14 thoughts on “Romans 9 Debate REVISITED

    1. Fromoverhere hits it on the bulls-eye!

      Jesus watched MONEY-CHANGERS shifting weights on their scales to take advantage of unsuspecting customers.

      Today WORD CHANGERS do the very same thing.

      Calvinism is a whole lot of SHIFTING SEMANTIC WEIGHTS.

      Forewarned is forearmed – and Proverbs warns us that only the fool believes every word. :-]

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  1. Leighton mentions it the podcast that Total Depravity and Incapability was the whole philosophy of Calvinism.

    I just glanced at a new book that has been translated in the country where I serve. I went on line and found the English (original) text. Below is the preface of the book “Not By Sight” written by Jon Bloom (forward John Piper) of Desiring God.

    His short message illustrates the point that whereas they may theologize about Total Depravity….they preach like man can hear God’s voice and exercise faith.

    In the whole book it never talks about God limiting salvation (you only talk about that when you theologize—-not in books that retell 35 Bible stories!!). All 35 of his Bible stories are about how people need to exercise faith.

    The entire lesson and theme of the book is that every person needs to exercise faith.

    —————-

    A WORD TO THE READER

    WHAT DOES JESUS REALLY want from you? So much needs to be said. But boiled down to one sentence it’s this: “Believe in God; believe also in me” ( John 14:1). That’s why when the apostle John wrote his gospel, he used some form of the word “believe” eighty-five times in twenty-one chapters. What he remembered Jesus emphasizing in his teaching and preaching was believing.
    .
    Whether or not you believe in Jesus is the most important issue of your life because “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” ( John 3:36).

    You see, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb.11:6). But believing in Jesus is very difficult. It’s difficult because “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), and he works with all his might to blind “the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2Cor. 4:4). And he is constantly trying to lead believers astray (Matt.24:24).

    Because of this, it is crucial that followers of Jesus learn to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2Cor. 5:7). In other words, we must learn to trust God’s promises more than we trust our perceptions. This theme is woven through the Bible from beginning to end. The purpose of this little book is to imaginatively reflect on the real experiences of real people in the Bible in order to help you grasp and live what it means to “trust in the LORD with all your heart, and not lean on your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). Its goal is to help you believe in Jesus while living in a very confusing and painful world.Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” ( John 6:29). My prayer is that God will use this book to encourage you in the most important work you will ever do in your life.

    —————
    Notice that the book has not yet started and he is preaching like an Arminian!!

    Believe (85 times in John!!) Sounds like it’s possible!

    “Whoever believes and obeys the son” (notice not once here —nor anywhere in the book— does he say “Whoever actually means ‘all kinds of people.'”

    Without faith it is impossible to please God —–and Bloom even says we must seek Him —–sounds good! sounds possible!!!

    But believing is difficult……oh here it comes……the staunch Calvinist is gonna say it is difficult (impossible) unless God gives you faith!

    NO!!!!! He says it is difficult (not impossible) because of Satan!

    Satan has to blind the minds of unbelievers or else they would see! He is not giving any (ANY!) credit to God for revealing or giving faith. It is all about you vs Satan.

    Then he adds that Satan is constantly trying to lead believers astray! This guy is no Calvinist! Believers cant be led astray!!

    Then…it is crucial that we walk by faith. It sounds so personal, so doable. So human. Well, so man-centered.

    We must “learn” to trust God’s promises. He doesn’t give that faith to us?

    The goal of the book is to help us believe in Jesus. We need help? I thought we got that faith given to us??

    The most important work we will ever do is to believe in Jesus. Work?

    Wow! No wonder this publishing house in my country decided to translate this book—He sounds like an Arminian Nazarene!

    This kind of Theologize-like-a-anabaptist-drowning-Calvinist, but preach like Wesley illustrates to me that IT MAKES NO REAL DIFFERENCE to be a Calvinist.

    Bloom is so inconsistent with his theology ….and he hasnt even told one Bible story (all about about personal faith) yet!!

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  2. Sorry….that opening sentence should be

    Leighton mentions in the podcast that Total Depravity and Incapability are the whole foundation of Calvinism.

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    1. Jeff,
      White is a very intelligent capable debater. It is not in his intelligence and debating skills where we find the problem. The problem so often in any such debate is the presuppositions one brings to the table.

      Calvinists, and all of us, bring presuppositions to the Bible. The two main presuppositions that I think oblige the Calvinists to come to their deterministic conclusions are:
      (1) the definition of sovereignty must include for them that everything that happens is what God wants to happen. that for them is the definition of sovereignty as opposed to another definition that says He is Sovereign and anything that happens cannot shake His ability to achieve His desires outcomes.

      (2) Is the presupposition of the omniscience of God. Anyone who starts with the idea that God is outside of time and knows everything that will happen…. and His knowing that it will happen locks it into deterministic obligation, will by necessity be a determinist.

      Once you have this world view of what omniscience absolutely must mean then you have no choice but to say that God has determined all things simply by knowing them.

      If a person can get past either both of these two presuppositions and is willing to look at what sovereignty and omniscience might mean, then the scriptures can speak quite differently to that person. But if the person assumes that sovereignty means what Calvin says and omniscience means what Calvin says…., well then all the debating in the world will not make any difference as we can see with James White.

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      1. James White is a skilled debater. That is true. But skilled debaters usually have a line of stock phrases they use when they get flummoxed by their opponent. White says almost the same thing in every debate, “I still haven’t heard a consistent hermeneutic”, “Traditions of men”, “I’ve provided an exegesis of the text whereas my opponent has not”, use of his favorite bogeyman charge of “Pelagianism” or “Semi-Pelagianism”, straw-manning his opponent, etc etc. He’s a broken record. He is your consummate cut and paste proof-texter. Dave Hunt would not let White rabbit trail or put words in Hunt’s mouth and that drove White crazy in their debate because White loves to conflate a bunch of separate proof-texts instead of looking at each one separately to derive meaning in context. White is a bright orator who has his stock verses at hand. Unfortunately, Romans 9 doesn’t exist in a vacuum of Scripture.

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      2. I totally agree Jeff.

        I’ve always said “In all of protestant Christianity, Calvinism always wins the prize for being the most subtle beast in the field”

        This is evident by simply scrutinizing its language, and discovering where/how that language full of misleading trickery.

        I call it “shifting semantic weights”

        Thanks! :-]

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  3. Dr. Flowers distinguishes between hermenutics and exegesis. The two overlap in application, but the relevance in the debate is important. In context with the debate, exegesis deals with what Paul specifically says in Romans 9 (White’s opening argument) and hermeneutics deals with why Paul says these things (Dr. Flowers opening argument). So, we have White trying to nail down what Paul actually says in Romans 9 and Flowers trying to explain why Paul says what he does in Romans 9. From the start, each man is going in a different direction and the result is the confusion that White properly notes. This is why a first debate is largely unproductive and why this one was.

    I think White had the debate order correct – let’s figure out what Paul says first and then deal with why Paul says it. When White complained that Dr. Flowers did not exegete Romans 9, his complaint is that Dr. Flowers did not deal directly with what Paul said (although Dr. Flowers did this is a somewhat confusing manner). However, as Dr. Flowers explains, he purposely took an hermeneutical approach, which presumes the exegesis is settled, and sought to explain why Paul wrote Romans 9 – in doing so, he introduced side issues each of which would support their own debate, but the side issues broadly expanded the discussion away from Romans 9, i.e., you needed to resolve the side issues before applying them to Romans 9.

    Given the different approaches each man took, it would probably take several more debates to sort out the side issues and then get into an actual Romans 9 debate.

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  4. THEOLOGICAL DETERMINISM AND ARTIFICIAL-LIFE DETERMINISM:

    Artificial-life scientists when enunciating new robot capabilities are using interesting terms:

    Robots are soon expected to have the ability of “Autonomous Selection”.
    A robot is now being considered an, “Intrinsically Motivated Entity”
    And robot synapses now classified as “Deterministic Autonomous Probabilistic Neural Networks”.

    A number of computer and artificial-life scientists are raising concerns about capabilities they see arising in the near future. And closely following developments related to the prospect of weaponized robots, soon having the functional ability of “autonomous selection” with which they can engage and out-smart human targets, with lethal results.

    Computer and artificial life scientists place “Robotic Autonomous Selection” within the category of “Evolutionary Algorithms” which occur within a robot who will – by this functionality, be an “Intrinsically Motivated” entity. Robots may soon be outfitted with the ability to select goals to pursue, ascertain all available paths, and pursue the path which provides maximum achieve-ability.

    A precursor to robotic systems with such capabilities, was achieved in the 1980s with the Puma 560 robot, which performs neuro-surgical biopsies with a precision matched only by a trained surgeon. This success launched the development of a robot designed to perform transurethral resection of the prostate.

    The human brain is thought to perform ~ 10 quadrillion operations per second. In comparison, the Tianhe-2 computer in China, is capable of carrying out ~ 55 quadrillion calculations, according designers at TOP500, now promising the development of artificial synapses, with comparable decision-making behaviors to their biological counterparts within the human brain.

    So what does all this have to do with Theological Determinism?
    The *functional* correlation between robots and humans within the world-view of both Theological Determinism and Artificial-Life Determinism, both follow a model in which their *functional* abilities and decision-making choices follow pre-programmed paths, which are pre-determined well before the robot (and according to Theological Determinism – the human) exists.

    Even more interesting are the terms we are observe within the language of both parties.
    Theological Determinists like the term “Self Motivated” to describe their view of the *functionally* of humans. And the IEEE Computational Intelligence Society uses the exact term to describe its view of the functionality of robots.

    While Theological Determinists are quick to point out that humans are not created with PC-boards, micro-processors and gears – which is to say that robots are not ontologically humans any more than they are spiders, elephants, or trees. The *functional* parallels are striking, and the terms instinctively enunciated by both parties are clear indicators of conceptions framed by a Deterministic world-view.
    The Christian who remains diligent and alert for these indicators should be well rewarded.

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