The Greatest of these is LOVE

I recently touched on this point in another blog and in a few podcasts, but I felt it deserved a post of its own. It’s one of those topics that cannot be overstated or addressed too often.

I became convinced of this after listening to Dr. Jerry Walls presentation titled, “What’s Wrong with Calvinism?” (Which can be found  HERE on YouTube)

In this presentation (at the 57:45 mark), Dr. Walls argues:

“In a nutshell, our case against Calvinism is that it doesn’t do justice to the character of God revealed in Scripture. It does not accurately portray the holy One who is ‘compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love’ (Ps. 103:8), the God for whom love is not merely an option or sovereign choice, but who is such that his eternal nature is love (1 Jn 4:8).”

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:

“God cannot fail to be perfectly loving any more so than He can lie. You don’t have to have children, but if you do you take on an obligation to love them. God’s freedom was in the freedom to create, or not. He didn’t have to create. But once having created, as a necessarily good and loving Being, He cannot but love what He has created. Love is not an option with God…It’s not a question of whether or not God chooses to love, it is WHO HE IS…HE IS LOVE.”

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!


Therefore, the question Calvinists are asking is backwards. Instead of asking, as John Piper does, “How does a sovereign God express His love?” We should be asking, “How does a loving God express His sovereignty?”


77 thoughts on “The Greatest of these is LOVE

  1. Yes, God is Love and He expresses His Love through His Word. We see God express His Love and His Hatred in the Scriptures. Here are some very insightful Words of God that clash with a universal mindset that says God overlooks evil and does not hold accountable those who will not repent nor can repent. No one has the ability to repent without the Love of God drawing them to do so. It is all to the Glory of God Almighty that anyone repents.

    I’m not a learned student of Calvin. I haven’t read his institutes or other writings. I have studied the history of Calvin and how he got to Geneva. I’ve also read the controversies that surround him and some of his actions appealing, for instance, to the Council in Geneva to cut off Servetus’ head instead of burning him because he was indeed a heretic.

    I’m not a learned student of Jacob Arminius. I haven’t read much about him. I have studied the history of Arminius and what brought about the Council of Dort.

    I embrace TULIP however as I see all five points in Scripture.

    Here are the verses I have in mind to cite regarding the Love God shows the world and His hatred for the god of this world and his followers both fallen angels and mankind:::>

    Heb 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
    Heb 2:10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
    Heb 2:11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
    Heb 2:12 saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
    Heb 2:13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
    Heb 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
    Heb 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
    Heb 2:16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
    Heb 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
    Heb 2:18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

  2. /We should be asking, “How does a loving God express His sovereignty?”/ Amen. This places God’s sovereignty in exactly the right perspective. If we say anything about God and it diminishes His love for all people, we are wrong.

  3. You have a false dichotomy as the basis of your post. You are thinking of these as two distinct questions, one wrong (Piper) and the other correct (Walls). Yet, these are not in conflict since God is *the* Sovereign One. We could ask the questions either way if we like. Both questions will ultimately resolve in the one same correct biblical answer. The only difference might be in emphasis.

    You mistakenly presumes that could be a problem in which somehow God’s love holds back his sovereignty (and thus to man’s liking) vs. God’s sovereignty trimming back his love (and thus to man’s protest). Neither is actual. God dispenses both His sovereignty and his love according to his full divine essence as the Sovereign One.

    To parse these two is to miss the reality of who God is. You cannot balance out what you see in God. God does not need our conceptions of balance. We should not attempt to balance his sovereignty against his love or vice a versa. God is fully sovereign and fully loving and while He is expressing his sovereignty He does in full divine love and while He is expressing his love He does so in full divine sovereignty. Yahweh God is *the* Sovereign One, fully, completely and absolutely, no less.

    1. Yes, BUT
      We don’t assume sovereignty = meticulously deterministic control (absolute power) over ever molecule, desire, choice of all creation, as Piper does. So we too affirm both Gods absolute love and sovereignty…we define it differently (as seen in my blog post on sovereignty)

      1. Prof. Flowers, you and I agree that God does not meticulously micromanage what molecules do. Do we also agree that things like the molecules that compose ocean cliff faces happened into that state in an adequately deterministic way? If so, it seems that you and I can both assert that even under a system of adequate determinism, it does not follow that God is meticulously micromanaging the elements of that system. In other words, we’d agree on a formative distinction under adequate determinism between over what God is responsible through meticulous micromanagement vs. that over which God is superordinately responsible but through indirection and nonintervention.

        Great post on love, by the way. Fully on board, there.

      2. Notice the contraction. Professor Flowers wants God to have “absolute love and sovereignty” but he does not want God to have “absolute power.” If God did not have control over every aspect of creation in the first place He would not be God and secondly, somebody has to or it would all fall apart. The next mistake Professor Flowers makes over and over is to assume that when we affirm that God is totally sovereignty this is the same thing as determinism or fatalism. Fatalism or determinism is actually a religious or philosophical principle that puts itself higher than God so that even if God wanted to change certain things He could not because fatalism has the ultimate say. When we affirm that God is the Sovereign One we are concurring with Scripture which shows us that God is in Himself the ultimate principle and Being. There is no greater, not even fatalism.

      3. MarkO writes, “The next mistake Professor Flowers makes over and over is to assume that when we affirm that God is totally sovereignty this is the same thing as determinism or fatalism.”

        There are two issues here. (1) The issue is really theological determinism and not philosophical determinism. Philosophical determinism has a person’s decisions being forced on him by previous events (which to some extent does happen). Theological determinism has God controlling all events so that nothing happens outside His control – not even a sparrow falls from the sky unless God decrees it to happen. (2) Many people define “determinism” as God causing a person to choose a certain outcome or all outcomes. It ignores God using secondary causes – in many cases, depraved human nature – to gain the outcomes He desires.

        Fatalism, of course, is what exists if there is no God – and evolution rules through chemical processes.

      4. MarkO,

        I think it’s probably a strawman of Prof. Flowers to say “he does not want God to have absolute power.” I think we’d all commonly assert that God’s power is unimpeded except by the constraints of his own will. This static will expresses itself dynamically as the world is dynamic, insofar as God intervenes occasionally, and lets things tick-on usually.

        Fatalism is not the same thing as determinism. Fatalism is a deontic response to determinism in the form of inaction. It comes from a modal scope fallacy, where a person mistakenly believes that inefficacy is a corollary of a closed future.

        Adequate determinism does not put itself higher than God. Adequate determinism says that we are creatures that make decisions as strict functions of prior causes, and those prior causes are themselves strict functions of prior causes, and so on. God can always intervene as it suits him to make “exceptions” to the natural cause-and-effect procession of creation. We retain a sense of origination as created beings by virtue of formative uniqueness and individuality developing over time, and yet can be radically changed and improved by Grace. This “formative” rather than “substantial” uniqueness is entailed by Christian compatibilistic free will in place of Christian libertarian free will.

      5. stanrock writes, “God’s power is unimpeded except by the constraints of his own will.”

        No problem here but let us remember that God – because He is sovereign – is necessarily always active in ruling His creation and never passive. God cannot NOT decide what to do in every situation – God must either decide (decree) that He will intervene in the affairs of men to gain an outcome He wants (e.g., flooding the world in the time of Noah, impregnating Mary) or decide that He will not intervene in the affairs of men (e.g., the stoning of Stephen). In each case, we can say that God decreed the outcome.

    2. Rhutchin,

      You and I agree that at every moment, God makes a deliberate decision that optimizes his interest set. For everything that occurs, God can let it “stick” or functionally “undo it,” at the very least (even under Open Theism! — I am not an Open Theist). This makes God exhaustively superordinately responsible for absolutely everything, and as such supremely sovereign.

      At this juncture, the only issue is what we “call this.” “Decree” is theologically traditional, but it has a confusion-catalyzing problem: It sounds like authorship. Decrees in mundane life, for example, involve some legislator making a special exception or redirection to the natural process of events in order to conform the world to certain interests that would not otherwise be satisfied. So while it is technically proper to say that God decreed Stephen’s stoning, with the formal theological definition thereof, it sounds to most people like you’re saying “Stephen was not going to be stoned, but God stepped in and decreed that he be stoned.”

      And it sounds like this because this is the sense of decree — the sense of exceptional authorship — with which we’re familiar: A novel demand.

      For example, my lawn is overgrown. I need to mow it. Technically, God decreed that both my lawn overgrow, and that I be delinquent in mowing it. But to most people, this sounds bizarre; it sounds by “decree” like God went “out of his way” make these things happen, when they are mundanely explainable by the natural processes of plant growth and the boring realities of my life being busy.

      Now the discussion is one related to theological & philosophical quietude — that is, a discussion about what terms mean and how they’re received by people in general, and the potential danger of miscommunication and misunderstanding certain terms can foster.

      And here, you can take one of two approaches (much of quietude comes down to this fork-in-the-road):

      (1) Conservative. Retain the theological usage of “decree” but insist that people be made familiar with it, even if it isn’t totally in-tune with “layperson’s ‘decree.'”

      (2) Radical. Abandon the use of “decree” and come up with a softer phrase that feels less “exceptional” and less “author-y.” For example, instead of saying “God decreed the outcome,” we could say, “The outcome was part of God’s plan,” or “The outcome was God’s settlement” or “The outcome was of God’s optimal accord.”

      In other words, we want to make sure, even as we uphold God’s exhaustive superordinate responsibility, that we’re not asserting God’s maximal pleasure in horrifying interim events — only his optimal pleasure, with counterintuitive yields in-time and over time according to God’s interests, and with an ultimate “all will be well.”

      I’ve written several pieces in support of God’s superordinate responsibility (Google “stanrock sovereignty” or “stanrock responsibility”). My worry is only in the memetic danger of the use of “decree” in theological language.

      1. stanrock writes, “At this juncture, the only issue is what we “call this.” “Decree” is theologically traditional, but it has a confusion-catalyzing problem: It sounds like authorship. Decrees in mundane life, for example, involve some legislator making a special exception…”

        We could say that God “decides” rather than decrees, but whatever way we describe God’s involvement, I think it should be clear that God is actively involved.

        The distinction is that God is sovereign and people are not. People decree things because they purpose to be involved. If a person has no interest, he can be passive or just ignorant of events because he doesn’t look for them. God cannot be passive or not involved in anything that happens within His creation through ignorance. Even when God decides not to be involved, His non-intervention can be crucial. For example, Satan can only enter the garden because God decides not to intervene as he enters. When Satan tempts Eve, God is standing next to her and must decide whether to intervene to help Eve. When Eve offers the fruit to Adam, again God is standing next to them and must decide not to discuss the issue with Adam. God’s purposeful non-interference makes the first sin possible. It is like that in everything. It is God who sustains life; should God decide to remove His hand from keeping a person alive, that person would immediately die. Think of the vilest sin that a person commits. God is present throughout that sin, from beginning to end, and purposely decides not to withdraw His hand that allows the man to live or otherwise to intervene to stop the sin from happening. That God decides is the same as saying that God decrees – as much as people do not like it.

        The Open Theist tries to distance God from the person’s sin, but nothing really changes.

      2. Rhutchin,

        But he CAN be passive in form. Passive doesn’t mean “powerless” or “unintentional.” Passive means to suffer something, to endure it without resistance. This is precisely what God does when he sovereignly decides not to intervene. This is what he showed on the cross.

        Under this taxonomy, God is at any given juncture passive or active. The route he chooses is entirely owed to his arbitration, which is entirely owed to the optimization of his interests.

        It is vitally important to preserve both “ends” of the paradox here: That, during sin, God is both completely SUBSTANTIALLY present, but meaningfully absent in a FORMATIVE way. By “paradox” I do not mean contradiction, but a resolution by appreciating forms (Google “stanrock sun rises”).

        In order to express this paradox with maximum precision and minimum confusion, I am making the following assertions:

        (1) “Decree” as a word has too many overtones of exceptional authorship to be responsibly employed in theological discussion.

        (2) It’s better to describe ills through non-intervention with terms like “God’s settlement,” “God’s ordination,” “God’s plan,” or “God’s considerations; that which God consided with.” This sustains God’s exhaustive sovereignty with no unintended implication that God employed exceptional force or was wholly pleased in every sense.

  4. I hear this a lot from James White: God will be eternally disappointed under the Arminian soteriology. Do you think that’s a valid argument?

    1. That would be more true under Calvinism soteriology… for they hold such a hard view of immutability that all God’s emotions are perfect, eternal, and unchanging. So since He does experience grief, and we can assume He feels it towards the reprobate since He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and if grief has disappointment as one of its components, than He must be eternally disappointed by the rejection of the reprobate, as well as getting pleasure from it at the same time eternally speaking!

      Of course this philosophizing about God’s emotion does not seem to fit the way it is proclaimed in Scripture, and though He must feel grief at the free rejection of the wicked, in my view, the grief does not continue forever.

      1. Great points, Brian. God is disappointed either way, but under determinism God decreed his own disappointment (which seems quite odd). I think there’s Biblical evidence God’s grief will not last forever, as you say; when he wipes away tears from all eyes, those may well include his own. blessings.

  5. I love that video by Walls. It is compelling when he talks about God’s nature being Love. Something gets me, though, when I think about it: God created Satan, too. Does He also love Satan? If His nature is love, and we follow the logic that He loves everything He creates and can do nothing less, what do we do with Satan? What do you think?

  6. The real problem here is (what I call) “compartmental thinking.” The argument works within the narrow and shallow compartment in which it is viewed, but it ignores and even contradicts other arguments held by the proponent.

    Walls stress the fact that love for God is not an option–it is His eternal nature. God cannot fail to love just as He cannot lie. God does not “choose” to love (or not to lie), love and truth are part of His very nature.

    He goes on to argue that this fact is not a weakness but a strength, but this is really just a straw-man–no one, including Calvinists, think that God’s love is a weakness.

    As for the question “How does God expresses is love or His sovereignty?” this is really irrelevant . The real question has to do with Libertarian Free Will. Walls make it very clear when He is arguing against Compatiblistm that LFW is the ability to choose otherwise and free actions have no cause.

    Therefore, because God is unable to choose not to love or to lie and the cause of His love and truth is in fact known as being part of His very nature, God Himself does not have LFW.

    God imbues mankind with a free will that is foreign and unknown to Himself!

    1. He didn’t accuse Calvinists of believing Gods love was a weakness. He was talking about Gods inability to hate or bring harm to one of his creatures in a similar way he is unable to willingly harm his granddaughter. It’s not a weakness to be incapable of doing something hateful to another.

      Also, LFW does have a cause. The agent is the cause. The cause of a choice is the chooser. We admit the mystery of LFW because it’s not measurable or able to be deduced by our finite minds.

      Finally, the inability to do somethings isn’t the same as not having LFW. We’ve been over this. I can’t flap my arms and fly but they doesn’t means I can choose between driving or taking an airplane. LFW has to do with choosing between AVAILABLE options not impossible ones. It’s impossible for God to lie so that is not within his LFW choice. He choice to create was.

      He does create mutable creatures though he himself isn’t mutable (able to disobey himself). That is not a denial of LFW.

      1. Okay, I don’t agree with you. I think this is just a stubborn dodge on your part, and is obviously inconsistent and illogical. But just for the sake of argument let’s say I give in to this explanation.

        Will you accept from the Calvinist that God’s Decree is a mystery? That the coexistence of free will and God’s divine determinism is not measurable or able to be deduced by our finite minds?

        Yes, we have been over this but you fail to understand that the qualification of “AVAILABLE options” does not solve your problem! Calvinists also affirm available options. In fact available options are how Calvinists define free will. Compatiblist free will says that a person chooses only those choices that are available to them.

      2. But the problem with Compatibilism is that it presumes a choice isn’t available to man that scripture strongly implies is available. If I say “Mike you have a choice. Flap your arms and fly to China or get on a plane and fly to China it’s obvious you don’t have a choice here. Why? One of those options isn’t available. No choice to be made.

        When the scripture says humble yourselves, repent in faith and you will be saved or trade the truth in for lies and remain condemned, there is an actual choice BC both options are actually available.

        If Christ only atoned for the elect then there is no option for most of humanity. Speaking to them as if there is can only be misleading or deceptive. You can truthfully tell someone that a price has been paid for them if it hasn’t.

        You can’t call someone to choose who they will serve when they can’t willingly do so because of an inborn nature they have no control over.

        The scriptures treat lost man as if it’s available to them to repent and be saved but Calvinism tells us the reprobate really don’t have that option. It’s not AVAILABLE

      3. Leighton, you have to know that I am very sympathetic to what you are saying. Calvinist predestination and Compatiblism are mind-bending, mysterious ideas. It is not surprising that people can not grasp them. And this is why both Arminians AND Calvinists want to try and simplify the concepts to make them easy to argue.

        But if you read Augustine, Calvin and Edwards you will notice that Free Will is not a simple matter of God’s oppressive, coercive, and programmable determinism. Augustine defends free will in his writings and invented the Free Will Theodicy. Calvin reads like an Arminian in his biblical commentaries. And Edwards has a long and drawn-out explanation of the causes and influences and workings of the will–why should he bother with a detailed philosophical treatise if he could just say that God determines everything that is ad-infinitum.

        This is an insurmountable paradox for many people. That is why I would never consider non-Calvinists not Christians. And it must be remembered that this is an in-house debate and of secondary importance to the saving grace of God.

        As I see it the problem with anti-Calvinists is they simply cannot look at any Calvinist doctrine without seeing mind-controlling, robotic, Hard Determinism. This is some what understandable but it makes any sympathy for the other side’s point of view very difficult to grasp.

        Look, I have the same problem. Whenever I hear an argument against Calvinism that I think may have some weight or even something that I consider make sense and that I should adopted, I remember that LFW is incoherent. I have to force myself to ignore that fact in order to consider fairly what is being argued.

        Yes, I understand that impossible choices like flapping your arms and flying are not real choices. But that example is very shallow. Why not deal with more realistic examples like the “Sophie’s Choice” example I mentioned in an earlier post. Or the more subtle best-of-two-evil examples we all face everyday.

        And lastly, it seems that you just can’t deal with the logic, or lack there of, surrounding “AVAILABLE.” If certain choices are not available to man than man is not free, but if those same choices are not available to God it is irrelevant because He is free. Jerry Walls makes sin a prerequisite for LFW but you ignore the fact that God is sinless and sin is destroyed in heaven.

        As long as you demand consistent logic, with not trace of mystery or divine paradox–from your opponent but refuse to practice it yourself your arguments will be ineffectual–at least to me.

      4. Also, you say, “He does create mutable creatures though he himself isn’t mutable (able to disobey himself). That is not a denial of LFW.”

        This is just more evidence of compartmental thinking. When Arminians argue that God is in Time, defend the A Theory, and point out the God changing His mind in the scriptures is literal, they purport God’s mutability. But when they argue for FLW the purport His immutability.

        (Oh, and just for the record, if you make the point that God’s love is not a weakness than you are obviously stating this because you assume some opposition or disagreement from somewhere.)

      5. The disagreement is not “love is a weakness”. The disagreement is “Your view of how God loves all people makes God weak because it puts him as subject to human will”…an argument we hear from Cals often.

      6. Jerry Walls on Reformation, Free-will and Philosophy (part 4)

        Interviewer: If I were to put it in two simple sentences… In Calvinism God wants there to be sin. In Arminianism God wants there is be freedom to choose sin or Him. Would that be accurate?

        Jerry Walls: Ah… Yes.

        Jerry Walls: What God wants is a genuine loving relationship with people which can only happen if sin is possible. (This is what C.S. Lewis said.)

        So, what is put forward is that for a genuine loving relationship to exist LFW must include the ability to sin. So, once again–more compartmental thinking–if this is the case God does not have FLW and no FLW can exist in heaven!

      7. Mike, I don’t think it has to be seen as “inconsistent and illogical”, but consistent with His nature, for God to create a spirit that is able to do something freely that He Himself is unable to freely do. He is freely able to do or not do many things consistent with His nature, including creating or not creating such spirit that is able to sin! And I don’t think we have to hold God culpable for the sin that results just because He created a spirit that was freely able to sin, even though He is not freely able to sin.

      8. I have to admit I find this response curious especially coming from you, Brian. As an Open Theist you are able to see the illogic and inconsistency in the traditional view of God with respect to God being outside of time and His immutability negating any type of change that would include creation, the incarnation and even emotion.

        But you are unable to see any inconsistencies with an all loving and compassionate God creating hate and evil.

        This kind of compartmental thinking is quite fascinating.

      9. Hi Mike, Are you saying that you don’t see a difference in the creating of hate and evil and of the creating of just the potential for hate and evil? I do see the former as inconsistent with God’s nature, but not the later.

      10. Well I guess there is some difference between the guy who poisons the city’s water supply and the guy who gives a glass of poison to someone. But I guess when it comes to the creator of the universe and the creator of human beings I have a hard time with the Free Will Theodicy. Even the Open Theist God who doesn’t know the future is smart enough to know what will happen if He creates evil–that is why He takes away the potential for evil in the world to come.

      11. Hi Mike, I don’t think your poison illustration fits. God gives the free will to man and tells him to stay away from the poison. And even if you see Adam as poisoning his offspring, God makes sure that each of them gets an opportunity to accept or reject the antidote before they die.

      12. brianwagner writes, “God makes sure that each of them gets an opportunity to accept or reject the antidote before they die.”

        Opportunity or equal opportunity. If equal opportunity, then all would equally avail themselves of the opportunity for salvation and be saved or all would equally reject the opportunity and be lost. If just an opportunity but not necessarily an equal opportunity, then each would have a somewhat different opportunity and that difference – God’s discrimination to favor some and not others – would result in some being saved and some not.

      13. Hi Roger – We’ve been over this ground before. 🙂

        I don’t think I can explain any better than I have before that God gives sufficient opportunity, even enablement, to accept or reject. It does not have to be “equal”, just sufficient. And until you face the predetermination issue that forces you to have God choosing a closed list of individuals for salvation before creation, you will not be open, I feel, to understanding the logic of how God’s free-will is being exercised now in His offering sufficient opportunity for His salvation to everyone today.

      14. brianwagner writes, “…God gives sufficient opportunity, even enablement, to accept or reject. It does not have to be “equal”, just sufficient. And until you face the predetermination issue that forces you to have God choosing a closed list of individuals for salvation before creation,…”

        “Sufficient” opportunity is, at its heart, Calvinist theology. Within that sufficiency, we find the distinction between one person accepting salvation and another rejecting salvation – as both people are equally lost/depraved, neither one having any advantage over the other for salvation. At the root of sufficiency is God’s conveyance of such sufficiency to bring His elect to salvation while preparing the reprobate for judgment. The appeal to sufficiency does not promote your view. To avoid a Calvinist conclusion and get a different outcome, sufficiency must be “equal” sufficiency which, of course, carries its own problems for explaining how one accepts and another rejects.

      15. You just proved my point Roger, that you need to first “face the predetermination issue that forces you to have” an elect group and a reprobate group and an explanation of irresistible grace only offered to the elect. Sufficient but rejectible grace offered to everyone will not be seen as logical to you as long as you hold to those unbiblical presuppositions.

      16. brianwagner writes, ‘You just proved my point Roger, that you need to first “face the predetermination issue that forces you to have” an elect group and a reprobate group and an explanation of irresistible grace only offered to the elect.”

        Not exactly (at least, I don’t see it). We know that the original condition of people is that of reprobation – all have sinned – and in their reprobation, all are rejecting salvation. So, sufficiency refers to a necessary work of God in the life of the reprobate to enable them to come to salvation. As “sufficiency” is the necessary condition for salvation, then those who come to salvation can be said to be “sufficiently enabled.”

        What about those who continue rejecting salvation as they have always done? Based on the outcome – continued rejection of salvation – we can conclude that they were not “sufficiently enabled” to produce a different outcome. An inequality had to have been created among the reprobate in their ability to be saved. That inequality can only have been created by God in “enabling” such that only some of the reprobate come to salvation. Necessary, God has differentiated among those enabled such that some come to salvation and the rest continue as before. One conclusion is that God determined the outcome based on His differential treatment of the reprobate – some were enabled sufficient to salvation and the rest were enabled (if at all) to judgment. To explain this outcome, the Calvinist developed TULIP with ULI being the key points on this issue.

        The issue that must be faced is how the unsaved can be enabled to accept salvation and get the outcome that some accept salvation and some reject salvation. If the only explanation is that God had to differentiate between those who came to accept and those who continued to reject then determination comes into play (Did God determine the outcome or could other factors be involved?). If the outcome can be traced to something inherent to the reprobate, then there may be a way to avoid determination but maybe not.

        So, can you explain how God sufficiently enables all to come to salvation to get the result that some do and some do not and avoid the conclusion that God determined this outcome by treating some different than others in His sufficient enablement to salvation? The first issue I see is the issue of sufficient enablement – how does it work? After that determinism can be addressed, if necessary.

      17. Roger, First, this is new to me to hear the elect being called part of the reprobate before regeneration. Allowing for that, you are also changing the definition of sufficiency from sufficient for a free choice to sufficient for a necessary choice.
        And I am surprised that you don’t already know that I have been proclaiming the former as the biblical one, not the latter.

        Also, I am surprised that you would ask me about determinism, which is your necessary presupposition to have sufficiency=necessity. As you already know I believe God determined before creation to allow for true possibilities to exist for the future along with, and limited by His limited number of predeterminations.

        That’s how it works according to the normal reading of Scripture with all its conditional statements, universal divine invitations, and verses about God still making choices since creation. So God brings everyone to be sufficiently enabled to accept or reject His offer of grace needed for their salvation. I hope this helps.

      18. brianwagner writes, “this is new to me to hear the elect being called part of the reprobate before regeneration.”

        We were all reprobate before God saved us. However, “reprobate” is also used of those that God will not save and are identified as such from the creation. I just like to think of my pedigree. I probably shouldn’t do that as it can confuse.

        brianwagner writes, “you are also changing the definition of sufficiency from sufficient for a free choice to sufficient for a necessary choice.”

        Actually, I’m trying to discover the definition. So, do you mean sufficient for a free choice or sufficient for a libertarian free choice – i.e., sufficient to make a free choice free of coercion but not able to choose otherwise to choose salvation or sufficient to choose salvation. I assumed LFW in sufficiently enabled not just free choice. As faith is required for a person to believe, then do you mean to include faith as part of sufficiently enabled?

        brianwagner writes, “I am surprised that you would ask me about determinism, which is your necessary presupposition to have sufficiency=necessity.”

        Depending on your definition of sufficiently enabled and what you mean to convey by that term, I think determinism can be shown to be a product of sufficiently enabled rather than a presupposition. I don’t need to presume determinism to evaluate how sufficiently enabled works.

        brianwagner writes, “I believe God determined before creation to allow for true possibilities to exist for the future along with, and limited by His limited number of predeterminations.”

        I believe God determined before creation to allow for free will – LFW in Adam which was lost and a lesser free will (free of coercion but without otherwise choice with regard to salvation) after Adam sinned. Your use of the term, sufficiently enabled, suggests to me that you agree and see the necessity for LFW being restored for one to be sufficiently enabled.

        brianwagner writes, “God still making choices since creation.”

        Is God making choices or could God be dealing with the choices people make as He has previously determined He would? Does God really have to decide what He will do in certain situations or is God able to determine what He will do in certain situations from creation.

      19. Hi Roger… lots of questions! I hope I will answer them “sufficiently” to enable you to make a free choice to change your mind! 🙂

        I think we do agree that I am saying LFW in some sense is restored, at least to be sufficiently enabled, while divine enlightenment and conviction are graciously present, to choose Christ, but not irresistibly. Is God still making choices… yes, because the Bible says that He is, which would make the idea that He predetermined all of His choices before creation a contradiction. Or at least it makes the verses that state He is making choices into illusory accommodations to man’s ignorance, that Calvinists are too smart to fall for. But you know my thinking on that already! 🙂

      20. brianwagner writes, “I think we do agree that I am saying LFW in some sense is restored, at least to be sufficiently enabled, while divine enlightenment and conviction are graciously present, to choose Christ, …”

        Is “sufficiently enabled” operative before one hears the gospel preached and has faith conveyed to them or is a person considered sufficiently enabled only after hearing the gospel preached and having faith conveyed. Does your sufficiently enabled include or exclude faith?

      21. Enabled, not before, but during the preaching of the gospel. Not conveyed but presented to personal faith as an opportunity to receive. The ability to believe already existed, but without the proper enlightenment it was in that sense unable to be exercised towards Christ.

      22. brianwagner writes, “Enabled, not before, but during the preaching of the gospel. Not conveyed but presented to personal faith as an opportunity to receive.’

        OK. Enabled during the preaching of the gospel. Then, as many as received Him/believed in His name (John 1:12), to these He gave the power to be born again. “Power” would then be the Holy Spirit who brings about the new birth.

      23. Brian,

        Analogies are futile in the sense in that one can always find problems with them because no human illustration can equal God’s actions. And you can’t make simple analogies walk on all fours. And I do admit that there are bad analogies.

        But, I think you missed the point. Is there really a difference between poisoning the water supply and handling an individual a glass of poison?

        Okay, the guy poisons the city’s water supply and then goes on TV and tells everyone not to drink water. After the massive death toll the Judge—who is suffering from dehydration do to the lack of drinking water—asks the guy how he pleads. The guys says, “not guilty, because I told everyone not to drink the water.”

      24. Ok Mike, I like illustrations like the next guy, but it seems to me that much of Calvinism depends on them instead of clear Scriptures! 🙂 God gave sufficient sustenance in the garden and only one “poisoned” tree!

        And He did indeed warn about it. There was sufficient knowledge and ability for Adam to refuse the poison, but he did not trust the word of his Maker, and chose instead to take a risk and commit to believe the lie, that he didn’t realize was a lie, but thought would bring a more beneficial result to him than the harm of God’s threat.

        If by poisoning the water supply you mean the penalty for Adam’s sin being imputed to his posterity, I would say that, though poisoned, the poison only becomes activated at the “age” of accountability. The person is not dead yet (“sick” Rom 5:6), and God offers an antidote with clear understanding of its effectiveness and their need of it. They have to choose, like Adam, whether to trust God’s word or some other choice presented as “truth”.

      25. brianwagner writes, “…[Adam] did not trust the word of his Maker, and chose instead to take a risk and commit to believe the lie, that he didn’t realize was a lie…”

        1 Timothy 2, “Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

        So, Adam did not believe a lie nor is he to be faulted for not realizing the lie. Adam was not deceived. Adam ate the fruit with his eyes wide open without deception. I don’t think we can conclude that Adam did not trust the word of God. John Gill says that Adam ate the fruit because he knew that Eve was now to die and he didn’t want her to die alone – he did it for love. Who really knows why Adam ate the fruit.

      26. Thank you Roger for the correction! Adam was not deceived by Satan.

        You are correct that we must speculate why he chose against God’s word which he understood at some level sufficient for his culpability.

        I don’t favor the “love of Eve” excuse, which I heard before. It is possible he deceived himself with some speculation, just like I must be doing often in our conversations about things not clearly defined in Scripture! 🙂

      27. Brian, it is very hard for me to have a conversation with you because you jump to conclusions trying to anticipate my hidden meanings and go off on rabbit trails. For Pete’s sake, just deal with one issue at a time. Just deal with what I am saying and not what you think I am “really” saying. I swear I’m not trying to trick you. I’m learning as I go. I’m willing to be wrong. I’m trying to understand.

        (This is an aside but I’ve done a lot of reading as well. I’ve read Boyd’s two large tomes on Open Theism: God at War and Satan & the Problem of Evil.)

        I need to approach discussions in layers–one thing and then the next until a conclusion is arrived at. Not jumping to the end and then back to the middle and off on another subject.

        You’re willing to address my analogy when you feel that it is easy to dismantle but then when I try to accommodate you and refine it you just shrug it off. I have given you scriptural passages before that support my view (Isaiah 10) and all you do throw back other scriptures that support your view.

        Unfortunately scripture does not give us a definition of FLW and this definition is my main contention. I have yet to find a consistent and agreed upon definition on this site.

      28. brianwagner writes, “Hi Mike, Are you saying that you don’t see a difference in the creating of hate and evil and of the creating of just the potential for hate and evil?”

        Just jumping in. For once, I agree with Brian. God did create the potential for hate and evil by giving man the capacity to hate and do evil. Nonetheless, God already knows all the evil everyone does into the future til the end.

        Also, the term’s hate and evil, are basically adjectives and not nouns (even when appearing in a noun position). We describe things as “hate” or as “evil.” Hate and evil are not created things (when the Scriptures say God creates evil, the sense is still a description of that which God creates).

        There was no “evil” in the world until God said, “Thou shalt not eat…” By saying that, God described evil (as disobedience) and established the possibility for Adam/Eve to do that which was evil – disobey. Had God not said, “Thou shalt not,” we would now be living in paradise.

        God defines a descriptor, evil, of certain behavior by saying, “Thou shalt not…” In the same way, “hate,” describes things that God identifies as being contrary to His law or His will. If God had not said in some form or fashion, Thou shalt covet, then coveting would not be evil even though Cain might still covet the special treatment Abel received from God. Nothing can be sin – an evil or hateful action – until God says it is.

      29. Roger,
        I don’t disagree that God created the potential for hate and evil. I was responding to Brian’s accretion that God is able to create an attribute that He Himself does not possess. And I don’t necessarily disagree with this either, I simply wanted to explore the idea.

        I find your idea concurring evil as a result of God’s “Thou shalt not” command interesting. I’m not sure I can get behind it. Perhaps I don’t fully understand what you are saying. Are you espousing the Divine Command Theory? And how would you respond to the Euthyphro Dilemma?

      30. It is trivially true that if somebody rejects God’s Grace, God can always gently apply more Grace until that person sees their error. This is why the “sufficiency-efficiency distinction” is a nonfunctional bridge-breaker in theology (Google ‘stanrock logical wildcards’).

      31. Stan, I think you have misunderstood that “see the error” is part of the sufficiency that God provides, and that God has predetermined that the efficiency is always dependent on a non coerced choice being made by the individual first, but only during the time that God has enabled him to see the error.

      32. Here are the options:

        (1) George does not see their error at all (and thus does not reform).

        (2) George sees his error only partially such that he manages to find excuses not to reform (likely the vast majority of the unrepentant are here).

        (3) George sees his error wholly, knowing that it would be insane not to reform, and thus reforms.

        (4) George sees his error wholly, but IS insane, and thus does not reform as a function of his mental defect.

        There’s no secret 5th option to puzzle-out, though clawing for one is the natural human temptation with these sorts of things. Any option beyond this dilemma requires logical wildcards to bridge-make and bridge-break.

      33. Thank you Stan, Let me try some “clawing”. 😀 I think you are stacking the deck with “insane” being the only reason for rejecting the illumination and conviction God gives. It may “insane” from our perspective to reject something we know is true because we believe a lie that we think is better than that truth. But we still are without excuse. One of the biggest lies is that we can put off making this decision about this truth. But God’s divine illumination and conviction are temporal.

      34. brianwagner writes, ” It may “insane” from our perspective to reject something we know is true because we believe a lie that we think is better than that truth. But we still are without excuse.”

        LFW is sometimes defined as the ability to choose otherwise. So, does a lie/deception negate LFW (dropping it down to non-coercive free will or maybe resulting in a coercive choice if the lie forces a choice one would not otherwise make) if it removes the possibility of one choosing otherwise by distorting one’s understanding of the choice to be made and the available options?

      35. Roger, both the truth and the lie are influential but neither is coercive. There is no necessity in logic to make one option the “coercive” one, just because it ends up being the chosen one, if the will is truly free and responsible for its choices.

      36. brianwagner writes, “…both the truth and the lie are influential but neither is coercive..”

        Sounds like an opinion. My opinion is that a lie can negate free will by obscuring the options available just because of the fabric of a lie.

      37. You are free, Roger, to make that choice to believe that lies are coercive even though you might be convinced that my “opinion” is reasonable. I hope you will change your mind, which you are also free to do and will one day see my “opinion” not only as reasonable, but as the most consistent with biblical teaching. 🙂 Blessings, my friend!

      38. Good morning Roger! The lie doesn’t coerce because there is always an element of the unknown in the choice. Will the truth that one is convinced of turn out better, or will the lie that looks better at the moment? The choice takes faith and a free will, and the individual is culpable for his choice.

      39. This — “It may ‘insane’ from our perspective to reject something we know is true because we believe a lie that we think is better than that truth” — is not #4, but #2. This is not insanity, but a lack of complete knowledge of the error. As Rhutchin correctly writes, deception can trick us into committing to action against our highest, best interests. The quadrilemma remains valid.

      40. Actually Stan, you are missing the idea of sufficient information that is recognized as truth and then weighed against another option which is a lie. This is not a matter of not having enough information (#2). God makes sure there is enough information, recognized as true with the correct apprehension of need for it, but as I mentioned, choosing the lying option does not reduce the culpability for rejecting the true one. Nor does it prove that the information of the true one was insufficient.

        I think, because of a presupposition of determinism that you can’t seem to shake, that you believe there is coercion in the information itself, whereas I would say there is only influence when it comes to the choice for salvation. God does overcome at least a few times any hardness that resulted from choosing lies and presents the truth that needs to be chosen, but it is not presented in a coercive way in violation of man’s will to receive Christ freely, or reject Him and choose to believe a lie again.

        Of course I understand my view has its own presuppositions of an non-traditional view of omniscience and the nature of the future, but I believe my presuppositions correspond with a more normal reading of Scripture whereas, as you and I have discussed before, your presuppositions in these things require reading the Scripture as being full of anthropomorphisms and illusory accommodations to man’s presumed inability to understand.

      41. Brian,

        If you have enough information such that you sufficiently recognize something as true, and deliberately choose something that you sufficiently know is false, than you have a mental defect (#4). Usually, the case is that you have some degree of knowledge of the correct course, but — either through curiosity, or gullibility, or loss-aversion, or what have you — you suspect or hope that the alternate course may be correct, erroneously thinking that it could be of benefit. That is, it is an error in judgment that was possible only because knowledge was not complete. Had knowledge been complete — had the person known the correct course with certainty and the incorrect course with certainty — they’d never choose the incorrect course unless mentally defective.

        Consider a gambler at a slot machine.

        (1) Horace is not having any fun, but mistakenly thinks the slot machine is +EV and thus the correct course, even though he’s way down, is to keep playing until he gets enough money to pay his bills.

        (2) Bernice is not having any fun and knows the slot machine is -EV, but has superstitious ideas of luck and is addled by the Gambler’s Fallacy, which compels her to stay in her chair due to loss-aversion about a “jackpot on the next pull.”

        (3) Luke understands that the machine is -EV and is not having any fun (a kind of ROI). He evaluates his situation, says “This is ridiculous,” gets up, and leaves.

        (4) Patricia understands the machine is -EV, is not having any fun, and has absolutely zero confidence in a future yield. She knows wholly that each pull will just make her poorer and poorer, sadder and sadder. However, Patricia has a mental defect and continues to play thereby.

        1 and 2 are both explained by insufficient knowledge. Even if you say, “I told Bernice about the Gambler’s Fallacy and that her ideas of luck are superstitious,” this doesn’t mean that you’ve equipped her with sufficient knowledge IF she doesn’t know for sure that what you told her was indeed true. The fact that she didn’t believe you means that knowledge was not sufficiently conveyed.

        And this is the crux of the issue. Anything insufficient is inefficient. Anything inefficient is insufficient. Sufficiency and efficiency are equivocal in all retrospective evaluation. If an instance of discipline does not work, then there was not enough discipline. This is analytically true, and is only “broken” by logical wildcards (libertarian free will being the most infamous in theology/philosophy).

        Aside: We know Satan is limited by God’s tethers. God can arbitrarily stop his actions whenever he pleases, and (per Job) is thus superordinately responsible for whatever he allows Satan to do, like a dog owner who arbitrates whether or not to open the gate, and when. This applies to the Fall; God could have trivially expelled the Serpent from the Garden and deliberately chose not to. Under a closed future, this isn’t problematic: We say, like Isaac of Nineveh, that interim stumbling in God’s plan is necessary and ancillary to a creative process for our ultimate benefit. Under an open future, this is extremely problematic: It means that God choosing to restrict Satan sometimes, but allowing Satan here, was horribly reckless, perhaps the most reckless decision imaginable. Under this antecedent, God is a bad decisionmaker. This is remedied by folks like Greg Boyd by saying that even though the future is open, God’s cosmic wisdom allows him to see even distant future events with practical certainty. But this yields the sole plausibility of the classic assertion that God’s “regrets” are anthropomorphic.

      42. Hi Stan – You are certainly welcome and free to believe sufficiency=efficiency. And in a deterministic world that would be logically true. You’re illustration however still breaks down in a non-deterministic world, for information is not coercive since it is never complete in man’s perspective, nor is it all settled from God’s. The gambler may know the odds are against him, but chooses to take a risk of faith and believes he may still win. He has sufficient knowledge to make a wise choice and becomes culpable when he doesn’t. We call him crazy for not making the wise choice, but he wasn’t technically crazy. The premise of beating the odds is sometimes true.

        The information of the truth of Christ is made plain by God to the individual so that they are without excuse. They choose to believe a lie instead, not because they recognize it as a lie, but they think it is the truth and more appealing than the sufficient truth about Christ. Both choices are influential, but neither is coercive because there is not available any total information about how each choice will all work out. A free-will decision of trust, and modicum of risk, is required in the source of the available information for both choices.

        That is why both of our explanations in this matter may sound reasonable. But ultimately you and I, Stan, are lacking information, and we must both choose to trust the sources from where we developed our decided views and determine which one fits the normal reading of Scriptures which is God’s divine revelation in these matters, inerrant, but partial. We may think each other is crazy for the choice we each have made, but we were not forced to make it! Nor are we forced to keep it unchanged, unless there is a divine delusion present! 🙂

    2. you say:
      if this is the case God does not have FLW and no FLW can exist in heaven!

      I have some problems with this. If I ask you, out of a theoretically autonomous choice-maker, to choose something with abiding consequences that you cannot thereafter change, does that mean you have less free will about it? We could simply argue “not a single person will be heaven who did not at some point make a free will choice to be there.” I can choose to be forever an A or forever a B, and just because after that choice I don’t get to “re-choose” or choose again about it, it doesn’t negate the fact the choice was freely made. Thus even with God we can say he made a one-time choice to forever after be who he is.

      you say:
      As I see it the problem with anti-Calvinists is they simply cannot look at any Calvinist doctrine without seeing mind-controlling, robotic, Hard Determinism.

      Perhaps I can paste a bit from another conversation I’m having with a compatibilist in here:

      he said:
      If we truly choose then I DO believe that we choose according to the strongest inclination.

      Then where do we get our inclination. Well, it’s not rocket science to say that whoever gives us our inclination determines our choices. We don’t get “off the hook” by “passing the buck” and still get to eat our free will cake too. If I program a killer robot to destroy the world, I can’t step back and say “Well don’t blame me, the robot’s just doing what it wants. It has a form of free will, since it’s choosing its strongest desires.” It really doesn’t matter what fancy language I use about my robot decision making choices. It doesn’t matter if I wrote a 800 page book on it, saying all kinds of ambiguous language. All that matters is one thing: the direct logical causal link between me and my robot that I can’t separate with sophistry and subterfuge. The robot doesn’t really ever choose for itself no matter what “language” it try to throw in about it’s decision making process.

      he said:
      I would be interested here in some examples… of where a person “chooses against desires” as you put it.

      Well, we can’t always examine a person’s inner motivations. But we can explore some ideas. We could say, in the case of competing desires, under your scheme, the top desire must always. But again, I think your scheme begs the question of whether desires form choices or we can choose what we desire. Some things are unalterable about our nature; but that doesn’t mean we are forced to desire those things no matter what. We are forced to desire air, but not really; we are only forced to breathe to stay alive. Some things like pain could be reflexive and bypass our normal cognitive faculties. Even a suicidal man who wishes he didn’t breathe will most likely find it difficulty to die by holding his breath. But we don’t say free will is involved in reflexive things that bypass the decision making faculties. Now in the case of competing desires, what happens when they are dead even. Say you have to save one of your twin sons, and only one. Under your deterministic “you always choose your greatest desire but you can never choose what you desire” framework, I’d be curious to know what happens in a dead draw of desire? But again even in competing desires, often we can simply choose which one we want to let us influence more, under my view. The book of Job is a good example: we have a desire to serve God only to get something in return, or we have a desire to serve God for pure love of him and him alone. And this is exactly what Satan put his finger on: what’s Job’s primary desire here. You want to tell me that a being as intelligent as Satan couldn’t figure out that Job had a different primary desire. It seems to me in this case Satan acted as a Calvinist and determinist: his argument “skin for skin” was exactly that Job’s nature determined his desires. Yet here we have an Old Testament saint making it a primary desire to glorify God in all situations no matter what. But Calvinists big “trump” card they try to pull is, “well if you choose good you earned it somehow.” And that’s a bit complicated to show how it is both illogical and unbiblical to insist that choice alone is necessarily meritorious.

      he said:
      “Freedom of the Will” by Jonathan Edwards. While I agree with many of Edwards’ points… I also thought he was over simplistic with inclinations determining outcomes.

      Give yourself more credit. That’s because he was over simplistic. His type of book is not about understanding logic or exploring possibilities but about preaching one shallow viewpoint over and over again, I assume in the hopes of something like a virtual brainwash so that by the time you are done reading you think “Well of course desires always determine choices!” Not the kind of book I get a lot out of.

      1. dizerner

        You just love going off on these rabbit trails, don’t you? I’m going to keep this short because this was supposed to be a conversion between me and Leighton.

        Okay, this is very simple. I’ll start with an example. If you live in a democracy and you freely vote in a dictatorship than from there on you no longer live in a democracy.

        If you choose to give up, what you guys think is, LFW than forever there after you no longer have it. And if real relationships and love and not being a robot are dependent on, what you guys think is, LFW than for all eternity you won’t have these either.

      2. LFW doesn’t mean “any random choice could happen at any time.” Were that true, given enough time, every choice would always be chosen.

    3. It seems to me that what is being asserted is that, since man has the ability to sin or not to sin, yet God is not afforded the same opportunity since God cannot sin, that man actually possesses something God himself doesn’t have, LFW. I think this is a misunderstanding of the object of LFW. Sin in its essence is rebellion, or rejection, of God. The freedom referred to in regards to LFW is freedom to accept, or reject, RELATIONSHIP with God. God affords man the ability to accept or reject Him, to accept or reject being in relationship with Him. That is His sovereignty ordained plan because God desires a reciprocal love relationship with his children. To say God doesn’t possess LFW because God can’t sin (i.e. reject or rebel against himself) is ridiculous to me. God does have LFW in regards to relationship. He can accept or reject us, and He has chosen to accept us in Christ, for while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

      I’m not a brilliant theologian like you gents, so maybe I’m missing it, but that is how I see it.

      1. KMac

        I think you make an interesting point. If all sin is distilled down to a simple rejection of God than God having the ability to reject Himself seems odd. So, to use a favorite example from non-Calvinists, when a child is raped and murdered the perpetrator’s real crime is rejecting God. And this is the same as the moral atheist who rejects God. Okay.

        So if a true love relationship means freedom to accept and reject, than any form of reciprocal retribution would be unloving and anti-freedom. If I ask the girl I love to marry me but tell her that if she refuses I will kill her is this true love and freedom?

      2. Mike Ranieri writes, “If I ask the girl I love to marry me but tell her that if she refuses I will kill her is this true love and freedom?”

        A question like that does not fit the situation. Perhaps in speaking to a murderer about to be hanged – “If you come and be my slave, I will save you from hanging.”

      3. KMac writes, “…since man has the ability to sin or not to sin,…”

        This is a Pelagian concept. Both Calvinists and Arminians assert that Adam’s sin destroyed man’s LFW – his ability to not sin – so that the unsaved only have the ability to sin.

        Then, “…God is not afforded the same opportunity since God cannot sin, that man actually possesses something God himself doesn’t have, LFW.”

        That God cannot sin does not mean that God has no ability to sin; it means that God’s character is such that He cannot sin.

        Then, “God affords man the ability to accept or reject Him, to accept or reject being in relationship with Him.”

        The Calvinists call this regeneration – the reinstatement of LFW lost when Adam sinned – and is limited to His elect. The Arminians say this happens for everyone through prevenient grace – but then the problem is to explain how a person with LFW would reject God unless he really did not have LFW.

  7. Dr. Flowers writes, “We should be asking, “How does a loving God express His sovereignty?”

    In Isaiah 5, we read, “Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the LORD’s anger burns against his people; his hand is raised and he strikes them down. The mountains shake, and the dead bodies are like refuse in the streets. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.”

    There is the need to reconcile the love of God with the sin of man. God has said that He is love yet in that love God judges sin.

      1. Fine, But the cross does not negate those things the OT prophets wrote of.

        How about Hbbakkuk: ““Look at the nations and watch–and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling-places not their own.” How does something like this relate to God’s love?

        On a technical issue: I get comments forwarded to me by everyone except you. The only way I see your comments is if I am on site and happen to see it as was the case here. Any idea why your comments are not forwarded to me but everyone else is?

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