Freewill as Taught in Scripture

Freewill as Taught in Scripture

by Brian H. Wagner, Ph.D.,
instructor of church history,
theology and biblical languages
at Virginia Baptist College

How often have I read in various Facebook theological discussions the declaration of a Calvinist – “Freewill is not taught in Scriptures”?  Of course, the freedom of will to go against one’s nature, even for God, is not possible.  It is impossible for God to lie or to deny Himself (Titus 1:2, Heb 6:18, 2 Tim 2:13).  And it is impossible for me to fly by just flapping my arms. But the ability to freely make decisions commensurate with the limits of one’s nature and with the opportunities provided for such decision making is logically part of God’s and man’s nature and experience.  The exercise of that ability by God and by man is also well documented in Scripture.  And I can fly… if I decide to get on an airplane and allow its power to transport me through the air!

The following is an attempt at a rather thorough study of words used in the OT and NT that teach aspects and examples of the exercise of freewill.  The reader will hopefully become convinced, contrary to Calvinistic dramatic false statements in opposition, that freewill is clearly taught in the Scriptures –

The Hebrew word [verb] נדב naw-dab’ is a primitive root that means – to impel; hence, to volunteer (as a soldier), to present spontaneously…primarily translated as an adverb “willingly” which indicates free motivation or voluntary decision. It is used 17 times in 15 verses throughout OT Scripture [also 3 times in 3 verses using the same root in Aramaic – Ezra 7:13, 15, 16].  (Most of definitions for this paper are adapted from Strong’s Concordance lexical definitions.)

Here are all the verses that translate this word, נדב naw-dab’, with the translation of it underlined.  The ESV translation for each verse was chosen to accommodate Calvinist readers, so they won’t have to keep running back to their favorite translation, which is deterministically flavored. 😉

Exod 25:2 ESV “… From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.

Exod 35:21 ESV And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him….

Exod 35:29 ESV All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.

Judg 5:2 ESV …that the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the LORD!

—-[The verbal form in this last verse is an infinitive, on the Hithpael stem, which is reflexive in meaning, thus the word “themselves” is added. This Hithpael verbal stem is used 16 other times in the same reflexive way – Jg 5:9; 1Ch 29:5, 6, 9(2x), 14, 17(2x); 2Ch 17:16; Ezr 1:6, 2:68, 3:5, 7:13, 15, 16; Neh 11:2].  The reflexive action only helps to emphasize the non-compulsory action of the person’s will in the decision made in each context—-

The noun נדבה ned-aw-baw’ is used 26 times in 25 verses, mostly in connection with a voluntary – “freewill” – offering to God. With all these verses one cannot help but ask “How can you have a freewill offering without a freewill?” Calvinists reject its normal meaning, but the Bible literally uses the word 26 times.  Even the Calvinist translators of the KJV and ESV freely chose “freewill” as a suitable translation. Their translation choice is telling of what they believed this original word meant.

Here are the verses in which this noun is used:

Exod 35:29 ESV All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. —-[The idea in this verse of a sacrifice made as a free-will offering, one not commanded as an obligation, is also found in – Ex 36:3; Le 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23; 23:38; Nu 15:3; 29:39; De 12:6, 17; 16:10; 2Ch 31:14; Ezr 1:4; 3:5; 8:28; Ps 54:6; 119:108; Eze 46:12(2x); Am 4:5]

Deut 23:23 ESV You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.

2Ch 35:8 ESV And his officials contributed willingly to the people, to the priests, and to the Levites….

Ps 68:9 ESV ​Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished;

Ps 110:3 ESV ​Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.

Hos 14:4 ESV I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.

—All these OT verses clearly confirm that man, even an unregenerate man, can exercise a free-will in a manner pleasing to God. Even God is said to exercise His freewill in Hos 14:4.  The translation in Ps 68:9 was obviously determined with some subjectivity. It could easily be translated – “A shower of freewill gifts, O God, you have shed abroad…”

Here are some NT words and verses to consider that also speak to the issue of the freedom of the will.  A Calvinist may try to attribute all of the following examples as a result of regeneration, but that does not seem to fit this first example –

Acts 17:11-12 ESV Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

—-[from προθυμια proth-oo-mee’-ah, meaning predisposition. See also 2Co 8:11, 12, 19, 9:2;] The Calvinist may endeavor to suggest this willing predisposition of the Bereans was a result of regeneration, which they think is before faith is expressed. It is very difficult to convince them otherwise when their loyalty to Calvinism is so strong that they refuse to see the gospel of John clearly teaches light is freely received before faith which is before new birth life is given. See John 1:4-13, 12:35-36, 20:30-31.

Other NT verses to consider that speak to the issue of freewill are these –

1Cor 7:37 ESV But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. —-from μη ἔχων ἀνάγκην , literally – “not having a necessity”, which would be impossible if everything was predetermined eternally and immutably, making every event a necessary result of God’s decree. Notice also the verse says this man “having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart.”

1Cor 9:17 ESV For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. —- from εχων hek-own’ meaning willingly.

2Cor 8:3 ESV For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, and 2Cor 8:17 ESV For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. —-from αυθαιρετος ow-thah’-ee-ret-os – meaning self-chosen, and by implication – voluntary.

2Cor 9:7 ESV Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. —- from προαιρεομαι pro-ahee-reh’-om-ahee – meaning to choose for oneself before another thing, to prefer and by implication, to intend.

Phlm 1:14 ESV but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. —- from εκουσιος hek-oo’-see-on – meaning willingness.

1Pet 5:2 ESV shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; —-from εκουσιον hek-oo-see’-ose – meaning willingly.

The existence of a free will, even post regeneration, runs counter to the idea of an eternally immutable divine will that had completely determined everything forever into the future before creation began. Calvinism is based upon that philosophical premise, making the exercise of any free-will for God or man impossible, before creation and especially after it. That premise makes a falsehood out of these clear Scriptures shared here. These Scriptures and many others clearly show that free will does exist and is being exercised by God and man.

191 thoughts on “Freewill as Taught in Scripture

  1. Thanks Brian for showing that Scripture supports the idea of man’s free will. Your humble spirit (here and on all your posts) supports the idea that you are not then consequently saying (as you will be accused of) that this means that “man is in charge,” or that you propose a “man-centered Gospel.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your post Brian. I always appreciate your insight and your knowledge of scripture as well as your spirit of brotherly love with which you share here.

    Understanding how God gives man freedom and responsibility (ability to respond freely) only increases the awe of God’s Sovereignty, power, and love.

    “God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, “what doest thou?” Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” A.W. Tozer

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dr. Wagner writes, “..the ability to freely make decisions commensurate with the limits of one’s nature and with the opportunities provided for such decision making is logically part of God’s and man’s nature and experience.” No Calvinist should disagree with this statement. The “limits of one’s nature and…the opportunities provided for such decision making” restrain us from automatically concluding that every individual can exercise free will to the same extent – some have a greater freedom than others and it is possible that some have no real freedom espescially as it relates to making spiritual decisions.

    The point raised by the Calvinist concerns Dr Wagner’s “…limits of one’s nature…” Dr. Wagner chooses not to develop this, leaving it standing as an elephant in the room. However, we can conclude that the “…limits of one’s nature…” would result in some being able to exercise free will and some being unable to do so or not as much. That provides context for the analysis of all the verses dealing with free will and help the reader understand the need to consider context when Dr. Wagner writes, “All these OT verses clearly confirm that man, even an unregenerate man, can exercise a free-will in a manner pleasing to God,” and the fallacy of not doing so. Obviously, under the limitation imposed by Dr. Wagner, there is no reason to think that unregenerate man can exercise a free-will in a manner pleasing to God. Certainly, those verses do not lead to that conclusion as other explanations are available – within the limitations of one’s nature – that are just as plausible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must admit being somewhat perplexed by this article. If I did a word study of “sovereignty” in the Bible as an argument against Traditionalism what do you think would be the response? The first reaction would be, “Hello, we believe in sovereignty, as well.” This would be followed by the valid criticism that I was implying that Traditionalists and Arminians don’t believe in sovereignty.

    This is just another example of caricaturing the Calvinist as a hard determinist. There is no discussion of the ability to choose contrary to one’s own nature, only the obvious and irrelevant statement that one makes decisions commensurate with one’s nature.

    Incidentally, the term “freewill offering” simply means “optional”—there’s no deep philosophical meaning behind it.

    Like

    1. Thanks for the comment! I’d be interested in a thorough word study of OT and NT words meaning sovereignty. But I wonder why the translators chose “freewill” over “optional” if you are correct!

      Like

      1. Good point. To answer that question I would do a word study on the words “optional, option, voluntary and free” and see if these individual words existed in the Hebrew and if perhaps their meanings overlapped, and look at the connections, if any, these words might have to each other.

        Like

      2. Great… I look forward to reading your results, Mike! Hopefully my study is a good start… since it includes the word “free” in the translation.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The Calvinist argues that man’s nature prevents him from making the decisions which Brian offers scripture that affirms he does make. Unregenerate man can make decisions that please God. Unless all the children of Israel were regenerate, the Calvinist argument is nonsensical .

    Then we see this statement // Incidentally, the term “freewill offering” simply means “optional”—there’s no deep philosophical meaning behind it.// And how can it be optional without the freewill to choose.

    Thanks Brian, for showing another error of the Calvinist system.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. erneststrauss writes, “Unregenerate man can make decisions that please God.”

      In Romans 8, we read, “…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.”

      Do we believe you or Paul?

      Like

      1. RHutchins:
        You quoted Romans 8 as if walking in the flesh was synonymous with unregenerate. It is not. Walking in the flesh describes behavior. Unregenerate describes a man’s spiritual condition. A man is the agent of his behavior as evidenced by the many appeals by God and the prophets to change it. God is the agent of regeneration which He exercises when man believes. Calvinism suffers from its inability to distinguish agency. This results in many of the errors it makes.

        Like

      2. Erneststrauss:

        Get used to Calvinists pulling verses out of context.

        Here is the context:

        5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

        Rhutchin often mentions Paul’s agony in the 7th chapter of Romans (which he is forgetting now that he uses that Rom 8 verse), and Romans 7 does end on this note: “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

        So Paul is saying ….”dont live in the flesh!” Not trying to establish doctrine about one of the letters in TULIP!

        As I stated above, Luke tells us the both Elizabeth and Zechariah “were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” They we obviously pre-Christ, pre-cross. No mention of regeneration or any special intervention.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. “So Paul is saying ….”dont live in the flesh!” Not trying to establish doctrine about one of the letters in TULIP!”

        Paul begins, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He then makes the contrast between those set on the flesh and those set on the spirit. The context has Paul describing two opposing positions. Paul is not telling people not to live in the flesh – his point is that they are no longer in the flesh but in the spirit – “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” There is no pulling of verses out of context here – Paul is explicit in his description.

        Then, “As I stated above, Luke tells us the both Elizabeth and Zechariah “were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” They we obviously pre-Christ, pre-cross. No mention of regeneration or any special intervention.”

        Special intervention is obvious. Their actions are consistent with faith and faith was a gift to them from God. God was giving faith to people prior to Christ.

        Like

      4. Rhutchin:
        I forgot (or missed in the text) just how “obvious” it was that Elizabeth and Zechariah “were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly,” because God irresistibly made them that way. It just NEVER appears that way in the text when God mentions someone’s faith…..

        Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

        No matter what is ever said in this dialog, you just put a “God gave them that faith and denied faith to the others that He created for eternal damnation” sticker on it and that settles that.

        That same response was taught to me by books and blogs. It was not something I found (or anyone would find) in Scripture in simple reading.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. “It just NEVER appears that way in the text when God mentions someone’s faith…..”

        Where do people get faith if not from God? Who decides to give people faith if not God? Does not Ephesians 2 rule here? Did not Jesus say, “I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” The Baptist said, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.” The clear teaching of Scripture is that we can have nothing if it is not given to us by God – including the freedom to sin.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. erneststrauss writes, “You quoted Romans 8 as if walking in the flesh was synonymous with unregenerate.”

        You need to read Romans 8 again, “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…the mind set on the flesh is death,…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

        Paul is speaking of those whose mind is set on the flesh – they are unregenerate. Of course, a person acts in accord with his mind.

        You do not disagree with the conclusion that unregenerate man cannot please God. That is good to know.

        Like

  6. Rhutchin:
    Does Paul mean what you want him to mean?

    Does Paul agree with Luke?

    Luke 1: 5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. RHutchins – you wrote //You need to read Romans 8 again, “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…the mind set on the flesh is death,…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”// Did you not see “set there minds …” ? Once again, this is describing an action of man, a behavior. It does not describe his spiritual condition, unregenerate. Calvinism has distorted the meaning of regeneration and by doing so they distort the meaning of scripture. You conveniently have left out “walking according to the flesh” which is being compared to walking “according to the Spirit.” And then there is “living according to the flesh”. Paul is writing to believers with this warning – he says the spirit of Christ lives in you.
        Perhaps it is you who needs to read the context of Chapter 8 by going back and reading this: Romans 7:24-25 (HCSB)
        24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?
        25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
        Here we see Paul himself, a regenerate man, admitting that with his flesh he is a slave to sin.

        Like

      2. erneststrauss writes, “Did you not see “set there minds …” ? Once again, this is describing an action of man, a behavior. It does not describe his spiritual condition, unregenerate. Calvinism has distorted the meaning of regeneration…”

        The verse says, “…those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,….” Why did you leave out the part about “…those who are according to the flesh…”? This is what Calvinists point to as describing spiritual condition. Why do you, then, ignore it when arguing against the Calvinists?

        Then, “…You conveniently have left out “walking according to the flesh” which is being compared to walking “according to the Spirit.” And then there is “living according to the flesh”. Paul is writing to believers with this warning – he says the spirit of Christ lives in you.”

        OK. There are those who walk according to the flesh and those who walk according to the spirit. Then, Paul writes, “…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” This seems clear to me.

        Then, “Here we see Paul himself, a regenerate man, admitting that with his flesh he is a slave to sin.”

        Paul writes, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;” and “So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” and “…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

        Like

  7. Rhuthcin:

    BTW, you quoted a verse (of course out of context…but not my point right now) that says that God can “be pleased.”

    The normal position of Calvinism is that God is impassible, cannot be pleased or displeased (that would require Him to “change” in some way).

    Can man please or displease God?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Can man please or displease God?”

      From Hebrews 11, “…without faith it is impossible to please [God],…”

      So, consistent with Paul, no person who is in the flesh – without faith – can please God. One can only please God after being given faith by God that the person then exercises to believe.

      Like

  8. Isaiah 54 (ESV):

    13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
    and great shall be the peace of your children.
    14 In righteousness you shall be established;
    you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
    and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
    15 If anyone stirs up strife,
    IT IS NOT FROM ME;
    whoever stirs up strife with you
    shall fall because of you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. STCLA:

      Yes…His word says in many places that some things are just not Him.

      Notice the several places in Jeremiah where He says, “…and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind..” showing that man is doing some things that He has not ordained (hidden or not) and did not even come into His mind. How else can he say that he is not behind those things in any way?

      God has sovereignly decided to create in a way that man can do things that He does not want.

      Of course when you START with the presupposition that man has no free will and all things are decreed from God—-then you can cherry-pick a few verses, interpret them in a certain way, and “prove” that He decreed everything. But again….

      How else can he say that he is not behind those things in any way?

      I mean in what way could God better formulate a phrase to show us plainly that He did not decree those things?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “showing that man is doing some things that He has not ordained (hidden or not) and did not even come into His mind. How else can he say that he is not behind those things in any way?”

        Such verses illustrate that the ways of evil people are completely foreign to God.

        Then, “God has sovereignly decided to create in a way that man can do things that He does not want.”

        All agree to this. God has given people freedom to pursue evil – up to a point.

        Then, “Of course when you START with the presupposition that man has no free will and all things are decreed from God—-then you can cherry-pick a few verses, interpret them in a certain way, and “prove” that He decreed everything. But again….”

        That God decrees all things does not mean that man is not free to pursue evil. By decree, God restrains the evil that people would do freely if not restrained.

        Then, “How else can he say that he is not behind those things in any way?”

        God is not behind such things because He does not influence people to do evil.

        Then, “I mean in what way could God better formulate a phrase to show us plainly that He did not decree those things?”

        Those verses do not deny God’s restraining influence, only that such evil does not originate with Him.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Your imprecise language is alarming Roger… and truly mistepresents your views… you must see that. Would you like to rephrase the following?

        “…completely foreign to God.”
        “God is not behind such things.”
        “…such evil did not originate with Him.”

        Are you now denying omniscience and complete determinism? If His will is the source for everything that comes into existence… even the existence of His omniscience… then nothing is foreign to Him… He is behind all things… and even the existence of evil was willed by Him… according to what you really believe.

        Why do you hide your clearly held views behind such misleading jargon?

        Liked by 2 people

      3. brianwagner writes, “Your imprecise language is alarming…Would you like to rephrase the following?

        “…completely foreign to God.”
        “God is not behind such things.”
        “…such evil did not originate with Him.””

        That language seems pretty straightforward and precise to me. Apparently, you read those statements to mean different things to different people. Can you expand on your complaint so that more precise language might be found?

        Then, “Are you now denying omniscience and complete determinism? If His will is the source for everything that comes into existence… even the existence of His omniscience… then nothing is foreign to Him… He is behind all things… and even the existence of evil was willed by Him… according to what you really believe.”

        God’s will is not the immediate source of everything that exists – it controls everything that exists. The depraved mind is able to conceive evil on its own without help from God. God knows the thoughts of a person even before the depraved mind conceives those thoughts. God gives the depraved mind freedom to pursue all sorts of evil without interference from God. To say that evil is “foreign to God” says that God does not cause the depraved mind to think such evil. Evil originates with the depraved mind and its source is not God.

        Then, “Why do you hide your clearly held views behind such misleading jargon?”

        That is the point of discussion – to straighten out jargon. Your help explain what you see as misleading is necessary if we are to root out jargon.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Phew! I am sure that Brian will be relieved that you are no longer a Calvinist. For, surely many quotes can be found from Calvin, Piper, and van Til (albeit not from Scripture) showing that every dust particle (good or bad) is determined by God. Thus, I believe your “foreign to God” demonstrates that you do not follow this thing.

        For how…in your definition of sovereign ….could ANYTHING be foreign to God?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. “For how…in your definition of sovereign ….could ANYTHING be foreign to God?”

        That which is foreign to God is that which God would not command people to do.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. In addition to what Brian said, above you said that all agree to the fact that “God has sovereignly decided to create in a way that man can do things that He does not want.”

    This is fundamental in the flawed idea of “irresistible grace”. God wants all men to come to Him (He says it, but Calvinist redefine “all” and “world” with cherry-picking semantics) —-but has created in a way that man can refuse Him. Their refusal “is foreign to Him.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “This is fundamental in the flawed idea of “irresistible grace”. God wants all men to come to Him (He says it, but Calvinist redefine “all” and “world” with cherry-picking semantics) —-but has created in a way that man can refuse Him.”

      Calvinist define “all men” to mean “Jew and gentile.” This is based on Ephesians 3. Your definition of “all men” to be each and every individual is based on Webster’s dictionary. I think we should let God speak for Himself and not Webster.

      Then, “Their refusal “is foreign to Him.””

      That people sin is not foreign to God. What is foreign to God is the idea that He commands such behavior.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Once again you want it both ways.

        God does “command such behavior” in that all things (according to Calvin) are decreed, ordained and willed by Him.

        If man is sinning and God did not command it, then “man is sovereign” ….capable of doing something God has not planned.

        Can you see the double standard?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “God does “command such behavior” in that all things (according to Calvin) are decreed, ordained and willed by Him.
        If man is sinning and God did not command it, then “man is sovereign” ….capable of doing something God has not planned.
        Can you see the double standard?”

        In the first instance God commands that people be free to pursue sin without interference from Him. In the second instance, God does not command that people use the freedom He gives then to sin. I don’t see a double standard – context is different.

        Maybe you could explain how a sovereign God might avoid having to decree, ordain, will everything that happens.

        Like

      3. Simply amazing. You cannot even hear yourself.

        Most of my Calvinist friends at this point would (reluctantly, but doggedly since “it must be so!”) admit that God does ordain sin.

        You however want Him ordaining all things, decreeing all things. You, by your definition of sovereignty —- declare that He is the ORIGIN of all things good and bad…..and yet…he only “allows” man to sin…”deciding if He should intervene to stop him or not.” Phew! Makes me dizzy!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “You, by your definition of sovereignty —- declare that He is the ORIGIN of all things good and bad…..”

        God certainly knows all things good and bad. When God said to Adam, “Do not eat…,” He originated that which was good; Do not eat – and bad; Eat. God pretty much covered the waterfront in the Ten Commandments, so there is nothing new under the sun. However, even though God originated all things good and bad, He does not cause a person to do bad – a person, like Adam, can take credit for taking that which God told him not to do and doing it.

        Like

      5. Simple logic: Adam gets (bad) credit for eating….but God ordained it all along. So he could not have NOT eaten correct? He was compelled by God’s divine decree to eat, correct?

        Could Adam have live there, not eating of that forbidden fruit?

        It appears when reading the Bible that he had a choice. But in true Calvinism he had only the choice to disobey (as God had already willed, decreed, ordained, planned it). In this way of thinking the Bible constantly misleads the reader, by making him think that Adam really had a choice…when Calvin declares that he did not!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. “Simple logic: Adam gets (bad) credit for eating….but God ordained it all along. So he could not have NOT eaten correct? He was compelled by God’s divine decree to eat, correct?”

        Adam was not compelled by God’s decrees to eat. God created Adam and then set up the confrontation with Satan in the garden. Adam freely ate the fruit and it was God’s decree not to prevent Adam doing so.

        Then, “Could Adam have live there, not eating of that forbidden fruit?”

        Satan is the deceiver. Could Adam have seen through the deception and not eaten the fruit? I doubt it.

        Then, “It appears when reading the Bible that he had a choice. ”

        Adam certainly had a choice. However, God left Adam on his own. Without God’s help, Adam, like any of us, was helpless and hopeless.

        Then, “But in true Calvinism he had only the choice to disobey (as God had already willed, decreed, ordained, planned it). In this way of thinking the Bible constantly misleads the reader, by making him think that Adam really had a choice…when Calvin declares that he did not!”

        I don’t understand your argument. Adam was created perfect and he was perfectly obedient to God up to the point where he was faced with eating the fruit. His choice was whether to disobey God and eat the fruit – Adam made a choice despite the circumstances and despite God’s knowledge of that choice in eternity past. By contrast, we are not perfect and our choice is whether to obey God and stop eating the fruit – this is true despite our circumstances and despite God knowing how we will choose. God makes it plain that He is there to help us when we need Him, but He does not force us to ask Him for help.

        Like

      7. Wow! I have to admit, if I was not already a non-Calvinist, I would soon be listening to all this convoluted rambling. one minute he ordained all things…the next those sins are foreign to God. One minute God is the cause, the next minute God allows man and decides if He will stop him or not. Dizzying.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Rhutchin writes…

        “Satan is the deceiver. Could Adam have seen through the deception and not eaten the fruit? I doubt it.”

        1 Timothy 2:14 (NKJV)…
        And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

        Rhutchin writes…

        “Satan is the deceiver.”

        Yet Calvin writes…..

        Hence a distinction has been invented between doing and permitting because to many it seemed altogether inexplicable how Satan and all the wicked are so under the hand and authority of God, that *he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases*, and employs their iniquities to execute his Judgments……… From the first chapter of Job we learn that Satan appears in the presence of God *to receive his orders*, just as do the angels who obey spontaneously. The manner and the end are different, but still the fact is, that he cannot attempt anything without the will of God. – Institutes, book 1, chapter 18, section 1

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Phillip:
        Do not be surprised by Rhutchin’s double standards and contradicting Scripture. Great Scripture you quote…..but get used to the idea that Calvinists are going to say, “but it doesnt really mean that.”

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Good verse Philip! And Roger avoids also the problem his so-called all compassing divine decree faces in also being behind Lucifer’s fall… and Lucifer was not tempted from an evil outside source!

        Like

      11. brianwagner writes, “…the problem his so-called all compassing divine decree faces in also being behind Lucifer’s fall… and Lucifer was not tempted from an evil outside source!”

        Even you don’t know why Lucifer fell – only that he did. God did not cause Lucifer to fall – but certainly God knew the dynamic of the situation as it played out and could have reversed the situation at any time but decreed not to do so. Let’s hear you explain what happened – as if you could given that the Scriptures are silent on this.

        So, is the move to Tampa retirement?

        Liked by 1 person

      12. The “I wills” of Is 14, Roger, and the description from Ezek 28:15 – “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you” – have consistently been used to describe Lucifer’s fall. The obvious interpretation is a free choice to go against what was God’s will for his created purpose.

        The Calvinist cannot imagine God could have a purpose that is conditional with two or more possible outcomes and that can suffer loss or real disappointment… because their definition of perfect purpose/decree is something that must be eternally immutably locked into one set future forever and God certainly can’t experience change in his emotions.

        But the Scripture speaks the truth… and clearly counters these false theories of Calvinism.

        In Florida to enjoy grandchildren! Thanks for asking. Hope to keep teaching till I’m 80! Still teaching full-time this next year for VBC, all online live lectures. And also supervising an online class for SFBC.

        Like

      13. brianwagner writes, “The “I wills” of Is 14, Roger, and the description from Ezek 28:15 – “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you” – have consistently been used to describe Lucifer’s fall. The obvious interpretation is a free choice to go against what was God’s will for his created purpose.”

        Everyone agrees that Satan exercise a free will in opposing God. All the angels presumably had free will, so free will does not explain why Satan fell. The unknown part is how, “…wickedness was found in you.” Where did that wickedness come from – free will does not create wickedness in an angel or a person. So, even you don’t know – and this because the Scriptures don’t tell us. However, the Calvinists are right is saying that God was aware of everything going on, God knew the thoughts of Satan preceding his fall, and God could have intervened to keep Satan on the right path. It was God’s decree – His decision – not to intervene so as to let Satan fall and this we can presume because God had a plan and that plan included a fallen Satan entering the garden to tempt Eve.

        Then, “The Calvinist cannot imagine God could have a purpose that is conditional with two or more possible outcomes and that can suffer loss or real disappointment… because their definition of perfect purpose/decree is something that must be eternally immutably locked into one set future forever and God certainly can’t experience change in his emotions.”

        It doesn’t matter how many outcomes are possible, God still exercises sovereignty and He knows, even in real time, which outcome will prevail even if He only understands this a tenth of a second before the action occurs and that tenth of a second is eternity to God. The Calvinist definition of purpose/decree assumes that God is omniscient and no knowledge is withheld from Him (this because His decrees are the source of knowledge). Even under your system, you allow that God has full knowledge of all possible outcomes even if He does not know the final outcome. That still allows God to be as intimately involved and make decrees that are no different than those the Calvinist says He made in eternity past. Under the Calvinist system and your system everything plays out the same. Under either system, God’s decisions are eternally immutable locked into one future when God makes decisions and that future is determined by the extent to which God involves Himself in the affairs of men (and angels).

        Like

      14. Two things Roger – 1. You said – “free will does not create wickedness in an angel.” I think that is exactly what Scripture teaches… that sin is lawlessness… and Lucifer created sin in his soul by going against God’s will for Him. 2. There is a huge difference in the definition of theodicy if you have God determining the outcome of Lucifer’s sin before even creating Lucifer.

        You just seem to have a hard time comprehending or perhaps just accepting that God’s omniscience is not as you have learned it from philosophically corrupted “orthodoxy” of RC and Reformed theology. He is still perfect as God with a omniscience that foreknows the future as it actually is in reality… one that is only partially determined and partially undetermined. That Scriptural view of omniscience makes it impossible for the proposed contradictory premise of God determining as certain, but without being responsible for, Lucifer’s sin before even creating Lucifer with a free will that was not subject to the necessity of sinning.

        Like

      15. brianwagner writes, “1. You said – “free will does not create wickedness in an angel.” I think that is exactly what Scripture teaches… that sin is lawlessness… and Lucifer created sin in his soul by going against God’s will for Him. ”

        All the angels had free will and all could have gone against God’s will. We still don’t know why one of them did or why some then followed him. Free will explains the ability to do such, but not what motivated one angel, Lucifer, go against God’s will for Him? In people, we can point to a corrupted nature that can explain one’s desire for sin.

        Then, “2. There is a huge difference in the definition of theodicy if you have God determining the outcome of Lucifer’s sin before even creating Lucifer.”

        Certainly, God, as sovereign, exercised complete control over the situation. God could have intervened to set Lucifer straight before he fell. The question is whether God created the circumstances for Lucifer to fall as God did with Adam/Eve in the garden. If yes, then God had a plan and was implementing that plan which included Lucifer falling even before being created.

        Then, “You just seem to have a hard time comprehending or perhaps just accepting that God’s omniscience is not as you have learned it…”

        From the Scriptures. Even you allow that the future is partially determined. Once you allow the future to be partially determined, nothing prevents the future being fully determined – both are derived from God’s decrees.

        Then, “He is still perfect as God with a omniscience that foreknows the future as it actually is in reality… one that is only partially determined and partially undetermined.”

        A partially determined future includes events that God will learn about over time. An ever learning God cannot be described as omniscient.

        Then, “That Scriptural view of omniscience makes it impossible for the proposed contradictory premise of God determining as certain, but without being responsible for, Lucifer’s sin before even creating Lucifer with a free will that was not subject to the necessity of sinning.”

        I don’t believe the issue is whether God is responsible for what happens but whether God causes what happens – whether Lucifer or people act willingly or under coercion.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Your piecemeal approach at responding to each part of what is said to you does not seem to do justice to the whole argument that was presented to you Roger. It actually appears as if you don’t comprehend the entire argument. Lucifer certainly spoke of the information that motivated his “I wills”. He saw God’s glory… he chose to want an equal share of it.

        And the issue is not what God is able to determine but what Scripture clearly teaches… that He was not locked in to an eternal immutable will of everything forever. And Scripture confirms that neither did He make such a determination.

        And logical changes in His mind as He makes free will decisions, have conversations between the persons of the Godhead, and increases in experiential knowledge but not in infinite understanding, might be called a type of learning but is not an imperfection just because you say so!

        Like

      17. I would be careful of saying that “His decrees are the source of knowledge.” I think Calvinists assume too much with this. I would also refrain from saying that “free will does not create wickedness”—this is another assumption that can be debated and is not part of Calvinist doctrine proper.

        Saying that Calvinists hold a corrupt idea of omniscience is just bluster. You can certainly disagree but the common view of omniscience from Arminians, Open Theists and secular philosophy is that God knows past, present and future perfectly. All future events that are known by God are true and necessary. This is illustrated in secular philosophy with discussions of time travel.

        I would be interested in understanding this “partially determined and partially undetermined” idea. How does this work? How does God determine in your system? How does he know with certainly that which is undetermined?

        I do resonate with the idea that God may have created an environment conducive to choosing sin for the angels as he did for Adam and Eve.

        “An ever learning God cannot be described as omniscient.” That’s a very strong point! Your rebuff was to put a qualification on “learning.” Wisdom and understanding are infinite and this is omniscience—“learning” is not knowledge and therefore not part of omniscience. Very clever!

        Like

      18. Thank you Mike for the response. I appreciated your advice, though I was thinking some might have been directed to Roger. And I appreciated your questions seeking further clarification of my view of the Scripture’s definition of omniscience.

        I think you will not find many who will agree with you that Open Theists along with Calvinists and Arminians all hold the same view of omniscience, especially in terms of how “foreknowledge” works.

        This may sound like I’m blowing smoke… but I assure you I am not. But I agree with you that God knows the “future perfectly” and that all “future events that are known by God are true and necessary” though I would add to that last statement – “that are known as determined by God”.

        The issue resides in understanding those words – “perfectly” and “known”. Also connected is the definition of reality – that is, whether the “past” still exists and the “future” already exists. My view from reading Scripture is that the past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist in reality.

        In God’s mind however the past is perfectly remembered as it had happened including all that could have happened. The future in God’s mind is perfectly known – not as completed – but as partially determined by Him already and as all the possibilities that can still be freely determined to be caused or permitted by Him.

        Among the strongest Scriptural evidences for this view is all the conditional statements, universal commands and warnings, verses about God making determinations after creation, and verses about possibilities.

        As for the term “learning”… there is no increase in His understanding, only a change in the nature of the knowledge within that understanding. Something known as possible becomes known as determined once God makes that determination. Something known as future becomes known as past once that event takes place. Something known as theoretical becomes known as experiential when God participates in that experience. These changes in His knowledge do not increase His understanding but could be labeled as “learning” – I suppose. 😉 The incarnation is a great example.

        Like

      19. Thanks for the clarification, Brian. I think you are right that Open Theists, Arminians and Calvinists disagree on omniscience and foreknowledge. I was not clear as to the point I was making. This gets complicated but if you compare the discussion of omniscience and foreknowledge with the discussion of time travel everyone understands what is being argued. And this paradox forces the different systems to reevaluate the common understanding. Does that make any sense?

        This connects with your discussion of time. I’m still wrestling with this issue of God inside and outside of time and how it effects the different theological views. I’ve read and listened to a fair amount of WLC on this. Are you in Craig’s camp? Sorry, I’ve forgotten, are you arguing from a Molinist or Open Theists perspective?

        When the scripture uses the book of life analogy this seems to compare to the B theory. Of course this can be argued against but it is not an illegitimate connection.

        I really think there is a caricature of Calvinistic determinism that is being assumed when opponents use scriptural references to conditional statements and possible outcomes as proof texts. Maybe I’m not a your average Calvinist but when I read the more philosophical Calvinists free will is not an illusion—it’s just not libertarian.

        I appreciate your explanation of knowledge. Thank you. I will think on it.

        Liked by 1 person

      20. Mike and Brian:

        Let me say how refreshing it is to see a civil conversation taking place here!

        I rarely go on blogs for forums (for theology) since it gets so snarky so fast! I dare say that if you even mentioned Molinism or Open T in a mainly Calvinist platform…..hummm…. break out the knives. And I dont mean sharp debating tools! It can get pretty vicious our there and there is no shortage of the word “heretic” just for even asking questions!

        Of course non-Calvinists are used to hear “you have a man-centered Gospel.” We live with that (we know better), but at least opponents are saying we “have a Gospel!”

        The “heretic,” “infiltrators,” and “false teacher,” accusations only remind us of the days when Calvinist knew all too well what to do with “heretics.”

        Keep up the civil tone! Hats off!

        Liked by 1 person

      21. “Of course non-Calvinists are used to hear “you have a man-centered Gospel.” We live with that (we know better),…”

        By “man-centered Gospel,” the Calvinists refer to the synergistic process advocated by non-Calvinists. To dispel that idea, the non-Calvinists need only show that he does not hold to a synergistic process of salvation. Even you wouldn’t do that, would you?

        Like

      22. Rhutchin:

        I DONT see the reduced-down-to-catch-phrases word “synergism” being discussed in the Word. To create a term, deem it as abhorrent, then accuse others of holding such an idea is —-well, a straw man at best.

        I DO see…
        Passover (the blood wont work unless applied),
        Serpent on the pole (no healing unless you find and look),
        Noah (ship wont save unless it is built),
        Jericho (walls wont fall unless you circle and blow your trumpets),
        Jesus (“seek first the kingdom”),
        Paul (Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness),
        Hebrews (And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him),

        ….and thousands of other stories, teachings, and events LOOKING very “synergistic” or participatory.

        Now, you can….as you do……gather all these thousands of verses up and stick the “But who gives faith?” sticker on them if you like. In your typical “nothing to see here” way. But again I would ask. What, then is the point?

        What is the point of God putting all of these thousands of verses and great stories of faith, if no one can in fact even have a personal faith?

        If you were correct, every one of these verses and stories should say ……God gave Noah faith and he built the ark. God gave every person faith to sprinkle the blood on the door in Egypt.

        But it never does….not even once.

        That would make more sense if indeed God was trying to teach us that all of these lauded moments of faith were in fact just Him pulling the strings.

        Why in God’s eternal world does He make such an effort to show personal faith, if in fact it is not true? Doesn’t your version seem a bit deceptive?

        Liked by 1 person

      23. “I DONT see the reduced-down-to-catch-phrases word “synergism” being discussed in the Word. To create a term, deem it as abhorrent, then accuse others of holding such an idea is —-well, a straw man at best.”

        There are two systems of salvation. One is promoted by the Calvinists and says that it is God alone who saves a person and a person can only be saved by God’s action alone. It is labelled monergism. The second is synergism which says that salvation is a cooperative effort between God and man whereby God provides the means for a person to be saved and a person decides whether he wants to be saved and will avail himself of that means. A synergist system can be described as a “man-centered gospel” that you noted earlier. Regardless the labels used to describe a man-centered gospel and a God-centered gospel, the point is that you described yourself as having a man-centered gospel (even though you gain this label from your opponents). So, you bring up the issue and now you find it abhorrent. That’s fine. Your problem, though, is that you cannot defend yourself against the charge – indeed you don’t seem to want to do so. As to whether a man-centered gospel is the true gospel or is what Paul argued against in Galatians 1 – that’s a different issue.

        Then, “If you were correct, every one of these verses and stories should say ……God gave Noah faith and he built the ark. God gave every person faith to sprinkle the blood on the door in Egypt. ”

        Yet, this is the message of the NT. Hebrews 11 tells us, “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” Paul, in Romans 8, says, “…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Then Ephesians 2, “…by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;…For we are His workmanship,…” Peter then explains the role of faith, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope…reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” While the Scriptures do not make the point of telling us that God gave Noah faith or God gave Abraham faith, God was careful to tell us through the NT writers that He is the source of faith and the He imparts power to His elect through the faith that He gives to them, and it is this faith that is critical to salvation.

        Liked by 1 person

      24. Since man is the one getting saved and that would definitely sound like good news to him… That sounds to me like a man-centered gospel! 😂

        Of course that does not lessen the beauty of God’s sovereign plan and wondrous mercy to pay the full amount to make that gospel applicable for everyone, and His plan to efficiently enable each person to begin to seek for its benefits!

        The bad news is the lie that some teach that God does not want His gospel to be freely accepted or rejected… but “tricks” some to accept it for their own good and His glory… and damns all the rest, not for their own good, but for His glory. That does not sound like good news that should be proclaimed to everyone!

        Like

      25. But you have to add to this Good News Brian…

        —The forced-to-believe ones deserve to suffer in hell eternally….but they will spend eternity with a God who micromanaged the eternal torment of 98% of mankind. Good News!

        —the ones who will serve this eternal torment punishment never had even one tiny chance since they were intended to go there by God …for His Glory! The forced-to-believe might be conflicted that this is all for His glory (the catch phrase they have learned), since, “…declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways…”

        —As these forced-to-believe ones send off to the grave their unbelieving loved ones, they cannot weep that their uncle never bowed his neck….no…..they must weep that the God who forced them to believe created their uncle for hell. Good News!

        Such glory! Such good news!

        Liked by 1 person

      26. “—The forced-to-believe ones deserve to suffer in hell eternally….but they will spend eternity with a God who micromanaged the eternal torment of 98% of mankind. Good News!”

        Yes. God could have judged all and left all to eternal torment and who could complain? Instead, God designed to save some. The reasonable person would then fall on his face and cry to God for salvation – for the Scriptures tell us that it is such people that God has determined to save – and any reasonable person would avail himself of such certainty. Good news indeed!!

        Then, “—the ones who will serve this eternal torment punishment never had even one tiny chance since they were intended to go there by God ”

        Talk to the atheist – he generally knows the Scriptures better than God’s people. See if he cares but looks forward to hell because having to live with God for eternity is the greater hell to him. He has no complaint; no regret.

        Then, “—As these forced-to-believe ones send off to the grave their unbelieving loved ones, they cannot weep that their uncle never bowed his neck….no…..they must weep that the God who forced them to believe created their uncle for hell. Good News!”

        Does not God tell the believer, “Ask and receive.” What believer, with unbelieving loved ones, does not petition God always on their behalf – the effectual fervent prayer availeth much – trusting God to do what is right after all is said and done. We serve a great God who has given believers great promises. That is Good News!!

        Like

      27. Story: I take 2 of my kids to season box seats to watch the Cowboys. I leave three others at home. I leave the same three home year after year after year.

        The ones who get to go ask me …. “Dad, don’t you have enough money to bring the other three kids?” “Sure I do….but be quiet and enjoy being here. I could have left you at home too you know.”

        Good news!

        You say….”the atheist………..has no complaint; no regret.” Of course not! According to Calvinism, he was created without even the least possibility of having any regret. He is only acting out the part that God has planned for him…..all for God’s glory!

        Good News!

        You really go off the rails implying that our prayers could impact God to change His mind about our uncle’s salvation. Your philosophy dictates that that decision was made before time began….rendering useless your proposed prayer idea.

        Liked by 1 person

      28. “Story: I take 2 of my kids to season box seats to watch the Cowboys. I leave three others at home. I leave the same three home year after year after year.”

        So, what’s the issue. You are in control; you take whomever you choose. Of course, your children always treat you like dirt without any respect and none deserves to be taken to the game. It is only by grace that you take any to the game. What is your point?

        Then, “According to Calvinism, he was created without even the least possibility of having any regret. He is only acting out the part that God has planned for him…..all for God’s glory!”

        “God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy….Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9)

        Then, “You really go off the rails implying that our prayers could impact God to change His mind about our uncle’s salvation. Your philosophy dictates that that decision was made before time began….rendering useless your proposed prayer idea.”

        Are not our prayers incorporated into God’s plan and does not God provoke us to prayer through His word? Do we not joyfully ask God for the good things He has stated that He will give us and do so with the certain knowledge that God will give us the things we ask because He has already ordained that outcome?

        Like

      29. Ouch! Sorry that your kids treat you like dirt. Sounds like you assume everyone’s kids do?

        My point was that the two kids sitting there might say…..after 10 years….”why dont you bring the other guys Dad?” Dad’s only response is, “I don’t want to. I don’t love them like I love you. Be quiet and be glad I brought you.” In fact, after a while they may not even want to go with a dad that shows such favoritism. Oh but I forgot, they HAVE to go….it is irresistible!

        One of many reasons I left Calvinism is that I did not see in the Bible a God who asks/expects us to love all people, but turns around and creates 98% of humanity to be condemned…willingly…for His glory.

        Potter: easy

        1. Jeremiah 18 shows that Potter. Have a look. See if God’s example of Himself looks like He planned it all from the start.

        2. He is simply saying to the Jews (which fits the Jeremiah 18 analogy perfectly) —-who are you to say who I have to have as my chosen people? I can let the Gentiles in if I want. It is not talking at any time about individuals…. only Esau vs Jacob.

        Prayer:
        Your “our prayers incorporated into God’s plan” makes no sense. George Mueller said he prayed 19 years for the salvation of someone….who never came to Christ! How were his prayers incorporated into God’s plan??? He was—for 19 years—praying AGAINST God’s plan (since God apparently had no intention saving that man). And Christ’s blood was not even shed for him, so now dare Mueller pray against God’s plan for 19 years!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      30. brainwagner writes, “Since man is the one getting saved and that would definitely sound like good news to him… That sounds to me like a man-centered gospel!”

        I agree. But different context – so there are two different contexts in which “man-centered gospel” is used. One I explained above and this that you explain.

        Then, “Of course that does not lessen the beauty of God’s sovereign plan and wondrous mercy to pay the full amount to make that gospel applicable for everyone, and His plan to efficiently enable each person to begin to seek for its benefits!”

        Your claim is that God paid the full amount to make that gospel applicable for everyone – the payment being Christ’s death on the cross. Then, God efficiently enables each person to seek its benefits. If truly “efficient,” (meaning that it is also sufficient) then that enablement should accomplish its purpose so that all enabled seek its benefits. We know that this is true for God’s elect because they come to salvation. What about the rest – those supposedly enabled who do not seek its benefits. Were they actually enabled? Probably not – or not enabled to the degree the elect were enabled. God has discriminated among people in the enablement He provides.

        Then, “The bad news is the lie that some teach that God does not want His gospel to be freely accepted or rejected… but “tricks” some to accept it for their own good and His glory… and damns all the rest, not for their own good, but for His glory. That does not sound like good news that should be proclaimed to everyone!”

        Nonetheless, you still have God paying the full amount and then it is God who enables people to seek its benefits. If some people are saved and some not, then we look to see if the enablement God provided was only efficient/sufficient to bring His elect to salvation but not to bring the reprobate to salvation. In the end, under any system as you describe, God must determine who is saved and who is not as it is God’s action that makes the difference.

        Like

      31. Once again we solicit OT examples of redemption:

        Passover
        Noah
        Serpent-on-a-pole

        God provides the salvation. Tells them how to do it and enables them. Noah preached righteousness to them. They could have repented. Who knows, maybe God would have “repented” of His plan to destroy the world in the same way he “regretted that he had made man on the earth.” (ESV even!)

        God provides all that is needed for salvation (see above). He enables man to choose (“choose for yourselves this day” “seek first the kingdom” “draw near to God and He will draw near to you”). He asks us to trust Him.

        He allows pagans with faith (Rahab, Ruth) to enter into the chosen by faith.

        If you start with all your presuppositions……then you can arrive at any position you want.

        Like

      32. Denial of freewill is your only game plan, Roger, for your opinion that the motive for sin in Satan and Adam can’t be explained and for your dogmatism that God’s enlightenment of every person was not efficient to enable seeking when the person does not seek. Your opinion is very weak in the light of Scriptural evidence to the contrary. But that doesn’t seem to bother you as you comfortably rest in your loyalty to determinism which rejects and twists clear meanings from many Scriptures! How I wish you would jettison your unhealthy position!

        Like

      33. brianwagner writes, “Denial of freewill is your only game plan,…”

        Under your system, each person has free will but some choose to seek God and some do not – thus, free will cannot be the reason some seek God. Some other factor is in play. As both Satan and Adam had free will, that free will allowed them to disobey God but does not explain why they disobeyed God. We don’t know what motivated either Satan or Adam to disobey God. In the same manner, you have all people being given light by God and all have free will, so free will cannot explain why one seeks God and another does not. I don’t mind that you advocate free will across the board for all people; my point is that free will is not the motivating factor for people to act. Since God is the one enabling, we are left with God discriminating between His elect and the reprobate in whatever light He gives to them. I think your only option is to attribute different choices to mystery.

        Liked by 1 person

      34. Free will is the only necessary cause for sin and the acceptance of grace… all other things involved in those decisions are only conditional causes. You may not like it… but there you have it Roger!

        Like

      35. I still have more research to do in this area, Mike… but studying the different types of causes/conditions and not just limiting myself to Aristotle’s four causes – based on his materialistic determinism, has helped.

        Others have recognized the necessary, sufficient, conditional categories for causes… and I believe there might be subcategories in each of those.

        Like

      36. Mike, do you have – Come Let Us Reason, by Geisler and Brooks? I highly recommend it, and I use it as one of my texts for Apologetics. It has a good discussion of causation in my view, in the last chapter – Fallacies in Scientific Thinking. But I need to do more research.

        Like

      37. Please explain Mike.

        When I was a Calvinist, I realized that man was created sinless and perfect…..and yet could choose to sin.

        He was “completely alive.”

        Why, after sinning, was he de facto so dead that he could not see grace? So dead he could not save himself, yes, but the Bible is full of people who walked with God and served God by faith (Abel Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Zechariah and Elizabeth, etc).

        Why must I insist that “dead means dead” when alive didnt meant “incapable to sin”?

        Liked by 1 person

      38. It is going to be hard for me to really get into this in a short blog. Let me just say that I think one of the major problems with this debate is that both side define words and ideas differently, so there is a lot of talking past each other. Calvinists use the dead analogy legitimately due to the scriptural references to “dead in sin.” But, as many Arminians point out, you can take that analogy too far. So I don’t like to argue “dead means dead.” Hey, Arminians argue “all means all and that’s all it means.” So there are bad arguments on both sides.

        The OT sacrifices had to do with purification and sacred space (I believe in penal substitutionary atonement, which not all Arminians hold to, so I think the sacrifices pictured this as well but let’s not get into that). No matter how righteous and faithful all Israel had to participate in the sacrifices. This is key to understanding that nothing man does, even the exemplary acts of charity and self sacrifice are ultimately unacceptable to a holy God. That doesn’t mean that these acts are not good (though I would argue that all charitable acts are done for selfish reasons, but again that’s a long discussion). All those who walked with God needed the mediatorial sacrifices.

        LFW posits something beyond cause-and-effect. Because cause-and-effect is a so important and natural to cognitive thought its negation is a mystery that I can’t accept—which is why I say it is incoherent. So when I talk about free will before and after The Fall I am not referring to LFW. (I’ve read many philosophical Arminian explanations of free will in heaven and they are all bad!)

        So here is where it gets complicated. Why would God create meat-eating animals in Eden if they were to be vegetarians? Was everything before The Fall safe? Were natural disasters impossible before The Fall? What happen in The Fall? Was all existence effected by The Fall? If everything was in fact effected by The Fall, would mans nature and free will not also be effected?

        If a wizard appeared to you and told you that he has granted you the power of independent fight but that you must never use it because it will be your downfall. How would you know that the wizard was a wizard and was telling you the truth?

        I’m afraid that I have probably not said enough and what I have said is unclear and confusing. I apologize.

        Liked by 1 person

      39. You had my interest and I was following your reasoning up until the wizard! 🙂 If flying is supposed to be a metaphor for free will… it is a poor one, I’m thinking. For using the will in compliance to a command is still a use of free will. And Adam used his free will also to name the animals… whose names I don’t believe were already predetermined! 😉

        But maybe I’m guessing wrong about the wizard analogy!

        Like

      40. Mike:
        Thanks for that long one. Brian has a point about the animal. Not to mention “working and caring” for the garden —was man to have an impact on what plants produced or was that all predetermined also?

        No one is arguing that God COULD HAVE created a world in which “dead means dead” and everything is predetermined. No one is arguing that God could have made it so the Fall changed man’s ability. My main point is that all of these are taken so presupposition-ally, and casually by Calvinist—as if it were so obvious. As a young man I fell hard for the “dead men dont make choices” and just built my shaky scaffolding from there (pooh-poohing, mis-interpreting, or disregarding thousands of verses that did not fit).

        My journey out of Calvinism included lots of passages (that I would see as message-less and meaningless if Calvinism were true) such as the “dead” (called twice by Christ) son in Luke 15.

        What in the world can that story possibly mean? He did it all on his own (“came to his senses” while far away). MacArthur is so Romans-3-11-ized that he calls it the “story of the seeking father!” What? Now that is starting with the answer before you ask the question!!

        Ain’t no micro-managing father in that story—unless you just cram him in there by endless words.

        Speaking of that Romans 3:10-12 on which many a tower has been built. It is absolutely hilarious (and disingenuous) to hear Calvinist say that “all have turned aside” means “all”. I thought Calvinists said that all meant “all kinds of people” or “all… meaning both Jew and Gentile”. Why can’t “no one seeks God” mean —no one ethnic group? After all Jesus didn’t tell a massive crowd “seek first the kingdom”?

        Liked by 1 person

      41. The problem is the way you and Brian are linking Calvinism with hard determinism. First, I understand this, and it is not uncommon. From your stand point compatiblism is just semantic nonsense and is, in fact, divine hard determerminism. Second, many non-philosophical Calvinists don’t understand the difference themselves. Third, if you read philosophical Calvinist thought they define determinism in quite different ways. (see James Anderson http://www.proginosko.com/2014/07/calvinism-and-determinism/). Forth, I go against the Calvinist grain by arguing with them that they should stay away from the term determinism—but I’m nobody. And besides, as I say, compatiblism doesn’t really clear things up for the opposition.

        I’m sorry if I offend you but I’m so tired of hearing Arminians use the Prodigal Son like it is some LFW doctrinal manna from heaven. It is a parable and it has a number of specific meanings. One of the means has to do with the second son who is ethnic Israel. It is not talking about free will. And besides, as a Calvinist I believe in free will! On the other hand Romans is a doctrinal treatise.

        The Calvinism that I hold to does not believe that God micro-manages. Mico-managment make no sense but we do have to combine this with passages that talk about sparrows, hairs on your head and the many other absolute and meticulous sovereignty verses.

        You’re not being fair with your comment about “all.” What I was referring to was that “all” has different meanings based on the context. And Calvinists seem to recognize this more than Arminians.

        Calvinism has some logical problems but from my readings Arminianism has more. But I’m willing to be corrected. That is why I listing to this podcast—“iron sharpens iron” and all that!

        Liked by 1 person

      42. Thanks Mike:

        Never heard anyone even try to explain the “parable of the seeking father” like you did. Thanks. Not buying it, but it is better than MacArthur’s “seeking father.” You can say it is about the second son and not talking about Free Will all you want (so did I!) but that does not make it so. Nor does it explain what the point is about the first son….and the father….and the “came to his senses.” There is more in there than Keller’s Prodigal God.

        Didnt mean to wear out a worn out go-to, just telling you my story.

        Romans is a letter, right?

        Rom 3 quotes Psalms in several place and tells the same “all” that our lips are full of viper venom, and all of us have feet that shed blood. So, you have to agree that it is phenomenal that this particular passage should somehow eliminate all the “seek and you shall find” “draw near to God” verses….and especially Christ’s own (spoken not to believers but to a huge crowd) “seek first the kingdom” verses.

        That said, it is refreshing to talk to a free will Calvinist! Who is civil! Bravo!

        Speaking of Romans…. I get accused of works-salvation, because ipso facto if it is man who has faith that is a “work”.

        But then I read:
        4:2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

        Our faith is neither something we can boast about (did better than another—significant Calvinist gothca phrase) nor is it a work.

        He is not justified by works.
        He did not do anything to boast about.
        He is credited as righteous when he believes.

        There’s the rub. Calvinists say that the believing was given to him. It doenst look like it here or anywhere. Really. A simple reading of any of these faith/ believing passages looks like man has to have faith —and that he CAN have faith.

        And if this faith and all the list of faithful in Heb 11 was given to them unalterably-irresistibly, then what is the point?

        I mean really what IS the point of any of the Bible if we only have the faith God gives us, and must use it as prescribed, and we cannot learn from any of the hundreds of examples He gives us in His Word?

        Why even talk about Abraham’s faith?

        Can I learn from Abraham’s faith….and have an even greater faith?

        What are we to learn from Hebrew 11?

        Like

      43. There’s a lot here. Sorry I can’t respond to everything. Let me pick on one thing and then give you an overview. I want to mention the “simple reading” or sometimes it’s the “plain reading” or even the “surface reading.” The problem of course is that you accept the simple reading of the faith/believing passages but you don’t accept the simple readings of passages that show God controlling the show—for those passages there’s always a spin. You can’t have it both ways. (And that goes for Calvinists too.)

        You can’t get past the hard determinism. I understand. That is the main issue of the debate. In fact, you can’t really get into TULIP or anything else until divine determinism is dealt with. This is something many Calvinist apologist don’t seem to understand.

        All I can tell you is that before I accepted Calvinism I tried to make sense of the philosophical ideas implied and beneath the surface of the Biblical text and I couldn’t do it. And when I asked questions all I got was, well this is what Calvinists believe and it’s crazy. So Arminianism is right because Calvinism is wrong. That’s my journey. I’m not a pastor or scholar or teacher, so I don’t have a reputation or a job to protect. If I am convinced from scripture and reason that Arminianism is correct I will drop the Calvinism. But I rarely hear Arminians defending their system without mentioning Calvinism. And on the rare times that Arminians do preach on their foundational beliefs (for example Roger Olson’s Arminian Theology, and my attendance of an Arminian Anabaptist church for seven years) so may questions came up that just were never answer and worse, ignored.

        Maybe some day we can put the debate aside and I could just ask some questions and see if I could get some credible answers.

        Like

      44. Mike:
        I bet you could ask those questions. People would answer kindly.

        My testimony is on several other comment sections of the blog.

        MDiv, Hebrew, Greek, theo, Calvinist.

        I put it all aside and read huge portions of the Word.

        you mentioned …”you don’t accept the simple readings of passages that show God controlling the show”

        Oh yes I do!! But it is—honestly —never quite as clear and doctrinaire as it is made to be. Meaning: we outrun what the Scripture is saying.

        What I felt in the massive daily reading was the pathos….sheer energy….and passion. It really LOOKS like man matters and man is part of what is going on. I mean thousands of verses…..”If you had, I would have…..”You would not come to me…”Saul I would have made you king but you…..” I regret that I created….made you king….chose you people” over and over and over and over.

        Now, it I found myself constantly explaining what “these verses don’t mean.” Why? Because I had to!! Because they LOOKED like man’s decisions matter but I knew that could not be true.

        It is one thing to explain them all away saying what they look like they mean but they dont.

        it is another thing to ask….what in the world are they there for? Actually they deceive us if God is like the Calvinist God.

        All of the “God is in control” verses are totally acceptable to me. Sure….no spin. He does what He wants. That is not the same as “everything that happens is what He wants.” Does He know what He is gonna do? Yes!! Thus He knows the end from the beginning (pretty vague wording if you look at it).

        Does a calamity come that God did not forsee/ allow? of course we can agree to all of these verses (there are not that many).

        But what about the other 99.75 of the Bible? What’s the point? What’s the purpose? If we cannot grow, learn, stretch our faith from all the stories of human faith in the Bible…what is the point?

        God tells Cain he should/ can dominate over sin. Really? of course!

        But for me the Calvinist….hollow promise…. he was not given faith.

        On and on.

        I understand people moving from Arminianism to Calvinism. Those flock of bearded YRRs come at you with the “give God the glory” and you just wanna be humble and do it. I know. I did!

        they weren’t bearded and YRR at the time (70’s in So Cal)….it was just the beginning of the wave. Still, I have seen many long-term servants on the mission field where I serve surrender after just one Sproul book! No push back at all.

        One 40-years-in-ministry national friend of mine said “When I discovered Calvinism……” I only wondered….where was it hiding? I mean, it is supposed to be so obvious! How did he discover it? His 20-ish year-old-son. How did he? Piper’s blog, social media, and a Sproul book! Nothing more.

        Put the “roll the dice in the lap” with the “God had evil men crucify His son” with “dead men dont make choices” and “give God the glory” and presto…… I’m in !

        But what does the overall Bible sound like when we read it?

        Is God personal? Impassible? Does man matter?

        Liked by 1 person

      45. ” if it is man who has faith that is a “work””

        If faith is an inherent ability of a person that he is born with, then the exercise of that faith, like the exercise of any other physical ability, is a work. If faith is a gift from God that then results in a person acting in a way he could not without the gift of faith, then the exercise of that faith is not a work.

        Like

      46. Everything given at birth is a gift of God! The ability to exercise faith is one of those gifts. Later in life the enlightenment concerning the object to trust in, that is His mercy, is given (but not irresistibly), which will eventually lead to an opportunity to trust in the gospel (the faith), which is also a gift. This is what Paul meant when he said – “from faith to faith” Rom 1:17 and “on the basis of faith in Christ to all who and on all who believe” Rom 3:22.

        Like

      47. Okay….well if you say so! I mean I guess you just get to make up rules about faith. I just now supplied all the verses in Romans 4 where Paul clearly juxtaposes faith and works….showing that faith in Christ cannot be considered a work.

        But the presupposition-professionals can just stick on a “yeah because that faith was given to you” sticker.

        Paul doesn’t. He just writes Romans 4 like man should have faith not works. Not to mention James or Hebrews 11.

        If you come to the Bible with a Calvinist worldview to start, you can misinterpret all of these. I know. I did.

        Liked by 1 person

      48. ” I just now supplied all the verses in Romans 4 where Paul clearly juxtaposes faith and works….”

        OK. Let’s let you supply the definitions of faith and works and we will work with that (presuming they make sense Scripturally).

        Then, “…showing that faith in Christ cannot be considered a work.”

        That’s not the issue. The issue is the source of the faith by which one believes in Christ – and can the source of faith make a difference as to whether it can be viewed as a work?

        Like

      49. Only if you make up some rules that are outside the Scriptures. No where does it say or imply that the faith referred to in Roms 4, James, Hebrews is somehow NOT available to mankind. Every simple reading of the text would look like it is faith, human faith. God-given as a possibility for all. Just like all things in the world are God-given.

        My non-believing friends exercise faith (in me and others) every day. We all exercise faith. Something may start out as foolishness, then we look, then we understand, then place our faith.

        No Scriptures like “the things of God are foolishness” eliminate or regulate that. All of those verses are still understood and accepted by non-Calvinists.

        Like

      50. Rhutchin:
        This is huge.

        You said…..—-“and can the source of faith make a difference as to whether it can be viewed as a work?”

        Do you realize what this means? This means that you, and Troy, and Calvinists are saying that if a person even THINKS he is exercising personal faith in Christ, he is doing it from a works point of view.

        Meaning that the official position of Calvinism is that all who do not agree are works-dependent (therefore unsaved) and potentially— no—- really preaching a false gospel.

        That must be your position, right?

        I mean how can you consider anyone with even a tiny synergistic position to be a brother in Christ?

        Monergism or false gospel, right?

        Liked by 1 person

      51. “Meaning that the official position of Calvinism is that all who do not agree are works-dependent (therefore unsaved) and potentially— no—- really preaching a false gospel.
        That must be your position, right?”

        We agree with Romans 10 don’t we and Ephesians 2. Not just the Calvinists but all pretty much agree that a person who does not preach the gospel is preaching falsely. Thus, Paul in Galatians 1 argues, “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” Paul here argues that the person who preaches a gospel from other than the Scriptures is accursed.

        Like

      52. Let the reader note that we are not considered brothers in Christ.

        Rhutchin and Calvinist are hoping, trying to convert us to Christ (not just Calvinism, which is for them the same thing).

        Let the reader note that Rhutchin is saying that Wesley, Pentecostals, Tozer, etc are preaching a false gospel because they are saying that God created the world in such a way that man has a choice and exercises personal faith.

        Let the reader note that in many Calvinist minds we are not discussing theological differences within the body, but we (non-Calvinists) are proposing a false gospel that is accursed.

        Like

      53. The wizard analogy is what I came up with on-the-fly (pun intended). You’re right, it’s not that good. Flying is not a metaphor for “free will” but for “choice.” To know that choice is real it must be actualized.

        Liked by 1 person

      54. Thanks, Mike, for clarifying your flying illustration. Can you go a little further… for I’m still a little dense? 😉 Are you saying that any exercise of freewill/choice from your perspective is sin, and thus the warning from the wizard? Or is the exercise just the potential for sin, and the warning just for potential danger? And are you saying that there could not be a good understanding of the wizard unless the exercise of freewill/choice to sin takes place?

        I believe Adam exercised freewill in naming the animals, and that he would have had a sufficiently good understanding of God even if he had never exercised his freewill contrary to God’s.

        Like

      55. Brian, yeah, I think I need to come up with a better analogy. What I was trying to illustrate is that if you are given an ability but never use it than it is not really real, and you really can’t know if it is even real or just a lie. And if you never use it than why were you given the “supposed” ability anyway?

        I believe Adam excised free will in naming the animals as well. Though, naming the animals has nothing to do with free will. Naming in the ANE has to do with leadership and also, in Genesis, it demonstrates Adam’s destination as God’s image bearer.

        Like

      56. Hi Mike… I was a little confused by your two statements… “Adam exercised free will in naming the animals… naming the animals has nothing to do with free will.”

        I guess I was thinking that the phrase – “to see what he would call them” confirmed that their names had not been predetermined, but Adam was creatively exercising his free will in naming them.

        Gen 2:19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

        Like

      57. Brian, I think the main problem with understanding where I’m coming from—and this is not just you but all those who hold to LFW—is the fact that you believe that compatiblism is nonsense. Nowhere in the Bible is there a discussion of free will. A certain form of free will is simply assumed in the text as is a certain form of sovereignty. If you believe in LFW you will read LFW into all passages that deal with choice or uncertainty and you will “interpret” passages that deal with sovereignty and control in a way that they do not conflict with LFW. If you believe in compatiblism you simply accept the passage of choice, sovereignty and control as is. Uncertainty,—because it conflicts with God omniscience—will need to be “interpreted” (of course this is not a problem for a process or open view).

        As I read the ANE literature it is quite clear that people believed that man had free will and was responsible for his actions and at the same time the gods—or in the case of Israel, God—was in control of all existence and nothing was done apart from his official directive. I hesitate to provide any scriptural reference because they will be explained from a LFW point of view. But let me try this one just for the heck of it: Exodus 4:11 (ESV) Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

        I always have to cringe when Leighton Flowers uses his Chess Player analogy to argue against Calvinism. I don’t think he realizes it but he is comparing God to Deep Blue! 😉

        Like

      58. Mike:
        I am sure that Brian will offer a better response to this, but since these were my own questions as a Calvinist I will chime in.

        That is a typical “sovereign” verse and no one debates that God made our mouths etc (although we could argue that choice of a mate alters the “look” of the offspring—and what of contraception and abortion altering the “making of mouths”). It is not a quantitative or qualitative statement He is making. His point is that He is the creator.

        Why does such a general declaration necessitate that He is saying that He is “in control of all existence and nothing was done apart from his official directive.”? Why use allegory? Calvin had no trouble saying (for God) that all things that happen, happen exactly as God ordained. Why does God just not say it as clearly?

        For determinists, I challenge them to substitute …..Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

        Who makes a man brutally rape a 3-year-old girl? Is it not I, the Lord?

        Who makes a Christian pastor adulterous with 15 women over 20 years? Is it not I, the Lord?

        It becomes absurd.

        Speaking of chess. If you have ever played with a person who can think 15 moves ahead then you will realize that he may not force you to move any direction, but you will never outsmart him. Here are all the possible moves http://www.bernmedical.com/blog/how-many-possible-move-combinations-are-there-in-chess.

        I have not seen Leighton’s examples of chess but often ponder it myself. To “accuse” God of knowing all the thousands/millions of moves that can be made attributes to Him quite a bit of “sovereignty.”

        In fact I dont even understand where Calvinists come up with their definition of sovereignty. We have seen lots of “sovereigns” in history, but none that could force faith, obedience, and love from his people.

        Like

      59. “Why does God just not say it as clearly?”

        ” It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25) God intends people to search the Scriptures to discover the wisdom He has hidden within.

        Then, “Who makes a man brutally rape a 3-year-old girl? Is it not I, the Lord? Who makes a Christian pastor adulterous with 15 women over 20 years? Is it not I, the Lord? It becomes absurd.”

        God is present at each event observing all the intimate details of each event. God decreed the birth of each person involved and it is God who sustained the lives of each person, God grants people freedom to think evil thoughts and when people seek to turn evil thoughts into action, God does not intervene. Thus, we lay responsibility at the feet of God – and it seems God accepts such responsibility – but again, God does not impel any person to sin but did decree that the corruption of Adam’s nature consequent to his sin was to be inherited by his progeny.

        Then, “In fact I dont even understand where Calvinists come up with their definition of sovereignty.”

        The testimony of a pagan king in Daniel 4 is a good start, “[God’s] dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’”

        Like

      60. We must not be discussing the same topics.

        You have slipped completely into the “God allows” column.

        As for what that pagan king said. Amen! He said God does what He wants. He did not say “all that happens is what God wants.” Any non-Calvinist can say what that king said easily. There is nothing of deterministic, micro-managing, decreeing-all-sin in that statement.

        Like

      61. ” He said God does what He wants. He did not say “all that happens is what God wants.””

        God is sovereign over His creation and has full knowledge of everything happening in His creation. Each and every event (down to the most insignificant) is known to God before it happens. As God is also omnipotent, He necessarily has the final say on every event – God either decides to intervene to change something or God grants freedom for the event to occur without interference from Him. Do you think otherwise? If so, can you explain how you think sovereignty works?

        Liked by 1 person

      62. I’m mystified be some of your statements. I know that you can’t get past hard determinism. So let me just ask you something. You made an interesting point about adding rape and adultery to mute, deaf and blind. Fine. Explain mute, deaf and blind in the passage?

        Like

      63. Mike:
        Ex 4. Context.

        God is allowed to be poetic.

        He is saying with irony and hyperbole to Moses that He can be trusted.

        I mean is He really saying every blind person is because of Him? You know that throughout history people would gouge out the eyes of people (Samson, Christ said it, etc). That person is then blind.

        Same example of a smoker losing his voice. He is now mute. Or some explosion or injury or illness causing someone to lose their hearing.

        Is He really saying that every gouged out eye is how He makes people blind?

        Not His point at all!

        His point is that He is the creator and can do what He wants….so trust Him.

        Like

      64. Agreed Mike.

        Absolutely agree. Some wiggle room is required from both sides.

        That is in fact what helped me make the choice to leave Calvinism.

        I read the Bible through several times and listened to the message. For me it felt like we had a God who: created us in His image, wants a personal relationship with us, sees us disobey (but does not make us disobey), sees us repent (but does not make us repent), feels, weeps, regrets, plans, changes plans, can be pleased, can be displeased, can be sought, can be ignored….and resisted.

        In a nutshell if both sides require poetic reading of certain passages I wanted to hear the “overall” message was.

        If the overall message is that no faith is personal (despite the hundreds of names of faith given) and that man is doing what God had pre-ordained, predetermined him to do, then I dont see the point of anything. Even my despair is His plan.

        Like

      65. “If the overall message is…that man is doing what God had pre-ordained, predetermined him to do, then I dont see the point of anything.”

        Given that God is omniscient, the moment God created the universe, He necessarily pre-ordained, predetermined every event following, To avoid this conclusion, one would have to deny omniscience.

        Like

      66. There you go again… Roger, inconsistently putting predetermination after foreknowledge, when your system demands the opposite, unless you want to admit that changes take place in God’s omniscience!

        Like

      67. brianwagner writes, “…inconsistently putting predetermination after foreknowledge,…”

        People who claim to believe that God is omniscient can usually understand that God knew everything that was to happen at the point where He created the world – so I can write, “He necessarily pre-ordained, predetermined every event following.” It is simple for them to understand that everything would have been predetermined at that point if God is omniscient – I am arguing on their turf to make a point. That seems to confound them to no end such that they can never think of anything to say after that. However, once you get over that hump, it is easier to get into the logical order argument of how God can know the future – and here you get stuck because all they tend to argue is that it is a mystery. The inconsistency is necessary (only you ever catch it which is telling) to make an obvious point about the correlation between predetermination and foreknowledge without getting into causation.

        Liked by 1 person

      68. Mike:
        The LORD uses the word sovereign about Himself many times. When you see the all-caps small LORD you know that is one. A typical one (ironically in the Potter’s House in Jeremiah 18—-that Paul uses in Romans) follows:

        5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

        He can do whatever He wants. Including change His mind. That is what He says above. He planned it but does not do it, per the action of men. To Calvinists ….He planned to NOT do what He told everyone He planned to do. Gets a bit contrived.

        Of course that relates directly to the point in Romans 9-11 when Paul is demonstrating that God can do as He wants and let the non-Jew in.

        Chapter 19 is even better on His sovereignty.

        Like

      69. “He planned it but does not do it, per the action of men. To Calvinists ….He planned to NOT do what He told everyone He planned to do. Gets a bit contrived. ”

        This is common in the Scripture – especially the Psalms where God implores Israel to obey Him because He wants to bless them. We see this with Jonah and Nineveh. We have this is the NT. Seek first the kingdom of God…Ask for wisdom…believe on Christ. Obviously, if one does not seek, ask, believe, the blessings that God had promised do not follow.

        Like

      70. What? Do you even hear yourself?

        “Obviously, if one does not seek, ask, believe,….” then God cannot bless!

        Not only do you have man seeking (when apparently he cant) but you have God tied up waiting for man to act.

        You are galloping your way out of Calvinism…congratulations!

        Liked by 1 person

      71. “Not only do you have man seeking (when apparently he cant) but you have God tied up waiting for man to act.”

        I think context reveals that God says these things to people whom God has enabled to seek, ask, believe. God apparently has devised a positive reinforcement system where God responds positively to people who do what He says.

        How do you see context with the seek, ask, believe verses?

        Like

      72. Mike:
        God speaking of His sovereignty again.

        Jeremiah 19:3 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 4 For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. 5 They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

        He is wants to make sure we know it is the Sovereign LORD. There is all-caps LORD, then Almighty, then “God of Israel.” The trifecta of Sovereignty. Whatever happens here is from His strongest most emphatic position as Sovereign.

        Then He tells us what the Israelites have done…. and then tell us that He did not command it (orally or secretly)….did not even mention it. And a third way to say it for emphasis…..did not enter His mind.

        How in the world are we supposed to read this passage and go away thinking….”yes but he decreed it, and willed it for His glory”?

        I just could no longer stack this kind of absurdity onto obvious passages that occurred daily in my reading! I quit trying to defend Aristotle and Augustine!

        Like

      73. “Then He tells us what the Israelites have done…. and then tell us that He did not command it (orally or secretly)….did not even mention it. And a third way to say it for emphasis…..did not enter His mind. How in the world are we supposed to read this passage and go away thinking….”yes but he decreed it, and willed it for His glory”?”

        Not to command it or mention it can be confirmed through review of God’s commands and interactions with Israel. That is not contested language. The contested language is, “…did not enter His mind.” Here, God emphasizes that He never would have commanded such things. Nonetheless, Israel devised such things in their minds, God having decreed that Israel should be free to entertain such thoughts and even to act on such thoughts making them reality. That God ordained such things means only that God granted Israel freedom to pursue evil and would not intervene to restrain them – and this presumable because His purpose was to judge them.

        Liked by 1 person

      74. Rhutchin:
        Your answers are so convoluted. He willed it or He allowed it?

        Now his decrees only mean that he permits man to be evil. Your story is never the same from one day to the next.

        Like

      75. Three times He refers to Himself as Sovereign.

        Three times He makes it clear it is not from Him.

        And yet we are told He decrees all things, ordains all things, wills all actions.

        I would much prefer to discuss in what ways He has limited His own omniscience than to attribute all evil to Him —despite His very insistence that it is not!

        Like

      76. Why? because you say so?

        Christ can be both God and man. Oxymoron.

        God can exist in 3 persons. Oxymoron.

        God cannot create in such a way that He limits Himself? It very much appears in His word that He did.

        Who decides the definition of His omniscience? You? Why?

        Like

      77. Mike, I’m not limiting the meaning any more than saying it must only know one set future forever could be called a limitation. God’s nature brings with it certain self-limitations.

        God’s truth limits His omnipotence, making it impossible for Him to lie. God’s sequential eternality makes it impossible for the past to still exist and the future to already exist, which could be called a limit to His omnipresence… for He cannot be where there is no existence. God is immutable… but that is limited by the reality that He has made some changes in the Godhead… like one person becoming incarnate forever and the other persons not becoming incarnate.

        So Omniscience is only limited in that God can not know a future as complete if it is not complete. That would be knowing a lie as if it were true.

        Like

      78. Brian, I’m having a hard time keeping up with all this. I wish the streams were not so confusing.

        Regarding your comment which responded to my comment to the other guy: I can generally agree with everything you say in this comment. None of this really contradicts compatiblism. The argument for you (and Arminians) is about hard determinism, which I do not hold to. The argument for me is LFW which not only do I think you have not proven but you seem to be arguing against yourself.

        I have to believe in compatiblism because I see a conflict with contra-causal free will and cause-and-effect. How God can create dependent and independent beings is beyond my understanding. If you try to force the issue than you create logical problems. I remember hearing a Calvinist-Arminian debate where the Arminian postulated that God could have created an equally powerful God and still remain God. And in fact, from our human perspective, true love would have demanded that God do just that.

        God’s plan must be settled and extensive or he could not guarantee its outcome (let along make true prophecies). This does not mean that everything is some robotic program or scripted movie. But to guarantee the outcome he would have to manipulate certain circumstances. Those circumstances are evident in the diversity of human nature and existence. The free will choices I make are determined by my genetics, environment, and experiences which in turn develop my nature. Who creates my genetics? Who places me in my environment? If these where different my experiences would be different and my nature would be different as would my free will choices.

        We already talked about Adam’s nature before The Fall. Remember “the wizard?” Romans 5:12 doesn’t deal with the sin of the devil and his angels so it is making some other point that is not related to LFW.

        Anyway, I just want to say that this has been a very good discussion and I have learned a lot from you. Thanks!

        Like

      79. Thanks Mike for trying to understand. Here is your weakest statement in your last response in my opinion – “God’s plan must be settled and extensive or he could not guarantee its outcome (let along make true prophecies).”

        God can guarantee the outcome(s) He wants or will permit because of His omnipotence and infinite understanding. The plan does not need to be “settled” for that to happen. Also His omnipotence guarantees unconditional prophecies that He makes will take place. Again… a settled plan is not necessary for unconditional prophecies to be made. And making unconditional prophecies does not make a settled plan of all things necessary.

        Thank you too, Mike, for the conversation. You really help sharpen my thinking, and I think you have helped me at least present my views with greater clarity.

        Like

      80. brianwagner writes, “God can guarantee the outcome(s) He wants or will permit because of His omnipotence and infinite understanding.:

        In other words, timing is not a factor. As it is God who ultimately determines all things – by virtue of His omnipotence and infinite understanding – it doesn’t matter whether God determines things in eternity past or immediately before an event takes place. In some cases, God has to plan ahead, so some of the future can be be determined in eternity past but God can wait on the small stuff.

        Like

      81. He not only can wait on the small stuff… He has waited on much of the big stuff… And is still making free will decisions concerning them according to Scriptures. But you don’t believe, Roger, that God even waits on the small stuff… So why give the reader that impression you do?

        Like

      82. brianwagner writes, “So why give the reader that impression you do?”

        Sometimes people see things that are not there. Communication of concepts and ideas is somewhat an art and not always as precise as we want.

        Liked by 1 person

      83. brianwagner writes, “God’s truth limits His omnipotence, making it impossible for Him to lie.”

        God’s truth limits how He exercises His omnipotence,…”Limiting omnipotence seems like an oxymoron.

        Like

      84. Haha… Mike, to say the Scripture doesn’t teach freewill makes me wonder if you read the OP above! Thou may have forgotten, but I do believe that Scripture’s teaching can’t sustain the definition of omniscience that includes a fully set future in God’s mind forever.

        Just the verses alone that record God making determinations after creation make that definition of omniscience/ foreknowledge impossible. But God is still omniscient defined as meaning that He knows all that is true as true and all that is false is false and His infinite understanding changes in the character of what is known but not in a way that adds or takes away from it.

        But when I say the character of His knowledge changes, I mean what is known as future becomes known as past… what is known as possible becomes known as determined when God decides to cause or permit a future event or it becomes known as a counter-factual that could have happened but didn’t. Those changes do not add or take away from God’s infinite understanding or change the perfection of it.

        The verse you gave does not prove a set future forever in God’s mind… just that God is the creator, unless I’m missing something.

        Like

      85. Brian, as I said, you will translate any verse I provide through the lens of LFW. And I find your definitions of omniscience and foreknowledge too terrestrial.

        I did read your piece but I don’t agree with your conclusions. That should be evident by now. I wasn’t clear enough when I said scripture doesn’t teach free will.

        You say that “freedom of will to go against one’s nature, even for God, is not possible.” I’ve said the same thing many times and every LFW’er has argued against it. You don’t seem to understand that this simple admission is an argument against LFW. “The ability to freely make decisions commensurate with the limits of one’s nature and with the opportunities provided for such decisions making” is the definition of compatiblism!

        You obviously believe that these statements support LFW but you don’t explain or explore them. Instead you go on to do word studies that no Calvinists would disagree with. Willingly, motivation, voluntary, decide, heart or spirit moves, my own will, free will offering—all your article proves is that man has free will. And who is denying this?

        What is being denied is “libertarian, contra-causal” free will. What is the definition of “libertarian”? What does “contra” in “contra-causal” mean? These are anti cause-and-effect. Your statements at the beginning of the article and your word studies don’t support this mystical non-causal free will. In fact the Bible is full of cause-and-effect on almost every page. “God said let there be light and there was light.”

        You don’t seem to understand Calvinism except as a caricature. You’re in good company at Soteriology 101.

        Liked by 1 person

      86. Mike – Would you define the freewill that is according to one’s nature will always result in only one set choice being made… set in the sense that it was eternally immutably set in God’s mind as the choice that would be made even before that will was even created?

        If so then there is no “free” in that definition of freewill. Contra-causal freedom does not go against nature… but the nature of freewill is choosing between multiple choices (not just between one and its opposite)… and that choice not being caused by nature to choose only one.

        My definitions are Scripture oriented not philosophically oriented… unless you can show me Scriptures to the contrary. God giving physical limitations to a baby – blindness or deafness does not limit them from fulfilling His design to worship and serve Him forever. Only their freewill rejecting His offers of mercy and grace to fulfill that design will limit them.

        Like

      87. brianwagner (responding to MR) writes, “…set in the sense that it was eternally immutably set in God’s mind as the choice that would be made even before that will was even created?”

        Even in your system, the options are set even if not determined. Also set is the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of the person as well as the presence of a corrupt nature that is directed to self-preservation and self-gratification and the myriad of influences acting upon the corrupt nature, including temptations from Satan. All these factors affect the “freedom” of the will to choose among perceived options. Even a very smart computer program could probably predict what a person would likely choose under the circumstances. So, even if we deny that God has “determined” the outcome, we should expect that God can be close to 100% certain about that outcome simply because God is restraining the person to be totally depraved and not utterly depraved. The question still comes up – What do you mean by “free” when you advocate “free will”?

        Liked by 1 person

      88. God is not a computer and He is not locked behind one choice for Himself for each possibility… That is what free will means. But you can’t abide by that idea of God being perfect and not locked behind one immutable set future forever. Determinism of all things destroys the idea of love and trust in a relationship! I hope, Roger, you will repent of your loyalty to that false philosophy.

        Like

      89. Brian, I’m really confused by this. And it’s not just you. I agree that free will is choosing between multiple choices. It is the Arminian who insists that to be real the choice must be between one and its opposite—specifically between the ability to sin and not to sin. And you say the same when you imply that blindness or deafness does not effect ones free choices—the only choice that matters is rejecting God.

        Again, if you simply define contra-causal as multiple choices, well then, that is part of compatiblistc free will.

        “God is not a computer.” Right. (Again, Leighton Flowers compares God to Deep Blue in his chess analogy.) “He is not locked behind one choice.” Right. Who is saying that God does not have multiple choices? My GPS gives me multiple choices to get to my destination. But once God makes a choice or a plan he sticks to it. What is wrong with that? “Determinism of all things destroys the idea of love.” Again, you are forcing hard determinism on to Calvinists.

        “My definitions are Scripture oriented not philosophically oriented.” Show me in scripture where God uses the Free Will Theodicy? Show me where God says that evil is due to man’s libertarian free will apart from his corrupted nature?

        I do want to tell you that you have convinced me that the statement: “the Bible doesn’t discuss free will” is inaccurate . From now on I will be more precise and say that the Bible doesn’t discuss LWF.

        Like

      90. I have no problem saying compatibilistic freewill if you really believe there is in existence multiple choices and they were not settled as to which choice is made before creation of those wills. I do however believe that God does provide the opportunity a few times to freely choose between grace and it’s opposite –
        sin.

        I have no problem with God sticking to a plan… but don’t you agree that verses that speak to God making decisions and plans after creation confirm that He has not one settled plan in His mind that He is working out?

        Rom 5:12 – By one man sin entered into the world. — Adam’s nature was not corrupt forcing him to sin… so there is your example of freewill from Scripture according to your definition of LFW.

        Like

      91. Mike Ranieri writes, “Nowhere in the Bible is there a discussion of free will.”

        Yet, we easily understand that only God has “true” free will and this because God has perfect knowledge, and infinite understanding of all things, has perfect wisdom, and is not influenced by any forces outside the Godhead. People have limited knowledge, understanding little of that knowledge, and have no, or limited, ability to make wise decisions and is influenced by multiple and conflicting forces that people are unable to sort through. Whatever “freedom” is accorded to people is extremely limited – and if anyone says they can sort it out, they are deceiving themselevs.

        Like

      92. Like Mike… you must not have read the OP above Roger… or you are willfully rejecting the clear evidence of Scripture again. Freewill is not extremely limited if God speaks truly in His Word.

        You think that I deny God’s omniscience… I would rather be misunderstood in that regard then to have people think I believe God was deceptive throughout His written Word.

        Like

      93. brianwagner writes, ” Freewill is not extremely limited if God speaks truly in His Word.”

        In comparison to the freedom God has, human freedom is extremely limited. Right?? Isn’t the ability of a person to choose limited by his knowledge, understanding, and wisdom? Can you, or anyone, quantify how “free” a “free will” is?

        Then, “I would rather be misunderstood in that regard then to have people think I believe God was deceptive throughout His written Word.”

        The manner in which the prophets described God often picture God in human terms with human characteristics. Yet, we know that God is nothing like a human – e.g., God is spirit and not flesh and blood. Some accommodation seems in order to allow God to picture Himself in human terms in order to advance conversation with humans.

        Liked by 1 person

      94. “God is nothing like a human” is a false statement since man was created in His image. And though choices may be limited for God and man by many things… The “free” in freewill is not limited as long as there is truly a choice. Roger.

        Like

      95. brianwagner writes, “The “free” in freewill is not limited as long as there is truly a choice. ”

        Now, we have free will IF there is TRULY a choice. What do you mean by the descriptor, “truly”? You cannot define “free” except by an equally nebulous word, “truly.” So, what does it mean?

        Like

      96. hahaha… I only put the word “truly” in there because Calvinists want to say there is a choice, but they also want to defend the immutability of a set future forever… which means there “truly” is no real free choice is available, only the determined event that looks like a choice could have been made for a human’s perspective, but the fix was in, and everything other “so-called” choice were eternally immutably counterfactual.

        Like

      97. brianwagner writes, “I only put the word “truly” in there because Calvinists want to say there is a choice,…”

        OK. Let’s remove any knowledge God might have of the future choices of people. If they are “truly” free, what does “truly mean and if you just want to say that they are free, what does “free” mean? You speak of a “free” will in nebulous terms. You could even use the term, contra-causal, to define this freedom, but a definition of that term is no more than the nebulous “could have done otherwise.” As MR notes elsewhere, genetics, environment, and experiences come into play, don’t they? Add also a corrupted nature. So, what does “otherwise” really mean? Everyone says that people make choices and do so freely. Calvinists say that this means people are not coerced to choose a particular outcome. Have you or anyone else nailed done a definition that goes beyond that? If one exists, you should be able to write it down in 25 words or less.

        Like

      98. Roger… we have been around this side of the barn before. Free means the will has the final say and is able to choose differently up until the moment the choice is made, if there truly is a free choice. Some events are caused and in those determined events there is no freedom available to that will to make a free choice otherwise. But in a freewill choice, and there are many…the will is not caused by those other factors that MR mentioned as if they cause only one certain choice. They are just contributing causes that corporately and individually influence but are not corporately or individually necessary or corporately or individually efficient for that choice. The freewill is the necessary and efficient cause for the choice.

        Like

      99. brianwagner writes, “Free means the will has the final say and is able to choose differently up until the moment the choice is made, if there truly is a free choice….in a freewill choice, and there are many…the will is not caused by those other factors that MR mentioned as if they cause only one certain choice. They are just contributing causes that corporately and individually influence but are not corporately or individually necessary or corporately or individually efficient for that choice. The freewill is the necessary and efficient cause for the choice.”

        So, we could add at the beginning of your definition, “Given one’s knowledge of available options, understanding of the impacts of perceived choices, outside influences, biases inherent to the person, one’s internal nature, or any factor that might motivate the person to choose a particular option or any restraint on the person to act so long as no factor can be said to be the cause of the choice, Free means the will has the final say…” That is how the Calvinist defines it also. Seems like that is how everyone defines it. So, why do people argue over such a loose definition??

        Like

      100. Would you be willing Roger to change the phrase “that might motivate the person to choose a particular option” to “might motivate the person to choose between truly available possible options”?

        Like

      101. brianwagner writes, “Would you be willing Roger to change the phrase “that might motivate the person to choose a particular option” to “might motivate the person to choose between truly available possible options”?

        What does “truly” mean? If it is not a redundancy, then it has to add something. The only choice that matters is that of salvation. Whether we have “truly” is irrelevant if the person is so compromised that he has no choice. That is what the Calvinist says happens under Total Depravity. So, assuming that you are not willing to give up Total Depravity, it seems you have to negate Total Depravity and install a free will – I guess that is the purpose for your “light” theory.

        Like

      102. Thank you for confirming Roger that you don’t believe in freewill even though you tried to make others believe you did, but masked your determinism behind the word “particular”. Ann’s balked at accepting the change in wording that I made.

        And yes the nature received from Adam is still able to make free choices between gracious offers made to it by God before regeneration. Adam, Cain, Nicodemus, and Cornelius are great examples as well a universal invitations and warnings like Heb 3:7-8.

        This is all for this thread from me for now… we’re heading old well worn paths we already have walked down.

        Like

      103. brianwagner writes, “Thank you for confirming Roger that you don’t believe in freewill even though you tried to make others believe you did,…”

        As far as I can see, we both agree on the definition of free will. What you now realize is that your definition says nothing specific or quantitative thereby allowing everyone to agree with it. No free will advocate has ever been able to go beyond the “assumption” of free will – they will concede the “influence” of internal and external factors but assume that those influences do not, generally, have a determinative effect. You follow suit.

        Then, “…but masked your determinism behind the word “particular”. ”

        You read more into the word than is there. I am openly deterministic agreeing with Edwards that people choose in line with their greatest desires – no one chooses something that has no appeal for them.

        Then, “… we’re heading old well worn paths we already have walked down.”

        Well worn paths that are focusing more clearly on true positions – in this regard, you are taking on an increasingly Pelagian philosophy by softening the attitude of sinful man toward God. This is the natural outcome for free will advocates.

        Like

      104. The Scriptures teach freewill. It’s not an assumption. Pelagian was a sacramentalist that believed God had to give saving grace through a sacrament. God does have to graciously give light which presents the will with a choice to seek or harden against that grace.

        Determinism twists the normal meaning of Scriptures which dishonors God. God did not hide any fundamental truths about Himself that Calvinist scholars, who think they are “kings”, have discovered for everyone else.

        They twist the meaning of “freewill” so that it means every decision made was caused by something that made that one decision necessary. They twist many other words of God to maintain their loyalty to the prestige they feel from their scholarly philosophically based theology.

        Like

      105. brianwagner writes, “The Scriptures teach freewill.”

        That is not in dispute. The issue is the character of free will. Calvinists define free will to mean free from coercion. Those who disagree with Calvinism, like you, don’t seem able to distinguish free will as something different. Dr. Flowers will describe it as freedom to chose otherwise which says nothing more than freedom from coercion. The second issue is the degree to which factors influence a person’s choice even to the point of determining the choice. Here, Edwards set the bar in saying that a person chooses consistent with his strongest desire – a deterministic conclusion. No one seems able to offer anything better even though they don’t like the conclusion Edwards drew.

        Then, “Pelagian was a sacramentalist that believed God had to give saving grace through a sacrament.”

        He was a full fledged synergist in espousing salvation as a cooperative effort between God and man. From what I read, Pelagius stressed human autonomy and free will to take advantage of God’s saving grace – which seems to be the basic philosophy of non-Calvinists.

        Then, “God does have to graciously give light which presents the will with a choice to seek or harden against that grace.”

        And then, the issue is to explain why a will given such light would do other than seek God. To harden oneself in the face of that light suggests that the person simply doesn’t understand – so, Paul says, “There is none who understands. There is none who seeks God.” If that condition still holds after one is presumably given light, then they still don’t understand, and one must wonder if they received any light at all.

        Then, “Determinism twists the normal meaning of Scriptures which dishonors God.”

        Determinism just says that God is sovereign and is, necessarily, the final arbiter of everything that happens. I don’t see how that dishonors God.

        Then, “They twist the meaning of “freewill” so that it means every decision made was caused by something that made that one decision necessary.”

        In other words, there is a rational explanation behind every decision that is made – people do not make decisions spontaneously.

        Like

      106. Contradiction – Freewill means “freedom from coercion” and Freewill means “a person chooses consistent with his strongest desire – a deterministic conclusion.”

        The Calvinist wants us to believe the human will is making a free choice when it was opposed to God’s will in every way up to the moment of regeneration and then irresistibly inclined to trust Christ immediately after regeneration. Remind me not to trust Calvinists when they define things so obviously against Scripture.

        Like

      107. brianwagner writes, “Contradiction – Freewill means “freedom from coercion” and Freewill means “a person chooses consistent with his strongest desire – a deterministic conclusion.””

        What you are saying is that a person is forced to act as he does by his desires – he is unable to overcome his desires. Interesting – under determinism, a person is forced to be who he is; under free will, a person can be something he is not. So, under determinism, a person is coerced to be faithful to himself; under free will, a person can engage in deception – even deceiving himself.

        Then, “…irresistibly inclined to trust Christ immediately after regeneration.”

        Not exactly. “…irresistibly enabled…” The person must still hear the gospel in order to trust Christ. So, apparently, it is your misconceptions about Calvinism that have led you not to trust Calvinists.

        Like

      108. He doesn’t go against desires or plans… he freely chooses between them… they don’t force one choice out from his will.

        Regeneration according to Calvinism forces a change in the will that immediately, irresistibly, chooses faith in Christ which is always rejected previously. Yes, he must hear the gospel, but now, supposedly, he hears it with irresistible understanding… and his will is unable now to harden against that revealed understanding of God’s will for him… even though his will still can harden itself against other revealed aspects of God’s will. That is not a free will decision to trust Christ in the gospel… no matter how much you try to spin it, Roger.

        Like

      109. brianwagner writes, “He doesn’t go against desires or plans… he freely chooses between them… they don’t force one choice out from his will.”

        The difference between you and Calvinism is that Calvinism says a person chooses consistent with the strongest desire and you appear to be saying that the process by which a person chooses is a mystery because it is not necessarily consistent with the strongest desire.

        Then, “Regeneration according to Calvinism forces a change in the will that immediately, irresistibly, chooses faith in Christ which is always rejected previously.”

        Not exactly. The process is –
        (1) “…when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive …” (Colossians 2)
        (2) “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10)
        (3) “…you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,…” (Ephesians 1)

        So, God gives a person life, brings the person under the preaching of the gospel, conveys faith to the person, and the person exercises faith to believe in Christ.

        Then, “Yes, he must hear the gospel, but now, supposedly, he hears it with irresistible understanding…”

        OK. It is through hearing the gospel that faith is conveyed to the person. This faith is “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11) I guess we can describe that as an irresistible understanding.

        Then, “…his will is unable now to harden against that revealed understanding of God’s will for him…”

        I don’t know that we can say, “unable.” Certainly, very, very, very, very, unlikely.

        The, “…even though his will still can harden itself against other revealed aspects of God’s will.”

        Thus, Paul’s injunction to, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

        Finally, “That is not a free will decision to trust Christ in the gospel… ”

        The person is cognizant of the choices between him – eternal life and eternal death – and chooses that which he desires. This satisfies the Calvinist in not being coerced and the non-Calvinist in having an otherwise choice. Thus, a free will decision.

        Like

      110. Rhutchin:

        You misread:
        Calvinists label it as abhorrent…not me.

        My “defense” is Passover.

        In this incredibly cross-prophesying event did God save them from the angel of death or only provide the means?

        My “defense” is the serpent-on-the-pole.

        In this incredibly cross-prophesying event did God save them from death or only provide the means?

        My “defense” is the ark.

        In this incredibly cross-prophesying event did God save Noah’s family from death or only provide the means?

        All three are referred to in the NT as images of salvation in Christ. All three (an hundreds more) required faith and action from men.

        You can say “yes, but God gave them the faith,” but I am afraid you have no scriptural ground. You just impose that because of your presuppositions.

        I finally get the problem here. The word you are describing is “grace.” None of the verses you ever use describe faith. They describe grace, new live, regeneration, justification. The universal understanding of faith is that is it personal and “required to please God.” Look at the long list of people that God names in Hebrews 11. Why? What for? What’s the point? They have nothing to do with it (per you) and yet He names them by name.

        God puts their names in His eternal word and lauds their individual faith. Why? To teach us what? To show us what about the world He created?

        What is the lesson of Hebrews 11?

        Here’s how Hebrews 11 should read for you

        (not this)
        By faith Abel….
        (but this)

        God gave faith to Abel, and since Abel had no choice and could not NOT do it, he offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice.

        (not this)
        By faith Enoch …Before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

        (but this)
        God gave Enoch faith…..Before he was taken God had unalterably given him the ability to please God, and since Enoch had no choice, he pleased God.

        What is the message of Hebrews 11?

        What is the message of Passover? The ark (Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations)?

        What is God’s message to Cain: So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”????

        What caused me to leave Calvinism was that so much of my daily Bible reading made no sense!

        Liked by 2 people

      111. //God was careful to tell us through the NT writers that He is the source of faith // No He doesn’t. He says that He should be the object of our faith and reveals Himself to us so that all may believe. Man is the agent of his faith, not God. Once again we see the Calvinistic error of agency.

        Liked by 1 person

      112. erneststrauss writes; “Man is the agent of his faith, not God.”

        That’s a good Pelagian statement. Of course, you should oppose Calvinism.

        Like

      113. “Hebrews 11 gives a whole list of agents of faith.
        What verse is Pelagius again?”

        I understood erneststrauss’ position to be that all people are born with faith negating the need for God to give faith to any person and people, as agents of that inborn faith, are able to respond to the gospel without further help from God (which seems Pelagian to me and kinda fits the theology he generally expounds). In Hebrews 11, people are agents of faith by virtue of the faith that God gives to them to protect them by His power for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time..

        Like

      114. Just as I predicted! After that long list of faith-walkers, comes, wait …for… it……..” Buuuuut God gave them all that faith, so nothing to see here. Nothing to learn here. Go your way….and if God wants you to have faith, He will give it to so. Sorry I just used a whole chapter to say nothing!”

        You cannot “bring the proper sacrifice” like Abel unless God gives it to you….and if He does….you have to!

        You cannot leave your family and go where God tells you like Abraham…..unless God also gives you the faith that you cannot resist.

        Again…..what’s the point of God giving us His word if we cannot grow by it?

        Why does it LOOK like those people had faith?

        Once again the Scripture is only making us think that what we do matters!

        Why the names and the details? Why not say at least once (ANYWHERE in the Bible) “God gave so-and-so his faith”?

        Liked by 1 person

      115. “Why does it LOOK like those people had faith? ”

        Why not explain how you think people can have faith if not given to them by God?

        Like

      116. Why dont we let Paul explain it.

        4:2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

        Our faith is neither something we can boast about (did better than another—significant Calvinist gothca phrase) nor is it a work.

        He is not justified by works.
        He did not do anything to boast about.
        He is credited as righteous when he believes.

        There’s the rub. Calvinists say that the believing was given to him. It doesn’t look like it here or anywhere. Really. A simple reading of any of these faith/ believing passages looks like man has to have faith —and that he CAN have faith.

        And if this faith and all the list of faithful in Heb 11 was given to them unalterably-irresistibly, then what is the point?

        I mean really what IS the point of any of the Bible if we only have the faith God gives us, and must use it as prescribed, and we cannot learn from any of the hundreds of examples He gives us in His Word?

        Why even talk about Abraham’s faith?

        Can I learn from Abraham’s faith….and have an even greater faith?

        What are we to learn from Hebrew 11?

        What did Christ mean when He said “your faith has made you whole”?

        Paul go on….

        Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

        He is juxtaposing works and faith…..making it clear that faith is not a work.

        You can say “yes but YOUR faith is a work” all you want, but Paul disagrees.

        Please listen to one more passage from Paul.

        He wants to make sure that we understand that works dont count but faith does, and to make sure that we understand that works and faith are NOT the same.

        Rom 4:13 It was not through the law [works] that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by [non-works] faith.

        Paul, just to make sure that we don’t think Abraham’s personal faith was something unique…something we could not all have….added this.

        Romans 4:23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

        In fact that whole chapter is about Abraham, Abraham, Abraham; faith, faith, faith.

        That is a bit deceptive if, as you say, the whole message of the chapter is about not-the-faith-of-Abraham.

        Every reference to faith in Scripture should have a small * with “but God gives faith” by it. It NEVER does.

        Just lists people. Real, unregenerate people. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Sarah….

        Like

      117. “And if this faith and all the list of faithful in Heb 11 was given to them unalterably-irresistibly, then what is the point?”

        The point of Hebrews is, “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” and of those identified, “all these…gained approval through their faith,…” Hebrews 11 does not tell us how these particular people came to have faith – it just tells us that they had faith.

        Then, “In fact that whole chapter is about Abraham, Abraham, Abraham; faith, faith, faith.”

        Later on in Romans 8, we can contrast Abraham in chap 4 with the unsaved – “…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.” The unsaved do not have faith. So, how do people get “faith”? – “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10) Thus, faith is not something one is born with – one receives faith when hearing the gospel. Then in Ephesians 2, Paul tells us that faith is a gift from God and “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” This is consistent with Romans 9, “…it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” Thus, Paul says in Philippians 1, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

        Like

      118. I am quite familiar with the dozen or so go-to verses that build the (rickety) scaffolding that is supposed to re-define the meaning of faith.

        I believe that elsewhere in this blog answers are provided to all those verses.

        I still find it amazing that one has to go searching here and there to piece together the presuppositions when there are huge passage that say “by faith, by faith, by faith…..believe, believe, believe.”

        Here is your definition of faith:

        1. It has nothing to do with the people mentioned. God over road all of their personality. He gave them something (I hesitate to call it faith since no one in their right mind thinks of faith as “the assurance of things foisted on you”).

        2. the person then has no choice but to use the thing given to him by God.

        3. The person’s name and actions are listed in detail in God eternal Word for no reason, since we cannot learn from them, and they did not really do them.

        And all of that….because of a few verses here and there that have very acceptable alternate interpretations.

        So faith means absolutely nothing. Worse. It does NOT mean what any average person thinks it means.

        Liked by 1 person

      119. FOH… determinism must redefine faith and love away from what the clear Scriptures say, if it is going to be consistent with itself. But everyone knows intuitively as well as from Scripture that there is no real personal relationship without freely offered love and trust. Makes one wonder how close a dogmatic Calvinist feels in any of their “personal” relationships that he says he has on earth… if he has any!

        Like

      120. Thanks Brian.
        I remind people that real love cannot be force. It cannot be given to someone. I cannot make my kids love me.

        But the Calvinist image of Father is that He makes us love Him. I know there is the semantics of “we want to when we have been given faith.” But since what we are given is irresistible (cant have it unless He gives; must use it if He does) that intuitively and actually comes down to forcing.

        So….even though God uses terms like “Father, children of God, bride, groom, brothers” they do not mean what they appear to mean.

        I am an earthly father, son, husband, brother, and all of these are personal. The love and faith in these relationships cannot be forced. It cannot be given. And it certainly is not irresistible! Kids resist the grace shown to them all the time.

        I find it bizarre that God would use all these familial terms (that we identify with) only to say….”Nope, don’t draw from those images I use…I force all my (im)personal relationships.”

        Misled again, we are.

        Liked by 1 person

      121. “But the Calvinist image of Father is that He makes us love Him”

        This is a non-Calvinist caricature of Calvinism. The Scriptures describe Jesus healing people – removing paralysis, blindness, etc., – and those people then responding positively to Jesus. When God removes spiritual blindness or gives new life to one who was born blind, are we to conclude that this forces the person to love Him or might we conclude that the person responds with a personal gratefulness that comes from the heart?

        Like

      122. But not all do not continue to respond positively to miracles given to them… why? And Roger if you are conceding that people can respond positively to God’s grace before regeneration… be careful… you are now confirming the Scripture’s teaching of freely responding to being drawn by God before regeneration.

        Like

      123. brianwagner writes, “But not all do not continue to respond positively to miracles given to them… why?”

        Because God is not forcing a response – contrary to the claim, “…the Calvinist image of Father is that He makes us love Him.”

        Then, ” …if you are conceding that people can respond positively to God’s grace before regeneration… be careful… you are now confirming the Scripture’s teaching of freely responding to being drawn by God before regeneration.”

        God’s grace includes actions that do not have salvation as the end – e.g., providing rain for the just and unjust. Jesus extended grace to people to heal them; such healing was to identify Jesus as the Messiah and not necessarily to save. The point is that God’s grace does not force a response – even when God’s grace opens a person’s eyes to his need for salvation.

        Like

      124. RHutchin:

        This is semantic gobbledygook.

        (you said) “The point is that God’s grace does not force a response – even when God’s grace opens a person’s eyes to his need for salvation.”

        The I in TULIP is just that….Irresistible (otherwise His plans might go awry….sorry…”be thwarted’). At least be honest and appeal to “mystery” as to how He can force our free will….but don’t deny that you are saying it is irresistible and if irresistible it is forced.

        It was the “I” that was the final blow for me to leave Calvinism. I read over and over and over in the Bible people resisting the grace God extended to them. I got so tired of saying….”yes, but it doesnt mean that…”

        Like

      125. ” At least be honest and appeal to “mystery” as to how He can force our free will….but don’t deny that you are saying it is irresistible and if irresistible it is forced. ”

        We have the example of Lydia, “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” The Lord opened her heart and this was irresistible. Lydia did not even know what God had done. All Lydia knows is that Paul’s words are not foolishness as before but now, they make sense. If you want to say that God forced Himself upon her, then fine – but Lydia did not complain. Similarly, Lazarus lay dead in a tomb and God brought him back to life. If you want to say God forced Himself on Lazarus, then fine – Lazarus did not complain, so far as the Scriptures tell us. Similarly, God opens the ears of the lost to the gospel and grants them faith to believe – Have any complained. Paul tells us, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This is also God’s irresistible grace. For some reason, you are moved to anger at the thought that God would “force” Himself on anyone in order to bring them, irresistibly, to salvation. I don’t understand that.

        Like

      126. RHutchin:

        Please dont fall for the “pluck a few words out of a phrase” approach. Look at the whole context..

        Acts 16:14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized….”

        1. You said it went from foolishness to belief. Yet the Scripture says (a) She went to listen (you dont do that for foolishness; how could she “seek” before she was opened?), and (b) she was a worshiper of God. You cannot make her go from 0 to 60 on your own terms. She was seeking BEFORE the Lord opened her heart. She was a worshiper of God BEFORE He opened her heart.

        2. How did she respond? She got baptized. Are you for baptismal regeneration? That is the ONLY response we are told about in this passage. It is even possible that the Lord opened the heart of an already-believer to be baptized, right?

        3. It does not say the Lord gave her faith. Only that He opened her heart (vague meaning) and she was baptized. Too much mileage taken from one text…….again.

        4. I am not angry. What? I am disappointed that you use the concept “force” in every way “in order to bring them, irresistibly, to salvation…” and yet deny that it is ‘forcing.’ Just be honest. It is this mind-game, duplicity, tricksy, word-switch stuff that makes Calvinism so untrustworthy.

        Like

      127. 1. …the Scripture says (a) She went to listen (you dont do that for foolishness; how could she “seek” before she was opened?), and (b) she was a worshiper of God. You cannot make her go from 0 to 60 on your own terms. She was seeking BEFORE the Lord opened her heart. She was a worshiper of God BEFORE He opened her heart.”

        Even the Jews were worshippers of God. Paul noted two problems with the Jews, “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge, ” and “we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,…” So, even for a worshipper of God, we are told “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” The implication is that Lydia would not have responded to Paul’s message absent God’s irresistible work on Lydia. I think you falsely equate being a wordhipper of God with seeking God – this passage does not make that claim, so it is your personal eisegesis of the passage given that you add this information to get to the conclusion you want.

        Then, “2. How did she respond? She got baptized.”

        This seems to be pretty standard. Paul explains, “…do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” (Romans 6) and “…all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3) I don’t see Paul speaking of baptismal regeneration as regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit..

        Then, “3. It does not say the Lord gave her faith. Only that He opened her heart …”

        Elsewhere, Paul explains that faith comes through the hearing of the word. It seems clear that the opening of Lydia’s heart paved the way for faith to be conveyed through Paul’s preaching of the gospel. Nonetheless, Ephesians 2 is clear in saying that faith is a gift of God.

        Then, ” I am disappointed that you use the concept “force” in every way “in order to bring them, irresistibly, to salvation…”

        I never associate the irresistible work of God on a person with “force.” You have done that and I have sought to clarify what you mean by the term, “force.” Nonetheless, it appears to me that the idea that God would take certain irresistible actions to save a sinner causes you problems – you write like an angry person (my perception). But if you are fine with God saving people, that is great!

        Like

      128. RH:
        Your examples do nothing for the text. Why does the text even SAY worshiper of God and tell us that there were people seeking out Paul? In you version of timing….God opened her heart (is that your regeneration?) you have that happening after a person is indeed seeking God.

        That is not permitted from the tortured way the Calvinist interpret Roms 3:10-11. Was this worshiper of God who came out to hear Paul seeking God? If she was, then seeking is possible.

        I brought up the baptized idea because even though this is one of the few typical go-to passages (that all young Calvinists are taught out of the box) it STILL says nothing about giving her faith. It uses the vague term “opened her heart” and then she gets baptized. And that’s a proof text for you!!??

        Not this again. You cant just keep repeating that “Eph 2 is clear that faith is a gift”and eliminates all the “your faith has made you whole” passages!

        Christ is the one saying it. Why does He never say “my faith has made you whole.” “the faith God gave you has made you whole”.

        That is so misleading to the average reader.

        It is NOT clear that faith is the gift referred to in Eph 2.

        Even if it was…that’s not a problem since I already believe that we can only exercise faith because God made that possible to all men, thus a gift from God.

        Anyway, none of this matters since I was pre-determined, pre-ordained to leave Calvinism and you feel that I am preaching a false gospel (thus a wolf in sheep’s clothing)…….which I must have been pre-ordained to do too!

        Signing off of the comment string of this “Freewill” post…..FOH

        Liked by 1 person

      129. ” Why does the text even SAY worshiper of God…”

        Because they were.

        Then, “…and tell us that there were people seeking out Paul?”

        This is something the text does not say but you seem compelled to add.

        Then, “….God opened her heart (is that your regeneration?) you have that happening after a person is indeed seeking God. ”

        It is God’s grace toward Lydia and it is irresistible – Lydia does not even know that God has done it. God’s regeneration would have preceded and have been the basis for Lydia to seek Him. The reprobate do not naturally seek God. Still, Lydia does not have a true knowledge of God

        Then, ” It uses the vague term “opened her heart” and then she gets baptized. And that’s a proof text for you!!??”

        It is a text that reveals a “truth.” Any truth can be used as a proof text in combination with other “truths.” Your question is whether God must open the heart of any person before they will be receptive to the gospel. Paul earlier encourages believers that, “…you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness….” This speaks to the need for God to affect a change in the person’s heart if they are to be saved. With the example of Lydia, we can conclude that God must open the heart.

        Then, “You cant just keep repeating that “Eph 2 is clear that faith is a gift”and eliminates all the “your faith has made you whole” passages!”

        Faith is a gift (which oyu can’t seem to deny) and a perosn with faith is then able to exercise faith in Christ and be made whole. I don’t see your issue here.

        Then, “That is so misleading to the average reader.”

        It can appear misleading to the immature who have a minimal knowledge of the Scriptures. As one’s knowledge of the Scriptures increases, that which appeared misleading at first now makes sense as one combines truths from all across the Scriptures.

        Then, “none of this matters since I was pre-determined, pre-ordained to leave Calvinism and you feel that I am preaching a false gospel (thus a wolf in sheep’s clothing)…….which I must have been pre-ordained to do too!”

        Even you understand the precariousness of your position. I think you should complain to God.

        Like

      130. So you are faking that you agree with me again, Roger – You said – “The point is that God’s grace does not force a response – even when God’s grace opens a person’s eyes to his need for salvation.” So am I to take that to mean a person whose eyes are open by God to their need can choose to either seek God to meet that need or choose to harden their heart against God! Careful… if you don’t say yes then “force of a response” comes into play as true in your thinking!

        Like

      131. brianwagner writes, ” So am I to take that to mean a person whose eyes are open by God to their need can choose to either seek God to meet that need or choose to harden their heart against God! ”

        Yes. As the preacher once said, you got to get a person lost before you can get them saved. A person whose eye’s have been opened such that they see their lost condition does not know what to do and can go in any direction (e.g., works). I don’t think we would have them purposely hardening their hearts against God because they know that seeking God is the solution. There is the additional need to reveal Christ to them and to convey faith to them whereby they can believe in Christ.

        Like

      132. Ahh Roger… but during that time of his eyes open to his lostness he doesn’t forget the pleasures of that lostness or other options to choose besides seeking God’s mercy. So you seem open to the truth that he can freely choose to seek mercy or choose to harden… and I see that that choice even remains after hearing the truth of the gospel! No option is irresistible to the will even if the understanding of the options are irresistibly given. We are especially talking about choices of faith where the outcome is not seen but theoretically understood.

        Why you desire to be persuasive in a deterministic world, Roger, should intrigue you? It does me. Is there a command in Scripture that you are following to try to persuade others of determinism? What benefit do you believe there is for them, for me, if I change my mind to your view of determinism?

        Like

      133. brianwagner writes, “…during that time of his eyes open to his lostness he doesn’t forget the pleasures of that lostness or other options to choose besides seeking God’s mercy.”

        Of course not. – the pleasures of lostness don’t disappear even when a person believes as the old nature still hangs around. Of course, we are speculating about options. We never know that a person actually receives light or is born again until we see it manifested as belief in Christ.

        Then, “So you seem open to the truth that he can freely choose to seek mercy or choose to harden… ”

        There is really nothing to choose here. A person who has been given sufficient light to know that he is lost has not been given any real options. It is only after the person has come under the hearing of the gospel and has received faith that an option exists – his original position is that of not believing in Christ, the option now exists to choose to believe. Faith, if it is as defined in Hebrews 11, will always manifest as belief in Christ.

        Then, “No option is irresistible to the will even if the understanding of the options are irresistibly given. We are especially talking about choices of faith where the outcome is not seen but theoretically understood.”

        The reasonable choice where faith is present is to believe in Christ. If faith were not to manifest as belief, it would have to be something other than that described in Hebrews 11.

        Then, “Is there a command in Scripture that you are following to try to persuade others of determinism? What benefit do you believe there is for them, for me, if I change my mind to your view of determinism?”

        I am not trying to get you to change your mind – only God can do that. As this is Dr. Flowers blog, the primary purpose is to correct any errors in his presentation of Calvinism and try to make sure his arguments aren’t attacking strawmen. Other side discussions afford the chance to learn what other people believe and why – since few people ever seem to defend Dr. Flowers). Generally speaking, you and Dr. Flowers seem to be about the only people on the non-Calvinist side who can articulate a rationale for what he believes. Others, for whatever reason, just can’t seem to do that. Dr. Flowers challenges the Calvinist notion of Total Depravity and you challenge the notion of omniscience – each of you does so forthrightly (although, the more I listen to Dr. Flowers’ videos, the more he confuses me).

        Like

      134. Thanks for the insights into you motivation for posting here… though if God must cause the change in someone to Calvinism and your not motivated to want them to change… being here to defend Calvinism from strawmen arguments doesn’t make sense to me… but maybe I’m missing something.

        I can appreciate your desire to tease out or to try to understand better the positions Leighton and I have on certain things.

        Like

      135. Rhutchin

        1. The streets were lined with people who had seen or received miracles from Jesus who then rejected him. It is preposterous to say that all who saw or received a miracle from Christ then followed Him. Do you even hear yourself?

        Luke 17:17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

        That is one of your weakest statements RH. Even Christ showed us that people can see His healing, feel His healing….and still reject Him. Note also that he finishes once again with “your faith has made you well.”

        Note also that you have to do mental gymnastics to say that He gave the faith to the one…..He even asks “where are the other nine?”

        2. There is no caricature in the “forcing” idea. You state clearly that we cannot have it unless God gives it. You state clearly that if given this grace, it is irresistible. I cannot split that atom.

        Liked by 1 person

      136. Hi again Mike. I may not have been clear… but I believe time travel is illogical and thus impossible. The past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. I take that to be the normal definition of reality. That it is sequential – from everlasting to everlasting, (Ps 90:2) based on God’s eternal nature, who was and is and is to come (Rev 4:8). God being outside the sequence of events, or without sequence of events, is illogical and a platonic philosophical premise.

        I would be called by others an Open Theist, but I do not like the label since it covers a number of views about God and the future, some of which are unbiblical. If you need a label for me, I would call myself a partially determined futurist! 😉

        As for the book of life – the spiritual one – I believe it was empty of names at creation, and that names have been added to it “from the foundation of the world”. And I do believe freedom of will is limited by other aspects of one’s nature and by opportunity, but it is not limited by a determinism that is based on the false view that the future is already known as fully settled in God’s mind.

        Thank you for your patience in trying to digest my attempts at explaining what I think Scripture teaches about God’s omniscience and foreknowledge.

        Like

      137. Thanks again, Brian. This does help explain where you are coming from. Y’know this stuff is complicated and very difficult to explain in short easy blog posts. I’m a sci-fi fan and I particular enjoy time travel stories. I like using the example of time travel because everyone understands the issue. The paradoxes make it easy to just dismiss it. But if you do a little research on the actual scientific theory it is much more complex. Just Google Albert Einstein and Time Travel Theory.

        A “partially determined futurist”—I like it! You say that “freedom of will is limited by other aspects of one’s nature and by opportunity,…” I very much agree with this and it is foundational in my argumentation. “…but it is not limited by a determinism that is based on the false view that the future is already known”—this is where the contention is. This is a long discussion but let me just say that I wouldn’t necessary disagree with you here either because what I hear you say is “God isn’t just watching a movie of existence—life is not a computer program or windup toy.”

        I think you understand that Calvinists don’t think this way but you do believe that their system implies it and they are being inconsistent. I get that. I just see more false implications and inconsistencies with the other views.

        Liked by 1 person

      138. brianwagner writes, “As for the book of life – the spiritual one – I believe it was empty of names at creation, and that names have been added to it “from the foundation of the world”.

        I was thinking about this and it seems to me that one might argue that the Book of Life initially contained all names (thus, explaining why babies are saved) and then names are deleted over time. But then, everyone would get deleted the first time they sin (and as RC would say, every tine they commit a mortal sin) and must be added back in. So few verses; so much contention.

        Like

      139. Mike Ranieri writes, “I would be careful of saying that ‘His decrees are the source of knowledge.’”

        Certainly, God knows His decrees – a decree (or decision) by God is information that God would then know. I think your point may be that God would be adding to His knowledge every time He made a decree, so that He could not be described as omniscient. In this regard, Calvinists claim that we cannot point to a “time” (with “time” used for illustration) when a decree had not been made. Nonetheless, we can always restrict God’s omniscient to knowledge of His creation so that God is omniscient with regard to the universe He created at Genesis 1:1.

        Then, “I would also refrain from saying that “free will does not create wickedness”—this is another assumption that can be debated and is not part of Calvinist doctrine proper.”

        I think it can be argued that wickedness is the creation of the corrupt mind = “…the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6) and “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17; 21) and “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” (Proverbs 21)

        Like

      140. Roger, thanks for responding. You have articulated part of my thought here better than I could have. To add to this I would say that to explain, or restrict, God’s knowledge to a decree, which is usually defined as a determinative action, would exclude a general—let’s say—omni-wisdom. This is tricky, and I don’t want to make this just a semantic thing. I’m reacting to how the non-Calvinist interprets decree. The non-Calvinist is go to say (as Leighton Flowers has often said) that the Calvinist God only knows what he determines—God is simply running a movie that he has produced—pushing the button of the life machine that he constructed and letting it run it run down. I want to avoid this caricature. But I am aware that if you define decree as the creative order that was put in place by God and is in fact part of God as it is derived from his very nature than decree is a good term.

        The reason for the sin of Lucifer and the angels and Adam and Eve, who were created without an inherited sin nature, is a problem for the Calvinist. Some Calvinists like MacArthur, Piper and Slick hold to the viability of libertarian free will before The Fall. But I see this as a systematic inconsistency and therefore I disagree with it. I believe in free will but not libertarian free will. God does not have libertarian free will. Libertarian free will posits something beyond cause and effect and is therefore, in my opinion, irrational. I have some ideas on how one can approach this problem of sin before The Fall but it takes a little explaining and I don’t think I can do it justice in a short blog post.

        I’m with you most of the time. Keep up the good work!

        – Mike

        Like

      141. brianwagner writes, ” Lucifer certainly spoke of the information that motivated his “I wills”. He saw God’s glory… he chose to want an equal share of it. ”

        We agree on that, What we don’t know is what motivated Lucifer to desire God’s glory when so many others were not so motivated. Free will does not explain this. We have the same situation with Adam. All agree that Adam had free will and choose to eat the fruit. No one knows what motivated Adam to eat the fruit. Free will does not explain the choices that people make.

        Then, “the issue is not what God is able to determine but what Scripture clearly teaches… that He was not locked in to an eternal immutable will of everything forever. And Scripture confirms that neither did He make such a determination. ”

        The key word here being, “everything.” Even your system allows for “some'” things to have been determined in eternity past. Eventually, everything will be determined, and we quibble over the timing of those determinations.

        Then, “logical changes in His mind as He makes free will decisions, have conversations between the persons of the Godhead, and increases in experiential knowledge but not in infinite understanding, might be called a type of learning but is not an imperfection just because you say so!”

        No problem. So long as the “learning” occurs between the persons of the Godhead, there is no problem. God has free will and the ability to think new things (but is there anything new out there that God has not already considered?) and engage in discussion with the members of the Godhead (although how God is separate seems somewhat mysterious). It is only when people want to introduce new information from outside the Godhead – i.e., something man does that God cannot know until man decides – that problems arise.

        Like

      142. Being drawn away of one’s own desire, like Lucifer, or even enticed, like Adam is not sin in themselves… but those motivations were certainly used, in comparison with the knowledge of God’s will to reject those desires, to make decision between the two, and to choose the inner desire and enticement over God’s will… and thus sin was conceived. To claim you just don’t know how it happened and to deny free will was the source is to not want to understand or affirm culpability it seems.

        Like

      143. brianwagner writes, “To claim you just don’t know how it happened and to deny free will was the source is to not want to understand or affirm culpability it seems.”

        Free will describes conditions that govern how one is able to operate and to consider his surroundings, facts, needs. etc and make decisions according to his wants and desires. A free will is not coerced to make any particular decision and does not act spontaneously (without thinking) but is able to use laws of logic to make specific and sound decisions. One who is free can express his desires without hindrance from external forces. I don’t see a free will as the source of wickedness but a means to attain wickedness.

        If you can explain how a free will can be the source of – as opposed to a means to achieve – an event, that would be nice – I can’t see it. I don’t see what a free will has to do with culpability other than to exclude coercion as the cause for one’s actions.

        Then, “Being drawn away of one’s own desire, like Lucifer, or even enticed, like Adam is not sin in themselves… but those motivations were certainly used, in comparison with the knowledge of God’s will to reject those desires, to make decision between the two, and to choose the inner desire and enticement over God’s will… and thus sin was conceived. ”

        OK. But this seems to say nothing substantive. Not explained is how one’s desires form in the first place and where the motivations that manipulate those desires come from. Normally, we describe people as having corrupted natures and being subject to temptation to explain why they choose to sin. Neither Lucifer not Adam had corrupted natures and neither was tempted – each made a purposeful decision to disobey God. Each was culpable because they acted freely and were not coerced. No one can explain what led them to choose to oppose God and the Scriptures are silent on this. Who knows how Lucifer came to covet and say “I will make myself like the Most High.” All you seem to say above is that Lucifer was free to covet and not coerced.

        Like

      144. Phillip cites, “1 Timothy 2:14 (NKJV)…
        And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

        Correct. Adam was not deceived. However, it would seem that Adam might have been aware of the interaction between Eve and Satan. It could be that Adam saw through the deception but ate the fruit anyway as some suggest. However, even if Adam did not see through the deception, his decision to eat the fruit could still be based on Eve having already eaten the fruit with no ill effect or of the anticipated effect on her – thus, his reasoning having nothing to do with the deception.

        Then, “Yet Calvin writes…..”

        I agree with Calvin. I would add that God restrains, and so directs, their malice, and uses their iniquities to gain His will making Satan’s will, as the angels, subordinate to God’s will.

        Like

      145. FromOverHere,

        “….get used to the idea that Calvinists are going to say, ‘but it doesn’t really mean that.’”

        Yes, thanks to our Calvinist brothers, the Bible has become nothing but a public relations disaster.

        Liked by 1 person

      146. Phillip writes, “thanks to our Calvinist brothers, the Bible has become nothing but a public relations disaster.”

        People don’t like the conclusion that Calvinists draw from the Scriptures, but you don’t see anyone offering alternatives (except some, like Brian, who have figured out that it is necessary to deny basic doctrines to avoid the Calvinsit conclusions). The Bible is a public relations disaster to the reprobate. Did you see Bernie Sanders grilling a believer about Muslims standing condemned before God?

        Like

      147. Brian,

        “And Roger avoids also the problem his so-called all compassing divine decree faces in also being behind Lucifer’s fall… and Lucifer was not tempted from an evil outside source!”

        Jude 1:6 (NKJV)…..
        And the angels *who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode*, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day

        Thanks to Calvinism, now we know better. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      148. phillip writes, “Jude 1:6 (NKJV)…..
        And the angels *who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode*, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day
        Thanks to Calvinism, now we know better.”

        Not really. This is about all that the Scriptures say on this point.

        Like

  10. Wonderful article Brian!!!

    Calvinists use the term “free will” with the same linguistic strategy Kellogg’s uses the term “sugar free” 😉

    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s