I am a dog lover. I have always had a dog since the day I was born. I cannot imagine living life without having the faithful, unconditional love of a cute, cuddly canine. I’m sorry all you cat lovers out there, for me there is no better pet in the world than a good dog!
Unlike cats, who could not care less about the people in their home unless a can opener is involved, dogs will drown you with praise if you return home after being away for 3 months or 3 minutes. Videos of dogs welcoming soldiers home flood the internet, but can someone direct me to a cat who would ever behave like the dog below when his owner returns home from protecting our country?
A couple of year ago I had to take our families beloved schnauzer, Rudy, to the vet and have him put to sleep for health reasons. He brought over 15 years of joy to our lives. It was a very difficult day. But it wasn’t long until we brought home a brand-new white schnauzer puppy (Summer) who has become a beloved part of our family.
While there is really no comparison between a pet and a human being, I do believe there are lessons to be learned. Why would we choose to adopt another puppy into our family knowing beforehand that she would mess on our carpet, chew up our valuables, bark at inappropriate times, and eventually bring back the grief of burying another pet? It is no surprise that a pet will be destructive to the home, loud at times, and inevitably cause grief upon her death. We know that for a certainty before ever beginning the adventure, don’t we? Yet we choose to get a puppy anyway. We could get a stuffed animal that looked just like a real puppy and put him by the fireplace for us to gaze upon and pat on the head as we pass by. So why don’t we? Why do we choose to purchase a puppy when we cannot control it’s every move? Why do we make an investment in owning a dog when we know full well that one day we will be grieved by her passing?
I believe the answer to this question helps us, in our finite limited capacities, to understand some of the motivation behind God’s creation of this world with free moral creatures. It’s like CS Lewis has so eloquently explained:
A toy stuffed animal can be controlled and manipulated to go only where we want it to go and do what we want it to do. It never makes messes or does anything outside our will. So, why do we choose the real puppy? More than that, but along those same lines, why do we choose to have children?
Before having children parents are typically very aware of the cost, trouble and grief that will most certainly come. Yet, many still choose to have children. Why? What drives us to take such a difficult path in our lives when other options are obviously available? The simple answer…
To some theologically minded intellects this word can easily be passed by as pure emotionalism. Granted, this word has been so abused by humanity that it is understandable for people to grow skeptical of its usage. All kinds of gross teachings and practices have been excused under the banner of love. We love our cars, our houses, and even our hamburgers, but also express our feelings towards God and family with the use of this exact same term. For many the word has lost its meaning and I believe that devastates the right understanding of God’s nature, which undoubtedly is at its very core, LOVE (1 Jn 4:8).
The scripture is replete with examples of God’s loving character. The Bible also teaches that “love does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13). But, isn’t God seeking His own? Are we not taught that God is seeking to glorify Himself? Is this a contradiction?
No. God is love and He is glorifying Himself. He is not glorifying Himself at the expense of His creation, however. He is glorifying Himself at the expense of Himself for the sake of His creation. That is what LOVE is, after all!
There is a Christian couple in my church who recently traveled to Russia in order to adopt two baby girls. Would anyone describe them as “seeking their own” because they chose to adopt two orphaned Russian girls? They are about to experience a world with a lot more work and self sacrifice in order to care for these children, not to mention the financial investment. These girls will undoubtably make messes, and cause grief.
But, every parent reading this blog also knows that these girls will make life exciting and bring inexpressible joy. So, in one way you could argue that the parents are “seeking their own” in that they are seeking to love and be loved. And there is joy in that. There is excitement in that. “It is a risk worth taking,” as Lewis described.
Because the joy of true love is so overwhelmingly worth it, the pain, grief and trouble that accompanies it seems small in comparison. Someone could have sat down with this couple before making their trip to Russia and explained to them in detail all about the sleepless nights, the arguments, the messes, and made them fully aware of all the potential grief to come, but we all know that would not have stopped them. They are going to choose love even with all the risks.
It is in giving that we receive. It is in loving that we experience joy and peace that passes all understanding. In a sense, loving is seeking it’s own because it’s in loving that we truly experience life that’s worth living. Love is giving of oneself for the sake of another, yet in doing so it is the most self-fulling, self-gratifying act anyone can possibly experience.
I suppose that for God to create a world with free moral creatures, who will cause trouble and make messes, is “self-seeking” in that God is experiencing the joy, pleasure and even pain of true love. I’m not sure we can fully understand how that works within the infinite, “omni-everything” attributes of our Holy God. I do understand, however, why He might choose to create a world with free people rather than a world with toys. I understand because I would choose the puppy over the stuffed animal. I would choose to have a child over enjoying the carefree married life without the worry of kids. It’s a risk worth taking. It’s love.
For more on the inconsistencies of Theistic determinism CLICK HERE.
I could stop there, and maybe I should, but I just finished listening to Dr. Jerry Walls presentation titled, “What’s Wrong with Calvinism?” In this presentation (at the 57:45 mark), Dr. Walls argues,
Walls goes on to make a case that God’s very nature is love therefore it is not even an option for Him to “not love His creation.” For example, we would be repulsed by someone who breeds puppies for the purpose of torturing any of them. Likewise, we would consider it evil for a father or mother to hate any of their own children who they chose to conceive. And, in the same way, it would appear to be evil for God to hate those who He chose to create. Walls argues,
This is not a weakness of God, Walls insists, but His greatest and most self-glorifying strength. Would you consider it a strength or a weakness that my character will not allow me to be cruel to my pets? Is it a weakness that I am unable to willingly strangle one of my own children to death, as Walls argues? No! That is a strength! God’s inability to be unloving is not a short coming of God’s strength and power, but the greatest most glorifying characteristic of His eternal nature! To declare God’s universal self-sacrificial love to the entire world reveals God for what makes Him so abundantly glorious!
43 thoughts on “Why Free Will Instead of Determinism?”
I assert deterministic compatibilism, and as such I think you, me, and my dog Kirby, and my baby girl Jillian, are all deterministic creatures.
Indeed, dogs are so predictable that you know with relative certainty that they will, say, choose to chew up your valuables, and choose to bark at inappropriate times.
With children, there is “cost, trouble, and grief” that will most certainly come. Indeed, I’m absolutely certain that my daughter will make all sorts of bad choices, and it will cause heartache and pain.
What drove me to adopt a puppy, and have a child, given that I know with relative certainty that these things will occur, both in the form of happenstance pain, and in the form of bad choices that my dog does, and my daughter will, make?
Love that remains 100% real, authentic, genuine, and true, even though expressed by a deterministic being (me) and toward a deterministic being (my daughter, or my dog).
God gave patterns of creation — including you and me — a large degree of “freedom to proceed.” He is not meticulously interventionist. He lets natural processes tick-on, for the most part. He didn’t miraculously stop me from choosing to hit somebody or be lustful, he lets tsunamis and hurricanes unfold and destroy.
Consider those tsunamis and hurricanes. We posit their deterministic procession is not “meticulously engineered” by God, right? And yet, that is what you did in the linked-to article adversus compatibilism: “There is nothing outside of or beyond God’s decree on which human freedom might be based.” The continuation of your reductively collapsing logic would be the following absurdum: “There is nothing outside of or beyond God’s decree on which a deadly tsunami might be based.”
Your only avenue at that point, is to collapse all tsunamis and hurricanes into the Curse, then selectively bypass the Curse being a deliberate and selective action of God, and kick the can to the group of Satan and Adam and Eve.
There is, however, no consistent notion of responsibility that justifies taking this avenue. This is the problem. The utility of libertarian free will, as a logical wildcard, is in supporting folk notions of responsibility that are arbitrarily applied. This is done entirely to sustain a “substantial non-responsibility of God” under reductive collapse.
The power of libertarian free will to sustain the arbitrariness of ascription:
Why it’s better to just STOP doing radical reductions:
God created a universe of cause and effect. Free will is only coherent as “a will free from oppressor X to degree Y,” and there are innumerable kinds of free wills, accordingly. All of my choices are products of who I am, and choicemaking is nothing more magical than actualizing one of several imagined prospects.
I’m not a Calvinist. Calvinism stinks, frankly. But I really wish more Arminians would be kinder to exploring possible syncretism with compatibilism. Entertaining compatibilism doesn’t mean entertaining Calvinism.
St. Isaac of Nineveh:
“You should see that, while God’s caring is guiding us all the time to what he wishes for us, as things outwardly appear, it is from us that he takes the occasion to providing things, his aim being to carry out by every means what he has intended for our advantage. All this is because he knew beforehand our inclination towards all sorts of wickedness, and so he cunningly made the harmful consequences which would result from this into a means of entry to the future good and the setting right of our corrupted state.”
I hope you don’t mind dissenting views… I’m not a Calvinist but I frequently find myself shaking my head unhappily at some lines of ideas Arminians try to take against Calvinist arguments. What’s more interesting than *what* a person believes, is *why* they believe it. And the *why* is where I think the real stubbornness comes of being unwilling to let go of an idea or embrace a new one.
Calvinists have the intellectual honesty to realize that God has allowed unspeakable evils to exist in this physical creation, and that does not jive at all with the picture of a kind and loving God. That’s a problem—a real and serious problem—perhaps the biggest problem of all to Christian theism. So Calvinists, instead of wanting to see God as making a huge cosmic “oopsie” and basically dropping his cherished children into suffering and evil, want to find a purpose in this seemingly purposeless evil: and they find that purpose in God creating sinners to display his wrath on. And many Arminians gasp in shock and amazement that anyone could perceive of such a “meanie” God that would be more cruel, say some, than Satan. But at the same time those Arminians seem to really want to downplay the depth and amount of suffering in the world, and many of them live physically blessed and “cushy” lives, where they do not really purview the deep depths of depravity in human suffering, suffering they could not even seriously realistically dream of, when their worst problem is that their dog died or they have to go the hospital for an ailment, or some such “first world problem.” And these Arminians want to paint a picture of God that an intellectually honest person simply can’t accept: God has allowed some “shit” in this world, if you’ll pardon my French, that could shake even a devout person’s faith. Corrie ten Boom talks about seeing unspeakable suffering that she was literally incapable of emotionally handling or keeping in her mind. If you want to use the old “baby rapist” argument against a Calvinistic God, because he would then, under determinism, be meticulously desirous for and planning of the babies rape himself, you still have to realize the Calvinists are right to constantly point out that babies get raped under both theological systems.
It’s not like God just allowed some “boo boos” because he wanted to get real hugs back. This kind of emotional picture really downplays the seriousness of the holiness of God pictured to us in Scripture. And the way some Arminians try to defend the problem of evil is “It’s not that bad” and “Everyone gets a chance.” It’s really hard to square up that kind of thinking with reality and also with the Bible. An Arminian may be aghast that a Calvinist thinks a child prostitution ring was planned by God, but for the Arminian to turn around and say “Well God let it happen so he could know the joy of a loving responsive fuzzy puppy-love and he knew it would make little poopy messes like this,” seems incredibly shallow, to say the least. That Calvinist knows the severity of the depth of the pain and destruction God allowed, and thus looks for security in the control of the all powerful God, but many Arminians seem to move into a kind of denial about the whole thing, sort of a see no evil, hear no evil, devaluing the suffering that’s out there.
The reason I feel like I can talk about this is I’ve known some pretty severe suffering in my life, and seen it in the lives of others. The Bible talks about a time humans will desperately want to kill themselves the suffering will be so bad, but they won’t even be able to. And all this suffering in the world is just so God could have warm fuzzy puppy love back? It’s so easy to say things like “Because the joy of true love is so overwhelmingly worth it, the pain, grief and trouble that accompanies it seems small in comparison.” Really. So you can talk to the billions of souls in hell, or a sex slave shop in India where all the girls are forced to be addicted to cocaine, and never known a proper family or basic general human love, goodness or kindness, and you expect to say to them, “Look, I understand you got very unlucky in life, but listen; if you only understood that, in the end, the happiness of freely uniting to God in free will will bring more ecstasy and love and delight, than if God had simply forced you all to have an awesome, happy and fulfilling robot life, where you can’t choose to be raped or forced to be a coke addict and end up burning in endless torment forever.” That’s suppose to be a convincing argument solving theodicy? I’m sorry this topic has to get so gut wrenchingly intense, but that’s what real life is like for some people. Cheap arguments about free will being necessary for love, really aren’t going to be very meaningful to a person in intense suffering and darkness for reasons they don’t understand and can’t comprehend.
article: “So, why do we choose the real puppy? More than that, but along those same lines, why do we choose to have children?”
Some of us don’t choose the “real” puppy for just that reason. And many people choose to have children for basically selfish reasons, not pure altruistic love. By producing life, you are creating a risk for that life, a risk of pain. You have no way of knowing or guaranteeing the events of that child’s life; you are basically forcing an uncertainty, forcing a risk. You are taking a soul and pulling the lever of the slot machine and hoping it comes up all cherries. And what is your explanation for if it doesn’t? If the child has a defect, or a horrible accident, or a disease, or severe abuse, or overwhelming depression leading to suicide? And should we say “Well, the simple answer is *love.*” One might think you are either living in an unrealistic fairy world or simply very lucky in your own life and don’t know the deep suffering many have endured.
article: “Would anyone describe them as “seeking their own” because they chose to adopt two orphaned Russian girls?”
Absolutely yes, many would. Are they diligently seeking where the most needy children in the world are? Are there homeless or needy children nearby them, that they waste a large amount of money flying to a far off place, just because they want children from there, money they could have used to help people in need? Things can “look good” to our flesh, look good on the outward, but are they really the pure picture of absolute selfless motivation? Then you basically admit the argument saying that because the parents will get something out of it, then it’s a risk worth taking. How is risking something for self-gratification “love”? Is that really the kind of love God or Christ displayed? Is that really your understanding of love? Risking someone else’s pain for your own self-gratification? Can you see how that might not be convincing to a deeply thinking person who has experienced a lot in life?
article: “The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they’ve got to be free.”
The real problem with original sin, even if you reject imputed guilt, is we live in a random and effed up world because of something one other person did somewhere long ago and far off, that we feel like we have nothing to do with. In the end, if you reject doctrine that brings you any emotional feelings of injustice, you will end up rejecting original sin—you will have to. And in so doing, you will reject the Bible. The Bible makes a big point that *God does not solve the problem of evil.* He simply, doesn’t do it. Yet here we are thinking we *can*? The Bible leaves it a mystery, but we are going to try to believe Scriptural truths yet still make God look okay in the end? Someone might firmly believe “in the end I believe God will be fair,” but what will that someone do if in the end, God’s ways *don’t* seem fair at all to them? What will they do, reject God and walk away? Peter said “These are hard sayings,” and sometimes life is just like that—hard things we have no answer to. That’s a big part of the book of Job. And what does it teach us? That we have to make God “look good”? No it teaches us that God is sovereign, and that’s a fact we have to deal with when life doesn’t seem fair. And in the end we have to hunger to glorify God more than make ourselves feel good; we need to thirst for righteousness more than get God off the hook for evil. If we really are going to believe in original sin, we really are going to have to admit that God can be love and still just to send us all to hell. His love does not require him to compromise his holiness. There is no “real love” among humans. Christ said you “being evil” give good gifts to your children. Until we see the only real and true love was Christ on the Cross, we will think our selfish love is good enough, and God’s love is just like ours—we thought he was altogether like us. Paul tells us that even giving our body to be burned or all our possessions to the poor, can still be without real love—we are all sinful, empty vessels that can find real love and real value only in Christ’s sacrifice.
article: “And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata -of creatures that worked like machines- would hardly be worth creating.”
I wouldn’t personally mind being a puppet robot zombie, if in the end I was just blessed out of my mind. What’s the big deal? Not everyone wants free will. It seems more important to God then it does to us. This is why I think we need more of an emphasis that matches the Biblical emphasis on the holiness and judgment of God. I really feel like we can get so emotionally mushy about love that we lose sight of some aspects of God. We no longer fear him, we no longer hold him in the highest and deepest reverence, because now God has become a selfless love machine that is all about making us happy and making us feel good about life. How does your teaching cause a saint to tremble at God’s Word? To find the beginning of wisdom in the fear of the Almighty? To fear God more than the worst torture on earth could do to us?
article: Love is giving of oneself for the sake of another, yet in doing so it is the most self-fulfilling, self-gratifying act anyone can possibly experience. I suppose that for God to create a world with free moral creatures, who will cause trouble and make messes, it is “self-seeking” in that God is experiencing the joy, pleasure and even pain of true love.
I think this topic is extraordinarily complex and you are grossly oversimplifying it. I don’t want to offend you, and hope you aren’t offended; I feel true love would be to write to you what I really think and not just another unthinking “Great article, so encouraging, you really got dem Calvinists good!” In facing some truths about the world God has created that we would rather not face, we become more solidly grounded in him, not less, and learn the true meaning of faith and worship. God bless and thanks for the discussion.
Thank you Dizerner for your thoughtful response. I hope you will soon experience real strength, peace, and even joy in the midst of your suffering in this life! And I hope you are able to say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him… and when He has tried me I will come forth as gold.” Eph 1:11, Rom 8:28, 1Tim 2:4, and 2Peter 3:9 are definitely verses that help solve the problem of evil. My heart is for you my friend!
Brian that’s very compassionate of you, I really thank you. Any of us who have Christ have a treasure worth infinitely more than the light and momentary afflictions of this world.
I think you make some very good points in your comments. I hope the author and other non Reformed will weigh in and respond to what you have to say.
Thanks Prouty, It’s difficult for me to object to my own “camp” but I’m only after the truth.
Your post here is really off base because you have been completely unfair to Leighton and his post here. How so? Because Leighton never intended this to be a theodicy as you claim, nor even an explanation for why all the suffering in the world occurs. You say “This topic is extraordinarily complex and you are grossly oversimplifying it.” What topic? Providing a complete theodicy? Providing a full explanation for suffering in the world? THAT is what YOU turned it into. Leighton said just before quoting Lewis “to understand SOME of God’s motivation behind the creation of this world with free moral creatures” (emphasis mine). Leighton gave one argument against determinism he never intended a full fledged theodicy nor was his single argument meant to fully explain why there is suffering. His single argument is actually a good one. Dizerner in your post you also made points that are off as well. One example, at one point you speak of God’s judgment and wrath, at another in trying to build your catalog of presumably innocent people suffering you speak of how the Bible talks about a time when people want to die but cannot. What you leave out is that these are not innocent people suffering. The text is from the book of Revelation where the earthdwellers who are followers of the final Antichrist who have persecuted God’s people are receiving the wrath of God. So if you are going to bring up suffering as you do part of it will include suffering due to unbelief and rebellion. But again the topic is not Leighton’s theodicy he never gave one. He gave ONE argument he talked about only part of the picture. One argument against determinism.
Speaking the truth without love is not speaking the truth and it’s definitely not loving! And trying to defend the truth without trying to love your brother in Christ will always fail. Love is kind!
Robert, I appreciate your criticism.
What topic? Providing a complete theodicy?
The author’s defense of why free will is better than determinism and how it relates to the problem of evil and suffering, which this article is about. I realize you may want to defend this article for reasons other than just truth and logical argumentation. That’s natural and I planned on getting negative feedback. I’ve got my “big boy pants” on.
So why was I impassioned about the author’s presentation of how free will is “better” despite it’s drawbacks? Because in the process of this argument the author virtually equated all the evil and suffering in the world to the mess a puppy or baby makes, and that a real loving response is then worth it to God despite these messes. Frankly, I think that’s terrible logic and devaluing human suffering and making light of an incredibly serious problem that has plagued Christianity since it’s inception.
I understand that in essence, Arminian’s use the argument of free will to defend the existence of evil. However I don’t think they should do it like this article does it. That’s my opinion and it’s no been changed by any argument or evidence you presented.
innocent people suffering you speak of how the Bible talks about a time when people want to die but cannot. What you leave out is that these are not innocent people suffering.
I clearly say in post that no human being can be considered innocent due to original sin. Otherwise, without the doctrine of original sin, God would be unjust to send a single person to hell. However, even though all became sinners in Adam, and it can be argued that because they are sinners they are not innocent, it still is a fact that not one single human being chose to exist in a fallen world under the curse of sin with a sinful nature. Not one person chose that—and that’s a fact that, if you believe in original sin (and many Christians are rejecting it for that very reason) you cannot really simply explain away by arguing free will is better than determinism.
So if you are going to bring up suffering as you do part of it will include suffering due to unbelief and rebellion.
I don’t think I left that out. I clearly talked about judgment and original sin.
But again the topic is not Leighton’s theodicy he never gave one. He gave ONE argument he talked about only part of the picture. One argument against determinism.
An argument I found unconvincing for reasons I stated, and reasons which you never refuted. The only discernible argument I can find in your post that has any validity is that I covered a broader topic than the original article meant to cover. In my opinion, that’s very debatable and subjective to argue—I think that by making the argument that free will is inherently better than determinism you really inevitably cover a broad topic, you are discussing overarching reasons for God to have creation one way and not another. You may see that as “one narrow small argument” against determinism, but I can hardly see any reason for you to justify that opinion. I suppose under a different conceivable world, where the consequences of free will really were just some “messes,” then you could make that argument, But under the real world and the Bible, the fall of man is not simply a “mess” God put up with so he could have free will. It’s an epic rebellion against a holy God, a spiritual war of gigantic proportions with eternal consequences. a sin that created almost endless casualties in collateral damage, and eventually necessitated God becoming a human being and suffering his own wrath with the sin of all humanity. I’ll be pardoned, I think, in my objections of making light of such a serious topic.
Brian your excellent words remind me of the illustration I heard in a sermon this morning. Hundreds of years ago a debate was held and one of the debaters was apparently not the better debater. His opponent was more skilled but also was evidently mean spirited, insulting and condescending in the debate. People later said that though the other man was less skilled in debating, they ended up giving his arguments more consideration primarily due to his humble and loving responses to the withering attacks by the other man. They ended up being persuaded by the more humble and loving man’s position.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.”
Dizerner, I think you’ve hit a bunch of nails directly on the head here.
First, I agree that Job’s theodicy includes, “God is sovereign, and that’s a fact we have to deal with when life isn’t fair.” It’s also very important to point out that the Book of Job, the Bible’s theodicy, HAS a free will defense available to it, and NOBODY uses it (Job doesn’t entertain it, Eliphaz/Zophar/Bildad don’t entertain it, and certainly neither Elihu nor God use it): “Why is everyone talking about God’s purposes, God’s recompense, God’s distance, God’s justice? SATAN is the one who did this to you; God just allowed it to happen because love entails free will.”
(A point of correction, though; the Book of Job isn’t simply, “Deal with it,” but also, “There is a plan too wonderful to comprehend,” per Job 42, among other proposals, especially from Elihu.)
Second, the idea that “TRUE love” requires risk is an old chestnut — we see it as early as St. Justin Martyr — but it’s a post hoc stipulation only. The Bible certainly doesn’t say it. It’s an extrabiblical theodicean innovation of men. Indeed, prepending “true” or “genuine” or “real” or “authentic” in order to smuggle novel inferences out of accepted words is textbook persuasive definition, and those words are all giant red flags therefor. As I said in my original reply to this article, I believe that I am deterministic and that my daughter is deterministic; the persuasive definers say, under the hypothetical world in which such is the case, I must not be truly loving my daughter. Which is poppycock.
Finally, employing “God likes accommodating libertarian free will” for theodicy is like using King Cnut to stop the tide, and — as you are correctly insinuating — requires argumentation from lack of imagination in order to think it actually “handles” all that much.
Thanks for your thoughts, Stanrock. I would say you could conceive of a kind of “love” under determinism, but you could also argue that affection that is inputted externally is fundamentally not of the same quality as one that originates ex-nihilo, like God’s decisions. I agree about Job emphasizing a trust in God’s working, but remember—Job wasn’t just addressed to your average “Joe Blow” but rather a man earnestly trying to walk right with God. To such a man, in the ancient world, it was often thought God should reward and bless him for doing the right things—indeed as Job’s very friends constantly harped about. I think Job is meant to show us many things, one of those is that God works outside the box of our mind—outside of how we normally think or maybe even are capable of thinking. And that does involve a deep trust for the righteous such that, as Brian accurately said, our attitude must be “though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” What I love about Job is his honesty with God—he wasn’t “politically correct” nor “religiously correct” in his words. He was careful not to go over into any form of blasphemy, though one could excuse him for it under such duress—but he is incredibly honest about his complaints and feelings.
I would still take a freewill defense of theodicy, I think Scripture is fairly strong in general on it, and if for no other reason than this: Adam could have simply said “no.” When you think about the fate of so many standing on just one man saying “no” it’s really quite chilling. And the Bible gives no hint anywhere that Adam’s choice was anything but free. The Open Theist at least has the defense for God’s character that God literally didn’t know what Adam would do; we could argue then that God decided to truly trust in Adam, and trust in their love. This is also conceivable under my speculation that God relationally withholds his own foreknowledge, that is, to make his relationship more genuine and real-time God withholds knowledge from his relational self (obviously that knowledge would still have to remain somewhere in God’s mind). I found some Scriptural evidence for that, but I wouldn’t give up classic omniscience, which I think by definition must include even things that don’t exist yet. If we can look at the fall and lost souls and say “Well, God never meant that to happen” (and that’s instinctively felt for a lot of Christians), only under this type of limited foreknowledge could we say something like “because God truly trusted Adam, and Adam betrayed him.” Even then, God’s trust might seem irresponsible of him, however much he loved Adam. Of course that would never convince Calvinists who build their fortress in determinism.
If we still take a free will defense under omniscience then we run into logically paradoxes about God being the real ultimate decider by pulling the trigger on whatever happens, even if choices happen independently of him. It’s like, if I put two people that hate each other in the room, it’s their autonomy that starts a fight, yet I knew full well what they would choose and created a situation in which their choices had the opportunity to play out. In that ultimate sense, like the Calvinist, an rigorous intellectually honest Arminian will have to admit that in *some* sense God is responsible for all that happens. One can argue, though, that for freedom to *ever* truly exist, there has to be a real *possibility* for negative to happen. If God tweaks the outcome at all, even by “peaking” ahead and picking a certain scenario (which is basically what Molinism posits), one somehow feels fundamentally that that decision based on foreknowledge has somehow retroactively affected the autonomy of the free will itself. If a decision or choice is to be truly like God—truly in God’s image itself—it has to have absolutely zero casually affecting factors in and of itself at the base level of choice. Of course things like influence exist, these are positive or negative temptations (things one believes that result from the choice), but under a belief in autonomy one must believe that no influence violates the “throne” of the image of God creating a decision ex-nihilo. And to be in the image of God, the creation’s will can’t be affected by God in *any* way, just as God’s autonomy is not affected in any way. Even many Calvinists will consider Adam’s will “free” in that sense, although now most orthodox Christians admit the lost are in some sense enslaved to sin.
So obviously, as a Classical Arminian, I believe the free will defense is solid. And I think love loses a certain quality under determinism, because you lose the image of God, you lose self-determination (I admit some people wouldn’t mind that, often me included). However why God had to risk the fate of an entire race in one couple is something beyond my understanding or justification. If we all had our own paradises with God, and we all got to choose from our own two trees, that would be to my innate morality a truly fair way to create with free will. Instead God made a literal Pandora’s box in that original forbidden tree, then offered us another tree as a way out. I think it’s important to see that the fundamental result of free will could and did result in real rebellion and treason, with as drastic results as could be conceivably possible. The entrance of evil into creation literally ruined everything without Christ as Redeemer. Love isn’t just about the possibility of messes, or even horrible evils—but it’s about the possibility of getting your heart broken in half. But love is just one side of the picture—because the holiness of God transcends even our human understanding of love, such that trespassing the holy law of God is not just hurting him—it’s incurring his wrath and opening the door to the force of evil. These are the factors I’d consider transcending just the concept that love needs the possibility of negative things occurring. Because now we have the concept of obedience—obedience could ideally been out of love. But Adam could have been obedient for other reasons besides love, just out of respect for God or fear of the unknown. And then even without the fall, love might not have existed (a mere choice doesn’t guarantee love or hate). So even though love is a valid factor, so is holiness and obedience—this is something simply innate to the character of God. And without a possibly to disobey, not only is there not love, there is not obedience either. Something to consider.
Dizerner, you said, “He was careful not to go over into any form of blasphemy, though one could excuse him for it under such duress — but he is incredibly honest about his complaints and feelings.”
He gets into blameworthy territory when he starts “multiplying words” about God being distant, uncaring, and unjust, and Elihu correctly calls him out. This is why Job repents to God at the beginning of Job 42.
You said, “I would still take a freewill defense of theodicy, I think Scripture is fairly strong in general on it, and if for no other reason than this: Adam could have simply said ‘no.'”
Forgive me for misunderstanding your position.
I don’t think he could have said no. He was greedy, curious, loss-aversive, and gullible, like many dopamine-spurred mammals. Who he was yielded his decision.
You said, “And to be in the image of God, the creation’s will can’t be affected by God in *any* way, just as God’s autonomy is not affected in any way.”
None of us know what the imago Dei actually entails, but I suppose it doesn’t surprise me to hear an Arminian postulate that it refers to having libertarian free will! 🙂
I have no reason to think that God’s decisions are ex nihilo. It seems to me that they are ex naturo (as our decisions are).
You said, “However why God had to risk the fate of an entire race in one couple is something beyond my understanding or justification.”
Well, that would be beyond any justification, I would think, if the Fall — indeed, any stumbling that is part of God’s plan — were not ancillary: http://stanrock.net/2014/08/29/the-big-three-sovereignties/
And just like a Calvinist to say God himself is determined too. 😛
I’m not a Calvinist! My original reply to this post said, “Calvinism stinks.” : ) If you have time, check out that original reply.
I don’t believe God is determined. But I assert that the actions God takes are deterministic; those actions are ex naturo. Indeed, if his actions are ex nihilo, then God could make any sort of decision, even evil decisions, since they’d come from nowhere, rather then being bound strictly by who He is, with no volatility or random anomaly.
Well, you do sound like a determinist, which is pretty much equivalent to a Calvinist in my book. We did have on here a long discussion about whether God’s nature flows from God’s sovereign autonomous will (that is, God got to *choose* whom he would be) or God’s sovereign will flows from a preexisting nature (that is, God nature was not determined even by God himself, but I guess by nothing at all). I think we’d all agree that a person who chose of themselves to do and be good, is more honorable and righteous than someone who was forced to do something by their nature and couldn’t help it. (Compare Christ saying no one forced him to lay his life down, but he chose to do it.) However, in the aftermath of original sin, Calvies tend to think only in terms of “natures” and people who can’t help doing one or the other ala Romans 7 (incidentally I think you can find autonomy even in Rom. 7).
I don’t think he could have said no. He was greedy, curious, loss-aversive, and gullible, like many dopamine-spurred mammals. Who he was yielded his decision.
I take it you don’t think God made everything “very good.” Wouldn’t what you describe be a result of the fall, not a precursor to it?
Dizerner, you said, “I take it you don’t think God made everything ‘very good.’ Wouldn’t what you describe be a result of the fall, not a precursor to it.”
I think God made everything very good. Humans were very good relatively and qualitatively, e.g., they were remarkably intelligent versus all other material creatures, and had the “imago Dei,” whatever we imagine that to mean. They were also good consequentially, as even their faults would be cleverly woven into a longer story of creation, a creation of “birthing pains” stretching even unto Christ and beyond, bearing an eventual triumphant finale in the vein of Romans ch. 11 and Ephesians ch. 1.
But they weren’t perfect beings. Being dopamine-spurred mammals, they had quirks that would get the better of them. After all, it’s analytically true that if they didn’t have it within them to sin, they wouldn’t have sinned, and if they weren’t going to sin, they wouldn’t have sinned.
I think God made everything very good… being dopamine-spurred mammals, they had quirks that would get the better of them.
Not my idea of very good, lol. I see the evolutionary base of biology in adaptation and survival of the fittest, vying and competing against other organisms, as a clear indication of the curse inherent in they very core of the “selfish gene,” that is the self-centered and pleasure seeking nature of all biology. Backtrack that anachronistically to before the fall of man, and you have a creation that could hardly be called “good,” let alone “very good.”
Humans were very good relatively and qualitatively, e.g., they were remarkably intelligent versus all other material creatures, and had the “imago Dei,” whatever we imagine that to mean.
I don’t think we have to imagine of the Bible instructs us of things about God—we can then see how we bear that image, in a fallen sense now.
They were also good consequentially, as even their faults would be cleverly woven into a longer story of creation, a creation of “birthing pains” stretching even unto Christ and beyond, bearing an eventual triumphant finale in the vein of Romans ch. 11 and Ephesians ch. 1.
Well you’ve just denied original sin. I guess I should have figured. No, the whole point of the Bible is there is “no one good” consequentially, “not even one.” Were there one good not only would Christ be a liar saying no one was good but God, but that “good” person wouldn’t even need the sacrifice of Christ—the One intermediator between God and man.
But they weren’t perfect beings. After all, it’s analytically true that if they didn’t have it within them to sin, they wouldn’t have sinned, and if they weren’t going to sin, they wouldn’t have sinned.
In the light of the fall, many who see that all of our nature has been corrupted, and equate grace to an “irresistible” force from God, see sinning and doing righteousness only as a complete category of forced slavery, that is, you “cannot help” but do what your nature “compels” you to do. Even though the Bible talks about a sinful nature and being a slave to sin, it doesn’t present humans as though their autonomous choice didn’t matter in the slightest or made absolutely no difference. Indeed Paul says in Romans that just as people “presented themselves as slaves to sin,” so now they must “present themselves as slaves to righteousness,” something that Paul obviously felt it was necessary to instruct them to do, or else it would just automatically happen and Paul’s words would be superfluous. And elsewhere Paul instructs us to “put off the old man being corrupted in lust,” yet if we preach that simply already automatically happened upon the new birth, what is the futility of Paul teaching us to put off something that’s already been put off? So can see that the very nature of a definition of slavery necessitates a free will to be enslaved at all, because if something has no free will, how is it “enslaved”? There’s not thing to enslave. To be a slave requires one will to dominate a different will.
And to insist perfect beings cannot sin, is to insist that sin only comes from a nature we can’t help, and it never comes from an autonomous choice. One would think a truly “perfect” being was not a being forced to be deterministic puppet-robot-zombie, but one that decided to do the right thing all on its own—otherwise, without autonomous choice that chose the right thing, this being is one step short of something more good it could be than it is. Arguing as you do is simply presuming/assuming/presupposing that autonomy can’t exist in perfection, because no sin is done autonomously. I don’t think that’s a Biblical argument and I don’t think it’s a logical one either. In fact, it reflects on God’s character if he put a fatal flaw in his own creation that couldn’t help but self-destruct his creation at some point. But as a Classical Artmnian indeterminist, I can agree with the Bible and say that God is not responsible for one single temptation or evil decision in all of his creation—God is completely separate from, and not responsible for, evil choices. And the Bible even makes a very specific point of describing the perfect creations of both Adam and Satan and the description of how their sin and iniquity arose as the first original sins leading to the corruption of others, not form a fatal flaw implanted by God at creation, but from within their own autonomous choice that God gave them as perfect creatures.
And this is how the fall of Satan is described… “you were blameless in your ways from the moment of creation.” Then it’s followed by “until iniquity was found in you.” That’s a clear indication of the source of all evil being freely independent of God, but actually created within the heart of Satan. Notice it doesn’t say “until my fatal flaw finally caused you to stumble,” or “until my decree took effect that you should sin.” It says until iniquity was *found in you* completely independent of God’s design or will. And what of man, can we say the same thing? Ecclesiastes says “Behold I have discovered this: that God made Adam upright, but people have sought out many schemes.” Again we have a righteous creature created righteous, perfect and very good by God, not falling or stumbling by mere virtue of its nature, but by the power of an autonomous choice made from a perfect creature with power to corrupt itself, given by God. And this is why the one autonomous choice corrupted the nature of so many others: Satan’s choice corrupted the angels, and eventually was used to force Adam to make a decision, whose choice sadly corrupted the entire human race.
Dizerner, you said, “Well, you do sound like a determinist, which is pretty much equivalent to a Calvinist in my book.”
What a sad thing to say! Acting according to nature is autonomy. Only when influenced from without is autonomy violated — and sometimes for the better, if one’s nature is corrupt and self-defeating.
You said, “Backtrack that anachronistically to before the fall of man, and you have a creation that could hardly be called ‘good,’ let alone ‘very good.'”
That process is how we came to be; it was ancillary. It is the rainbow through the rain, or the lemonade from the lemons.
You said, “I don’t think we have to imagine of the Bible instructs us of things about God.”
It is absolutely the case that nobody knows precisely what the imago Dei is. You’ve been defining it as having libertarian free will, while the classicals would define it as having reason, and many ancients would even say that it’s about literal visage. Nobody knows. It’s guesses at best.
You said, “No, the whole point of the Bible is there is ‘no one good’ consequentially, ‘not even one.'”
Okay… we’re getting mired in equivocation. ‘Dikaios’ is uprightness, conformity to a holy standard. That doesn’t mean our failings aren’t good INSOFAR as they are utile. That’s Paul’s theodicy across Romans ch. 9 through 11: The stumbling is bad in terms of uprightness, but it’s good INSOFAR as it is ancillary. Romans ch. 11 articulates its ancillary good purpose.
The rest of your post is very problematic. The problems include:
(1) My nature IS me. To insist that, to be an agent, I must be able to willfully violate my own nature is akin to saying that I must have the capability to willfully violate my own net will. Such an ability is a flat contradiction and thus analytically false.
(2) The “slavery” argument correctly concludes that we have “free will,” but not necessarily libertarian free will. Under compatibilistic free will, slaveries of all kinds are absolutely meaningful. Assertions otherwise are radical reductions.
(3) As I said before, choosing ex naturo is what autonomy is. There is no meaningful sense of “autonomous choice” that is also ex nihilo (from nowhere).
(4) Extreme well-poisoning with “puppet-robot-zombie” verbiage. Determinism doesn’t make us robots: http://stanrock.net/2014/10/14/does-determinism-make-us-robots/
(5) You’re talking about the fall of the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14, not the fall of Satan. There was no fall of Satan, no “Lucifer.” That error came from a hyperinterpretation of Isaiah 14 perpetuated by Origen, and several Reformers correctly lambasted it as an aberrative growth. Satan has always been “the Accuser” — a dishonorable agent of, despite himself, ultimate ancillary use.
(6) Choose whether Satan bears exclusive culpability for the Fall or whether Adam/Eve bear exclusive culpability. If you’d like them to share culpability, then you have opened the door to dynamic responsibility (the ability to mitigate, transfer, share, and stack it hierarchically) and thus must admit that God shares culpability, but bank on the Fall being ancillary; a ‘dikaios’ evil and a consequential good. You cannot have it both ways, though libertarian free will (by virtue of its incoherence) makes it seem like you can: http://stanrock.net/2015/03/04/holding-folk-responsibility-responsible/
That process is how we came to be.
We came to be through the fall. I’m not the one putting evolution before the fall.
It is absolutely the case that nobody knows precisely what the imago Dei is
Nothing like making an absolute claim to knowledge from absolute ignorance I guess.
Okay… we’re getting mired in equivocation.
So you claim. I think the statement is clear and has no “loopholes” such as you try to find.
I must be able to willfully violate my own nature is akin to saying that I must have the capability to willfully violate my own net will… As I said before, choosing ex naturo is what autonomy is.
Err, yea. If you start with the presupposition that the nature is the will, then from that you can derive that the nature is the will. But that’s a circular proof. The cool thing is it works for absolutely any claim anyone anywhere wants to make!
Extreme well-poisoning with “puppet-robot-zombie” verbiage. Determinism doesn’t make us robot.
“Well poisoning” is not simply disagreeing on definitions. IF I want puppies to be called kittens, I can’t accuse you of “well poisoning” my kittens argument because you insist that puppies are always dogs. If two people don’t have a mutually agreed upon definition for a word, they’ll always simply argue past each other. Well poisoning means that you discredit a source of one of my arguments…
You’re talking about the fall of the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14
No, I’m talking about the hymn to the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28. Using standard exegesis we can discover the first half is addressed to the physical king, and the second half is addressed to the demonic power behind him (Satan).
Choose whether Satan bears exclusive culpability for the Fall or whether Adam/Eve bear exclusive culpability.
I was clear, you’re just not paying attention. Adam is alone culpable and responsible for the fall of man. Satan is responsible for being a source of temptation.
You cannot have it both ways, though libertarian free will (by virtue of its incoherence) makes it seem like you can
Hilarious. Nothing is having it “both ways” more than Compatibilism.
Dizerner, you said,
“We came to be through the fall. I’m not the one putting evolution before the fall.”
Apologies. I thought we were on the same page here, but we are not.
You said, “Nothing like making an absolute claim to knowledge from absolute ignorance I guess.”
I’m not sure what you meant by that, but I’m witnessing an Arminian postulation of “imago Dei means having libertarian free will” which is entirely novel. We see the term disputed throughout history. Anybody who says they’ve “figured it out” is being brazen and silly.
You said, “Err, yea. If you start with the presupposition that the nature is the will, then from that you can derive that the nature is the will. But that’s a circular proof. The cool thing is it works for absolutely any claim anyone anywhere wants to make!”
Apologies again. I thought it was a rather benign, even shared (!) assertion that my will proceeded strictly from my nature. Apparently not. I’ll abandon that argument, since it is indeed noncogent if you do not share its premises, which I erroneously assumed were benign.
You said, “No, I’m talking about the hymn to the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28. Using standard exegesis we can discover the first half is addressed to the physical king, and the second half is addressed to the demonic power behind him (Satan).”
I don’t know what “standard exegesis” means, but it is not the exegesis accepted by Luther, Calvin, etc. I imagine it is a euphemism for, “Catholic-Traditional exegesis that my faction accepted.”
You said, “I was clear, you’re just not paying attention. Adam is alone culpable and responsible for the fall of man. Satan is responsible for being a source of temptation.”
Bizarre. So Eve is not culpable? Do we have a “males alone catch the culpability” rule in your ascription algorithm?
Adam was the head and they were one flesh, so that’s the way I see it, and the way Paul preached it.
By standard exegesis I mean contextually deducing meaning through hermeneutics. But all things can be seen as subjective, and that’s a real problem of epistemology.
I don’t think we should call someone “silly” just for having an idea that we’ve not heard before. I think we should examine all things against Scripture, logic and our personal guidance of the Spirit.
You said, “Adam was the head and they were one flesh, so that’s the way I see it, and the way Paul preached it.”
Do you say that Adam & Eve share culpability as one flesh, or do you think Adam is exclusively culpable and Eve is not at all culpable?
You said, “By standard exegesis I mean contextually deducing meaning through hermeneutics. But all things can be seen as subjective, and that’s a real problem of epistemology.”
It is. Whenever Origen, for instance, read the angelic symbolism in the “rise/fall” prophecies and threats against ancient kings (of Tyre, of Babylon, of the Philistines, etc…) in Isaiah and Ezekiel, he said to himself, “This must ALSO be referring to a literal angel!” This “he said to himself” represents subjective intrusion and is not based on a broad-consensus exegetical standard. And again, this is why the luminary Reformers went after these postulations as reckless.
You said, “I don’t think we should call someone ‘silly’ just for having an idea that we’ve not heard before.”
I agree that we should not call someone ‘silly’ just for having an idea that we’ve not heard before. If, however, somebody presents a novel interpretation of something, and there’s as much support for that as any of the traditional views (that is, very little support, if any), and as such it’s best called a “guess,” then they’d be silly if they proclaimed that they’d figured it out. A non-silly person says in this type of situation, “Here is a possibility, though it’s just a guess, and I could be wrong.”
Well, I don’t really agree that because we all can’t agree no one can be right. Obviously a person should, if they say something, feel there are reasons for saying it. If you don’t give them a chance to explain their reasons, or don’t listen to their reasons, you’re just being completely arbitrary. Otherwise, like rhutchin has, you’ll simply argue you’re right by always pointing out the problem of subjectivity only in your opponents arguments and never in your own. I don’t think that’s a good or honest debating trick at all.
If I think anyone of all time can pick up a Bible and come to a certain conclusion, just by studying that Bible, I think that’s solid hermeneutics—even if the view has simply never been seen before. But of course even so we need the Spirit’s personal guidance in the end.
Just bringing up some old church father’s interpretation doesn’t prove that all subsequent interpretation necessarily and only follows from that guy “thinking it up.” Believe it or not, wheels can be reinvented. A child who has no knowledge of church history could read Eze. 28 for the first time and find it obvious that the language in the second part far transcend any metaphor or hyperbole for an earthly king. That’s not rocket science.
Okay, but there is no Scriptural backing for the idea that the imago Dei refers to having libertarian free will. The reason “visage,” “reason,” and “libertarian free will” are just guesses at imago Dei is because they are shots in the dark with no evidence. They’re just hunches or conjecture.
Well I think you’ll find in church history both ancient and modern often a pretty strong emphasis on freedom as the Imago Dei. I think you’ll also find that it’s very logical; and that a lot of Scriptures support it. But people will throw a lot out for cherished theology, and determinism has won over a lot of people’s thinking.
Determinism was not a cherished theology for me. I grew up Conservative Baptist and converted to Catholicism in high school, before converting back out several years later. I grew up cherishing a belief in libertarian free will as a hell-excuser and theodicean solution.
What I’ve found, in copious amounts of reading the ECFs and later Classicals, is that no, there is not a strong emphasis in “freedom as the imago Dei.” As I’ve already told you, the consensus was that “reasoning” is the imago Dei. The fact that you promised I’d find something different suggests to me that it is you that has not done this reading.
I never denied that reason was often described as well as, but your claim that free will was never associated is just patently false, in both old and new theologians.
“Irenaeus, unlike later Reformation Theologians, believes that the essential nature of humanity was not lost or corrupted by the fall, but the fulfillment of humanity’s creation, namely freedom and lifeHumankind before the fall (see Fall of Man) was in the image of God through the ability to exercise free will and reason. And we were in the likeness of God through an original spiritual endowment.”
“In the Modern Era, the Image of God was often related to the concept of “freedom” or “free will” and also relationality. Emil Brunner, a twentieth century Swiss Reformed theologian, wrote that “the formal aspect of human nature, as beings ‘made in the image of God”, denotes being as Subject, or freedom; it is this which differentiates humanity from the lower creation.” He also sees the relationship between God and humanity as a defining part of what it means to be made in God’s image”
This is exactly the point. Calvinists frequently complain that Arminians seem to “worship” freewill. As if this attribute of man was more important than any attributes of God. But the point is that we see freewill as a logical necessity for love to exist. It is not because we love the doctrine of freewill, it is because we love the doctrine of love.
Exactly! Free will also protects the concept of God’s Holiness bc it provides explanation to the origin and cause of moral evil. And it protects the characteristic of God’s trustworthiness bc we can know He means inwardly what he is expressing outwardly (vs the idea that God may say one thing while determine another).
Bethyada understood your argument and states it well.
One of my favorite Christian apologists, Ravi Zacharias, deals with the same argument that Leighton deals with here in a short video available here:
This is a long standing argument in the history of the Christian church, sad to see some rejecting this helpful argument. I have used it many times myself in leading others to Christ.
When it comes to suffering, we do not have all of the answers, instead it is like a puzzle and we have some of the pieces of the puzzle but not all of them. Only God’s knows all of the pieces of this puzzle. This is not to say that we immediately appeal to mystery. It means that we can and should provide some of the puzzle pieces to those who are sincerely asking about suffering. Ultimately, comfort in suffering will only be found in the God of all comfort.
But the point is that we see freewill as a logical necessity for love to exist. It is not because we love the doctrine of freewill, it is because we love the doctrine of love.
Excellent point. I just really wish that’s the only point this article made, instead of extrapolating it out in metaphors of dogs and babies and messes. It’s using a fallen creation with our selfish motivations and applying it to a thrice holy God and his holy law that was rebelled against. I think it’s insulting to equate open rebellion to God’s law as the mess a baby or puppy makes. I think it’s insulting to equate God’s unconditional and infinite love with our selfish love, that adopts a puppy or child to get something out of it. If we can stick to a simple freewill defense, we will create less confusion and logical reasons for opponents to ridicule and object to the freewill defense.
Yes. God loves His creation. He is not allowing evil but demonstrating His love through His patience and suffering in offering the solution to their unrighteousness. There will be a judgement and a renewal of creation.
Could you clarify what you mean by “not allowing evil but demonstrating His love.”
God created a world where there is a consequence to evil. He also created a world in which man can be redeemed from the consequences of evil. God did not create the evil that entered into the world. He is no more responsible for evil than the watchmaker is responsible for the friction that wears out the bearings of the watch.
Okay, so God did allow evil, but still demonstrated his love in that allowance.
Great post brother Flowers.
Greetings from Venezuela: my name is Helmut Schatte 69 years old, the Lord met me in 2005 , I use to write articles for the local Newspaper ” El Tiempo” in Puerto La Cruz, city wich I live. First of all , I don’t know how it was possible that you found me but I’m very glad about that. I wish to ask for your permission, I want to traslate your messages and put them in my place in the paper. By the way another question: are you a church?, what kind of church?, I belong to a church that only calls his self as a Biblic Church, recently we have some troubles with a pastor that wanted to change our Faith Statement asking for Determinism, this shepard now is going to work in a Bauptist Reformed Church in Washington DC . Now we have a task with our church: bring ligth about our faith . Thanks so much Helmut Schatte
Hey brother Helmut, blessings to you. I’m glad to hear you are taking a stand against determinism! I’m sure brother Flowers will give you permission and I hope he does!