Why Debate in Defense of Free Will?

Later today Dr. Johnathan Pritchett and I will be debating in defense of the biblical teaching of mankind’s free will (the liberty of the will to choose between available options.) You can watch the debate here:

I just returned from a trip to Israel with some great apologetic leaders and I had the opportunity to discuss this upcoming debate with them. Of course, most of our conversations centered around the teachings of Jesus while we traveled the streets of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Capernaum, Caesarea and Joppa. This discussion of man’s free will, however, is not at all unrelated to what we learned about in our travels. In fact, I suggest this issue is foundational to understanding the heart of God in the incarnation and crucifixion of Christ.

This debate, whether one recognizes it or not, centers around the Holiness and Goodness of God as demonstrated in the very words and actions of Christ Himself. Allow me to explain why I believe this to be true.

Over the years in discussing this topic I have been accused of “worshipping the idol of human autonomy.” But, have those who bring this kind of harsh accusation really unpacked the meaning of these terms, or sought to understand our intentions? I suspect most have not.

Websters defines “autonomous” simply as “undertaken or carried on without outside control.” The term “autonomous” describes things that function separately or independently. For instance, once you move out of your parents’ house, and get your own job, you will be an autonomous member of the family. This adjective autonomous is often used of countries, regions, or groups that have the right to govern themselves. Autonomous is from Greek autonomos “independent,” from autos “self” plus nomos “law.” <link>

Some wrongly assume that my use of this term is meant to suggest that mankind’s existence, sustenance and natural abilities are independent of God altogether. This is absurd, of course. Paul asked his readers, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), which strongly implies that all our abilities, including the ability to make choices, is given to us by a good and gracious God.

We can affirm that “God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him,” (Ps. 115:3) while still holding on to the equally valid truth that, “the highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Ps. 115:16). This means it pleases God to give man a certain level of “autonomy” or “separateness.”  This is a biblical view of divine sovereignty and human autonomy.  As A.W. Tozer rightly explains:

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

Some Calvinists have wrongly concluded that the Traditionalist seeks to downplay the sovereignty of God and highlight the autonomy of man, when in reality we seek to maintain the right biblical understanding of man’s autonomy so as to better highlight the Sovereignty, Love and Holiness of our God.

I have already unpacked the attribute of God’s Sovereignty HERE and God’s Love HERE, so I would now like to turn our attention to the attribute of God’s Holiness.

If you notice that the Tozer quote above is from his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”  Tozer’s intentions, like that of the Traditionalist, is in defense of God’s Holiness, not an attempt to undermine other equally important attributes of our good God.

I suspect that Tozer, like myself, would wholeheartedly agree with John Piper’s teaching on God’s Holiness here:

“Every effort to define the holiness of God ultimately winds up by saying: God is holy means God is God. Let me illustrate. The root meaning of holy is probably to cut or separate. A holy thing is cut off from and separated from common (we would say secular) use. Earthly things and persons are holy as they are distinct from the world and devoted to God. So the Bible speaks of holy ground (Exodus 3:5), holy assemblies (Exodus 12:16), holy sabbaths (Exodus 16:23), a holy nation (Exodus 19:6); holy garments (Exodus 28:2), a holy city (Nehemiah 11:1), holy promises (Psalm 105:42), holy men (2 Peter 1:21) and women (1 Peter 3:5), holy scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15), holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8), a holy kiss (Romans 16:16), and a holy faith (Jude 20). Almost anything can become holy if it is separated from the common and devoted to God.

But notice what happens when this definition is applied to God himself. From what can you separate God to make him holy? The very god-ness of God means that he is separate from all that is not God. There is an infinite qualitative difference between Creator and creature. God is one of a kind. Sui generis. In a class by himself. In that sense he is utterly holy. But then you have said no more than that he is God.” – John Piper (emphasis added) <link>

Notice the common term used to describe God’s Holiness and man’s autonomy? The word “separate” is referenced in both definitions. This is significant.

Some Calvinists fail to see that the Traditionalists defense of man’s separateness (autonomy) is actually in defense of God’s Holiness, or as Piper put it, God’s separateness “from all that is not God.” But, in a world of divine meticulous control of all things, what is left to be considered “separate” in any meaningful sense of the word?

One would think that sinful intentions would be included in “all that is not God,” yet many Calvinistic scholars affirm that man’s sinful intentions are unchangeably predetermined or brought about by God so as to glorify Himself (see HERE).

We must understand that John Piper, while holding to the same definition of Holiness as Tozer (or Traditionalists), comes to a very different conclusion about the nature of our thrice Holy God.

Continuing with the quote above, Piper concludes:

“If the holiness of a man derives from being separated from the world and devoted to God, to whom is God devoted so as to derive his holiness? To no one but himself. <link>”

Piper fails to relate his understanding of God’s Holiness (separateness) to the nature of morally accountable creatures (as autonomously separate), but instead uses this attribute to emphasize his Calvinistic view of God’s self-seeking nature. Piper is arguing that God is all about Himself because there is no “higher reality than God to which He must conform in order to be holy.” In other words, God is all about God because there is nothing more Holy than God. But, what does this even mean unless you establish that which God has separated Himself from in the meticulously determined world of Piper’s Calvinism? How can one celebrate God being about God unless you separate that which is not about God from that which is about God? What exactly can be deemed as “separated” in a worldview where absolutely everything is brought about by God for God? Holiness loses its meaning in a deterministic worldview because nothing can be described in any significant way as being “separate” from God and His will.

It is senseless to speak of God’s Holiness (as separateness) unless there is something outside of God from which to separate. God cannot be separated from Himself or His own choices. And if you insist on the one hand that God is unchangeably determining all creature’s sinful inclinations so as to glorify Himself, then how can you on the other hand claim that God is wholly separate from those same sinful, yet self-glorifying means?  You might as well be claiming A is not A (God is separate but not separate).

Listen, either God is implicated in moral evil or He is not. He is either Holy or He is not. He is either separate (an affirmation of both Divine Holiness and human autonomy) or He is not (a denial of both Divine Holiness and human autonomy). Do not allow the Calvinists to have their cake and eat it too on this point.

John Piper takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that “God is all about Himself.” Whereas, Tozer takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that while God would be perfectly just to be all about Himself and His own glorification, He graciously chooses to glorify undeserving creatures who have separated themselves from Him through autonomously sinful choices.

Traditionalists, like myself, simply believe that Tozer is right and Piper is wrong.

————

To hear why Dr. Ravi Zacharias believes Free Will is essential in a biblical defense of God’s existence and His goodness please watch this:


(portions of this article are taken from an earlier blog post)

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351 thoughts on “Why Debate in Defense of Free Will?

  1. James again…3…

    15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.

    Why do determinist-Calvinist confessions all state that all things/ ideas/ actions/ sins come from God? The Bible teaches us that some things just do not come from God.

    Why do we choose man-made confessions over what God says in His Word?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Today’s Proverb….28:2

    When there is moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily.
    But wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability.
    ———–

    So, be wise and knowledgeable, right? Does God pre-program you to be foolish? Irrevocably? Irresistibly? No! He tells you to be wise…. but leaves that choice up to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reading through the Bible….James 4.

    Is James writing to believers? Are these the believers that are “dead to sin” “buried with Christ”? Let’s see if James says that “being dead” means you “can’t do anything.”
    ——————

    “1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them……” [Looks again like even though we are “dead to sin” we can still do it.]

    “4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God…..” [A believer can make himself an enemy of God? Can he make himself a friend of God?]

    “5 Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him.” [He means the ALL of Scripture. Also note that God is passionate…”yearns jealously” in ESV] [And yet they write article after article about how God cannot desire/ yearn for anything from man…..because ….hummm… that would make Him “lesser”]

    “6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say,

    “God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.”
    [God gives grace generously…..not .00005% of people. He gives grace to the humble. Not ‘He gives humility to the elect’]

    “7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts…” [Humble yourself….resist….draw near….wash… purify your hearts. Who are these commands given to?]

    “10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.” [We humble…He lifts up. What is hard to understand here?]

    This is the same “The Sovereign Lord” we are dealing with in these verses….but He does not sound wooden, all-controlling, distant, impassible.

    He sounds gracious, caring (warning), encouraging (empowering by His Spirit). He sounds personal, not dictatorial.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Three verses in Proverbs 28 today for the through-the-Bible plan…. Here is verse 5

    Evil men do not understand justice,
    but those who seek the Lord understand it completely. (ESV)
    ————
    The Bible talks over and over about people “seeking the Lord.”

    Why did man come up with this “dead men don’t make choices” idea? “Seek first the kingdom,” Christ told the huge crowd on the hill. He was addressing them all (not a small handful that would be allowed to seek Him….sorry, irresistibly forced to seek Him).

    Like

    1. FOH writes, “Why did man come up with this “dead men don’t make choices” idea? ”

      I don’t think they did. I think you made it up to use as a strawman. You surely remember from you allegedly Calvinist past that the unsaved always make choices – to oppose God. Thus, we know that your complaint here is not against the Calvinists.

      Like

  5. ts00 writes, “Calvinists like to pretend as long as God is not holding the smoking gun he cannot be held responsible for the ‘ends’ he alone determined, ordained and brought to pass. It’s called ‘blame the patsy’, and has been used by powerful men for centuries.”

    I’ll guess and say that you are arguing that the Calvinist focus on God’s use of secondary means is fraught with problems, but you specifically ignore secondary means. For example, God uses the Jews as the means to the crucifixion of Christ. We read in the gospels that the Jews hated Christ and were plotting to kill Him almost from the beginning of His ministry. God does not have to incite the Jews to kill Jesus – it was their desire and intent. God does not have to hold the smoking gun – the Jews – because they are self-motivated to kill Jesus. Their is no pretense on the part of the Calvinists – all you have to do is show that God is chargeable for Chrits’s death.

    Like

  6. [M] eticulous control
    [U] nconditional sin
    [P] articular love
    [P] erseverance of double-mindedness
    [E] ffectual good-evil
    [T] otal double-speak 😀

    Like

  7. RHUTCHIN Writes, God does not have to incite the Jews to kill Jesus – it was their desire and intent. God does not have to hold the smoking gun – the Jews – because they are self-motivated to kill Jesus.

    This secondary means is nonsense let me ask you if I cut a tree with the axe who cut the tree? me or the axe and the same time the jew never lays their hand on Him but the romans who did everything in Act 2:23 “this Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men”. don’t you agree that Jew were not lawless people Romans were Jews were not the one who lift him up on the cross and crucified him but again the Romans soldier or lawless men so that means the Jew were not responsible absolutely not they were the one who force the hand of Pontius Pilate John 19:12 finally per your argument God is the Primary cause Jews are the Secondary cause and Romans were the tertiary cause of Jesus death.

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    1. Excellent post Addisalem!!

      It also occurs to me that in the Calvinist system, anything that Calvin’s god uses (apart from himself) is a secondary means.
      It then follows that an “immutable decree” is a secondary means which Calvin’s god uses to “render certain” Adam’s sin.
      And also that mechanism which Calvin’s god uses to “render certain” Adam’s sin is the “force of inevitability”.

      So both “immutable decree” and “the force of inevitability” are secondary means, Calvin’s god uses to cause Adam’s sin.

      Now an “immutable decree” and “the force of inevitability” do not have free will in any form.

      Primary vs. Secondary culpability:
      Primary Culpability falls to person(s) who function as the “controller”, “director” – or what the law refers to as the “directing mind” of a wrong doing.

      Secondary Culpability falls to person(s) who function as servants, employees, agents, or who otherwise function “on behalf of” the “directing mind” in the process of a wrong doing.

      So in the case of Calvin’s god “rendering certain” Adam’s sin, Calvin’s god bears Primary Culpability, because the “immutable decree” and “the force of inevitability” (used as secondary means) do not have free will in any form.

      Culpability as defined in criminal law, descends from the Latin concept of fault (culpa).
      The concept of culpability is intimately tied up with notions of agency, freedom, and free will.
      In a court of law would Free Will is defined as the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded (i.e., the ability to “do otherwise” than one in fact does).

      Calvin’s god does not give Adam the ability to “do otherwise” than what Calvin’s god “renders certain” he do.
      Therefore, in a court of law Calvin’s god would be found culpable and not Adam.

      Like

  8. Daily reading of 11/26/17 (I would post every day if I could—-and they would all look like this)

    Look at what Peter says… 1 Peter 5

    5 “God opposes the proud
    but gives grace to the humble.”
    6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.
    ———
    Is he talking about believers?

    If so… this sounds a lot like it is “man-centered”.

    He opposes the proud (believers)
    He give grace to the humble (believers)

    But….if you humble yourself…He (the almighty, Sovereign Lord) will lift you up.

    1. This does not sound preordained, micro-managed by God.

    2. This sounds like God will do something according to what we do.

    3. This sounds like God will give grace to those who are being humble (but not grace first, right?)

    4. Why is the Sovereign Lord lifting up lowly mankind “in honor”?

    If none of these ideas are true or possible (I know—some of you will lash out at me) then why does Peter make it sound like they are?

    Why does the Word of God make it sound like we are in a personal, inter-relational relationship with God? I mean if everything is pre-ordained, unchangeably by God……

    Like

    1. FOH writes, “Why does the Word of God make it sound like we are in a personal, inter-relational relationship with God? I mean if everything is pre-ordained, unchangeably by God……”

      If God is omniscient and truly does know all future events, then “everything is pre-ordained, unchangeably by God……” We can take that which Peter writes as certain – “if you humble yourself…He (the almighty, Sovereign Lord) will lift you up.”

      Like

      1. FOH writes,
        “Why does the Word of God make it sound like we are in a personal, inter-relational relationship with God? I mean if everything is pre-ordained, unchangeably by God……”

        rhutchin responds
        If God is omniscient and truly does know all future events, then “everything is pre-ordained, unchangeably by God……” We can take that which Peter writes as certain – “if you humble yourself…He (the almighty, Sovereign Lord) will lift you up.”

        br.d
        Rhutchin provides another good example of Calvinist question-begging and Calvinist double-talk.

        1) Calvinism’s proposition “divine omniscience entails compatibilism” is simply a doctrine unique to Calvinism.

        This doctrine actually diminishes divine omniscience, making it less than omnipotent, because it stipulated God’s omniscience is not omnipotent enough to foreknow the future (libertarian) free choices of creatures.
        Rhutchin in another post asserts God’s decrees are logically prior to God’s omniscience – which denies the orthodox doctrine of omniscience which states that God has “essential” omniscience.
        “Essential” omniscience means it is an attribute that is essential to God’s existence.

        It goes without saying the God’s existence must be logically prior to God’s decrees.
        Therefore if God’s omniscience logically follows God’s decrees, it follows God exists in a state without omniscience – logically prior to decrees – which is absurd. Therefore rhutchin’s proposition denies the orthodox doctrine of “essential” omniscience.

        2) Peter is writing in the subjunctive mood (IF *YOU* WILL a THEN *GOD* WILL b).
        The language of Peter’s statement frames the subjunctive conditional as “contingent” upon the believer not upon God.
        Calvinism’s interpretation logically entails a reversal in the order of contingency.

        The *consistent* Calvinist writing of this verse would be:
        “IF Calvin’s god determines you to humble yourself THEN you CANNOT do otherwise than what Calvin’s god determines you to do”

        But that is not what Peter writes – so the Calvinist must equivocate this verse using beguiling double-talk.

        Additionally, Peter’s use of “IF” assumes “OUGHT” and “OUGHT” assumes “CAN”.
        In Calvinism “CAN” is not determined by the believer, but by Calvin’s god before the believer is born.
        These warning/exhortation statements in the N.T. are turned into double-talk by Calvinism

        William Lane Craig agrees:
        -quote: Universal divine causal determinism cannot offer a coherent interpretation of Scripture. The classical Reformed divines recognized this. They acknowledge that the reconciliation of Scriptural texts affirming human freedom and contingency with Scriptural texts affirming divine sovereignty is inscrutable.

        Like

  9. Daily reading in 2 Peter 1

    There is no way you can ‘stumble’ on Calvinism reading this kind of thing! I read it in the NLT and it is a slam dunk! Even is the Calvinist ESV it looks like this…

    5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    ——

    1. How do we “supplement’ anything ….if everything comes from God?

    2. Make an effort? In what? If God has already pre-ordained? That’s just silly.

    3. “If” these qualities are yours”….. IF ….IF….so you help right?

    4. “they keep you from being ineffective…” …so we can be effective or ineffective??? how does that work?

    5. We can forget we have been cleansed. So, what, remember, right?

    6. Diligent to confirm our calling? How do we confirm ANYTHING God has pre-ordained?

    7. “for in this way….” (v 11) ….in what way? The determinist way?

    None of this sounds deterministic-Calvinistic. Do Calvinists read The WHOLE Bible or just 50 verses and then interpret the rest with those lenses on?

    Like

    1. FOH, You know better than I that the typical Calvinist in the pew merely reads his bible, and takes it at its word. So few actually understand the assertions necessitated by their theology, and are encouraged by less than forthright pastors to ignore contradictions. ‘Both are true’, the trusting churchgoer is told, and since his trusted pastor says so, he believes him. You can point out all of the contradictions in Calvinism, but it won’t get through, because men and women have been taught that they can hold contradictory, illogical beliefs with no cognitive dissonance. I don’t know how many times I have been told ‘I don’t care about human logic, God is above what we can understand’. These people have been inoculated against truth.

      This is the strategy of modern day Calvinism, to deceive and mislead the people into trusting ‘authority’, no matter how much it might be in obvious contradiction to the genuine teaching of scripture. This is true of nearly all of the hierarchical, institutional Church, wherein the people are bullied, threatened and persuaded to trust the traditions and teachings of men over serious individual study and seeking out the leading of the Holy Spirit for understanding. I would give nearly anything to find a body of believers that has not adopted a hierarchical, authoritarian structure, without having to become Amish or Mennonite. I long for the fellowship and encouragement of fellow believers who are serious about studying God’s Word and doing and becoming what he desires. I’m done playing church; I have no desire to hear week after week what some man thinks scripture means, or what his confessions, creeds and authorities have told him it means.

      On Sun, Nov 26, 2017 at 10:31 PM, SOTERIOLOGY 101 wrote:

      > fromoverhere commented: “Daily reading in 2 Peter 1 There is no way you > can ‘stumble’ on Calvinism reading this kind of thing! I read it in the NLT > and it is a slam dunk! Even is the Calvinist ESV it looks like this… 5 > For this very reason, make every effort to suppleme” >

      Like

      1. ts00 writes, “You know better than I that the typical Calvinist in the pew merely reads his bible, and takes it at its word. ”

        Oh, if only all would do this. Calvinists follow in the footsteps of the Bereans.

        Like

    2. FOH, You know better than I that the typical Calvinist in the pew merely reads his bible, and takes it at its word without even knowing what his ‘Calvinism’ teaches. So few actually understand the assertions necessitated by their theology, and are encouraged by less than forthright pastors to ignore contradictions. ‘Both are true’, the trusting churchgoer is told, and since his trusted pastor says so, he believes him. You can point out all of the contradictions in Calvinism, but it won’t get through, because men and women have been taught that they can hold contradictory, illogical beliefs with no cognitive dissonance. I don’t know how many times I have been told ‘I don’t care about human logic, God is above what we can understand’. These people have been inoculated against truth.

      This is the strategy of modern day Calvinism, to deceive and mislead the people into trusting ‘authority’, no matter how much it might be in obvious contradiction to the genuine teaching of scripture. This is true of nearly all of the hierarchical, institutional Church, wherein the people are bullied, threatened and persuaded to trust the traditions and teachings of men over serious individual study and seeking out the leading of the Holy Spirit for understanding. I would give nearly anything to find a body of believers that has not adopted a hierarchical, authoritarian structure, without having to become Amish or Mennonite. I long for the fellowship and encouragement of fellow believers who are serious about studying God’s Word and doing and becoming what he desires. I’m done playing church; I have no desire to hear week after week what some man thinks scripture means, or what his confessions, creeds and authorities have told him it means.

      Like

    3. FOH asks, “1. How do we “supplement’ anything ….if everything comes from God?”

      Did you forget what you said earlier, “But….if you humble yourself…He (the almighty, Sovereign Lord) will lift you up.” So, from Matthew 7, “how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

      Then, “2. Make an effort? In what? If God has already pre-ordained? That’s just silly.”

      Certainty. For example, “if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

      Then, “3. “If” these qualities are yours”….. IF ….IF….so you help right?”

      Calvinists say that sanctification is a synergistic process.

      Then, “4. “they keep you from being ineffective…” …so we can be effective or ineffective??? how does that work?”

      From the Scripture cited, “they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

      Then, “5. We can forget we have been cleansed. So, what, remember, right?”

      Yes. “Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands–remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2)

      Then, “6. Diligent to confirm our calling? How do we confirm ANYTHING God has pre-ordained?”

      By taking God at His word to see that He has indeed called you. Hold God to His promises to His elect – “if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”

      Then “7. “for in this way….” (v 11) ….in what way? The determinist way? ”

      Yep. God has determined to keep His promises. We find one such promise in the cited Scripture.

      Then, “None of this sounds deterministic-Calvinistic. Do Calvinists read The WHOLE Bible or just 50 verses and then interpret the rest with those lenses on?’

      These verses do not address the issue of determinism. They identify as certain that which God has determined.

      Like

  10. RHUTCHIN Write, “Weren’t the Jews instrumental is getting Pilate to turn Jesus over for crucifixion?”

    Of Course they are I wrote this “the Jew were not responsible absolutely not they were the one who force the hand of Pontius Pilate” but as your assumption they were just instrument because they can’t do otherwise no free will in their part.

    The then Jew ask Pontius Pilate two things,

    1) To kill Jesus

    2)To not call Him The King of the Jews

    He agree with the first request and refuse the second one because he is free to do so

    You say this- ” the Jews because they are self-motivated to kill Jesus”

    Have you ever heard of self motivated gun who kill somebody? of course not because it’s just a mere weapon but if men doesn’t act against His will by using his God given freedom to do otherwise what you are saying it doesn’t make sense.

    In my humble opinion the reformed worldview try to distance God from all evil happened over the years, at the same time trying to make Him powerful by making Him the author of everything that ever happen, that is bad theology

    I totally understand what BR.D repeatedly said about double speak or double mind if you read BR.D post he made an excellent point.

    Like

    1. AW writes, “n my humble opinion the reformed worldview try to distance God from all evil happened over the years, at the same time trying to make Him powerful by making Him the author of everything that ever happen, that is bad theology ”

      A bad theology begotten by a bad opinion.

      Like

  11. Daily reading, now 2 Peter 1…

    12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. 13 And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. 14 For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, 15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.
    ——-

    Why does Peter say he is “reminding” us? So we “stand firm”? So we do not forget and make bad choices?

    Why does he say he will “work hard” so that we “always remember”?

    Doesn’t this sound “man-centered”?

    That is such a go-for-the-jugular accusation when a Calvinist pulls that out. But this passage is about Peter “working hard” to “remind us” (lest we forget).

    It just appears so often in page after page of Scripture that God is challenging us to “walk in the Spirit” “work hard” “stand firm” “remember” …..and on and on.

    So we might not stand firm …..but we can. We might not work hard….but we can. We might not ‘walk in the Spirit’ ….but we can.

    No one here is saying we “work for salvation”….or that we are “higher than God” or that we are “man-centered, not God-centered” but in reading the Scripture every day, we can repeatedly see that God created in such a way that we make real choices all the time.

    To insist that all decisions have been mechanically, and unalterably made before time began just makes a mockery of all that God commands us to do ….stand…walk….remember….

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    1. FOH writes: “To insist that all decisions have been mechanically, and unalterably made before time began just makes a mockery of all that God commands us to do ….stand…walk….remember….”

      Sadly, in making a mockery of all that God commands us to do, faulty teaching renders men feeble, powerless and immature, ever in need of the milk of the first things of salvation, arguing them all the day long. What is left behind? Growing in wisdom and maturity, overcoming sinful, selfish lifestyles and serving the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of others as we are commanded.

      The Institutional Church has been used in great measure to sidetrack believers from walking with God and plugging them back in to a ritualistic, sacral religion. Oh, we love to go to church! Praise bands, hymn sings, potlucks, friends and laughter . . . this is what keeps the folks coming. Whereas Paul writes in Hebrews 10 that the purpose of meeting with other believers is ‘encouraging one another’, as well as ‘to stir up one another to love and good works’.

      What has been effectively trampled into the dust (Truth) since the Protestant Reformation is that we are saved, not BY but to DO good works. Was it a straw man all along to argue that we are not saved BY good works, in order to frighten men from doing good works? Does this not sound like the goal of the deceiver, rather than the God who made us to do the good works he foreordained? Don’t we see that Satan cares little about what we ‘believe’ as long as we do not live out the life God intends?

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      1. TS00
        I see your point….but I would mildly disagree.

        I have attended church many times with one of my grown kids. They go to a non-denominational church….but warned me that their pastor has gone the trendy route of the YRR wave.

        I never heard one message….not even a peep about determinism etc. Only strong admonition to grow in grace, walk in the Spirit, stand firm. etc.

        After many times…we all agreed (as I often say here) that a person can carry the YRR-card in the pocket, but they do not live/ teach/ preach accordingly. the ones that might are the dramatic JD Hall types on the far end.

        But in the end very few, if any, really put into practice a Calvinistic-deterministic lifestyle.

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      2. FOH, I fully agree – and am thankful! – that very few Calvinists live out their Calvinism. I personally never embraced it fully, even while worshiping in a Calvinist church for over a decade. Yet one must ask, what are the subtle ramifications of proclaiming a theology that asserts that you, as an elect child of God, ultimately have a license to live however you desire? ‘Sin boldly’ is not some caricature of Luther; it is the logical conclusion of a forensic, sacral religious system.

        In my opinion, that is the main draw, and the greatest danger of Calvinism and its progeny, Protestantism. It turns believers into ‘churchgoers’, who believe their entire responsibility to God is accomplished by attending ‘worship’ services and following the Ten Commandments. They become good Judaists. They are taught to avoid seriously contemplating the oppression and neediness of so many in our world by the scorn of their teachers over the ‘social gospel’. They are urged to pride themselves on their clearly superior understanding of doctrinal truths, and their self-righteous attempts to live out the Big Ten. They totally miss Jesus’ message in the Sermon on the Mount. We end up with the very thing Jesus condemned – self-righteous Pharisees who believe themselves purer and holier than the ‘pagans’, rather than suffering servants who go out amongst the lost and needy to demonstrate the sure love of God for them.

        That is not to say there are no authentic, God-loving pastors or followers in the Institutional Church – but they are going against the grain of institutionalization. Most, I am beginning to believe, eventually find themselves being led by the Spirit of God down different paths than the masses. Most of the men and women I personally know who have a deep heart for God have sought earnestly for a faithful church, and settled on the least bad option they can find. They go from church to church, only to find the doors barred if they do not submit to prescribed interpretations of scripture. Submission to authority – traditions of men – is the mantra, just as it has always been in the Institutional Church.

        Many long for the manifestations of the true Body of Christ, but settle for the crumbs of a supportive community. I do not mean to offend – I count myself among that number. I merely believe that we are in much the same situation as the lost sheep when Jesus came, being driven by false shepherds who mostly serve their own inerests, while the flock suffers for lack of hope, encouragement and understanding. Indeed, that is how I found myself in a Calvinist church to begin with, after we had tried, and found wanting, so many other churches. Calvinism, like Catholicism, encourages its members to rest in the wisdom and authority of its traditions. When found seriously wanting, questions and solutions are not encouraged, but submission to ‘orthodoxy’ or the proclaimed ‘Truth’ of the Institution.

        Should one reject the Orthodox Churches, seeking a church that attempts to recognize the ‘priesthood of the believer’ or God’s promise to put his laws on our hearts and write them on our minds, the choices tend to those who have abandoned all attempts to ascertain Truth. One must choose between legalism and affirming any and all behavior. Calvinism has subtly taken over the ‘conservative’ world, and those who understand the value of freedom have felt compelled to abandon all standards. It is my opinion that Satan has worked very hard to establish this false dichotomy, equally happy if people choose legalism or liberalism, as long as they do not practice the teachings of the New Testament.

        I would be more than happy should anyone point me to exceptions to my perceived state of affairs.

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      3. I agree with this – and Calvin himself realizes the cognitive dissonance his “Frankenstein” theology entails.
        That’s why he teaches his disciples to -quote “go about your office *AS-IF* nothing were determined in any part”

        You mentioned JD Hall types.
        I’m not familiar with that – can you elaborate?
        Thanks in advance :-]

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      4. I dont really like to bring in particular names.

        You can easily find him on the internet. The point is that there are plenty out there that think that James White, Keller, etc are not “reformed enough” and call them out in public. to not be so “wimpy”

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      5. I was long arrested in growth by the false belief that my ‘belief’ or doctrinal integrity, was what really mattered. I am now convinced that it actually matters very little. We will not be judged on our understanding of the intricate distinctions between justification and sanctification. We will not be condemned because we did not properly understand propitiation. Those whose fruits demonstrate that they believe in the goodness of God’s mercy and love,those who seek wholeheartedly to love him and others in response will be approved by God. I’m not so sure God is holding his breath over the outcomes of centuries long doctrinal debates.

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      6. ts00 writes, “I was long arrested in growth by the false belief that my ‘belief’ or doctrinal integrity, was what really mattered.”

        You were arrested because you were too lazy to study the Scriptures. Don’t blame others for your shortcomings.

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      7. I have more shortcomings than I care to admit. 🙂 However, in my Calvinist church I indeed found myself studying scripture less than I had in the past, mostly because a) it had become so confusing, as it seemed to contradict everything I was being told was true, and b) I was warned that it was dangerous to try and understand scripture on my own, and should look to authoritative opinions of confessions, creeds and teachers.

        The very first thing I did upon casting off Calvinism once and for all was to pick up my bible, and I could not stop weeping for joy over rediscovering an old, trustworthy friend. I felt free to read of the love of God for all men, and rejoice that it was true! My heart felt as if it was breaking for the lost, and from the guilt of having so carelessly written them off as obviously unloved by God. I began thumbing through and rereading all of my old favorites, and found, to my delight, that they all made sense again. I am something of a reserved person, but I wept and laughed and rejoiced more that first week out of Calvinism than I ever have, and I still have an insatiable hunger for scripture.

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      8. ts00 writes, “in my Calvinist church I indeed found myself studying scripture less than I had in the past, mostly because…”

        Sounds like your church was full of lazy Calvinists and you learned some really bad habits.

        Then, “I felt free to read of the love of God for all men, and rejoice that it was true! My heart felt as if it was breaking for the lost, and from the guilt of having so carelessly written them off as obviously unloved by God.”

        So, are you an Universalist now?? If not, how do you account for a loving God not saving all people?

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      9. truthsekker writes
        I am something of a reserved person, but I wept and laughed and rejoiced more that first week out of Calvinism than I ever have, and I still have an insatiable hunger for scripture.

        br.d
        A wonderful testimony!!!
        Thank you Truthseeker!! :-]

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      10. ts00 writes, “What has been effectively trampled into the dust (Truth) since the Protestant Reformation is that we are saved, not BY but to DO good works.”

        Not trampled by the Calvinists who lift up sola fide but trample solo fide.

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    2. FOH writes, “It just appears so often in page after page of Scripture that God is challenging us to “walk in the Spirit” “work hard” “stand firm” “remember” …..and on and on.”

      The process of sanctification is not a cake-walk. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8)

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  12. On my research on Dr. White’s view of the free will of “creature’s” – came across this quote from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. This could be were this idea is rooted. Still don’t get the distinction without a difference he is making but I’m a little closer than I was yesterday. 🙂

    (Mere Christianity, pp86-87)
    Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And, taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a Heaven creature or into a hellish creature — either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures and with itself.

    To be the one kind of creature is Heaven: that is, it is joy, and peace, and knowledge, and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.

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    1. dr4Christ cities CS Lewis, “Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.”

      That is an interesting thought. That would seem to mean that the older a person gets (taking into account the point in their life where God saves them) the more polarized they become. Determining whether that is true would make for an interesting study. I would tend to think that there is a large group of people who really don’t change much at all – preferring a lukewarm position. – maybe a very narrow bell shaped curve with those changing most over time being at the extremity.

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  13. rhutch writes:
    Why “necessarily”? I don’t see why God’s decrees cannot include secondary causes. An example is the numbering of Israel by David where one Scripture attributes this to God and another to Satan.

    br.d
    Here the Calvinist makes believe that a secondary cause is not itself caused- logically from a primary (antecedent) cause.
    AS-IF the number 2 doesn’t follow the number 1.

    In Calvinism’s case the primary cause is always the immutable decree – from which *ALL** things which come to pass are its consequences.

    Now you and I know that the number 2 always follows the number 1.
    But shhhh!!! don’t tell the Calvinist – that is logic he’s not supposed to know about! 😀

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