45 thoughts on “Theodicy: Two Approaches but which one is right?

  1. I really appreciated, Leighton, your sharing of all those clips of opinions on Theodicy by major influential apologists and theologians. As you know, I believe omniscience must be redefined in what I think are more biblical terms. There is no indication in Scripture from my perspective that God’s knowledge of the future is other than as it logically is as revealed in Scripture, which is a future that is only partially determined and also is still partially undetermined.

    To have God’s omniscience include a fully set future forever that is immutable, logically requires the creation of that knowledge of a set future forever. Only God could create the knowledge in His mind of an everlasting immutable future… though I don’t believe He has, like the Calvinist believes He has (in fact the Calvinist has a hard time explaining how something like their “foreknowledge” that is eternal and immutable comes into existence and is not already a necessary part of God’s nature). The Arminianian and Molinist somehow have God looking at scenarios of completed futures in His mind that He didn’t fully create but somehow manipulates with His own choices, but by the “time” creation rolls around it is an immutably set future forever in His mind.

    No decision of the human will after creation begins is going to change how the future plays out as already fixed in God’s mind according to Calvinism, Arminianism or Molinism!

    But I believe that only a partially determined future with a multitude of known free possibilities that might or might not come into existence is the best way to describe God’s omniscience, and to have an understanding of God’s freewill relationship of love with mankind, and to affirm a non-contradictory theodicy that vouchsafes the meaning of permissive divine will, contrary to the pre-creation predeterminism of Calvinism, Arminianism and Molinism.

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  2. Leighton:

    Thanks. Well laid out and enlightening.

    Most of the people I have seen over the last 30 years being drawn into the YRR wave have NO idea that their road will lead from the “God permits” column to the “God predetermines” column. They start their new trek into determinism via the Calvinist’s “give God all the glory” door, or the “dead men don’t make choices” door….or the threatening, “You look like you have a man-centered Gospel” door.

    They quickly buy Sproul and Piper books and join monergism blogs. (hard core for John Owen and van Til—anyone wanna buy mine?)

    They are mostly appalled if anyone springs the “God predetermines evil” idea on them too early in their development. “No way!” they say.

    But ….very often…..they stay in the camp long enough, and enough cage-Calvinists get in their grill (via blogs, social media, email, and face-to-face shaming) that they eventually grow that beard and attribute all evil to God (albeit in a very obfuscated, roundabout way, trying in their own sweet way to get God “off the hook”).

    But….so many of my colleagues overseas (new to Calvinism, after 20-30 years contentedly living without it) slip so easily back in to using the “God permits” word. If called on it…they stammer ….and of course just pick up the conversation at the easy place “God is sovereign!”

    They know (but dislike) that the huge horse-pill-sized doctrine that God predetermines evil must be swallowed if they are to stick true to “pure doctrine”.

    They offer no push back, since the wave is so strong.

    Swallow they must…..

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  3. It appear that the MASSIVE doctrine (that God indeed ordains, conceives of, micro-manages, and brings about all evil) is based repeatedly on …

    –the proverb of rolling the dice in the lap
    –God bringing about the cross (Acts 4)
    –Joseph in Gen 50:20, that God intended it for good.
    –((there are a couple others poetic places like “if calamity comes on a city is not God behind it?”))

    I found myself promoting the strong idea of God as the origin of evil based on these very…..hummm… not clear verses. And I found myself asking….if everything that happens is God’s will then my adulterous friend (many women, many years) was actually acting for God’s glory!!

    So what’s that point of anything at that point?

    Of course preaching this bizarre doctrine on the street (street preaching leads to many types of conversations) gives way to many people responding, “Your God is claiming to be both Love and the origin of all evil….I want no part of it!”

    And after a day of “presenting the Gospel” in that fashion, the “pure-doctrine-based” Calvinist tells himself and his buddies “Indeed, the preaching of the Gospel is foolishness to the perishing…”

    Anything is foolishness if we make it foolish.

    Oh how I pray that we can right this ship!

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  4. Wonderful presentation!!!!
    Very Awesome!!!

    I took a ton of notes. I recognized so many things that the non-Calvinist can discern about Calvinism from the very duplicitous language tactics Calvinists hide behind – and many of them clearly shown in this this presentation.

    Sincere thanks Dr. Flowers :-]

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  5. CALVINISM’S DUPLICITOUS LANGUAGE – A TELL-TALE INDICATOR

    Language is an excellent barometer for the Christian who exercises discernment in understanding it. When we learn to recognize the subtitles within a person or a group’s language, we learn to discern what is going on inside that person or group’s psychology.

    Dr. John Schafer served for a number of decades, as one of the FBI’s leading specialists, in its National Security Behavioral Analysis Program. Dr. Schafer specializes in discerning indicators within a person’s language which reveal that person’s psychology, especially when misleading language is used to hide facts the person doesn’t want you to see. Facts the person may be hiding from himself!

    In 1st Corinthians 14:7-9 Paul instructs the church on the Godly use of language.

    If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give DISTINCT NOTES, how will anyone know what is being played? Likewise, if the bugle gives an INDISTINCT SOUND, who will clearly understand, to get ready for battle? So with yourselves, if with your tongue you deploy language that is INDISTINCT, how will anyone know and clearly understand what is said?

    Why would a group that claims to be bible based consistently use misleading language? Why would that group mentor its believers in the use of misleading language? The answer is obvious – the group seeks to hide certain aspects of its doctrine – more than likely for recruitment/marketing urgencies. The group’s language produces key indicators of the strategies which the group’s leaders use to manage cognitive dissonance.

    There is a good introductory article: Cults, Language, and the Bible – how cults use language.

    http://www.marketfaith.org/2017/01/cults-language-and-the-bible-part-1-how-cults-distort-language/

    1) The group redefines words and terms commonly used within Christian language.
    2) The group manipulates logical language usage.
    3) The group has its own vocabulary (experts call this “insider language”).
    4) The group’s language is noted for its double-speak or containing obscurantism.

    I highly recommend the Non-Calvinist review the principles related in this article to aid in understanding Calvinism’s use of language. By discerning these aspects of Calvinist language, we can discern things about the Calvinist, that he cannot allow himself to discern.

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  6. Excellent! Keep up the good work (GOD’S WORK)! Thanks Leighton for all you are doing. It helps greatly to open up the discussion on these issues that are so important to image of God we present to others (believers and unbelievers alike). Some believe that unbelievers cannot receive or grasp anything spiritual. If they hear about a god who ordains/ brings about all evil, are we going to say they won’t get it. They will and when they do , will it draw them to God? …or will it incline them to more sin? What will their reaction be to a God who brings about their sin and then condemns them for it?

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  7. I believe the entire debate comes down to one’s view of God, the Father. He is, after all, the One who is said to be omniscient. As a matter of fact, the Father is the Holy Spirit who knows ALL truth and because He does, His personality is the summation of all things that are truly good and holy. And because He knows all truth, He knows everything about eternity, too.

    Now in order to see how this works, we see that God reveals, from His soul, His Spirit (procession) — His mind, emotions, and will — first to His Son, the “Angel of the Lord” who, indwelt by the Spirit, came down to earth to create “all things” (Jn 1:3). Then, in the course of time, the Angel of the Lord spoke Jesus into existence when He spoke to Mary and the Spirit overshadowed her. In so doing, His Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

    So now we see the Trinity — God the Father, the Angel/Spirit of the Lord, and the Spirit-Indwell Son .. including born again believers who are also sons and “the Word made flesh” via the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    In this you can also see subnumeration or subordination of the Members of the Trinity according to how much truth of the Father that is revealed and believed. So the one “essence” of God is the Holy Spirit. And as soon as we are saved, our soul is in heaven IN the Father and Son and the Father and Son are IN us, Jn 17:21-23.

    But here’s the point that applies here: The Father knows/foreknows/whatever everything because it is True. The Son is the omnipotent One of the trinity and the Holy Spirit is the omnipresent One until, in the New Earth, there is no unholy spirit anywhere — which is the kingdom of God.

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  8. Dr. Flowers points to Christians whose language is “uni-vocal” in its representation of a libertarian form of freewill.
    Dr. Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, etc.

    He points to two Calvinists, who are, in his estimation, much more “uni-vocal” (i.e., parallel with Calvin) in their representation of theological determinism.

    He also points to Calvinists whose language is “equivocal” – bouncing back and forth between terminology the recipient would interpret as “libertarian” in nature one minute and then “deterministic” in nature the next. Or the language of obscurantism designed to play both sides.

    Ex-Calvinist Daniel Gracely, in his book “Calvinism a Closer look” describes the phenomena of Calvinist’s “equivocal” language, calling it the “Calvinist’s rocking horse”. Gracely writes that Calvinists do this rocking motion (in their language tactics) from one extreme to the other as a strategy to minimize cognitive dissonance. In order to affirm Calvinistic sovereignty, they rock (in their language) as far as they can to glory in conceptions of unlimited divine prowess. But when they get there, the logical consequences (i.e. author of evil) come upon the mind. In order to remove the specter, they therefore rock in the reverse direction. And this is where we hear them deploying the language of the libertarian – the very system they would, at any other time, declare heretical, they are now using as camouflage.

    I watched Mr. Piper’s video clip very carefully. If you review it again, you will notice a point where he reveals his own struggles with cognitive dissonance brought about by conceptions of a deity who treats people as nothing more than assets, whom he -quoting Jonathon Edwards “DISPOSES OF according to his good pleasures”.

    Even though it is true, Mr. Piper doesn’t “overtly” betray Calvin by hiding behind the camouflage of libertarian language, like R.C. Sproul and Macarthur do, I still saw areas in Mr. Pipers language which were clearly equivocal. And even Jame’s White’s appeal to sin having a purpose is his way of camouflaging the problem, to minimize the specter.

    Review their videos again and you will see tell-tale signs – indicators – in all of the language of all of these Calvinists that displays their hidden love-hate relationship with the god their theology forces upon them. Not an envious position for any Christian to be in!

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  9. As to sovereignty .. you either have to believe total sovereignty with the “escape clause” permissive will OR ultimate sovereignty and free will. Ultimate sovereignty is alluded to time and again in Scripture. It is the notion that whatever free moral agents (men) do, God determines the ultimate outcome.

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    1. Perhaps I’m not understanding what you mean but I look at the universe as sample of divine control.

      I don’t see scripture depicting god as micro managing every aspect of the earths movement as it orbits around the sun.

      A child can wind up a top on the living room floor, get up, and get a sip of milk, and a bite of cookie, and then come back and find the top is still spinning. If a child can do that, why can’t god? Why can’t god establish the 3 primary laws of the universe (gravitational force, motive force, and centrifugal force) and have those 3 laws govern the movements of every object in space? Why can’t god similarly create spiritual laws which govern the limitations and liberties of sentient created beings? Why does the scripture depict demon spirits as having to “tempt” or “seduce” human beings if god is controlling creatures so that every neurological impulse is predetermined?

      I agree with William Lane Craig, who states Calvinism’s concept of divine control is a charade – where god moves creatures around like toy soldiers, and then blames them for being in the arrangement in which he arranged them.

      I suspect the concept of a deity that has to have his hand in the movement of every atomic particle is of pagan origins, and is the byproduct of fallen man who himself lusts after total/absolute power – and unwittingly projects his own lust for power onto his image of god.

      Blessings!

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  10. The use of the term, permit, is unfortunate since it seems to be easily misunderstood. The Calvinist never uses the term, permit, in the passive sense of God being just an observer of events and never involved in events. To the Calvinist, God is an active participant in every event – and necessarily must be involved because He is sovereign – and God is the final arbiter of every event that happens. God always has the ability to intervene to prevent anything that happens and must specifically decide not to do so, especially for evil events.

    Let’s take the case of the heinous rape and murder of a child. We know that God is present during all phases of the rape/murder from the time the thought entered the mind of the perpetrator until the very end. God observed every intimate detail of the rape/murder. At any time, God could intervene to stop the rape/murder. God cannot be passive in this event. Necessarily, God must decide at every second that He will not intervene to stop the rape/murder and must specifically grant the rapist freedom to continue his heinous act.

    We cannot forget God’s control of events that can produce an evil outcome. The death of Christ is an example. In the garden, it was God who planted the tree of knowledge and then declared that Adam/Eve was not to eat from it. God then removed His protection over Adam/Eve and granted Satan freedom to enter the garden to wreck havoc. God observed all the action, but specifically chose not to intervene to help Adam/Eve – for Brian’s benefit, all this was known to God in eternity past and played out according to His omniscience. The natural result of God’s actions was the sin of Adam, but this was known to God as He had already addressed the issue by ordaining the death of Christ on the cross. In all that happened, we can say that Adam and Eve acted with free will without help from God when they started down the wrong path.

    Does anyone have a different opinion on these things?

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    1. rhutchin writes:
      ” In all that happened, we can say that Adam and Eve acted with free will without help from God when they started down the wrong path.”

      -quote: “Adam fell by the secret predestination of God…..we must always at last return to the SOLE DECISION OF GOD” – john calvin

      -quote: “If such a barren invention is accepted [that Adam’s sin was not specifically arranged by god], where will be the omnipotence of God be whereby he regulates all things according to his secret plan, which depends solely upon itself?” – john calvin

      -quote: “God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his descendants, but also meted it out in accordance with his [God’s] own decision. ” – john calvin

      -quote: “it is not in itself likely that man brought destruction upon himself through himself, by God’s mere permission” – john calvin

      -quote: “the first man fell because the Lord had judged it to be expedient” – john calvin

      -quote:
      “GOD NOT ONLY FORESAW THE FALL OF THE FIRST MAN……BUT ALSO AT HIS PLEASURE ARRANGED IT.” – John Calvin

      Equivocation on the term “permission”
      In logic, equivocation is an informal fallacy where a word or term is framed within statements to STRATEGICALLY INTRODUCE MULTIPLE INTERPRETATIONS, designed to lead recipients to false conclusions. Equivocation in this sense is a form of dishonesty.

      Online Etymology Dictionary. – “Permit”:
      Originates from Middle French “permetre” and directly from Latin “permittere”.
      To let pass, to let go, to let loose; or to give up, or to hand over; or to let, allow, or grant

      Example 1: AT HIS PLEASURE THE MAN ARRANGED for his wife to fall from a cliff giving her PERMISSION to fall to her death.
      Example 2: Calvin’s deity AT HIS PLEASURE ARRANGED FOR ADAM’S FALL giving him PERMISSION to fall to his spiritual death.

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      1. “-quote: “GOD NOT ONLY FORESAW THE FALL OF THE FIRST MAN……BUT ALSO AT HIS PLEASURE ARRANGED IT.” – John Calvin”

        br.d does not disagree with Calvin on this point as it is agreed that it was God who planted the tree of knowledge, commanded that Adam not eat from the tree, and then decreed Satan be given freedom to enter the garden to test Adam/Eve knowing that Adam would certainly fall without His help to prevent that outcome. All things were created by God for Him to use as He pleased (or according as He willed).

        Then, “Example 2: Calvin’s deity AT HIS PLEASURE ARRANGED FOR ADAM’S FALL giving him PERMISSION to fall to his spiritual death.”

        God gives Adam permission to eat the fruit by granting him freedom to do so. Thus, this should read, “Calvin’s deity AT HIS PLEASURE ARRANGED FOR ADAM’S FALL granting Adam freedom to eat the fruit and thereby to fall to his spiritual death.” Adam enjoyed the freedom to choose to eat the fruit as God neither compelled him to eat the fruit nor prevented him doing so. Yet, in giving Satan access to the garden, Adam’s fate was sealed. br.d does not raise an objection but helps to tease out the full meaning of the events in the garden

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      2. rhutchin writes:
        “br.d does not disagree with Calvin on this point”

        This is a consistent dishonest tactic with rhutchin, always imagining himself the ability re-define what everyone else means/believes in what they say/write. Conveniently it always turns out what they mean/believe is whatever argument he imagines will serve him at a given moment. Typical Calvinist dishonesty.

        One might would just as well agree with an angel of light then to agree with the reformed-cult super-apostle – john calvin.

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      3. br.d writes, “Typical Calvinist dishonesty.”

        Even now, br.d is unable to explain whatever disagreement it is that he has with Calvin. Non-Calvinist have a general antipathy towards Calvin (and Calvinism) but on specific concepts, they always seem to agree with Calvin.

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      4. rhutchin writes:
        “Even now, br.d is unable to explain whatever disagreement it is that he has with Calvin”

        Been there done that.
        But of course you’ve shown yourself unable to acknowledge anything in disagreement with Calvinism, whether Ravi zacharias, William Lane Craig, Dr. Alvin Plantinga, or Peter Van Inwagen.

        Steven Hassan – expert on religious cults calls this “thought-blocking”.

        If you can’t acknowledge William Lane Craig’s disagreement with Calvin – quote “I am convinced Calvinism makes God the author of evil”.
        then an explanation from me is simply casting Perls.

        For the SOT101 reader – see Dr. Craig’s 5 reasons Calvinism should be rejected:
        http://www.reasonablefaith.org/molinism-vs-calvinism

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      5. br.d writes, “Been there done that.”

        Unfortunately, not. But, on the off chance that you have, a simple repetition of your argument would prove your claim.

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      6. No need in making requests you have no intention of responding to with honesty.
        Go read William Lane Craig again if your mind is open.

        But we already know your response. 🙂
        Jesus instructs his disciple not to cast perls where their guaranteed to be trampled on.

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      7. rhutchin writes:
        Calvin’s deity AT HIS PLEASURE ARRANGED FOR ADAM’S FALL granting Adam freedom to eat the fruit and thereby to fall to his spiritual death.”

        Yes, but not in such a way that God granted Adam the freedom to choose other what god predetermined him to choose.

        A foundational proposition in Calvinism is that everything that “comes to pass” does so because god in eternity past:
        1) First conceived it: – causing it to be conceived
        2) Decreed it: Causing it to be decreed to come to pass WHERE NO ALTERNATIVE IS POSSIBLE to come to pass
        3) Rendered it certain: Cause it to be “rendered certain” by himself.

        In Calvinism if god doesn’t decree an event come to pass, then that event cannot exist.
        It follows, in Calvinism the possibility of Adam not eating the fruit, is equivalent to Adam walking through a door that doesn’t exist.
        So yes, Calvinists can speak double-speak word games like:
        “God granted Adam the freedom to make the only choice, and perform the only action that god granted to exist”

        Here the Calvinist equivocates on the word “freedom” framing it in a way to facilitate multiple interpretations in order to mislead the recipient. Eventually everyone will be alert to Calvinist’s double-speak and Calvinist word trickery. 😉

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      8. br.d writes, “Yes, but not in such a way that God granted Adam the freedom to choose other what god predetermined him to choose.”

        Libertarian free will does not require that people have an equal desire to choose otherwise. One may love A and hate ~A to such a degree that they always choose A, but the otherwise option, ~A is still available. Adam had the choice to eat the fruit or not eat the fruit. Satan did not deceive Adam as he did Eve. God did not force Adam to eat the fruit. There is nothing in the Genesis account to suggest that Adam was prevented from eating the fruit. That God determined the outcome reflects Adam’s weakness and God’s decree not to intervene to help Adam in his weakness. br.d, in general, does not like the idea that God determines all things, but when it comes to specifics, there is nothing with which he disagrees.

        Then, “A foundational proposition in Calvinism is that everything that “comes to pass” does so because god in eternity past:
        1) First conceived it: – causing it to be conceived
        2) Decreed it: Causing it to be decreed to come to pass WHERE NO ALTERNATIVE IS POSSIBLE to come to pass
        3) Rendered it certain: Cause it to be “rendered certain” by himself.”

        So we have three general claims about Calvinism. Nontheless, we can add the following information.
        1. God is omniscient so naturally God knows all things and quite rightly can, and has, conceived all things even those things He does not decree.
        2. God is sovereign and all things are under His control. God, as sovereign, is the final arbiter of all things and nothing can come to pass except by His decree.
        3. All things are rendered certain by God who personally brings some events to pass (e.g., the flood of Noah, the impregnation of Mary) or decrees that natural events play out naturally, (e.g., the murder of Abel by Cain, the stoning of Stephan by the Jews).

        So, we find br.d identifying three things that generally seem to upset him, but he cannot explain,how it could be otherwise, unless, he is willing to deny that God is sovereign. So he understands that these things must be true even though he does not like it.

        Then, “In Calvinism if god doesn’t decree an event come to pass, then that event cannot exist.”

        Perhaps, br.d could provide an example of an event that could come to pass without God decreeing it to happen.

        Then, “It follows, in Calvinism the possibility of Adam not eating the fruit, is equivalent to Adam walking through a door that doesn’t exist.”

        From God’s perspective, there is no possibility of Him being wrong. God knows what Adam will do, so Adam will do it. From Adam’s perspective, he has the otherwise choice to not eat the fruit. Adam is not forced to eat the fruit and contends only with himself in deciding what to do. br.d will not deny that such is true.

        Then, “So yes, Calvinists can speak double-speak word games like:
        “God granted Adam the freedom to make the only choice, and perform the only action that god granted to exist””

        br.d calls this double-speak because he does not like this conclusion. Yet, even br.d must admit to the truth of this. Perhaps br.d would explain how it could be otherwise – I don’t think he can. Maybe someone else could help him.

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      9. rhutchin writes:
        “br.d calls this double-speak because he does not like this conclusion. Yet, even br.d must admit to the truth of this. Perhaps br.d would explain how it could be otherwise – I don’t think he can. Maybe someone else could help him.”

        Again rhutchin assumes to speak for everyone assuming himself to have the power of mental telepathy.

        br.d calls Calvinism’s double-speak double-speak because it is double-speak.
        And br.d is not required to “must admit” to any Calvinist double-speak.

        Everyone at SOT101 can clearly see all you have to work with – are dishonest word tricks and dishonest tactics rhutchin!
        Thanks for maintaining the consistent example! 😉

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      10. br.d writes, “Again rhutchin assumes to speak for everyone assuming himself to have the power of mental telepathy.”

        It is not mental telepathy on my part but the silence of the non-Calvinists in identifying an alternative to Calvinism to explain the problem of evil (which is not a problem but only a distortion of the Scriptures devised by atheists to make fools of believers who fall for it). br.d serves as an example.

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      11. rhutchin writes
        “Adam is not forced to eat the fruit ”

        In the end, after all the word trickery is discovered in your language, this is really all you have left.

        So now its god doesn’t FORCE Adam to sin.
        Sorry John Calvin says -quote “they [the creatures] are FORCED to do him service”

        Word games – language tricks – and shifting semantic weights.
        That’s all the Calvinist really has.

        However br.d does feel pity for the poor Calvinist who is mentored in Calvinism’s dishonest language.

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      12. br.d writes, “So now its god doesn’t FORCE Adam to sin.
        Sorry John Calvin says -quote “they [the creatures] are FORCED to do him service””

        Two different contexts. When Calvin says that God’s creatures are forced to do Him serve, he has in mind God’s use of Assyria and the Babylonians to judge Israel and Judah – then there is Balaam. Evil people seek their own will and end up doing God’s will. Yet God does not force evil people to do His will but constrains them in their evil pursuits to do His will. Who besides br.d does not understand this?

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      13. When Calvin says [insert statement here]…….what he has in mind is [insert current argument here].
        More mental telepathy I assume 😉

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  11. Dr. Flowers presents two ways to explain why their is evil in the world: (1) Free Will Theodicy and (2) Sovereign Decree Theodicy. In comparing the two, Dr. Flowers conflates them. One looks at evil from the perspective of man who commits evil and the other from the perspective of God who does not prevent evil. The Free Will Theodicy is actually Sovereign Decree light. Under both the free will and sovereign decree thodicies, we find man to be the central figure in committing evil and this by virtue of the freedom God grants him to pursue evil. Dr. Flowers enhances this by saying that people have the ability to make free moral choices, whether for good or bad, whereas Calvinists say that man can only sin and this because of the spiritual death incurred consequent to Adam’s sin and lack of faith. Nonetheless, both free will theodicy and sovereign decree theodicy have man as the instrument of evil and freely and willfully pursuing evil. The sovereign decree theodicy addresses God’s role in evil while the free will theodicy does not (not that I am aware). So, Dr. Flowers argues a false comparison in conflating the two as if they are addressing the same problems created by the existence of evil in the world. Dr. Flowers complains that the Calvinists have stolen the language of free will from the free willers when the free willers have stripped the sovereign decree theodicy of God’s role leaving only man’s role and present it as if they have discovered something new.

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    1. I was very impressed with Dr. Flowers article on how Calvinists use language tricks in attempts to hide Calvinism’s specter of good-evil, unholy-holiness, dualism – and how Calvinists knowing they make god the “author of evil” – attempt to hide the specter behind a camouflage language – ironically the very libertarian language they call heresy one minute, they will hide behind the other.

      Dr. Flowers example of how he posted a quote from John F. MacArthur which another Calvinist then attacked – was a beautiful and wonderful example of how deceivers are ensnared in their devices. I LOVED IT! 🙂

      The wicked are ensnared by the works of their own hands Psalm 9:16

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  12. At the 34:45 mark in Dr. Flowers’ presentation, he uses the example of a bully to try to make a point – I think he fails miserably. Here, he argues that there is a difference between (1) hiring a bully to harass your children and (2) permitting a known bully to harass your children. Because God is sovereign, God is involved in both sides of this equation and Dr. Flowers seems incapable of grasping this.

    Let’s take an example from Scripture. In the garden of Eden, God hires a bully – Satan – to go into the garden to wreck havoc on Adam/Eve. Satan already wants to do this (he is, after all, a bully) but God restrains him from doing so. So, in hiring Satan, God removes His restraints thereby giving Satan freedom to enter the garden and be the bully he is. So, Dr. Flowers’ two distinctions above amount to the same thing – to hire the bully is to permit the bully. In addition, God knows that Adam/Eve are vulnerable to Satan and God specifically removes His protection over Adam/Eve leaving them completely vulnerable. Even we know the outcome of that – Eve is easily tempted to eat the fruit and Adam, even though not being tempted, freely chooses to eat the fruit from the hand of Eve. Thus, God both hired the bully and gave the bully free access (He permitted) to bully by leaving Adam/Eve unprotected and vulnerable.

    Dr. Flowers opines, but does not argue, that there is a real difference between the above actions – hiring and permitting. I don’t see it and I don’t think Dr. Flowers can sustain his opinion with a logical argument. He should drop the bully example as it doesn’t help his argument – which is conflated to begin with.

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    1. “…Adam, even though not being tempted, freely chooses to eat the fruit…” Roger has recognized a great Scriptural example of a choice that could not have be predetermined. God thus knew perfectly up to that point of free choice – “Adam might eat of the fruit” and “Adam might not eat of the fruit.” But God did not eternally immutably know – “Adam will eat of the fruit” – if it truly was a free choice about to be made.

      God certainly also knew perfectly all the thoughts and feelings of Adam moment by moment up until that decision (and all the thoughts and feelings Adam could have had but didn’t). God knew, though influential, for freewill, none of them individually or in combination were deterministic in the choice, but that the freewill itself would be the efficient cause. Adam, himself, would later “blame” God and Eve as the causes for his sin… but he knew he had freely made the choice! “By one man sin entered into the world.”

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      1. brianwagner writes, “…a great Scriptural example of a choice that could not have be predetermined.”

        Why not? Even where God knows the future perfectly, and that future is determined, a perosn freely chooses. The issue here is the definition of “freely chooses.” To “freely choose” necessitates that a person make a decision consistent with his wants and desires and not be impelled in one direction or another by anything other than himself. Where the wants and desires have been determined by God (God does not remove impure wants and desires from the will of a person nor does God mollify the strength of these wants and desires that drive a person to action), the person freely chooses. Jesus told us, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” The depraved person can not do otherwise than act on his depraved wants and desires – yet, he does so freely.

        Then, “But God did not eternally immutably know – “Adam will eat of the fruit” – if it truly was a free choice about to be made.”

        Even though God immutably knew all that Adam would do, Adam still acted freely. That the act was determined did not have any influence on Adam (who was unaware of it) nor did it force Adam to act as he did. God had determined all the circumstances surrounding Adam when he was handed the fruit by Eve and nothing directed Adam to eat except his own wants and desires. If not, then someone must be able to show how God’s immutable determination of the end result – Adam eating the fruit – was the cause of Adam eating the fruit.

        Then, “God knew, though influential, for freewill, none of them individually or in combination were deterministic in the choice, but that the freewill itself would be the efficient cause.”

        That the will is the efficient cause does not deny that there were deterministic influences on the will affecting the final decision. An influence is deterministic else it is not an influence. Here, we have the notion that the will can shed itself of all influences acting on it and make a decision as if one is a blank slate, It doesn’t happen that way. People are influenced by many things and those influences affect the decision a person makes as the will sorts through all those influences in seeking a decision consistent with its wants and desires.

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      2. Roger says – “An influence is deterministic else it is not an influence” – and – “the wants and desires have been determined by God” – but Roger still wants to call Adam’s decision a freewill one! Very funny!

        Influences are not deterministic when the will is free or the will is not free! “Free” does not mean free from influence, it means free from being determined by any one or any combination of influences.

        Then he said – “God does not remove impure wants and desires from the will of a person nor does God mollify the strength of these wants and desires that drive a person to action, the person freely chooses.” There is so much wrong with that statement, it makes me feel that Roger really has hardened himself against the clear teaching of Scripture concerning what really happens in regeneration and even before it! The last four words he did get correct!

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      3. brianwagner writes, ““Free” does not mean free from influence, it means free from being determined by any one or any combination of influences. ”

        Dr. Flowers says that free will is the ability to choose otherwise. He has said (or someone else) that influences on a person do not have to be equal thereby allowing stronger influences to coexist with weaker ones. The ability to choose otherwise may involve a much stronger influence competing with a much weaker influence. We should not be surprised that the stronger influence prevails because it presents the rationally stronger case.

        If something is an influence, then it should influence – necessarily, the stronger influence will exert itself over weaker influences in the final decision – for that reason, it is possible to identify the influence that led to the final decision or the influence that prevailed over the will to decide in its favor and this can be seen in the choice that is made. If the will chooses counter to all influences, then on what basis does it make a decision? It doesn’t thus maintaining the status quo – and this tells us that no influence for change could overcome the influence to do nothing. Influences tell us that people do not make decisions spontaneously (as an atheists might insist) but have a purpose or motive for choosing and that purpose/motive can always be traced back to an influence. If one wants to make decisions that are free of influence, then one can flip a coin or use a method that selects randomly among options. Jonathan Edwards covered this in excruciating detail in his paper on free will, and I am not aware of anyone showing that he missed it.

        Then, “There is so much wrong with that statement,…”

        Yet, no attempt is made to explain what is wrong – not even a tiny morsel. Where is Teacher Wagner when you need him – probably on vacation.

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      4. Influences are weighed, but the choice is made freely! A weight can be given to each influence after the choice is made… God knows those influences. But the culpability is with the free will. Adam had no deception influencing his choice. His reasoning was his and he freely chose to weigh the influences freely… but in the end there is an element of faith in each choice, because of the unknown… and Adam chose not to trust God in His choice.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “Influences are weighed, but the choice is made freely!…[Adam’s] reasoning was his and he freely chose to weigh the influences freely…”

        This is no more than your opinion. The problem is that influences can affect the extent to which one is free to choose. Two significant influences on free will are lack of information and lack of understanding of that which is known. Jesus said that truth sets a person free and this affects one’s freedom of will. Throw in a corrupt nature – the flesh – and one is limited as Paul explains in Galatians 5, “the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,…” It is only the presence of the Spirit indwelling a person together with faith that overcomes the flesh. To conclude that all influences are simply weighed by the will and that they cannot materially affect the freedom of the will to act speaks of some ignorance of the Scriptures. 1 John 5 tells us, “whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.” Thus, the person not born again and lacking faith simply cannot overcome the world. Still such people exercise “free” will. Luther concluded that fee will was a lie – certainly, little effort has been expended by those who advocate free will to explain what they mean by “free” or to counter Luther’s argument. Usually, you see something like, “free will is the ability to choose otherwise,” which pretty much says nothing.

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      6. Influences can limit the freedom of the will, yes… but not extinguish it. Opportunity is also necessary… or the choice doesn’t exist no matter how much the will is free. But the Spirit provides everyone with that opportunity and enablement (John 1:9, Rom 1, 2) for the will to decide to seek or harden before regeneration takes place. That is the clear teaching of the Word. It’s not opinion. One can draw from verses about faith exercised after regeneration, and the results from it, but they do not counter the clear verses that teach – Light then Faith then Life… and Salvation by Grace Through Faith… which means faith is exercised before salvation grace can be given THROUGH it. To disassociate regeneration from salvation and to teach it as somehow before salvation is harmful doctrine!

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      7. brianwagner writes, “Influences can limit the freedom of the will, yes… but not extinguish it. ”

        That’s not even an issue. The Calvinists say a person has free will so long as he is not coerced by outside forces – it allows for outside forces to determine one’s choice (e.g., a person setting out to rob a bank changes his mind when he sees the police car sitting outside the bank). That one is not coerced to choose means that he can choose otherwise. So, the task for the free-willer is to demonstrate that there is a free will that exceeds the Calvinist definition.

        Then, “Opportunity is also necessary… or the choice doesn’t exist no matter how much the will is free.”

        So what!! This is where information comes into play. The person who has greater information has a greater level of freedom in options available but exercises no greater freedom than those who know a limited number of options. One person can choose whether to have a hamburger at McDonalds and goes hungry if he decides not to eat it. Another person may know of McDonalds, BK, Wendy’s, etc. and does not necessarily go hungry if he nixes on McDonalds. However, the person who doesn’t know about any of those places still has the same freedom of will – just not the same opportunity to exercise it or the same opportunity to satisfy his hunger. All people have an equal free will veen if they do not have the opportunities to exercise that free will.

        Then, “But the Spirit provides everyone with that opportunity and enablement (John 1:9, Rom 1, 2) for the will to decide to seek or harden before regeneration takes place.”

        Opportunity, Yes, but enablement??. The issue is whether a depraved nature so influences – and determines – the will so that all reject the opportunity to seek. John 3 says, “this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.” Romans 1, says, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” These verses, if consistent with all other Scripture, say, Yes to opportunity but no to enablement.

        Then, “they do not counter the clear verses that teach – Light then Faith then Life… and Salvation by Grace Through Faith… which means faith is exercised before salvation grace can be given THROUGH it.”

        I don’t see why that is the case. Their is nothing wrong with a process that has – Light then regeneration/being made alive then Faith. Most people agree that a depraved person cannot choose salvation without faith. The question is whether a depraved person who is dead in sin can exercise faith without regeneration.

        Then, “To disassociate regeneration from salvation and to teach it as somehow before salvation is harmful doctrine!”

        Not sure what you mean here. Salvation is a process that has several steps – at the least, a person must receive faith and then must exercise faith to believe. The discussion here is where regeneration would fit in the process through which salvation comes to a person.

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      8. You’ve confirmed in your last line, Roger, your disconnection of regeneration from salvation by placing it before it….

        We will just have to disagree on the meaning of freewill. With no opportunity of choice there is no freedom of choice. But you affirm the opportunity but say there is no ability to choose to seek to fulfill that opportunity. That doesn’t sound like the will is free in that choice to me.

        Rom 1 and 2 do say everyone is given light by God directly through creation and conscience. It does not say everyone suppresses the truth given, as 2:4 clearly confirms. They are free to follow His lead before being given everlasting life! Praise His Name.

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      9. brianwagner writes, “We will just have to disagree on the meaning of freewill. With no opportunity of choice there is no freedom of choice.”

        You have made a distinction between freewill and freedom of choice. A free will exists even in the absence of choices. Opportunities provide for the free will to exercise its freedom (from coercion) and make a choice. If you mean to define free will as freedom of choice, then we do disagree – and I think because you fail to make a difference between a free will and the will’s freedom of choice.

        Then, “But you affirm the opportunity but say there is no ability to choose to seek to fulfill that opportunity. That doesn’t sound like the will is free in that choice to me.”

        The opportunities afforded one person can differ substantially from those afforded another. Someone in in the amazon forest has a set of opportunities that differs from someone in New York City. Yet, there is no difference in the freedom of will each is able to exercise in making choices within the constraints that their unique opportunities allow.

        Then, “Rom 1 and 2 do say everyone is given light by God directly through creation and conscience.”

        I agree – “God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.”

        Then, “It does not say everyone suppresses the truth given, as 2:4 clearly confirms. They are free to follow His lead before being given everlasting life!”

        The response to 2:4 is v5, “because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” The issue now is what distinguishes those in v7 from v8. One difference can be God’s regeneration – one hears the word and is made alive while the other does not hear the word or hears it and is not made alive.

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      10. We disagree Roger… regeneration is after God has led to repentance not before or during! The everlasting life is after the seeking in verse 7… but I know you don’t believe regeneration is the reception of everlasting life… it is some other kind of life before everlasting life and some other kind of birth before becoming a child of God. I will stick with the Scriptures, instead of the twisting of them by deterministic philosophy! Thanks for this thread. I will not respond more on this for now. 😉

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      11. Like William Lane Craig states “if someone outside ourself pre-determines everything we think and choose (as is the case in Calvinism) then our choice is simply not up to us.”

        The Calvinist can call that “freedom” for the sake of his theory. But he would exist in total cognitive dissonance if he tried to live that theory out in his daily doings and interactions with others.

        That is why Calvin instructs his disciple to -quote “go about one’s office AS IF nothing were determined in any part”.

        Thus the Calvinist has a theory he can’t live. That’s why we observe Calvinism as double-think.

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  13. At the 15:00 mark in the presentation is a good explanation by CS Lewis of the two wills of God. He uses the illustration of a mother but one can apply this to God. Since some people have a problem with God having two wills, this may help understand what is happening. It runs until the 16:20 mark. After that Lewis speculates as to why God gave people free will and this is less helpful simply because it is speculation.

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    1. Lewis speculates as to why God gave people free will.
      A and this is “less helpful” simply because it is speculation

      That would make Calvinism 99% LESS HELPFULL 😉

      More likely its “less helpful” because it doesn’t affirm the robotic freewill characteristic of determinism.

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