John Piper on God Ordaining All Sin And Evil Part 1: An Arminian Response to Piper’s First “Question” July 25, 2015July 25, 2015 • admin Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading...
72 thoughts on “John Piper on God Ordaining All Sin And Evil Part 1: An Arminian Response to Piper’s First “Question””
Been reading arminianperspectives for a long time now, best Arminian site. Have you done anything on the catchphrase “Calvinism *is* the Gospel,” I find that particularly irritating.
kangeroodort writes, “To say that God “permits” sin to come about “necessarily” is nothing more than saying that God “established a world” in which sin happens of necessity. In the Edwards/Piper/Calvinist scheme, man is powerless to control his nature. Man is powerless to choose or act contrary to “strongest motive force.” …All these things are necessitated by the eternal all-encompassing decree of God. Adam’s sin, mankind’s consequent fallen nature, and every subsequent thought, motive, desire, and act are necessitated by eternal divine decree.”
Let’s review history. God creates the world setting in motion a sequence of events that are known and certain. God creates Adam and Eve and places them in the garden. Satan desires to enter to tempt them but is unable to do so as God restrains him. God then steps aside – a choice/decree He makes – and Satan, no longer restrained, enters the garden. God knows the outcome as Christ has already been slain – God has already decreed that Christ be slain. Once Adam sins, mankind becomes corrupted so that God must now restrain the evil that people do so that, “every subsequent thought, motive, desire, and act are necessitated (but restrained) by eternal divine decree.” This means that God decides how far mankind will be able to pursue sinful acts.
What is missing from kangeroodort’s argument is a proof that God is the cause of anything other than creating the world, creating Adam/Eve, creating the garden, and creating Satan to be the antagonist. Does God make or cause Satan to tempt Eve – No. Does God make or cause Adam to eat the fruit – No.
kangeroodort wrongly states that “God “permits” sin to come about “necessarily” is nothing more than saying that God “established a world” in which sin happens of necessity.” He should have said that “God “permits” sin to come about “necessarily” is nothing more than saying that God “established a world” in which God decides (decrees) that sin happens of necessity.” God created the world good so sin was not a necessity. God decreed that Satan not be restrained from entering the garden and it is only consequent to Adam eating the fruit that sin becomes a necessity.
Just curious, do you hold that God has exhaustive foreknowledge? If so, is that foreknowledge based on His eternal decree, or something else?
kangeroodort asks, “do you hold that God has exhaustive foreknowledge?”
kangeroodort then asks, “If so, is that foreknowledge based on His eternal decree, or something else?’
Two questions here. 1. How do we know that God is omniscient (including the subset of exhaustive foreknowledge? 2. How did God become omniscient – especially with regard to the future?
1. God must be omniscient because He is immutable, is all wise, and has infinite understanding.
– As God is immutable and does not change, His knowledge of His creation cannot increase – if God is continually increasing in knowledge, then He cannot be immutable.
– God makes wise decisions and without exhaustive foreknowledge, the decisions that God makes will reflect less than complete knowledge making His decisions less that the wisest possible.
– God understands the impacts of His decisions. This understanding relates to all subsequent (future) impacts of those decisions. As God has infinite understanding, He has an exhaustive knowledge of all impacts. At the least, God would know the natural outcome of His decisions
2. One way for God to gain exhaustive foreknowledge is to make decisions (decrees). When God decides to create the universe, then the world, then Adam/Eve, and finally that Satan should tempt Adam/Eve, He knows all impacts of those decisions from His infinite understanding – those decisions with their impacts form His knowledge. If God stopped making decisions, history would proceed to a natural conclusion – known to God through His infinite understanding. If God continues to intervene, He would know the natural conclusion to His last intervention. Thus, God can derive exhaustive foreknowledge from His eternal decrees as His eternal decrees change the natural order and God knows those changes – they reflect decisions He makes – as well as their natural outcomes.
To spare you wasting time, rhutchin repeatedly claims that non-Calvinists do not hold to foreknowledge. His own position is that God only foreknows what the future will be because he has decreed/ordained/determined it. So for him the foreknowledge is based on his decrees.
Just a warning, he will go around and around and around with you on this topic of foreknowledge. You may not want to go in circles with him about this. But it’s your choice! 🙂
Robert, you could help him out by addressing the issues of immutability, wisdom, and infinite understanding and their relation to exhaustive foreknowledge.
I responded to the question, “…is that foreknowledge based on His eternal decree, or something else?” I showed how it can be based on God’s decrees. Perhaps you can identify “something else” that also works and exp[lain how it leads to foreknowledge. Given that no one else has done this, I’m guessing that you cannot do it either. I’m betting that you do what everyone else does – appeal to mystery; we just can’t know.
I didn’t ask if God’s decrees could be based on His decrees. I asked if you held that they were based on His decrees. You also say God’s decrees are best understood as His decisions. If that is the case then God decided how everything would be from eternity and His knowledge of how things would be (foreknowledge) was based on His decisions alone. Is that right?
“Decrees based on decrees”?? I don’t know what you mean.
Regardless, When God makes a decision, that decision is His decree. When God decides that a sparrow should fall to the earth, He has decreed that the sparrow fall to the earth. So, to say that God decides is to say that God decrees.
Certainly, when God makes a decision/decree, that decision/decree becomes part of His knowledge. There is no decision that God makes regarding His creation that has not always been known to Him before the foundation of the world. So, I agree with your statement, “If that is the case then God decided how everything would be from eternity and His knowledge of how things would be (foreknowledge) was based on His decisions alone.” This must be so because of the three points I made regarding God’s immutability, wisdom, and infinite understanding. If God did not have perfect knowledge of the future, then there would be something that He had not considered in His decisions thereby negating His infinite understanding and calling into question the perfect wisdom of His decisions.
I’ve been thinking about this. I forget if you previously said, but do you see autonomous free will as an incoherent thought, a logical impossibility, in the light of omniscience? Some Calvies do and some don’t. I’m thinking of this simple scenario to break down and illustrate the point, that God creates one creature. He gives this one creature straight off, the choice to push two buttons, A or B. A means the creature loves and wants God’s will, B means the creature rejects and hates God’s will. The creature is told to push one or the other. The whole point of this scenario is that God wants the creature to really make a choice completely independent of God, himself—not independent of God’s empowerment to make the choice, but rather that the choice itself is independent of God’s influence. But with omniscience we have the logical problem that even with autonomy God knows the choice. So the question is, could God create true autonomy, and if so, would God still shoulder the responsibility. Even if God didn’t know the choice of the creature (ala Open Theism), God would *still* know the real possibility. In that sense I don’t see how even Open Theism *truly* gets God off the hook. It’s like if I throw a black widow spider into my son’s room, I don’t *know* for certain whether the spider will bite my child. But merely by creating that possibility I’ve been irresponsible. I would say though, it’s very deeply intuitive for me to view God as not wanting evil to happen. This creates a paradox in my thoughts that Calvinists, by viewing evil as something God has a righteous purpose in, don’t have to deal with. So in your view is God putting anything beyond his control a logical impossibility, simply because God will always know how it turns out? God’s omniscience somehow logically gives him the responsibility for the results of *anything* he could possibly create?
dizerner asks, “do you see autonomous free will as an incoherent thought, a logical impossibility, in the light of omniscience?’
No one can be autonomous with respect to God. A person can be autonomous with respect to other people. It’s a sovereignty issue – God exercises absolute control over His creation so nothing within that creation can be autonomous or independent of Him.
Then, “He gives this one creature straight off, the choice to push two buttons, A or B.”
This describes Adam’s situation.
Then “with omniscience we have the logical problem that even with autonomy God knows the choice.”
There is only a logical problem if there is a dependent relationship between autonomy and omniscience. I have not found that anyone has proven such a relationship. William Craig has developed a proof showing no such relationship. Omniscience is not an issue with a person’s ability to choose.
Then, “…would God still shoulder the responsibility.”
I believe the Scriptures are clear that God assumes responsibility for any act in His creation. What God does not do is cause those acts – they are free acts and not coerced by God. God is on the hook if He causes a person to act as he does and the person did not freely choose how he wanted to act.
Then, “God’s omniscience somehow logically gives him the responsibility for the results of *anything* he could possibly create?”
“Responsibility” is not the issue in the problem of evil; the problem of evil posits that God is the cause of evil simply because He is the first cause – God created as described in Genesis 1. The problem of evil was created by atheists to confound weak minded believers.
Do you consider yourself a true compatibilist then? (aka determinism & free will can truly coexist)
If a person is a slave to sin and cannot do good (other than that good being not as evil as the actions of others), is he morally responsible? I am not sure that everyone would say, Yes, to this. Most would think that Libertarian Free Will is required for moral responsibility, which it is, but everyone with LFW rejects eternal death and chooses salvation so this excludes all those not saved. Then the issue is whether God can hold the unsaved morally responsible for their sin given that they were slaves to sin and could do nothing other than sin – making the deterministic influence of slavery to sin incompatible with LFW (which the unsaved cannot possess). To make it compatible, we reduce free will to freedom from coercion. So, am I a true compatibilist? Yes, if you allow slavery to sin and the need for a slave to sin to do as he desires such that he is not coerced to evil.
I see. That doesn’t sound to me like true compatibilism then, but what a lot of people would call Calvinistic compatibilism (free decisions that aren’t truly autonomous). Slavery to sin for me is kind of a separate issue. Romans 7 describes a slavery where you are forced to do that which you do no want. How can that kind of slavery disprove freewill? In general we think of “slaves” as people in a bad way, people who are forced to do something someone else wants. I’ve conceived of, sort of a meta-view of slavery; that is, a more metaphorical idea, where you simply can’t help what you want. I’d not call us “slaves” to breathing, though in that sense we are. Nor would I call a child a “slave” to liking ice cream and playgrounds, though in some sense I guess they are. And Christians are called slaves to Christ and righteousness, yet I believe they are “voluntary” slaves—they choose to be slaves. So the way i see it, a sinner is a slave to sin, this does not eliminate his LFW, it simply subdues it, such that his LFW is suppressed as much as a literal slave might be in chains or under lashes to perform the will of another still has the LFW to want something else. But we might argue, that because the sinner’s very nature is unregenerate, this would so effect their will as to never will any good. But even Christ said evil people can give good gifts, or that unsaved people could do acts of faith (the centurian) or that even tax collectors could so choose to admit their own sin nature. I see righteous acts as, compared to, let’s say, lifting 1,000 pound weights. Nobody could ever do it, but they could walk up to the weights and say “I’d like to life that if I could,” or they could say “I can’t possibly lift that, would someone lift it for me.” And Calvinists come along and say that admission of inability and humble trust in another is somehow lifting the weights yourself, that simply saying “I can’t but I trust you God to do it,” is actually doing it. To show Calvinists we believe in a form of original sin, we introduce the concept of prevenient grace, that basically allows evangelism to theoretically give people a real choice, to say “Hey you can’t be righteous, but here’s a way you can without actually being righteous, a different way altogether, a way of faith.” But I also often think it’s a very fitting “meta” slavery that people themselves think they are choosing and wanting something and don’t realize that another being is riding them altogether; the devil driving, as it were, our flesh. And it does seem a very beautiful way of looking at grace, that the righteous desires are actually the Holy Spirit’s power channeling through us, without any power of our own. Still how can you say “bondage of the will” as Luther did, without admitting that there is a will to be in bondage; it’s not a “bondage” if the will is really and truly free already, but only free to pursue one thing (sin). The thing that’s different to me about your posts, is you often say something that sounds a heck of a lot like LFW (unlike most Calvies) but then add a framework of some kind of dissolving everything back to God anyway, and it just feels like a magic trick—now you see, now you don’t.
Thanks for clarifying.
“Romans 7 describes a slavery where you are forced to do that which you do no want.”
This applies to the believer who finds that he sins when he does not want to do so. The unbeliever is not forced to accept the salvation that he does not want and cannot be the subject of Romans 7.
Seems like my point is still made whether it’s a believer or a non-believers. Slaves can have free wills.
People seem to agree that Adam had Libertarian Free Will and then lost this capacity when he sinned. Now, while sinners have free will, it can mean only that they are free from coercion and not from their sinful desires (thus not LFW).
How do you say that sinners still have LFW? Can a person have LFW and reject salvation? Do you have a definition for LFW that is governing your beliefs about it?
How do you say that sinners still have LFW? Can a person have LFW and reject salvation?
Because bondage means you can’t always do what you choose. A slave can use his LFW to “want” to be free, but that doesn’t make him free does it? And if he doesn’t have LFW, in what sense is he a slave? He’s not a slave if there is no will of another being imposed on him. In that sense, under determinism, everything is God’s slave, since God is imposing his decretive will on all.
OK I’m confused. You writes, “A slave can use his LFW to “want” to be free, but that doesn’t make him free does it?” However, the Scriptures tell us that the sinner only wants to sin and be free to sin. So, he wants to be “free” to sin and he is free to sin – at least as far as God lets him go. If all the sinner wants to do is sin, then he does not have LFW.
Then you write, “And if he doesn’t have LFW, in what sense is he a slave? He’s not a slave if there is no will of another being imposed on him” A sinner who has no LFW does as he desires – his desire is to sin – but he is not coerced to sin. The sinner is a enemy of God and has no desire for good. Give the sinner libertarian free will and he can desire good.
The you write, “under determinism, everything is God’s slave, since God is imposing his decretive will on all.”
God does not make or cause sinners to do His will. He merely restrains them in their pursuit of sin such that their sin meshes into His plans – the life of Joseph being a good example of God working through the sins of others to carry out His plans. I don’t know what your point is in this comment.
However, the Scriptures tell us that the sinner only wants to sin and be free to sin.
The Scriptures tell us the Holy Spirit comes to convict the world of sin. If they are dead in sin in your Calvinistic sense, how can they ever be convicted? You simply insist that “dead” means no LFW, then impose that back onto the Bible (as far as I can tell).
A sinner who has no LFW does as he desires – his desire is to sin – but he is not coerced to sin. Give the sinner libertarian free will and he can desire good.
Desiring good is not doing good. Scripture is clear on that: “the good I *will* to do, that I do *not* do,” Romans 7. A sinner can desire to do good all day long and all night long, that doesn’t mean he did something good. If merely desiring good was doing good, than anything you desire would mean you did it already. I *desire* to fly, so that means I’m flying? I *desire* to marry a model, so that means I’m married to a model? I *desire* to swim the Atlantic ocean, so that means I swam it? Besides Scripture is clear the sinner is carying out the will of *Satan* not his own will. He *thinks* he is carrying out his own will, but is in actuality carrying out the will of another. That’s why he can truly be called a “slave” in any sense. Scripture says “the sin living in me, is doing it,” because all humans were sold to sin in Adam.
God does not make or cause sinners to do His will. He merely restrains them in their pursuit of sin such that their sin meshes into His plans
“Make,” “cause,” it doesn’t matter what word you like or don’t like. How can God “restrain” what God himself purposed and decreed? If I have my dog on a leash, and I’m holding him back when he tries to attack you, I’m restraining my dog, because my dog has a will contrary to mine. But if I trained my dog for 5 years specifically for one purpose, to attack and kill you, than what am I really restraining but my own secret will? My point in this comment is simply this: under Calvinists logic, what God wants always happens, regardless of anyone’s LFW or anything at all. That is the very definition of slavery—one will dominating another entity. All of creation is God’s slave, under determinism.
“Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.” Psalm 58
“For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’” Psalm 95
“There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Romans 3
Such as are described in these verses cannot be said to have LFW (by the usual definition). Thus, it is necessary that the Holy Spirit intervene in the person’s life to convict of sin – the sinner has no awareness of their sin otherwise.
The Scriptures tell us that the sinner only wants to sin and be free to sin. If you really want to contest this point, say something substantive.
Desiring good is not doing good but it is a prerequisite to doing good. A sinner cannot desire to do good and does not. Whatever “good” a sinner does is relative to the evil that others do – it has no goodness in God’s eyes – all our righteousness is as filthy rags. I did not see any point to what you wrote – it was confused from the start.
A very confused comment. You describe how a person trains his dog to attack, but surely, you don’t mean to say that God trains people to sin? Do you? If not, what did it contribute to whatever argument you were trying to make? Then you conclude, “under Calvinists logic, what God wants always happens, regardless of anyone’s LFW or anything at all. That is the very definition of slavery—one will dominating another entity. All of creation is God’s slave, under determinism.” This is nonsense. A person under slavery does as his master commands. The sinner is controlled by his master – Satan – and does as Satan commands but not because Satan makes him do his bidding but because he has the same desires as Satan. If creation were enslaved to God, it would do as God commands – it doesn’t. Where do you get the foolishness you write??
Where do you get the foolishness you write??
You need to realize that when all Arminians make the same criticisms of Calvinism they are not just being corporately mindless. They are saying something about the logic that Calvinists use, that the Calvinists themselves don’t think their logic leads to. For example a Calvinist might say “2+2=5” and then the Arminian might say “2+2=4.” The Calvinist, because he firmly believes 2+2=5, says “What foolish nonsense that makes no point! 2+2 is not 4!!” The Arminian is thinking, “I know that *you* think 2+2=5. That’s not what I’m arguing. I’m arguing that you came to the right conclusion about your own set of beliefs.”
If we argue for any Divine determinism, that all things are in any way, by any number of secondary means, by any number of shadowy behind-the-scenes puppetry, if in any way that ends up in a form of control, God does indeed determine every single thing that happens, there is no freedom anywhere in creation, it’s all illusory. You can’t have your cake of determinism and eat your freedom cake too. You can’t truly create any subset where you say “here is real freedom,” because in the end it is purely illusory. So to us, all we here is double-speak like a good politician, when any Calvinist or Divine determinist tries to use the words “freedom” or “choice” or “responsibility” or “permission,” since determinism doesn’t allow a real definition of those words that we use in everyday life, but rather a radically redefined definition where the word changes meaning.
dizerner writes, “If we argue for any Divine determinism…God does indeed determine every single thing that happens, there is no freedom anywhere in creation, it’s all illusory.”
This makes no sense. These comments are meaningless meanderings about things for which there is no logical argument for support. You are just stating personal beliefs that you have gotten from who knows where. You seem to have little understanding of “determinism” and what it means, To say that determinism makes free will illusory is nonsense. You reason from a limited human perspective and seem to have no conception of an infinite being – God – who interacts with His creation with perfect wisdom, infinite understanding, and absolute sovereignty. These concepts appear to be foreign to you. What do you mean by “shadowy behind-the-scenes puppetry” and what does that have to do with God? What do you mean by “real freedom” and how do you think it works. You seem to have certain ideas that popped into your head, and you throw them out as if there was actually substance to them. The stuff you write does not make sense and I doubt that you could even give definition to the ideas of which you write such that they would apply to real life not even taking into account the Scriptures. So, where do you get this stuff??
It appears everything I say, no matter how hard I try to be very clear, seems nonsensical and incomprehensible to you. I think most others would understand something of the logic I am using, but it doesn’t click with you for some reason. I’m sorry to have wasted your time, but thanks for trying to explain your point of view. Bless.
You do not use logic. You write opinion pieces.
Is that…. just your opinion?
I read your comments. That’s what you write.
Seems eminently logical.
I wish I had more time to devote to this as I find so many of your comments to be very convoluted and incoherent. It seems that often you talk like an Arminian who holds to LFW while also maintaining that everything was unconditionally decreed by God from eternity. This last comment brings this out yet again. You say that “people seem to agree” that Adam had LFW prior to the fall. Are you one of those people who agree with that? If so, I do not see how that can possibly comport with other things you have said here about God’s foreknowledge being based on an unconditional eternal decree (unconditional in that nothing outside of Himself influenced His decree, which it seems you would agree with based on many of your comments). But again, you seem to affirm many self-contradicting ideas in what you write, so maybe this is just another example. Feel free to elaborate (in an LFW sense of “free”, of course).
If you are confused then you should explain what it is that confuses you. Calvinists hold that Adam had libertarian free will before he sinned, lost it when he sinned, and God restores LFW to His elect whereupon they accept his salvation. Given the basic understanding of libertarian free will – the ability to choose otherwise – any person with LFW naturally chooses salvation. Thus, God regenerates a person conveying LFW to them plus faith and then brings the person under the hearing of the word whereupon the person naturally accepts God’s salvation – the actual decision being, of course, a no-brainer. The Arminian has God giving all people LFW whereupon some accept salvation as to be expected but contrary to logic, others act as if they do not have LFW and reject salvation. As far as I can tell, the Arminian has a distorted understanding of LFW judging by how he applies it in his theology.
I don’t see how the free will issue has anything to do with unconditional election. People exercise free will and God exercises election and nothing is contrary in the actions either takes.
I am unaware of any contradictions in my thinking and you seem unable to explain at least one such contradiction. If you continue, how about less grandstanding and more substance.
dizerner and others who keep engaging rhutchin,
I have said before that there are certain people on the internet that it is just not a good idea to attempt to have a rational discussion with them. The term sometimes used for such a person on the internet is a troll. People tell me not to use this word and yet sometimes the word really does apply to a particular individual. If the same person makes the same point over and over and is corrected over and over and yet shows no evidence of change whatsoever, perhaps people should choose not to interact with this individual (or do so in a very limited manner).
Roger who posts as “rhutchin” is a good example of such a person. I look at this interaction between rhutchin and dizerner on this thread and wonder why dizerner would continue to keep it going when rhutchin shows all the evidences of being one of these folks that it is wise to have minimal/or no interaction with.
Just a couple of examples from this thread:
Rhutchin says directly to dizerner:
“This makes no sense. These comments are meaningless meanderings about things for which there is no logical argument for support. You are just stating personal beliefs that you have gotten from who knows where. . . . . You seem to have certain ideas that popped into your head, and you throw them out as if there was actually substance to them. The stuff you write does not make sense and I doubt that you could even give definition to the ideas of which you write such that they would apply to real life not even taking into account the Scriptures. So, where do you get this stuff??”
Dizerner then responds to this with:
“It appears everything I say, no matter how hard I try to be very clear, seems nonsensical and incomprehensible to you. I think most others would understand something of the logic I am using, but it doesn’t click with you for some reason. I’m sorry to have wasted your time,”
This kind of interaction becomes a waste of time for the rest of us who view this interaction as well.
Once you find out that rhutchin is this way, and is this way repeatedly, then why continue interacting with him?
Do people really think they are going to change him?
Do people really appreciate being told that their well-intentioned and thought out comments are “meaningless meanderings” that these comments just “popped into your head” that your stuff “does not make sense”?
How long will people keep interacting with rhutchin when they are treated this way?
And for those who are skeptical of my claims about rhutchin, care to explain how his behavior does not fit that of an internet troll?
Robert just doesn’t like having to provide arguments for the opinions he advances and basing his arguments on the Scriptures. Dizerner is not prone to using Scriptures to support his opinions so Robert has found a comrade in arms. If you pin Robert to the wall and make him prove his opinions from the Scriptures, he calls you a troll. So be it.
Wouldn’t you admit the Scriptures are unclear on some complex subjects? This whole idea that you can paste a reference in and “prove” something seems overly simplistic doesn’t it? Even Paul and Jesus didn’t handle the OT that way.
The Scriptures are “truth.” When pasting a Scripture into a discussion, a “truth” is presented. The issue then becomes whether that specific “truth” applies as it is used. We do not argue whether the Scriptures are truth, but whether that truth is relevant to the discussion.
rhutchin I quote Scripture quite often, and I see many of your posts even in this thread that have not a single verse reference in them. Should I think dismiss your arguments as “opinion”? Right now you’re seeming quite hypocritical to me…
If I write something that you don’t think squares with Scripture then it is your duty to ask for support from the scriptures. Anytime something you write gets challenged, it is then your duty to provide support from the Scriptures. We are searching for truth in the accurate understanding of the Scriptures. Let’s not waste each others time.
Robert, I understand the point you are making. I’ve come to that place with several online conversations—there’s just no way forward. I hadn’t felt like I had come to that place with rhutchin yet, and I wanted to make very sure he didn’t have some idea or argument or perspective on Scripture that I could learn from. I’m sure I get the feeling you’ve interacted with him far longer than my few weeks.
When you express your opinions, you could always start providing support for those opinions from the Scriptures. If you want to advance a conversation, the best to do so is to say, “Thus saith the Lord,” and not “This is my personal belief.”
“Robert, I understand the point you are making. I’ve come to that place with several online conversations—there’s just no way forward.”
I understand that we will not all agree on things, and that is not my problem at all. Disagreement is to be expected and what counts is how this is handled. And I understand that at times we may become overly emotional in how we express ourselves or say something in an inappropriate way.
But there is a certain type of person (my more computer savvy friends use the term “troll”). Such a person is really not interested in a discussion, they are more interested in expressing their view, and they are completely uncorrectable. Again, we all make mistakes, this is a given, but I am talking about a person who presents some idea say it is X and others correct them on X. But instead of modifying or changing or even discarding X, they just present it again and again in the same thread and also at other websites.
Rhutchin does this so often and it is sad as his points mess up and undermine a perfectly good discussion, take it off on tangents people really did not want to get into. Cause confusion and others end up getting frustrated and sometimes responding inappropriately. I have seen you get frustrated in exactly this way here.
To refer to two examples which you have experienced yourself: he is constantly claiming that non-Calvinists deny foreknowledge. If we do not hold his view, then he claims we deny and do not believe in foreknowledge. I have corrected him on this multiple times as have others. You get to the point where you just conclude this guy is unteachable. Another example that you have seen is that if someone says that Jesus died for the whole world, rhutchin then claims they are a “Universalist”. Again I have corrected him on this as have others, and again he just keeps repeating this false claim over and over and over and over again. Going from blog to blog making the same false accusations.
“I hadn’t felt like I had come to that place with rhutchin yet, and I wanted to make very sure he didn’t have some idea or argument or perspective on Scripture that I could learn from. I’m sure I get the feeling you’ve interacted with him far longer than my few weeks.”
Yes I have seen rhutchin making these false claims for a long time (much, much longer than “my few weeks”). I have friends who run other blogs and they advise to ignore him (they are the ones who first told me about the concept of a “troll”, I did not even know this term till others used it in reference to him). Usually if he is ignored at one blog, he just goes to some other blog to do his thing, which is the same thing over and over and over again. Again, we all make mistakes, we all act inappropriately at times, but this is something different.
Robert writes, “…he is constantly claiming that non-Calvinists deny foreknowledge.”
Not exactly. What I say is that certain non-Calvinists deny omniscience. The most common way is for a person to say that God has to look into in order to observe what a person does (e.g., making a decision for Christ) and thus God can know before He creates the world who will be elect. Even you must know that for God to have to learn things means that He cannot be omniscient. I constantly claim that non-Calvinists deny that God is omniscient because people are always describing God’s knowledge such that He cannot be omniscient. I don’t know what your issue is here, but you must know that this has nothing to do with the view I hold but with the definition of the term, “omniscience.” I think you are upset because I have pointed out some boners you have made.
Robert then writes, “if someone says that Jesus died for the whole world, rhutchin then claims they are a “Universalist”.
If we attach substantive meaning to the phrase, “Jesus died for the whole world,” then a person making this claim would be an Universalist if he defines world to be each and every individual. If “world” is defined to mean Jews as well as gentiles, then there is no issue. Context is important and I don’t think you always grasp context. If one were to say only that Jesus died for the sins of the world, then that has a different meaning.
The only people I see ignoring my arguments are those who cannot counter them, so they go silent. I guess that is your problem, too.
Robert, I’m still not entirely convinced that rhutchin is what I would consider a troll. To me a troll is someone who fakes a position for the sole purpose of getting people upset. But I think rhutchin may actually be sincere, and think he is making good points (even if we don’t think they are logical). I thought for a minute he might be a legitimate troll merely acting the part, but I don’t think so anymore. I think he really believes what he writes.
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Phillip, although you paste only verses in, I appreciate the point I feel you are trying to make. In our great effort to be “right” and “prove” our cherished doctrines we can often lose sight of simply having a kind and loving attitude about the whole thing, and treating people with respect and dignity.
“Phillip, although you paste only verses in, I appreciate the point I feel you are trying to make. In our great effort to be “right” and “prove” our cherished doctrines we can often lose sight of simply having a kind and loving attitude about the whole thing, and treating people with respect and dignity.”
Dizerner I agree with your point here that “we can often lose sight of simply having a kind and loving attitude . . .”
Dizerner I don’t think that is why Phillip posts the verses that he posts.
I upset him a while back and ever since then, right after I post something he will post some verse from Proverbs and now from Matthew. His verses are on “fools, and hypocrites and Pharisees”. Apparently he views me that way so he wants to quote those verses at me.
His intent does not appear at all to remind us all of “having a kind and loving attitude about the whole thing, and treating people with respect and dignity” (if it were, he would be quoting other verses). If the intent was to edify me or others and to remind us to have a loving attitude there are much more appropriate verses that convey that than what Phillip has been posting.
In my earlier post to you I had given you two examples of things rhutchin repeatedly does:
[[To refer to two examples which you have experienced yourself: he is constantly claiming that non-Calvinists deny foreknowledge. If we do not hold his view, then he claims we deny and do not believe in foreknowledge. I have corrected him on this multiple times as have others. You get to the point where you just conclude this guy is unteachable. Another example that you have seen is that if someone says that Jesus died for the whole world, rhutchin then claims they are a “Universalist”. Again I have corrected him on this as have others, and again he just keeps repeating this false claim over and over and over and over again. Going from blog to blog making the same false accusations.]]
I actually made a mistake and used the wrong word regarding the first example, I meant to say that rhutchin claims that non-Calvinists deny **omniscience** (though I used the word “foreknowledge”).]]
Dizerner (and everyone else who wants to see actual evidence in support of what I have said) note that rhutchin replies directly to my post where I had said these things and completely confirms what I had said that he does, and does repeatedly:
“What I say is that certain non-Calvinists deny omniscience. . . . I constantly claim that non-Calvinists deny that God is omniscient because people are always describing God’s knowledge such that He cannot be omniscient.”
“If we attach substantive meaning to the phrase, “Jesus died for the whole world,” then a person making this claim would be a Universalist if he defines world to be each and every individual.”
There you have it dizerner, straight from the horses’ mouth. What could confirm what I have said concerning rhutchin more perfectly.
So Dizerner, if you take the position that God must look into the future in order to learn what will happen in the future, then you are denying that God is omniscient. In addition if you take the position that Christ died for each and every person in any substantive sense, then you must be an Universalist. If you only mean that Christ died for the world or for all and this in the general sense of Christ dying for both Jews and gentiles or dying for the sins of the world, then you can escape Universalism.
When Robert says that he has corrected me on these issues, he only means that he has different beliefs and has expressed them.
Rhutchin, first I don’t take the position that God must look into the future. I could use those words metaphorically but they don’t accurately describe what I believe technically is happening.
God is described as the One “tabernacling eternity” in Isaiah 57:15.
כּי֩ כֹ֙ה אָמַ֜ר רָ֣ם וְנִשָּׂ֗א שֹׁכֵ֥ן עַד֙ וְקָד֣וֹשׁ שְׁמ֔וֹ מָר֥וֹם וְקָד֖וֹשׁ אֶשְׁכּ֑וֹן (Isa 57:15 WTT) [http://biblehub.com/text/isaiah/57-15.htm]
This says, literally:
This thus he-says (the) one-being-high and-one-being-lifted-up, one-tabernacling (the) beyond, and holy (is the) name-of-him: high and-holy I-am-tabernacling.
Many English translations translate “Shokhen Ad” as “inhabiting eternity” and I believe that is the closest you could get to saying that phrase in Hebrew.
Also, I think the “I am” statements clearly are meant to express eternality because they are meant to define the essential nature of God, that is, there is no where and no time you cannot call God the “I am.” But for some reason that isn’t convincing to some people. It’s a trickier concept to express in the ancient languages I think than omnipresence. And from the following verse I would argue God is beyond any conception of human logic:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts
So I would define God as not something having mechanical parts or taking any amount of time to do anything. For example, you type a search in Google, and you wait a few milliseconds to get the results of your query. God would know what you were going to type and what all the results would be outside of time and space and logic, and would require no effort, no time and no moving parts (as a mind would in some sense). God being outside of time and logic makes him the God he truly should be—an incomprehensible and lofty one. But also it prohibits the kind of language such as “God *looks* and *learns*.” The Bible uses this anthropomorphic and metaphorical language to simplify it for simple minds. This is not literally how it works—God is instantly at all times and all places and knowing all things with zero effort or “doing” or moving or “thinking.”
So I don’t see how my view of omniscience denies any part of God’s abilities or power or transcendence. If you still think I do, let me know.
Dizerner writes, “I don’t take the position that God must look into the future.”
Good. Now if someone, like Robert, were to advocate such a view, you could legitimately conclude that he is denying omniscience. We both know that some that some non-Calvinists deny that God is omniscient (OpenTheists being very direct about it, and others not so).
However, if you hold that God is omniscience, then you should treat everything else you believe the Bible says to be consistent with God being omniscient.
Dizerner writes, “rom the following verse I would argue God is beyond any conception of human logic:
‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.'”
This verse speaks to God’s thoughts and god’s ways being difficult for people to understand but not beyond knowing – God reveals much about what God thinks and does. You extrapolate this to say that God is beyond understanding. This is not the case. The Scriptures tell us much about God – His power, His knowledge, He is spirit, His wisdom, etc. God, as an entity, is not beyond logic. While God’s thoughts and ways are not those of people, He does reveal much to us that we can accept as truth.
You extrapolate this to say that God is beyond understanding. This is not the case. The Scriptures tell us much about God
I was not saying we can’t understand anything about God, I said the Bible uses simple illustrations for simple minds, so obviously some truth is conveyed. I meant the ultimate and essential nature of God is unknowable, and many Scriptures bear that out.
Rhutchin I think you are very incorrect in your statement that follows: “In addition if you take the position that Christ died for each and every person in any substantive sense, then you must be an Universalist.” I think even your own beliefs don’t logically coincide with that statement.
What that statement you made requires, is that there never be a time when the atonement is not applied to an elect individual. But even Calvinists admit that pre-salvation, the elect are under the wrath of God and children of sin. This means that, Biblically, if the elect died in that state it would contradict Scripture that they would enter heaven—they would not. Now Calvinists may believe that God ensures the elect never die in a pre-regenerate state, but Biblical logic follows that if they theoretically did, Scripture does not allow them entrance to heaven. Thus at that point the atonement is no good at all to them. You can argue that the election would be combined with the atonement and thus always prevent them from being lost, and logically that follows determinism. But you can’t argue that the atonement is not conditionally applied at a specific and real point in time, and most Calvinists admit that, at least, because the Biblical evidence is just too strong to construe otherwise.
So even under Calvinism you have a real before and after, a real passing from death to life, and that means logically, people for whom Christ died can not, at a specific point in time, be benefiting from the full extent of the atonement. And in essence, that is all the Arminian has to prove, and all he argues—that the atonement is not a universalistic action that is immediately and completely applied to all the targets of it’s work, but rather one that produces a potential that is then applied in time. The Calvinist’s mantra of people being “potentially saved” or Jesus “failing to atone” seem disingenuous if they believe as well that the effects of the atonement are not automatic, but rather effected within time, in conjunction in some way with a person’s actions, whether those actions are a result (as determinism would have it) or a cause. So can we argue that potentiality must always and in all situations mean logically that the atonement must necessarily have complete application? A Calvinist cannot and still stay consistent.
We believe as Arminians just as the Calvinists do that for those who will eventually be what the Bible describes as “elect,” there is a point in time in which the atonement does not fully benefit them. We only add the acceptation of the Biblical testimony that the elect don’t always take advantage and “enter the promised land,” as it were, even though the land is potentially theirs if they respond to God’s call. We see many witnesses of saints “denying the Master who bought them,” and not responding to the invitation. And some Calvinists do deny limited atonement due to the powerful testimony of Scripture.
Consider the many passages that present a real possibility that is then forfeited, like this one:
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”‘ But they paid no attention and went their way.
Now everyone would have to admit in this parable, real provision was provided and accessible for all who were invited to this feast. Could we describe all those invited as “potentially feasted” and the king’s feast as “failure” because some were unwilling? Sure we could use this silly “spin” language to try to unnatural influence how people emotionally view the result of this king’s endeavor. Do we have any real grounds of logical justification for arguing that the food being there specifically intended for this people, they must necessary have all been feasted and fed, or the food was a “complete waste” as Calvinists call Jesus’ blood “wasted” for those who are “unwilling.” The only justification I can see for that argumentation is special pleading for a cherished theology shoehorning and eisegesis into the text by presupposed doctrine, but certainly not any logic and not any scriptures. And what is the attitude of the king when he finds some are “unwilling” and “pay no attention” to his banquet he prepared?
And the king was angry and sent his troops and] destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding celebration is ready, but those who had been invited were not worthy. Therefore, go out to the places where the roads exit the city and invite to the wedding celebration as many people as you find.’ And those slaves went out into the roads and gathered everyone whom they found, both evil and good, and the wedding celebration was filled with dinner guests.
This part of the parable is reminiscent of Romans 10 & 11, and God having mercy on the Gentiles through the rebellion of the Jews. At this point in the parable, can we really argue there is a select group of people whom the servants were targeting all who had received special invitations? We cannot, for they are specifically sent out with the simple mission to get any and all they could find who would respond, regardless of any kind of prearranged invitations. At that point, the whole world is invited to this king’s banquet: “as many people as you can find.” Does this then mean, logically, that the king’s banquet has been wasted? Yes and no, because this king will keep simply inviting until his dinner hall is “filled with guests.” And this represents the openness of the Gospel message to all who hear it preached, and the fact that all who reject it, have not made God a failure, even if they were potentially saved and wasted the Blood shed for them. Because God considers giving us the option, and not irresistibly forcing his invitation, an important part of his relationship with mankind, then we don’t disrespectful call anything God considers important a “waste,” for it is something the king values.
We know these truths concerning God’s elect:
“it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2
“God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 1
Every work that God does in the course of time was known to Him before He created the world. There is not reason to speculate about “what ifs” concerning God’s elect because there are no “what ifs.” God determined His actions before He created the world and He is not implementing His plan in the course of human history.
Thus, your statement, “Biblical logic follows that if they theoretically did, Scripture does not allow them entrance to heaven,” has nothing to do with Biblical logic (whatever you mean by that phrase) and denies that which the Scriptures tell us.
One of God’s actions was to send Christ to the cross to save His elect, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5
Then you write, “So even under Calvinism you have a real before and after, a real passing from death to life, and that means logically, people for whom Christ died can not, at a specific point in time, be benefiting from the full extent of the atonement. And in essence, that is all the Arminian has to prove…”
Calvinists say that God’s elect receive the benefits of Christ’s atonement in the course of time even though Christ was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13) and those benefits are assured to be allocated to God’s elect in the course of time. That is not the issue between the Calvinists and the Arminians – unless the Arminians deny that such is the case and I don’t think they do. This creates problems for the Arminian related to free will where they offer disjointed arguments (against the logical conclusion from God’s omniscience) to avoid the truth that God knows His elect and has known them form the creation of the world.
This creates problems for the Arminian related to free will where they offer disjointed arguments (against the logical conclusion from God’s omniscience) to avoid the truth that God knows His elect and has known them form the creation of the world.
But a lot of Arminians believe that God knows his elect from eternity past. They don’t think that necessarily denies autonomy (In God knowing the elect, he also knows some elect will fall away). That’s why God can say things like “I called but you refused.”
Dizerner writes, “…a lot of Arminians believe that God knows his elect from eternity past.”
Thus, a statement such as, “I called but you refused,” is a statement of fact. This is the truth about all people; God calls but none answers, all refuse to respond thus all people are justly condemned in their depravity. It is from depraved humanity that God chooses those whom He will save.
None of the elect fall away – God preserves them all because He is in control. People are autonomous relative to each other but not with respect to God.
Can you give me some Scriptural support that “God calls all people.” I’m really surprised to hear that from a Calvinist.
I am out of town of a while, so don’t have all my resources. However, Calvinists have always referred to the general call – the preaching of the gospel to all people and through that preaching of the gospel, all are called to repent and believe the gospel. That call is refused necessitating the effectual call by which God calls His elect to Christ. That’s pretty standard Calvinism.
Was the Amorite high priest called by God? Was Pharaoh called by God?
Does not God say that He raised up Pharaoh for His purposes in Romans 9? Is it not God who elevates one to riches while another He relegates to poverty, so that a person does not become king except God elevate him to that position and no one lives as a peasant except God relegate him to that life?
God is sovereign over the affairs of men and appoints kings and pharaohs to their positions for His purposes.
Appointing for a purpose is not calling… unless you think “those whom he called” could be reprobates too.
Agreed. I would say that God appointed, not called, Pharaoh and the Amorite priest.
But he called all men to repentance, including them, right?
God has commanded that all people repent and believe the gospel.
That’s the thing, I can’t get on board the idea that God appoints men to disobey his own command, it makes no sense to me. That is essentially the same thing as God commanded them to disobey from the beginning, which would more honestly in that case reflect God’s true desire that they resist God’s “fake” desire. God may predestine sins to occur and God may raise up sinners to display his wrath, but God only does that in a passive and permissive sense, allowing something to happen that is not God’s primary desire, but his secondary desire. No Calvinist has given me a good reason God’s number one plan and desire would be to suffer from the foundation of the world. Is God a masochist? Would you say about Adam that “for this very purpose God raised him up, to show God’s wrath in the human race.” Something about creation is fundamentally not the way God wants it to be due to free will gone awry.
God has decreed that people be free to disobey His commands.
GOD OUTWARDLY CALLS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENTANCE but only those who RECEIVE THE INWARD CALL OF GOD WILL RESPOND (Acts 13:48, 16:14; 1 Cor 1:23, 24; Rom 8:30).
Are you a Calvinist?
Calling, with regards to salvation, should primarily be understood in a naming sense:
The idea of “calling” as a summons or invitation is apparent only in a few Scriptures (like the wedding banquet). That parable creates a lot of problems for Calvinists as the banquet was specifically prepared for those who would later reject it. That means God provided it for them and intended it for them, but they did not benefit from it for one reason and one reason only: they refused it. That makes a mess of the typical Calvinist “failure God” arguments, “wasted blood” arguments, and arguments that atonement and salvation was only “intended” for the eternally pre-selected “elect.” And of course, there is no hint of a secret “inward” call going out that causes some to respond. There is only one call and that call is either received or rejected. Those who receive the invitation are “chosen” as a result. They do not receive the call because they are already chosen. So the “many are called, few are chosen” text, despite being cited often by Calvinists, actually supports the Arminian conditional view of election instead. As usual 🙂
“…the banquet was specifically prepared for those who would later reject it.’
This seems to be an obvious reference to Israel who was called to be a holy nation that would serve God but declined the honor. It has nothing to do with a call to salvation as Israel was to achieve salvation by keeping the law. Correct? Your identification with Calvinism is misplaced.
So “many are called. few are chosen” has nothing to do with Calvinism according to you. Duly noted.
Actually, they refused the invitation by refusing to believe the gospel, so it has nothing to do with works.
Are you saying that the initial group that was invited but refused should NOT be taken as a reference to Israel?
For more on the wedding banquet and foreknowledge: https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/provisional-atonement-part-2-provision-is-consistent-with-foreknowledge/
Yes, it has to do with Israel rejecting the Gospel and as a result missing out on the blessings of the new covenant that were prepared for them and intended for them. But that in no way makes it irrelevant to Arminianism and Calvinism since it is a matter of the Gospel and the provision inherent in the Gospel being made even for those who will ultimately reject the Gospel (in this specific case, the Jews). That truth is incompatible with Calvinism but in perfect harmony with Arminianism.
God made the provision for them and intended them to partake of that provision. They rejected that provision by rejecting the Gospel. The Gentiles received it by accepting the Gospel. The “sons of the kingdom” (those for whom the kingdom was always intended) are “cast out” for their rejection while believers from all tribes and nations are received as God’s chosen covenant people (Matt. 8:12:11-12). They become God’s chosen people through faith which grants them access into the blessings of the new covenant (Rom. 5:2). All the blessings of the new covenant are in Christ and all the promises of the new covenant are fulfilled in Christ (Eph. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:20) and those promises and blessings are received by faith union with Christ through whom we become the elect of God in Him (Eph. 1:3, 13; Rom. 4:13-25; Gal. 3:13-29, etc.).
“…the Gospel being made even for those who will ultimately reject the Gospel (in this specific case, the Jews). That truth is incompatible with Calvinism…”
The issue is not whether the gospel was made for those who reject it. The issue is to explain how it is that the gospel is rejected at all. The Arminians describe the mechanism used to reject the gospel saying that rejection of the gospel is by means of a “free will” decision. Calvinists agree that rejection of the gospel is a free will decision. The Calvinists dig deeper into that decision and ask what actually leads a person to reject the gospel – their answer; people are totally depraved. If that is true, then how can a person accept the gospel? That which is impossible for man is possible for God – thus unconditional election.
It is God who opens the heart of people to believe/receive the gospel. It is God who gives faith to a person to believe/receive the gospel. It is God who convicts a person of their sin. The opening of the heart, the granting of faith, the conviction of sin are the graces that God extends to those He has chosen to save with the intend to secure their salvation.
The issue is not whether the gospel was made for those who reject it. The issue is to explain how it is that the gospel is rejected at all.
The issue is certainly about whether the provision of the Gospel is truly made/intended for the “reprobate” or not. Traditional Calvinism says that the atonement is not intended for those who will ultimately perish. Christ did not die for them and God did not desire to save them. Rather, it was His good pleasure to leave them without hope and damn them instead. That is incompatible with the parable of the wedding feats as described above.
The Arminians describe the mechanism used to reject the gospel saying that rejection of the gospel is by means of a “free will” decision.
Actually, the Bible describes it that way (Rom. 10:8-13, cf. Duet. 30:11-15). See here for more on Duet. 30 and how it relates to free will:
Calvinists agree that rejection of the gospel is a free will decision.
Not in an LFW sense, but in a compatibilistic sense, which is not freedom at all (and is incoherent).
The Calvinists dig deeper into that decision and ask what actually leads a person to reject the gospel – their answer; people are totally depraved.
Arminians agree, of course.
If that is true, then how can a person accept the gospel?
By God’s gracious provision of prevenient grace which enables the sinner to exercise saving faith in Christ.
That which is impossible for man is possible for God
– thus unconditional election.
Sorry, that doesn’t follow at all.
It is God who opens the heart of people to believe/receive the gospel.
It is God who gives faith to a person to believe/receive the gospel.
Amen, though he does so in a resistible manner.
It is God who convicts a person of their sin.
Amen!! The Holy Spirit convicts “the world” of sin, not just the supposed Calvinist “elect.” (John 16:8-11)
The opening of the heart, the granting of faith, the conviction of sin are the graces that God extends to those He has chosen to save with the intend to secure their salvation.
And He intends to save all. So here you plainly show that you do indeed believe that God only “intends” to save those he supposedly unconditionally elected. But the parable of the wedding banquet demonstrates that such a claim is out of harmony with the Gospel as described by Christ. So that takes us right back to where we started above.