Should Predestination Preclude Persuasion?

WHY SHOULD WE TRY TO PERSUADE THE LOST?

The English word “persuasion” (in all its various forms) is used three times more often than the word “predestination,” yet it seems the latter receives a thousand times more attention. Persuasion is at the very heart of apologetics, and I dare say, it is at the heart of evangelism itself. I have to wonder if the lack of emphasis on this biblical doctrine has lead to the decline in baptisms and evangelistic efforts among Evangelicals over the last few decades? 

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT PERSUASION?

Let’s take a look at some of it’s most relevant uses:

Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas.” (Acts 17:4)

“Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 18:4) 

“This man is persuading the people to worship God.” (Acts 18:13) 

“(Paul was) arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 19:8) 

“Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to become a Christian?” (Acts 26:28

They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.” (Acts‬ ‭28:23-24‬)

“Since then we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” (2 Corinthians 5:11)

Too often we speak only of the need to proclaim and explain the good news to the lost, but clearly the Bible teaches us that we should be trying to persuade people of its truthfulness. Is that not what evangelism and apologetics is all about?

Notice in Acts 17, when Paul “dialogued” (Greek: dialegomai, meaning ‘reasoned’) in the synagogue that it resulted in people being “persuaded” (Greek: peitho). Paul explained the Old Testament scriptures and answered their questions so as to convince them of the truth. This was typical in his approach with his fellow Jews (“his custom” v. 2) , because he knew the Jews considered their scriptures to be authoritative. However, Paul’s approach with the Gentiles shifted to speaking about their culture first rather than the Scriptures (see vs. 22-31). Paul is using his God given gift of persuasion by connecting with his audience on their level. He has “become all things to all people so that by all possible means [he] might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22).

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PERSUADE?
Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words describes the word “persuade” as follows: ”

To prevail upon or win over, to bring about a change of mind by the influence of reason or moral considerations.”

Notice this definition draws attention to both reason and morality. In other words, appealing to one’s conscience in an effort to get them to do what is right morally may be one effective approach to persuasion, but it’s not the only tool. Appealing to sound reason (by means of dialogue) is an equally important biblical tool in the persuasion process.

Persuasion is not about emotionally abusing people into submission. It is about speaking truth in love (Eph. 4:15). It is about being a person of character who earns the respect of the audience by showing them respect. It is about making sound, logical, well reasoned arguments that connect with the listener on a personal level. As Paul said:

We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)

Paul, while he was in Ephesus, was “arguing persuasively” (Acts 19:8). Doesn’t that strongly imply that it is possible to “argue unpersuasively?” Why would anyone want to risk being “unpersuasive” when it comes to proclaiming the most important news of all?

82 thoughts on “Should Predestination Preclude Persuasion?

  1. Leighton,

    Thanks for pointing out those many passages on persuasion.

    I have mentioned the idea of persuasion many times to my Augustian-Reformed friends. They usually reply, “Yes because we do not know which ones God has chosen so we “proclaim” to all.”

    But as you pointed out…proclaiming is not persuading.

    A big question to answer is ….why does the Word make it look like there is such a “human” element?

    I mean…. “We proclaim (duty, robotically) and the Lord chooses and calls….okay.”

    But these passages all talk about the human element of persuading and being persuaded (no mention of irresistible pulling by God). There are just so many passage (on purpose) in the Word that demonstrate that we do more than “proclaim”. We persuade and are persuaded.

    Why these passage? Once again, my question…why does it appear in the Word that we humanly participate (that dreaded work synergism!!) in the process? Do the “beautiful feet” of those who persuade count as human participation? Do the physical ears of those who “have ears to hear” count as human participation? Why do Calvinists magically draw a “God-only” line when Scripture does not?

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  2. THE CONSEQUENCE OF UNIVERSAL DIVINE CAUSAL DETERMINISM

    If Universal Divine Causal Determinism is true, then all of our thoughts/choices are nothing more than the thoughts/choices conceived by god before we were born, coming to pass within the state-of-nature god conceived/determined.

    In other words, all of the thoughts/choices we experience having are the consequences of Universal Divine Casual Determinism.

    But it is not up to us what thoughts/choices god conceived/determined before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the state-of-nature god conceived/determined come to pass. Therefore, the consequences of these things are not up to us.

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  3. The problem is the Calvinist is handicapped from fulfilling God’s call to him to persuade and evangelize others more effectively, because his motivation for doing so is limited to duty, and that motivation can never rise to the level of love for all the lost, since he wrongly believes God does not love all the lost equally.

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    1. Its kind of like story-line depicted in the movie SHANE or depicted in the movie THE PALE RIDER.

      The power-player settler, with his earthly power-base, has ownership of his territory.
      And he has no vested interest in others inheriting the same thing he enjoys.

      He claims there is nothing about himself that would make god choose him.
      But secretly, inside his subconscious conscience, he can’t help but calculate something SPECIAL about himself – since he was chosen while others weren’t.

      So while he wears his wide reformed-phylacteries, posturing himself as not man-centered, he secretly gloats.
      He is secretly glad, god has chosen him and not someone else.
      Especially those someone-elses who don’t compliment his self-image.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. So true Brian. And in order to escape this “frozen chosen” label (until recently strong Calvinists were notorious for not evangelizing—even being against it— because that was God’s job), they are pushing hard the “don’t waste your life” model now……out of a sense of duty to a Holy God.

      Fine, but certainly it is not out of love to the neighbor. No amount of love or praying can make a difference since that decision has been made eons ago and by God.

      In fact “proclaiming” (not sharing in love) is the best way because if we deeply love those we witness to, and in fact they are not chosen, we find ourselves conflicted with God’s sovereign will. Meaning: we love them, and witness to them (as though they can turn) ….and we even spend lots of time with them and deeply love them….only to realize that they may indeed be the object of God’s wrath (for His glory!!).

      What to do? Such a conflict? Why deeply love since that person might be the object of wrath? Why pray (against God’s will) for that person if God has intended all along to judge him for His glory?

      In fact why love him at all if God does not?

      In fact how can we be expected (commanded) to love others when God does not?

      So many questions!

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      1. FOH and if they don’t respond irresistibly to our gospel presentation… we have, in Calvinistic thinking, obediently discharged our duty and need not feel grief or that there is hope that we should keep trying… because we wrongly believe God does not really grieve. So sad.

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      2. Right again Brian.

        It is their misunderstanding of immutability and “impassibility” (neither found in the Word) that leads them to this severe, non-grieving God.

        I could never understand the disconnect: We show love to and witness to those around us (certainly as if what we do might make a difference). We grieve for those around us….and yet God Himself does not? No!! The Reformed “impassible” God does not grieve (that would require Him to “change” and be “influenced by man,” and we cannot have that!! He must be static, uninfluenced, non-grieving, non-reacting……

        Is this not a severe, cold, impersonal God? I am not setting up a straw man here…..this is in fact how He is portrayed on their best sites.

        All determinists should refrain from ever saying they have a “personal relationship with God” since He (according to them) never has any emotions, changes, feelings and cannot in any way be influenced by man.

        I would not call that personal.

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      3. Great observations FOH. That is why I wonder if reformed theology attracts stoic personalities, making God over into their own image, for they do not like being vulnerable by showing compassion to those that might just freely reject it. But the doctrine of immutability is key, and the verses they point to must be shown as not supporting the immovable, non-sequential eternal nature of God that they propose.

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      4. I dont think BRD means that (your Scandinavian roots).

        I think that the movement (easily found on the internet as YRR) is young, restless, and reformed and is primarily:

        Western (not orient)
        Caucasian
        male
        young
        educated
        generic “non-sectarian’ “non-denominational”

        For the most part we do not see the movement in the charismatic, Latin American, Africa or Asian church.

        Females do not get very vocal.

        Young, bearded guys saying just-learned Latin phrases like “sola deo gloria” are the norm.

        My thought is that the generic Bible churches have seen the charismatic movement, Pentecostal movement, faith movement,and emerging church, and open theology movement come along and have had a (subconscious) “stem the tide” attitude. What better way to avoid all the “modern” stuff than to “return to the reforming fathers.” There is such safety in the “known quantities”!!

        I think perhaps some version of this is what BRD meant.

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      5. Yes, many of the people that I was involved in the pro-life movement in the 80s and 90s… To my surprise…. have gone over to the Eastern Orthodox Church… And even some of those leaders have gone on to the Catholic Church.

        For them there is a certain level of security because they know that at least these churches/denominations will not change. There is this need for some people to be in a stable strong/ unmoving place. And I think that is partly what is happening with the New YRR Movement.

        Not many people are willing to take a risk with their faith and move into new territory that they previously had thought was not available to them. So they go the other direction to the “founding fathers” so to say (even guys like Augustin who veneratef Mary!) and the reform and the old time religion so to say, even to the point of going back to singing very old hymns that don’t really even make sense anymore.

        No offense intended to anyone but to certain degree that is the thought behind the KJV-only movement. I do believe that some people think that the Textus Receptus is inherently better. Fine. But what is keeping them from using that text and doing a newer modern translation? We could still use that same text and do a modern translation but it is just that the idea of the word “modern” that gets some people and then that’s not allowed.

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      6. I think those may all be factors.

        When you mentioned the charismatic folks it did remind me of the holiness movement, the Plymouth Brethren, and similar movements grounded in Wesleyan-Arminian in theology. But which were vaccinated against Calvinism by having a very high emphasis on the demonic spirit world – which included teachings that demon spirits understand the critical role libertarian free will plays in the seduction and entrenchment of humans. Interesting to note in the demographics of Calvinism, there is no such thing as a deliverance ministry. All ministry in Calvinism is solely focused on indoctrination.

        On the fact that Calvinism is almost exclusively a male phenomenon, I would say the vast majority of females that are Calvinists are there by romantic-marital association and not by personal drawing. Since testosterone is not a dominant factor with females, a deity whose primary attribute is domination and who treats people like puppets or robots – doesn’t register high within their personal inclinations.

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      7. I suspect these types of dilemmas also appear with Calvinist pastors over the question of what members in their congregations god is deceiving into believing they are saved – in order to magnify their torment in the lake of fire. Since Calvin insists that every congregation has -quote “a large number of hypocrites who have nothing of Christ but the name and outward appearance” to whom god is temporarily holding salvation out to as a -quote “scepter of greater condemnation”.

        Probably, the Calvinist pastor just simply assumes all members are “elected” by god, unless he interprets indicators from an individual’s behavior.

        Most interesting on that process is Dr. Eric Fromm’s analysis of Protestant Reformed psychologically ( calling it a psychology of dread ) where he sights that Calvinists read their own and each other’s behavior, demeanor and circumstances in life – the exact same way one reads tea-leaves.

        Looking for indicators of whether or not god has doomed one’s brother/sister to hell or elected them to salvation.
        Lovely belief system!!!

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      8. Fromoverhere, you bring up an interesting point when you say that “Fine, but certainly it is not out of love to the neighbor. No amount of love or praying can make a difference since that decision has been made eons ago and by God.”

        I have been thinking recently on the implications of freewill and prayer. What are your thoughts on this? …I completely understand the issues of persuasion and love that could potentially sway someone to believe the Gospel, but in what way do you pray for someone? Because it seems like our prayers in general for the lost are asking God to overrule freewill. Things like, God please change their heart, please help them understand, humble them in this situation, save them. I mean…I suppose we could view it as God honors freewill by bringing them to a point of decision that is somehow not so strong that they can still resist Him. I mean it’s an interesting dynamic, I have not spent a great deal of time thinking about it, but I am curious as to how you handle this. Or how you better pray for people without asking God to violate their freewill. I can kind of see the Calvinist viewpoint where they would call this a man-centered thing, because ultimately this idea of freewill seems to imply that God will never violate men’s freewill, therefore, He won’t actually change their hearts or help them understand or humble them in such a way that they would be saved.

        While at the same time I get where you are coming from, why pray for salvation if God has already decided who will be saved and it is not open for debate or reconsideration? The Calvinist view poses many similar problems, where the believer is just doing things because the Bible says to. We should pray because God says to, we should witness because Jesus said to, but ultimately God will work it all out exactly how he wants anyways. The freewill side certainly seems to be motivated in a much better sounding way, not out of duty but out of love.

        So how do we balance these things out in prayer? Have you any thoughts on this? Well I would love to hear anyone else’s input too.

        Thanks,
        Travis

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      9. Very good questions Travis and well-stated.

        First we have to ask ourselves if the Scriptures teaches us that the fervent prayer of a righteous man has any effect? If we say that our prayers matter….then we wonder how and how much.

        If prayer really matters, and all-night prayer meetings weigh more than a cursory 1-minute prayer, then we must try to understand why and how.

        I do not believe that God will override free will. I am a father (notice how the Word calls Him our Father?) and I do not override the will of my kids, but I can steer them and bring them to the edge. Believe me, I have one kid who “asks” more than the others. She usually gets what she is after (you dont receive because you ask not!).

        We all live in the tension of wondering if we prayed more for something or someone would that not yield a different result. Likely it would. But we are weak, occupied, distracted creatures, so we dont pursue as much as we should/could.

        If we knew that forgoing our nightly TV (our family has never had a TV, but you get my point) and using that time for prayer would result in something happening for sure, likely we would do it. But again…..we are human and weak.

        So what should be our teacher on this?

        Of course the Word of God.

        Read the Word to see what God does about people’s will.

        Did He actually MAKE Jonah go? or just make it hard not to? I often tell myself that Jonah could have stayed stubborn a bit longer and just let that fish stomach acid finish him off. Many have not heeded God and ended in ruin. God would have used someone else.

        Did God make Saul turn into Paul….or just knock him down and blind so he finally “got it”?

        Cain and Abel……Cain is warned (he could have overcome evil); Abel is praised….no making them do it.

        Now the prayer part….

        Funny, you have people in Acts praying (for Peter’s release?) and God does it.

        Does the Scripture teach us that God answers prayer or that God gives man the prayer for the thing that He plans to do anyway?

        If you choose the latter one, then you must explain why God “gives us things to pray for” only to then say no to that thing.

        If you say the former then you must answer the “man-centered” question.

        Again the Word:

        Does God really call Abraham and give him the choice to follow or not? (Scripture clearly says he is rewarded for his faith).

        Does God really give David 3 choices for the punishment after the census he took? Who made that choice?

        Is Joshua really challenging people, “choose for yourselves this day who you will serve…”

        Does God really listen to (crazy) Samson “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (it is about his eyes, not God’s glory?) Talk about “man-centered”!

        Does God really listen to Gideon’s request that He give him a sign….and then do it again??!! Talk about “man-centered”!

        Does God really negotiate with Abraham for Sodom? 50, 40, 30 ….? If that is a real story, then what is God teaching us about Himself?

        I honestly think when people play the “man-centered” card they are trying to use a holier-than-thou idea. But they are not reading the Word.

        Literally hundreds of time in God’s Word, He says “If you…….xyz…..then I will zyx, but you …. then I will…..” etc.

        How many times does He have to say such a thing, and so clearly, for us to realize that He makes some decisions based on man’s actions?

        What makes us theologize against Scripture so often and so proudly and say He does not do this? Greek philosophy of the definition of deity and sovereignty. But not the biblical definition.

        I am not saying that God could NOT have created in such a way as determinists say (where nothing we do matters or changes anything), I am simply saying that the whole of Scripture and easily-found message of Scripture is that He sovereignly (according to the counsel of His will) created in such a way that man makes a different and man plays a part.

        Struggling with what part your prayers play is fine Travis. Just know that the Word says that they do matter.

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  4. For what it’s worth, Travis, I will offer my personal experience for your consideration on the purpose, power and result of prayer. I wrote this early this morning, as I was reviewing the events of the last several years.

    I was blinded for some time by the doctrines of Calvinism, pushing away the niggling doubts again and again. I believe that the difference between the child of God and the unbeliever is that, in receiving God’s Spirit, and in asking him to show us his ways and deliver us from the evil one, we in essence grant God ‘permission’ to keep pressing us. Like a father who has promised his child ‘I will not let you fall’, he clings tightly to the hands of those who trust him. I have prayed Psalm 25 probably thousands of times in my life:

    To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
    O my God, in thee I trust,
    let me not be put to shame;
    let not my enemies exult over me.
    Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
    Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
    teach me thy paths.
    Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
    for thou art the God of my salvation;
    for thee I wait all the day long.
    Be mindful of thy mercy, O Lord, and of thy steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
    Remember not the sins of my youth, or my trangressions;
    according to thy steadfast love remember me,
    for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord!
    Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
    He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
    All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
    For thy name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great.
    Who is the man that fears the Lord?
    Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
    He himself shall abide in prosperity,
    and his children shall possess the land.
    The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
    and he makes known to them his covenant.
    My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
    for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
    Turn thou to me, and be gracious to me;
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
    Relieve the troubles of my heart,
    and bring me[a] out of my distresses.
    Consider my affliction and my trouble,
    and forgive all my sins.
    Consider how many are my foes,
    and with what violent hatred they hate me.
    Oh guard my life, and deliver me;
    let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in thee.
    May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
    for I wait for thee.
    Redeem Israel, O God,
    out of all his troubles.

    I recall the distinct impression, after continued suppression of doubts, of God basically telling me that if I was going to continue resisting his leading,and his attempts to reveal my error, there was nothing else he could do for me. What was the use of showing me his ways, if I refused to follow?

    It was a turning point for me, as I cried out and confessed how frightened I was to let go of all I knew. If I continued questioning Calvinism and other firmly entrnched beliefs, searching for greater understanding, I was liable to lose everything that I valued in this world, including my marriage, my family, my friends and the future that I had always thought awaited me. The decision in front of me was very clear – I was either going to trust in the Lord with all my heart, or cling to my current idols. I understand a little of what it meant for Jacob to wrestle with God, only it was God who refused to let me go until I understood fully just what my decision meant. I know that there are some who believe that, once a child of God, one can never be ‘unborn’, but I felt as if I was at a defining moment in my life. I had chosen to trust in God long ago, but now I was wavering, unwilling to follow where he was leading, unwilling to surrender the idols I had so often begged him to tear down.

    This traumatic event in my life is one of the reasons I am convinced that Calvinism is utterly false. God never, ever, forces us to do anything, either by brute force or by ‘trickery’ (commonly called secondary causes by Calvinists). I was fully aware that if I wanted to continue as I was, clinging to a theology that never quite rant true because it was the religion of my family and friends, I was free to do so. If I wanted deeper understanding, I had to be willing to offer everything that I now believed up to God for refining. God will do for us all that we desire and ask of him, including leaving us alone when we refuse to listen to his voice. After many weeks, perhaps months, of wrestling with God, I knew I had a decision to make – was I going to trust God, and follow him wherever led, or was I going to turn from the One who had been my rock and my shield all the days of my life, because the cost of following him was too great?

    In the deepest chambers of my heart, I knew which I had to choose. As frightening as it was to think of losing my marriage and family, I could not turn my back on God, after all he had done for me.

    Even as I sobbed uncontrollably, I felt a sweet peace flowing into my soul. He was enough. Even if I lost everything, he was enough.
    When I awoke the next day, it was as if a huge weight had been taken off of me. When I began to read my bible, it was as if scales had literally fallen from my eyes, and all of the light of heaven was shining brightly down. With great delight, I found in its pages once again the God of my youth, who truly loved all men, and desired to rescue mankind from the destructive tyranny of sin. I had no idea how distorted my image of God had become from my decade or so under Calvinist teaching, until I cast it all aside and began to read my bible with my own unfettered mind again. What sheer delight it was to read and to know without a doubt that God was a God of love, mercy and kindness, just as unfiltered scripture teaches. How distorted he had appeared when I read my bible with Calvinist lenses. How marvelous and freeing it was to read and believe what scripture said, without having to continually explain all obvious meaning away in order to not negate official ‘orthodoxy’.

    I was almost giddy with joy, despite Satan trying to discourage me with thoughts of the difficulties I would no doubt soon face. I felt like George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life when Mr. Potter told him the police were waiting for him at his house: “I know; isn’t it wonderful? I’m going to jail!” It was so marvelous to have my God back, and I would never again freely surrender my peace, my hope or my joy to the opinions of men. I gave this heinous theology a more than fair shake, and there is no doubt in my mind that it is utterly untrue.

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  5. DOES JOHN MACARTHUR GET IT WRONG? OR IS IT MORE ACCURATE TO SAY JOHN MACARTHUR IS SIMPLY DISHONEST?

    I watched Dr.Flowers Youtube presentation – analysis of John MacArthur.
    I wonder if Dr. Flowers is striving to be a Christian gentleman to point out MacArthurs blatantly fallacious statements.

    I however, stand in a different liberty on my analysis of mr. MacArthur.

    It is totally obvious to me, understanding what I know about Jacobus Arminius vs John Calvin.

    MaCArthur’s statements manifest the quintessential dishonest BS-artist, calling Arminius a -quote “ancient theologian” while painting a picture totally absent of John Calvin as an “ancient theologian”. and then stating Arminianism as the -quote “opposite of a theology oiled down (and by inference perfected) to what we now call Calvinism”.

    I totally understand Roger E. Olson, who consistently laments at how dishonest Calvinists are in their braggadocios ring-kissing of all things Calvinism, while painting absolutely distorted pictures of all competitors.

    This is not just getting it wrong – this is abject dishonesty.

    The serpent is the most subtle creature in the garden.
    And a Calvinist again wins the prize for being the most subtle creature in the garden of protestant Christianity.

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    1. Br.D,

      I do see Arminianism as a “water-down” form of Calvinism. I even refer to it as “Calvinism Lite”.

      Both adhere strongly to Total Depravity/Total Inability, but with subtle differences.

      Both, though unknowingly, adhere to some form of Irresistible Grace. The only difference being the goal.

      And, finally, both believe that anything outside of Calvinism/Arminianism as unbiblical. For instance, anyone who denies TD/TI will immediately be tag as a Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian. We’ve seen that happen here.

      Blessings, brother.

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      1. Well that may make sense – since Arminius was of the approximate time-period, and evolved out of Calvinism.

        And I get the total depravity part – I suppose with the caveat that “prevenient grace” effects change in the person’s state instead of Calvinisms’ “divine spark”. But since Arminius rejects Theological Determinism – I don’t get the “Irresistible” part.

        Can you explain where Arminius teaches that? Because I know Arminians typically reject a compatiblist account of free will. And in Calvinism, every human thought/choice/action is predestined to occur “irresistibly” within the creature.

        Perhaps what you are seeing here are rationally-inconsistent Arminians?

        Thanks in advance! :-]

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      2. Br. D. Here is the first part of the first Article of Remonstrance by the original Arminians. I will capitalize the parts that demonstrate they believed in the predeterminism of salvation and damnation of all before creation.

        >>That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, BEFORE the foundation of the world, HATH DETERMINED, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, TO SAVE in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, THOSE WHO, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, SHALL BELIEVE on this his Son Jesus, AND SHALL PERSEVERE in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; AND, on the other hand, TO LEAVE THE incorrigible and UNBELIEVING in sin and under wrath, AND TO CONDEMN THEM as alienate from Christ…>>

        I understand that the idea that “those who…shall believe” is not clearly stated to mean “foreknown individuals who… shall believe”, but that is exactly what all Arminians profess. Their theology has God’s foreknowledge as complete for saved individuals and damned individuals and for everything else before creation takes place. Though they arrive at it differently, and more illogically than Calvinists, their view of completed foreknowledge of all future events before creation is the same as Calvinism. That is determinism… pure and simple… for no other will existed before creation to create such knowledge of completed events, and knowledge doesn’t just appear out of thin air for God to observe and manipulate.

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      3. Very interesting!
        Yes – I agree that language neither affirms or denies the foundational assertion in Calvinism – that salvation is predetermined by the creator at the foundation of the world, and therefore each individual’s salvation is “up to” god and not “up to” the individual.

        It doesn’t speak well of one to use ambiguous language when one presents himself historically as dissenting from position X – to not be precise about exactly what specific points one is dissenting from – out of position X.

        I think however, this also confirms the phenomenon observed, with Arminians – that there is a much higher degree of variant positions within Arminian ranks. And Arminian pastors don’t present doctrine as more sacred than Jesus, like we observe in Calvinism – and they don’t brood over their congregations unflinching adherence to group-think, treating independent thinkers as if they threaten to infect the whole flock, like we observe in Calvinism.

        I’ll keep my eye open for this as I go along!! :-]

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      4. Actually, Br. D. I think the language of the first tenet of Remonstrance does affirm the foundational assertion in Calvinism, though it does not say “individually” and it does not explain how God chooses “those who believe”. But the die is cast for individuals in God’s mind “before the foundation of the world.”

        And I have run into “group think” among Arminians, especially on the Arminian Evangelical Society FB page. They did not want me bringing up questions asking them to define further how God knows for certain “before creation” all individuals who will eventually persevere in faith, and yet not be the author of that certain knowledge. Nor did they like me questioning how salvation could be lost, once everlasting life is given.

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      5. Thanks Brian – I’ll keep my eye open for that.
        I was under the impression that they hold foreknowledge as the act of god observing, rather than decreeing as we find in Calvinism.

        But you seem to be saying that Arminianism has many of the basic elements of decretal theology found in Calvinism.

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      6. Br.D. you’re right that they propose that foreknowledge of the future is something God observes as “completed”, but then God somehow chooses those that believe after that observation… Now how does that work? If it was observed as completed, how does He make choices for it and yet those choices do not make any changes in His immutable omniscience?

        How does He see a completed future without that knowledge also include all His involvement already decided in it? And how does He observe a completed future that no-one else could create in His mind for Him to observe but Himself and yet He did not determine it?

        Arminianism is thus more illogical in my view than Calvinism when it comes to foreknowledge. But both teach everything is settled and known as certain before creation. The Scripture teaches everything was not settled before creation, therefore it would be impossible to know it as settled.

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      7. Thanks Brian!

        On your question: Now how does that work? If it was observed as completed, how does He make choices for it and yet those choices do not make any changes in His immutable omniscience?”

        I have read from at least one Arminian source – the answer to this question – being what may be called a “backtracking counterfactual”.
        If person x at time t chooses Jesus as his savior, then god, prior to time t, would know “person x at time t chooses Jesus as his savior” as a true proposition. If the person at time t chooses the opposite god would know the opposite proposition. This proposal is said to avert “necessity of the past”.

        The Boethian proposition of god being outside of time is also applicable here – but not if god inserted a marker of some kind, at some point within chronological time prior to time T which stipulated a fixed future concerning person x’s choice. For example, if god writes on a tablet of stone – person x will choose y – then that event is settled in the past – based upon the necessity of god’s infallibility.

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      8. Br.D. And you feel comfortable with that explanation? It makes the words “before” and “completed” mean nothing when it comes to foreknowledge. God is not locked in an eternal immutable decree, like Calvinism. But He is locked in a completed foreknowledge, caused by someone or something, and that is also immutable if “before creation” means “before creation”.

        The Arminian wants us to believe that our decisions somehow change his foreknowledge. You said – “If person x at time t chooses Jesus as his savior, then god, prior to time t, would know ‘person x at time t chooses Jesus as his savior’ as a true proposition. If the person at time t chooses the opposite god would know the opposite proposition.” It seems like smoke and mirrors. Is the foreknowledge completed or not. And then they run to the mystery of God being outside of time… with no Scripture support… and thus the word “before” no longer means “before.”

        The knowledge of the free choice cannot be created by our choice but then known before our choice is made, especially before the creation of the world. Nothing exists before the creation of the world except the Godhead to create any thoughts to be known.

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      9. Thanks Brian,

        I pulled out of your last post these two statements
        The mystery of God being outside of time… with no Scripture support… and thus the word “before” no longer means “before.”

        I can see how scripture does not explicitly depict god’s metaphysical relationship to time.
        Wouldn’t you agree that all theology’s are suppositional on this point?
        The scriptures were not meant to be a text-book on metaphysics.
        The nature of scripture is that it is god’s word – filtered through the limitations of human perception.
        If god communicates to man – man must interpret what god communicates – in order to write it down.
        So scripture is already humanly interpreted in its very creation.

        Then
        The knowledge of the free choice cannot be created by our choice but then known before our choice is made, especially before the creation of the world. Nothing exists before the creation of the world except the Godhead to create any thoughts to be known.

        If I understand this statement – it appears to state: 1) god is not outside of time and is therefore time-bound just as humans are 2) therefore, where god knows an event before it occurs, that event must occur in accordance to the “necessity of the past”.

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      10. Br.D. I am glad we are having this conversation. It is important that inspiration of the Scripture is clarified between us so that we both understand how the other views Scripture, which affects how we view its authority based on the perspicuity of meaning and the authority of the suppositions brought to it from philosophy.

        You said – (with my numbering added)
        1. Wouldn’t you agree that all theology’s are suppositional on this point?
        2. The scriptures were not meant to be a text-book on metaphysics.
        3. The nature of scripture is that it is god’s word – filtered through the limitations of human perception.
        4. If god communicates to man – man must interpret what god communicates – in order to write it down.
        So scripture is already humanly interpreted in its very creation.

        1. Yes, but suppositions can only be authoritative if they do not contradict the Scriptural evidence.
        2. True, but anything said about metaphysics would be literally “true”. All of Scripture, especially Ps 90:2, present only a sequential reality for God and man, and the concept of “two realities” is contradictory, especially two contradictory realities, one sequential and one non-sequential, in which God dwells in both at the same “time” ;-).
        3. Scripture is not God’s Word, “filtered…”, it is God’s Word! (John 10:35, 2Tim 3:16)
        4. God supervised the writing down of His revelation so that it accurately presented the truth that He wanted said… the interpretation comes after that.

        Now let me try to respond to your last statements. You said –
        1) god is not outside of time and is therefore time-bound just as humans are
        2) therefore, where god knows an event before it occurs, that event must occur in accordance to the “necessity of the past”.

        1. Humans are bound by the reality that comes from God’s nature. That reality is sequential as God revealed it to be in Scripture (Ps 90:2, Rev 4:8) and in logic. In logic, because communication and relationship in the Godhead, from everlasting, before creation, can only be understood as existing in a sequential reality. The concept of “time” has two definitions. One is the measurement of motion in a created realm. The other is a sequence of activity, which does not require a created realm.
        2. If God knows an event as certain before it occurs, that certainty of knowledge of that event had to be created in His mind somehow. The Arminian has that knowledge coming to God’s observation before the creation of the universe, but not created by Him. Illogical! The concept “necessity of the past” is a smoke screen, imo.

        Any knowledge created in God’s mind of a future event as certain, makes that event necessary, no matter how that knowledge was created in God’s mind about it. God cannot be certain about a falsehood… so if the event is certain, it is necessary, no matter what one believes as to how it got that way in God’s mind. I just believe the Scripture clearly teaches that only some things are certain/necessary for the future and that the future is known in God’s mind as still containing uncertainties relating to possibilities that still exist for God to cause or permit, of which He has perfect knowledge as to what they are and how many are left. 😉

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      11. Thank you Brian for laying that all out so clearly.

        I think you would agree that what you’ve presented there, represents a school of thought.
        And obviously one in which members of that school are very convinced.

        In religious philosophy – there are recognized schools of thought, in which, for example, the principle of the “necessity of the past” is well recognized, even among philosophers of differing doctrinal positions. So it is not called a smoke screen by the preponderance of scholarship. But since all humans are fallible – it may be the case, it is a smoke-screen, yet to be generally recognized as such.

        On this statement: 3. Scripture is not God’s Word, “filtered…”, it is God’s Word! (John 10:35, 2Tim 3:16)
        I think there are international scholars who would raise the concern this statement is overtly simplistic – making the hearer vulnerable to unrealistic or a misleading use of scripture.

        I think you can see, I am looking to the state of religious philosophy in general – for consensus on things not explicitly stated in scripture.
        I appreciate the stance of persons like William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, and Peter Van Inwagen, who analyze these things with the best intentions and have current persuasions they hold to personally, but with the caveat of being open to being wrong.

        Good stuff!!! :-]

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      12. Br. D. Thank you for your response. Perhaps you can illuminate me on what you mean (or Inwagen meant) by the “necessity of the past”.

        I think the term only fits for those who define determinism as meaning all events were eternally pre-determined and that only one trail of cause/effect chain of events could have led to any current event, making that current event necessary. But in my view, any number of future events can be declared/determined without needing to rely on one chain of causes to lead to each one. But they remain guaranteed/necessary in themselves, for God in His omnipotence oversees the free will possible choices He and man make along the way that lead to each of those events. He causes or permits each of those choices so that those pre-declared/predetermined events take place.

        I can appreciate your desire to rest on a consensus of scholarship as a final authority over the perspicuity of Scripture… but I think that is why individuals are normally in the mess they are in their loyalty to Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, and even Open Theism. Was my pointing to the sequential nature of reality as revealed in Ps 90:2, Rev 4:8,and as revealed in the logic of relationship interaction in the Godhead, not strong enough to make you feel uneasy about the “outside of time” mantra we continue to be told to mindlessly repeat without evidence from Scripture and logic, but only from scholarship consensus? 😉

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      13. Hi Brian,
        The necessity of the past – I believe, is also called “Accidental Necessity”.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accidental_necessity

        And it is also recognized as a presupposition especially in support of theological fatalism. In some of your descriptions, you seemed to be drawing on it – or some form of it.

        Religious philosophers may not personally prescribe to Theological Fatalism – yet they publish papers regarding “necessity of the past” and its ramifications within the philosophy of religion: – http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199766864.001.0001/acprof-9780199766864-chapter-4

        I wouldn’t characterize my tendency to lean upon scholarship as “over the perspicuity of Scripture”.
        Your position in the academic arena, I’m sure has positioned you to learn of a history of erroneous uses of scripture within Christianity.

        I can’t remember the scholar’s name now, but he wrote a book analyzing John Calvin’s approach to scripture.
        In it he clearly identifies that Calvin “assumed” (in many instances naively) that everything he imaged was the product of the Holy spirit supernaturally inspiring his mind. He saw Augustine in that light – and assumed that mantel upon himself as well.
        Therefore, when anyone disagreed with him, he simply assumed he and god were standing on the same side of the argument, which allowed him to scoff and rebuke people – even when his arguments were full of self-contradictions.

        If he had been more respectful of his peers, less self-assuming, less self-confident, etc – perhaps he would have not ended up swallowing Augustine’s camel whole and as a result fathering an “author of evil” doctrine.
        My tendency to lean upon the consensus of scholarship is based on a concern not to go down that road. :-]

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      14. The warning Br.D. is a good one. Thank you. I have a great appreciation for theological consensus among evangelical scholars, but not if they do not back up their consensus with Scripture and logic.

        I am always looking for confirmation from those evangelical scholars that are seeing the same things I am seeing in Scripture and logic. But I am looking harder for those who can show me where my understanding of the sequential nature of reality (Ps 90:2, Rev 4:8) is incorrect or show me why the future has to be known as completed when Scripture clearly reads in a way demonstrating that isn’t.

        Different scholarly consensus exists between evangelicals who are Calvinist, Arminian, Molinist, and Open Theist in this matter of foreknowledge and omniscience. The key has to be what is the proof from Scripture and logic.

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      15. Understood and well stated!! :-]

        Are you familiar with this summary page?
        http://www.iep.utm.edu/god-time/

        I wonder if some of the terms you use are found here but with philosophy using different terms
        like “Temporal Succession” = “Sequential Reality”

        In this article I can see three positions:
        1) God is timeless
        2) God is eternal
        3) God is temporal
        4) God is atemporal
        5) God is omni-temporal

        And then there is: eternal-temporal-simultaneity WHEW!!!!!

        One thing is for sure – my understanding of these things is VERY SEQUENTIAL!!! :-]

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      16. Thank you, Br. D. for the article. It categorically rejects any sequential reality for God and only tries to understand various non-sequential (“timeless”) explanations, though he does discuss Craig’s view of God being timeless “before” creation and in time after. But then he right points out that “before” doesn’t mean “before” for Craig.

        Another one that caught my attention was Rogers – “God in his timeless state can know the whole sequence of temporal events non-sequentially.” This is the kind of contradictory jargon that is usually presented because the underlying premise all these positions is an unwillingness to reject that God’s reality is sequential. But to be scholarly, we need not think that Greek philosophy that infected early Christianity was superior to the perspicacious Scriptures themselves.

        The article noted only a cursory nod to Scriptures without even pointing to the obvious fact that God in Scripture reveals everything about Himself and His nature in sequential truth language, without giving any clear statements supporting the doctrines of “divine simplicity” and “non-sequential duration” that underpin the “timeless” dogma.

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      17. yes,
        I did find that note on Craig a surprise as I personally would not have gone down that road.
        But then again – I don’t have enough familiarity with that business to to have a reliable opinion.

        I would guess, historically, within religious philosophy, there is an intuition not to assert god as being subject to, or bound by chronological time – even though scripture consistently portrays god’s interactions with man, framed in chronological time.
        But one could argue that aspect of scripture reflects the fact that man is subject to, and bound by chronological time.
        So it would be natural for God to relate to man that way.

        But then again, now that I think about that a little more, it would seem, that God would at least allude to his “timelessness” if that were really true of him. So perhaps your point on the consistent representation God makes of himself within scripture should be taken with more consideration.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. Br.D. His sequential reality had no beginning and He doesn’t measure it like we do with mass in motion, but His being (in which we live and move) is still sequential, with before and after, with the past no longer in existence, and the future not yet in existence. And He dwells inside this created realm, and beyond the edges of this created realm, whatever that means. 😉

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      19. Here is a case for theological fatalism which incorporated “necessity of the past”.
        Not my position – just text-book example.

        “Suppose Jeanie will decide tomorrow to make a cup of tea at 4:00 pm. If this is a free act on her part, it must be within her power to make the cup of tea or to refrain from making it. If God is in time and knows everything, then hundreds of years ago, he already knew that Jeanie would make the cup of tea. When tomorrow comes, can Jeanie refrain from making the cup of tea?

        As Nelson Pike has argued, (Pike 1965) she can do so only if it is within her power to change what it was that God believed from the beginning of time.

        So, although God has always believed that she would make the tea, she must have the power to change what it was that God believed. She has to be able to make it the case that God always believed that she would not make the cup of tea. Many philosophers have argued that no one has this kind of power over the past, so human freedom is not compatible with divine foreknowledge.”

        Now one approach to this would be the position that god doesn’t know what Jeanie will decide to do.
        This approach would make “necessity of the past” (i.e. the fact that Jeanie does not have the power to alter what god believed in the past) irrelevant – since on this mater god doesn’t have a belief.

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      20. Br.D. My view is a variation of your conclusion.
        You said – “Now one approach to this would be the position that god doesn’t know what Jeanie will decide to do. This approach would make ‘necessity of the past’ (i.e. the fact that Jeanie does not have the power to alter what god believed in the past) irrelevant – since on this mater god doesn’t have a belief.”

        God does know before creation the possibilities of what Jeanie CAN decide to do, and He knows even the possibility if there will be a “Jeanie” or not. He understands infinitely all the future possible lives that COULD come into exist, and how each of them could possibly play out, even down to someone named Jeanie deciding to make tea on a certain day.

        If before creation, or three days after creation, or just three days before Jeanie has the option available to her to make tea, God decides that He will declare/determine, “Jeanie will make tea on such and such a day” then that event is no longer a possibility, but becomes an eventuality, even though many possibilities still exist for God to oversee before that event, to either cause or permit. But He will make sure that event that He declared will happen… will happen.

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      21. Very cool! – Thanks for that Brian.

        Let me ask you a question on one point.
        “God does know before creation the POSSIBILITIES of what Jeanie CAN decide to do”

        In this example we have a binary choice on Jeanie’s part.
        She will or she will NOT make tea – etc.
        A binary situation as this, logically entails only 2 possibilities (in philosophical lingo: 2 alternative possibilities)

        In a binary contingent future event, if one obtains – the other does not.
        In philosophical lingo:
        One will be a proposition about a future event that is true.
        The other will be a proposition about a future event that is false.

        Do you see god as not knowing which one is true vs which one is false?
        If so, what conditions could allow for that?
        1) There are some propositions about future events which are neither true or false?
        2) God chooses not to know the truth-value of either proposition?
        3) I’ve run out of ideas. :-]

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      22. I’m glad, Br.D., my latest explanation seemed to be a great help for understanding better my view of omniscience/foreknowledge. Thank you for bearing with me as I try to make things clear… it is an outcome that often alludes me. 😉

        You said –
        Do you see god as not knowing which one is true vs which one is false? If so, what conditions could allow for that?
        1) There are some propositions about future events which are neither true or false.
        2) God chooses not to know the truth-value of either proposition.
        3) I’ve run out of ideas. :-]

        I choose door 1). Though you could say all possibilities are known by God as true propositions, but they change in character in God’s mind when He determines that one of those possibilities should be caused or permitted. That possibility is then no longer known as a “might happen possibility” but becomes known as a “must happen eventuality” and all the other possibilities ascribed for that event become known as “could have happened counterfactuals”.

        That is the rub for all who hold a traditional view of foreknowledge, that in their thinking must be of a completed future in God’s mind. They do not want to jettison their idea of immutability in God, which they see as precluding changes in His thoughts or His emotions. They think such changes are a sign of imperfection. But those philosophical definitions of “perfection” and “immutability” go against Scripture, and they make the incarnation impossible. The Word “became flesh” was a big change for the members of the Godhead.

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      23. Thanks Brian,

        I totally agree that we should be open minded and not just follow like lemmings – everything historically considered true – because over time the church has learned it has ever been wrong.

        Let me tease out a little bit more from what you mentioned:
        I choose door 1). Though you could say all possibilities are known by God as true propositions, but they change in character in God’s mind when He determines that one of those possibilities should be caused or permitted.

        Can we stay with the example of Jeanne and the tea and draw out how this might look?

        First, its not clear to me how god can know a (true vs false) bi-valent set of possibilities and also know them as (true AND false) possibilities – if that is what you are indicating?

        Second, lets say that in the example we have, the truth about what Jeanne does “changes in character in God’s mind”
        Are we saying here that what changes is the truth-value of a future proposition?
        Such that the proposition of this future event is (lets say – false), and then its character changes in god’s mind and it becomes true?
        It sounds like what you may be alluding to, is that god leaves Jeanne open to decide the truth value of that proposition, at the time she makes her decision. If that is the case, then it looks identical to the backtracking counterfactual we mentioned previously.

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      24. Ok, Br.D., I’m game!

        You said – First, its not clear to me how god can know a (true vs false) bi-valent set of possibilities and also know them as (true AND false) possibilities – if that is what you are indicating?

        I would state God’s knowledge of such bi-valent possibilities as “Jeanne might make tea tomorrow” and “Jeanne might not make tea tomorrow”. Both statements are true in God’s foreknowledge. If God freely decides today that He wants to show the world that He can control an outcome in the future, He can send a prophet to FOX News to declare publicly – “Jeanne will make tea tomorrow”.

        Some may try to overturn that prediction, but God is well able to cause an overwhelming desire and opportunity for Jeanne to make her pot of tea. The bigger point is that once God decided that outcome, even if He didn’t announce it, His foreknowledge changed to “Jeanne will make a pot of tea tomorrow” and “Jeanne could have not made a pot of tea.”

        After the pot of tea is made, God’s foreknowledge for those original propositions changes once again to “Jeanne made her pot of tea yesterday” and “Jeanne could have not made her pot of tea yesterday.” Those changes in God’s knowledge do not make Him less perfect, not the change the immutable aspects of His character the Scripture talks about (love, justice, truth).

        As to your other questions, I think you see that God’s knowledge on knows the truth of propositions that reflect reality. All the changes were from one truth to another as reality changed sequentially.

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      25. Cool!

        Could we have just traveled in a complete circle where we are back with possibilities – going to the question of whether god knows them as future propositions true or false?

        I took note however of another comment that links back to one point we discussed earlier – the business of god placing a marker within chronological time such as god writing on a tablet of stone “Jeanne will drink tea etc”. I agree with your enunciation of that.
        Van Inwagen comments on it in his interview by Robert Lawrence Kuhn http://www.closertotruth.com

        I’ll have to give my brain some time to consume the course we just navigated through :-]

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      26. Following this conversation. It still seems as if your perspective, Brian, eliminates the essence of foreknowledge – which is knowing things before they occur. I am personally open to considering all possibilities, and am not threatened by the concept of Open Theism, just not convinced. 🙂 But it does seem that if God had foreknowledge of, for example, the elect, he appears to have had foreknowledge of certain choices, or a settled future. I do believe that God works for the good of those who he foreknows, protecting them and providing them with escape from temptation, etc. Again, foreseeing future things, as only God can, does not make them necessary, as in he did not compel any man’s choices, but certain, as in he knew them before they actually occurred. This is obviously foreign territory, as no one but God has this ability to foreknow genuinely free and future choices of others. I am not particularly bothered by whether or not so-called experts believe it is possible for God to foreknow without determining.

        Many prophecies contain great detail, which again suggests that God foresees what actually is going to occur, yet without interfering with the natural outplaying of events when their time comes. When God interacted with men in real time, I do believe he was offering them genuine choices, and that this allowed him the ability to genuinely respond to these choices, as in granting Hezekiah 15 more years. It seems like playing games to our limited minds, but I perceive it more as genuinely interacting with man and not interfering in his truly free choices, even while foreknowing what they will be. A little like offering your child the choice between a cookie and an olive, and, knowing their preferences, knowing without a doubt what their choice will be. That does not imply that you were playing games, not offering them a real choice, or that you were not sincere in allowing them to have either one. Perhaps the platter was to be offered to many, and there were others who you knew would prefer olives to cookies (like me!).

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      27. Not to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, truthseeker, to cause confusion, but to demonstrate the importance of defining words and concepts from Scripture and not from philosophy or traditional orthodoxy… have you considered that the Scripture may use the word “foreknow” with two different meanings when associated with facts or with people?

        Here is an exegetical discussion of Rom 8:29-30 that might help show what I mean. http://www.academia.edu/31030814/Romans_8_29-30_-_exegetical_dialog

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      28. Seems a bit of a stretch, according to nearly all of the exegetical looks at the language. Most appear in agreement that foreknow is fairly safely defined as prescience, that is knowledge beforehand. I won’t keep pressing it, but I do try to keep an open mind as I read scripture, for indications that my interpretations have been formed by ungrounded presuppositions acquired by past teaching, etc. In any case, it is pretty clear, as predestination is also mentioned in the same statement, that foreknowledge does not mean predestination as per Calvinism.

        Liked by 1 person

      29. And it’s clear that those foreknown are predestined… not some foreknown… otherwise one could say some justified are glorified. Thanks for taking the time to read it. 😊

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      30. Brian, I agree that historical Arminianism is essentially identical to Calvinism, with the exception of Arminius’ doubts concerning whether or not one could ‘lose’ their salvation. Unfortunately, Arminius retained the worst of Calvinism’s errors, including the concept of Total Depravity. I would humbly submit, however, that I cannot, at this point, agree with your perspective on God’s omniscience.

        I do appreciate that you reject Determinism, which gives us much in common, but I would propose that God’s omniscience demands neither determinism nor the assertion that there are things yet uncertain, as far as God’s knowledge goes. Perhaps it is merely semantics. I do believe scripture assets that God knows all things, and that prophecy leads us to understand that God both foresees all things, and works even man’s evil intentions to serve his own good purposes. I tend to think if I were more versed in philosophy I could explain myself better, but I believe that God is outside of what we conceive of as time, thus past, present and future are all equally seen by him. That does not require that any of those realities are/were deterministically controlled by him, (which they of course could have been, but scripture asserts are not) but that he is outside of them, and in no way limited to them, as mortal men are.

        Thus, in the world of time as we know it, I would agree that our decisions are not determined, and outcomes are not settled. Our decisions are real and meaningful. Yet, because of God’s omniscience, and his being outside of time, he foreknows what our decisions will be (without determining them) and thus, can bring his ultimate plan (to overcome sin and evil once and for all) to pass. In other words, my choices are real, and have a genuine impact on events. However, as God foreknows all things, he can yet bring his plans to pass by using the faithfulness of another, should my own faithfulness founder. His plan will be accomplished, amazingly, with and in spite of the free choices of less than perfect men.

        I don’t know if that makes sense. In essence, I agree with Calvinism’s assertion – agreed to by most who call themselves ‘christian’ – that God most definitely is in sovereign control of all of his Creation. I agree with Open Theism – agreed to by most who call themselves ‘christian’ – that he uses the freely chosen actions of men to bring about his will. Yet both ‘systems’ seem to me to somewhat miss the mark; understandably, as being outside of time is something that mortal, time-bound creatures have difficulty grasping. Obviously, I struggle to understand or explain it fully myself. 🙂

        God can know, without determining, all things. Our choices can have real consequences, without demanding God to not foresee what they are. Perhaps I am more in agreement with what you believe than I realize, I don’t know. But it seems to me that you appear to assert that there are events that are unknown by God because they have not yet come to pass in what is known as ‘time’. I would propose that this is only true in the sphere of ‘time’, that is, in the perspective of finite, timebound creatures. I am not suggesting that God is playing games with us, but that we are limited by different realities.

        I would posit that God most certainly knew that Abraham would obey his command to sacrifice Isaac, just as he knows every event that will ever come to pass. But in dealing with man, he deals with us as we exist, limited within the boundaries of present and time. Thus, he could say with all legitimacy, ‘Now I know’, not because he did not already know all things, but, in the sphere of limited time, what did not yet exist was not yet ‘known’ in this sphere. God gives us the opportunity to make real choices that have real repercussions. He interacts with us within the created boundaries of time as we know it, without himself being bounded by them.

        That is my humble stab at trying to explain things as I understand them.

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      31. Thanks for the conversation – truthseeker. I appreciate your struggles, and I want you to know that I have been down those same roads of struggle. I am not struggling at the moment in these things however. 😉

        There are two things you said that I will respond to that might help.

        1. you said – “I do believe scripture assets that God knows all things, and that prophecy leads us to understand that God both foresees all things.” The word “know” does not have to mean “know as settled”. God knows all things that are determined already and all things that are yet to be determined among numerous possibilities by causing them or permitting them. He cannot know something as true that isn’t true or something as completed that has not been determined to be completed by Himself or someone. And since no-one existed before creation to think any thought about the future except God, whatever future He knew before creation was of His own making… completely settled (determined) or partially settled with some open possibilities. Why must He only think of a fully settled future? Prophecies only reveal what He has determined to cause or permit to happen in the future… they do not make necessary that a settled future exists. And all the subjunctives in Scripture and verses about God making determinations after creation, affirm that not all things were settled before creation.

        2. you said – “…but I believe that God is outside of what we conceive of as time, thus past, present and future are all equally seen by him.” There is no clear biblical support for this concept. In fact the biblical view of reality is sequential for God and man, for it is His eternal sequential reality… from everlasting to everlasting, who was and is and is to come. It is a contradiction to propose two realities, and especially two that contradict each other, and one contradicts Scripture. God is in both the created realm of this reality and the uncreated realm of this reality, but it is all sequential. The past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. Such concepts are contradictory since it would not only be God observing all of it all at once… but we would still be in the past and already in the future to be observed. That is fantasy in my opinion.

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  6. THE FATED MENTAL PHENOMENON OF THE DELIBERATING DETERMINIST

    Dr. Tomis Kapitan – (1949-2016), Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus, Ph.D., of metaphysics, philosophy of language, and international ethics, deliberates over the fact that determinists consistently perceive and believe their own personal deliberations as OPEN and not predetermined at the very moments in which they are deliberating. Professor Kapitan calls this phenomenon of rational-inconsistency, the determinist’s unavoidable predetermined fate.

    -quote:
    “To locate an inconsistency within the beliefs of a deliberating determinist now seems easy; for as a deliberator, he takes his future act to be yet undetermined. But as a determinist, he assumes the very opposite – that his future is already determined and fixed in the past, such that everything he does was previously determined by factors beyond his control. Thus the ascription of rational-inconsistency within the mental state of the deliberating determinist is secured.”

    Dr. Kapitan has a comforting word to sooth the cognitive dissonance he rightly recognizes the deliberating determinist faces when he dares investigate the truth of his own rational-inconsistency. He offers the suggestion: 1) If one’s thoughts choices and actions are settled in the past, and come to pass as one’s unavoidable future, then 2) the deliberating determinist has absolutely no way of knowing what his next neurological impulses will be. 3) Since he has absolutely no way of knowing what his next neurological impulses will be, then 4) is it totally futile to deliberate over what they will be.

    C’est La Vie! What will be is what will be.

    Practically-minded deliberating determinists, haunted by the specter of their own rational-inconsistency and fatalism, can be encouraged by this account of the matter. 🙂

    (The Philosophical Quarterly Vol. 36, No. 14 (1986), pp.230-51)

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  7. Br.D,

    I can’t say Arminius taught “irresistible grace”. However, when taken to its logical conclusion, the Arminians’ concept of prevenient grace is just as irresistible as that of the Calvinist, the only difference being the goal.

    From the Society of Evangelical Arminians’ Statement of Faith…

    *In and of themselves and apart from the grace of God human beings can neither think, will, nor do anything good, including believe. But the prevenient grace of God prepares and enables sinners to receive the free gift of salvation offered in Christ and his gospel*. Only through the grace of God can sinners believe and so be regenerated by the Holy Spirit unto salvation and spiritual life.

    From Theopedia….

    In Arminianism and Wesleyanism, it is a grace that *offsets the noetic effects of the Fall, restores man’s free will*, and thus enables every person to choose to come to Christ or not.

    Prominent Arminian Roger Olson writes….

    “According to classical Arminianism it (prevenient grace) is an operation of the Holy Spirit *that frees the sinner’s will from bondage to sin* and convicts, calls, illumines and enables the sinner to respond to the gospel call with repentance and faith (conversion)…. Calvinists and Arminians agree, against Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism, that the sinner’s will is so depraved and bound to sin that it cannot respond positively to the gospel call without supernatural grace.”

    Now the question is……is this prevenient grace resistible or irresistible?

    To answer this we must ask…..what is the “goal” of prevenient grace?

    The “goal” of prevenient grace is not to get us to believe, but rather *to bring us to a point where we can believe*. If everyone who experiences prevenient grace is successfully brought to this point where they *can* believe, then *how* is this grace not irresistible? Are we to believe that everyone naturally and willingly cooperates with this grace? This would appear to be a complete contradiction of the necessity of prevenient grace which states that fallen man “can neither think, will, nor do anything good” without it. Are the removal of the “noetic effects of the fall” and the restoration of “man’s free will” accomplished without the sinner’s consent? If without his consent, just how is that not irresistible?

    If, however, prevenient grace is resistible, as Arminianism claims, and not all sinners who experience it succumb to it, then the question would be “why does one sinner cooperate with this prevenient grace and the other doesn’t?” How or why is one sinner brought to a point of ability (to believe) and the other isn’t? We are not discussing why one accepts the gospel and the other doesn’t, but rather why does one sinner willingly, and on his own, unaided by grace, cooperate with prevenient grace and the other doesn’t?

    Arminians will argue, even insist, that all grace, even prevenient, can be resisted. However, when studied, it would appear that the Arminian concept of prevenient grace is just as irresistible as the Calvinistic doctrine, the only difference being the goal. The “goal” of efficacious grace is to cause (even guarantee) the sinner to believe. The “goal” of prevenient grace is to bring the sinner to a point where he “can” believe (by reversing the effects of the fall). Neither is accomplished with the consent or willingness of man and therefore must be irresistible. If prevenient grace can be resisted, then the Arminian must explain why one sinner, still under the noetic effects of the fall, and still in bondage to sin, willingly, and on his own, unaided by grace, cooperates with prevenient grace and the other doesn’t, which by their own definition, is impossible.

    This is why I conclude that our Arminian brothers, though they might not like it, are really nothing but 2 point Calvinists. Arminianism is just a softer form of Calvinism.

    I apologize for the length of this post, but I hope it makes sense.

    God bless.

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    1. Thank you Phillip!

      I might inquire with Roger Olsen on this as he has a blog and is happy to address questions such as this.

      You’re probably already familiar with Modal-Verbs:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_verb

      “Can” implies “Cannot” – and both infer opportunity and don’t logically entail necessity.
      “Will”, “Shall”, or “Must” imply necessity.

      Calvinists, having their theology based upon Theological Determinism, use terms and phrases that come right out of the lexicon of Determinism. “Predestined”, “Fixed”, “Settled”, “Certain”, or “Rendered Certain” – etc – are modal verbs which imply necessity.

      Language is such an excellent barometer of human conceptions! :-]

      Thanks for alerting me to this – and since the language we’ve looked at so far does not explicitly imply necessity, I suspect either Arminians don’t hold grace as “irresistible” or perhaps they do, and their language is to imprecise to express it.

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      1. Br.D,

        Arminians will insist that grace is resistible.

        Again, from Theopedia….

        “Resistible prevenient grace is a doctrine concerning a type of grace that offsets the noetic effects of the Fall, restores man’s free will, and thus enables every person to choose to come to Christ or not.”

        However, my point is that man is not resisting the (prevenient) grace that removes/overcomes/offsets “the noetic effects of the Fall”, they are simply rejecting the gospel; which is a separate matter.

        Again, the “goal” of prevenient grace is to bring every person to a point where they “can” choose. If this grace can be resisted, then why does one sinner cooperate with prevenient grace and the other sinner doesn’t?

        Olson believes in “freed will” and not “free will”. So the question would be “can this grace that frees man from the bondage of sin be resisted?” If “yes”, then why does one sinner still under the noetic effects of the Fall, on his own, unaided by grace, cooperate with this grace and another sinner doesn’t?”

        If prevenient grace is 100% successful (in other words, all men are brought to a point where they can choose), and fallen man has no say in the matter, how is that not irresistible?

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      2. Phillip…..

        I am not sure I understand your question.

        — If this grace can be resisted, then why does one sinner cooperate with prevenient grace and the other sinner doesn’t?

        First of all you know prevenient and noetic are not just not found in the Bible (and they are both underlined in my spell checker!!! So I hate to get too far along in jargon. Let’s leave that fancy, rare, non-biblical terminology to our Calvinist friends.

        Second, do you have kids?

        I offer the same offer, the same circumstances (rewards, penalties) to my kids and often get not one or two but several different responses.

        What kind of a question do you mean “why does one cooperate and the other not?” Is that not just part of our nature/nurture human element? That is what makes it a “personal relationship.”

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      3. Hi Phillip,

        I’m not sure you meant to contradict yourself in your last question – but I think you did.

        “If yes, then why does one sinner still under the noetic effects of the Fall, ON HIS OWN UNAIDED FROM GRACE, COOPERATE WITH THIS GRACE and another sinner doesn’t?”

        If we say S is on his own unaided by P.
        Then it wouldn’t be rational to say S can cooperate with P.
        Because P is not aiding S.

        On the other hand, it is well understood that people can be in a debilitated state which requires some kind of intervention.
        The man on the Jericho road would have died if it had not been for the Samaritan who physically moved him and had him taken care of.

        Let us call that man S who *IS* aided by P.
        Then it would be rational to say S can cooperate with P
        Because P *IS* aiding S sufficient to enable S’s cooperation.
        When left in his debilitated condition S would have been doomed.

        Your next question does makes more sense:
        If prevenient grace is 100% successful (in other words, all men are brought to a point where they can choose), and fallen man has no say in the matter, how is that not irresistible?

        When you say “has no say in the matter” I assume you are saying “has no say as to whether or not he will be supernaturally enabled to make a decision?

        If you were unconscious in the surgery room and the doctor felt he needed your permission to perform some form of surgery, would you feel it was wrong of him to wake you to ask for your permission? Waking you from unconsciousness is something that you couldn’t resist.

        Is there something I’m missing that makes that form of supernatural enablement wrong?

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      4. Br.D,

        Again, sorry if I said/wrote something that appeared as a contradiction.

        When I said… “…then why does one sinner still under the noetic effects of the Fall, on his own, unaided by grace, cooperate with this grace and another sinner doesn’t?” what I was attempting to say, though maybe not clearly enough, is that within the Arminian concept of resistible prevenient grace, man obviously can refuse to be “released from the bondage of sin”. So, apparently, one sinner, unaided by grace, and on his own, can willing agree to having the noetic effects of the Fall removed while another sinner, unaided by grace, and on his own, can willingly refuse this freedom.

        However, by their own definition, fallen man lacks the ability to “will” anything remotely good. Even a “willingness” to cooperate with prevenient grace would be considered a positive move towards God, which Arminianism teaches is an impossibility without God’s grace. But, again, if all prevenient grace is resistible, then we have to ask “then why does one sinner, own his own, and unaided by grace, agree to become “willing” and another sinner doesn’t?

        Also, I think your analogy using the victim of the Good Samaritan is off the mark and would align itself better with the Calvinistic notion of a spiritual awakening. A better example would be that of the prodigal son who “came to his senses” by his own accord.

        Hope this helps, brother.

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      5. Hi Phillip,

        Did you review the logic of my last response – because it appears you’ve repeated the same logical error – and added an additional one.

        “So, apparently, one sinner, unaided by grace, and on his own, can willing agree to having the noetic effects of the Fall removed while another sinner, unaided by grace, and on his own, can willingly refuse this freedom.”

        You still have two people NOT being aided by grace – one is willing and one is not. Firstly, how can “unaided by grace” be previnient grace – when prevenient grace is grace which aids? Do you see your error? Additionally, you have 2 people “unaided by grace” having the effects of the fall removed – which again does not make sense.

        To be logical, your statement should be” How can one person AIDED by grace (and thus set free to make a salvation decision), chooses to reject the gift, while another person AIDED by grace, (and thus set free to make a salvation decision), chooses to accept the gift.

        When the question is stated using logical reasoning – any ethical problem seems to vanish with the logical error.

        Let me respond to your last statement:
        Also, I think your analogy using the victim of the Good Samaritan is off the mark and would align itself better with the Calvinistic notion of a spiritual awakening. A better example would be that of the prodigal son who “came to his senses” by his own accord.

        I think what you are saying here, with the prodigal son, is that Jesus’ story is a more accurate representation of how god’s grace works, and thus some kind of supernatural enablement (what one may call prevenient grace) is not part of that picture.
        I can see the reasoning here and consider it valid. It may be god never uses any form of supernatural enablement to assist a person to choose salvation. It also may be the case that god does, in some circumstanced need to perform some form of intervention and the Jericho road model is just as legitimate as the prodigal son model.

        But I think the jericho road model does show a form of intervention that the recipient can’t resist – and thus it provides a legitimate model for how god may choose to work – and as such, in my mind, any ethical problem with it not being resistible is mute.

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      6. Br.D,

        If prevenient grace is resistible, as Arminianism insists, then fallen man, on his own, without grace, can freely choose to reject being “released from the bondage of sin”. In a way, that in itself is a contradiction. How can a slave freely choose anything? 🙂 But, according to Arminianism, apparently they can because prevenient grace, by definition, is resistible.

        In the case of the prodigal son, the son makes a conscious choice to return to the father. He could have easily chose not to return. His choice was unaided by the father though the grace to return was always there. But the decision was his and his alone.

        In the example of the Good Samaritan, the victim in the road had no say in the matter. In a way, it supports my point that the notion of prevenient grace is just as irresistible as its Calvinistic counterpart.

        You ask…. “how can ‘unaided by grace’ be prevenient grace?”

        You need to ask the Arminian about that. Resistible prevenient grace is their concoction to deal with TD/TI. If prevenient grace is a grace that comes before, but then can be resisted, why does one sinner agree to cooperate with it (basically saying “yes, I want to be released from the bondage of sin”) while another sinner chooses not to cooperate (basically saying “no, I want to stay in my bondage”). If both are released from the bondage of sin without their consent, then that grace is in fact irresistible.

        And that is my point. Resistible prevenient grace is a façade.

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      7. Hi Phillip,
        Lets back up a minute so I can understand what your concept of grace is.

        Lets go to the prodigal son model you’ve pointed to.
        1) Do you see grace at work in that model?
        2) if yes, do you conceive of grace as performing any kind of supernatural work?
        3) if yes, then what is that work?

        Next lets use that as your model, and apply it to your example of two different people with two opposite outcomes.
        Can you give a theoretical example of 2 different prodigal sons – one who decides to return and one who decides to stay in his condition.
        How do you theorize the role or work of grace in both cases?

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      8. In the model of the prodigal son….

        1) Grace is seen by the Father allowing the son to return.

        2) No supernatural work in a Calvinistic/Arminian sense. The son “came to his senses” on his own. The son was never “unable” to return.

        3) See above.

        I see grace as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. In other words, Christ lived the life I couldn’t live and died the death I deserved. Grace could also be defined as the time God gives fallen man to “come to his senses”.

        But, again, I believe man never lost the ability to believe, much less choose. The goal of resistible prevenient grace is to restore man to a pre-fall condition. Apparently, this is done without the sinner’s consent, yet the Arminian argues this grace is resistible. And the point I am trying to make is the notion of “resistible” prevenient grace is a misnomer.

        Blessings, brother.

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      9. Thanks Phillip.
        I think its safe to say with that conception of grace, the terms “resist” or “resistible” don’t fit into that model.
        Those terms imply something much more than simply divine acceptance which is what you’ve enunciated as grace.

        The concept of “resist” strongly implies something given or imparted to a recipient.
        If one’s concept of grace does not include anything imparted to the recipient – which the recipient could resist receiving, then obviously the terms “resist” and “irresistible” are meaningless.

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      10. Br.D,

        Let me back up and ask you a question or two (though I think I already know the answer).

        1) Do you believe in total depravity/total inability?

        If “no”, then there is no reason to go further. If “yes” then…

        2) Do you believe in a grace that restores man to a pre-fall condition (offsets the noetic effects of the fall) that causes a guaranteed response to the gospel (Calvinism) or “releases the sinner from the bondage of sin” that guarantees to bring man to a position/condition where he can freely choose to accept or reject the gospel of Christ (Arminianism)?

        3) If you believe in a form of prevenient grace, is that grace resistible or irresistible?

        Remember, we are not talking about accepting or rejecting the gift of salvation. We are talking about resisting the grace that brings us to the point where we can choose.

        If you want to categorize the example of the victim in the story of the Good Samaritan as irresistible, that’s fine. You’re calling it as you see it. My point is the Arminian argues all grace is resistible, including prevenient grace. They do this to distance themselves further from Calvinism. However, when studied in depth, we see their notion of prevenient grace is just as irresistible as their calvinistic counterparts.

        God bless, brother.

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      11. Hi Phillip,
        Interesting I was thinking about these questions today per our recent dialog.

        1) Do you believe in total depravity/total inability?
        I believe there is a reason that god had to send his son Jesus to die for me.
        Salvation is not something I can acquire without some kind of divine intervention.
        That intervention could be simply the price that Jesus paid for my salvation (prodigal son model).
        But I won’t put god in a box and say he doesn’t do special things to draw men unto himself. (Good Samaritan model)
        I’ve seen a whole lot of divine intervention in the lives of believers – in god’s burden for their maturity and sanctification.
        I’ve seen god do supernatural things like healing people and delivering them from demonic and dangerous life-style ensnarements.
        Those things required the recipients free will – in the form of TRUE libertarian free will.
        Not the FAKE libertarian free will we find in Calvinism.

        2) Do you believe in a grace that restores man to a pre-fall condition
        Not in the process of salvation alone – at least this cannot be humanly observable since I’ve seen people saved but who never grow into the measure of the stature of Christ. So obviously, they are still ensnared in their pre-fallen condition, at least to some degree.

        (offsets the noetic effects of the fall) that causes a guaranteed response to the gospel (Calvinism) or “releases the sinner from the bondage of sin” that guarantees to bring man to a position/condition where he can freely choose to accept or reject the gospel of Christ (Arminianism)?

        I see a model in Jesus’ ministry – in which god does reach out to a person and supernaturally helps him/her – just as Jesus describes in the good Samaritan. I don’t want to put god in a box and say he can’t do that in the salvation process if he so chooses.

        3) If you believe in a form of prevenient grace, is that grace resistible or irresistible?
        I see grace as a gift of unmerited favor.
        I can’t put god in a box and assert that grace is nothing more than god’s acceptance of us.
        On the other hand, I can’t put god in a box and say all grace comes in some form of supernatural enablement or impartation of some kind.

        Remember, we are not talking about accepting or rejecting the gift of salvation. We are talking about resisting the grace that brings us to the point where we can choose.

        4) If you want to categorize the example of the victim in the story of the Good Samaritan as irresistible, that’s fine. You’re calling it as you see it. My point is the Arminian argues all grace is resistible, including prevenient grace. They do this to distance themselves further from Calvinism. However, when studied in depth, we see their notion of prevenient grace is just as irresistible as their calvinistic counterparts.

        Actually I see the prodigal son as a divine model, since Jesus enunciated it – and I see the good Samaritan as a divine model also, since Jesus enunciated it. And there a probably other descriptions of divine love that Jesus enunciates that fit with the principle of god’s grace.
        So no, I’m not locked into any specific doctrinally “qualified” grace.

        God bless, brother.
        And you as well! :-]

        Like

      12. Br.D,

        I have absolutely no problems with anything you stated. In fact, most of it can be substantiated by scripture. In the gospel of John, some people believe because of the witness of a woman (John 4:39). Some had to hear for themselves (John 4:42). Some believed when the Lord turned the water into wine (John 2:11). For some it took the raising of Lazarus (John 11:45). With each passing miracle, more and more believed in Him because the evidence become more and more overwhelming.

        However, all of this is divine evidence, either by spoken word or miracle, had no effect on the depravity of man. Not a single word spoken or miracle provided removed/offset “the noetic effects of the Fall” or “released the sinner from the bondage of sin”.

        Finally, let me clarify something. I previously wrote… “In a way, that in itself is a contradiction. How can a slave freely choose anything?”

        After re-reading that it almost sounded Arminian. Gulp! The scriptures declare, however, that a slave to sin can still believe.

        Romans 6:17…. But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

        John 8:31-32….. Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

        I appreciate the brotherly exchange.

        Blessings.

        Like

      13. Phillip:
        Good discussion.

        You didnt mention this one.

        John 10:38
        But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”

        Do you know where a very similar statement was made in the OT? Passover. Thus linking the mighty works of the LORD and Christ….and giving a reason to believe.

        Exodus 14:31 (NLT) When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the LORD had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

        Christ appealed to the already-present ability to believe, and he supplied the might power that they knew about from Passover.

        It’s all there, man

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      14. Exodus 14:31 (NLT) When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the LORD had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

        Christ appealed to the already-present ability to believe, and he supplied the might power that they knew about from Passover.

        Well said!!!
        And god’s saving grace reached out to deliver all of them from bondage – not just a select few.

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      15. FOH,

        Almost too many examples to quote. The gospel of John is full of biblical examples of people coming to Christ in faith and not once do the scriptures suggest a prevenient grace that dealt with their depravity.

        John 4:48…..
        Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”

        Jesus didn’t say “Until I deal with your depravity, my signs and wonders are pointless.”

        Again, my reason for this discussion was/is to prove that the Arminian notion of prevenient grace is actually just as irresistible as that of the Calvinist. The only difference being the goal.

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  8. FOH,

    Sorry for any confusion.

    The question…. “If this grace can be resisted, then why does one sinner cooperate with prevenient grace and the other sinner doesn’t?”

    For clarity, I reject both TD/TI and PG. PG is the Arminian solution for TD. Since I reject TD/TI I don’t see the necessity for PG.

    That said, since Arminianism teaches resistible prevenient grace, this begs the question “then why does one sinner cooperate with this grace and the other sinner doesn’t? Why does one sinner desire to cooperate with PG and the other sinner doesn’t?”

    “Whoa!” says the Arminian “even this ‘desire’ is a result of grace.”

    Okay. Can this grace be resisted?

    “Of course” answers the Arminian “all grace is resistible”.

    Okay. Then why does one sinner cooperate with this grace that produces this “desire” and the other sinner doesn’t?

    And so on and so on……

    My point is if we take Arminianism’s notion of PG to its logical conclusion, we eventually end up with Calvinism. That is, the ultimate reason why one believes and the other doesn’t is God’s grace.

    As a Traditionalist, I believe man never lost the ability to believe, much less choose. In the parable of the seed found in Luke 8, the difference is not in the seed, but the soil. The soil represents the heart of man. I believe that man, once equipped with the word of God, can, on his own, freely choose to accept or reject the gospel of Christ. No additional grace is needed to overcome/offset “the noetic effects of the Fall”.

    Hope this answers your question.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I concur with Philip, thus I do not consider myself Arminian. Arminianism carries over the faulty concept of Total Depravity, and deals with it via another manufactured concept, which they call Prevenient Grace.

    Scripture declares that no man can come to God lest they are drawn, but this does not necessitate an individual, one by one revelation that makes a formerly disabled person to become enabled to hear and believe the gospel. The revelation necessary to know all that man can know of God, Paul tells us in Romans 1, has already been given to all men, which appears to require the assumption that man could indeed receive it. Indeed, Paul deslares that all men understand who and what God is, but many make a willful choice to deny the truth. The incarnation of Jesus produced a ‘lifting up’ of the already revealed truth of God’s love and promises, which serves to draw to God all who choose to believe what has been revealed and demonstrated. All men are without excuse – in other words, none will be able to plead ignorance due to inability to know and understand, contrary to the teachings of Calvinism.

    The notion of PG merely serves to validate the false and monstrous notion of Total Depravity, in which God supposedly curses all men with an inability to hear, know and understand truth (in essence, an undoing of the awakening to the knowledge of good and evil). Not only is this contradicted by Paul in Romans, it would be most unjust. Firstly because it is an example of holding men accountable for the iniquity of their forefather, something clearly declared unjust by God through his prophet Ezekiel, ch 18. Secondly, it would appear to assert that God is merely playing games, dangling the knowledge of good and evil, granting it briefly upon disobedience, then removing it again while retaining the accompanying curse. (This, I surmise, is why Calvinism asserts that the promised curse indicates spiritual death. I would posit that, in being removed from the garden and the tree of immortality, death became henceforth inevitable, if, even as we see today, a gradual process of decay leading to eventual demise.)

    This would cast doubt upon the character and intentions of God, suggesting that they reveal something other than genuine, selfless love. It is also easily disproved by the ensuing narratives of scripture, which reveal Cain, Enoch, Noah and countless others able to freely choose whether or not they listened to or walked with God. They were not dead to his voice, unable to understand what he expected of them, or unable to comply with his will. Some chose to obey God’s revealed will, others to rebel. Abel was accepted, Cain not. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, the rest of humanity did not. Enoch walked with God, and apparently did not even suffer physical death as do most men. Abraham obeyed God’s voice and was promised incomparable rewards. There is not a narrative in scripture that portrays ‘spiritually dead’ men unable to hear and respond to God, as Total Depravity falsely asserts.

    As far ‘sin’ and the curse, they necessitated the promise of atonement, and fulfillment of the promise through Jesus’ death. This put an end to the ‘sin’ problem, and never again need any man perish due to sin. Only if a man rejects the pardon freely offered, either through disbelief in the goodness of God or an unwillingness to give up his wicked ways, will his sin be held against him.

    Total Depravity and the Arminian response to it, Prevenient Grace, are found nowhere in scripture and are manufactured doctrines of men, of which there are many.

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    1. “Arminianism carries over the faulty concept of Total Depravity, and deals with it via another manufactured concept, which they call Prevenient Grace.”

      Exactly, Truthseeker00. And just like their Calvinist counterparts, they can’t supply one biblical example to support it.

      God bless.

      Like

  10. CALVINISM’S BLACK AND WHITE THINKING:

    R. C. Sproul, in his book Chosen by God – pages. 25-27, recounts a classroom situation where he accused Christian students of being atheists. He did this because they did not agree with the Westminster Confession’s declarations concerning predestination.

    He auto-magically assumed that if one believes in God at all, one must embrace Calvin’s scheme. The definition of “sovereignty” he used was the classic Calvinistic definition where God meticulously predestines and controls every minuscule event and every human neurological impulse.

    He auto-magically assumes everything through the Calvinist lens, and then accuses any Christian who doesn’t see through that lens of being an atheist.

    Personally, I think Sproul is smart enough to know better and this tactic of hurling vindictive accusations – which is a quite common power game among Calvinists – is just a manipulative ploy to masquerade themselves as superior – or gain an advantage over the unsuspecting.

    Loraine Boettner likewise plays the accusation game stating: “There is no consistent middle ground between Calvinism and atheism.”

    In other words, if you do not agree with Calvinism, you are auto-magically an atheist.

    Or whatever other label the Calvinist calculates will work for them.

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