Calvinist Slight of Hand: A Brief Arminian Interaction With Wayne Grudem’s Arguments Against the Compatibility of Foreknowledge And Conditional Election

This is a great summary of some of the discussions we have had here about the conflation of certainty with necessity. Good read!

Arminian Perspectives

A while back someone on the SEA discussion board referenced the following comments by Calvinist Theologian Wayne Grudem arguing against the compatibility of foreknowledge and conditional election.  Below is my brief interaction with this quoted material.

The idea that God’s predestination of some to believe is based on foreknowledge of their faith encounters still another problem: upon reflection, this system turns out to give no real freedom to man either. For if God can look into the future and see that person A will come to faith in Christ, and that person B will not come to faith in Christ, then those facts are already fixed they are already determined. If we assume that God’s knowledge of the future is true (which it must be), then it is absolutely certain that person A will believe and person B will not. There is no way that their lives could turn out…

View original post 1,737 more words

55 thoughts on “Calvinist Slight of Hand: A Brief Arminian Interaction With Wayne Grudem’s Arguments Against the Compatibility of Foreknowledge And Conditional Election

  1. Glad you brought up this important subject, Leighton! Thank you! But I am actually in agreement with Grudem’s reasoning, though I do not agree with his choice of Calvinism as the only logical alternative.

    The responses against Grudem in the article were based on this faulty premise – “The future will follow one particular course of events regardless of whether anyone has foreknowledge of those events or not.” Why? If there is free will for God and man… there is no necessity to follow ONE PARTICULAR course of events. There is no necessity for there to exist a certainty about a settled future. Why can’t there be a necessity and a certainty that the future is not settled except for those things in God’s mind that He has determined already and a certainty of all the possibilities that His free will and man’s free will can interact with that are possible but not necessary?

    Like

      1. I didn’t see this when I left the other comment. I think you are side stepping the question. I didn’t ask if the future was knowable. I asked if it would unfold a certain way. Knowing what way it will unfold is not relevant to the question. You say “no”, but that is just saying there will be no future at all. Surely that is not what you are saying, right? Instead, you are focused on what is known or can be known. That is the next step, but that is jumping the gun. That is not what this particular question is about.

        Like

      2. When I say the future will not unfold a certain way… I am saying that there is not one way the future will unfold for certain. There are some aspects of the future that will unfold for certain, and that there will be a future is certain because of God’s nature and promises. But there is not one particular way that it will unfold, unless you are equivocating on the word “certain”, since the future will certainly, though I don’t like the word “unfold” either… it will certainly “happen” with many events yet to be determined or permitted.

        Like

  2. Brian,

    You write: “If there is free will for God and man… there is no necessity to follow ONE PARTICULAR course of events.”

    There is the same subtle conflation of certainty and necessity that Grudem was guilty of in his book. I never claimed or suggested that there is a “necessity to follow ONE PARTICULAR course of events.” In fact, I said quite the opposite. Just because the future will unfold in a certain way (and it seems to me that to deny this is just to deny that there will be a future at all) does not mean it “must” unfold a certain way. That is the main point of my entire post.

    Like

    1. The future “will follow one particular course” is what you said. It is impossible for it to follow another particular course than that one particular one. Right? If so… then “necessary” comes into play logically unless I don’t understand what you mean by “particular”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Brian,

        No, I never said it was not possible for it to follow another course. I said the opposite. To say that the future will unfold one way does not mean it could not have unfolded another way. You continue to (unwittingly?) conflate certainty with necessity.

        Again I ask you, will the future unfold a certain way? Yes or no?

        Or, how about this?

        Tomorrow, will you make a choice about what to eat for breakfast (or not to eat it at all)? Yes or no?

        If you say yes, does that mean you can’t help but to make the choice you eventually make? Of course not. It just acknowledges that a choice will be made.

        For example, you can’t say that you will both choose to eat pancakes and not eat pancakes. You will indeed choose one or the other. It will unfold a certain way just as all of your future choices will), but that does not mean that when it unfolds their is no freedom involved in how it unfolds, nor doe sit follow that if God knows it will unfold a certain way, that it must unfold that way or that there can be no freedom in how it unfolds.

        Again, it seems to me that the only way to deny that you will make certain choices tomorrow and not whatever the alternative choices will be is to deny the future altogether. Not just deny the ability to know it as comprehending free choices, but to simply deny that there will be a future at all (which I doubt you would be willing to deny). But if there will be a future, that future will involve choices being made, choices that freely go one way and not another (this is true even if you think such future choices are unknowable until they happen). If that is the case, then I see no reason to say that God cannot foreknow how those choices will go or to assume that if He foreknows them, they cannot be free. That is often asserted, but never proven. It simply does not follow in my opinion.

        Like

      2. To specifically reply to your comment, you write: The future “will follow one particular course” is what you said.

        Right, and the word “will” is crucially important and why it does not follow that, “there is a “necessity to follow ONE PARTICULAR course of events.”

        If that is what I meant to convey I would have said the future “must” follow one particular course. That is how you took it because you seem to naturally equate certainty with necessity. But that is a mistake. They simply do not mean the same thing, just as “will be” and “must be” do not mean the same thing.

        You write: it is impossible for it to follow another particular course than that one particular one.

        No, it indeed could follow another course, it simply will not follow another course. Your immediate step from certainty to necessity is unwarranted.

        You write: “If so… then “necessary” comes into play logically unless I don’t understand what you mean by “particular”.

        I don’t think “particular” is the problem. The problem is still not seeing the crucial difference between saying something “will happen” and saying something “must happen.” Saying something “will happen” in no way threatens the potential freedom behind what will happen. Saying something “must” happen removes freedom entirely.

        Saying “particular” is just a way of saying that some choices will be made and some will not. Any future choice made will necessarily exclude the opposite at the point when it is made (simply because you cannot actualize a choice and its alternative choice at the same time).

        Make sense?

        Like

      3. Ben, You said – “No, it [the future] indeed could follow another course, it simply will not follow another course.” That “could” is only a theoretical “could” that will never be put to the test. The Calvinist argues the same way about God’s free will. He says it is free… but according to them God will never exercise differently than what is eternally immutably decreed in His will.

        The Arminian says the same thing… that “what will be will be”… but there is a theoretical “could” be different, even though it won’t be different. And then God knows it won’t be different before He even creates the world.

        What “will be will be” makes the future therefore a logical necessity, no matter how you slice it, or try to pose there is a theoretical ability for “could be something else” even though there won’t be.

        Maybe we should talk about reality… Where does reality come from? Does the future exist as a place in reality and you believe God is there already? Does the past still exist for God in reality? See… I believe only the present exists, and the past is completed and we are heading into a future that is partly determined and partly undetermined. This is how the Scripture reads. To posit that reality is not sequential in this way and that God still exists in the past or already exists in the future is contradictory to logic.

        The “future” only exists with “certainty” in His mind… but not as a completed future…. That certainty is only of the things He has determined for it and the things He infinitely understands as possibilities for it.

        And as He (and we) progress into that future His understanding changes, but does not become less perfect. It changes from knowing things as future to knowing them as past and changes from knowing things as possible to knowing them as determined or permitted.

        Like

  3. Yes! A wonderful post and very appreciated Dr. Leighton

    The Classical Arminian interpretation of foreknowledge is inclined to allow God to foreknow even events which he does not decree/determine.
    While Calvinism strictly specifics, God’s foreknowledge as a CONSEQUENCE of his decrees.

    Gruden’s wording, accurately expresses Calvinism’s foreknowledge doctrine, where he states “facts are already fixed they are already determined”

    Let me know if you think the following helps toward this topic:

    (1) God believed, at some time before we were born, that our present actions would occur as [A].
    (2) God’s beliefs (including his belief in [A]) cannot be mistaken.
    (3) If (1) and (2) are true, then it follows, our present actions, [A] are CERTAIN to occur.
    (4) We do not have the power to change or make (1), (2), or (3) false.
    (5) Therefore there is nothing we can now do to change the fact that our present actions [A] will occur – and do so by the MODAL force of inevitably, and unavoidably. (But this is not to say they occur of necessity)
    (6) Since God believes [A] is true, then [A]’s negation, [NOT A], must be false.
    (7) Since God knows every aspect of [A], exactly as [A] is – and the exact [A] that God knows is true, then it follows, any “alternative” of [A] cannot be true.
    (8) Since any “alternative” of [A] cannot be true, and God believes our actions [A] and only [A] are CERTAIN – then it is a logical impossibility for us to have the power or ability to “do otherwise” than [A].

    Like

    1. Br. D. For not being Calvinist you explain well the determinism of it, which is also consistent with Arminianism’s and Molinism’s idea of a set future forever before the creation of any other so-called “free-will” takes place! 😉

      Like

      1. Thank you very much Brian!!
        You are appreciate!!

        I loved the title of this topic “SLIGHT OF HAND” because it relates to the measure of dishonesty I see built into Calvinism’s language.

        I am currently reading Bella DePaulo, PhD, Social Psychologist, who is universally recognized as an expert on the psychology of lies.

        Definition of a lie:
        Any attempt to mislead another person, is “technically” the act of lying, even when the liar rationalizes the lie as altruistic.

        You mentioned Calvinism’s use of the word “FREE” as in “free will”.
        It is clear to me, Calvinists craft sentences specifically designed to mislead people into assuming they are asserting a “free will” that is NOT pre-determined by someone outside of themselves.

        Here is a story to illustrate how Calvinists use words:

        A young man takes a girl up to lover’s lane and she soon discovers his intent. As he reaches, she puts up her hand making a “Stop” motion. “Before we do this I need to know if you [love] me” she says sternly. The young man knows what the girl’s definition of the word [love] is. He knows she defines [love] as monogamous commitment. If he speaks honestly, and answers her question USING HER DEFINITION of the word [love], his answer will be “no”. In such case, his quest will be foiled.

        So, he reasons within himself, that he must mislead her. “Of course I love you” he says, and then fills in using language designed to capture her agreement—Argument by Emotive or Grandiose Language. But the caveat is; he won’t tell her what [type] of love he has in mind. His strategy is a practice found in certain religious groups. It is called “insider language”, and is used to market the religious group, and to mislead unsuspecting people.

        He knows what her definition for [love] is, but he creates an ad hoc definition for the word, and retains his definition as “insider language”. It should be clear to all that this is the language of dishonest lawyers, cunning politicians, and religious recruiters.

        He is is speaking to her his “REVEALED” will, while withholding from her his “SECRET” will.
        Christians who are familiar with Calvinism should be able to connect the dots.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hi Kanaroodort, hope you’re well.
        Actually what I posted is a common formulation found in Christian Philosophy, although I worded it slightly different.

        It is also commonly held that Theological Determinism and Theological Fatalism differ specific to an appeal to “necessity”.
        Theological Fatalism posits events obtain “of necessity” and Theological Determinism does not.

        A similar formulation to what I posted is expressed by Peter Van Inwagen concerning logical consequences of God’s foreknowledge.
        Inwagen (and I have to paraphrase this) presents a theoretical situation:
        – God looks into the future and sees I will do [X] at time [T1]
        – God writes on a stone, or informs a prophet that I will do [X] at time [T1]

        What is the logical consequence, in the event I don’t do [X] at time [T1]?
        It would make God wrong.

        Now Christian Philosophy holds to the propositions
        – Something cannot be both true and false at the same time. (law of non-contradiction)
        – God’s belief is always right (doctrine of divine perfection)

        So there is a logical consequence involved in God’s knowledge of future events.
        Historically, Christian philosophers sought answers, such as Augustine’s libertarian-freedom solution, Boethius’s time solution, Ockham’s hard/soft solution, Molina’s middle-knowledge solution, and I believe open-theism is now considered as a solution.

        All of these solutions have their own disciples who embrace them.
        But each solution carries its own logical or ethical conundrums.
        And the beat goes on!!! 🙂

        Like

    1. And, theoparadox, perhaps it should be “more accurate”, not “more correct”, since one would think to a Calvinist it is either correct or wrong! 😉 But my believing the Scripture is univocal in its teaching of truth, and also I think that accuracy in grammatical, contextual meaning derived from Scripture is a must, Calvinists seem to have a sleight of hand and slight of hand in their hermeneutic endeavors, imo. lol

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Brian, you write: But there is not one particular way that it will unfold, unless you are equivocating on the word “certain”, since the future will certainly, though I don’t like the word “unfold” either… it will certainly “happen” with many events yet to be determined or permitted.

    So the future will happen in all kinds of different ways, not just one way? Will it include choices you make and the opposite choices you make at the same time? Of course not. That is impossible. It cannot be true that you will both get out of bed tomorrow at 8:00 am and stay in bed till 10:00 am.

    The language of “certain” just means something will happen. That is all. It does not speak to the nature of what will happen (whether it will happen freely or not). It could happen freely or of necessity. But saying that something certainly will happen fully allows for freedom within that certainty. Saying something must happen removes all freedom.

    You will indeed make many choices tomorrow, and those choices will go one way and not another. So there is indeed a “particular” way that tomorrow will unfold regardless of whether or not we know how it will unfold or if it can even be known how it will unfold. I don’t see how you can possibly disagree with this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ben… I think we are getting closer to being on the same page… though I would like to hear your responses to my questions about reality. And let’s talk some more about “particular” future. Let’s say God has determined for the future events A (creation), D, K, and Z but has left a number of B’s, C’s, E’s, F’s etc to be undetermined, all of which being able to lead to D, K, and Z. It is true that in the end when we come to moment B, or C, or E or F it will be only B1 or B2 or B3, etc and not more than one B choice.

      But as I understand what you are saying… what “will be will be” means it will be, let’s say, B2 as a set outcome before creation, and that none of the other B’s will happen, but are all counterfactual before creation takes place, even though there was a theoretical possibility for another B at some point, at least logically, before creation? Please clarify if this is not the case. My view is that before and after the moment of creation all B’s are still possible and that is how they are known in God’s mind for that is the only way they can be known before and after creation, logically speaking, for their truth must conform to reality.

      This is the first law of logic… the law of identity. What is true is true. A possibility cannot be a counterfactual before creation. It remains a possibility until it becomes a counterfactual by a determination eliminating all other possibilities but one, or by becoming a event through it being permitted to happen over all other possibilities. Only then all those other possibilities become counter-factuals. Knowledge has to conform to this reality… so know no one possibility for an event can be known as a “will be” until is ceases to exist as a possibility by one of those actions I mentioned.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Knowledge has to conform to this reality… so know no one possibility for an event can be known as a “will be” until is ceases to exist as a possibility by one of those actions I mentioned.

        This seems to sum up your argument and for me it all amounts to a simple denial that God can foreknow future choices until they happen. But that is just question begging. If God can foreknow the future, then He can likewise know much of that future as happening freely, which is my point. If God can know how a future choice will attain, He can just as well know all the possible contingencies, or as you put it: “counterfactuals”, that could have obtained instead.

        A more precise and perhaps more helpful way of framing it is that God can foreknow a choice just as easily as He can foreknow the alternative power in the human will that stands behind that choice, a power which could have actualized another choice instead. If that power exists, then God can foreknow it along with the choice that will be produced by that power, with full power to choose otherwise, which means the foreknown choice can still be entirely free.

        Human freedom is not located in what happens, but in the power that stands behind what happens. If humans have been granted the power of contrary choice, then that power is what informs our freedom, not the uncertainty of the choice up until the point it is made. For that reason, a choice can be foreknown and still be entirely free, since foreknowledge does nothing to influence or control the alternative power in the will that stands behind the choice and makes it free by its very nature.

        Again, all you are really saying is that God cannot know what a choice will be until it is made, which is just to deny that foreknowledge of free will choices is possible. But that is just an assertion based on philosophical assumptions that cannot be proven (assumptions about the nature of time and God, and assumptions that make freedom an issue of uncertainty leading up to the choice, and not ultimately located in the God given power of contrary choice within the human will).

        Really, it seems that we are both to the point of saying the same things in different ways. My starting point is that God can indeed foreknow genuine choices before they happen (as explained above). Your starting point is that He cannot, because you see uncertainty as necessary to freedom, an assertion that you have yet to prove in my opinion.

        From my starting point, there is no logical problem with God’s ability to foreknow choices suddenly rendering those choices not free, simply because He knows what they will be in advance. We simply have no good reason to assume that foreknowledge is causative or that a future free will choice will cease to be free simply because it is known.

        It seems all you can do is assert God cannot know what a choice will be before it happens. That’s fine, and I will just counter assert that He can. At that point, you need to prove that such foreknown choices would, by virtue of God’s simple foreknowledge, be rendered not free, but nothing you have said to this point leads to such a conclusion.

        The only way that can be done is by ignoring the crucial difference between certainty and necessity (which you have done many times), or by proving that knowledge by its very nature is causative, which is contrary to normal and widely held definitions regarding the nature of knowledge. Equivocation seems to be the only way out of that, which is not a very persuasive logical recourse. The only other recourse seems to be to assert that certainty renders freedom impossible simply because you define freedom in the context of uncertainty. But that is also question begging, and I have shown how uncertainty is not a necessary component for defining the nature of human freedom.

        Hope that helps.

        Like

      2. Thank you Ben for your detailed response though I am still interested in wanting to know your answers to my questions about the nature of reality. It does go to the issue of whether certainty confirms necessity, even if it doesn’t cause it.

        You said – “…a simple denial that God can foreknow future choices until they happen. But that is just question begging.” I disagree. I explained the logic behind how knowing future choices as completed would be impossible before any freewill makes those choices between real possibilities. Something cannot be known as a real possibility and also as a counterfactual at the same time because of the law of identity.

        I know you have invested alot in your position, so I do not expect a quick change from it. But thank you for hearing me out on the logic behind my position… and I hope you would agree that God is not in anyway able to do anything that is illogical.

        Like

  5. Brian,

    You write:

    Ben, You said – “No, it [the future] indeed could follow another course, it simply will not follow another course.” That “could” is only a theoretical “could” that will never be put to the test.

    I can agree with this, except I would say “would never happen” rather than “will never be put to the test.”

    The Calvinist argues the same way about God’s free will. He says it is free… but according to them God will never exercise differently than what is eternally immutably decreed in His will.

    Not really the same since the Calvinist view of God’s will is muddied. Typically, they would see His will in a compatibilist framework so that He “freely” acts in accordance with His nature, and for that reason it cannot be otherwise. That is not what freely means to you or me, and that is not what I am saying at all.

    The Arminian says the same thing… that “what will be will be”… but there is a theoretical “could” be different, even though it won’t be different. And then God knows it won’t be different before He even creates the world.

    I think this is pretty accurate. Every time you make a choice if it is free, it “could be different”, though it won’t be different. So I don’t see how this is a problem at all.

    Even for someone like you who denies foreknowledge it is still true that whenever a choice is freely made it “could be different.” Do you deny this? If so, it seems you must likewise deny libertarian freedom.

    What “will be will be” makes the future therefore a logical necessity, no matter how you slice it, or try to pose there is a theoretical ability for “could be something else” even though there won’t be.

    This is mere assertion and a leap in logic. Nothing you have said to this point leads to this conclusion. You have just turned “will be” into “must be” with no logical justification. Again, that is the same sleight of hand that Grudem was guilty of in his book.

    Maybe we should talk about reality… Where does reality come from? Does the future exist as a place in reality and you believe God is there already? Does the past still exist for God in reality? See… I believe only the present exists, and the past is completed and we are heading into a future that is partly determined and partly undetermined.

    Here is a question for you with regards to reality. How long does the present last exactly? See, such definitions are rather slippery all around.

    As far as God’s interactions with time, I simply do not know. I also don’t know how an immaterial Being can create the entire physical world out of nothing (including space and time). Neither do I know how a purely spiritual Being might interact with time, or what the limitations of those interactions might be.

    We simply do not know enough about time or how a spiritual (immaterial), all powerful, Omni-present entity like God might be able to interact with time to fully inform our philosophy on whether or not God can foreknow the future, or how He might do that. That will get us into the weeds pretty quickly.

    So if your objection is simply, “how can He?”, my answer is simply: “I don’t know.” But I trust that He can. And if He can, He can foreknow free choices just as well as necessitated choices. There is no logical problem there.

    This is how the Scripture reads. To posit that reality is not sequential in this way and that God still exists in the past or already exists in the future is contradictory to logic.

    I don’t read Scripture as you do, obviously. I read Scripture to plainly indicate that God has exhaustive knowledge of the future, even of future free will choices, and I see no logical problem with that since, again, we simply do not know enough about the nature of time or the nature of God to make such dogmatic statements about what is “contrary to logic” on that particular front.

    The “future” only exists with “certainty” in His mind… but not as a completed future…. That certainty is only of the things He has determined for it and the things He infinitely understands as possibilities for it.

    Again, this is just an assertion. Shall I just make a counter assertion?

    And as He (and we) progress into that future His understanding changes, but does not become less perfect. It changes from knowing things as future to knowing them as past and changes from knowing things as possible to knowing them as determined or permitted.

    I can agree that God knows the past as the past, the present as the present and the future as the future, and that as the future becomes the past God’s understanding of it changes from future to past. But that does not mean that God cannot know the future as the future, without needing to know the future as something that has already happened (which would be the past). That is not what I am claiming. And again, I admit my ignorance as to how God interacts with or experiences time in the first place.

    What I am saying is that given my premises (that God can indeed know the future), which are the premises that Grudem is supposedly working with, there is no logical incompatibility with respect to human freedom and foreknowledge.

    If God can foreknow the future (which I believe He can), there is no reason to assume He cannot also know future free will choices that will go a certain way, even though they do not have to go that way. All that is required is that we rightly understand the crucial difference between certainty and necessity, rather than insisting on arbitrarily and unnecessarily conflating these two concepts.

    Like

  6. Brian,

    You write: Thank you Ben for your detailed response though I am still interested in wanting to know your answers to my questions about the nature of reality.

    I addressed that issue above with respect to the many “unknowns” with regards to the nature of time and the nature of God with regards to His interaction with time. If there was something else about reality that you were looking for, please clarify.

    I also asked you to define “the present” since that seems fundamental to your view of reality and how God can and cannot interact with time. I will ask you again: how long exactly does the present last? Here is a follow up: how does God exhaustively interact in the “present” based on how you answer the first question?

    It does go to the issue of whether certainty confirms necessity, even if it doesn’t cause it.

    Certainty by definition does not confirm necessity since necessity is by definition different than certainty (going an important step beyond what certainty by itself entails). It seems like you are not playing by your own rules with regards to the law of identity.

    You said – “…a simple denial that God can foreknow future choices until they happen. But that is just question begging.” I disagree. I explained the logic behind how knowing future choices as completed would be impossible before any freewill makes those choices between real possibilities.

    That is because you loaded the idea of freedom with uncertainty as an identifying feature of freedom. I deny that definition and carefully addressed that issue above.

    Something cannot be known as a real possibility and also as a counterfactual at the same time because of the law of identity.

    This statement seems confused to me. Honestly, I don’t like “counterfactual” as a description in these sorts of discussions, as I mentioned above. I don’t agree that my position violates the law of identity at all since we are talking about a power within the human will and this power can, by its very nature (or identity), actualize one of many different possibilities.

    So saying that God can foreknow what this volitional power will actualize does not mean there is no power present for the actualization of an alternative, or that the actualization of an alternative was not possible. By definition it is possible because of the very nature of that power within the will. The actualization of that power in on direction rather than another does nothing to change the nature of that power (and the freedom inherent in that power), even if that actualization is foreknown.

    Again, the nature (identity) of that inherent power of alternative choice in the will is as fully known to God as the choice that is actualized by that power. So I think your objection based on identity fails because it does not fully comprehend the alternative power in the will and what that power necessarily implies with regards to the nature of human freedom.

    I know you have invested alot in your position, so I do not expect a quick change from it. But thank you for hearing me out on the logic behind my position…

    Likewise…

    and I hope you would agree that God is not in anyway able to do anything that is illogical.

    I agree, though of course I do not think you have shown my position to be illogical unless you load your own presuppositions and definitions into my viewpoint, presuppositions and definitions that I reject (like defining freedom in the context of uncertainty, which again, begs the question).

    Like

    1. Hi Ben… for some reason I don’t get email notices of your responses… so sorry for the delay in this one and I think I missed one other too.

      I think you have clarified that you think reality is sequential and that God’s knowledge changes from knowing something that was to be future to knowing it as past after the event takes place. Thanks. But if I am misunderstanding your view of reality… let me know.

      As far as… “how long exactly does the present last?” And “… how does God exhaustively interact in the ‘present?” You have made my head hurt! 😉 I am not sure how finding answers to those questions will help our discussion. Maybe you can tell me your motives for those two, so I can try. But the issue to me is that the past and the future do not exist… only the present does. The past in God’s mind is known as completed, but the future is known as not completed, except for things He has unconditionally decided to cause or direct to happen in the future.

      You said – “Certainty by definition does not confirm necessity since necessity is by definition different than certainty.” The word “confirm” does not require both words to be similes. That God promises unconditionally a future event confirms that future event will necessarily take place for God cannot promise something that is false… But the promise is not necessarily indicating what the cause will be of that future event or what caused God to know it as being certain to happen ahead of that event itself. Maybe you think I only hear “cause” when I say “necessity” or “necessarily”… but I am just saying the future “must” conform to the truth about it in God’s mind, no matter the cause of the events already known as completed, yet still future.

      This leads me to wondering that if you truly believe knowledge can change in God’s mind from something being known by Him as being future to then becoming known by Him as past, then you must also see the logic that God cannot know two contradictory things as both true at the same time. He cannot know an event as what could possibly happen in the future and also know the same event as something that will never happen (counterfactual) in the future.

      For example, when considering possible future free choices that He has not made yet, but still could make, it is impossible for Him to know any of those choices as being made already and knowing all their alternative choices as counterfactual already. That is contradictory to logic. Those future divine choices are either known by God as still possible, and not made yet, or they are known by God as already made, and all the other related choices are already known as counterfactual.

      Like

  7. Billy-bob walked into his dorm-room and found his Calvinist room-mate intensely studying a TV magician pulling rabbits out of hats.

    What are you doing!? Billy-bob asked curiously.

    To this, his Calvinist room-mate said very excitedly: I’m prepping for my Calvinism debate tonight!! 😀

    Like

  8. ON CALVINIST RULES OF RATIONAL REASONING:

    (1) *ALL* [A] are [B]. But not in such a way that *ALL* [A] are [B], because *SOME* [A] are [NOT B].
    (2) The Calvinist reserves the right, to assert *WHAT* [A] are [B] and *WHAT* [A] are [NOT B].
    (3) The Calvinist reserves the right to assert *WHEN* [A] are [B] and *WHEN* [A] are [NOT B].
    (4) The Calvinist reserves the right to never be proven wrong.

    In psychology, this is called: “CONGENITAL SELECTIVE HONESTY DISEASE”

    That we henceforth be no more children – tossed to and fro – mislead by half-truths and sleight of words – by the cunning craftiness of ἀνθρώπων.

    Jesus does not teach his disciples the art of misleading language.
    One must learn it from another master.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. BR.D,

      I am slightly confused and hope you can help me to better understand your comments. Are you asserting that *ALL* Calvinists are inherently dishonest in the articulation of their theology? Who is the “master” from whom they learn “the art of misleading language”?

      Are *ALL* advocates of all other Christian theological traditions impeccably honest? If not, from which “master” do they learn to use misleading language?

      Finally, are *ALL* advocates of your theological perspective impeccably honest in the articulation of their theology?

      Looking forward to the “rational reasoning” that you will share on this.

      Like

      1. Thanks theoparadox for your question.
        I noticed you have “paradox” in your user name…very interesting. :-]

        Anyway… to answer your questions:

        (1) Are you asserting that *ALL* Calvinists are inherently dishonest in the articulation of their theology?
        (2) Who is the “master” from whom they learn “the art of misleading language”?

        (1) I of-course could not speak for *ALL* Calvinists, if *ALL* is defined as having universal scope. So the answer would have to be no to that question. The observation of Calvinism’s unique language is of perennial note. Numerous non-Calvinists, in dialog with Calvinists have observed that Calvinism’s language is replete with equivocations, ambiguous terms, counterfactuals (propositions that may or may not be true) presented AS-IF true, and half-truths presented AS-IF whole-truths. Where terms like “permit”, “allow”, and “sin” for example, can have amorphous meanings within the structure of statements.

        William Lane Craig writes: “Sadly but unfortunately, Calvinists consistently fall short of enunciating the logical entailments within their belief system”. In one instance, in his dialog with a Calvinist, the Calvinist appeals to the proposition that sin an illusion that has no real reality”.

        Dr. Jerry Walls states “If Calvinists didn’t use misleading rhetoric, the system would loose credibility in a few years”. Dr. Wells says Calvinists tend to be semantic magicians.

        This is why you see the picture of the magicians hat at top of one of SOT101 home page.

        If you read threads on SOT101 looking for evidence of a language consistently containing what I’ve described above, you are sure to find it from Calvinist posts here. That is not to say you won’t find it from others. But you are sure to find it from the Calvinist posts.

        A sound logical proposition should have an unambiguous quantifier, a subject, and a predicate expressed with pin-point precision, and an unambiguous logical operator. In my dialog with Calvinists, I pose a question, using these four components, and invariably the Calvinist either makes the quantifier, or logical operator ambiguous, or shifts the subject or predicate. This strategy is to make the dialog go in circles, wear out the questioner, and then claim victory. It follows the model of always introducing new terms into the dialog so that the original terms are lost over two or three exchanges. I’ve often described this experience to chasing a greased pig. :-]

        (2) who is the master of misleading language?
        This is a question I can’t answer. The scripture states that Lucifer transforms himself into an angel of light. And we know that people can follow this same model. So it would be reasonable to assume that those people are following Lucifer’s model. They get that model from somewhere. Perhaps someone would argue that it comes from God himself. But I would not dare to assert that.
        I can tell you, I don’t believe Jesus teaches his disciples to be reliant upon misleading language.
        So wherever those people learn it from, its not him.

        (3) Are *ALL* advocates of all other Christian theological traditions impeccably honest? If not, from which “master” do they learn to use misleading language?
        This would seem obvious. Since people are human, and no one has reached perfection, none can be impeccably honest.

        (4)Where do they learn it?
        It would be reasonable to anticipate, from those people within their religious system, who are their voices of influence.
        Steven Hassan, is an internationally recognized expert on how religious groups use language dishonestly.
        You might consider looking into some of the information he provides.

        But there is another important question here.
        Jesus says “If therefore the light that is in. thee be darkness, how great is that darkness”
        The question here is not whether or not dishonesty exists with a religious group, because that is a given by virtue of sin.
        The question Jesus would have us look, at is what decree of dishonesty do people consistently observe.

        Additionally, if a theology is reliant upon a high degree of misleading language in order to promote and defend itself, what does that tell us about that theology?

        (5) Finally, are *ALL* advocates of your theological perspective impeccably honest in the articulation of their theology?
        This would have to be the same answer as (3).
        But again, I would refer you to Jesus’ question.
        Why would it be the case, that observers consistently note, a particular aspect of a theology has a high degree of misleading language?
        We could simply ascribe this to theological bias on the observers part. They simply want to see it, but its not really there.
        But I suspect it is more likely that these observers are seeing the same thing because it actually is there.
        Back to Jesus…the question remains, how prevalent (In Jesus’ words – how great) is the misleading language?
        And why would it be necessary?

        Thanks for asking a good question :-]

        Like

      2. BR.D,

        I do not find your posts insulting. I do find a number of your assertions to be curious.

        William Lane Craig is not at all unprofessional in my view; like the rest of us, however, he is both biased in his evaluations and limited in his ability to observe and draw accurate conclusions. As a committed advocate of LFW and Molinism, he cannot be expected to judge Calvinism without some degree of bias. I do, however, like (and respect) him quite a bit–despite some rather strong disagreements.

        Offensive things that are true should be welcomed, regardless of one’s emotional or theological/philosophical commitments. What if Jesus spoke some “offensive” Calvinistic things to you? Would you accept them as the Word of God and non-negotiable TRUTH? I believe one day He actually WILL do this very thing, by the way. What will you do if I am right?

        I have never found the teachings and writings of Calvinists to be in any way dishonest or misleading. Nor those of Arminians, Traditionalists or Open Theists for that matter. Having read and studied quite a bit from all of them (including Calvinists from Paul and Augustine 🙂 to Calvin, Beza, the Puritans, and Edwards, to Piper and Storms and Carson), I must admit I am totally mystified by your assertions to the contrary. I am honestly not sure where that idea comes from and have never observed anything resembling it.

        I am certain that my perspective may be skewed and some of my beliefs may be false. Then again, what if your convictions are wrong? In that case, Calvinists are to be commended for declaring them false, right? But what do these kinds of questions actually accomplish when there are Biblical, theological, and philosophical points of real substance that need to be addressed?

        No doubt there are dishonest people in the world, and some very dishonest religious people who twist words for their own benefit. Surely there are Calvinists among them. But slapping that label on Calvinists, in some particular or special sense, does not seem very helpful or accurate. Wouldn’t you rather discuss the virtues and weaknesses of the actual positions held (and clearly articulated) by Calvinists? In my experience, they are neither shy nor bashful about sharing them with all the world.

        Like

      3. Thanks again for your considered and thoughtful response!

        I would simply ask you to consider looking at this from an outsider’s perspective then.
        Like I mentioned before – as if you are a market researcher doing an analysis on the perceptions various segments of the potential consumer base have on a given product or its company and what factors make for those perceptions.

        There is an article on one of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy pages that I wanted to point you too but can’t now find.
        What stood out to me was the author’s (who is a academic credentialed person) remarks about quotes from various Calvinists on the doctrine of sovereignty and how it pertains to Theological Determinism.

        The author examines the quotes and finds them oddly ambiguous. One of them by Paul Helm.
        The author notes that these Calvinist quotes are odd, because they can be interpreted to both affirm Theological Determinism and to deny it.

        I wish I could find that page for you – – perhaps I’ll locate it.
        But I think you get the picture here. There is a general trend in Calvinist language where it is unquestionably crafted with the specific purpose of playing to two different audiences.

        The issue of outsiders observing this as a model within Calvinist languge has existed for years, and is not going away any time soon.
        Best to you! :-]

        Like

      4. Friends, I have posted a little parable on my website for your consideration, which I think illustrates well the dynamic that is occurring on this thread (and many, many others across the internet, unfortunately). It was too long to be posted as a comment here. If you search for THEOparadox on google, you will find my site and the post.

        Blessings,
        Derek

        Like

      5. Thanks Theoparadox,

        I’m not sure any non-Calvinist will recognize the model of dialog within the parable.

        When I was reading it, I took a special note of :

        “Cal: Well, that is partially true. My house does not have the kind of foundation you are used to seeing on a house, it’s actually a—”

        Unfortunately, in my experience, especially at SOT101, I’ve never had a Calvinist specify components within their statements, that are partially true. Typically the model is to make statements that contain partial truths, presented AS-IF they are the whole truth.
        Anyone who would like to review dialogs here at SOT101 where a non-Calvinist has observed that very concern, can verify by following those threads.

        One thing is excellent about your parable.
        It raises the visibility of the concern as a concern which should have as its primary focus, the honoring of Christ.
        So, from my standpoint, anything that raises the visibility of the issue will bring about beneficial results.

        However, mature Christians should know, whoever takes a defensive posture arguing: “It can’t possibly be me or my party” is vulnerable to being insensitive to the Lord’s concern, and thus manifest a compromised allegiance.

        Blessings!

        Like

      6. For the URL, put http:// in front of the following link syntax:

        theoparadox.blogspot.com/2017/06/calvinism-arminianism-southern-baptist.html

        Like

    2. BR.D,

      Thank you for your reply. So you seem to be saying that Calvinists, in general, are more dishonest than others, and you cite two well-known anti-Calvinists as witnesses to this alleged phenomenon. William Lane Craig, while respectable and scholarly, is hardly an unbiased commentator in this regard. And Jerry Walls has a serious axe to grind, which I think even he would admit. Neither of them has interacted with 99% of the Calvinists who exist in the world today, so it seems difficult to accept their judgment as valid–unless they are simply commenting on the perhaps .0001% of all Calvinists with whom they have actually spoken and interacted? Seems like they (and you, I would guess) are making broad, sweeping judgments and generalizations that might not be fully objective or demonstrable.

      Would you say Charles Spurgeon was dishonest in the way he articulated his theology? How about Paul Washer? Voddie Baucham? Al Mohler? Ken Sande? John MacArthur? R.C. Sproul? R.C. Sproul, Jr.? Matt Chandler? Sam Storms? Alistair Begg? Carl Trueman? David Wells? R.T. Kendall? D.A. Carson? James K.A. Smith? David Powlison? John Stott? Richard Baxter? Sinclair Ferguson? William Carey? David Livingstone? John Newton? B.B. Warfield? A.A. Hodge? Charles Hodge? John Bunyan? Jonathan Edwards?

      Just trying to think of a broad range of better known Calvinists as a sample for confirmation. Do you think the majority of these men are/were particularly dishonest in their theological articulations?

      I must admit, I find your assertion curious, to say the least. Especially since my own experience has been just the opposite.

      Like

      1. Any time a Calvinist who holds to determinism says that God “allowed” a certain evil, he is dishonest or inconsistent. He is using a word that doesn’t accurately describe what he actually believes to be true.

        Any time a Calvinist has affirmed “free will” while knowing that nobody but other Calvinists mean the same thing as he does by that term, he is dishonest. He is actively and knowingly creating false assumptions in the mind of his audience.

        Any time a Calvinist tells a specific person – or a crowd – that God desires for them to be saved, he is dishonest: He is stating as fact something that he cannot know.

        And of course, the numerous places where high-profile Calvinists get extremely basic definitions of Arminianism wrong are pretty tough to see as well. (like here (http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-difference-between-calvinists-and-arminians), where Piper defines Arminians as “those who insist on free will untouched by God”, despite the fact that he HAS to know that prevenient grace is a bedrock foundation of Arminianism).

        There are dozens of these that arise in interacting with Calvinists. Just off the top of my head, the Society of Evangelical Arminians facebook group had a good laugh a while back over Timothy Keller tweeting “Jesus’ kingship is not like human kingships, for it wins influence through suffering service, not coercive power.” It’s a ludicrous thing for a determinist to say, and obviously untrue: If irresistibly changing someone’s very nature doesn’t qualify as coercive, I don’t know what does. So yeah: I’ll say that when I see a Christian misusing language and deliberately clouding issues, it’s a Calvinist the vast majority of the time, because determinism requires fuzzy thinking to gain traction in most Christian circles.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. bestmackman makes very excellent statements that are very true.

        A young man takes a girl up to lovers lane and she soon discovers his intent.
        Before we do this, she says – I need to know if you LOVE me!
        He knows what her definition of the word LOVE is.
        He knows she means “monogamous commitment”
        Are you committed to me, or are you just using me to gain something for yourself, and then leave me with all of the risk.

        He knows if he answers her using *HER DEFINITION* of the word LOVE, and if he doesn’t lie, his answer will be NO.
        So he creates an *UNREVEALED* definition for the word LOVE.
        Of-course I LOVE you – he says!

        What is the model of language here?
        He is co-opting her language in order to obfuscate his meaning.
        He deceives her by using an *UNREVEALED* definition for the most critical word in their dialog.

        This model of language is common in Calvinist statements.
        I am not claiming Calvinist do this with malicious intent!!!
        I think disingenuous language has become a necessary evil for them.

        There is nothing dishonest about having your own unique definitions for words.
        Where the dishonesty comes, is deceiving them into believing you are using their definitions when you are not.

        I have read academic materials in Christian philosophy where the author reflects on a Calvinist statement being so ambiguous that it could be interpreted as both deterministic and non-deterministic.
        With the author commenting, that at that level of academic professionalism, such a high decree of ambiguity is unexpected.
        What’s the deal???

        Like

      3. Hi theoparadox,
        I appreciate the mildness with which you’ve responded.
        I was expecting something perhaps more aggressive.
        So thank you.

        Instead of saying you find my posts concerning this “curious”, wouldn’t it more accurate to say you find them insulting?

        You mention William Lane Craig, and ascribe unprofessional motives for his observations and with that, his observation can be easily dismissed. But the fact is, others don’t dismiss these observations.

        In this arena, if we are to approach such subjects professionally, we want to be careful that we are not taken away by our emotions.

        You may be looking at this from a Calvinist perspective, in which you have a fair amount of emotional solidarity.
        And that would be totally understandable.
        So it is easy to understand you might be offended by the notion that Calvinist language has a unique form of dishonesty to it.

        Jesus said things that offended religious leaders.
        And he made his disciples jaw drop at some of things he revealed about the religious leaders, whom they had been taught to hold in high esteem.

        Consider, for your own benefit, approaching this subject as if you are a marketing researcher, sent out to find out the general public’s impression of a company’s product. Then do an analysis on why that company’s product has the reputation it has, among various segments of the population.

        I think if you approach this subject that way, instead of simply convincing yourself, its all aggressive or antagonistic bias, you may in fact discern some legitimacy to it without my help.

        You do yourself no favors by automatically rejecting it out of hand.
        Do your own personal unbiased analysis of the language that is characteristic in Calvinism.

        Steven Hassan, for example, writes about “insider” language, which is common among some religious groups.
        The group uses the exact same words, used commonly within the English language, except the group has their on “insider” definitions, or inferences specific to those words, which are left “unrevealed” to “outsiders”. Group members communicate those words, and at least are subconsciously aware the recipient is interpreting a different meaning by those words.
        But that meaning is left unrevealed, and the recipient is mislead. That communication works to camouflage unpleasant aspects of the theology.

        Consider the term euphemistic language.

        Here is a definition from the web:
        (A euphemism is “the substitution of a mild, indirect or vague term for one considered to be harsh, blunt, or offensive”. Sometimes called doublespeak, a euphemism is a word or phrase which *pretends* to communicate something benevolent by camouflaged language. To make something *appear* good, or to make negative *seem* positive. To make the *unpleasant* seem attractive, or at least tolerable. It is language which avoids, shifts or denies responsibility. It conceals or prevents thought.)

        I think if you take an unbiased look at Calvinist language, simply from a linguists perspective, you will find it is highly euphemistic.
        And the degree to which it is euphemistic language, is significantly higher than common language.
        Why would that be the case?

        Lets say that the truth is, Calvinist language is no more dishonest than any other language.
        Well then, this claim is false and Calvinism comes out looking good.
        But what if the claim is actually true?
        What are the consequences?
        From my perspective, the risk to the Christian community takes precedence over making Calvinists feel insulted.
        And the consequence to Calvinism is, it will have to face a growing reputation which it will surely not want.
        So if it is wrong, then it gets to be proven wrong.
        But if I’m right, then the Christian community deserves to be forewarned, and Calvinism also suffers.

        Best to you,
        And thanks again for your posts.

        Like

      4. Mackman,

        You seem to be saying that any Calvinist who speaks in a way that does not concur with ***YOUR INTERPRETATION*** of determinism is being either dishonest or inconsistent. A very convenient way to smear one’s opponents with those accusations, I suppose.

        Are you aware that the vast majority of Calvinists are not merely determinists, but compatibilists? (I am guessing you are aware, if you are the same Mackman I have conversed with in the past).

        Are you aware that compatibilism, as a philosophical stance, typically involves the mutual affirmation of some type of determinism and some form of genuine human freedom of will (which is different from, but often no less “free,” than LFW)? Here I am not describing “Calvinism,” per se, but a common and accepted philosophical position that is held by man theists, non-theists, and others. Any good dictionary of philosophy will confirm this.

        Are you aware that there are quite a wide array of different compatibilistic accounts of human freedom? Did you know Calvinists who affirm compatibilism also represent a wide array of different compatibilist positions, some affirming a greater degree of human freedom, and some affirming less?

        Since compatibilism by definition affirms both determinism AND freedom, don’t you think it would actually be “dishonest” and “inconsistent” for a compatibilistic Calvinist to deny one or the other of these concepts?

        In essence, your stated position seems to be that a compatibilist, who by definition affirms both freedom and determinism, is being “dishonest” when he affirms both freedom and determinism.

        From this, it would seem apparent that your understanding of the matter is misguided, and as a result you have hurled false accusations against godly Christian brothers.

        To BR.D’s point–is this something Jesus teaches His followers to do? I daresay not!

        Therefore, I would plead with you, as a brother in Christ, to study–FIRST–the Scriptures. Then–study all forms of Biblically sound, orthodox Christian theology (including history, which is always enlightening). Foster an appreciation for the differences, the strengths and weaknesses, and God’s grace that is evident in many different believers’ viewpoints on various matters. Give your brothers the benefit of the doubt and recognize they may have well thought out reasons for their views. Next–study philosophy, if you have the inclination to it. Take what is good from philosophy, but don’t get lost in the maze of many man-made ideas! And Finally–please seek to use any knowledge you might gain from these studies in the dedicated service of our Lord and Savior, for His kingdom and His glory alone; in the proclamation, defense and confirmation of the Gospel; and in the edifying of fellow Christians.

        In doing this, you will find yourself following in the footsteps of the best Calvinistic and non-Calvinistic Christians. This is a blessed life that brings great reward!

        Blessings in Christ,
        Derek (THEOparadox)

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Some very good suggestions Derek! Would you agree that in conversations with someone new, we should find out how they are defining their terms, like determinism and free will and compatibilism? And would you agree that is helpful to point out when we see contradictions to logic or Scripture in any of those definitions?

        I personally don’t think the term “dishonest” helps move the conversation forward after contradictions are pointed out but not accepted and the person then continues voicing their contradictory position. And I may even have used it out of frustration! 😉 Sometimes one wonders why some do not admit clear contradiction to logic or clear Scriptures when pointed out to them. Any ideas?

        Like

      6. Thanks Brian!

        For me, the issue of how a communicator interprets what he is thinking vs. what the recipient interprets – is of minor concern.
        That situation can and does happen – but never on a prolonged and consistent basis.

        What is of primary concern is the *DEGREE* to which one finds language misleading.

        We believe the boy who cries wolf the first time, and maybe we believe him even the second time.
        But when we discover he is misleading us, we resolve he is simply untrustworthy.

        When a group is known to CONSISTENTLY craft statements, with which untrained recipients are likely to be lead to a false conclusion, we eventually attribute prolonged CONSISTENCY to one of two possibilities.

        1) The group is not intelligent enough to know their statements are misleading
        2) The group uses misleading statements strategically in order shade things straight-talk would make clear.

        We know that Calvinists are not unintelligent.
        We also know that Calvinists are mentored, and they are taught to make the statements they make.

        Euphemisms in Rhetoric:
        “Euphemism may be used as a rhetorical strategy, in which case its goal is to alter the VALENCE of a description, making it APPEAR positive when it would otherwise be clearly recognized as something else.”

        Half-truth in Rhetoric:
        “The purpose and or consequence of a half-truth is to disclose some acceptable portion of the truth while misleading the recipient into believing the whole truth is being communicated, thus leading the recipient to believe something that is false.”

        – Guy B. Adams, Professor Emeritus Columbia, MO – Ethics in culture
        “Ordinary people within their normal professional and administrative roles can engage in [insert questionable conduct here] without being aware they are doing anything wrong. Under conditions of moral inversion, people may even view their activities as good.”

        Like

      7. Brian,

        Thank you for your thoughtful comment. The answer to both of your questions is “yes.”

        In the discussion of Calvinism, Arminianism, Traditionalism, Open Theism, etc. we find ourselves quite daunted (or at least we should) by a crowded (and dangerous) intersection of Biblical, theological, and philosophical concepts that are incredibly challenging to navigate through. There are no “easy answers” here, no shortcuts, and plenty of head-on collisions. The topics force us into various dilemmas and have a tendency to reveal our most deeply held values, beliefs, and commitments (including the intellectual idols we stubbornly cling to, and, amazingly–simultaneously–the core principles of our true worship as Christ-honoring believers). Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult for us to tell the difference between the two. We can quickly and imperceptibly move from wisdom and worship to unhealthy curiosity, and then on into pitiable expressions of pride, anger and even malice. We end up misrepresenting our opponents, losing our compassion, and violating clear Biblical commands (such as the command to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger”; and “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”; and “encourage one another and build one another up”; and “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another”; and “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly”; etc.). All of those are exceedingly more important than the Calvinism/Arminianism stuff. At the very point where we depart from those commands, it becomes difficult to hear anything, and impossible to truly offer anything of real spiritual value to others. We become trapped, blinded, and unwilling to learn or love. Though we may still be filled with knowledge and have plenty of things to say.

        On the other hand, there is always another side to any argument. Sometimes it is simply a matter of understanding the other person’s viewpoint (and the logic they see in it), though we may disagree sincerely and with some vehemence. That is part of the way “iron sharpens iron,” right?

        I have always found that the mind, for all of its reasonable logic, is a slave of the will. We can reason our way to any conclusion we have already drawn, and then wonder why others don’t (or won’t) do the same. The problem is, they are already committed to their own conclusions, and their minds are fully engaged in confirming it for them. Before we can properly evaluate the logic, we need to find out the real “reasons” that underlie our own presuppositions. Who is in charge, who has the rights, and who gets the glory?

        The entire discussion should be deeply humbling.

        Thanks for graciously engaging.

        Blessings in Christ,
        Derek

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Excellent evaluation Derek! I wish more would take to heart your analysis. Finding out the answers to the questions of why do I hold so tenaciously to my position and what is the best way to help each one who disagrees is necessary if I really want to please the Lord.

        Like

  9. Derek,

    I am indeed the same Mackman. I noticed you latched onto one of my examples and ignored the others: I wonder if you concede the point on those (Calvinists saying that God “desires” all to be saved, and Calvinists speaking of God “allowing” sin that he actually determined)?

    Per freedom: Notice that my point was that they were using freedom in a way that the people they are talking to are not going to understand it. I don’t want them to deny what they believe, but I DO want them to deny what they DON’T believe, and to clarify when they are talking to someone who will not know the terms. Let’s take Mr. Compatibilist and Mr. Layperson. To Mr. C., “freedom” means “doing that which you desire to do, even when that desire is irresistibly ordained by God”. To Mr. L, “freedom” is NOT going to mean that, but instead, while being more loosely defined, is likely going to have some element of “being able to do otherwise” – and in any case, the idea of his desires being irresistibly ordained by God (as is the case with compatibilism) will never have entered into his head. Indeed, he would almost certainly view that as the OPPOSITE of freedom.

    If Mr C tells Mr L that Calvinism certainly does affirm human freedom, and if he doesn’t explain what “freedom” means in this specific context, he is being dishonest: He is communicating PART of what he believes in the knowledge that Mr L will arrive at an incorrect understanding of what Calvinism teaches – since the compatibilist understanding of freedom is not shared by the vast majority of lay Christians. (You can see this at work in the large numbers of Calvinists who believe that “Compatibilism” means that genuine libertarian free will is somehow “compatible” with meticulous providence and determinism: They were misled by whoever explained compatibilism and Calvinist “freedom” to them).

    I assume it’s justified as “well, that’s too complicated, so we won’t touch on it now.” But the truth is, it’s not a “simplification,” but a deception: The person believes that THEIR definition of freedom is compatible with determinism, when such couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Just as a counter example: if an Open Theist were to affirm that God is omniscient without clarifying what they mean by that, wouldn’t you see them as being dishonest? If an Arminian were to affirm to a Calvinist that Arminianism is “monergistic” without clarifying further, wouldn’t you see that as dishonest? Both would be attempts to be accepted under false pretenses…using terms that mean completely different things to the people involved, without bringing the differences into light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great post bestmackman!!

      Daniel Gracely – an ex Calvinist in his book “Calvinism a closer look” calls this consistent model of crafting words to specifically mislead outsiders as Calvinist dishonesty.” We of-course could simply chalk this up him having an ax to grind against his previous belief.
      But its more probable – that its simply one more affirmation.

      Like

  10. Just as an anecdote: I have a brother who is very passionate about the church and has gotten a lot of good out of John Piper’s articles and blog. When I told him about Limited Atonement, he said he didn’t believe that Piper held to that: When I told him that Piper held to double predestination, he didn’t believe that either. (As a long-time worker in high school and youth ministry, the idea that God specifically passed over many (most) of the kids he ministered too appalled him). Even when I showed him this article – http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-does-piper-mean-when-he-says-hes-a-seven-point-calvinist – he still was very ambivalent.

    This is not “proof” of anything. it’s just another piece of evidence that tells me that Calvinists that preach to “mainstream” Christians have become very good at minimizing their Calvinism and even speaking as though they reject points they actually affirm. It’s why Calvinists can say that Christ gains followers through sacrifice rather than power, or that God desires all people to be saved, or that God “allows” evil: I have even seen Calvinists use human freedom as an explanation for sin, which is utterly nonsensical from a deterministic perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll jump in. Great post, Mackman. Calvinsts are very good at disguising their doctrine. I was essentially told this in membership classes at a Theologicaly Reformed Baptist Church. The leaders were generally quick to pivot from the Calvinist label when I brought up some concerns. They were not denying affirming the doctrines but merely what to call it. On one hand, I wouldn’t be at the church if it was a constant Kool Aid drinking fest of Calvinism. But, theological honesty should be expected

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good post JP!
        Let us consider that Augustine justified the use of force, as an “end justifies the means” if it aided in recruitment.

        Calvinists, following after this theological father, have however altered his formula somewhat.
        Crafting a language specifically designed to mislead people by the use of “insider speak”, is justified, because
        (1) perception is what is important, and (2) the “end justifies the means” is still the Augustinian principle.

        Like

  11. Dr. Flowers,
    I agree with your assessment of Grudem’s argument.

    “Grudem’s argument employs the usual Calvinist sleight of hand in an attempt to make foreknowledge causative in nature. He makes a subtle and unjustified shift from will be to cannot be otherwise. That is false. What will happen is not the same as what must happen, or what cannot be otherwise. It is just the same old conflation of certainty (what will be) with necessity (what must be)…”

    I think this brings up some important points. First, this view held by Calvinists is in essence a limitation on God’s foreknowledge. They are not considering the fact that God’s foreknowledge is a direct fruit of His omniscience which by definition has no limits.
    Next, the part of your statement that says “what will happen is not the same as what must happen or what cannot be otherwise” has evidence in Scripture. In Matthew 11, Jesus pronounced woe upon some cities. He specifically mentioned Chorazin and Bethsaida. He said if the works done in these cities had been done in Tyre and Sidon, then they would have repented. Jesus not only knew the future because of what was decreed to happen, but he knew what would have been the result of different happenings. Did these events occur in Tyre and Sidon? No. But he knew they would have repented if they would have occurred. He also told Capernaum that if the works done there had been done in Sodom it would have remained until this day. Foreknowledge does not equal causation.
    Also we must consider Isaiah 1: 18 – 20 in the ESV says: “Come now, let us reason together,says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Here God has told Israel what will happen if they are willing and obedient, and what will happen if they refuse and rebel. God has made a decree. The outcome is based on Israel’s choice. God’s foreknowledge not only knows what Israel will do, He knows the outcome of all possible choices. He has not forced Israel to do either of these but He foreknows what will happen either way.
    Another biblical account that must be considered is of King Hezekiah. God told Hezekiah through Isaiah the prophet to set your house in order for you shall die; you shall not recover. (2 Kings 20) Here is a decree from God. In the Calvinistic perspective we have (1) an immutable decree because it came from God. (2) There could be no other outcome because God decreed Hezekiah would die and not recover. In the actual biblical narrative we see things are different than the Calvinist’s perspective. After hearing this decree, Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD. Notice the next message God tells Isaiah to give to Hezekiah. “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. Later God says He will add fifteen years to his days. The first decree was he shall die and not recover. The second decree was I will heal you. Here is God making a decree that changed a previous decree He had made. What happened in between that led to the change? “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you.” If we truly believe in foreknowledge we must confess that God knew what Hezekiah’s response would be. His foreknowledge of this event did not cause the event to happen. Hezekiah freely of his own will turned his face to the wall and prayed to God. God also knew that as a result He would make a decree that Hezekiah would be healed changing His previous decree.

    Great post Dr. Flowers. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Like

  12. ADVERTISING A THEOLOGY – FISHING WITH A BROAD NET:
    There once was a Christian man who manufactured a product, in competition with a few major brands, which consistently maintained about 7% of the market.

    One day, the owner received a call from an advertisement agency guaranteeing they could raise the products market-share, by another 5%. Well he thought – what could it hurt to try. So, he switched to the advertising agency. And sure, enough sales of his product saw an up-tick of almost 5%.

    However, along with increase sales, also came a number of consumers charging they had been misled by the advertisements. Now this worried the Christian owner. So, he decided to take a closer look, and what he saw gave him great concern, so he immediately arranged a meeting with the agent.

    What seems to be the problem, the agent asked.
    Well, the owner started – it’s the language in our advertisements.
    What’s the problem with the language, the agent asked.
    It leads people to believe things about my product that are not true – said the owner.

    The agent looked up and smiled: No – it leads people to believe things about the product that are not **NECESSARILY** true.

    Hmmmm! – the owner shook his head, still worried – the language leads people to believe my product has the exact same characteristics which they look for in the major brand’s product – and it most certainly does not.

    Again, the agent smiled and said: No – the language **ALLOWS** people to believe your product has the exact same DESIRABLE characteristics of the major brand’s product even if it doesn’t.

    We call this model of language: FISHING WITH A BROAD NET.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s