’s choices and your theology cannot allow for God’s intentions or desires to be thwarted in that way.”

        God’s will can never be thwarted – man’s will is always subordinate to God’s will. The term, “intentions,” makes a distinction from “will.” God gives the ten commandments with His “intent” being that Israel obey those commandments. At the same time, God decrees, or wills, that Israel be free to disobey those commandments thus thwarting God’s intent but not thwarting God’s will. Calvinism – a fairly accurate picture of my theology – has always allowed for a synergistic relationship between God and man (it cannot produce salvation requiring that salvation be monergistic), and that synergistic relationship always gives to man the freedom to go off the reservation (so to speak).

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      26. Thank you rhutchin,

        These are good examples of [ANGEL OF autonoumous/libertarian LIGHT] language.

        Firstly, let us remember, that in Calvinism **EVERYTHING** is the direct **CONSEQUENCE** of divine decrees.

        Calvin speaks of Adam’s disobedience:
        quote “He [god] so ordained [it] by decree……meted it out in accordance to HIS OWN DECISION.”

        Peter Van Inwagen unpackages deterministic choice:
        “When we make a choice which is antecedently determined, that choice is not up to us”

        Now lets examine rhutchin’s language:
        “man’s will is always SUBORDINATE to God’s will.”

        Here the word SUBORDINATE is used to present a half-truth.
        In Calvinism man’s will is ANTECEDENTLY DETERMINED by God’s will.
        rhutchin’s statement is designed to make man’s will *APPEAR* in an autonomous/libertarian *FORM*

        rhutchin continues:
        “God gives the ten commandments with His INTENT being that Israel obey those commandments.”

        Here “GOD’s INTENT” is presented to *APPEAR* in benevolent *FORM*.

        Remember Calvin consistently uses “A POSTERIORI” knowledge to ascertain GOD’S INTENT.
        For Calvin, whatever happens is what manifests GOD’S INTENT.
        Logical Conclusion:
        1) GOD’s INTENT – Israel will disobey his commandments, just like he pre-determined Adam to do.
        2) God deceives Israel by presenting his intent *AS-IF* it were the opposite of what he has pre-determined it to be.

        rhutchin continues:
        “God decrees, or wills, that Israel be free to disobey those commandments”

        This statement is designed as truth omitting, in order to make Calvin’s god *APPEAR* in a benevolent *FORM*.
        Man’s choice is always predestined in Calvin, so ascertain for yourself what *FORM* “Free” takes in that scheme.

        Liked by 1 person

      27. br.d writes, “Here the word SUBORDINATE is used to present a half-truth. In Calvinism man’s will is ANTECEDENTLY DETERMINED by God’s will.”

        In Calvinism, man’s will is subordinate to God’s will AND man’s will is antecedently determined by God’s will (or decree).

        Then, “Here “GOD’s INTENT” is presented to *APPEAR* in benevolent *FORM*.”

        …and to denote the synergistic relationship between God and man.

        Then, “Man’s choice is always predestined in Calvin, so ascertain for yourself what *FORM* “Free” takes in that scheme.”

        “Free” denotes that it is self-determined primarily by the sin nature of the person but under influence from external factors – but not coerced by God.

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      28. “Free” denotes that it is self-determined primarily by the sin nature of the person but under influence from external factors – but not coerced by God.

        For me, two obvious, yet critical words are missing from that statement:
        “Free” denotes that it is self-determined primarily by the **METICULOUSLY PREDESTINED*** SIN NATURE of the person but under influence from external factors – but not coerced by God.”

        Yes, we understand.
        Just exactly as in Calvinism, robots make “self-determined” choices, which are also PRE-DETERMINED.
        Just exactly as in Calvinism, robot choices are “self-determined”, primarily by the PRE-DETERMINED nature (i.e design) of the robot.
        Just exactly as in Calvinism, robot choices are not coerced by the programmer.

        The difference between a robot, and a Calvinist, then, is the difference in their metaphysical make-up.
        Humans have a soul, but that doesn’t prevent them from operating as Calvinistic robotics.

        This helps people to see how **MECHANICAL** theological determinism is.
        Thanks for your post rhutchin.

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      29. br.d writes, “…**METICULOUSLY PREDESTINED*** SIN NATURE…”

        And we know the rest of the story. God placed Adam and Eve in the garden and then gave Satan freedom to enter the garden to tempt Eve and subsequently Adam sinned by eating the fruit. All this was observed by God and under the absolute control of God and played out consistent with His omniscience – thus the events were meticulously predestined. To this all agree (except Brian and other Open Theism/Future types).

        Then, “…robots make “self-determined” choices…”

        Robots are not living entities and are cannot be said to make choices as living entities can but to do only that which they were built to do.

        Then, “Humans have a soul, but that doesn’t prevent them from operating as Calvinistic robotics.”

        More than that, humans have a mind, can gather and process information, and can conceive and express desires to do A or ~A. It is their nature that they are self-motivated to do things from which they receive pleasure. To compare a human to a robot is to compare a human to an ipad. It is a false comparison.

        Then, “This helps people to see how **MECHANICAL** theological determinism is.”

        Without God there is no theological determinism. God is not mechanical nor does God act mechanically. Poor choice of words by br.d.

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      30. I don’t think anyone but you will buy the argument that theological determinism being inherently MECHANICAL, (as it is), equals god being mechanical, unless you want tp argue that all of god’s choices are also pre-determined. :-]

        So yes, theological determinism is mechanical.
        And easy to see when the Calvinist calls humans “self-motivated” dominoes, when the sequential movement of dominoes is classified as “Pitching Mechanics”! 🙂

        Now rhutchin, normally the local expert on god, has expanded to be the local expert on robotics! :mrgreen:

        I’ve been programming 8, 16, and 32-bit uPs for years.

        And every MPU engineer knows:
        1) Robots perform conditional choices (i.e., self-motivated choices) and make microsecond decisions,based upon clock-speed.
        2) Just as it is in Calvinism, robots make their decisions within the boundaries of a PRE-DESIGNED program.

        All of your arguments distinguishing robots from Calvinistic conceptions of humans are simply based upon metaphysical differences.
        Humans, in Calvinism are obviously ROBOTIC functionally, no matter how much they dislike the implications.

        Rise of the Machines: The Future has Lots of jobs for robots – less for humans
        https://www.wired.com/brandlab/2015/04/rise-machines-future-lots-robots-jobs-humans/

        The correlations between robotic functionality and Calvinism’s conceptions of human functionality are certainly available for the open-minded. In Calvinism’s cosmological model, humans function as robots, and god as the great programmer in the sky.

        I know rhutchin….Calvin instructs you to quote: “go about your office **AS-IF** nothing was determined”
        I understand, double-think is an observable component in of Calvinism’s psychology
        It allows the Calvinist the ability to maintain a sense of normalcy while believing every thought is predestined, fixed, and certain.
        And it also allows the Calvinist to paint the theology with a facade of autonomous human functionality.

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      31. br.d writes, “I don’t think anyone but you will buy the argument that theological determinism being inherently MECHANICAL, (as it is), equals god being mechanical, unless you want tp argue that all of god’s choices are also pre-determined.”

        Without God there is no theological determinism. If you are going to argue that “theological determinism is mechanical, then you must necessarily argue that God is mechanical – otherwise your argument is that determinism is mechanical.

        Then, “And every MPU engineer knows:
        1) Robots perform conditional choices (i.e., self-motivated choices) and make microsecond decisions,based upon clock-speed.
        2) Just as it is in Calvinism, robots make their decisions within the boundaries of a PRE-DESIGNED program.”

        Then you must know that your “programming” of anything is not the same as that “programming” that humans possess through their creation by God. To compare programming of robots with the humans who programmed them is ludicrous – as you must certainly know this.

        Then, “Humans, in Calvinism are obviously ROBOTIC functionally, no matter how much they dislike the implications.”

        Then necessarily you have defined the term, “robotic,” in a different manner. Basically, you are using two different definitions for the same word thereby confusing the argument. So, are you doing it on purpose?

        Then, “Calvin instructs you to quote: “go about your office **AS-IF** nothing was determined”

        This is Calvin’s personal opinion and has no theological significance.

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      32. br.d
        Then, “Calvin instructs you to quote: “go about your office **AS-IF** nothing was determined”

        rhutchin responds:
        “This is Calvin’s personal opinion and has no theological significance.”

        Great! Then it logically follows, everything in Calvin’s institutes are “his personal opinion and have no theological significance”.

        Calvin instructs his disciples to THINK *AS-IF* their thoughts/choices are not determined, in order to minimize the stark personal implications involved in the concept that god may have designed the disciple as a “vessel of wrath – mete for destruction – for his glory”.

        That is why double-think permeates Calvinist psychology.

        Now back to Calvinist’s deterministic conceptions being mechanical:

        Trying to distinguish determinism from mechanics is going to be a challenge for you rhutchin.
        The binding tie that links determinism with mechanics is MODALITY, entailing MODAL-LOGIC.

        First lets take the Calvinist’s, (quite instinctive) use of the term “domino(s)” do describe human(s).

        The dominoes cascade model has been used in engineering, and applied-mathematics, etc, to perform mechanical computations, including the use of logic gates (i.e.,MODAL LOGIC). Domino functionality is understood as mechanical in that (1) all dominoes are arranged in a pre-designated order, designed to move sequentially, by mechanical-velocity, mechanical-force, and mechanical-motion.
        (2) A complete sub-set of dominoes, functioning as gears, constitutes one sub-mechanism. (3) each domino’s action functions as a secondary cause, hence MODAL-LOGIC. (4) Determinism, and Newtonian mechanics, are frequently equated. (5) In Quantum mechanics you have the Schrödinger equation, in which everything is perfectly deterministic.

        Now lets take a look at the Calvinist’s (quite instinctive) use of the term “Self-Motivated”.

        Online Etymology Dictionary:
        Self: “indicating “oneself” also “AUTOMATIC”

        Motivate: (Motive + ate) – “The state of moving”

        Thus: “Self-Motivated” = “The state of movement in automatic modality”.

        Automatic:
        Of involuntary animal or human actions….
        First used in this sense by English physician and philosopher David Hartley (1705-1757).
        Meaning: “done by self-acting machinery”
        Specifically of machinery that imitates human-directed action.

        Determinism is obviously mechanical. But every machine, including its gears etc, represent a design, which requires a designer.
        In theological determinism, god is the designer, and the programmer, etc.

        “The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”. Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees

        rhutchin writes:
        “To compare programming of robots with the humans who programmed them is ludicrous”

        This is a totally expected response from someone whose mind has been conditioned to quote: “go about your office **AS-IF** nothing was determined”

        Thanks for helping this along.

        Like

      33. br.d writes, “Then it logically follows, everything in Calvin’s institutes are “his personal opinion and have no theological significance”.

        No reason for that, One can deal with the Scriptures apart from one’s personal opinions. It is done all the time.

        Then, “That is why double-think permeates Calvinist psychology.”

        And we understand “double-think” to refer to Calvinist doctrine that non-Calvinists are unable to argue against.

        Then, “Trying to distinguish determinism from mechanics is going to be a challenge for you”

        I distinguish theological determinism from mechanics. I tend to agree that determinism is mechanical in that everything in determinism is derived from natural law.

        Then, “This is a totally expected response from someone whose mind has been conditioned to quote: “go about your office **AS-IF** nothing was determined””

        Except that you are the one who has been quoting that and not me. I deal with Calvin’s theological arguments and not his personal opinions. I think all should understand that everything has been determined and God exerts absolute control over everything.

        Like

      34. Once again, you want to have it both ways… Because of your loyalty to Calvinism you have to believe that God can have an “intent”… “Israel obey” though that runs counter to His will to having already determined that they “be free to disobey”… meaning actually that they were not ever free to obey. So clearly you believe His “intent” is opposite to His “decrees or wills” in this instance and others. Did He decree that His intent should be opposite to His will? Really? Is God so contradictory in His thinking?

        And you continue to want true synergism for everything but salvation… which also is because of a loyalty to Calvinism’s divine immutable determinism, but not to Scriptures. I pray that someday you will switch loyalties!

        Like

      35. brianwagner writes, “So clearly you believe His “intent” is opposite to His “decrees or wills” in this instance and others. Did He decree that His intent should be opposite to His will? Really? Is God so contradictory in His thinking?”

        God works through active (as the primary cause) and passive (through secondary causes) means. God can be the primary cause (e.g., the destruction of Sodom; the impregnation of Mary) or God can work through secondary causes (e.g., Cain murdering Abel; the Jews stoning Stephan). We can know God’s will as we see the actual events unfold – it was God’s will that Cain murder Abel and that the Jews stone Stephan. God also expresses His “will” through the ten commandments, but here God does not force obedience but is passive allowing people to disobey if they desire. If you don’t think the term, “intent.” accurately captures God’s purpose in giving the ten commandments, maybe you can suggest a term that you will accept. Otherwise, you can just keep objecting to words I suggest until we reach a satisfactory conclusion.

        Then, “And you continue to want true synergism for everything but salvation… ”

        Salvation cannot be achieved without faith and faith is a gift from God. That seems monergistic to me, as man cannot earn faith (and therefore, cannot earn salvation). Do you really take a different position on this??

        Like

      36. You know I do Roger 🙂 … and it is not yours or that faith is earned. But I am disappointed that you ignored my objection to Calvinism positing that God’s intent is in opposition to His decrees and will. For He tells man His intent is for man’s obedience that the Calvinist says God’s will does not make possible.

        Like

      37. brianwagner writes, “Anyway, “free-will” in my view does not just exist theoretically, as it does according to Calvinism, but it exists and is exercised by actual choices being made.”

        I see Calvinists agreeing that actual choices are being made. I think the issue is the “freedom” with which those choices are made, but here, the deaf and mute naturally respond differently than the seeing and hearing even though each exercises freedom in choosing. Even you seem to recognize differences in capabilities to choose among people.

        Then, “And for God, there are choices between two or more good possibilities, which your definition of “perfect” will not allow.”

        Two or more “good” choices are doable but only one choice can be “perfect.”

        Then, “You claim God knows all possible futures… but you have to admit that such a statement is not accurate in the deterministic reality that you also profess. For there is only one eternally, immutably set future in that reality, and all others are not “possible” but only counterfactual.”

        OK. But it would seem that God always has the power to change His mind and our future – just no reason to move from a perfect position.

        Then, “The Calvinist wants to say there are “possible” because God’s nature supposedly includes the power to do those things, but the Calvinist must admit that all but one future are impossible because of the immutable will of God that has eternally determined the future must take place.”

        OK.

        Then, “(Keep in mind the term “determined” in this instance is for the Calvinist an anthropomorphic expression – since God never actually decided between options).”

        Given that no one knows how the mind of God works, we explain this relative to our way of thinking. Add this to the list of things that we cannot explain about God.

        Like

      38. But Roger, you have explained how the mind of God works, and even in a dogmatic fashion where you reject how I have explained it differently. Do you not see you self-contradictory statements and double-mindedness?

        You even say “OK” when I point out the contradiction where you said God knows all possible futures in spite of Calvinism’s firm affirmation that He can only know one set future. Am I to conclude that you admit your contradiction?

        And you said – “But it would seem that God always has the power to change His mind and our future – just no reason to move from a perfect position.” In spite of this statement being a clear contradiction to your statement – “no one knows how the mind of God works”, it is self-contradictory, since power without reason for God is no power at all… Calvinism only posits it as “possible” in God’s power because they want to whitewash the meaning of eternally immutable set future.

        Thank you for confirming that Calvinism’s definition of “perfect” can not include a free choice between two good things for God. Of course, the Scripture clearly teaches differently.

        Like

      39. brianwagner writes, “you have explained how the mind of God works, and even in a dogmatic fashion where you reject how I have explained it differently. Do you not see you self-contradictory statements and double-mindedness?”

        I don’t see it.

        Then, “You even say “OK” when I point out the contradiction where you said God knows all possible futures in spite of Calvinism’s firm affirmation that He can only know one set future. Am I to conclude that you admit your contradiction?”

        I don’t see a contradiction in God knowing all possible futures and then knowing the one set future – Do Calvinists really say that God can only “know” one set future? I think your issue might be that once God chooses one future to be set, then all “possible” futures then disappear. To me, God’s knowledge is never reduced.

        Then, “And you said – “But it would seem that God always has the power to change His mind and our future – just no reason to move from a perfect position.” In spite of this statement being a clear contradiction to your statement – “no one knows how the mind of God works”, it is self-contradictory,…”

        We do not know how the mind of God works but that does not mean that we cannot know that God is omnipotent and can exercise His omnipotent power.

        Then, “…since power without reason for God is no power at all…”

        Are you waxing philosophic on us? I think you might mean, “…the exercise of power without reason…” to which I would agree, sorta – one can always be a bull in the china shop.

        Then, “Calvinism only posits it as “possible” in God’s power because they want to whitewash the meaning of eternally immutable set future.”

        I don’t see any effort to “whitewash” the meaning of an eternally immutable set future. It just means that God is sovereign.

        “Thank you for confirming that Calvinism’s definition of “perfect” can not include a free choice between two good things for God. Of course, the Scripture clearly teaches differently.”

        God always makes “perfect” choices…never just “good” choices – which does not preclude God knowing the full range of choices that could be made.

        Like

      40. “Do Calvinists really say…….etc”

        We need to be aware of statements that are inherently misleading.

        “What Calvinists Say” is to be differentiated from “What Theological Determinism logically entails”.

        Additionally, Calvinist language is seasoned with double-speak, where terms “shape-shift”, and are often amorphous (i.e., somewhere between one shape or the other). This is an inherent characteristic of a belief system heavily permeated with moral dualism.

        So don’t be fooled by statements which appeal to what Calvinists may say.
        You can easily find yourself playing Calvinists version of the “whac a mole” game.

        Like

      41. Thank you Roger for giving the readers clear responses to my assessments of what I saw as contradictions in the presentations of your views. They will now be better able to see if my assessments were correct or if your responses have explained away those contradictions adequately.

        Like

      42. brianwagner writes, “And you know that you believe omniscience flows from what you believe is a settled will of God (His sovereignty).”

        We both believe that. The alternative is that God gains knowledge after the fact or after an event occurs and a knowledge gained after the fact is not omniscience.

        Then “So to say – “people can choose to disobey God” is disingenuous, for their natures are predetermined for only one action between what only “appears” as a choice to them and their physical capabilities.”

        That a person’s nature is predetermined does not mean that they do not choose. Your issue here is the freedom of a person to choose. Here I would cite Galatians 5 where we read of the fruit of the Spirit. As the unsaved do not have the Spirit, I maintain that the unsaved cannot choose love, joy, peace, etc. They cannot choose other than lust, hate, etc, as detailed in the works of the flesh as we also read in Galatians 5. That the unsaved chooses to do the works of the flesh (which is nature of the unsaved) does not mean that they do not have a choice – even the depraved can choose to do A or ~A; they just cannot choose to do B (where B is a fruit of the Spirit). The choices that the unsaved have are limited by their physical, mental, and spiritual capabilities but they are still able to choose, and do so freely, among those things within their capabilities.

        Then, “And to say that such a “can choose”…”has no relation to God’s sovereignty” because God theoretically has an ability to “grant…freedom”, which He will never use, is once again an obvious misrepresentation of Scripture’s evidence.”

        Surely, you jest. God granted the Jews freedom to stone Stephan but denied Herod the freedom to kill Peter. God granted the brothers freedom to sell Joseph into slavery but denied them freedom to kill Joseph. God, as sovereign, can restrain any action of man and man can only pursue whatever depraved sin he chooses only because God chooses not to restrain him – to grant him freedom to sin. Where is there a misrepresentation of the Scriptures?

        Then, “And why would you say that God’s “knowledge of the future” had “nothing to do with his ‘sovereignty’” for you believe His determinative will (sovereignty) is the source for that foreknowledge? Why would you say something so opposite to your view?”

        It was the “anthropomorphism defense” that had nothing to do with sovereignty – and everything to do with God’s omniscience (but I guess even discussions of omniscience flow back to sovereignty although we were not pursuing it that far).

        Like

  35. CALVINISTS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD

    Quote from Jonathan Edwards pertaining to Calvinists whom god holds out the illusion of salvation as a quote: “savor of greater condemnation”:

    “The God that holds you [Calvinist] over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you [Calvinist] burns like fire; he looks upon you [Calvinist] as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you [Calvinist] in his sight; you [Calvinist] are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours………….”

    continued:
    “There is no other reason to be given why you [Calvinist] have not gone to hell, since you [Calvinist] have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship.”

    John Calvin completes the discourse:
    quote: “The decree is dreadful indeed, I confess.”

    Like

    1. “John Calvin completes the discourse: quote: “The decree is dreadful indeed, I confess.””

      Of course, the dreadful decree was God’s decree that the corruption Adam brought on himself by his sin was to be passed to his children.

      Great use of the Edwards sermon. You could also have put, “arminian,” “gentile,” “jew,” atheist,” etc.

      Like

      1. rhutchin writes:
        “Of course, the dreadful decree was God’s decree that the corruption Adam brought on himself by his sin was to be passed to his children.”

        Let us remember, in Calvinism, man’s choice is “NOT UP TO MAN”, since it is predestined as irresistible.
        Calvin states man’s sinful/evil choices are – quote: “**FORCED** to do his [gods] service”.

        rhutchin continues:
        “Great use of the Edwards sermon. You could also have put, “arminian,” “gentile,” “jew,” atheist,” etc.”

        Yes, that would be consistent in Calvin’s sadist-leaning conceptions. But most of Calvin’s readers are, quite naturally, Calvinists.
        So Calvin’s idea of God deceiving Christian believers into the illusion that Jesus is their savior, in order to magnify their experience of torment in the lake of fire, has, quite naturally, a more applicable emphasis for Calvinists.

        Thanks for your post rhuthcin, they are always helpful for my studies on Calvinist psychology.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. br.d writes, “Let us remember, in Calvinism, man’s choice is “NOT UP TO MAN”, since it is predestined as irresistible.”

        This because the sin nature exerts an irresistible force on the person and a person cannot overcome his sin nature except through faith and/or the Holy Spirit.

        Then, “Calvin states man’s sinful/evil choices are – quote: “**FORCED** to do his [gods] service”.”

        As God restrains the evil people seek to do to that which fits God’s purpose or God may harden a person as He did to Pharaoh.

        Like

      3. br.d writes, “Let us remember, in Calvinism, man’s choice is “NOT UP TO MAN”, since it is predestined as irresistible.”

        rhutchin responds:
        “This because the sin nature exerts an irresistible force on the person and a person cannot overcome his sin nature except through faith and/or the Holy Spirit.”

        Its so fun to watch Calvinists white-washing their system!!! 😉
        And I love all of the imaginary inventions…..so funny!

        In Calvinism, what is IRRESISTIBLE is whatever god PREDESTINES of course.
        Calvinists are quick to say salvation only is irresistible.
        But the truth is, in theological determinism EVERY human choice and action and motive is predestined, fixed, certain, inevitable, unavoidable, and most certainly irresistible. In Calvinism, god simply makes ALL human motives irresistible.

        rhutchin adds:
        “God restrains the evil people seek to do to that which fits God’s purpose etc…..”.

        Calvin quote:
        “nothing happens but what he [god] has knowingly and willingly decreed”

        So lets take rhutchin’s imagination of god RESTRAINING a human activity.
        1) At the foundation of the world, [t1], god decrees human activity X with obtain at [t2] because ALL things which come to pass, in the time-line are decreed at [t1].

        2) At the [t2] where the human activity X is decreed to obtain, god seeks to restrain it.

        So here we have a fanciful imagination of God decreeing X to infallibly occur, and then seeking to restrain X from infallibly occurring.
        Love Calvinism’s psychology of double-think!! 😉

        Like

      4. br.d writes, “In Calvinism, what is IRRESISTIBLE is whatever god PREDESTINES of course.”

        An event is not irresistible because God has predestined it even as an event is not necessary just because God knows it will happen. To say that an event is predestined by God is to say that God has absolute control over the event and the power to change an event and events occur either because God has caused it to happen or God has done nothing to impede the natural forces that cause the event. Man can neither resist God nor resist his natural impulses and desires. Thus, when God acts, the force of His action is irresistible; when man acts the force of his desires are irresistible to him.

        Then, “2) At the [t2] where the human activity X is decreed to obtain, god seeks to restrain it.”

        God does not restrain that which He has decreed as there is no reason to do so. By His decree, God either restrains or does not restrain.

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      5. Your just contradicting Calvinism now rhutchin, and don’t know how your doing it.

        Let the reader review my last post and see what rhutchin is missing.

        Like

  36. rhuthin write:
    “I distinguish theological determinism from mechanics. I tend to agree that determinism is mechanical in that everything in determinism is derived from NATURAL law.”

    It looks like you are doing some “Thought-Stopping” technique there rhutchin, for your definition of determinism strategically omits a critical component in the classical definition of determinism.

    Quote:
    Determinism is the thesis that all event which occur (including human thoughts/choices) are the direct consequence of
    1) The laws of nature which govern and thus place a boundary on events which occur
    2) Events which occurred in the remote past which DETERMINE current and future events

    Obliviously, human decisions are framed within the boundaries of feasibility, opportunity , environment, (i.e., the laws of nature)
    But you strategically left out the more critical component, events which occurred in the remote past which determine future events.

    In Calvinism’s case lets quote a Calvinist who enunciates this half of determinism.

    “The Omniscience of God merely ***PROGRAMMED*** into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions, which include our sins and failures as well as our successes”. Robert R. McLaughlin – The Doctrine of The Divine Decrees

    br.d
    You are the one who has been mentally conditioned to quote: “go about your office **AS-IF** nothing was determined”

    rhutchin responds:
    “Except that you are the one who has been quoting that and not me. I deal with Calvin’s theological arguments and not his personal opinions. I think all should understand that everything has been determined and God exerts absolute control over everything.”

    Sorry, that is a quote from Calvin
    quote:

    “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.”

    Its your psychology not mine – – thank the Lord!!! 😯

    Like

    1. I just noticed another self-contradiction….since you’ve been asking for examples.

      rhutchin responds:
      “Except that you are the one who has been quoting that and not me. I deal with Calvin’s theological arguments and not his personal opinions. I think all should understand that everything has been determined and God exerts absolute control over everything.”

      Lets see if you can discern your self-contradiction without my help.

      Oh….BTW:
      There is a distinction between a person’s theology, and that person’s psychology. You’ll find William Lane Craig, making that distinction in response to Calvinist’s denying the theology doesn’t make god the “author of evil”.
      Dr. Craig will say, “that response is a reflection of the Calvinist’s psychology, not his theology.

      Its obvious Calvin recognized the psychological duress (e.g. the dreaded false hope etc) that his theology has on people.
      Calvin himself describes god’s will for mankind, using the words “dreadful” and “horrible”.
      Thus he teaches “thought-stopping” techniques and double-think, to minimize cognitive duress.

      Sufficiently mentally-conditioned, the Calvinist is unable to discern when he is thinking double-think.
      Double-speak is the outward expression of double-think, deriving from Calvinism’s psychology.

      Like

      1. br.d writes, “There is a distinction between a person’s theology, and that person’s psychology.”

        Wow!! That is what I said. So, Craig and I agree on this point and now you seem to see the wisdom behind it.

        Then, “Dr. Craig will say, “that response is a reflection of the Calvinist’s psychology, not his theology.”

        Calvinists disagree with Craig on this point. Theologically, Calvinists distinguish between active and passive behavior by God in explaining evil. Craig seems to have a mental block about this. Of course, you call the Calvinist explanation double-think so that you can avoid addressing the issue.

        Like

      2. Sometimes you crack me up rhutchin….. you contradict yourself so much and aren’t aware of it. 😆

        And….oh…yes..that’s right….you keep telling me, your way smarter than William Lane Craig.
        You say humans are “self-motivated” dominoes, who can’t resist god’s will, but not in such a way that god’s will is irresistible.
        And you see William Lane Craig has having a “mental block”!
        That’s just rich!!! 😛

        Like

    2. br.d writes, “your definition of determinism strategically omits a critical component in the classical definition of determinism.”

      I did not define determinism – just noted the difference with theological determinism. You then added, “you strategically left out the more critical component, events which occurred in the remote past which determine future events.” We might note that determinism also deals with external factors and not internal factors as theological determinism does.

      Then, “Sorry, that is a quote from Calvin”

      That accounts for me saying, “..you (br.d) are the one who has been quoting that (i.e., Calvin)…” You just got a little confused about what you were doing. It happens.

      Like

      1. rhutchin
        “I did not define determinism – just noted the difference with theological determinism.”

        No difference….
        You’ve become so predictable, I find myself successfully anticipating which half of the truth you’ll consistently omit.
        Its almost becoming rote. Reflections of Calvinism’s psychology. 😉

        rhutchin continues:
        “We might note that determinism also deals with external factors and not internal factors as theological determinism does.”

        Silly! As if “internal factors” doesn’t reside within the category of: “Laws of Nature”

        Determinism, in all of its forms has been under close examination for centuries, and its definition has become highly refined.
        Its won’t be easy to escape its logical entailments, unless one simply chooses to make-believe them away.

        then:
        “That accounts for me saying, “..you (br.d) are the one who has been quoting that (i.e., Calvin)…” You just got a little confused about what you were doing. It happens.”

        If that’s where your psychological investment leads you, so be it. But I wouldn’t want your return on investment.

        Like

  37. PROPOSITION EMP – by Kevin Timpe & Daniel Speak

    quote:
    “A being who freely (in an indeterministic sense), and deliberately chooses to determine another being to perform evil actions, is himself evil. That being is even more perverse, if he: (1) determines the other being to perform evil actions, but then (2) holds him accountable, and punishes him for the very actions which he was determined to perform”

    Like

      1. Catholic/Gnostic/NeoPlatonism – evil is beautiful:

        Augustine reflects Gnosticism’s good-evil dualism, where he writes: “And because this orderly arrangement maintains the harmony of the universe by this very contrast, it comes about that evil things must need be. In this way, the beauty of all things is in a manner configured, as it were, from antitheses, that is, from opposites: this is pleasing to us even in discourse”. (ord 1.7.19)

        The subtle nuance in Augustine’s synthesis is that it has God requiring evil in order to be whole, or at least for His goodness to be fully actualized and manifested. This concept reappears within modern Calvinist enunciations where it is asserted that God needs to send people to eternal torment (i.e., manifest evil) in order to fully manifest his goodness or his glory. Removing the flowery eloquent language, the underlying construct is the Gnostic principle of yin-yang.

        Theodore Beza (1519), Calvin’s successor, in The Christian Faith expresses it as: “The fall of man was both necessary and wonderful”.

        Calvinist Jonathon Edwards (1703), expresses it as: “Thus it is necessary that God’s awful majesty, his authority, and dreadful greatness, justice and holiness should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of Gods glory would be very imperfect, both because those parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all” (The Works of President Edwards).

        Professor Paul Rigby, in The Theology of Augustine’s Confessions writes: “What then are the abiding truths contained in Manichaeism that can account for dualism’s perennial appeal?….. In his maturity, when he no longer thought Manichaeism more reasonable than Christianity, Augustine did not abandon the enduring truths contained in the dualistic worldview. This view holds that man’s positing of evil discloses another side of evil, a non-posited factor, mingled with man’s positing of evil. Manichaeism’s enduring truths add to moral accusation and guilt, to the recognition of physical suffering, to spiritual knowledge, an awareness of corporeal ignorance, and to ethical reflection of pride, and belief in primordial evil.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. All people recognize that God is omnipotent and the only reason evil exists is because God freely and willfully chooses not to stop it. Many people have written many words seeking to explain why God does not do away with evil when it is within His ability to do so.

        Calvin in his Treatise on predestination writes, “And if the matter be carried higher, and a question be moved concerning the first creation of man, Augustine meets that question thus; “We most wholesomely confess, that which we most rightly believe; that God, the Lord of all things, who created all things ‘very good,’ foreknew, that evil would arise out of this good: and He also knew, that it was more to the glory of His omnipotent goodness, to bring good out of evil, than not to permit evil to be at all! And He so ordained the lives of angels and of men that He might first show, in them, what free-will could do; and then, afterwards show, what the free gift of His grace and the judgment of His justice could do.”

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      3. Alvin Plantinga has a wonderful analysis on the existence of evil in his classic “free will defense”, which departs from Calvinism’s Gnostic / NeoPlatonic roots. Gnosticism’s YIN-YANG principle declares evil and good as opposite yet equal, and equally necessary constituents of, (what Plotinus and Augustine would call) the “ONE”. When evil is made necessary to glorify the “ONE”, the byproduct is that evil becomes glorified in the process. This is the manifestation of a system heavily dualistic, thus heavily manifesting moral dualism. i.e. YIN-YANG , good-evil, holy-unholiness, untrue-truth, etc.

        Paul warns Timothy about endless genealogies, John warns about spirits teaching that Jesus has not come in the flesh, and in the seven letters to the Church Jesus warns about doctrines, which He hates.

        “Religious syncretism, is the fusion of diverse religious beliefs and practices. Instances of religious syncretism—as, for example, Gnosticism (a religious dualistic system that incorporated elements from the Oriental mystery religions), Judaism, Christianity, and Greek religious philosophical concepts—were particularly prevalent during [Augustine’s period] the Hellenistic period (c. 300 bc–c. ad 300).

        Syncretistic movements in the Orient, such as Manichaeism (a dualistic religion founded by the 3rd-century-ad Iranian prophet Mani, who combined elements of Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism) and Sikhism (a religion founded by the 15th–16th-century Indian reformer Guru Nānak, who combined elements of Islām and Hinduism), also met with resistance from the prevailing religions of their respective areas.” Encyclopedia Britannica – Christian syncretism

        Kam-lun E. Lee, in his treaties Augustine, Manichaeism and the Good writes: “Here, we would like to show in two stages that Augustine’s notion of concupiscentia [depravity or lust] indeed comes from his understanding of the Manichaen doctrine of evil. First, we will show that there is a link between Augustine’s understanding of this notion in Manichaeism and his general usage. Second, we will show that Augustine acquires the strong sexual overtone he gives to concupiscentia from the Manichaean understanding of the term (p. 6).

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      4. None of this addresses the issue that concerns us.

        Nothing escapes God’s eye. There is no evil that occurs in the shadows unknown to God. God is also omnipotent; God could easily rid the world of all evil. Finally, God is sovereign and evil events cannot happen without God decreeing that it should happen. Satan cannot enter the garden without God first opening the door. Cain cannot murder Abel without God first deciding that He will not stay his hand.

        Calvinists have made an honest effort to explain why God has decided that evil should plague His creation. Non-Calvinists write stuff like br.d does choosing to ignore the issue completely.

        Like

      5. An open-minded person will let the evidence speak for itself. Every unique belief system has its own characteristic psychological byproducts. A non-Calvinist may not be under the influence of a morally-dualistic belief system, although plagued with other psychological investments common to fallible man. There are, of course other dualistic belief systems, such as Taoism, new-age etc, which are consistently working to infiltrate Christianity. Look to Catholicism as a path-way as much today as it has been for centuries.

        If one rejects moral-dualism, one is not so likely to exhibit reflexive denials….byproducts of a consciousness caught between scriptures representation of evil and a Gnostic/Neoplatonic representation in which evil becomes glorified.

        Every tree does bring forth fruits after its kind. And one can know the tree by its fruits. Significant indicators can be found as repeatable semantic-patterns, expressed within a given belief system’s language. In this case, be on the lookout for indicators of dualism (attributes appearing in good-evil pairs) within the language. *Double* predestination, a deity with divine-malevolence and divine-benevolence, etc.

        Truth Bias:
        A normal characteristic of social behavior. People want to believe others, even when the evidence points to the contrary. This phenomenon allows society and commerce to run efficiently. Absent Truth Bias, people would spend inordinate time checking information provided by others. Truth Bias serves as a social default. Relationships with friends and colleagues would become strained if veracity were constantly questioned.

        Christians are therefore emotionally predisposed to accept what other Christians say, “prima facie” (without examination), without recognizing when they are being mislead. The critical thinker looks for indicators in language. If you look for indicators of moral-dualism in the language of Calvinism, you will find it quite eye-opening.

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      6. Once again, br.d refuses to engage the issue.

        Nothing escapes God’s eye. There is no evil that occurs in the shadows unknown to God. God is also omnipotent; God could easily rid the world of all evil. Finally, God is sovereign and evil events cannot happen without God decreeing that it should happen. Satan cannot enter the garden without God first opening the door. Cain cannot murder Abel without God first deciding that He will not stay his hand.

        Calvinists have made an honest effort to explain why God has decided that evil should plague His creation. Non-Calvinists write stuff like br.d does as he again chooses to ignore the issue completely.

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  38. English historian, Theodore Maynard, in The story of American Catholicism writes: “It has often be charged… that Catholicism has been overlaid with many pagan incrustations. Catholicism is ready to accept that charge – and to make it her boast. The great god Pan is not really dead, he is baptized.”

    Professor Vernon J. Bourke (1907), in The Essential Augustine writes: “With God are the eternal truths and principles, the ‘rationes aeternae’, which for Augustine, are like Platonic Forms residing in God’s mind. They are actually the divine Ideas. Mutability and change, has no place on this highest level.” (p. 44)

    For the NeoPlatonist, it would be possible to categorize both “good” and “evil”, as “good” or “less good” and possibly not “evil” at all, since all things emanate from the “one”, and the “one” is beautiful and good. Therefore, all things exist in the “one”, in the form of undifferentiated unity, as elements divinely synchronized within the “one”; of necessity, containing good and evil along with all other constituents of the cosmos. Sin and evil can then be stated as beautiful and good, since they are necessary parts of the wholeness of the “one”. These constructs would be imbibed by the Catholic NeoPlatonists, and Augustine would carry them forward, and in his eloquent writing, baptize them as Christian, just as the Roman church had baptized the great god Pan.

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  39. In introducing his revised book, Dr. Flowers says, “new content on Romans 8, Ephesians 1, John 6,…has been added.” He presents an “overview” of John 6 in Chapter 5, so we do not expect to encounter an in-depth discussion of issues in John 6 as they relate to Calvinism. That’s OK; maybe a future revision, or a later book, will delve into such things.

    He begins the overview of John 6 thus, “Context…helps the reader understand the intention of the author. The grammar provides the interpretations which are allowed,…The historical narrative…provides significant understanding to the meaning of this largely contested chapter.” Thus, his purpose is to help the reader understand the context of John 6 but not to get into grammatical issues – which one would have to do to address issues related to Calvinism. While Dr. Flowers makes comments about Calvinism in the Overview of John 6, his purpose is not to engage Calvinism but to lay the groundwork for others to do so. All this is well and good, but he also seems to want to negate the Calvinist issues so that he can jump into Romans 9 – the central focus of the book. In doing so, I think he leaves the reader confused by some of the things he says.

    We read, “This contextual information aids the expositor of John 6 attempting to understand the author’s intention with regard to the natural abilities of mankind from birth, one of the primary points of contention between the Traditionalist and the Calvinist.”

    The problem here is that Calvinists do not use John 6 to discuss “the natural abilities of mankind from birth.” There are statements about those natural abilities, “No one can come to me…,” but these describe the general condition of mankind – not specifically issues related to children and babies. The primary point of contention here is the issue of the Total Depravity of people and the extent to which God must intervene in the lives of people if they are to be saved. Dr. Flowers doesn’t pursue that.

    Earlier in the book, Dr. Flowers began to develop the idea of “Judicial Hardening” that I found fascinating and look forward to his future development of this concept. Judicial hardening is a major theme affecting his interpretation of the Scriptures, but he leaves many questions unanswered.

    He has the following statements:

    1. “Jesus addresses a group of people nicknamed the elect of God (i.e. Israelites) who have grown calloused toward His revelation. For that reason, they are blinded (or judicially hardened) from recognizing the true identity of Jesus.”

    2. “The Twelve were drawn to Him (John 6: 44) through clear persuasive teachings and miraculous signs. They had been “taught of God” and had “learned from the Father” (John 6: 45).”

    Following these statements, he then writes, “Nothing is mentioned in the text of God using an inward, irresistible calling or work of regeneration to convince His apostles to remain faithful.” Apparently, he does not think that being “drawn” or “taught of God” or learned from the Father” might somehow be identified with an “inward, irresistible calling or work of regeneration.” This does not even get into the issue of judicial hardening as an inward, irresistible work to blind the Jews. It seemed obvious to me that Dr. Flowers needs to do some more thinking on this.

    Then, we read, “While on earth, God sent Christ to accomplish a specific part of His redemptive will.” What is this? “God’s will was for Jesus to come “down from heaven” and train a preselected group of Israelites (those given to Him to be apostles) to carry the gospel to the world…” And later, “God selected the Jews to carry the Word of God to the nations (Isa. 49: 6, Rom. 3: 2, 9: 5). The purpose from the beginning for which Israel had been elected was to bring the light to the rest of the world (Gen. 12: 3).”

    While this ignores John 3:16 and the theme of eternal life in the preceding chapters, there are additional problems with this conclusion. In Acts 9, God tells Ananias, ““Go, for [Paul] is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;” In Romans 11 and 1 Timothy 2, Paul says that he is an apostle to the Gentiles. Then in Galatians 2, Paul says, “seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles)…James and Cephas and John…gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we might go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised.” All this seems to argue against the conclusion that, “God’s will was for Jesus to come “down from heaven” and train a preselected group of Israelites (those given to Him to be apostles) to carry the gospel to the world…” This would seem to indicate that God’s intent was NOT to use the apostles to evangelize the world. Perhaps, a later revision will address this.

    Then, we read, “Israel did not reject God because God rejected them. Rather, God temporarily hardened those in their rebellious, calloused condition in order to accomplish redemption for all, including the very ones who were being judicially hardened (Rom. 11: 14– 23; 32). God’s purpose in hardening Israel was redemptive, not retributive.”

    The problem here is that the Jews seemed to have been judicially hardened throughout the book of Acts given their opposition to Paul. If some of those “judicially hardened” Jews happened to die during that time, I think it difficult not to call that a rejection by God. The greater difficulty with “judicial hardening” is that Dr. Flowers offers it as the reason people cannot respond to the gospel. Then, he seems to be saying that only the Jews were judicially hardened and this for a short time to bring about the crucifixion of Christ. Had not God hardened the Jews, they, seemingly, would all have heard the message of salvation and have been saved. Is this the conclusion Dr. Flowers means for the reader to draw? Another area where more work needs to be done.

    The Overview ends with Dr. Flowers asking the question, “So, what is the intent of John 6?” He doesn’t really tell us. He writes, that the Calvinists says one thing, and the non-Calvinists say another. He confuses what the Calvinists say and then ascribes to non-Calvinists his views on judicial hardening and preparing the apostles to evangelize the world. Is that really the intent of John 6? I tend to think that much more was involved than that, if that at all.

    I found the overview of John 6 pretty much superficial, as overviews go, drawing conclusions that need much more development.

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    1. CALVIN: GOD’S ROLE IN THE NATURE OF SADISM

      Sadism entails deriving pleasure from torture, torment, or evil perpetrated on others.
      In Sadism, a person not only perpetrates the evil, but also derives personal enjoyment in the processes.
      Sadism can also be observed as a utilitarian subordination of others.

      Theodore Millon, American psychologist, known for his work on personality disorders – Sadism takes 4 forms: (1) Enforcement Sadism, (2) Subordination Sadism, (2) Spineless Sadism, and (4) Tyrannical Sadism.

      Calvin – On god as designer and creator of each human’s nature:
      Quote:
      “He [god] so **GOVERNS THE NATURES CREATED BY HIM** “ (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.178)

      Calvin: On god deriving pleasure
      “We must **ALWAYS** return to the mere pleasure of the divine will, the cause of which is hidden in himself.” (Institutes-3-23-4)

      Calvin: On God as author
      “But it is quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them [SADISM], when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the **AUTHOR** of them.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.176)

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