Response to James White on the Atonement

In Dr. James White’s most recent Dividing Line broadcast (seen here) he critiqued my podcast with Dr. David Allen (heard here).

In the YouTube video below I present a visual illustration contrasting Calvinism’s Limited view of atonement versus the Traditionalist’s Provisional view.

Additionally, Dr. White suspiciously declared that he would like to see the quote from Dr. Phil Johnson which supported my commentary about Calvinist’s historical disagreement over this topic, so here it is:

“…don’t imagine that there is just one view for the Limited Atonement position and another view for the Unlimited Atonement position. As if there are two polar opposites here and they compete against each other. This is not really an either/or position even among Calvinists. And in fact, historically, the most intense debates about Limited Atonement have come over the past 400 years, they’ve all been intramural debates between Calvinists, among Calvinists. There are at least three major divisions of Calvinists. There are the high Calvinists. They have one opinion about how the atonement is limited; they tend to try to say it’s limited in its sufficiency. You’ve got the moderate Calvinists and you’ve got the low Calvinists and they all have different views and there are many shades and degrees in between. In fact, I doubt if you could find any two Calvinists who agree completely with one another on every text and every nuance related to this verse. You may if you scoured the world find two somewhere but I bet if you could poll every Calvinist in this room you’d find that no two of us agree on every point and every particular related to this issue. There is not just one Calvinist position on limited atonement. There are many. And when you get into individual verses like Second Peter 2, verse 1, there is no such thing as THE Calvinist interpretation of that verse. There are at least six possible Calvinists’ interpretations of it and if we have time at the end I’m going to give you three of them.

(…)

Now, how to explain limited atonement continues to be a point of contention among Calvinists of various opinions. Some of you are Calvinists and I warn you now that you may not like everything I have to say about this issue today. But I would advise all of you, Calvinists and Arminians alike, to gain some of your understanding of these complex issues by reading the historical literature on this subject, rather than by simply tuning into Internet debates on this issue. I’m a little weary of those overzealous Calvinists on the Internet who treat everything as simplistically as possible. Always trying to outdo everyone to see who can adopt the highest form of High Calvinism. And as a result, and you can actually see this trend if you watch Calvinist discussions on the Internet. 

Modern Calvinist circles seem to be filled with guys who insist that Christ’s death had no benefit whatsoever for anyone other than the elect and God’s only desire with regard to the reprobate is to damn them period. Too many Calvinists embrace the doctrine of limited atonement, they finally see the truth of it but then they think, “Oh that’s that.” Christ died for the elect and in no sense are their any universal benefits in the atonement, so the atonement is limited to the elect in every sense and it has no relevance whatsoever to the non-elect. I think that’s an extreme position and it’s not supported by many of the classic Calvinist theologians and writers if you read carefully what Calvinists have said throughout history. I want to encourage you read Andrew Fuller and Thomas Boston. Read what people like Robert L. Dabney and William G. T. Shedd and B. B. Warfield and Charles Hodge wrote on the subject of the atonement. Read John Owen too, but don’t imagine that John Owens’s book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ represents the only strain of Calvinist thought on the issue. It doesn’t. In fact, far from it. 

If you begin to study this issue in depth you will quickly discover that the classic Calvinist view on the extent of the atonement is a lot less narrow and a lot less cut and dried than the typical seminary student Calvinist on the Internet wants to admit. Historic Calvinism, as a movement has usually acknowledged that there are universal aspects of the atonement. Calvin himself had a view of the extent of the atonement that was far more broad and, and far more extensive than the average Calvinist today would care to recognize. And I’ll show you some of that if time allows. 

And, while I’m making concessions to the other side let me also admit, that this is one issue where historical theology is not overwhelmingly on the side of the Calvinists. And until really some of the later Catholic scholastics raised this question and began to debate it some time in the Middle Ages, most of the church fathers and most of the leading theological writers in the church, both orthodox and heretical, most of them assumed that Christ died for all of humanity and that was the end of that. (…)

Also, Dr. White wrongly accuses Dr. Allen of error by suggesting those non-Calvinists holding to the Governmental view of the atonement would not claim that Christ died for the sins of all humanity. Just as Dr. Allen explained in our original podcast, some Calvinists tend to conflate the intent, extent and application of the atonement when it suites their purpose, while only acknowledging the distinctions when it helps to support their case. White is guilty of this quite often in my estimation.

Hugo Grotius, the most notable proponent of the Governmental theory of atonement, argued that Christ’s death is not a strict equivalent to what man owed, but only that God accepted it as such. In other words, “Christ’s death is the equivalent of our punishment only in the sense that by it the dignity of God’s government is as effectively proclaimed and vindicated as it would have been by our punishment.” <link>  So, while Grotius would have denied the individualized penal substitution theory proposed by some, he would have no problem declaring that Christ died provisionally for every individual. This view would most certainly fit within the unlimited perspective as in stark contrast with the limited view being proposed by White and other 5-pointers — just as Allen rightly concluded.

Hopefully we can have Dr. Allen back onto the program to address some of these issues in more depth. Stay tuned.


ADDED: To watch the follow up discussions between White and Flowers on these presentations, please CLICK HERE.

660 thoughts on “Response to James White on the Atonement

  1. Thank you for the pingback Leighton! Today I wanted to send you a snapshot of a writing by Augustine in which he redefines free will, so as to not have to admit he denies it (like Calvinist), as this might be useful for your website but I don’t have your email address. Prayers are appreciated. 🙂

      1. The paper is short and sweet providing definitions of the Penal Substitution View of the Atonement and the Governmental Theory of the Atonement with the author’s preference. Not disputed by either theory is the necessity for God to take action to save His elect else none could be saved. Of course, as Owen might ask, What of the reprobate – those condemned before the foundation of the world? – what benefit did the atonement provide to them, whether the Penal Substitution or the Governmental Theory of the Atonement?

      2. Thank you for your kind feedback! 🙂 I personally don’t hold to that everything has already been set from before the foundation of the world. See the word study on the Greek word “katabolé”.

    1. No one denies free will – especially not Calvinists who just deny a particular definition of free will that non-Calvinists conjured up to make man the captain of his destiny citing something about accountability.

      1. Like this?: “For free will in the sinner up to this extent did not perish—that by it all sin, especially they who sin with delight and with love of sin; what they are pleased to do gives them pleasure.” – Augustine, Two Letters against the Pelagians, book 1, chapter 5. I call that a redefinition of sin, which often occurs within Calvinism/Augustinism. Leighton Flowers, this whole chapter I wanted to share with you. 🙂

      2. crosstheology writes, “Like this?: “For free will in the sinner up to this extent did not perish—…”

        Yeah, if I understand what Augustine meant by “to this extent.” I’ll take it as Jonathan Edwards argued in his paper on free will – that people are free to do as they desire (subordinate to God’s will, of course).

        Then, “…that by it all sin, especially they who sin with delight and with love of sin; what they are pleased to do gives them pleasure.” – Augustine, Two Letters against the Pelagians, book 1, chapter 5. I call that a redefinition of sin, which often occurs within Calvinism/Augustinism.”

        It looks like an application of the definition of sin. If we assume your definition of sin and substitute in doesn’t the statement still make sense? I tend to think that your definition of sin is the same as Augustine and everyone else. Are there really two (or more) definitions of sin out there among theologians?

      3. I meant to write “a redefinition of free will”. 🙂 That was a slip of my finger. But to answer your question: Leighton and I don’t hold to original sin for example. Sin should be defined as in 1 John 3, not as some hereditary stuff (contrary to Ezekiel 18). It’s up to the Augustinians to prove that free will can be defined as “only wanting to sin” and it they should proof that it is biblical to say that an unregenerate person cannot do anything that is inherently good (like for example jumping on some train tracks and dying, while trying to save a child). It’s late here so I hope my answer still makes sense! 😀

      4. crosstheology writes, “Leighton and I don’t hold to original sin for example.”

        That’s reasonable even if I don’t agree. If one is to oppose Calvinism, you pretty much have to oppose the notion that Adam’s sin plunged mankind into total depravity.

        Then, “Sin should be defined as in 1 John 3, not as some hereditary stuff (contrary to Ezekiel 18).”

        I’ll assume you mean v4, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” I think that is consistent with Calvinism.

        Then, “It’s up to the Augustinians to prove that free will can be defined as “only wanting to sin” and it they should proof that it is biblical to say that an unregenerate person cannot do anything that is inherently good (like for example jumping on some train tracks and dying, while trying to save a child).”

        I think the issue here is to define what we mean by “good.” “Good” is that which pleases God – is motivated by love for God and done to glorify God. Hebrews 11 tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God – thus only a person with faith (the believer) can please God and thereby do “good” in the Biblical sense. Your example of a person saving a child is “good” as humans think of good but not in the Biblical sense. Without faith, humans are defined as in Genesis 6, “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time” even where such a person jumps in to save a child.

      5. crosstheology writes, “original sin can be disputed easily.”

        I think most people accept the thesis of original sin that Adam’s sin impacted all of humanity. For example, Adam was kicked out of the garden and denied re-entry. So were his children, their children, etc until the garden was erased in Noah’s flood. Adam was subject to physical death as is all humanity (Enoch and Elijah being unique exceptions). To Eve, God said, ““I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam, God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground.” Original sin is a catch all phrase to describe the effects of Adam’s sin (much like the term, trinity, describes the Godhead). I don’t think people really dispute the concept of “original sin.”

        What is disputed in one of the effects ascribed to Adam’s sin. This has to do with the sin nature and whether humanity is born with such a nature. This gets into the Augustine-Pelagius discussion.

      6. That due to the original sin of Adam, we die physically, is generally agreed upon. Whether we also inherit sin / a sin nature is disputed. If I am not mistaken, Leighton believes we inherit a sinful nature but we don’t inherit original sin. I believe we don’t inherit both. I believe an Ephesians text is often misused, regarding this discussion. As in all cases, what the majority believes, is not what makes something right. 🙂

      7. crosstheology writes, “I believe an Ephesians text is often misused, regarding this discussion.”

        Nonetheless, when Paul writes, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”

        Calvinists find the description a compelling argument for Total Inability – and is strengthened by other texts. To say that the unsaved are “without hope” recalls Hebrews 11 where, “faith is being sure of what we hope for,” so we conclude that the unsaved lack faith. Then Romans 10 tells us that faith is conveyed through the hearing of the gospel. Can the unsaved who is without faith really make a decision regarding the gospel when Ephesians 2 tells us that we are saved “through faith”?

        How do you think the Calvinist misuses Ephesians?

      8. crosstheology writes, “So then Jews by birth would be saved by their Jewish nature?”

        Actually, that is what the Jews seemed to have thought, but not true. Paul argues against the Jews in Romans.

      9. That’s my point. Rhutchin, do you have sources (whether Calvinist or not) that defend the doctrine of original sin, based on the church’s writings before and during the time of Augustine? 🙂

      10. crosstheology asks, “do you have sources (whether Calvinist or not) that defend the doctrine of original sin, based on the church’s writings before and during the time of Augustine?”

        A couple good reads:

        Total Depravity – Loraine Boettner – http://www.the-highway.com/depravity_Boettner.html

        Original Sin – Jonathan Edwards (from Vol 1 Works of JE) – ) – http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works1.vi.html

        You can go to https://www.monergism.com/ and do a search on “original Sin” and get a long list of resources.

        As the book pf Ecclesiastes tells us, There is nothing knew under the sun, so anyone who writes on this subject today will say what people have been saying all along.

        The Confessions (Belgic and Westminster) provide short summaries on the doctrine of Original Sin reflecting agreement within the church.

      11. Good point crosstheology!
        The evidence of Calvin’s reliance upon Augustine may be found in some of his glowing statements….like: “Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so … out of his writing”.

        That and the fact that Calvin appeals to Augustine over 400 times, as “appeals to authority”, within the institutes, makes it pretty clear that Calvin gave weight to Augustine’s writings in a manner similar to his appeals to scripture, making people question whether Calvin *functionally* used Augustine as a source of cannon.

      12. As far as I can see, non of your sources defend the doctrine of original sin, based on the church’s writings before and during the time of Augustine.

      13. crosstheology writes, “non of your sources defend the doctrine of original sin,”

        They explain the basis for the doctrine – it is not a direct defense of the doctrine because they are explaining the Scriptures and not defending against critics of the Scriptures (at least not directly). What is clear is that they agree with the doctrine. Given that Edwards’ treatment of original sin was published after his death, it is difficult for him to defend his position. Nonetheless, his purpose (presumably) for writing on the doctrine was to present it as clearly as possible and thereby silence any supposed criticism of the doctrine.

      14. I think you’ve made a good assessment. F.F. Bruce was supposedly a Calvinist scholar. And I loved the way he set a wonderful standard for scholarship, in that he never let his own personal persuasions color his presentation of biblical data. But I know no other Calvinists who operate in that fashion. Most of them are simply rhetorical apologists, using their positions in academia to advertise one unique product and down-play its competitors.

      15. Yes, F.F. Bruce was quite unique in this! 🙂 Notice also how he, on Romans 9, doesn’t go as extreme as Augustine and the reformers did, admitting that Paul said that God only said “What if God…” and not that God actually does this Calvinist damnation thing.

        A good example of someone trying to prove his ideas is, in my opinion, Wayne Grudem in his systematic theology. He starts from his position, then goes “proving” it and then claims this is the Biblical truth.

      16. An interesting research work on Augustine’s doctrine of original sin can be found in “Augustine, Manichaeism and the Good” By Kam-Lun Edwin Lee.

        Where he shows how Augustine borrowed conceptions from Manichaeism and NeoPlatonism to form his doctrine of original sin.

      17. Yes, I’m aware of that most interesting source 🙂 But I need people who claim the opposite for my dissertation! 😀 Thanks anyway! 🙂

      18. AH!
        Hmmmm….. I would suspect that pre-Augustine thinkers, especially those who did not synchronize Platonic or NeoPlatonic thinking into Christian doctrine, would be your cleanest or best body of evidence. Augustine’s influence on theology is pretty significant.
        Perhaps the Post Apostolic Fathers……Barnabas, Ignatius, Irenaus, or Tertullian?

        Congratulations on your college work….. my hats off to you!! :-]

      19. It is good to have text-book like examples, showing the difference between rhetoric and rational reasoning. :-]

  2. Pastor Flowers quotes, Dr. Johnson, “Read John Owen too, but don’t imagine that John Owens’s book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ represents the only strain of Calvinist thought on the issue. It doesn’t. In fact, far from it.”

    Any Calvinist must deal with John Owen and, if he disagrees, must be able to defend his position. Absent that, Owen remains the final word on the issue – for Calvinists – simply because he took the issue head-on. Owen presumed the omniscience of God whereby both elect and reprobate were known at the time of creation. We easily conclude that the purpose and end of the atonement of Christ extended to the elect. What of the reprobate? What was the purpose for the atonement for those who were never to be saved?

    It’s fine that Calvinists disagree on the details of the atonement, but no Calvinist denies that the elect and the reprobate are two distinct groups to God who knows them in every detail, so whatever God intended by the atonement must necessarily be different for each group. I am not aware that anyone has yet to respond to Owen’s challenge to explain the purpose of the atonement as applied to the reprobate – to those that were never to be saved. All Calvinists should be united in wondering what a response to Owen on this issue might entail.

    The section quoted from Dr. Johnson is general in scope without providing specific detail on the points on which Calvinist disagree. It is always the details that really matter.

      1. Wonderful opportunity for me to wish you a very warm and pleasant time in the Lord for Christmas Rhutchin. :-]

      2. brianwagner writes, “I would have thought you would have read my view of Owen’s Death of Death,”

        I suspect that you might have intended more of a review but settled for less.

        Owen lays out his argument in Book I. The remaining books can be labeled Technical Appendices. Thus, if one is to review the “Death of Death,” that review must deal with Book I (and especially deal with his challenge at the end of chapter 3). To review only Books II through IV with most attention given to Book III (I think) doesn’t say very much. Your review raises many questions without addressing responses to those questions – so it accomplishes little more than to confuse the simple minded.

        You have done better and could have in this case.

      3. I was writing it for a class in a reformed seminary… thus I tried to ask rhetorical questions that led to reasoning which countered Owen’s arguments. I will look again at Book I Chapter 3 to see what you are suggesting is so challenging. My guess is that one of the propositions that I dealt with from Book III dealt that issue for there is much repetition between all four books. But, I’ll get back to you.

        I am guessing that you were not confused by what I wrote, so unless you know a simple minded person that read it and said they were confused, you charge is unsubstantiated. 🙂

      4. brianwagner writes, “I was writing it for a class in a reformed seminary… thus I tried to ask rhetorical questions that led to reasoning which countered Owen’s arguments.”

        Calling it a “review” (in this case, a “book review”) seems misleading to me. The term is used of more comprehensive efforts from the limited “reviews” what I have read.

      5. Well Roger, we can let others decide when reading it if it was a fair book review or not. I did say in the review that to answer each of Owen’s points would take a book of equal length. 🙂

      6. brianwagner writes, “…unless you know a simple minded person that read it and said they were confused, you charge is unsubstantiated.”

        If you addressed the class after they had read “Death of Death,” I suspect none were impressed by your questions. If before, then, who knows. However, you seem to have accepted my presupposition that one would have to be simple-minded to be affected at all.

      7. I don’t know how you get the idea that I had “accepted” you presupposition. I was only asking for evidence. And I got an A in the assignment, so my professor must have thought it was of some quality! 🙂

      8. Brian responds to rhutchin: “I don’t know how you get the idea that I had “accepted” you presupposition.”

        This appears to be a pretty consistent occurrence of late. If one points out a contradiction, the knee-jerk response is to assert that one also embraces the contradiction pointed out. I guess that would seem to work as a sort of momentary deflection strategy.

      9. brianwagner writes, “I got an A in the assignment, so my professor must have thought it was of some quality! ”

        Perhaps grade inflation, a sympathetic professor, or the assignment was not actually to review the book as much as to question a section of the book.

      10. So I looked back to Book I Chapter 3 for the challenge you thought I was overlooking… and as I had rightly assumed, that same challenge was dealt with in my responses to his arguments made in 11, 12, 13, and 14, of chapter 3.

        It is that tiresome argument of Calvinists that if Christ paid for all sin, then why are men still lost, and if the reply is because of lack of faith, then they retort with a Cheshire grin – but “Wasn’t that sin of unbelief paid for”, thinking their rhetorical question obviously wins the day!

        I will paste my reply from the review, and others along with you Roger can judge if it is of any satisfactory help.

        <<[summation of Owen's argument from 11., 12., 13., 14. in Chapter 3] …because redemption, reconciliation, satisfaction, and merit were all obtained through Christ’s death. And if they be obtained for the world, they should thus be freely applied.

        Owen asks, “If the full debt of all be paid to the utmost extent of the obligation, how comes it to pass that so many are shut up in prison to eternity, never freed from their debts?” (p. 161) The confusion here, as elsewhere, continues to be the misunderstanding between universal redemption being provided unconditionally, but applied conditionally. Even Owen uncharacteristically concedes that Christ’s death is “of sufficient value for the redemption of all and every one.” (p. 184) Therefore, there is obviously even in his understanding some value from Christ’s death left unused. Did God therefore “fail in his design?” Or is it like the man who was granted forgiveness of his unpayable debt in Matt. 18? He was still held accountable for that debt, because he had demonstrated that, by his own lack of forgiveness for a fellow servant, he had not truly (inwardly) received the forgiveness that he had just been offered by the king. The payment made by Christ is sufficient for all; the payment is offered to all; the debt remains only if the payment is inwardly rejected (cf. John 8:24).

  3. There seems to be a basic misunderstanding in what is presented here. Calvinism does not claim that God elects without taking all of the details of the person into account. Rather, it claims that God’s choice is not conditioned on those things. God certainly foreknows the names and faces of His elect; he simply does not elect them on that basis. He has His own reasons for making the choice to save a sinner, and it is certainly not based on the sinner’s own personal “humility.” Rather, it is purely and entirely of His grace, period.

    A further misconception is construed when the misconception noted above is expanded: atonement and election seem to be conflated. According to every form of Calvinism (4-point, 5-point, 10-point, you name it), Jesus went to the cross and made atonement with a clear understanding of man’s sinful condition.

    Most importantly, and regardless of one’s view of the extent of atonement, what was God’s actual intent? Was He planning to save those He knew ahead of time WOULD be saved (obviously, all would agree He was). However, was He equally planning to save those He knew ahead of time WOULD NOT be saved? Non-Calvinists do not seem to have any ground for dealing with the divine intent in this matter, and appear to present the idea that God mistakenly intends to save all because he is somehow unaware of who will actually be saved and who will not.

    I largely agree with traditionalists and Arminians on the question of extent. I also agree with them on the question of application, that it is conditioned on faith an repentance. However, intent is the most critical issue, and it seems that non-Calvinists must deny God’s omniscience in order to uphold an intent to save those he knows for certain will never repent and believe.

    To take up an illustration that is presented in the video, God knows for certain that the airplane with arrive at its destination. Yet He somehow doesn’t know exactly who will be on the plane? Where did His omniscience go when He decided not to know that? What Biblical text supports the idea that He only knows about the generality of who will be saved, and does not know the specifics?

    In short, the video starts by mistakenly discounting the comprehensive view of divine of omniscience that is held by Calvinists, and then goes on to present a view of God’s foreknowledge that implies He lacks omniscience.

    1. Theoparadox: Your comments are interesting in that you site a misconception on the part of non-calvinists and yet, if anything, you are the one demonstrating a misconception. Either God elects, under the calvinist system, “according to his good pleasure” or he doesn’t. They can be no half measures. The fact that God has prior knowledge of a person’s decision is immaterial to his own decision to elect or not. Except that under the calvinist system, the person cannot respond unless God has already elected him! This is why calvinistic election is such a nonsense. It reduces God to making choices on the basis of ‘his’ own foreknowledge of having already elected certain people to salvation. In my experience, most non-calvinists can see this and they can also see through it and how ridiculous it is. Yet you persist in saying that calvinism is not understood by non-calvinists!

      As to conflating election and atonement, this is surely the premise of the calvinist. Non-calvinists are quite clear in their minds that atonement is sufficient for all but applicable only to those who believe. Therefore a person is only elect once they have believed and atonement is not being conflated at all. As far as many calvinists are concerned, they believe that the atonement is limited to those who are elect. If you want an example of conflating two issues, I cannot see a better example than that. Of course some calvinists don’t hold to limited atonement, but then that is all part and parcel of being a calvinist. No wonder some people get confused as to what calvinists think! I find there are quite a few calvinists who are also quite confused on this matter!

      Your points about who will be saved by the way are classic calvinism in that they do not refer at all to scripture at least not where it really matters. I quote “Was He planning to save those He knew ahead of time WOULD be saved (obviously, all would agree He was).” Not so fast. There is no such scripture which gives any credence to this concept. Yet there are plenty of scriptures which show what God’s will actually is in this situation. But you resolutely fail to take account of them in your thinking. God’s will is that he will save all those who come to him in faith. Period. That’s taken directly from scripture. So unless you can come up with scriptural backing as clear as that saying that God knows specifically ahead of time who he is planning to save, I have to defer to the verses which I know are there! I think this is often referred to as sola scriptura? As for scripture to demonstrate that God knows who will not be saved ….. I’m not even going to go there. So contrary to your rather bold assertion that non-calvinists don’t know the intent of God on this matter, I would say sorry, yes we do and it is you calvinists who are the ones floundering.

      You also present a view of God’s omniscience which I find very limiting. Basically, you’ve reduced God to knowing all things because he is the one who has decreed they will take place. It’s not really omniscience at all, it’s simply straight determinism.

      1. barker’s woof writes, “Non-calvinists are quite clear in their minds that atonement is sufficient for all but applicable only to those who believe.’

        Actually, this is essentially what Calvinist say also – at least, John Owen did. Both sides of the atonement agree that Christ dies for God’s elect. The Calvinists adds that Christ died ONLY for God’s elect. The non-Calvinist adds that Christ ALSO died for the reprobate. The problem is that non-Calvinists have yet to figure out why Christ would die for the reprobate when doing such serves no useful purpose.

      2. Again, both sides do not agree that Christ dies for the elect. There is no scriptural support for stating this. Christ died for all, that’s what scripture says. To say less than what scripture says, is simply to misquote it and as ever you end up talking half truths. This is why few people will engage seriously with you at all.

      3. bw writes, “Again, both sides do not agree that Christ dies for the elect.”

        Of course, they do. The disagreement is over the claim that Christ also died for the reprobate. You even recognize this when you say, “Christ died for all…” where all equals the elect plus the reprobate.

      4. I do not accept any category called the reprobate, so I can’t accept that Christ died for them either! The fact that scripture is clear that Christ died for ALL should be sufficient for all to understand. There is no mileage in saying that Christ died for the elect. It simply gives the go ahead for a common logical fallacy whereby some try to claim exclusivity as far as the scope of Christ’s death. If you wish to go down that road then the Apostle Paul is the only ‘elect’ person since he wrote …”the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me”.

      5. bw writes, “I do not accept any category called the reprobate, so I can’t accept that Christ died for them either!”

        OK. Just retreating into your shell.

        Then, “The fact that scripture is clear that Christ died for ALL should be sufficient for all to understand.”

        Sure, “ALL,” means Gentiles as well as Jews. Jesus came to die for Gentiles and not just the Jews. However, not all Jews and not all Gentiles were, and are, going to be saved. Did Christ dies for those Jews and Gentiles that He knew would not be saved? If so, what was Jesus’ intent in doing so?

        Then, “There is no mileage in saying that Christ died for the elect. It simply gives the go ahead for a common logical fallacy whereby some try to claim exclusivity as far as the scope of Christ’s death. If you wish to go down that road then the Apostle Paul is the only ‘elect’ person since he wrote …”the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me”.

        Just retreating into your shell.

      6. Rhutchin writes concerning Christ’s death for the elect

        “Of course, they do. The disagreement is over the claim that Christ also died for the reprobate. You even recognize this when you say, “Christ died for all…” where all equals the elect plus the reprobate.

        The terms “elect” and “reprobate” have qualified meanings in the Calvinist system. As the substratum doctrine of Calvinism is the presupposition of Universal Divine Determinism, every word or term used in the system comes loaded with deterministic meaning.

        The critical thinker wants to be on the lookout for equivocal language, where one party uses words and terms, with loaded meanings. Steven Hassan, expert in aberrant religious groups, calls this “Loaded Language”.

        Loaded language is designed to mislead the recipient into thinking one is saying “A” when one is actually saying “NOT A”. Loaded language, according to Hassan, is a prevalent use of language, by aberrant groups in their recruitment tactics. The strategy is to draw people into the group-think by using words or terms that have hidden meanings.

      7. br.d writes, “The terms “elect” and “reprobate” have qualified meanings in the Calvinist system. ”

        In this case, “elect” identifies with those who are saved and “reprobate” identifies with those who are lost. When God created the universe (Genesis 1), He already knew who would be saved (Calvinist call these the elect) and who would not be saved (Calvinists call these the reprobate). This is straightforward language; there are no hidden/qualified meanings. Even a child understands what the Calvinists mean by these terms.

      8. Welcome to my parlor said the spider to the fly:
        Due to the highly loaded language techniques deployed by Calvinists, for a non-Calvinist to be drawn into dialog with a Calvinist, centered on words and terms which have **Calvinized** meanings, is to step right into the trap.

        Secondly, Calvinism applies often hidden-equivocal meanings to words and terms. When the Calvinist appeals to Gods “love”, it is not the same “Love” you may be thinking. When the Calvinist appeals to God “permitting” or “allowing” or “preventing” an event, these words have different means for the Calvinist than the common English lexicon.

        To enter into dialog while ignorant of equivocal meanings is to step into a spiders web.

        Not a smart thing to do!!! :-]

      9. Barker,

        Revelation 7:9-12 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

        Let me ask you this: In your view of God’s omniscience (which you seem to imply is less “limiting” than mine–may I request further explanation of the differences?), did God KNOW, on the day Christ’s atonement was made, the identities of the individuals who would be included in this great multitude? Did He know which tribes, peoples, and languages would be represented there? Did He even know, on your view, that such a “great multitude that no one could number” would come to believe in Christ, rather than just a few, or perhaps a more “countable” large number? In John’s day, God obviously knew enough to about this multitude to reveal it in a vision. Was He able, at that time, to SEE THE FACES of those standing in the multitude?

        If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” it would then appear you deny God’s full omniscience outright (perhaps positing open theism?). On the other hand, if your answer is “yes,” please explain how God knows all of this and yet does not specifically intend and purpose to savingly apply the atonement to the actual individuals whom HE KNOWS AHEAD OF TIME will be included in that multitude, in contradistinction to those who will perish in the great tribulation due to their stubborn refusal to repent?

        I believe this straightforwardly answers your request for clear Scriptural backing saying that God knows specifically ahead of time whom He is planning to save, unless you happen to believe the multitude was composed only of faceless placeholders intended to represent those who might believe, the outcome of which would be left as a surprise to the Almighty Himself.

        By the way, I mentioned nothing about decrees or determinism. Let’s stick to the topic at hand. Thanks!

        Blessings,
        Derek Ashton

      10. Thanks Derek. You appear to have missed the point again. If God only knows who he is going to save because he has already planned it, then in my view his omniscience is lessened. By the way when you say planned that is determinism isn’t it! I thought you said stick to the topic?

      11. Barker,

        I have not made the claim that “God only knows who [sic] he is going to save because he has already planned it.” Even if I did make this claim, how would that claim “limit” God’s omniscience? It does not seem that it would somehow make Him less knowledgeable about anything/everything.

        Scripture speaks repeatedly of divine plans and purposes (see Ephesians, for example). If this type of language automatically means determinism, it would make the “liberterian free will” viewpoint patently unbiblical (thus I am not sure you really want to make that claim). I do not personally claim that “plan” = “determinism,” in part because the term “determinism” does not adequately or properly describe my view of God’s sovereignty and human freedom/choice/responsibility.

        So it will probably be more productive to stick to the issue of the intent of the atonement as it relates to God’s omniscience. Have not yet seen a well developed, thoroughly Biblical view of intent that properly takes divine omniscience into account. Perhaps you have this and can set me straight? All I have seen so far (including the “airplane” illustration above, as a case in point) seems to implicitly deny that God actually knows which individuals will ultimately be saved.

        My question is simple: does He KNOW precisely who will be saved, and did He INTEND for the atonement to bring about that result?

      12. You’ve stated that God chooses based on his own “own reasons for making the choice to save a sinner, and it is certainly not based on the sinner’s own personal “humility.” Rather, it is purely and entirely of His grace, period.” But what does that mean in practical terms? It can only mean the thing which you say you haven’t said which is that God knows who is going to be saved because he has already planned it. Now either God has foreknowledge of things which he hasn’t already planned because he is omniscient and therefore he can know things before he has planned them, or God knows things because he has already planned them. I’ll leave you to chose which one you prefer.

        As to the intent of the atonement with regard to God’s omniscience I would take it from scripture that God’s intent is clearly shown as wanting to save everybody. So I don’t have a problem with the intent of God’s atonement. The fact that God also knows who will and who will not respond to his free offer of salvation is down to his omniscience, but that does not have to limit God’s intent to save all. The fact that not all will respond positively to God’s offer does not limit either his omniscience or his intent to save all. When it comes down to it, God cannot do certain things. He cannot freely forgive mankind and remain a just God. If he could have done that, he would have done it.

        The problem sometimes with a simple question is that does not reflect the reality of the situation. You are making the assumption that there is a conflict between God’s omniscience and his intent to save all. I don’t hold with that and as far as I can see, you haven’t established this as a true point of conflict. Your ‘simple’ question is I’m afraid, rather questionable!

      13. Barker’s woof,

        You made a good point that there is no conflict between God’s omniscience (i..e knowledge of all events that will occur, whether past, present or future) and his intent to save all:

        [[“As to the intent of the atonement with regard to God’s omniscience I would take it from scripture that God’s intent is clearly shown as wanting to save everybody. So I don’t have a problem with the intent of God’s atonement. The fact that God also knows who will and who will not respond to his free offer of salvation is down to his omniscience, but that does not have to limit God’s intent to save all. The fact that not all will respond positively to God’s offer does not limit either his omniscience or his intent to save all. When it comes down to it, God cannot do certain things. He cannot freely forgive mankind and remain a just God. If he could have done that, he would have done it.
        The problem sometimes with a simple question is that does not reflect the reality of the situation. You are making the assumption that there is a conflict between God’s omniscience and his intent to save all.”]]

        Here is a parallel situation. Paul says his goal was to present all believers mature in Christ (so God’s will is that all believers become mature). But do all believers in fact become mature? No, unless you make the right choices, including diligent and continuous Bible study, prayer, fellowship with other believers, avoiding temptation, dealing with sin in your life, etc. etc. you will not become mature in your faith. Now God knows who will become mature during their lives and who will not, but that does not change the fact He wills that they all become mature. Likewise, God knows who will become a believer and who will not become a believer, but that does not change the fact that He desires for all to be saved. So there is no conflict between God’s omniscience (knowing what will in fact occur) and His intention (that all be saved, that all believers become mature, etc. etc.).

      14. Barker,

        You make some interesting points here. As theological discussion so often does, this will lead us inevitably to explore some philosophical and speculative concepts. So I am approaching this with a sense that: A) I could be wrong; and B) you could be wrong; and C) we could both be wrong; and D) We may never know, at least in this life (unless we can find where Scripture clearly reveals the matter).

        With that said, let’s look at the statement you earlier attributed to me, and which I denied:

        “God only knows [whom] he is going to save because he has already planned it”

        The main quibble I have with this claim is the use of the word “only.” I would accept the statement, as written, if the word “only” was removed. The reason? We do not really know the ground of God’s knowledge, and I would not want to assume it is limited to only one thing. Does He know because he merely foresees events, because He plans to act in a certain way at a certain time, because He plans to create/cause a given scenario, because He plans to allow others to act in a certain way, because the moral constraints of His divine character would not allow Him to prevent a particular set of circumstances from occurring, or because He simply cannot fail to know everything (that is, He cannot, in His divine essence, be “ignorant” of anything)? To some degree, we can only guess at this, and perhaps aspects of several of these (and a potentially infinite number of other possibilities) are accurate. On my reading, Scripture does not seem to give us this level of detail (although there are certainly some hints in the text).

        As a Calvinist, I of course affirm that God’s “planning” (i.e., His divine “purpose” spoken of in Scripture) is a part of the picture. I do not know whether it is the whole picture, and can only surmise that it is not.

        Back to the intent of the atonement–my main point is that when He made atonement God intended to save those individuals whom He actually knew would be saved (those in the “innumerable” multitude, if you will). This is not to say that He does not “intend” to save anyone else. However, if we say He “intends” to save individuals whom He already knows will not be saved, then we need to more carefully define the word “intend.” Right?

        On this, most Calvinists have historically affirmed that God “desires” to save those individuals whom He knows will never be saved (by the way, we call them the “reprobate,” but I do not want to muddy the waters by using that term, which is so objectionable to non-Calvinists and so easily misunderstood by both sides). Anyway, we Calvinists generally say that God “desires” to save them, and expresses this desire through the atonement (and in the free offer of the Gospel); however, He does not “intend” to save them (that is, He does not plan to act in a way that would effectually bring about their salvation). In the case of those He knows will be saved (those we Calvinists would call “the elect”), we say He does act to effectually bring about that result (from ourviewpoint, the “effectual call” and “final perseverance” are examples of the way He does this).

        So I would question what is actually meant when a non-Calvinist uses a word like “intent,” and whether it is acknowledged that God sovereignly works to bring about (or even to allow) the circumstances that He knows will exist. Even Classical Arminians refer to the morally objectionable set of circumstances which God allows (including the invention of moral evil/sin, and many people being lost in the end) as “God’s will.” They call it His “consequent will,” as opposed to His “antecedent will.” The idea is that God’s will changed (or perhaps evolved/expanded?) from “antecedent” to “consequent” when His creatures disobeyed. (Classical Armnians – feel free to chime in if you feel I am not representing this correctly).

        In light of this, I am wondering, do you accept the Classical Arminian approach to differentiating God’s will? If so, does God ever “intend” to bring about (or even just allow) His “consequent will” (which includes many people being lost in the end)? And wouldn’t this contradict His intent to save all through the atonement, unless by “intent” you mean what Calvinists have historically meant when they have used the word, “desire”?

        Another way of saying this is: does God take the final outcome into account when He provides the atonement, and can that outcome be referred to as His will? If not, how do we deal with issues like Judas’ betrayal, which is clearly revealed in Scripture as God’s will, and which the atonement does not seem to intend to remedy?

        I know there are are a lot of questions here and probably too much technical detail. Just trying to precise. Thanks for the interaction.

        Blessings,
        Derek

      15. Quick reply Derek. I didn’t attribute the line ““God only knows who he is going to save because he has already planned it” to you. I also used the word ‘if’ before it, since I was posing a question. The word only is not necessary either. If as you seem to think that God knows who is going to be saved because he planned it, then that is not only straight determinism but calls into question the need for God’s omniscience. As I previously pointed out, if God has planned something ahead of time, he hardly can claim to be ‘omniscient’ about it. I mean we do this (plan ahead) all the time but we don’t claim omniscience do we! Your only alternative to this is to say that God’s omniscience covers the things which he hasn’t already planned for as well.

        I’m not an Arminian and I’m not prepared to argue Arminianism with you or anybody else for that matter. It’s a red-herring most of the time.

        I’ve already posted on what I think God’s intent was and that comes from scripture. It was definitely God’s intent to make salvation free and available to all. There are plenty of scriptures and I’m not quoting them here. There are no scriptures covering God’s intent NOT to save all and therefore again it’s a pointless discussion to go down that route. It is evident that not all will respond to the gospel but that doesn’t lessen God’s intent or call into question his ability to save all. It says more about ‘us’ than it does him in that respect.

        If you seriously think that Judas has no choice in the matter of Jesus’ betrayal, then I would suggest that your theology is akin to that of Jesus Christ Superstar which follows that line of thinking.

    2. Actually I acknowledged that God would fully know but “not take into account” that knowledge in order to make a choice (unconditional). I may not have been clear but I meant exactly what you’ve said in that regard. The election is unconditional and therefore the people might as well be “nameless and faceless” in regard to Gods choice of them.

      I have provided countless verses which specifically do say God chooses to show favor to the humble. Can you provide those that support your “certain” assumption above? It is entirely of Grace that God shows mercy to those who humble themselves. The reason God shows them mercy rather than the haughty and prideful isn’t a secret. It’s stated countless times.

      Regarding the conflating… I understand how you may have understood it that way but that was simply me reaching back to past conversations with White where he made similar arguments about election that he is now making about atonement. I didn’t take the time to explain that but obviously I realize the distinction between Gods choice of certain individuals and the atonement itself.

      If you think Nons “have no grounds for dealing with divine intent in this matter” then you need to read more from our scholars and then get back to me with an educated rebuttal of our actual position. (I don’t mean that to sound demeaning, so read it with a sincere smile and well wishes 🙂 )

      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “The election is unconditional and therefore the people might as well be “nameless and faceless” in regard to Gods choice of them.”

        Pastor Flowers makes an excellent point. Because God’s election is unconditional (under Calvinism), the people that God chooses to save might as well be “‘nameless and faceless’ in regard to Gods choice of them.” However, that does not mean that God does not, or cannot, know them; after all it is God who will create each person according to his design – some to be His elect and some to be reprobate. So, God creates a person as elect or as reprobate, and they might as well be nameless and faceless before He creates them, and this according to the good pleasure of His will as Barker’s Woof notes. The election of a person precedes God’s creation of that person (as this occurs in God’s thoughts as it should be obvious that election precedes the actual, physical creation of a person) – the ordering of which is debated among Calvinists.

        Then, “I have provided countless verses which specifically do say God chooses to show favor to the humble….It is entirely of Grace that God shows mercy to those who humble themselves.”

        The issue here is to explain how one person is humble while another is not. The Calvinist says that God must change a person (His elect) to make them humble – it is entirely of grace that God humbles a person. Those that God does not change (the reprobate) will never be humble. The non-Calvinist then argues that God cannot be the cause of one person being humble while another is not. However, they cannot explain how one person becomes humble while another does not – except in broad terms: one person hears the gospel and is humbled and another never hears the gospel and is not humbled. Where two people both hear the gospel and one is humbled and another not, the non-Calvinist does not know why – they just want it to happen that way.

        Then, “I realize the distinction between Gods choice of certain individuals and the atonement itself. ”

        In Calvinist lingo, God elects a person to salvation and then engages the means to bring the person to salvation – the atonement.

        Finally, “you need to read more from our scholars”

        This calls for a bibliography so that everyone can be on the same page – or maybe providing substantive quotes so that everyone doesn’t have to spend a lot of time reading this book or that book (the classics excepted).

      2. Dr. Flowers,

        Thank you for the reply and helpful clarifications. And, most importantly, for your humility and charitable attitude in this most electrifying area of theological conflict.

        I’d like to learn more about the traditionalist views on intent. Perhaps a podcast topic? Or something to explore further in the next conversation with Dr. Allen. He is one of my favorite scholars on “your side.” 🙂

        Well wishes to you, too, my brother.

        Blessings,
        Derek Ashton

    3. I’d say he does know but he chooses not to pick some. He leaves it open to those who humble themselves. Otherwise this makes God a monster mocking people with a supposed choice and programming them to think they have the choice while only humbling some yet calling all to humble themselves. Also this makes God just a writer. Which is not that impressive… and it diminished his love. Anyone who can’t see this is blinded by dogma. I am going to write a Calvanistic Paraphrase Bible which shows every instance where God should be controlling everything and how stupid that will be. It is going to be hilarious. Ex.
      And then the Pharisee prayed, “Thank you God for not making me like these swindlers etc and this tax collector.(not realizing that he hasn’t been given the gift of humility) The tax collector, far off called out to God. Thank you God for making me able to recognize that I am a sinner and being able to ask you to have (mercy on my soul) Have mercy on my soul.

    4. Theoparadox, as a Classical Arminian I think you attempted to represent us fairly. Just like Calvinists some of us like to phrase things a little differently. You said:

      ‘The idea is that God’s will changed (or perhaps evolved/expanded?) from “antecedent” to “consequent” when His creatures disobeyed.’

      I would call it, not a “changing will,” but one branching conditional will. If you tell your kid “Clean your room or you are grounded,” no one should see that a “changing” will (nor as “two” wills), because in everyday life we don’t act deterministically (e.g. “Son, I have decreed you disobey and I punish you for it,” followed by, “Okay Dad, who am I to resist your will?”). It is one conditional branching will, one will with two conditions based upon the response. Notice under the Calvinist secret/revealed or decretal/prescriptive will, the two wills in this case directly contradict under the same conditions and same responses (whether Adam sins or not, God’s revealed will is he should not, and secret will is that he should).

      1. Dizerner,

        Thanks for clarifying that. Very helpful!

        I am sure you can guess what I think about the difference between the revealed will and the secret will: definitely “paradoxical,” but not “contradictory.” 🙂

        Derek
        (THEOparadox)

    5. Barker,

      Thank you for your reply.

      On omniscience, I believe God’s purposes (or “plans”) encompass everything that ever have been and ever will be. I just do not see how this limits or somehow invalidates the term “omniscience,” as it relates to God’s perfect knowledge. He plans all of His actions beforehand, and He foreknows and plans for all other circumstances, and He knows everything about everything. His pre-planning and His omniscience are two different aspects of His perfections that are not in conflict. As for my plans, they are always conditional, so I am not even omniscient about what I will do. God is not at all like me in this respect, although we both have knowledge and we both make plans. On both counts, I am limited and He is infinite.

      On Arminianism, thank you for the clarification. It would be helpful to know if your view accepts the ultimate outcome of God’s salvific actions (some saved, some lost) as God’s will (even if you might say it is a consequent, accommodating, or “imperfect” will), and if any aspect of the outcome is not His will and/or not foreknown.

      On intent, I would actually agree very strongly with your statement: “It was definitely God’s intent to make salvation free and available to all.” From my perspective, Scripture leaves no doubt about this. However, was it His intent to actually save any particular individuals? What about Peter? Paul? James? John? Nicodemus? His mother? Others who had already believed? Old Testament saints? You? Me? Leighton Flowers?

      And again, since He knew some would not believe, and some had already died in unbelief and entered into an unsaved eternal state, were all of those people thought of exactly the same as the individuals in the innumberable multitude who were known to become saved in the end?

      Finally, regarding Judas, I have never said “Judas has no choice in the matter of Jesus’ betrayal,” and this was not my point. On the contrary, I affirm that people have real choices and generally do exactly what they want to do without being forced by God. If I may paraphrase, I haven’t seen that musical you mentioned and I’m not prepared to argue it with you or anybody else for that matter. I can only view this as a red-herring. 🙂

      Blessings,
      Derek

      1. Derek: You state that you never said “Judas has no choice in the matter of Jesus’ betrayal,” but you did say “how do we deal with issues like Judas’ betrayal, which is clearly revealed in Scripture as God’s will, and which the atonement does not seem to intend to remedy?”

        Perhaps you could explain to me how, if it was “clearly” God’s will, that Judas also had a choice?

        I also don’t know how to be clearer about what I think God’s will involves. I believe scripture is quite clear that God is not willing that any should perish. The natural corollary of that is that if and when people do perish, that is against God’s will. I don’t have any issue with God’s will not being carried out. Neither by the way did Jesus which is why he taught his disciples to pray “your will be done”. Jesus was never one given to issuing pointless statements, so that phrase in itself should be enough to convince most that God’s will is at risk of not being carried out when it comes to dealing with mere humans. Is God able to use imperfect people to carry out the things he wants to achieve, of course he is. So what I believe this indicates is that God knows he can and will achieve certain things and he can use people to achieve this when they are willing, but that God does not violate the individual’s choice by forcing them down a certain route. You might be tempted at this time of the year to think that Mary’s will was disregarded by God. But scripture again is quite clear that Mary said “be it unto me according to your will”.

        Again your foray into omniscience is missing the point. If God is omniscient because he has planned things then that isn’t really omniscience at all, at least not in my book. God’s omniscience is demonstrated in that he appears to know ahead of time what people will do, even though it is clear that they are acting freely and without compulsion. In fact I think God’s omniscience is more a function of not being bound by time like we are. We have to operate on a linear basis and time can only flow one way. God looks at the whole of history and sees all. That’s omniscience!

        Scripture tells me that God is willing to save all those who come to him through faith. I cannot find support for the idea that God only saves those he has intended to save. Can you?

      2. bw writes, “God looks at the whole of history and sees all. That’s omniscience! ”

        If you mean that God looks at the whole of history in order to learn what happens, then that is not omniscient. God is omniscient without having to look at the whole of history in order to learn what happens.

      3. Rhutchin, you keep forgetting that as a Calvinist you hold to omniscience “qualified” (where it is the byproduct of divine decrees).
        That is a Calvinistic qualification for omniscience that is not found in orthodox Christianity.

      4. br.d writes, “you keep forgetting that as a Calvinist you hold to omniscience “qualified” (where it is the byproduct of divine decrees).”

        This is wrong. The Calvinist holds to the basic definition of omniscience – that God knows all things past, present and future. In addition, the Calvinist says that God’s omniscience includes knowledge of all His decrees, which even non-Calvinists admit, so the discussion is over what God decrees – with the Calvinist saying: everything (a byproduct of God’s sovereignty).

      5. Rhutchin, you keep forgetting that as a Calvinist you hold to omniscience “qualified Calvinistically” (where it is the byproduct of divine decrees).
        That is a Calvinistic qualification for omniscience that is not found in orthodox Christianity.

      6. I kind of knew you would say that. It’s symptomatic of your inability to distinguish knowing and causality. Please don’t reply as I’ve heard more than enough from you on this. 😉

      7. bw writes, “I kind of knew you would say that. It’s symptomatic of your inability to distinguish knowing and causality.”

        This whole discussion, including the other comments, is about distinguishing between knowing and causality. Br.d is having trouble understanding this distinction.

      8. This whole discussion, including the other comments, is about distinguishing between knowing and causality. Br.d is having trouble understanding this distinction.

        Distinguishing between knowing and causality? Isn’t that oxymoronic for a Calvinist?

      9. br.d asks, “Distinguishing between knowing and causality? Isn’t that oxymoronic for a Calvinist?”

        No. William Craig wrote a nice book on this – The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Human Freedom. Here Craig explains the difference between knowing that X will occur and causing X to occur.

      10. “Distinguishing between knowing and causality? Isn’t that oxymoronic for a Calvinist?”
        No. William Lane Craig wrote a nice book on this – The Only Wise God

        Right, but William Lane Craig is not a Calvinist. Well, anyway, I’m glad you are enjoying his book. I have a high appreciation for the discipline he maintains in adhering to the rules of logic. I have about 13 books on my desk I’m working through right now, and that one is on my to-do list. :-]

      11. I think you are correct, and there is equivocation here, while insisting it isn’t. Can you deconstruct what you see occurring?
        Thanks

    6. Not denying omniscience, Derek… just redefining it away from its Platonic/traditional definition and into more agreement with its biblical definition. 🙂

  4. I want to say how much I enjoy your site, Dr. Flowers! I enjoyed watching the video you posted from Dr. White, even though I found myself being frustrated with several aspects of his answers on the topic at hand. I did appreciate, however, the challenge it gave me to dive further into God’s Word and to seek better understanding regarding the atonement and soteriology in general.

    I would also like to echo the others who have thanked you for the tenor of your posts and/or discussions. They are seasoned with love and respect for those who disagree without compromising your firmly held beliefs.

    This led me to a thought, and as a disclaimer on my thought, I realize it is a broad statement that does not apply to all or possibly even most Calvinists.

    The thought is this: through the traditionalist’s lens, a great emphasis is placed on the individual’s personal ability and responsibility to humble themselves before God in order to receive the free gift of salvation. Since this component (humbling ones self) is not emphasized or even accounted for in the Calvinistic system (at least not prior to regeneration), would this account for the arrogance that seems to flow from some Calvinists regarding their viewpoint? I admit I may feel this way when I hear Calvinistic scholars speak because they do so with such authority (which preachers/teachers of the Word need to do) that it comes across as arrogance. I just can’t help but think that since the idea of having to humble yourself is not part of the doctrine that it naturally flows out in practice.

    God bless

    1. Good comment jaytstewart!

      I think we can chalk typical behaviors we observe (arrogance or a spirit of elitism etc) to the pragmatic deployment of rhetorical strategies. Such strategies are deployed, simply because people find that they work. And they happen in all sorts of controversial discourse. Its unfortunate, however, to see people who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ, deploying Christ-dishonoring strategies, one finds commonly deployed by the unregenerate. Thank you for your post! The more we bring these things to the light the better.

      “But he that walks in truth will always come into the light, that what he has, may be made manifest, that it is truly wrought in God.”

    2. jaytstewart writes, “through the traditionalist’s lens, a great emphasis is placed on the individual’s personal ability and responsibility to humble themselves before God in order to receive the free gift of salvation.”

      I think this is right on. Pastor Flowers has extrapolated this position to identify a theological position consistent with your statement – it entails that one reject the Calvinist notion of Total Depravity. Pastor Flowers has developed this in his many posts which I enjoy even though I disagree. It is helpful in bringing into focus the Traditionalist view.

      Then, “Since this component (humbling ones self) is not emphasized or even accounted for in the Calvinistic system (at least not prior to regeneration), …”

      That’s what Total Depravity is all about – no one humbles himself before God – (and why regeneration is necessary).

      Then, “…would this account for the arrogance that seems to flow from some Calvinists regarding their viewpoint?”

      I would call it, “confidence.”

      Finally, “I admit I may feel this way when I hear Calvinistic scholars speak because they do so with such authority (which preachers/teachers of the Word need to do) that it comes across as arrogance.”

      I think this reflects the bias you hold against Calvinism – which distracts you from what the Calvinist actually says and that leads to a false sense of arrogance. But that’s just my opinion.

      1. I agree that one’s presuppositions certainly tend to color and/or cloud judgment – no question. I also agree that confidence can be mistaken for arrogance at times.

        Would you agree that the “flesh” within us all tends to push our thoughts and actions in certain directions (toward our predisposed weaknesses of thought and/or biases) and in the Calvinist system, arrogance is an extreme that one can gravitate toward? There are arrogant people of all stripes for sure, but it seems this is an issue with more in that particular theological stream.

        Your response certainly displays the kind of humility I appreciate and am more than happy to engage in discussion with.

        God bless!

  5. Nice try rhutchin, but not good enough. “So, God creates a person as elect or as reprobate, and they might as well be nameless and faceless before He creates them, and this according to the good pleasure of His will as Barker’s Woof notes.” Barker’s woof does nothing of the sort, in fact what he wrote was clearly stating that this was the position of the calvinist. Another error on your part. 🙂

  6. In regard to the “nameless faceless” references, it shouldn’t be considered controversial to recognize Calvinism’s conceptions of God as much more UTILITARIAN than any **Christian** alternative theology. This deity is said to specifically create “the few” (people) as “vessels of honor”, whose fate is heaven, while he creates and “the many” (people), as “vessels of wrath”, whose fate is eternal torment, simply based on the deities good pleasure.

    To my knowledge, the only other deity depicted as treating people in such a utilitarian manner is Islamic. And we also see this type of utilitarian (fate from birth) emphasis within Hinduism and Buddhism, where a person’s (fate-from-birth) is based upon a previous state of existence. In that system a person born blind or handicapped for example, deserves to be abused while they live, because their fated birth represents punishment for a past life. So like Calvinism, we see a religious belief system which separates human beings into a condemned-at-birth class, representing highly UTILITARIAN conceptions of people.

    Calvinists don’t generally represent their deity as deriving pleasure in decreeing the people of Israel cast their infants into the fire of Molech. But if we follow Calvinism’s primary premise, that the deity decrees all things that come to pass for his good pleasure, and he allows that no alternative possibilities exist, then the conclusion follows.

    1. br.d writes, “if we follow Calvinism’s primary premise, that the deity decrees all things that come to pass for his good pleasure,…”

      To be precise, all things that come to pass are “according to the plan of God who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,…” (Ephesians 1) It distorts the Calvinist view to say that they view all things coming to pass for God’s good pleasure. For example, we read, “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.” (Psalm 5) and “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD.” (Ezekiel 18 and 33) Calvinists agree with the depiction of God in these verses.

      Then, “…[God] allows that no alternative possibilities exist, then the conclusion follows.”

      Everyone believes this. Whenever God makes decisions (i.e., decrees), no alternative possibilities can exist that are not subordinate to God’s decrees (i.e., decisions) There is a technical disagreement about the timing of God’s decisions – Calvinists say that God made His decisions in eternity past, while others say that God waits to make decisions in the course of time. In either case, the decisions are the same, and in either case, the same alternative possibilities are precluded by those decisions – the timing of God’s decisions has no effect on the existence of alternate possibilities.

      1. Then, “…[God] allows that no alternative possibilities exist, then the conclusion follows.”

        Rhutching writes: “Everyone believes this.”

        It cannot be true to say, “everyone believes this”, since “No alternative Possibilities” is a logical consequence of determinism.
        And within Christian theologies, Calvinism alone is committed to determinism as a basic premise.
        No other Christian theology is committed to a deterministic world-view.
        However, other non-Christian religions are deterministic: such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism etc.

        The above reference to “Alternative Possibilities” not existing is something you confirmed in a previous post.
        So perhaps you are confusing the term “Alternative Possibilities” with something else at this time.
        See your quote below:

        rhutchin
        November 20, 2016 at 10:29 pm
        “The underlying assertion is that alternatives do not exist.”

        So lets try again with a simple syllogism based on Calvin’s doctrine of decrees:
        Premise 1) All things that come to pass, do so because God decrees them to come to pass.
        Premise 2) God’s decrees are immutable (i.e. un-changeble)
        Premise 3) Whatever God does NOT decree to come to pass, (has NOT, does NOT, and can NOT) exist. (contraposition of 1)
        Premise 4) It came to pass that the children of Israel threw their infants into the fire of Molech
        ————————————————————————————————————————————–
        Conclusion: God decreed the children of Israel, throw their infants into the fire of Molech and did not allow any alternative possibilities to exist, outside of what he decreed the children of Israel do.

        In order to reject the conclusion, one must reject at least one premise.

      2. br.d writes, “It cannot be true to say, “everyone believes this”, since “No alternative Possibilities” is a logical consequence of determinism.”

        It’s a logical consequence of God’s decision-making and everyone agrees that God makes decisions.

        Then, “Conclusion: God decreed the children of Israel, throw their infants into the fire of Molech and did not allow any alternative possibilities to exist, outside of what he decreed the children of Israel do.”

        Once God made a decision [to Brian: this was in eternity past] (i.e., decreed) not to intervene to prevent Israel throwing their infants into the fire of Molech, then necessarily, no alternative possibilities could exist as those possibilities required that God intervene to make such possibilities possible.

      3. On the topic of whether or not whether all Christians believe that God creates a world in which “No Alternative Possibilities exist”

        Rhutchin writes;
        “It’s a logical consequence of God’s decision-making and everyone agrees that God makes decisions.”

        But this makes sense **ONLY** to one committed to a deterministic world-view. And it is fallacious for the Calvinist to present himself an authority on rational beliefs held by other Christians…..especially others who reject Calvinism’s deterministic system.

        1) There are an estimated 2.2 billion professing Christians world-wide. And out of that population, less than 1% self identify as following the doctrinal dictates of John Calvin.

        2) John Calvin’s doctrines are predicated upon a deterministic world-view, which results in fundamental disagreements with the remaining population of Christianity who do not hold to a deterministic world-view.

        3) A logical consequence of determinism is that only one single unique future ever exists in time. This results in the concept that God allows no alternative possibilities to exist. But this concept is **ONLY** a logical consequence of a deterministic world-view, and is therefore limited to Calvinism.

        4) In the controversies that orbit around Calvinism, the concept of “No Alternative Possibilities” is one of the PRIMARY issues that separates Calvinism from all other Christian systems, as it points to the question of God’s role in making humans sin.

        The remaining non-reformed population of Christians do hold that God allows Alternative Possibles to exist. This, for example is how many Christians interpret 1 Corinthians 10:13 ” God will make a way of escape” from sin. A non-reformed interpretation here is that God provides the creature with the “Alternative Possibility” to NOT sin, and it is this “Alternative Possibility” which allows them to argue that God is not the author of the sin. Since Calvinism’s deterministic system rejects the existence of “Alternative Possibilities”, it cannot avail itself of “Alternative Possibilities” as an escape clause for God’s role in human sin. And that is an issue unique to Calvinism alone.

        The Calvinist can try to present an appearance that there are no controversies in Christianity based upon its deterministic conceptions…but such assertions don’t hold up under logical scrutiny.

        It would be easy to understand why a Christian theology representing 1% of the Christian population would want to present its unique doctrinal conceptions as mainstream. It would help give the appearance, that system is not based upon “private interpretations”. But anyone who is well informed of the doctrinal nuances that are unique to Calvinism alone, will not fall prey to that strategy.

      4. Roger, Just to remind you that there is one opinion 🙂 that says that God waiting to make a decision is not the same as the decision being made before creation. For I believe He can make decisions between possibilities of equal value or even a decision that causes Him to suffer loss in some way. And since He has chosen to have many of His choices to be conditioned on the free, and sometimes capricious or doubleminded choices of humans, there is not the same result of one set future in all systems, as you are trying to posit. The alternative possibilities are NOT precluded. And His understanding remains infinite.

      5. I’m wondering if Rutchin’s understanding of omniscience, is that God’s infallibly knowing the future, makes that future necessary?

      6. br.d writes, “I’m wondering if Rutchin’s understanding of omniscience, is that God’s infallibly knowing the future, makes that future necessary?”

        God’s omniscience makes the future certain – it can be no other way than God knows that it will be. That which then makes future events necessary are all the interacting forces leading to that future (like the free will choices of people) – not God’s omniscience. This is the distinction William Craig makes and his conclusion sounds good to me.

      7. brianwagner writes, “since He has chosen to have many of His choices to be conditioned on the free, and sometimes capricious or doubleminded choices of humans, there is not the same result of one set future in all systems, as you are trying to posit.”

        In your system, capricious choices don’t matter because you have God knowing those choices as possibilities – as God knows them as possibilities, they lose any effect of capriciousness. You don’t have God waiting to learn something new that He was unable to anticipate. The only thing you introduce is that God waits to make decisions for each possible outcome (each possible capricious decision). Calvinists have God making those decisions in eternity past; you have God making those decisions as the event occurs in the course of time. In each case, God makes the same decision. So, what does your system accomplish? If the decisions that you have God making in the course of time are no different than those same decisions that Calvinists have God making in eternity past, how does your system distinguish itself from Calvinism? The only difference I see is that you envision God perhaps being more heavy handed in the affairs of people to ensure that events proceed to the ends He wants – but this is the complaint against Calvinism.

      8. Roger, I will try with this example… Let’s say that I have 5 choices I can make concerning future issue A. I am not limited by any deterministic reason to choose one of those 5, and I might even flip a coin. God understands (all) whether one or more responses that He can give for each of those 5 choices I can make and could even choose ahead of time to limit my choices to less than 5 but still not make a decision between the multi-possibilities He has left for the choices I have left.

        I think you are stuck thinking that God must only have one “perfect” choice as a response for each choice that I make. But even if that is true, those singular choices He has in response to my multiple choices does not make a settled future end up the same as a future that was predetermined as settled before creation.

        But I don’t think God only has one possible response to man who also does not only have one possible response to God. The responses are limited by God and man’s nature, but not deterministically set by that nature to only one “perfect” response each.

      9. brianwagner writes, “Let’s say that I have 5 choices I can make concerning future issue A…..”

        Add all the choices leading up to the five choices and all the choices that follow those choices. Not an issue for God as He knows all the permutations of choices from Genesis 1 onward. You and the Calvinist are on the same page on this. The difference is that the Calvinist says that God decided how He would respond in each situation and did so in eternity past; you say that God waits until the situation presents itself in the course of time and then God decides what to do. In each case, whether under the Calvinist system or your system, the decision God makes is the same. This is because no new information appears that God could not already have taken into account.

        Is it true that, “..God must only have one “perfect” choice as a response for each choice…”? I think so because God has infinite understanding so He can parse the situation done to the smallest detail and then God’s choice will reflect his perfect wisdom. We don’t need to assume that. What you do is propose that the situation arises where God could take one of two actions and God is indecisive about which option to take until the event occurs and then He is forced to choose. That’s OK. That just means that the choice God makes – His decree – determines the course of history from that point on. That is the Calvinist position – God decrees the future. Multiply the number of situations where God chooses between two equal options and we have God exercising greater control over the course of history.

        In the end, you want an unsettled future. But, so what? That future would be no different if God made His choices in eternity past as the Calvinists say. Your system has God in control – exercising His sovereign power – to make the choices He wants to make.

        Look at situations where God makes a critical choice that determines how history unfolds.

        – God chooses to create Adam.
        – God choose to create Eve.
        – God plants the tree of knowledge.
        – God tells Adam not to eat the fruit of that tree.
        – God chooses not to retrain Satan from entering the garden.
        – God chooses not to intervene as Satan tempts Eve.
        – God chooses not to intervene as Adam decides to eat the fruit.
        – God expels Adam/Eve from the garden.
        – God opens Eve’s womb such that Cain is born and then Abel.
        – God chooses not to intervene to prevent Cain killing Abel.
        …and on and on we could go.

        God is intimately involved in His creation and knows all the possibilities into the future. In every possibility that exists, it is God’s choice – to act or not act – that always determines what happens. To argue otherwise, you need only come up with a counter example that proves otherwise.

      10. Roger, I think you understand my meaning, and you choose to deny it. That’s ok. I just wish you wouldn’t say the choice made in the present by God according to my view of Scripture’s teaching would be the same as what you believe God did make before creation. You have no logical reason for doing so. But you are free to be illogical. That’s ok with me… but I assume much better from you.

      11. brianwagner writes, ” I just wish you wouldn’t say the choice made in the present by God according to my view of Scripture’s teaching would be the same as what you believe God did make before creation. You have no logical reason for doing so.”

        It is logical because in each instance God uses the same information to make a decision. Given the same information, the timing of the decision becomes irrelevant and the decision will be the same. You need to find a way to have God wait to make His decision and then provide new information that God could not have known earlier. So far, you have not done that. Did you mean to have God flip a coin to decide in certain situations?

      12. Roger, I will try one last time, even in fear of repeating myself, because I am hoping you truly do not understand that your instance is illogical.

        If God is waiting for man’s decision in many instances before choosing between His possible choices than there is no way there can be only one set of choices of all possible choices that would also match exactly the same as a settled future forever chosen before creation. That’s the best I can do and can only pray your mind will try harder to see and understand! 🙂

      13. brianwagner writes, “If God is waiting for man’s decision in many instances before choosing between His possible choices than there is no way there can be only one set of choices of all possible choices that would also match exactly the same as a settled future forever chosen before creation.”

        You have God waiting for man’s choices but you don’t have God learning anything that He doesn’t already know. The absence of new information is key. You have God knowing that a person can choose either X or Y. An X choice is followed by another choice later and still another choice as is a Y choice. In each Case, X or Y, God can decide how He will respond. Similarly with all following choices. God could easily make His decisions in eternity past but you have Him waiting until the actual event occurs. The outcome under your system is exactly the same as under the Calvinist system.

        Missing from your system is detailing the extent of God’s involvement in influencing the choices that people make. For example, God destroys Sodom and eliminates future possibilities tied to Sodom continuing on. God gives Satan freedom to enter the garden to tempt Eve and the outcome is not in doubt – God will expel Adam/Eve from the garden creating a whole new set of possibilities while eliminating all those possibilities associated with staying in the garden. By His actions God influences current possibilities and creates different sets of possibilities – and given that God knows the possibilities He creates, we ought to conclude that God has everything under control such that, for example, He is able to work out all things for the good of believers.

        I don’t see that your system results in outcomes different from the Calvinist system. So far, you cannot explain how it would. Your major point is not that God is ignorant of the possibilities that exist or choices that could be made but that God times His decisions to coincide with those possibilities. The problem is not my understanding of what you say; it is that you are not saying very much. Do you have an example in your system where God could be surprised by what happens?

      14. Roger, perhaps not surprise since His understanding is infinite, but the Scripture clearly details situation where what He expected did not happen. Isaiah 5:1-4 is a good illustration – 1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill.
        2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected [it] to bring forth [good] grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes.
        3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard.
        4 What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected [it] to bring forth [good] grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes?

      15. brianwagner writes, “the Scripture clearly details situation where what He expected did not happen. Isaiah 5:1-4 is a good illustration…”

        I would identify this as the use of parable to illustrate a point. We should not draw things from parables that were not intended.

      16. God’s comments Roger are not parabolic… But I understand how Calvinists can not have this mean what it says. To me it appears to impugn the character of God to imply He doesn’t mean what He says!

  7. Rhutchin writes: Once God made a decision [to Brian: this was in eternity past] (i.e., decreed) not to intervene to prevent Israel throwing their infants into the fire of Molech, then necessarily, no alternative possibilities could exist as those possibilities required that God intervene to make such possibilities possible.

    Correct me if I’m misreading your response, but I don’t believe this was an issue about what God decreed not to do – that is, not intervene to prevent Israel from throwing their infants into the fire of Molech. In Calvinism, aren’t God’s decrees in eternity past active? He determines what people will or won’t do – correct? If what you are saying above is true, it seems that you are allowing people some measure of “free will,” and then God comes along to make a decision about what He will or won’t do in response to their activities.

    1. KP writes, “In Calvinism, aren’t God’s decrees in eternity past active?”

      Not exactly, but context matters. God’s decrees may call for His active involvement in human affairs (e.g., the flood of Noah, the impregnation of Mary) or passivity in allowing humanity to do what it wants (e.g., Cain’s murder of Abel, the stoning of Stephan). God’s decrees are “active” in the sense that God always has the final say on what happens and what happens is determined by the actions – whether active or passive – God decided in eternity past to take.

      Then, “He determines what people will or won’t do – correct?”

      Yes, as I describe above. The real issue is what motivates people to act and here the Calvinist says it is their sin nature – Not God.

      Then, “it seems that you are allowing people some measure of “free will,” and then God comes along to make a decision about what He will or won’t do in response to their activities.”

      That’s basic Calvinism. Man’s free will is always subordinate to God’s free will and is therefore a “lesser” freedom of will than the freedom God exercises.

      1. Rhutchin writes:

        “Yes, as I describe above. The real issue is what motivates people to act and here the Calvinist says it is their sin nature – Not God.”

        This is mistaken in two ways. First, if God decrees all things, that means he decrees the motivations that people have to act, and so He directly causes them to do what they do. He does so by decreeing their every motivation (good or evil) and then decreeing everything else so that everything goes according to His plan (according to consistent calvinism).

        If that is the case, then it is not the “sin nature” that causes people to act, it is God himself. And it does not matter whether the action is good or evil, God equally decrees them all.

        The second way this comment is mistaken is that he claims that “what motivates people to act” “is their sin nature”.

        There is *****no such entity****** called a sin nature that ****causes any action****, that motivates any action. People cause their own actions when they act freely.

        We refer to a sin nature merely to say that people have a tendency to sin. But this “sin nature” is not an entity that exists, that causes anything.

        People are motivated to act by what they consider important. If I know what is important to you, I know why you do the things that you do. Importances vary from person to person, but everyone acts upon what they believe is important. Some examples. A terrorist believes it is important to oppose the US, so they blow up things trying to oppose the US in that way. An explosives expert disarms bombs in order to protect US troops and citizens because they believe it is important to protect the people of the US by disarming bombs. These two persons have opposite importances, but both act according to what is important to them. One person votes one way another another way, again motivated by what is important to them.

        No matter how seemingly irrational an action may be to us, if the person shares what is important to them and you know that, you can understand exactly why they do or do not do something.

      2. Robert writes, “if God decrees all things, that means he decrees the motivations that people have to act, and so He directly causes them to do what they do.”

        Calvinism says that God exercises absolute control over all events – God is sovereign. God decrees what happens through direct action (He brings about the event: e.g. the impregnation of Mary) or through secondary causes that do not require direct action by Him (e.g., the stoning of Stephan). Robert purposely distorts the Calvinist position because he has no real argument against Calvinism.

        Then, “The second way this comment is mistaken is that he claims that “what motivates people to act” “is their sin nature”.”

        Here the Calvinist appeals to James 1, “When tempted, no-one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire [his sin nature], he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers [by people like Robert].”

    2. Great Catch!!!

      You’ve pinpointed a very specific example of equivocal thinking frequently enunciated by the Calvinist.

      In the known world, there are “binary” realities, and “linear” realities.
      A bathroom light switch, for example represents a “binary” reality.
      In logical terminology, Its either “ON” or “OFF”, “TRUE” or “FALSE”, and the law of bivalence allows for only one truth-condition.

      Alternatively, a volume control represents “linear” reality, in which there can be values other than “ON” or “OFF”.

      With these in mind, there are two types of logical fallacies:
      1) The “false dilemma” fallacy occurs when a person applies “binary” logic to a concept that is actually “linear” in nature.
      Only two possible conditions are asserted, when in fact more than two possible conditions really exist.

      2) The “Argument to moderation”, (grey area) fallacy occurs when a person applies “linear” logic to a concept that is actually “binary” in nature. For example, God can make something exist and NOT exist at the same time, in some kind of (grey area) of existence.

      The Calvinist may assert: 1) God, by supernatural decree occurring at T1, (prior to Person_A’s existence), determines that Person_A, at T2 will choose a specific sin. 2) God’s decree is immutable, and allows no other alternative possibility. So Person_A not choosing that sin does not exist, because God decreed otherwise. This is a “binary” conception, where only one truth-condition can exist.

      After having established that, the Calvinist will often make assertions, characterizing God as “preventing” or “not preventing” the very thing which he has infallibly established to exist. AS-IF God can make an event exist and not exist at the same time, or give that event some kind of (grey area) of existence.

      This is the fallacy of: “Argument of moderation” being applied to Calvin’s “binary” world-view, where some kind of special “grey area” of determinism magically appears and magically disappears, whenever one needs a way of getting around the law of bivalence.

  8. There are good reasons to view [rhutchin/roger/Brian Wagner’s pet project] to be a calvinist troll. In the past he has made many false claims about non-Calvinists (including that we are all Pelagians, that we are all dishonest/except for two exceptions at this site), etc. etc. etc.) and written the kinds of posts that trolls engage in (and No, I will not stop using the term in reference to him here because he continues to act in this way. Others posting here may disagree or hold differing positions, and that is fine and to be expected, but no one else here posts like he does. No one else makes these false claims against whole groups with no justification. No one else posting here is claiming everyone else is a heretic or dishonest or . . . . ).

    His latest post is yet another example of this behavior.

    “Robert purposely distorts the Calvinist position because he has no real argument against Calvinism.”

    There is no need to distort the calvinist position. People here have gone to great lengths to fairly and accurately present the calvinist position. If people see what it says about reprobation, about determinism, etc. and if they know their Bibles they have plenty of evidence for them to reject it. Good arguments have been given against rhutchin and his calvinism for YEARS now at this site by multiple people. He never listens to them, seriously considers them, he distorts them, he twists them at times beyond recognition.

    “Here the Calvinist appeals to James 1, “When tempted, no-one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire [his sin nature], he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers [by people like Robert].”

    Note the last line, claiming that people like me are deceiving people when we challenge his calvinism.

    Regarding the appeal to James 1, it does not say “sin nature”, it says “evil desire”. Check out the Greek, there is no reference to a “sin nature” in the Greek text. Apparently rhutchin does not know Greek because if he did he would never claim that the word translated as “desire” is the word for “nature”. That is not there, it is read into the text by rhutchin. I think it is deceitful to read into Biblical texts concepts, words, terms, that are not there: and then come back and claim the text supports your positon. THAT is a deceitful and a cavalier use of scripture.

    And we can go beyond this text in James, there is no text in the New Testament that states the “sin nature” causes any action.

    That is one of the reasons we need to reject this calvinist claim that the sin nature causes actions. If that were present in the text, then we could point to it, and if we take the Bible seriously we would have to go by what the text says. But it says no such thing, nowhere does it say the “sin nature” causes our choices or actions.

    The reality is that we cause our own actions when we choose freely, they are self-determined choices. They are not the result of some causal chain that extends back to the first moment of time. Nor are they the result of an entity called the “sin nature”. People like to shift the blame all the time for their sinful and evil choices. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, but most of the time it is just us making our choices with no one to blame but ourselves.

    1. Robert writes, “Regarding the appeal to James 1, it does not say “sin nature”, it says “evil desire”.”

      The Calvinist says that the sin nature is the source of evil desires. Robert says that the source of evil desires is…..(This is where Robert would insert his answer).

      1. Rhutching writes: “The Calvinist says that the sin nature is the source of evil desires”

        You might want to rephrase this statement because it refutes a statement you previously made, where you asserted “Sin is first conceived in the mind of God”.

        You made that statement in regard to the scripture “When sin is first conceived it brings forth death”, and you asserted regarding that, that sin is first conceived in the mind of God, which would logically entail, the Calvinist says that the **SOURCE** of sin/evil is God.

        This is where you would normally appeal to secondary cause as culpable for sin, while insisting that the **PRIMARY** cause (i.e., the Calvinistic deity) is somehow not culpable.

      2. br.d writes, “Rhutching writes: “The Calvinist says that the sin nature is the source of evil desires”

        Well, that is what the Calvinist says. Thus, no issue here and your point is not to challenge this claim.

        Then, “You might want to rephrase this statement because it refutes a statement you previously made, where you asserted “Sin is first conceived in the mind of God”.”

        It is God who defines sin, “Thou shall not eat…,” to Adam and later the ten commandments to Moses. Thus, it is God who conceives sin – which is just disobedience to God’s law – and defines it for us. God did not have to make it a a sin for Adam to eat the fruit.

        Then, “You made that statement in regard to the scripture “When sin is first conceived it brings forth death”, and you asserted regarding that, that sin is first conceived in the mind of God, which would logically entail, the Calvinist says that the **SOURCE** of sin/evil is God.”

        God defines what sin is – thus conceives what is sin. James deals with the desire to sin in the human. The “source” of sin is God in the sense that God defines what sin is. The source of sin in the human is his desires.

        Then, “This is where you would normally appeal to secondary cause as culpable for sin, while insisting that the **PRIMARY** cause (i.e., the Calvinistic deity) is somehow not culpable.”

        If the legislature of a state enacts a law, it is not culpable for those who break the law (not a perfect analogy, but you should understand it). Don’t make this difficult when it is not.

  9. To add to the topic of Calvinism’s assertion that sin is first conceived in the mind of god:

    The Calvinistic argument that secondary causes within a sin/evil event are culpable, while the **PRIMARY** (i.e., proximate) cause is not culpable, is predicated on the presupposition that sin is first conceived in the divine mind. Otherwise the argument for secondary causes is superfluous. Calvinism asserts that every event is causally determined with regard to God.

    Quote by William lane Craig – The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents from Aristotle to Suarez (Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History)” – Page 126:

    To say [an event] is contingent, means that it is not causally determined by its PROXIMATE causes in the temporal series. But this seems entirely irrelevant; for the event, whatever its relation to its PROXIMATE causes, is still causally determined to occur by the divine (scientia approbationis). Worse still, [The Calvinist] seems to have forgotten that those secondary causes are themselves also similarly determined, so even this level of contingency seems squeezed out. Thus it is futile for him to contend that God’s knowledge (i.e., Calvinistic omniscience which is defined as deterministic) does not NECESSITATE an effect, because the effect may be impeded by its secondary cause, for this secondary cause is itself determined causally by [Calvinism’s] god. Therefore, it seems to me that…..[those following Augustine’s logic] having sought to escape the clutches of THEOLOGICAL FATALISM, flee into the arms of divine determinism.“

    Quote by Peter van Inwagen – An essay on free will (THE NO CHOICE PRINCIPLE):
    “If determinism is true, then how we act today is the necessary consequences of the laws of nature and the way the world was before we were born. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born. And neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. We have no control over those things. And if it’s not up to us whether certain things happen, then neither is it up to us whether the consequences of those things happen. This is the No-Choice Principle. If we have no control over the laws and the past, and they have the consequence that we will act a certain way, then we have no control over how we act. Hence, if determinism is true, then it is not up to us how we act today. “ Page 189

    In regard to dubiousness of the Calvinistic argument for secondary causes, to my knowledge, no Christian Philosopher promoting Calvinism, have successfully addressed Craig’s or Van Inwagen’s concerns. These are internationally regarded as highly cogent arguments. And a successful response to them must be equally cogent, and function in adherence to the rules of rational reasoning, and not just simply the forceful assertions of circular tautologies.

    1. What Rhutchin and his kind point out though, is what difference is there really between purposing something to be and allowing it to be, if, in fact, you could easily stop it? What distinguishable difference could there possibly be? If I break a child’s arm (for the sake of something graphic) or watch a weaker fellow break it right in front of me, what real difference is there? Is there not, by my refraining from intervening, the same result as my approval of the action? Among humans we would most assuredly think so. Could a fellow be criminally charged with neglect by being armed with an assault rifle and yet watching the harm of the innocent right in from of him by those weaker than he?

      Have you heard The Tale of the Twelve Officers?
      http://infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/five.html

      I’m not saying this argument has no answer—but I believe it drives both the Calvinist and the Pelagian to believe what they do, and it makes some valid points. Biblically, we cannot blame each man for being the sole source of his own sin if we accept a classic view of the sin nature (for we must go full Pelagian otherwise, and sadly it’s spreading these days), nor can we blame God in light of his holiness.

      There is where Classical Arminianism comes in with the right answer, sourcing both our evil nature and the curses of the world in the truly free will single act of rebellion of Adam, not decreed by Adam. And the only answer, the only solution, the only Real Justice, is found in a God-man dying on an old wooden Cross for all evil—for the only reason we live in these bodies of death in a cursed world, is one man’s taste of the forbidden. Adam ate and Jesus tasted. It will never make our intuitive sense of justice happy, it never will, for we lost a system of real individual justice based on works, and became a system based on the prevenient grace of God in the death of Christ forestalling the judgment of sin, reconciling the fundamental breach between Creation and creation from original sin, and proffering the atoning the wrath of God to all in the Gospel.

      1. Hi dizerner,
        You make an interesting comment here where, if I understand your post, you’re referring to the Calvinistic distinction between “Cause” and “Allow” or “Permit”. This is an issue of great concern, in regard to the possible use of dishonest language. Or what Philosophers commonly call “a distinction without a TRUE difference”.

        Calvinists use words from the standard English lexicon, in their conversations with non-Calvinists. But they often apply a hidden SHIFTED sense to that word, knowing that the non-Calvinist is unaware of the SHIFTED meaning. In fact their statements are often reliant upon equivocations of specific words and terms.

        A boy takes a girl up to lover’s lane and she stops him and says “I need to know if you LOVE me!” He knows if he answers her with the sense of the word LOVE as she understands it, he will not obtain her buy-in, and he will not get what he wants. So he invents an equivocal sense of the word LOVE, and says: “Of course I LOVE you”, knowing he is misleading her to believe something he is actually not saying.

        So we can see the subtle play in word usage, and how a person can deploy equivocal language to acquire buy-in from you, that they would not obtain, if you clearly understood the sense in which they were using a given word.

        For example, when the Calvinist says that god “allows” or “permits” a person to do a specific sin, what he is really saying is that god **MAKES** that person do that specific sin. The recipient thinks the Calvinist is using the word “allow” or “permit” in the standardized sense used within the English language. And the Calvinist is then able to obtain buy-in from the recipient without the recipient knowing they are being misled.

      2. They steal many definitions (in our eyes) then contest them. Even free will is “buy-in” as you put it for them, when no one who is not a Calvinist I’ve ever seen thinks free will is not free. It can be quite aggravating can’t it? I started using “autonomy” and noticed frustration that they could not easily hi-jack the meaning! Lol. But to be fair, br.d, there is presupposition in all language meaning, it’s a bit unavoidable.

      3. Hi dizerner,
        Always good thoughts and comments! :-]

        I agree that communications between people tends to be vulnerable to unknown misconceptions.
        I work as a volunteer in emergency preparedness with home-land security.
        And after emergency events they perform an analysis of the most vulnerable or troublesome issues that occurred during the event.
        And communication breakdown is consistently sighted as a problem.

        But I know you would agree, that any dialog between followers of Jesus, we should strive to be as unambiguous and precise in our language as possible. Especially in issues related to human conceptions of God. Always striving to minimize misleading people. Equivocation is sighted as a product of sophism, and is to be avoided at all cost by a Jesus honoring believer.

        I’m reminded of the quote from John Adams: “The abuse of words has been the great instrument of sophistry and chicanery, of party, faction and division of societies.”

        Blessing my friend! :-]

      4. Dizerner writes, “no one who is not a Calvinist I’ve ever seen thinks free will is not free.”

        God has “free” will – this because God is omniscient, has infinite understanding, and is all wise. People have limited knowledge, little to no real understanding, and lack wisdom. Whatever “freedom” non-Calvinists say that people have is a freedom that is relative. Was it Edwards who pointed this out?

      5. br. d writes, “For example, when the Calvinist says that god “allows” or “permits” a person to do a specific sin, what he is really saying is that god **MAKES** that person do that specific sin.”

        This is a false statement. It is the non-Calvinist who defines that Calvinist use of “permit” or “allow” to mean “god **MAKES** that person do that specific sin.” You, following the lead of other non-Calvinists, create strawmen probably because you do not have real arguments against Calvinism.

    2. br.d writes, “Therefore, it seems to me that…..[those following Augustine’s logic] having sought to escape the clutches of THEOLOGICAL FATALISM, flee into the arms of divine determinism.“

      I don’t understand Craig’s issue. It would be nice if he applied it to the Biblical situation. So, let’s do that. God creates Adam/Eve and puts them in a garden that He protects from Satan. God then removes His protection providing the ability for Satan to enter and tempt Eve all the time, knowing that Eve is no match for Satan. God has determined everything that happens as we read the Genesis account, but God does not cause everything that happens. The interplay between Satan and Eve shows the exercise of free will by both parties. There is no contingency as God knows exactly what will happen. Even Craig, in promoting the Molinist view, agrees with this as the world that God chose to create is that world we see unfolding beginning with Genesis 1. What exactly is Craig’s complaint??

      Then, “Quote by Peter van Inwagen, ‘Hence, if determinism is true, then it is not up to us how we act today.'”

      The problem here is that van Inwagen is speaking of “fate.” The application to the Scriptures, is that Adam’s sin has the effect of corrupting people so we have the sin nature operating in man as do the laws of nature in van Inwagen’s description. Since people do act according to their sin nature, it actually is up to them as to how to act – however, the sin nature determines that a person can never do “good” in God’s eyes.

      Finally, “no Christian Philosopher promoting Calvinism, have successfully addressed Craig’s or Van Inwagen’s concerns.”

      What concerns?? Craig agrees with the Calvinist because the Molinist world that God chooses to create is a Calvinist world. Van Inwagen speaks of the laws of nature where the Scriptures speak of the sin nature. He basically draws the same conclusions regarding the impacts of the laws of nature as the Calvinists do regarding the sin nature.

      What is the issue you are trying to raise?? You seem to have come to the conclusion that Pastor Flowers has come to – to argue against Calvinism, one must argue against Total Depravity. If so, quote Craig and van Inwagen where they argue against TD.

      1. I’m sorry Rutchin, you’re really unable to address William Lane Craig, or Peter Van Inwagen’s concerns with the degree of rational disciple in which they are presented. To simply assert they are saying something other than what they are in fact saying, or to brush them aside as if they are missing distinctions that you are somehow savvy enough to identify just doesn’t work.

        But I understand unflinching self confidence…..life goes on! :-]

      2. br.d writes, “To simply assert they are saying something other than what they are in fact saying, ..”

        Craig is a strong advocate for Molinsim as one can determine by reading his website. I read the paper you referenced by van Inwagen and he clearly argues the role of the laws of nature in determinism. I do not assert that these men are saying something other than what they are in fact saying. I take them to be saying exactly what they believe.

      3. rutchin writes:
        William Lane Craig agrees with the Calvinist because the Molinist world that God chooses to create is a Calvinist world.”

        This statement is totally untrue and completely misrepresents William Lane Craig.

        Quote from William Lane Craig concerning the Calvinist deity:
        “God would be like a child who sets up his toy soldiers and moves them about his play world, pretending that they are real persons whose every motion is not in fact of his own doing and pretending that they merit praise or blame. I’m certain that Reformed determinists, in contrast to classical Reformed divines, will bristle at such a comparison. But why it’s inapt for the doctrine of universal, divine, causal determinism (i.e., Calvinism) is a mystery to me.”

        Again, it is understandable that the Calvinist would want to present Calvinism’s unique distinctives as mainstream, or held in a wider circle than they really are. But is it honest to do so?

        Then
        “Van Inwagen speaks of the laws of nature where the Scriptures speak of the sin nature. He basically draws the same conclusions regarding the impacts of the laws of nature as the Calvinists do regarding the sin nature.”

        You have some his argument correct. Where he speaks of “what happens in the past” is a reference to the principle of “accidental necessity”. And with Calvinism, it would be applicable to the doctrine of decrees which occur in the past, determining what will (of necessity) occur in the future. The reference to “laws of nature” is a reference to universally held laws of cause and effect. And applies to Calvinism’s conception of god having established those laws as well as the human condition. So one can see how these apply to the Calvinistic conception of determinism. He is not asserting that determinism ( Calvinistic or other ) is not true. Just that there is a logical consequence which refutes human culpability, given the factors of necessity at work in a deterministic world. His “No Choice Principle” can be applied to Calvinism easily. If “Calvinistic determinism” is true, then human’s act in accordance to forces that are outside of their control, and about which they have no TRUE choice. Just examine the components of his argument to get an understanding of its weight.

        I highly recommend you watch the youtube video “Calvinism: Intrinsically Irrational” by Dan Courtney. Mr. Courtney is an atheist, so his perspective on Christianity is not mine. But he lays out how Calvinism’s assertions concerning sin, give the appearance of being rational, but inevitably end up as clearly irrational. He provides a few pictures depicting a causal chain and makes the same exact point that William Lane Craig makes concerning the fallacy of appealing to secondary causes. You owe it to yourself to recognize the validity of his reasoning.

        For your own sake….that you don’t come off making self-refuting statements, I hope you will think through the two assertions pointed out earlier…one which asserts God as the source of human sin, and the other that asserts the human condition as the source of human sin. Its not rational to have two sources. Perhaps you are hoping to make Calvinism appear more ethical by pointing to the human condition as the source of sin, but the two assertions are obviously self contradicting. It would by my hope that you would clearly state what Calvinism logically entails…that Calvinism’s god is the source of all human sin. But please know that is absolutely not my position!

  10. I watched James White’s response to your response, and I suppose I need to thank him for introducing me to your website. It’s GREAT! I must say, James misrepresented you badly on certain points—such as what you said about both sides having explanations for their views. I was amused by his treatment of your point about Christ’s “other sheep.” You brought out something I had not considered—that the “other sheep” may include (in addition to Gentiles) the unbelieving Jews who would later repent and come to faith in Christ. It’s amazing that James won’t even consider that as a possibility. I like James and appreciate much of what he does, but when he gets into his Calvinistic defense mode, I usually have to click the stop button.

    1. Thank you Vance for your assessment of JW.
      It really does align with many others who have observed his rhetorical strategies for Calvinist apologetics.

      You might enjoy the youtube done by “unbelievable” with JW and N.T. Wright interviewed together. N.T. doesn’t let him get away with much! And as N.T. is an expert in the Greek, discussions about loading words and verses with extra-bibilcal meaning is a primary concern for him. :-]

  11. Rhutchin writes:
    A) The Calvinist says that the **SOURCE** of sin/evil is God….quote: “Sin is first conceived in the mind of God”.
    B) The Calvinist says that sin nature is the **SOURCE** of evil desires

    These two assertions you made as representing: “The Calvinist says”.
    Do you really want to leave such a display of self-refuting thinking?

    And the non-Calvinist does NOT hold that “Sin is first conceived in the mind of God”. Conceptions of God as authoring sin are distinctives unique to Calvinism. And interpretations of scripture to affirm God as the author of sin are unique to Calvinism.

    Additionally, when “The Calvinist” appeals to secondary causes as culpable, and not the **PRIMARY** cause (i.e. Calvinism’s deity), this assertion logically entails “sin nature” as a secondary cause. And even a high-school student knows that to assert a secondary cause as the **SOURCE** of a temporal series of events, is illogical. The **PRIMARY** cause is the source.

    So this appears to be yet another example of Calvinism’s equivocal theology.

    1. And the serpent was the most **SUBTLE** beast in the field.Genesis 3:1

      How did he manifest his subtly?
      With **SHIFTY** language.

      But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray.

      1. br.d writes, “How did he manifest his subtly?
        With **SHIFTY** language.”

        Can you walk us through the “shifty” language that Satan used in deceiving Eve?

    2. brd writes, “And the non-Calvinist does NOT hold that “Sin is first conceived in the mind of God”. Conceptions of God as authoring sin are distinctives unique to Calvinism. And interpretations of scripture to affirm God as the author of sin are unique to Calvinism.”

      Calvinists note that it was God who commanded Adam “Do not eat…” By doing so, God defined “sin” as eating the fruit. Clearly God understood the ramifications for sin arising from His command to Adam. I don’t see your issue here.

      Then, “Additionally, when “The Calvinist” appeals to secondary causes as culpable, and not the **PRIMARY** cause (i.e. Calvinism’s deity), this assertion logically entails “sin nature” as a secondary cause. And even a high-school student knows that to assert a secondary cause as the **SOURCE** of a temporal series of events, is illogical. The **PRIMARY** cause is the source.”

      This is what “free will” is all about. God gives people freedom to act without hindrance from Him (with some exceptions). That people use this freedom to sin is well attested in the Scriptures (examples below). It is clear that God is the **PRIMARY** cause because He creates people and gives people freedom that they can exercise to sin. God is not the **PRIMARY** cause in the sense of forcing, encouraging, or compelling people to sin. I do not see your problem on this issue. You make grandiose claims but never substantiate those claims.

      “…the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

      The role of the person’s desires as the causal factor in sin is plain from Scripture.
      “…each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 2:14-15)

      “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)

      “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:4)

      “This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.” (2 Peter 2:10)

      “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.” (2 Peter 2:18)

      “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” (2 Peter 3:3)

      “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives for ever.” (1 John 2:17)

      “These men are grumblers and fault-finders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” (Jude 16)

      “They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” (Jude 18)

      1. These silly non-arguments are designed as magical escape clauses. The non-Calvinist doesn’t conflate god knowing about an event and with god forcing an event (by laws of necessity) to happen. There is a clear difference between knowing about what a person will do and forcing a person do it (through laws of necessity). Calvinism asserts that god not only “KNOWS” about sin, but that god initiates all sin events and doesn’t give humans any alternative from the sinful events god forces (my laws of necessity) them to do. In the Calvinist system Adam would not have sinned if the Calvinist deity hadn’t made him sin. Only the Calvinist believes that secondary causes magically remove culpability from a primary cause, because this works as a magical escape clause in their minds. No manner of evasive language will get around the fact that Calvinism logically entails god as the author of sin who plants every sinful neurological impulse into the minds of the creature, not allowing them to have any neurological impulses other than what he implants into their minds.

        Calvinists simply have a labyrinth of self contradicting arguments to escape the elements of theological fatalism inherent in their system.

      2. br.d writes, ” In the Calvinist system Adam would not have sinned if the Calvinist deity hadn’t made him sin.”

        Adam sinned because he had the ability to chose freely to obey God or disobey God. Adam was not deceived as was Eve. God did not force Adam to sin nor exert an influence on him in that direction. For whatever reason Adam chose to sin – the Scriptures are silent on this, he was free in choosing.

      3. Even an Atheist can clearly see through the Calvinist’s labyrinth of self-contradictions.

        To see how easy it is, go to Youtube and paste in this link below!

        Calvinism: Intrinsically Irrational – By Dan Courtney

        youtube.com/watch?v=h5hrTkrd1JI

        The non-Calvinist will find the video highly entertaining. :-]

      4. Br D,

        A perfect example of Calvinist double speak, a perfect example of irrationality on the part of a Calvinist:

        “Adam sinned because he had the ability to chose freely to obey God or disobey God. Adam was not deceived as was Eve. God did not force Adam to sin nor exert an influence on him in that direction. For whatever reason Adam chose to sin – the Scriptures are silent on this, he was free in choosing.”

        According to consistent Calvinists, God ORDAINS whatsoever comes to pass (i.e. God decrees EVERY EVENT WITHOUT EXCEPTION). This means whatever happens is decreed, and whatever happens must happen and it is impossible for it to be otherwise.

        Adam sinned, THAT, like every other event was decreed according to consistent calvinism.

        As it was decreed He had no choice in the matter, he had to do what he was decreed to do.

        As God decreed for him to sin, he could not choose to “freely” obey God, he had to disobey God.

        He would only have chosen not to sin if God decreed for him not to sin. It is very simple, if God decrees him to sin, he sins, if God decrees for him not to sin then he does not sin. We know he sinned, so according to Calvinism God decreed for him to sin.

        This Calvinist seems to forget that no one can do otherwise than what God has decreed according to his system, so no one can ever do otherwise than what they do because everything they choose to do is decreed.

        For this Calvinist to claim that Adam “chose freely” while at the same time claiming that all events are decreed is absolute irrationality. It is also playing games with language.

      5. I totally agree Robert! That’s why I call Calvinism MAGICAL THINKING…..or…… EQUIVOCAL THEOLOGY

        But as we can see here, there is a very powerful mental stronghold at work, that firstly induces the individual to embrace the system’s contradictions, and then to refuse to acknowledge them as contradictions. Only God can penetrate through that kind of stronghold. The fact that Dr. Flowers was once a Calvinist, at some point he must have given himself permission to really question the Calvinistic system.

        I would suspect, it was then that all of its contradictions started to become real to him, and the whole system must have then started crumbling. It’s great to read testimonies from Calvinists who have been delivered from the mental stronghold. I wish there were more post-Calvinists active on this blog. Their testimonies are super important!! :-]

      6. Robert writes, “According to consistent Calvinists, God ORDAINS whatsoever comes to pass (i.e. God decrees EVERY EVENT WITHOUT EXCEPTION). This means whatever happens is decreed, and whatever happens must happen and it is impossible for it to be otherwise.”

        As everyone except Robert seems to know, God does not have to directly cause that which He decrees.

        Then, “Adam sinned, THAT, like every other event was decreed according to consistent calvinism. As it was decreed He had no choice in the matter, he had to do what he was decreed to do.”

        This is the conclusion from omniscience. Apparently Robert is giving up omniscience and joining Brian on the Open Theism trail.

      7. We need to be clear and not conflate omniscience “simpliciter” (i.e., its basic meaning without qualification) and omniscience “qualified Calvinistically” (where omniscience is the byproduct of divine decrees – in which cases laws of CAUSATION are entailed).

        When we use the word omniscience both ways in a statement, we are committing the fallacy of equivocation.

        The Calvinist obviously assumes omniscience “Calvinistically” (qualified, where it is the byproduct of divine decrees – where laws of CAUSATION are entailed). The non-Calvinist doesn’t hold to Calvinism’s qualified meaning for omniscience.

        So the argument that to not believe in the omniscience (Calvinistically qualified) is to not believe in omniscience is false.

      8. br.d writes, “So the argument that to not believe in the omniscience (Calvinistically qualified) is to not believe in omniscience is false.”

        Omniscience has a simple definition that all accept – God know all events past, present and future.

        The “Calvinistically qualified” term you raise concerns the explanation for God being omniscient.

        In general discussion, omniscience refers to God’s complete knowledge. That has nothing to do with Calvinism and any explanation of God’s omniscience. To believe that God is omniscient entails several things that have nothing to do with Calvinism.

        In terms of Robert’s statement, we understand omniscience such that, “According to consistent Calvinists, God KNOWS whatsoever comes to pass (i.e. God knows EVERY EVENT WITHOUT EXCEPTION). This means whatever happens is known, and whatever happens must happen and it is impossible for it to be otherwise.”

        The conclusion prevails – “This means whatever happens is known [by God], and whatever happens must happen and it is impossible for it to be otherwise [than God knows]” – regardless whether one also concludes that God “ordained/decreed” anything. If Robert denies this, then necessarily, he denies that God is omniscient.

      9. So your argument then is that Robert doesn’t believe that God infallibly knows every true proposition there is to know?

      10. br.d writes, “So your argument then is that Robert doesn’t believe that God infallibly knows every true proposition there is to know?”

        I believe that is Brian’s position, and it appears to me that Robert is heading in that direction.

      11. Is it your belief that what God infallibly knows, for example concerning the future, makes that future necessary?

      12. br.d writes “Is it your belief that what God infallibly knows, for example concerning the future, makes that future necessary?”

        As stated elsewhere in this thread, I believe God’s omniscience makes the future certain but not necessary. God’s omniscience is not the cause of that which He knows is to occur.

  12. Beware of “The Calvinist Says” statements:

    This is simply **SHIFTY** language. In Philosophy its called **EQUIVOCAL** language. In street-talk, its called **SEMANTIC SHELL GAMES**

    Example:
    A) The Calvinist says: I’m describing a creature having short neck, short legs, can walk, fly, and swim, has webbed feet and quacks.
    B) The Calvinist says: Its not a duck!!!!

    Beware of “The Calvinist Says” statements. Most of the time they represent highly subtle rhetorical equivocation games.
    The critical thinker needs to beware of being led around in circles by rhetorical subtleties and semantic smoke screens.

    There are three areas of primary concern:
    1) The subtle manipulation of language
    2) The subtle manipulation of logic
    3) The subtle manipulation of scripture.

    In all of your getting, get wisdom. Be on the lookout for **SHIFTY** language, logic, and scripture.

    1. Bro. d,

      We have an individual who keeps “shifting his language”, unfairly attacking non-Calvinists, twisting the views and comments of folks like Craig and Van Inwagen beyond recognition, so why do YOU keep interacting with this individual? You have posted a lot more lately and I don’t see your posts making an impact on this person, he just keeps doing what he always does.

      As a friend put it to me once when I overly engaged with such a person: who is the bigger fool, him or you believing you are really changing him???

      1. Sadly Robert you are absolutely right!!

        Based upon historical evidence, extrapolated to future probability, I would say the possibility of there being any change from self-contradicting positions, (what psychiatrists call KETTLE LOGIC, or ALTERNATIVE PLEADING), etc, would require some kind of intervention way beyond my capabilities. :-]

        I don’t have any rational reason to assume that my interactions with the Calvinist will be of any benefit to the Calvinist, because they live in a highly controlled, closed system of logic designed to evade all probative analysis. Perhaps any informative benefit I might contribute to the group will be in pointing out the basic vulnerabilities of equivocal assertions, and the dangers of misleading rhetorical strategies, and how not to be seduced by them.

        Thanks for your warning!!
        Your point is very well taken!!! :-]

  13. Calvinist – Omniscience is hardwired into God’s nature. He has a phantom free will that never will be exercised, nor is the human will ever free. He cannot help to know everything that will happen just as it will happen. It is a necessity… almost pantheistic. It all comes from Him.

    Molinist – Omniscience gives God one free choice between possible worlds forever. He “thought” He was choosing one that provided freewill to man though He had to also choose all of His own decisions ahead of time for every response of man. So man has a phantom free will, locked into a fully decided future forever, before his will is even created to face any possible future choices. And God’s will is now also locked in forever.

    Arminian (Traditional SB) – Omniscience is independent of God and completed forever, even with all of His choices already made, but God somehow, illogically, can observe it and alter it as if free will for Him and man do exist. The future, therefore, is settled forever and not settled forever in God’s mind.

    Scripture – Omniscience is revealed as God’s understanding being infinite and that the future in His mind is partially determined already and partially still to be determined. God knows everything as it truly was, is or can be, that is, the past as settled including knowing all counter-factuals that could have happened. The present is known as requiring an almost infinite number of His choices to cause or permit things that fit into whatever He has already determined for the future, and fully knowing perfectly all determinations and the undetermined possibilities for the future that still exist in His mind of infinite understanding. The information in His mind goes through the changes of events known as possible or determined to known as completed or counter-factual, but such a change does not lessen His perfect understanding or make Him less perfect. This description of biblical omniscience provides for exercising relatively free will, for God and man in relationship forever.

    1. Brian Wagner the resident open theist here, every now and then presents this listing of what he believes the various positions adhere to. Unfortunately his listing is both inaccurate and misleading. Misleading because he falsely labels his own position, open theism, which is a very small minority within Christian circles as “scripture”. This is misleading because his open theism is not “scripture” and all of the differing advocates believe their view is scriptural.

      Just a few examples of the inaccuracies in Wagner’s presentation.

      “Calvinist – Omniscience is hardwired into God’s nature.”

      False, according to all (except for open theists like Wagner) Omniscience is part of God’s very nature and so all would say it was “hardwired into God’s nature. This is not a belief held by Calvinists alone.

      “Molinist – Omniscience gives God one free choice between possible worlds forever. He “thought” He was choosing one that provided freewill to man though He had to also choose all of His own decisions ahead of time for every response of man. So man has a phantom free will, locked into a fully decided future forever, before his will is even created to face any possible future choices. And God’s will is now also locked in forever.”

      This is a misrepresentation of Molinism: as Molinists affirm both exhaustive sovereignty and libertarian free will at the same time. Wagner does not do justice to their position at all here.

      “Arminian (Traditional SB) – Omniscience is independent of God and completed forever”

      This comment makes no sense as Arminians, like Calvinists, believe that omniscience is part of God’s nature. If a being is not omniscient by nature, then most Christians would say that being is not God, at least not the God of the Bible. A god of open theism or process theism, but not THE God of the Bible.

      “The future, therefore, is settled forever and not settled forever in God’s mind.”

      The future is “settled” in the sense that God knows exactly what will occur (if he is omniscient as most Christians affirm, except again for open theists like Wagner who deny omniscience by redefining it to go with their philosophical notions). At the same time while the future is settled in this sense, it remains to be settled by people making the choices they will in fact make in the future. If free will is involved in these future choices, though the actual outcome is known to God, these outcomes will not occur without the self-determination of the persons who will freely make those choices.

      “Scripture – Omniscience is revealed as God’s understanding being infinite and that the future in His mind is partially determined already and partially still to be determined.”

      This is misleading because it is merely open theism being affirmed, but Wagner leaves out “open theism”. If he had written “Open theism Omniscience is revealed as God’s understanding being . . . .” then that would be an accurate presentation of open theism. It is not what the Bible teaches and so it is misleading to suggest that this is what the Bible teaches.

      Bro.D what were you saying about subtle language?

      “God knows everything as it truly was, is or can be, that is, the past as settled including knowing all counter-factuals that could have happened.”

      So God knows the past, good.

      “The present is known”

      So God knows the present, good.

      “ as requiring an almost infinite number of His choices to cause or permit things that fit into whatever He has already determined for the future, and fully knowing perfectly all determinations and the undetermined possibilities for the future that still exist in His mind of infinite understanding.”

      This gobbledygook simply put is the claim that God knows all possibilities but not what will in fact occur in the future if it involves libertarian free will.

      “The information in His mind goes through the changes of events known as possible or determined to known as completed or counter-factual, but such a change does not lessen His perfect understanding or make Him less perfect.”

      This is the attempted justification for open theism, that affirming it does not make God less than perfect in his understanding or less than perfect. But this is false, if God does not know the future in its entirety, then He is not the God of the Bible but an idol created by man. As the prophet Isaiah made clear, God says in that book that one of the major differences between Him and false gods is that he knows the future and they do not. Open theists such as Wagner try to replace the biblical God with an idol, a god who does not know the future in its entirety.

      “This description of biblical omniscience provides for the exercise relatively free will, for God and man in relationship forever.”

      Wagner’s description falls way short of the God of the Bible and is a false conception of God promoted and propagated by open theists. It is fine for Wagner to present the various views accurately and fairly, but he has not done so here. It is all part of his continuous crusade to attack the orthodox view of omniscience. He can attack it all he wants, but don’t pretend not to be an open theism, don’t pretend his views are mainstream, they are not. They are radical and out of touch with all of the major Christian traditions (again Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants all agree on the nature of omniscience, it is *****only***** open theists like Wagner that reject what everyone else holds to, claiming their truncated view of omniscience is the proper conception of it, when their view is false and falls way below what God reveals about Himself).

      And Brian please don’t respond with your repeated arguments for open theism. We have heard them all already many times at this blog.

      All I ask is that you fairly and accurately represent the views of others if you are going to give a taxonomy of beliefs on omniscience as you attempted to do here.

      1. Thank you Robert! You said – “At the same time while the future is settled in this sense, it remains to be settled…” That is exactly what I meant as the view of Arminian/ SB for omniscience, believing the future is both settled and not yet settled. So in their view God’s omniscience must know it both ways. But in normal logic this presents a contradiction… “settled… remains to be settled.”

      2. Brian,

        We have been through this before, and you rejected it in the past, but for the sake of others (Br.D are you listening) I will repeat myself as there is a very useful distinction to be aware of of.

        “Thank you Robert! You said – “At the same time while the future is settled in this sense, it remains to be settled…” That is exactly what I meant as the view of Arminian/ SB for omniscience, believing the future is both settled and not yet settled. So in their view God’s omniscience must know it both ways. But in normal logic this presents a contradiction… “settled… remains to be settled.””

        There is only a contradiction when something is stated in the same sense. But if two different senses/categories are being discussed, if each sense refers to a different ontological category, then there is no contradiction.

        Before I talk about the two different senses of “settled” that I have in mind, I want to discuss the distinction first between a CAUSAL relation and a LOGICAL relation.

        My favorite example of a logical relation is this: Consider the fact that 2 + 2 = 4. And consider that I know that 2 + 2 = 4. Does my knowing that 2 + 2 = 4 CAUSE that mathematical fact to be true? No. Or conversely does the mathematical fact that 2 + 2 = 4 CAUSE me to know that 2 + 2 = 4? No. Why not? Because there is not a CAUSAL relation between my knowledge of that mathematical fact and the mathematical fact. Instead there is a LOGICAL relation between the two. My knowledge corresponds accurately, correctly with the fact that 2 + 2 =4. There is a correspondence between my knowledge of that mathematical fact and that mathematical fact. But my knowledge **does not cause** that fact to be true, nor does that fact **cause my knowledge**. There is not causal relation between the two.

        Can we see how this applies to God’s knowledge of future events? His knowledge of future events, his foreknowledge does not CAUSE those future events to be true, nor do those future events cause his knowledge (foreknowledge if it is knowledge of future events that have not yet occurred (BECAUSE IT IS NOT A CAUSAL RELATION in either direction). Rather there is a logical relation between future events and God’s knowledge of them. Does God know the future entirely? Yes, if you are an orthodox Christian and not an open theist like Brian. Is the future “settled” in the sense that God’s knowledge of the future, his foreknowledge corresponds accurately with all of these future events? Yes. But does God’s knowledge cause and fix these events or necessitate these events? No, because his knowledge is not causative of these events, his knowledge does not have a causal relation with these future events it has a logical relation. His beliefs about the future are true because they correspond with future events that will in fact take place. The open theist like the calvinist, assumes that God’s knowledge has a causative relation with future events (so in their thinking if God knows X will occur, X must occur because knows it will in fact occur, because God’s foreknowledge causes that future event to occur as it has a causal relation). But this is a mistake, a category mistake (like asking how long is red?)

        What about the second sense of “settled” that I am talking about? My second sense **is** causal. In this sense the future remains to be settled by the actual causes that will bring about future events. We might ask what will cause those future events that God knows will occur with certainty to occur? Here the answer is various causes including people’s choices, God choices, the natural world, etc. Or you might ask what causes will bring about those future events? If I will in fact choose to go to a Laker game at such and such time in the future, and I make the choice freely then at such and such a time I will freely choose to go to the game or I will not end up going to the game. So my freely made choice is crucial to that event happening. So our choices make a real difference.

        God’s omniscience concerns a “settled future” in the sense of being a set of beliefs that correctly correspond to those future events (there is the logical relation between the events and God’s knowledge). But that “settled future” also includes a set of causes that will bring about those future events (there is a causal relation between future events and the causes of those events). The future is “settled” in two senses (the one sense is God’s knowledge of future events which has a logical BUT NOT CAUSAL RELATION to those future events; the one sense is the causes that will bring about those future events which has a causal relation to those future events, those events that remain to be settled by causes).

        “settled and remains to be settled”

        Stated in terms of the logical versus causal relation distinction = “Settled” in the sense of God’s accurate beliefs concerning all future events that will in fact take place/THE LOGICAL RELATION; “remains to be settled” by the causes that will bring about the future events that will in fact take place/THE CAUSAL RELATION.

        Thus no contradiction but discussing the two sense of “settled” as it pertains to the future.

        Calvinists and Open theists are notorious for failing to keep this distinction in mind. So Brian accuses me of holding to a contradiction when I claim that God knows the future entirely and so it is “settled” in one sense”. While at the same time holding that those future events have not yet occurred and are dependent on actual causes including our future freely made choices (and so the future is “settled” in that sense as well). There is no contradiction between these two senses of “settled”. Once concerns God’s knowledge and involves a logical relation, the other concerns causes of the events and involves a causal relation. So there are two senses of a “settled” future and they do not contradict each other UNLESS YOU FAIL TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE LOGICAL VERSUS CAUSAL RELATION DISTINCITON.

        Calvinists will often leave out this distinction and then argue that if we choose freely in the future our choices will cause God to know what he knows about the future (but this is false as future events do not have a causal relation to God’s foreknowledge, instead future events have a logical relation to God’s knowledge, just like 2 +2 = 4 does not cause my knowledge of that mathematical fact).

        I have brought up this distinction in the past and Brian ignored it then, and I expect him to ignore it now.

        But I wrote this not for Brian’s sake but for others like Br.D who will appreciate and understand the distinction.

      3. Thank you Robert! You once again confirmed what I said was the Arminian/SB view of the settled future. You said – “Does my knowing that 2 + 2 = 4 CAUSE that mathematical fact to be true?” You have illustrated that the truth/fact exists apart from your knowledge and you observe it somehow as true.

        You also believe the truth of a settled future somehow exists apart from God creating/causing it, but God still recognizes it as true. You did not even interact with how God interacts to change that knowledge/future, or cause anything that then becomes the part of the settled future that He knows that He caused. You are free to live with contradiction. We all do!

      4. Robert writes, “The open theist like the calvinist, assumes that God’s knowledge has a causative relation with future events …”

        This is a false statement applied to Calvinism. Calvinists do not view God’s knowledge as causative – God’s decrees (the use or non-use of His omnipotent power) are seen as causative as actively bringing about certain events or passively allowing secondary causes to bring events about through naturally occurring means.

      5. The statement that Calvinists do not view God’s knowledge as causative may be based upon subtle word play, or a distinction without a difference. But lets say the statement is correct. How do you distinguish that in light of William Lane Craig’s assessment of Calvinist John Edwards in this youtube presentation? youtube.com/watch?v=mXUMhSmeivE

      6. Robert writes, “Brian Wagner the resident open theist here,…”

        Not exactly. The Open Theist has God being ignorant of some future possibilities, so God learns new things as time passes and then takes that new information into account in His plans. In Brian’s system, God is not ignorant of any future possibilities; God just waits to makes His decisions regarding some of those events as they occur in the course of time.

      1. “The Open Theist has God being ignorant of some future possibilities….”

        No! Open Theism says God has exhaustive knowledge of ALL future possibilities! But He knows them AS possibilities, not as absolute certainties.

      2. Vance Stinson writes, “No! Open Theism says God has exhaustive knowledge of ALL future possibilities! But He knows them AS possibilities, not as absolute certainties.”

        As I read Pinnock, I am not certain that this is correct. Pinnock (maybe, Boyd) is fond of saying that God takes risks. If God does indeed know all future possibilities, there is no risk possible – risk breeds on ignorance. If I get a chance, I will read a little Pinnock or Boyd and see if they clarify this. If you could do that first, that would be nice.

      3. “The Open Theist has God being ignorant of some future possibilities…

        This statement was not made by me!!
        I have not been involved in the Open Theist discussions.
        br.d :-]

  14. Maybe I’m a bit late with this comment but Calvinists believe that God’s election is unconditional so it has nothing to do with the deeds someone will do in his or her life (this is in line with Augustine and against Pelagius, Arminius,…)

    1. Thanks, Crosstheology. I’ve never heard it called Molinistic Open Theism. I was going by Greg Boyd’s definition of Open Theism, which I assumed to be the same view Pinnock, Rice, Hasker, Sanders, and most other Open Theists hold/held. I tend to agree with it, but I’m open to other perspectives.

      1. Boyd is an Open Molinist. 🙂 I think L.D. McCabe, Michael Saia, Chris Fisher,… would be good examples of people only believing in “present knowledge” (in the sense Basinger uses the term). I used to have a video where I explained it with water bottles but due to privacy concerns I removed it from the internet. If you want, I can email you this simple explanatory video. 🙂

    2. Hi Crosstheology! It would be nice to know your name… but I can see from you academia.edu page that you even removed it from your papers! I look forward to reading some of them, for I love church history. I think creating the term Molinistic Open Theism, whoever did, is not helpful, for Molinism is distinct in that only one complete world forever was chosen by God through middle knowledge so that the future is fully known as complete to God now according to the Molinist. They posit some kind of non-sequential reality for God before creation and then a sequential reality for God after creation.

      Open Theists have different views as to how God “knows” the future, but they appear to be united that reality has always been linear/sequential. I don’t like the term Open Theist, because of the word “Theist” is too comprehensive. I think redefining omniscience away from its philosophical roots and back to biblical exegesis is a better approach. Perhaps Partially Open Futurist would be a suitable term! 🙂

      1. Open Theist sounds like being a liberal theologian open to any idea! 😀 I removed my name because of privacy concerns for a certain plan. If you can still find my name, please tell me about it so I can change it to the best of my possibilities. If my plan fails/succeeds, I might add my name again. Feel free to pray about it! 🙂

      2. Hi Brian! I like the idea of using a name other than “Open Theism.” Some prefer “Free-Will Theism,” but I think something along the lines of what you suggested would be better for the simple reason that the view is not so much about the nature of the Creator as it is about the nature of His creation. I think at least a few hardcore Calvinists would agree that God is capable of creating a world wherein the future is partly open and partly settled. Of course, they’d then argue that He did not make such a world.

      3. Hi Vance! Great observations. I may be wrong, but I do think though, that a consistent Calvinist would have to admit that God’s capability of doing differently than what is being done is a fathom capability (freedom) that never would have been or will be exercised. He can do only the one “perfect” thing according to their definition of perfection which has Him eternally locked into an immutable omniscience forever.

        In the end they must reinterpret Scripture as often speaking anthropomorphically when discussing God’s nature and actions, since the Scriptures only presents a sequential reality, making the existence of a non-sequential reality impossible or the Scriptures contradictory.

      4. brianwagner writes, “He can do only the one “perfect” thing according to their definition of perfection which has Him eternally locked into an immutable omniscience forever.”

        Oh, Brian!!! Are you proposing that God might do anything less than perfectly or that He might have second thoughts about decisions He makes?

      5. Oh Roger!!! 🙂 You know that we do not agree on how to define “perfect”. You follow Charnock’s definition, borrowed from philosophy. I believe the Scripture clearly describes God’s perfection, because it is His Word, revealing truth clearly to us about Himself.

        So yes, whether you call it “second thoughts” or just “regrets”, like He does. The Word of God says clearly that God had them. It says many other such things that Calvinism rejects because of its loyalty to man-made definitions borrowed from philosophy that tear out the heart of authority from God’s Word.

      6. brianwagner writes, “So yes, whether you call it “second thoughts” or just “regrets”, like He does. The Word of God says clearly that God had them.”

        That’s fine but you need to define what that means. We know that God is said to repent but not like a man does – – not because he has done something wrong or made a bad decision. So, what is going on when we read that God repents or the Holy Spirit is grieved? Do you know?

        Then, “It says many other such things that Calvinism rejects because of its loyalty to man-made definitions borrowed from philosophy that tear out the heart of authority from God’s Word.”

        The Scriptures are clear that “God is not a man.” (God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. – Numbers 23). So, God does not change His mind but He does change the direction He is going. The problem is not that Calvinists use man-made definitions; it is that Calvinist uses definitions that distinguish God from man.

      7. God does change His mind when conditional situations are established, and that is not an anthropomorphic expression. But He does not change His mind when He has unconditionally determined something for the future.

        But your system does not allow for God to operate that way, and the definitions the Calvinist’s uses distinguish God from man so that the sharing of His image or likeness can not be in any way univocal, making all His self-expressions anthropomorphic and the Biblical revelation of His nature and actions deceptive.

        You have illustrated it well when you asked – “We know that God is said to repent but not like a man does – – not because he has done something wrong or made a bad decision. So, what is going on when we read that God repents or the Holy Spirit is grieved?”

        Though God’s relenting and grief is not completely like man’s because of how the flesh affects those emotions, God still experiences those changes in His emotions as a result of His interaction with man, and those words mean what they mean, for no emotion is evil of itself. Just look up the 50 times in the OT where God proclaims the actions of man “provoked” Him to anger. God is not lying about the changes that took place in His experience of emotion.

        You can be loyal to definitions from philosophy that make it impossible to read the Bible normally with common meanings for words, but I believe God communicated clearly the truth about Himself.

      8. I agree that Calvinists shift the definitions of words and terms. But I wouldn’t sight their use of language or logic as originating from philosophy proper, but from sophism, which is an unethical subset of philosophy.

      9. Vance writes, “I think at least a few hardcore Calvinists would agree that God is capable of creating a world wherein the future is partly open and partly settled.”

        What do you mean by “a world wherein the future is partly open and partly settled?” Are you buying into Brian’s position where God delays making some decisions until the time of the event and calling those decisions “open” until God announces His decision?

  15. Rhutchin, I’m not sure that I follow your reasoning. If free will is a reality, and if the future is not settled where our free-will choices are concerned, then God risks losing some of us, as He knows of the possibility of some saying no to His gracious offer of salvation.

    1. Vance writes, “God risks losing some of us, as He knows of the possibility of some saying no to His gracious offer of salvation.”

      The Scriptures are clear, “God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1) God will certainly not lose His elect. You can still hold out for the possibility that some of the non-elect will say, Yes, to God’s gracious offer of salvation and be saved through the exercise of their free will. After all, the decision is a no-brainer, so we wonder why anyone would say, No.

      1. Rhutchin, I was responding to your previous statement by attempting to explain that there is not contradiction between 1) God knowing possibilities for the future and 2) God taking risks, as some Open Theists believe. But, regarding your comment: In Philippians 1:6, Paul says, “And I am confident that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul is confident that the work began in the Philippians will be brought to completion because he’s confident in them; they’ve proven themselves faithful, and he expects them to continue faithfully serving God. Any reference to soteriology here is incidental.

      2. Vance writes, “there is not contradiction between 1) God knowing possibilities for the future and 2) God taking risks, as some Open Theists believe.”

        What is the risk?

        Then, “In Philippians 1:6, Paul says, “And I am confident that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul is confident that the work began in the Philippians will be brought to completion because he’s confident in them; they’ve proven themselves faithful, and he expects them to continue faithfully serving God. Any reference to soteriology here is incidental.”

        The “he” refers to God – I am confident that God – and God “will bring it to completion.” The action is all done by God – God began the work (explaining Paul’s positive assessment); God will complete the work. Paul certainly expects them to continue faithfully serving God, but he attributes it to the continuing work of God in them.

  16. Rhutchin asks, “What do you mean by ‘a world wherein the future is partly open and partly settled’?” It’s spelled out in Greg Boyd’s book, God of the Possible. God has decreed that certain things will take place, so those things are settled. He will intervene as needed and cause those things to happen. But whether/what I’m going to have for lunch next Thursday has not been decided yet, so it remains an unsettled aspect of the future.

    1. “But whether/what I’m going to have for lunch next Thursday has not been decided yet, so it remains an unsettled aspect of the future.”

      This appears to parallel what Rhuchin calls man being “self powered”, as part of his escape clause for God’s culpability when he moves humans to commit sins.

      An event in which God allows person_A to determine his lunch can be seen as parallel to God allowing Person_A to be “self powered” so as to be able to determine his lunch.

      1. br.d writes, “This appears to parallel what Rhuchin calls man being “self powered”, as part of his escape clause for God’s culpability when he moves humans to commit sins.”

        The example from the Scriptures would be the stoning of Stephan. God decreed not to interfere in that event. In the lunch example, the future is unsettled from man’s perspective but settled from God’s perspective.

    2. I remember reading that somewhere, maybe Boyd. However, what I don’t know is whether Boyd allows God to know all the possibilities – that you could choose from X, Y, or Z… – and then the subsequent possibilities if you choose X and not Y, Z… or Y and not X, Z…etc.

  17. Rutching writes: “It is the non-Calvinist who defines that Calvinist use of “permit” or “allow” to mean “god **MAKES** that person do that specific sin.”

    John Calvin argues that a distinction between permitting and doing (i.e., causing or making) is a false invention. Thus for Calvin. God permitting Lucifer do X is synonymous with God determining, causing or making Lucifer do X.

    Institutes: Page 102
    “Hence a distinction has been invented between “doing” and “permitting” because to many it seemed altogether inexplicable how Satan and all the wicked are so under the hand and authority of God, that he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases…..”

    I assert that it is Calvin himself who is the author of the invention, where he equivocates “permitting” and “doing” to mean the same thing.
    A parent may grant permission to the child to ride his bicycle, is not the same thing as that parent determining, causing, or making the child ride the bicycle. And anyone who knows the foundation of Calvinism is Universal Divine Determinism knows, that Calvinism loads words and terms with deterministic meaning. Permitting and doing are two different conceptions in the standard English lexicon. However, Calvinism often equivocates them, along with other words and terms, in its crafting of subtle language.

    A Calvinist can tell someone “yes god loves you”. But what they really mean is God may give you earthly blessings, while his long term fate for you is a lake of fire. Dr. Jerry Walls enunciates this subtle use of language in his presentation: “whats wrong with Calvinism” on youtube.

    1. br.d writes, “Satan and all the wicked are so under the hand and authority of God, that he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases…..”

      I assert that it is Calvin himself who is the author of the invention, where he equivocates “permitting” and “doing” to mean the same thing.”

      Calvin uses the term “direct” to explain God’s control over events. God may “direct” the actions of people through direct action (e.g., pulling down the walls of Jericho, impregnating Mary) or by restraining people (e.g., not allowing Joseph’s brothers to kill Joseph) or not restraining people (e.g., not intervening in the stoning of Stephan). While you seem to be confused about this, I don’t see that Calvin was.

      1. br.d writes: I assert that it is Calvin himself who is the author of [equivocal inventions], where he equivocates “permitting” and “doing” to mean the same thing.” Br.d provides Calvin’s quote which clearly shows Calvin argues “permitting” and “doing” (i.e., making or causing) all are used by him to mean the same thing.

        Rhutchin answers “Calvin uses the term “direct” to explain God’s control over events”

        This is an excellent example. The answer seeks to avoid the clear evidence of Calvin’s equivocation, and attempts further evasion by moving from half precise language to increasingly ambiguous terms. Calvin is firstly a trained and schooled lawyer who knows how to couch his assertions within the shadows of PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY. And unfortunately his equivocal lawyer tree continues to bring forth fruit after its kind.

      2. br.d writes, “This is an excellent example. The answer seeks to avoid the clear evidence of Calvin’s equivocation, …”

        No, Calvin’s use of the word, “directs” in this instance avoids equivocation by not using a contested term. To show equivocation, you should be quoting Calvin using a disputed term – like “determine” – in a different sense but the same context as generally found in the literature.

      3. Please go back and read this thread again rhutchin, and take time to think each statement out thoroughly.

  18. Rhuchin writes: “the future is unsettled from man’s perspective but settled from God’s perspective.”

    I think what you are saying here is that the man’s perspective of “unsettledness” of the future, is actually an illusion.

    Its quite interesting to note that philosophical conceptions of truth and falsity, often turn on discerning whether a proposition is REAL or an ILLUSION. The Calvinist may look at an Arminian, Molinist or Open-Theist conception of free-will as an illusion accepted as real, and they in turn can look at Calvinist conceptions as illusions accepted as real.

    1. br.d writes, “I think what you are saying here is that the man’s perspective of “unsettledness” of the future, is actually an illusion.”

      God’s omniscience makes the future settled regardless how man views that future.

      Then, “Its quite interesting to note that philosophical conceptions of truth and falsity, often turn on discerning whether a proposition is REAL or an ILLUSION. The Calvinist may look at an Arminian, Molinist or Open-Theist conception of free-will as an illusion accepted as real, and they in turn can look at Calvinist conceptions as illusions accepted as real.”

      Yet, they don’t. Arminians agree with the Calvinists that God is omniscience. The Molinists agree with the Calvinists that the world God chose to create is settled. The Open Theist denies God’s knowledge of future events in order to get an unsettled future.

      1. If you use a standard VENN diagram which displays logical propositions graphically, you will get an illustration of how components of propositions are identified as REAL or as ILLUSIONS. That’s one of the reasons VENN diagrams are used. They really shine a flash-light on propositions that assert things as REAL which in fact don’t exist (which means the person who asserts them is asserting an illusion, without knowing its an illusion). The scripture refers to these as “imaginations”.

    2. BR.D,

      I spent some time directly explaining the logical relation/causal relation distinction to you last week. The Calvinist rhutchin provides a perfect example of how Calvinist err in their declarations concerning a “settled future” when he writes “God’s omniscience makes the future settled regardless how man views that future.”

      Recall Br.D. that God’s foreknowledge (His exhaustive knowledge of future events including those involving libertarian free will choices) has a LOGICAL RELATION not a causal relation to these future events. Put another way, God’s beliefs are true, because they correspond with events that will in fact take place. His beliefs are always true because they always correspond correctly with these events.

      Where Calvinists, open theists, and others err is that they ignore this distinction so that in their minds, God’s knowledge ***is*** causative of future events.

      But this is an error as God’s foreknowledge is not causative, it has no causal force, it has no causal relation with future events. The same is true of present events (i.e. God knows them exhaustively, but His knowledge of these events does not cause them to occur, does not bring them about, a perfect example being our sins, God knows the sins we are committing in the present, but his knowing about these sins does not cause these sins to occur, does not bring them about, because His knowledge of present events, like future events, DOES NOT CAUSE or bring about these events).

      Some people think, “Oh if God knows the future, if He knows what is going to happen, then those events must happen BECAUSE God knows them!” Note a person who makes this kind of declaration is speaking as if His knowledge is CAUSAL, His knowledge causes these events to occur as they occur. But it is not his knowledge that causes these events it is future causes that will bring about those future events. It is true that His beliefs as they are always true, correspond perfectly with these future events, but his beliefs do not cause these events to occur.

      I often use the example of how millions of us watched live as OJ was going down the Los Angeles freeways in that white Bronco trailed by lots of police cars. We watched it as it happened live. Our belief that OJ was in that Bronco going down those freeways was a true belief, but our belief DID NOT CAUSE THOSE EVENTS (our true belief did not cause the Bronco to go down the freeway, did not cause the Police cars to pursue the Bronco down the freeway, our true belief was not causative whatsoever with those events). People seem to have no problem understanding how our beliefs about those events were not causative at all, did not cause those events: and yet when it comes to God’s knowledge this thinking that knowledge alone does not cause events in the future seems to go out the window.

      Note the claim: “God’s omniscience makes the future settled regardless how man views that future.”

      God’s omniscience does not MAKE the future settled. Rather, future causes (including God’s actions) will bring about or cause these future events. Future causes will bring about or make those events occur. God’s knowledge in itself does not cause future events to occur, does not bring them about.
      In one sense the future is “settled” if we mean that God’s foreknowledge, His beliefs concerning the future events already exists in His mind [there is already a set of beliefs that corresponds perfectly with all future events that will in fact occur in God’s mind, that set of true beliefs has always existed in God’s mind, He has not learned these beliefs but has always had them in His mind/note this is the orthodox view of omniscience held across the Christian theological spectrum whether you are talking about Protestants, Catholics or Eastern Orthodox], He already knows everything.

      But His knowing does not MAKE these events occur, does not cause these future events, does not bring them about, does not “settle” the future.

      In this second sense of “settled”, it is ****these future causes***** (not God’s knowledge of future events) that will settle these future events. And there is no contradiction between the logical relation and causal relation when it comes to speaking of a “settled” future, they are different categories. Unfortunately, many ignore the distinction so they end up believing and claiming that God’s beliefs about the future, His omniscience CAUSES these future events to take place (when in fact His beliefs, His foreknowledge ****does not cause any event***** to take place). I have a few friends who are physicists and they have no problem understanding and affirming this distinction. Some Philosophers use this distinction (e.g. Kevin Timpe) when showing problems with calvinism/open theism. I don’t think it is that hard to understand, but perhaps that is because I love science and have lots of scientific friends and read and study physics for fun! 🙂

      1. You make excellent points Robert. And I neglected to thank you for your previous explanation. Yes I agree that divine foreknowledge has a logical relationship and not a causal relationship to future events. A good example I like is: Person_A can know that 1+1 = 2, but that doesn’t mean that Person_A caused 1+1=2. I believe William Lane Craig makes a similar distinction [youtube.com/watch?v=mXUMhSmeivE] where he points out that a conflation of foreknowledge with foreordination (i.e., causation) is foundational in Calvinism, and he disagrees with this aspect of the Calvinist’s conception of omniscience.

        He states “The free decisions of persons determines what foreknowledge God has of them”. So in Craig’s view God allows a person to freely determine an event, rather than that event event being determined (i.e., predestined) by God. The Calvinist has God as the determiner of all events universally, making it such that no determinative power exists except his own.

        On your statement concerning the LOGICAL relationship, Craig would seem to agree where he sights what he loosely calls a distinction between Logical priority and Chronological priority. “God’s knowledge is chronologically prior to an event which he foreknows, while the event is logically prior to God’s foreknowledge.”

      2. br.d writes, “a conflation of foreknowledge with foreordination (i.e., causation) is foundational in Calvinism, and [Craig] disagrees with this aspect of the Calvinist’s conception of omniscience.”

        I have not found that Calvinists confuse the two concepts.

        Then, “[Craig] states “The free decisions of persons determines what foreknowledge God has of them”.”

        If true, then Craig has God learning new things as people make decisions. That is not omniscience as there would always be something new for God to learn.

        Then “The Calvinist has God as the determiner of all events universally, making it such that no determinative power exists except his own.”

        In other words, Calvinists say that God is sovereign; the only sovereign.

        Then, “Craig would seem to agree where he sights what he loosely calls a distinction between Logical priority and Chronological priority. “God’s knowledge is chronologically prior to an event which he foreknows, while the event is logically prior to God’s foreknowledge.””

        This also sounds like a denial of omniscience.

      3. I think this is helpful, as it should help us both ascertain what you mean by omniscience. Perhaps as you are reading William Lane Craig, he will spell out with sound deductive reasoning, why he holds to the view that god can allow man to determine a choice without god determining that choice, while at the same time god’s omniscience can be infallible. It certainly like a god honoring impulse to say that god can do both. Craig is a highly inductive, and highly precise thinker. I’ll be interested if you find more in your current reading of him.

      4. br.d says:

        “You make excellent points Robert. And I neglected to thank you for your previous explanation. Yes I agree that divine foreknowledge has a logical relationship and not a causal relationship to future events.”

        Good then you will better be able to see the errors in statements made by calvinists and open theists regarding the future.

        “A good example I like is: Person_A can know that 1+1 = 2, but that doesn’t mean that Person_A caused 1+1=2.”

        I like this one because it is very precise and very clear. I have never seen anyone claim that since they have the true belief that 1 + 1 =2, that their true belief CAUSED 1 + 1 = 2 to occur! The reality is that whether or not it is God or us, true beliefs do not bring about events, do not cause events to occur (an exception, though they are in error on this are the mind science groups and some extreme charismatics who do believe that beliefs cause events to occur).

        “ I believe William Lane Craig makes a similar distinction [youtube.com/watch?v=mXUMhSmeivE] where he points out that a conflation of foreknowledge with foreordination (i.e., causation) is foundational in Calvinism, and he disagrees with this aspect of the Calvinist’s conception of omniscience.”

        Craig is correct that calvinists often conflate foreknowledge and foreordination, they are not the same and foreknowledge does not cause or bring about future events.

        “He states “The free decisions of persons determines what foreknowledge God has of them”. So in Craig’s view God allows a person to freely determine an event, rather than that event event being determined (i.e., predestined) by God. The Calvinist has God as the determiner of all events universally, making it such that no determinative power exists except his own.”

        That is a major difference between those who affirm libertarian free will and calvinists, those who affirm LFW believe that our choices are self-determined, caused by, or determined by, us. This means that if future events involve freely made choices in the libertarian sense, these events are brought about by us, not brought about by God’s prior knowledge that these events will in fact occur (i.e. His foreknowledge). As they are brought about by us, acting freely, we, not God are responsible for these choices (this becomes especially important when assigning blame and responsibility for sinful choices and actions). This also means that at times we are acting as the proximate cause of events.

        “On your statement concerning the LOGICAL relationship, Craig would seem to agree where he sights what he loosely calls a distinction between Logical priority and Chronological priority. “God’s knowledge is chronologically prior to an event which he foreknows, while the event is logically prior to God’s foreknowledge.””

        I believe you are correct on this, Craig is relying on the logical relation/causal relation distinction when he makes a distinction between logical priority and chronological priority.

        I note that everyone knows that both William Craig and Alvin Plantinga hold that God is omniscient and yet a certain person does not accept that and asks you to produce further evidence that they do. Don’t waste your time with this. You keep presenting some good and intelligent sources like Van Inwagen, Craig, Plantinga and these sources just keep getting twisted and misrepresented. And it is intentional as their statements are very clear.

        Based on the fact that you continue to interact with a certain person I ask you again Br.D: who is the bigger fool, the fool, or the one who thinks he can change the fool?

      5. All excellent points Robert! :-]
        I know rhutchin, for a long time, has been asserting that to reject determinism (i.e. Calvinism) is to reject omniscience.
        But he’s recently indicated he acknowledges, it is possible to hold to a biblical view of omniscience “simpliciter”, and not embrace determinism (i.e. Calvinism).

        I’m hoping some of the ad hominems and wolf attacks we’ve seen between parties here will not reappear.

        Thanks for taking the time and discipline to make your posts clear, analytical and disambiguized Rober!!
        Much appreciated. :-]

      6. br.d writes, “I know rhutchin, for a long time, has been asserting that to reject determinism (i.e. Calvinism) is to reject omniscience.”

        This is wrong. To reject determinism is not to reject omniscience. Omniscience deals with God’s knowledge of all things. Determinism deals with God’s knowledge of the causes of all things (among other things). It is not necessary to reject omniscience just because one rejects determinism – the rejection of determinism is the rejection of one all encompassing explanation for the causes of all things. Some people accept free will as a determiner of people’s individual actions and this entails discussion about the nature of free will.

      7. br.d writes, “you are saying that omniscience doesn’t prove determinism/Calvinism?”

        Calvinists, Arminians, Traditionalists and a host of others hold to omniscience. Obviously, omniscience does not prove any theology if opposing theologies hold to omniscience.

      8. Robert writrs, “God’s beliefs are true, because they correspond with events that will in fact take place. His beliefs are always true because they always correspond correctly with these events.

        Where Calvinists, open theists, and others err is that they ignore this distinction so that in their minds, God’s knowledge ***is*** causative of future events.”

        Calvinists also believe that “His beliefs are always true because they always correspond correctly with these events.” Thus, the future is settled from God’s perspective. Calvinists also agree that, “God’s omniscience does not MAKE the future settled.”

        That which Robert writes is essentially the same as Calvinists maintain.

  19. Rhutchin writes: “Adam sinned because he had the ability to chose freely to obey God or disobey God.”

    This is an excellent example of an assertion which is an ILLUSION.
    The “freely” referred to here doesn’t really exist.
    If you put these statements into a VENN diagram you would see it.

    god commands Adam and Eve to obey…and the Calvinist syllogism follows:

    Premise 1) god allows no alternative events to **EXIST** outside of what he decrees to **EXIST**
    Premise 2) god decrees that Adam and Eve will sin by disobeying his command
    FALSE CONCLUSION: Adam sinned because he had the ability to chose freely to obey God or disobey God.

    TRUE CONCLUSION.
    Adam sinned because God decreed Adam to sin, and did not allow any alternative Adamic choice/action to **EXIST**

    1. More precisely, the “obey or disobey” does not really exist, because it represents a direct contradiction to Premise 1.
      Now the Calvinist may want to assert here that God can make Adam’s obedience exist and NOT exist at the same time.
      But that would also be irrational because it would have God creating something that exists which doesn’t exist.

      This is a good example where Peter Van Inwagen’s NO CHOICE PRINCIPLE applies.
      In a causally determined world, (i.e., Calvinist world) either Adam’s choice to obey exists, or Adam’s choice to disobey exists, but they can’t both exist at the same time. In a causally determined world, only one single unique future can exist, and NO alternatives exist.

      1. br.d writes, ‘More precisely, the “obey or disobey” does not really exist, because it represents a direct contradiction to Premise 1…This is a good example where Peter Van Inwagen’s NO CHOICE PRINCIPLE applies.”

        Van Inwagen seems to attribute all things in a deterministic world to the laws of nature. The Scriptures attribute Adam’s actions to his nature. The issue here is whether Van Inwagen views the nature of man to be among his “laws of nature.” In a determined world, as described in the Scriptures, we know that all events are settled as God has perfect foreknowledge of those events. The issue concerns the manner in which these events are brought about. If God is omniscient, then Van Inwagen is correct – NO alternatives [to God’s omniscience] exist.

  20. Rhutchin: In other words, in God’s omniscience, Adam sins and God had decreed not to interfere to prevent Adam choosing to sin.

    You need to fully think these things through logically rhutchin.
    For the Calvinist god’s decrees are immutable (i.e., unchangeable). Logically god is not going to interfere with or prevent an event which he immutably decreed to occur. So the view that god can decree A and then interfere with or prevent A, is logically irrational because it is a direct contraction of the immutability claim. Its like asserting that god will change something that he has made infallibly unchangeable.

    For god to give Adam the ability to obey or not obey would entail two possible alternatives, which Calvinism rejects.
    So then to “obey or not obey” is an illusion. ( if one is to be a logically consistent Calvinist).

  21. Rhuchin: The issue here is whether Van Inwagen views the nature of man to be among his “laws of nature.” In a determined world, as described in the Scriptures, we know that all events are settled as God has perfect foreknowledge of those events. The issue concerns the manner in which these events are brought about. If God is omniscient, then Van Inwagen is correct – NO alternatives [to God’s omniscience] exist.

    First address the logical contradiction. God cannot make an event exist and not exist at the same time. Within the Calvinistic world in which no alternatives exist, for Adam to obey *OR* not obey, represents alternatives which (within Calvinism) do not exist. So to assert that God could decree to allow Adam to obey or disobey is irrational (for a consistent Calvinist). Where god decrees Adam to disobey, Adam’s obedience does not exist. god cannot leave Adam free to do something that does not exist.

    Then: “The issue concerns the manner in which these events are brought about”
    This fails to address the underlying truth.
    X cannot be brought about where X (has not, cannot, does not) exist.

    Now on Van Inwagen’s reference to “laws of nature”. These are simply a reference to things as they exist in the world. For example, laws of physics, and the sin nature of man. All of which, ( in Calvinism) are fixed at the foundation of the world by decrees. More troubling for the Calvinist, with Van Inwagen’s NO CHOICE PRINCIPLE is the recognition that Calvin has god judging man for human choices while creating a world in which human choices don’t exist…..thus NO CHOICE is what exists. In other words, god judges man for things that don’t exist.

    1. br.d writes, “First address the logical contradiction.”

      What is the logical contradiction? As you state, ‘God cannot make an event exist and not exist at the same time.” Thus, in God’s foreknowledge all events exist. When you state, “Within the Calvinistic world in which no alternatives exist, for Adam to obey *OR* not obey, represents alternatives which (within Calvinism) do not exist,” you move from God’s knowledge of events to the causes of those events. Adam is the cause of his choice to eat the fruit. That God knew the outcome does not bring it about. However, God also knew the external causes that would influence, and even determine, Adam’s ultimate choice. So, are we to deny God’s foreknowledge of all future events and even of their causes? Do you want to do that? Yet, if Adam is the final arbiter of his actions, then he is alone responsible for those choices and is said to be free in choosing. If you have a complaint, it is not against Calvinism – you may choose to deny God’s foreknowledge to avoid the Calvinist conclusion.

      Then, “Now on Van Inwagen’s reference to “laws of nature”. These are simply a reference to things as they exist in the world. ”

      In the few snippets I have read from van Inwagen, the “laws of nature” are that which determines all things are equivalent to “fate.”

      1. Lets try again…..this doesn’t have to be mysterious or complicated:
        god commands Adam and Eve to obey…and the Calvinist syllogism follows:

        Premise 1) god allows no alternative events to **EXIST** outside of what he decrees to **EXIST**
        Premise 2) Nothing comes to pass unless god, at the foundation of the world, decrees it to come to pass
        Premise 3) It came to pass that Adam sinned by disobeying God’s command
        Conclusion: Adam sinned because God, at the foundation of the world decreed Adam to sin, and God did not allow any alternative Adamic choice/action to **EXIST**

        Now……In order to reject the conclusion, you must reject at least one of the premises.
        Do you reject the conclusion?
        If so, which premise(s) do you reject?

      2. br.d writes, “Premise 1) god allows no alternative events to **EXIST** outside of what he decrees to **EXIST**”

        For completeness, it should be thus:

        Premise 1 – Because God is omniscient; all future outcomes are certain.
        Premise 1a – God decrees certain outcomes as necessary through direct action by Himself.
        Premise 1b – God decrees certain outcomes as necessary through the free actions of His creation.
        Premise 1c – God’s omniscience is immutable allowing no outcomes to **EXIST** except those known to Him.
        Premise 2) Nothing comes to pass unless God, at the foundation of the world, decrees it to come to pass per 1a and 1b
        Premise 3) It came to pass that Adam freely chose to sin by disobeying God’s command
        Conclusion: Adam sinned because God, at the foundation of the world decreed that Adam be free to sin, and God decreed not to intervene to allow any alternative Adamic choice/action to **EXIST**

        I’ll go along with the above. If there is a problem, the problem arises because God is omniscient.

      3. I don’t think you realized it but, the premises statements you wrote happen to be classic statements for theological fatalism.
        However, its interesting that you didn’t allow yourself to address the previous syllogism!! :-]
        Not to case dispersions, but to hope you will take that up with the Lord.

      4. br.d writes, “I don’t think you realized it but, the premises statements you wrote happen to be classic statements for theological fatalism.”

        Theological fatalism has an all-knowing, perfectly wise God in control of that which He created. Can’t beat that!

  22. I just remembered something that Alvin Platntinga stated concerning Calvinism’s determinist world, and the assertion that Adam is supposedly free to both obey or disobey. Plantinga likens this to locking a man up in a prison cell and then asserting he is free to leave anytime he chooses. The reality is, that he is constrained by being locked in the prison. The assertion that he is free to leave is false, because his freedom to leave doesn’t exist. To believe he is free to leave is to believe in an imaginary freedom. Thus (for the consistent Calvinist) to believe that Adam was free to both obey or disobey is to believe an imaginary freedom.

    1. br.d writes, “Thus (for the consistent Calvinist) to believe that Adam was free to both obey or disobey is to believe an imaginary freedom.”

      That’s fine so long as we understand that the repudiation of that position requires the denial of God’s omniscience. This is not a issue about Calvinism; it is an issue about God’s omniscience. So, why don’t you address the real issue here – omniscience?

      1. Hi Rhutchin, can you make a deductive case, using sound logic, following the rules of sound logic, to give clear evidence why William Lane Craig or Alvin Plantinga statements/positions reject divine omniscience? Give it a try.

      2. br.d writes, “can you make a deductive case, using sound logic, following the rules of sound logic, to give clear evidence why William Lane Craig or Alvin Plantinga statements/positions reject divine omniscience?”

        I don’t think they necessarily reject divine omniscience. I agree with Craig that omniscience makes future events certain but not necessary. Where the necessity of future events arises from the actions of the individual, that individual is free in choosing those actions even where alternatives are not consistent with God’s omniscience. You will have to refer to Craig and Plantinga to resolve your issues with their views of divine omniscience and the existence of alternatives.

      3. Hi Roger, Would you say that you have modified your view on omniscience to be more Molinist?

      4. brianwagner asks, “Would you say that you have modified your view on omniscience to be more Molinist?”

        As I understand the current thinking in Molinism, it is a general concept that is relatively undeveloped. It proposes that God could conceive all possible worlds that He could create and then choose that one unique world that He did create. God’s omniscience includes knowledge of everything that He could have created and a perfect knowledge of that world which He specifically did create. I don’t think Molinism resolves anything. It doesn’t seem to work with your system. Other than that, I don’t see Molinism distinguishing an omniscience that is any different than ordinary omniscience.

      5. So it appears your answer to my question is “no”, Roger. I was just wondering.

        You just said – “It [Molinism] proposes that God could conceive all possible worlds that He could create and then choose that one unique world that He did create”. That to me seems to be a different omniscience than Calvinism for it proposes a change in God’s thinking to make that one choice instead of what I perceive is your view of omniscience, and a favorite among Calvinists, that though God’s power could make other possible worlds, His immutable omniscience could not conceive of making another, for He is locked into only making this one so-called “perfect” one that reflects His will, and therefore He could not make such a decision as the Molinist proposes, for there are not other possibilities, in reality, only counterfactuals tied to His omnipotence, but not His omniscience.

        These are two different views of omniscience, in my view, even if you don’t want to admit it. 🙂 I just was interested in knowing if you had changed to the Molinist view of it, for sometimes when I read your words it sounds like you have.

      6. Ok now they don’t reject omniscience. Glad to hear it….that has been my position all along. On their view concerning NO alternatives, that view is logically entailed by determinism, which they all reject. And I don’t see any logical inconsistency in their analysis. But I’m glad to hear you now acknowledge that divine omniscience is logically coherent for a non-deterministic view! PROGRESS!!! :-]

      7. br.d writes, “Ok now they don’t reject omniscience.”

        Well, it is really difficult to tell. I have been to the Reasonable Faith site a few times seeking Craig’s view on omniscience and how his view relates to future events. I haven’t found anything substantive. So, I really don’t know his view of omniscience. However, based on his advocacy of the Molinist system, I don’t understand his harsh view of Calvinism. I have searched for internet sources for something Plantinga has said about omniscience and have also come up empty. This is not unusual – while many profess to believe that God is omniscient, no one ready addresses the logical impacts of that belief – for example to respond to the questions you raise. Only the Calvinists seem to do this and the Open Theists – who concluded that omniscience does not work for a free-will based theological system. So, I really don’t know what these guys really believe about omniscience. Maybe you have run across such information.

      8. Most of the noted thinkers throughout Christian history addressing the issue appear to have sighted it as having to do specifically with foreknowledge rather than omniscience. I believe this is because they pin-point foreknowledge as the primary component of omniscience. The history has Augustine, Aquinus, Scotus, Ockham, Molina, and many up through history, all contribute in addressing the logical implications of divine foreknowledge, fatalism and free will, with Plantinga and Van Inwagen noted as providing noteworthy contributions today. Why don’t you see if you can get your hands on a copy of The oxford handbook of free will. It attempts to provide a charitable review of all of the arguments of philosophers of religion, who hold to various positions.

      9. br.d writes, ” Why don’t you see if you can get your hands on a copy of The oxford handbook of free will.”

        Does it address the interaction between omniscience and free will? My guess is that it does not, else you would be able to contribute more to recent discussions than you have. From my limited efforts to identify how people like Craig, Plantinga and others resolve issues between free will and omniscience, my conclusion is that no one has really delved into this to any degree.

      10. rutchin: “From my limited efforts to identify how people like Craig, Plantinga and others resolve issues between free will and omniscience, my conclusion is that no one has really delved into this to any degree.”

        Then it would be reasonable to assume, there must be a reason why Christian philosophers throughout history have not delved into logical ramifications of “omniscience”, while each have made contributions on tackling the logical ramifications of foreknowledge – fatalism – freewill. And the later has been historically sighted as a relevant issue to address.

      11. br.d writes, “Then it would be reasonable to assume, there must be a reason why Christian philosophers throughout history have not delved into logical ramifications of “omniscience”, while each have made contributions on tackling the logical ramifications of foreknowledge – fatalism – freewill. And the later has been historically sighted as a relevant issue to address.”

        Yes, as far as I can tell. I am going through parts of a book, “Predestination and Free Will,” where all four parties seem to hold to omniscience but otherwise disagree, and nobody really discusses it – omniscience always seems to be the elephant in the room that everyone ignores. When people do start delving into omniscience and how it impacts everything else in theology, we start to see people drifting toward Open Theism and the position that they cannot allow God to know the future as completely settled.

      12. Since you referenced knowing the future as a point on which different views diverge, perhaps the key issue is foreknowledge.

  23. rhutchin:
    Premise 1 – Because God is omniscient; all future outcomes are certain.
    Premise 1a – God decrees certain outcomes as necessary through direct action by Himself.
    Premise 1b – God decrees certain outcomes as necessary through the free actions of His
    Premise 2) Nothing comes to pass unless God, at the foundation of the world, decrees it to come to pass per 1a and 1b

    Here is another observation. You consistently believe that the omniscience you are referring to, is not omniscience “qualified Calvinistically” (i.e., associated with decrees). But your syllogism clearly requires them co-equated. So I was right all along. Your meaning for omniscience is a Calvinistic meaning. Classic Calvinism equates foreknowledge and foreodination as co-equals in effect. And this resolves to them being co-equals in meaning. This is why you believe William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, and Peter Van Inwagen’s analysis of determinism rejects divine omniscience. What they actually reject is determinism. And since you equate determinism with omniscience, if they reject determinism then for you, they reject omniscience. Do you see it?

    I suspect it works this way: For the Calvinist, omniscience is to decrees, as apples are to fruit. In the language of logic, Fruit is a category, and apples are a component within that category. Calvinistic determinism is a category. And within that category resides divine omniscience. Omniscience in that case functions as a component of and within determinism. So by virtue of that fact, your conception of omniscience is not omniscience “simpliciter”, but omniscience “qualified Calvinistically/Deterministically because it has its existence within determinism.

    This is a good learning experience for me also. :-]

    1. Not wishing to get too involved in the discussion, but enjoying your interchanges (Roger, Br. D, and Robert). Here is a helpful article by Wm Lane Craig giving his view of Time/Eternity and Omniscience. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/god-time-and-eternity I agree with Roger that once you believe God can only choose, (or can only know from some other source), a settled future, either because it is inherent to His nature, or a primeval choice between possible completed worlds within His infinite understanding (or from some other source), foreknowledge becomes unalterable.

      And however you might want to link cause and free will, the outcome will be the same, nothing is able to be changed in that divine knowledge by God or man, and any changes that we think we have, because we feel we have a free choice, or because we feel that God has a free choice to make changes to what His foreknowledge told him before creation, are only an illusion. And all of Scripture’s revelation that God is still making decisions, are only anthropomorphic expressions that God made because for some reason He didn’t want to come right out and say it has all been everlastingly decided (or known from some other source).

      1. Thanks Brian!
        Yes, I would agree. If God foreknows that [X] will infallibly occur at Time [t2], then [X] will infallibly occur at Time [t2]. In such case, [X @ t2] has the potentiality of existence, and [NOT X @ t2] has NO potentiality of existence. So then, for me to believe that [NOT X @ t2] has potentiality of existence, is to believe an illusion, or perhaps an imagination. BTW: In the context of the potential existence of future events, terms like: “settled”, “certain”, “immutable”, “inevitable”, etc, all seem to be synonymous with “FATED”. Would you agree?

        Thanks for the WLC link Brian….I’ll check it out. :-]

      2. Brian the resident open theist here says:

        “I agree with Roger that once you believe God can only choose, (or can know from some other source), a settled future, either because it is inherent to His nature, or a primeval choice between possible completed worlds within His infinite understanding (or from some other source), foreknowledge becomes unalterable.”

        Note that last line “foreknowledge becomes unalterable”. By its very definition (i.e. foreknowledge means that God foreknows an event that will in fact take place, not an event that may or may not occur, but an event that will in fact take place) foreknowledge has to be “unalterable”. No one believes that foreknowledge is alterable. If God knows what will in fact take place (which is affirmed by everyone except open theists like Brian), then those events are not alterable.

        Now the problem in Wagner’s thinking (and he is not unique in this as other open theists have the same problem) is that he thinks that since foreknowledge is **unalterable** this somehow negates libertarian free will. As if Joe could choose to do differently than what God foreknows he will in fact choose to do, so God’s foreknowledge is alterable based upon Joe’s choice. But (and we have been through this before) this misses the nature of foreknowledge and freely made choices.

        Foreknowledge does not involve what Joe might or might not do in situation X, foreknowledge/to know before involves WHAT JOE WILL IN FACT CHOOSE TO DO in situation X. If Joe will in fact choose to go to the soccer game tomorrow, then that is what God foreknows he will do. If Joe will in fact choose not to go to the soccer game tomorrow, then that is what God foreknows he will do.

        By the nature of the world as God has made it, contradictions are not actualized so Joe cannot both go to the game tomorrow and not go to the game tomorrow in the same sense (he will choose to go or he will choose not to go). Whatever he ends up choosing to do (what I call the actual outcome), THAT event is what God foreknows Joe will choose to do. As I have said before the nature of freely choosing involves a time period BEFORE the actual outcome occurs in which the person, here Joe could really choose to go to the soccer game or choose not to go to the soccer game (before he makes his actual choice, he can choose either, he has the ability and capacity to make either choice, assuming he is choosing freely and his choice is not determined). Now the nature of choosing also means that once the choice is made it becomes an actual outcome, and this actual outcome cannot be changed (cf. once you ring a bell, you cannot then unring the bell, the nature of reality does not allow for that to occur). Likewise, we cannot choose to do otherwise than we will in fact choose to do. The ability to do otherwise exists before the actual outcome. Once the actual outcome occurs a person cannot do otherwise or choose otherwise than he in fact chose to do.

        People fail to make these distinctions so that they then are afraid that God foreknowing what the actual outcome is, knowing beforehand what you will in fact choose to do, eliminates free will. But it does not as free will existed in the time period before the actual outcome occurs (again before he makes the choice to go to the game Joe can choose either to go to the game or not go to the game; but once he makes the choices, that is it, that choice, that actual outcome is what God foreknows he will choose to do).

        Besides failing to make the proper distinctions, some make the mistake of believing or assuming that God’s foreknowledge is causative (but it is not, God’s knowledge has a logical not a causal relation with events including future events).

        “And however you might want to link cause and free will, the outcome will be the same, nothing is able to be changed in that divine knowledge by God or man, and any changes that we think we have, because we feel we have a free choice, or because we feel that God has a free choice to make changes to what His foreknowledge told him before creation, are only an illusion.”

        Here Brian fails to make the proper distinctions. It is true “the outcome will be the same” (i.e. whatever we in fact choose to do, that is the actual outcome, we cannot do otherwise than that actual choice that we will make). Brian goes on to say that “nothing is able to be changed in that divine knowledge by God”, and why would anything be changed if God’s foreknowledge is of actual outcomes that will in fact occur in the future? If those are choices we will in fact make, then those are choices that God foreknows we will make (because again foreknowledge by its nature is not of what Joe might or might not do with regards to going to the soccer game, but what Joe will in fact choose to do).

        The ability to choose to do otherwise does not change actual outcomes, it cannot and it is a category mistake to believe that it does. The time frame when we can do otherwise EXISTS PRIOR TO THE ACTUAL OUTCOME, PRIOR TO THE ACTUAL CHOICE BEING MADE. The actual outcome occurs after we make our choice. Put another way possibility precedes actuality or actualizing, in time. First we have the choice, then we make the choice.

        “And all of Scripture’s revelation that God is still making decisions, are only anthropomorphic expressions that God made because for some reason He didn’t want to come right out and say it has all been everlastingly decided (or known from some other source).”

        When God operates in time, He will have and make decisions, He will have and make choices. Where God is different than us is that while we have and make choices in time, we do not know what those choices will be before they occur and God does know what they will be before they occur via foreknowledge (if He foreknows future events then He knows how we will in fact choose, He knows the actual outcomes before they are actualized by our choices). And again as long as you keep in mind that the ability to do otherwise (i.e. libertarian free will) exists prior to the actual outcome, you won’t have problems conceiving how God foreknows all actual outcomes and yet libertarian free will existed before those actual outcomes in events that involved libertarian free will.

        Now as to HOW God knows the future actual outcomes that will occur, we do not know and this has not been revealed. But THAT He knows the future seems to be revealed in scripture (properly interpreted).

      3. Robert writes, “Now as to HOW God knows the future actual outcomes that will occur, we do not know and this has not been revealed.”

        We actually do know. All the prophecies reflect what God says He will bring about in the course of time. The HOW is that God acts to bring about the prophetic outcome. In other instance, we know another HOW – God restrains people in their sin (for example, God restrained Joseph’s brothers from killing him; God protected Israel and kept the Assyrians under restraint; then we have Satan’s complaint about God protecting Job). In other cases, God determines what happens by not doing anything – the stoning of Stephan is an example. In these cases, God knows future events because His behavior is integral to those events coming about.

        The dispute is over the extent to which God determines future events by His actions or lack of action. Calvinists say that God determines all future events, thus, God knows all future events; others say it is less.

      4. “Calvinists say that God determines all future events, thus, God knows all future events; others say it is less.”

        This is one half of what Calvinists say, and is the half they typically say using EXPLICIT language, and usually when in offense mode.

        The other half is its NEGATION. And this half is typically said using carefully scripted NON-EXPLICIT, INFERENTIAL language.
        And usually found in the Calvinists defense mode, (when he’s being questioned):

        “God can make X determined and not-determined, settled and unsettled, exist and not-exist, true and false, at the same time.

        To observe this process, one just needs to:
        1) Be watchful for the two modes of language, (offensive vs. defensive)
        2) Be watchful for the explicit proposition
        3) Be watchful for the switch to defensive mode
        4) Be watchful for arguments which result in the explicit proposition’s negation.

        The whole process is quite entertaining!! :-]

      5. Hi Robert! Merry Christmas! Those who say, what you did, need to explain something, for I am having difficulty seeing the logic.

        You said, “God does know what they will be before they occur via foreknowledge (if He foreknows future events then He knows how we will in fact choose, He knows the actual outcomes before they are actualized by our choices).”

        Here’s what they need to explain… Where did that foreknowledge come from? Was it eternally in God’s omniscience before creation? Did He create that foreknowledge before creation by making a choice within His omniscience? Or was it a knowledge that came from some other source and joined with His omniscience sometime before creation? Or is there another idea about the source of that foreknowledge that I’m missing? Thanks.

      6. Brian,

        “Those who say, what you did, need to explain something, for I am having difficulty seeing the logic.”

        There is no need for me to explain HOW God knows.

        As I have said before, no one knows HOW God knows. We may speculate about it, but we really do not know. I have shared the THAT/HOW distinction in the past (and as usual when something does not fit what you want to accept or believe you simply ignore it).

        We know THAT God performs actions in the world. At the same time, as God is a Spirit with no physical body, no senses, no brain, etc. we do not know HOW God acts. Likewise, when it comes to God knowing things, we know that He knows because He reveals in scripture that He knows things such as: everything about us, the human heart, the thoughts and plans of men, what we will say before it is on our tongue, what will occur in the future as He prophecies about future events, etc. etc.. At the same time, we do not know HOW God knows what He knows (He has no eyes, so he does not gain knowledge from seeing events, he does not gain His knowledge via testimony/the words of others as we do, etc. etc. etc.). As we do not know HOW God knows there is no need for me to explain HOW He knows what He knows.

        And there certainly is no need for me to justify his omniscience to an open theist who does not believe that God **is** omniscient.

        You try to justify or rationalize your unbelief in God’s omniscience by claiming the ordinary definition of omniscience held by virtually all Christians across all theological traditions (i.e. Catholics affirm it, Eastern Orthodox affirm it, Protestants affirm it) is false and unacceptable. You further claim this ordinary definition is driven by philosophy rather than scripture (again this is false as most people that I know believe that God is omniscient because they derive this conclusion from what He says in scripture, they are not even acquainted with what philosophers say on this).

        I am under no obligation to satisfy your “logic” (which is false and based upon open theism and the presuppositions of open theism). You will always have difficulty seeing the logic of omniscience as you choose to reject God’s omniscience.

        I also do not see any way of answering the questions you propose as they presuppose that we can know HOW God knows.

        “Here’s what they need to explain…”

        We will never explain things ****to your satisfaction*****.

        It is just like explaining things to the “satisfaction” of an atheist who is an intentional skeptic regarding Christianity (no matter what you say, no matter how logical you are, makes no difference, nothing you say will be to the satisfaction of the intentional skeptic). Likewise, if someone does not believe in God’s omniscience (such as you) they can always argue with anything that is presented to them, always say “but . . . .” and nothing will ever satisfy their unbelief, their “logic”.

        “Where did that foreknowledge come from?”

        In order to know where God gets His knowledge wouldn’t I need to understand HOW knows things? But I do not: so how am I going to answer this question?

        “Was it eternally in God’s omniscience before creation?”

        Again, asking a question about God’s knowledge when again we do not know HOW He knows what He knows. Most Christians believe that God knows all that He knows all the time (i.e. He is omniscient, always was omniscient so He knows all things and has always known all things).Or put another way God’s knowledge is inherent, He never learns, He always knows everything. Just as he inherently exists (He is self-existent), likewise He is inherently omniscient (unless of course you are an open theist who believes that God gains knowledge, learns things as history goes along; note Thomas Oord a major open theist has taken his open theism presuppositions to their logical end and now holds to process theology).

        “Did He create that foreknowledge before creation by making a choice within His foreknowledge?”

        This question is bizarre, it seems to ask how is God’s foreknowledge developed? Is it a created thing before creation? As if God’s knowledge is some created thing. Bizarre, God does not create His knowledge, His knowledge is not a created thing.

        Perhaps you should take the lead of Greg Stafford the prominent Jehovah’s Witness apologist and theologian (i.e. Stafford believes that God is inherently omniscient, but in order to make room for libertarian free will, God puts his omniscience aside and operates as if He is not omniscient). Open theists like Brian do not believe that God’s omniscience is compatible with libertarian free will. So they choose to discard omniscience to preserve LFW. Calvinists have the same unbelief in the compatibility of omniscience and LFW so they discard LFW to preserve omniscience.

        “Or was it a knowledge that came from some other source and joined with His omniscience sometime before creation?”

        In order to know what the source of His knowledge is, wouldn’t we need to know HOW He knows what He knows? We don’t know that, so . . . It’s like asking where does God’s power to do actions come from, does it come from another source, where does it come from?

        “Or is there another idea about the source of that foreknowledge that I’m missing?”

        You are missing something all right, you are missing the fact that we know THAT God knows things, but we do not know HOW God knows things. I explained this to you before and it was ignored, so I fully expect you to ignore it now as well.

        It is interesting that rhutchin your pet project also believes that we know HOW God knows:

        “We actually do know. All the prophecies reflect what God says He will bring about in the course of time. The HOW is that God acts to bring about the prophetic outcome. In other instance, we know another HOW – God restrains people in their sin (for example, God restrained Joseph’s brothers from killing him; God protected Israel and kept the Assyrians under restraint; then we have Satan’s complaint about God protecting Job). In other cases, God determines what happens by not doing anything – the stoning of Stephan is an example. In these cases, God knows future events because His behavior is integral to those events coming about.”

        Nothing here explains HOW God knows what he knows. Nothing here explains HOW He acts, only that He does act.

        You guys are two peas in a pod. 🙂

      7. Robert – You just said: “Or put another way God’s knowledge is inherent, He never learns, He always knows everything.” It sounds like you just dogmatically answered your “how” question that you said cannot be answered. But maybe I am missing something. Thanks.

        Also, I meant to say “within His omniscience” not “within His foreknowledge”. Sorry for the confusion.

      8. Brian,

        You really don’t get it do you? Or better, you don’t want to get it, you are intentionally ignorant on this.

        The Bible presents God as knowing everything. God knowing everything logically means he does not learn anything, he does not gain new knowledge. God is also eternal or always existing. If He knows everything and has always existed, it seems logical to conclude that He knows it all inherently (He had to know it all even when there was no existing creation, if He knew it all when nothing else existed, then it seems that His knowledge is inherent, this says nothing about HOW He knows).

        “Robert – You just said: “Or put another way God’s knowledge is inherent, He never learns, He always knows everything.” It sounds like you just dogmatically answered you “how” question that you said cannot be answered.”

        Now as to HOW He knows everything, and has always known everything, never learned anything, I do not understand how that works. But that does not bother me much, as there are some things about God I clearly do not know (including how he is self-existent, how he knows, how he acts, how he can exist as three persons yet one being: all of these things are affirmed repeatedly in scripture, but as to HOW this actually works, HOW it occurs, I do not know and neither do you neither does anyone else.). Now we can speculate about HOW God knows what He knows, but we really do not know.

      9. Robert, I think it may be you that really doesn’t get it! 🙂 You said, God doesn’t learn. That is a “how” description behind the definition of omniscience that you believe. I am not saying that I believe that God learns in a way that increases His understanding, but I just want you to be more perceptive in your attempt to deflect by saying, “how” God has omniscience is unknown. You speak pretty dogmatically about “how” His omniscience works and doesn’t work.

        Let me also ask you if you have any problem with God’s omniscience including contradictions, like His foreknowledge always knowing everything in the future as settled and His foreknowledge also knowing some things in the future as not settled. Which is it in your definition of foreknowledge or is it both and thus contradictory? If you defer to logical and causal to try to escape this contradiction, will you at least admit that you are again defining “how” His foreknowledge works?

        I also would like you to tell me what John meant when he said that you and I also “know all things” (1John 2:20). Doesn’t such a phrase used for humans cause some pause in just accepting a traditional definition for divine omniscience from the use of that same phrase for God? You need to admit that the traditional definition of omniscience, which includes immutable foreknowledge for all things, really came from philosophy and not from Scripture. If it came from Scripture, it would have to take into account somehow the meaning that comes from the use of such a phrase – “knows all things” used of humans.

      10. brianwagner asks of Robert, “Let me also ask you if you have any problem with God’s omniscience including contradictions, like His foreknowledge always knowing everything in the future as settled and His foreknowledge also knowing some things in the future as not settled.”

        Harking back to your earlier comment, “And all of Scripture’s revelation that God is still making decisions, are only anthropomorphic expressions that God made because for some reason He didn’t want to come right out and say it has all been everlastingly decided (or known from some other source).”

        If God only knows that Adam could eat the fruit or not eat the fruit, then God would learn something from Adam’s actual decision to eat the fruit. Thus, God would not be omniscient – His knowledge would be limited in not knowing specific information not available to Him until certain events (decisions people make) occur. If God is omniscient, then He has no need to learn anything more than what He already knows and would not learn something He did not already know. Therefore, when the Scriptures speak of God still making decisions, we conclude that these “are only anthropomorphic expressions that God made because for some reason He didn’t want to come right out and say it has all been everlastingly decided (or known from some other source).”

        That God does know future events, or that the future is settled, is clear from such Scriptures as:

        “Then the LORD said to [Abraham], “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions.” (Genesis 15)

        ““Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (Acts 2)

        “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” (2 Peter 3)

        Your argument is that God may know some events in the future as settled but all of the future has not been settled and God does not know everything that will happen in the future even though God knows what can happen. The point here is that you disagree that God is omniscient in the sense that I and Robert use the term.

      11. Merry Christmas Roger! Thank you for the Christmas present! You said – “The point here is that you disagree that God is omniscient in the sense that I and Robert use the term.” 🙂

      12. Brian Wagner wrote:

        “Merry Christmas Roger! Thank you for the Christmas present! You said – “The point here is that you disagree that God is omniscient in the sense that I and Robert use the term.”

        I don’t see how rhutchin saying that I and he share the same definition of omniscience is a “Christmas present”.

        Anyone who reads the posts on this blog regularly knows that Wagner is an open theist and that his definition of omniscience is very different from what everybody else holds to (and that “everybody else” includes Calvinists such as rhutchin and non-Calvinists such as me).

        This is nothing new as we have all seen Brian Wagner repeatedly attacking the ordinary view of omniscience here and wanting us to reject it and instead adopt his false open theism definition of omniscience. So obviously even Calvinists and non-Calvinists who hold the ordinary view of omniscience are going to agree on the definition: so how is that stating something new? It is not, it is stating something that has been clear here on this blog for years (i.e. Wagner argues for his false open theism definition of omniscience and rejects what everybody else including myself and rhutchin hold regarding the definition of omniscience).

      13. Speaking for myself, I’ve never had the impression, Brian was attempting to persuade my opinion on omniscience ….or anything else..for that matter…that I can remember. I often find Brian a careful thinker and appreciate his charitable nature, and especially his love for, and dedication to, the text of scripture, even where there are differences in beliefs with others. I think Jesus is behind that….all good things come from above – the Father of light! 😀

      14. Thank you for the kind words Br. D. For those who may not have figured out why I called Roger’s statement a Christmas present, it is because previously he would normally say that I “denied the omniscience of God.” Here he affirms it is just a disagreement between us in the “sense” of that “term”! woo hoo… 🙂

      15. Brian Wagner writes:

        “For those who may not have figured out why I called Roger’s statement a Christmas present, it is because previously he would normally say that I “denied the omniscience of God.” Here he affirms it is just a disagreement between us in the “sense” of that “term”!”

        Wagner ****does**** deny that God is omniscient.

        Where the rest of us believe that God knows what we will choose to do in the future (He knows not only what we possibly could choose to do, but what we will in fact choose to do) Wagner denies this. He does not believe this. Hence He denies that God is omniscient.

        Now if you want to allow open theists such as Wagner to redefine the definition of omniscience (so that it includes not knowing what our future freely made choices will actually be) that’s not a good decision. If that is what we ought to mean by God being omniscient then God’s omniscience includes His NOT KNOWING WHAT OUR FUTURE CHOICES WILL BE: that is a pretty warped and defective definition of omniscience.

        If you want to go by THAT definition then God is omniscient even though He does not know what we will actually choose to do in the future. In adopting this position you also agree with prominent cultists on omniscience. Many here are probably completely unaware that both Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses also posit that God is omniscient and yet He does not know what we will choose to do in the future.

        It should be noted that this definition conflicts with the fact that many times in scripture God tells us exactly what people will freely choose to do in the future.

        And keep in mind that Wagner repeatedly claims that we ought to base our definition of omniscience on scripture not philosophy. Ok, then if we do so we have to deny his preferred definition of omniscience and hold the one that everybody holds already (i.e. that affirming that God is omniscient means that He does in fact know what we will freely choose to do in the future before we make those future choices).

        I used to deal with cults a lot and they often present our terms but with very different definitions and meanings. For example – JW’s that redefined Jesus as “the Son of God and first begotten of God”. Some might be happy and say it is great that they affirm that Jesus is the Son of God and the begotten Son of God. Sorry, they also deny that He is God by claiming He is the first creation of God. That is what they mean by “begotten.”

        Likewise, if someone says it is great that open theists affirm that God is omniscient. I say sorry, their definition of omniscience has God not knowing what people will in fact choose to do in the future. Open theists mean something very different from what the rest of us mean by “omniscience”. The fact that Wagner attacks the ordinary view of omniscience claiming that it is derived from philosophy and not scripture ought to be a clear red light that He is using terms very differently than the rest of us are.

        Now some seem to lose their discernment about what people are actually saying because those folks **seem so nice**. Need I discuss the Mormons on this? They are some of the nicest folks you will ever meet, really, really nice people. But their beliefs are false, sometimes even bizarre.

      16. brianwagner writes, ” Here he affirms it is just a disagreement between us in the “sense” of that “term”! woo hoo… :-)”

        Oh, Brian!!!! You are so easy to please. Of course, there is that massive, unreconcilable chasm between the two senses!

      17. brianwagner writes, “I also would like you to tell me what John meant when he said that you and I also “know all things” (1John 2:20).”

        Rather than being a statement about omniscience, this verse can be viewed in context to a knowledge of all things related to the subject under discussion in the immediate verses – John is not telling them anything that they don’t already know.

      18. So Roger, maybe phrases like “knows all things” when used in Scriptures for God also must be viewed in context and defined by it, without saying those contextual modifications to the definition of divine omniscience are anthropomorphic.

        We say God is all powerful, but we allow Scripture to define that to include He is not able to lie. We say He is eternal, but we allow Scripture to define that as a linear progression where the past no longer exists for Him and us. We say He is immutable, but one person of the Godhead “became flesh” which was a change for the whole Godhead to experience. So I have no problem allowing Scripture help me define omniscience to include changes within His infinite understanding and caused by His free will.

      19. Brian Wagner wrote something today that is very misleading, and allow me to explain why:

        He wrote:

        “We say God is all powerful, but we allow Scripture to define that to include He is not able to lie. We say He is eternal, but we allow Scripture to define that as a linear progression where the past no longer exists for Him and us. We say He is immutable, but one person of the Godhead “became flesh” which was a change for the whole Godhead to experience. So I have no problem allowing Scripture help me define omniscience to include changes within His infinite understanding and caused by His free will.”

        Wagner is saying that when it comes to speaking of God’s attributes we make qualifications regarding these attributes:

        ““We say God is all powerful, but we allow Scripture to define that to include He is not able to lie.”

        The qualification given by scripture is that God is not able to lie, so we do not include that as being something he can do (while we retain the concept that he is all powerful). That’s a fair qualification (we could also include that He is unable to deny Himself, He is unable to destroy Himself, unable to actualize contradictions in the world as it is, etc. etc.

        “We say He is eternal, but we allow Scripture to define that as a linear progression where the past no longer exists for Him and us.”

        This is not quite accurate. Eternity refers to the state of existence that God had when there was no creation (and as scientists tell us both space and time are created entities that are relative to a reference point, something we know because of Einstein’s theories). Eternity does not involve “ linear progression where the past no longer exists for Him and us”. Scripture does not say that, that is Wagner’s invention.

        “We say He is immutable, but one person of the Godhead “became flesh” which was a change for the whole Godhead to experience.”

        Immutable refers to his attributes, that God in his ordinary state (when He has not become a man) has them all, He does not lose them or acquire new ones with time. Wagner brings up the incarnation. Most understand that God becoming a man is going to involves some differences in God’s experiences (Jesus got tired, Jesus got thirsty) not His attributes (Jesus becoming a man did not mean that God the father and the Holy Spirit were no longer omniscient, no longer in the form of pure Spirit, etc..

        “So I have no problem allowing Scripture help me define omniscience to include changes within His infinite understanding and caused by His free will.”

        Note the words “to include changes within His infinite understanding” (for Wagner those changes include God not knowing what we will freely choose to do, until we do it, then he gains that new information, he learns, after it occurs, he does not know it before it occurs).

        Wagner is trying to argue that since we make qualifications with other attributes, why not also make them with the attribute of omniscience. This seems reasonable at first, except that the qualifications that Wagner suggests are not qualifications found in scripture (such as God not being able to lie) and that is misleading. But in scripture we are not told that God’s omniscience includes not knowing what people will actually choose to do in the future(a qualification that Wagner puts on God) when acting freely (actually, scripture includes numerous examples of God knowing what people will freely choose to do in the future before they do it, e.g. Peter’s denial, Judas’ betrayal). Wagner claims that God knows all possibilities in the future, but not what people will actually choose to do (so Wagner invents a qualification that God knows the possibilities regarding the future but not the actualities regarding future choices, but scripture never speaks of God **only knowing possibilities regarding the future**, it speaks of him knowing everything about us, knowing the words on our tongue before we say them, knowing what nations and individuals will do in the future, this is why ordinary believers familiar with these scriptures conclude that God must know the future exhaustively because he knows future events that will occur and is never wrong about them).

        Scripture does not give us a formal definition of omniscience, rather it presents things that God knows. And these things that God knows includes everything about every person, their thoughts, their words before they are spoken, etc. etc. We infer based upon what God reveals about what He knows that He knows everything. Now if prophecies were stated like this with God saying things such as: “well the possibilities are this and this and that, but I do not know which one will be chosen until it is chosen” THEN Wagner’s view would reflect scripture. But scripture does not speak about God only knowing possibilities, it speaks of actual events that will in fact occur in the future (God does not say this may or may not occur, He says this will occur). Thus the ordinary view of omniscience is reflective of scripture while Wagner’s open theism is not.

      20. Have a Merry Christmas Robert! Only a few comments since you still seem not to understand and thus portray some of the major points in my view incorrectly.

        You said concerning my view – “but scripture never speaks of God **only knowing possibilities regarding the future**,” as if that is my view that God only knows possibilities regarding the future. God knows the future in His infinite understanding just as the Scripture reveals it, partially determined and partially undetermined. I hope you will see that this excludes the idea of knowing it “only” as possibilities.

        The Scripture clearly presents God’s eternity as sequential – “from everlasting to everlasting”, “who was and is and is to come”. Since the “to everlasting” is certainly sequential, then “from everlasting” is also. And if one person of the Godhead became flesh and the others didn’t, that certainly was a change in the essential nature of the Godhead!

        You’re 6’4″! Wow! God knows you are because He sees you are… that’s HOW He knows it! When did He come to know that you would be 6’4″? Whenever in His infinite understanding He decided to form you to be that size. But to say it was eternally known, immutably, clearly opens the door to pantheism.

        Unless you have a specific question for me, take the last word in this thread of our conversation. God Bless. And don’t forget that Jesus, Luther and others were labeled as going against centuries of “orthodox” definitions in some matters.

      21. How ironic, Brian Wagner now sounds like rhutchin (i.e. when their views are strongly challenged they resort to the old standby: “Well you are just saying that since you just don’t understand my view . . . . “). Seen it many times from rhutchin, not as often with Brian Wagner who writes:

        [[brianwagner says:
        December 23, 2016 at 1:37 pm
        Have a Merry Christmas Robert! Only a few comments since you still seem not to understand and thus portray some of the major points in my view incorrectly.]]

        Brian Wagner said almost this exact same thing, almost to the day, a year ago to rhutchin:

        [[December 25, 2015 at 5:26 pm
        Merry Christmas Roger! After all this time, and you still do not understand my view of sequential eternity, divine free-will and God still making decisions.]]

        Brian Wagner has espoused his open theism views here for years now: I think we understand it.

        I also believe that we continue to reject it. And it is not because we do not understand it.

      22. brianwagner writes, “maybe phrases like “knows all things” when used in Scriptures for God also must be viewed in context and defined by it,…”

        Oh, Brian!!! What are the three basic rules of Scriptural interpretation – Context, Context, Context. We both agree on this.

        The, “…without saying those contextual modifications to the definition of divine omniscience are anthropomorphic.”

        Modifications?? Like when people look at the early chapters of Genesis but still conclude that God doesn’t really have vocal cords even though we read that “God said,” and doesn’t have eyes even though we read, “And God saw…,” or that God has legs because we read, “God was walking in the garden,” and on we could go. Even though the Bible describes God as a man in physical characteristics, no one actually believes that God is a physical person. So, when the Scriptures describes God as having feelings or thoughts or anger, could we not view this as we do the use of physical characteristics?

        We can compare God’s relation to man to a scientist looking at a virus through an electron microscope. How would a scientist communicate with the virus under his microscope such that the virus could understand that he is communicating with it. The easiest way, some have concluded, is to use illustrations understandable to the virus. Why not take this approach as we read the Scriptures? So, God says that He can be provoked to anger and the reader thinks of those things that provoke him to anger and conclude that he should not do those things to God that provoke him to anger when people do those things to him.

        Then, “We say God is all powerful, but we allow Scripture to define that to include He is not able to lie.”

        Do the Scriptures say that God is not able to lie or that God cannot lie? That God cannot lie does not require the inability to lie but the ability to not want to lie. There is no reason to think that God could lie if He wanted. It is a characteristic of God that He does not want to lie and thus, He cannot lie. So, we will read, God is not a man that He should….lie or change His mind.

      23. Nice try Roger! But God in Christ is still God, and He has legs, eyes, and a mouth now, right! So I wouldn’t think you have any problem with theophanies in the OT speaking with a voice that could have been recorded or appearing as a man, with some sort of “legs” to walk with Adam.

        We are not a virus! The analogy is ridiculous and demeans God’s creation of man in His image, imo. And when Scripture says we provoke Him to anger… it truly means what it says, though His anger may be of a different nature in some respects, the Scripture has to speak univocally in such passages are it does not speak the truth. (I realize I am using “speak” for the Scriptures as an anthropomorphic expression – 🙂 )

      24. brianwagner writes, “God in Christ is still God, and He has legs,…”

        God, in Christ, took the physical form of a man with all the physical characteristics of a man (less sin) – but God was still God and not a man. God took the form a a man to communicate with Abraham and to rescue Lot from Sodom by physically using a hand to pull Lot by the arm. Our discussion is not about God assuming the physical characteristics of a man. It is about God actually having the physical characteristics of a man – whether God actually has legs, eyes, etc as a man does and is subject to the frailties of the human mind such as anger or whether the prophets portray God using these terms as a means to communicate with men.

        Then, “We are not a virus!”

        Perhaps not the best analogy – but when Adam sinned, his sin affected a change in God’s creation and that change was not good. So, let’s call sin the virus. What then do we make of man? However, the point of the comparison was to emphasize the difference between God and man. So, let’s compare man to an amoeba. How might a scientist communicate with and amoeba? One way is to express himself in language understandable to the amoeba – using the amoeba’s own physical and mental characteristics as common ground for communication.

        Then, “And when Scripture says we provoke Him to anger… it truly means what it says, though His anger may be of a different nature in some respects, the Scripture has to speak univocally in such passages are it does not speak the truth.”

        And when the Scriptures speak of God walking in the garden and talking, it also speaks the truth but is not confined to being univocal in the sense of the application of the terms used even if the meaning is the same – a leg is a leg but God does not have a leg.

      25. I think most people think that OT theophanies were seen with legs… even if they were temporal.

      26. Brian,

        One of the reasons that I am confident in my beliefs is that I tend to hold beliefs that virtually every Christian holds (e.g. the trinity, that Jesus was God in the flesh, that the Bible reveals God and His will, that God knows everything including the future, etc. etc. etc.). I would be very concerned if I held beliefs that everybody else rejects (cf. your open theism is a tiny minority view, rejected by everybody, whether they be Catholics, Protestants or Eastern Orthodox but that does not seem to bother you at all, and it should). It does not appear to bother you or concern you the least that Calvinists, Arminians, SBC traditionalists, Molinists, Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, etc. etc. etc. all seem to agree on the ordinary definition of omniscience.

        Your defense of the false view of open theism is growing wearisome (at least to me, perhaps others are entertained or fascinated by it, but not me).. You keep pushing the false views of omniscience that you have all the while attacking what nearly every Christian believes about omniscience. Most of us (and that includes Calvinists) operate from the same definition of omniscience. But you want to change that, you attack our definition, falsely claim it is based on philosophy when it is not (and you have never given ANY evidence that it is based on philosophy rather than scripture). And yet you are trying to get us to drop our definition, the ordinary definition, and TRUST YOU ON THIS. And why should we trust you? You hold strange views on things (including your rejection of all denominations, your belief that someone who holds the infant baptism position is not a God ordained pastor/elder/leader, your open theism/rejection of God’s omniscience).

        “Robert, I think it may be you that really doesn’t get it! 🙂 You said, God doesn’t learn.”

        He does not learn, He only would learn ***if*** He did not know everything.

        It seems commonsensical to believe that if God knows everything (including future events, including future events that involve libertarian free will choices) then He does not learn anything.

        You can only learn things if there are things that you do not know.

        In your false and unbiblical thinking, He does not know what people will in fact choose to do in the future if they act with libertarian free will (in **your** thinking, as you have told us repeatedly, he knows what they possibly could do/he knows possibilities, but not what they actually will choose to do/actualities, at least He does not know until they choose to actualize one of the possibilities, *****THAT is a denial of omniscience****** no matter how many word games you play and redefinitions of omniscience that you suggest).

        “That is a “how” description behind the definition of omniscience that you believe.”

        No it is not, I say nothing about HOW God knows everything, only THAT He Knows everything.

        I have never once given any sort of explanation as to HOW God knows what He knows.

        The declaration that he knows everything is not a declaration as to HOW.

        “I am not saying that I believe that God learns in a way that increases His understanding, but I just want you to be more perceptive in your attempt to deflect by saying, “how” God has omniscience is unknown.”

        It is not an attempt to “deflect” as it is a statement of fact, a fact you continue to reject and ignore.
        The fact is, none of us knows how God knows anything.

        To take a mundane example. I am 6 ft. 4 inches tall. How do I know this? From observation, I see myself next to shorter persons, see myself in a mirror. From testimony, others have said this, including sports coaches, doctors, and nurses. From official documents (including those from medical offices). And another person could also know this by observation, testimony, evaluating official documents. But HOW does God know that I am 6 ft. 4? By observation? He has no eyes, did He need to wait until I grew up to be 6 ft. 4 inches tall? Did he need the testimony of others to know this? Did He need official documents to know this? No, no, no. So HOW does He know? Well we know that He knows because He reveals in scripture that He knows all things about us (cf. Psalm 139). But do we know HOW He knows that I am 6 ft. 4?

        WE DO NOT KNOW.

        Did you hear me, I say it again: WE DO NOT KNOW.

        Extrapolate from this, if we do not know how he knows a simple and ordinary fact such as this, how do we know HOW He knows anything (including future choices people will freely make)???

        “You speak pretty dogmatically about “how” His omniscience works and doesn’t work.”

        That is not true at all (it borders on a lie considering I have made myself clear and explained this repeatedly), I have never described HOW God knows what He knows, I have said now repeatedly, that we know THAT He knows, but not HOW He knows. I have even explicitly designated this as the THAT/HOW distinction regarding God’s knowledge and actions (i.e. we know THAT He acts, THAT He knows, but we do not know HOW He acts, we do not know HOW He knows). I have said this *****repeatedly**** and I could not be any clearer, and yet you state I speak “dogmatically” ABOUT HOW HIS OMNNISCIENCE WORKS AND DOESN’T WORK.

        It is true that I take his omniscience as a given, based upon what He says in scripture, but taking omniscience and foreknowledge as a given, is not even close to explaining HOW He knows what He knows. Now you can attack my ignorance as to HOW He knows that is fine, but please don’t lie and say that I dogmatically speak of how his omniscience works and doesn’t work.

        “Let me also ask you if you have any problem with God’s omniscience including contradictions”

        God’s knowledge does not include contradictions, though YOU may want to believe so. Or you may try to create contradictions within the ordinary understanding of omniscience, contradictions of your own invention.

        “like His foreknowledge always knowing everything in the future as settled and His foreknowledge also knowing some things in the future as not settled.”

        Who says that God’s foreknowledge does not include what will in fact occur in the future?

        YOU DO.

        Who says that God knowing what we will in fact choose to do creates a contradiction within God’s knowledge?

        YOU DO.

        “Which is it in your definition of foreknowledge or is it both and thus contradictory?”

        You try to **invent** contradictions where there are none, that is pretty desperate on your part. It is also dishonest on your part. Sad that you attack God’s knowledge as contradictory when the rest of us do not. Rather than being honest and saying that “I don’t believe that God knows what people will freely choose to do in the future”, you instead attack the ordinary understanding of omniscience in order to rationalize and justify your false view of open theism.

        “If you defer to logical and causal to try to escape this contradiction, will you at least admit that you are again defining “how” His foreknowledge works?”

        You apparently do not understand the distinction between a logical and causal relation. I have explained it clearly and repeatedly and you intentionally twist it. You have invented a contradiction where there is none and then ignored what those who hold to omniscience believe about the difference between knowing future events (the logical relation between God’s knowledge and future events, which is not a causal relation) and the causes that will in fact bring about these future events (the causal relation between these future causes and future events). There is no contradiction between God knowing future events will occur via foreknowledge and future events being brought about by causes that are independent of and separate from God’s foreknowledge.

        And AGAIN in stating these things, I am not defining HOW foreknowledge works, never have done so, I cannot even explain how God knows mundane facts such as my height. So I do not know HOW He knows future facts.

        I know THAT He knows (because of His scriptural declarations that He knows future events, and He does not just say “I know what the possibilities are in the future”, No, He says He knows actual events, actual outcomes before they occur), but not HOW He knows.

        “I also would like you to tell me what John meant when he said that you and I also “know all things” (1John 2:20).”

        Do you really believe John was saying that human persons know all things? I am guessing not.
        And what translation are you appealing to? The NASB a standard translation has it saying “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.” All know what? Everything? I don’t think so. This knowing is connected with the Holy Spirit and in the immediate context John speaks of “they went out from us, but they were not really of us, for if they had been of us . . . in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us” (who are these folks? Ordinary believers who just started visiting other churches? Or it is in reference to false teachers who had left? Does the Holy Spirit give ordinary believers discernment about false teachers? Was John really teaching on the topic of whether or not ordinary believers had omniscience and knew all things OR was he teaching on them having discernment via the Holy Spirit about false teachers in their midst? Most scholars see John combatting some false teachers throughout 1 John, and early version of Gnosticism, so why can’t that be the issue in 1 Jn. 2:20?).

        “Doesn’t such a phrase used for humans cause some pause in just accepting a traditional definition for divine omniscience from the use of that same phrase for God?”

        No pause at all, as most of us understand that humans have limited knowledge, humans are not omniscient. And most of us do not believe that the issue that John was addressing in 1 Jn. 2:20 was whether or not ordinary believers are omniscient. And yet most of us believe that God is omniscient (you do not, and you have the gall to tell us that we are all wrong on this, while you and a few other open theists are right).

        And consider your argument, based on a phrase in 1 Jn. 2:20 (that you are emphasizing by means of a certain translation) that speaks of humans knowing all things, we know this is not true (we also know this isn’t even reflected in other translations such as the NASB of this verse), and since we know this is not true, then if scripture says of God that He knows all things, we should likewise reject this and conclude that God like human persons does not know all things.

        You call this a logical argument? This is one of the most ridiculous arguments I have ever heard (and I have heard many as I have I have extensive experience with cults and have taught logic classes).

        “You need to admit that the traditional definition of omniscience, which includes immutable foreknowledge for all things, really came from philosophy and not from Scripture.”

        This is a repeated and false claim on your part, and you know better, you know that if we ask most Christians if they believe that God knows everything, they will answer Yes ******based on their understanding of what God himself says about it in the Bible****** (e.g. he says he knows everything about us according to David in the Psalms, he says He knows the future and other gods do not/Isaiah, He says he knows the end from the beginning, He says he knows what people will freely choose to do before they do it/e.g.=Peter’s denial/Judas’ betrayal, He says He knows what will happen in the end times/the antichrist will sit in the temple and declare himself to be God, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.).

        None of this is “philosophy” it is all scripture.

        The scriptural warrant for believing that God is omniscient is overwhelming ((unless you are an open theist and refuse to believe it). You keep saying over and over that it is derived from philosophy rather than scripture, but you GIVE NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER THAT IT COMES FROM PHILOSOPHY RATHER THAN SCRIPTURE FOR MOST BELIEVERS. You just keep saying it over and over and over with no evidence. I do not recall a single instance in which you showed that someone (even a philosopher) got their definition or understanding of omniscience from philosophy rather than scripture.

      27. Robert responds to Brian saying, “It does not appear to bother you or concern you the least that Calvinists, Arminians, SBC traditionalists, Molinists, Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, etc. etc. etc. all seem to agree on the ordinary definition of omniscience.”

        Brian has discerned that “omniscience” is critical to Calvinist theology. Without omniscience, Calvinism falls. As Brian opposes Calvinism, he necessarily opposes omniscience in order to maintain a sound argument against Calvinism.

        Robert claims that many groups agree that God is omniscient. This is true but then we see obvious problems. Since God is omniscient, He knows even before He creates the world each person who will live (He determines their birth), every event in their lives (He sustains their lives), and the day of their death (He withdraws His sustaining hand from them). All that happens in each person’s life is according to God’s eternal plan to accomplish His will. God also knows who will be saved and who will not. No person can be saved except those known to God and none will be lost except those known to God. This is what Calvinism has concluded and it is drawn from omniscience.

        While claiming to believe that God is omniscient, Robert will also say that God wants to save all people even though He professes to believe that God knows that many will be lost and God will not save those people. How does Robert reconcile omniscience with the certain knowledge of those who will be saved and those who will be lost. Robert merely claims that omniscience is a great mystery that cannot be grasped by us humans (as Doug Sayers argues in his book, “”Chosen or Not?”). Having committed omniscience to mystery, Robert is then free to completely ignore its consequences and build a theology that pretends that God is not omniscient.

        Robert may not like the direction that Brian is heading, but Brian understands the problems that confront those who subscribe to omniscience but object to Calvinism, and he has sought to avoid those problems the only way that he knows – by rejecting omniscience as Robert and the Calvinists, Arminians, SBC traditionalists, Molinists, Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, etc. etc. etc. conceive it. Brian is an honest broker in his opposition to Calvinism.

        Pastor Flowers, while subscribing to omniscience, has chosen a different line of attack against Calvinism – that of denying Total Depravity. In the end, I suspect that Brian will also have to deny TD and Pastor Flowers will have to deny omniscience if they are to develop a sound theology that legitimately opposes Calvinism.

      28. As the scent of delicious homemade lasagna wafts through the air (and my ministry and work committments allow me a break) I sit here watching football, relaxing and checking out emails. I am in a good mood and can even respond to rhutchin’s latest email. Again he makes the same false claims, but I will make some comments anyway. He says that if someone believes in omniscience and so believes that God knew who would end up being saved and end up being lost: that that is a problem for a non-calvinist. We have discussed this before. Omniscience is not causative, what God knows about the past, present and future does not cause or bring about any events. God’s beliefs as they are always true, always correspond with the actual state of affairs that takes place. God knows that I am 6 ft. 4 but his knowledge in itself does not cause me to be 6 ft 4. Rhutchin fails to make this distinction, so in his thinking. If God knows that Joe will lend up being saved, then that knowledge that God has brings about that God is saved (or lost). But this is not true or accurate at all. God knows who will end up saved and who will end up lost before the world is created (as God foreknows or knows before, all events that will take place including the events that result in a person being saved or lost).

        What leads to a person being saved or lost is not God’s knowledge (if it were God’s knowledge alone, then people who do not yet exist when there is no creation would already be saved or lost despite the fact they did not exist and had neither made a choice to trust or choice to reject God). NOw a person could argue that God has a plan in mind in which he decides before the creation who would be lost and who would be saved (as calvinists believe) but even this plan in itself does not bring about an individual being saved or lost. This is why it is hard to understand why rhutchin believes omniscience alone is what makes a person saved or lost before creation. The sharper calvinists that I know believe that God has a all encompassing plan that includes every detail, every event that He desires to see take place as what we call human history (but this plan alone does not cause people to be saved or lost). In addition to the exhaustive plan, God must still act in time to send preachers so that the elect hear the gospel, send the Spirit to convict people of sin, act in people to lead them to Christ, etc. all things that occur NOT IN ETERNITY, NOT BEFORE THE CREATION, but in time. So the sharper calvinists do not believe that His omniscience alone brings about the salvation or damnation of individuals.

        I believe that God knows who will and will not end up saved (as He omniscienct and knows all events that will occur before they occur, not because He preplanned every detail). And God knows these events will occur with certainty, but not necessity. People will be saved and lost dependinig on their responses to the grace of God, not because they are determined to do so without free will being involved. Put another way, they will with certainty make these decisions, but these decisions are not necessitated, it is not that they had to make these choices and had not choice to choose otherwise. It is that they will in fact make these choices. as they will in fact make these choices, and God’s foreknowledge involves what we will in fact choose to do: these choices are foreknown but not necessitated. Non-calvinists, unlike calvinists believe that freely made choices will occur, but they are necessitated to occur. There is a difference between something happening with certainty (it will occur, but if people chose differently it would not have occured) and something happening with necessity (it must occur and must occur exactly as it occurs and it is impossible that it could not have occurred). There was a time when calvinists were called “necessitarians” because they believe that since God ordains all events, all events must occur out of necessity: but this is a calvinist premise not a non-calvinists premise.

        What rhutchin seems to keep doing is thinking according to his calvinist premises, so in his thinking it is impossible for a person to believe that God’s omniscience and libertarian free will are compatible (i.e. that God could know who will be saved and lost before they exist, and yet their choices to be saved or lost are not necessitated choices but freely made choices where they end up making specific choices that God foreknows but they could have chosen otherwise, if they had chosen otherwise then those choices are what God foreknows they will make because God’s foreknowledge involves not what people may or may not choose to do but what they will in fact choose). What it comes down to then is differing presuppositions. Rhutchin is convinced his calvinist premises are correct, and he finds it impossible to believe that others operate from differing premises.

        At the end rhuchin claims that Leighton will have to give up his belief in omnniscience in order to argue validly against calvinism. But this is not true, as non-calvinists such as Leighton and myself do not see omniscience and libertarian free will as incompatible. Open theists such as Brian Wagner do see omniscience and libertarian free will as incompatible (so they reject the ordinary understanding of omniscience and keep LFW). Calvinists such as rhutchin usually reject LFW and hold to omniscience (though there are some calvinists who hold to both LFW and compatibilism, with each being true in different areas, my friend Greg Koukl being an example). The sharper calvinists recognize that they view the process of salvation as involving the irresistable grace of God bringing the elect to salvation: so it is not omniscience that causes a person to become elect, it is irresistable grace (and they further believe that that grace is given only to the preselected elect). But again it is not omniscience in itself that causes or brings about salvation for an individual: it is that individual being given irresistable grace in time. Rhutchin’s view that omniscience in itself leads to people becoming lost or saved is not mainstream calvinism. His view leaves out the actual causes in time that result in a person being saved or lost. Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that people are saved and lost in time, by the choices they make in response to God and His gospel. The differences are whether or not these choices involve libertarian free will, compatibilist free will, resistable grace or irresistable grace, etc. The difference is not tht one group really believes in omniscience and another does not: this claim by rhutchin is false and not borne out by evaluating what the sharper calvinists and non-Calvinists have said.

        I am really looking forward to that Lasagna!

        And I wish everyone who reads this post a HAPPY INCARNATION DAY!!!!!!!

      29. Robert writes, “Rhutchin’s view that omniscience in itself leads to people becoming lost or saved is not mainstream calvinism. His view leaves out the actual causes in time that result in a person being saved or lost. ”

        This reply argues against people watching football and writing. Robert’s response is incoherent. My view, as with Calvinists in general, is that omniscience makes future events certain but that omniscience is not the cause of future event, i.e., the events are not necessary. So, most of Robert’s rambling is based on misconceptions and misinformation. In all, he manages to avoid the real issues raised by omniscience. The causes of the future events known through omniscience are not at issue here – we are dealing with the reality of those future events apart from their causes. Robert needs more focus – apparently lasagna and football are a dangerous combination.

      30. Rhutchin writes: “Brian has discerned that “omniscience” is critical to Calvinist theology. Without omniscience, Calvinism falls. As Brian opposes Calvinism, he necessarily opposes omniscience in order to maintain a sound argument against Calvinism.”

        “Sound Argument”, he said, with his fingers crossed behind his back! :-]

      31. Br. D! I would have missed that second Christmas gift if it was for your pointing it out. woo hoo! I also have a “sound argument against Calvinism”! It really is Christmas!

      32. Of course, a logically “sound” argument fails if one of its premises is false – the premise related to the omniscience of God being critical to Calvinist and non-Calvinist arguments.

      33. Having premises that are not false is moving in the right direction. Have you taken the time to watch this youtube?

        youtube.com/watch?v=h5hrTkrd1JI

        You’ll find some excellent examples of sound and unsound arguments in it.

      34. br.d writes, “Have you taken the time to watch this youtube? youtube.com/watch?v=h5hrTkrd1JI ”

        I just started watching it and this enormous RED FLAG suddenly appears. Dan Courtney states, “The literal (I assume he means physical as described in Genesis 2-3) existence of Adam is easily debunked, but I won’t be addressing that issue here…” To which I can only reply, “Who is this clown?” Obviously, the well has been poisoned and I am not hopeful of any value from the rest of the video. But I will press on.

      35. Yup….He is an atheist. I was able to look past that point, as he proceeds forward assuming the Christian proposition as true, in order to address the main points in his analysis. And his ending remark can be disregarded as an equivocation as well. But that’s all part of discerning each point as they come.

      36. Final thought on the Dan Courtney video. At the 5:13 mark, Courtney makes this statement, “Dr. Anderson seems to have definitely committed himself to the notion that since God ‘decided’ that Adam would sin, and since God ‘alone was the ultimate cause of that sin,…'” and so God is morally responsible for Adam’s sin. At this point, I saw the need to read the Anderson paper, but to do that, I must buy a book. I am not going to do that. Regardless, Courtney’s objection is to Anderson’s model and I didn’t like it either (as described by Courtney).

        The issue here is that God is the ultimate cause of all things simply because God is sovereign over all things and exercises absolute control over all things. This does not mean that God forces people to sin against their will. What happened in the garden? God placed Adam and Eve in the garden to tend and keep it, and then God opened the door to Satan giving Satan access to the garden and the ability to tempt Eve and get Adam to eat the fruit which Satan appears to have done willfully, eagerly and with great joy without prompting from God. God chooses not to intervene to protect Adam and Adam freely and willfully eats the fruit. We are not told why Adam chose to eat the fruit, only that he did. So, why is God “morally culpable” for Adam’s sin? Apparently not because God forced Adam to do something against his (and His) will, but because God set the whole situation up knowing the final outcome. Does that make God morally culpable because God placed Adam in a situation that could only result in Adam eating the fruit? I don’t see that it does. But the video never gets into this but dwells on the musings of Dr. Anderson – which musings seem to add nothing to resolving the issue from what I could see without having read Anderson’s paper.

      37. Well, I’m glad that you took the time to review it, to the degree that you did. That speaks very well of you!
        And I appreciate that you acknowledge Dr. Anderson has “a model”. Its clear to me from the excerpts of the Anderson’s paper displayed in the video, that Dr. Anderson’s model is different than yours. His language and defense arguments are clearly different than yours.

        But one of the parts I found most illuminating was: “What’s a Calvinist to do?. A clever Calvinist will “invent”…ummm I mean assert xyz”.

        And then later: “such obvious displays of equivocation are not normally found in otherwise sophisticated philosophical materials.”

        I think Courtney was savvy enough to hit all of the major points.
        1) Calvinism puts an extreme emphasis on a philosophical proposition concerning causation, and asserts scripture must be interpreted by it.
        2) That philosophical proposition has a logical entailment (God as author of evil) which they must find ways to get around.
        3) The Calvinist tendency is for crafting philosophical inventions and equivocations which can be marketed to an untrained Christian consumer base, but which are found to be unsound under trained scrutiny.

        The hopes here is that as the both of us keep our commitment to the Lord first and foremost, and seek the truth, where ever it leads us, we will both benefit and be blessed.
        Thanks Rhutchin. :-]

      38. br.d writes, “I think Courtney was savvy enough to hit all of the major points.”

        All three entailing distortions of Calvinist positions in my view.

      39. Understood! The other possibility is that he untangled logical distortions. Exemplifying the power of learning and maintaining a strict adherence to the laws of logic.

      40. br. d writes, “The other possibility is that he untangled logical distortions. Exemplifying the power of learning and maintaining a strict adherence to the laws of logic.”

        What did Courtney argue that you think fits this conclusion?

      41. br.d writes, “I detailed that in my other response.”

        I pretty much didn’t see anything even in a second reading – certainly no examples.

      42. Yes! Bless the Lord!! And we know this a posteriori. Not by fanciful imaginations of ontological impossibilities!! 😀

        Merry Christmas brother!

      43. Merry Christmas to you and your wife too! I’ll be working on the present I got from both of you soon, Lord willing!

      44. br.d writes, ““Sound Argument”, he said, with his fingers crossed behind his back! :-]”

        No fingers crossed. If one is to argue against Calvinism, he must argue against the idea that God is omniscient (among other things).

      45. Conflict resolution experts Roger Fisher and William Ury

        http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/example/fish7513.htm

        RULE: ATTACK THE PROBLEM AND NOT THE PERSON
        This is a critical rule of engagement, which the author’s call: “PRINCIPLED” dialog, vs. “UNPRINCIPLED” dialog.
        Many Christian ministries resonate, and are picking up on it, because they seek to live a “PRINCIPLED” life.

        The Lord tells us, the children of this world are sometimes wiser than the children of light.
        We are Jesus honoring, when we apply this principle, especially with one another.

      46. Brian,

        Merry Christmas, brother!

        Subject aside, you have to be one of the most gracious bloggers I have ever come across (and a glutton for punishment).

        At this point, however, I am not sure if you are serving as a model of inspiration, or just a warning sign for others. 🙂

      47. Merry Christmas Phillip! Thank you for the kind words! I must admit, that I enjoy sharing what I believe the body of Christ needs to consider, even if it rejected by some. I know there are always others also listening with openness to reason and to the clarity of God’s Word.

        I also believe that these interactions have truly helped me to be more longsuffering, and perhaps also a smidge more wise in discerning what battles to end sooner or to even skip!

        But when I discovered Leighton’s ministry here on Soteriology101 almost two years ago, I was so excited. I wanted to stand with him, supporting his efforts anyway I could. His example has been a blessing!

      48. I can’t decide if I am watching some version of “A Christmas Carol (aka: Scrooge)” or “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

        However, I will let everyone else draw their own conclusions.

        Merry Christmas to all my brothers and sisters in Christ! And that includes my Arminian brother Ebenezer, I mean, Robert.

  24. Br.D,
    Just saw your comment as I was posting:
    “BTW: In the context of the potential existence of future events, terms like: “settled”, “certain”, “immutable”, “inevitable”, etc, all seem to be synonymous with “FATED”. Would you agree?”

    I would disagree, here you are doing the very thing that I warned you to be careful not to do (i.e. failing to distinguish the logical relation and causal relation). God’s foreknowledge is in the category of logical relation (i.e. does God’s belief that X will occur on future day Y, cause that future event to occur? No, but God’s belief properly corresponds to that future state of affairs as it has a logical relation to it). And yet here in this sentence you speak of “settled” as being synonymous with INEVITABLE and fated. God knows our future freely made choices, but those choices are not fated, they are freely chosen if libertarian free will is present when the choice is made. Now it is true that what God foreknows is certain to occur, it will in fact occur, as God’s foreknowledge involves actual outcomes. But it does not occur by necessity, it is not fated, as the causal factors that bring about those future freely made choices involve libertarian free will not determinism or fatalism. Future events involving freely made choices occur with certainty but not by necessity.

    1. Hi Robert, I was careful to use the word “synonymous” in my question. ” a word or phrase having the same or nearly the same meaning”. I can see my choice, using “synonymous” was too ambiguous. I think this does however exemplify your concern.
      In this environment, I need to frame my statements as unambiguous as possible. :-]

  25. Brian Wagner makes some comments that I will not address. I do however, want to address his response to my question about HOW does God know that I am 6 ft. 4 inches tall?

    Wagner’s “answer” is:

    “You’re 6’4″! Wow! God knows you are because He sees you are… that’s HOW He knows it! When did He come to know that you would be 6’4″? Whenever in His infinite understanding He decided to form you to be that size. But to say it was eternally known, immutably, clearly opens the door to pantheism.”
    Hmm, “God knows you are because He sees you are . . . that’s HOW He knows it!”

    How does God SEE this?

    Does He have eyes, sense organs, that allow him to SEE this?

    This is a completely vacuous and empty statement on Wagner’s part. He claims that God SEES this fact, but says absolutely nothing about HOW God sees. And this proves my point, we don’t know HOW God knows even the most mundane facts.

    Wagner says that: “He decided to form you to be that size”.

    Did God know I would be that size before He decided to “form you to be that size”?

    Did God know this from eternity, before there was a creation? If so, then He knew some facts of the future before that future occurred.

    And that last line: “But to say it was eternally known, immutably, clearly opens the door to pantheism” is just bizarre.

    God knowing things eternally, immutably is precisely what omniscience means to most Christians (again this is considered orthodoxy by Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox; but not to Brian Wagner). To him it leads to pantheism. This is just irrational.

    Orthodox Christians have always affirmed that God knows everything, that He knows everything eternally and that He knows everything immutably (i.e. he never learns, never gains new knowledge). Wagner attacks the orthodox view as CLEARLY leading to pantheism. Wagner appears to be both ignorant and confused about the nature of pantheism. But we should expect this kind of attack of orthodoxy from an open theist.

  26. Divine Providence – The Molinist Account – by Thomas P. Flint

    Thomas P. Flint develops and defends the idea of divine providence sketched by Luis de Molina, the sixteenth-century Jesuit theologian.

    The Molinist account of divine providence reconciles two claims long thought to be incompatible: that God is the ALL-KNOWING governor of the universe and that individual freedom can prevail only in a universe free of absolute determinism.

    The Molinist concept of middle knowledge holds that God knows, though he has no control over, truths about how any individual would freely choose to act in any situation, even if the person never encounters that situation. Given such knowledge, God can be truly providential while leaving his creatures GENUINELY free.

    Divine Providence is by far the most detailed and extensive presentation of the Molinist view ever written. ISBN-10: 0801473365

    It appears that Molinism posits the argument that divine omniscience is logically coherent without Calvinistic determinism.
    William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga and Peter Van Inwagen agree.

    William Lane Craig writes: “Thomas Flint considers the major objections to the Molinist doctrine of middle knowledge to have been answered, so that the job of applying this doctrine theologically can get underway”

    Thomas Flint studied under Dr. Alvin Plantinga at Notre Dame College

    1. I’ll have to look at Flint’s work. But my understanding of middle knowledge is that it is only a logical supposition of a pre-creation activity in the mind of God, choosing a completed possible world that had man’s supposed “free choices” involved before actually beginning the creation.

      My understanding is that in Molinism, God is no longer exercising middle knowledge… it was once and done and now we are playing out that supposed result. However, I have yet to understand the logic of choosing a completed world, which includes all of God’s freewill decisions being made already in response to each supposed freewill decision of man that God considers, all before creation of any free will of man, and then to still think that now man’s free will exists between two or more options when presented to him.

      God’s choices had to be known as a part of that middle knowledge and thus determined by Him, and thus limiting man’s choices significantly at least, if not altogether.

    2. br.d writes, “It appears that Molinism posits the argument that divine omniscience is logically coherent without Calvinistic determinism.
      William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga and Peter Van Inwagen agree.”

      And why not? They are mutually exclusive. Molinism deals with the mind of God prior to creation – prior to Genesis 1 – in which God considers all the possible worlds that He might create. Calvinism deals with the one, unique world that God chooses to create – a world we read of beginning in Genesis 1 – and that world is one in which all things have been determined – as Calvinism posits.

      I am perplexed by Craig. He exhibits a strong antipathy to Calvinism but, given his advocacy of Molinism, I cannot figure out why and I have yet to discover anything on his website that explains what is going on in his mind. He has this one article where he contrasts Molinism and Calvinism that I really don’t understand. Have to read it again and probably again and again…

    3. BR.D,

      You shared about Flint’s very good book on Molinism. I am curious BR.D are you a student or a youth pastor?

      Flint’s book is very good, and he is also a very nice guy to interact with (I have asked him some questions and interacted with him via email: actually that is one of the great things about email, you can contact anyone in academia rather easily). If you haven’t already read it, another excellent and more recent book on Molinism is by Kirk R. MacGregor titled Luis De Molina: The life and theology of the founder of middle knowledge, Zondervan. I find Molinism to be remarkaby stimulating and thought provoking.

      As my scientific friends fondly remind me, you have to develop your theories in light of all of the relevant and available data. Scripture gives us the data that God is omniscient and that liberarian free will at times exists in human experience (which leads me to another question of you out of curiosity BR.D: what is your current position? From your comments I doubt you hold calvinism, not sure what you think of open theism or Molinism).

      Two roads that at least to me appear to be dead ends, are Calvinism and Open theism. Ironically, they both hold to the incompatibility betweeen ormniscience and libertarian free will (with the open theists rejecting omniscience and the calvinists rejecting LFW, while the calvinists retain omniscience and the open theists retain LFW). Seems to me from the data of scripture that whatever view is best is going to include both omniscience AND LFW. The Simple foreknowledge view held by many Arminians holds to both as does Molinism. My concern with Molinism is that it shares a view of divine meticulous providence that is almost identical to Calvinism (e.g. Flint presents this in chapter 2 of his book). While I believe that Molinists are correct that God considers possible worlds that He could create and then selects one which becomes the actual world. I do not believe that God chooses a world where every detail is what He wants to occur: in other words God chooses the KIND of world that He wants to exist, NOT a world where every detail is what He wants to occur.

      It is significant that when you look at current Christian philosohers’ discussions (e.g. in pHILOSOPHY CHRISTI) of these issues Molinism is the biggest game in town. The philosophers seem to see that calvinism is deficient in its rejection of LFW and open theism is deficient in its rejection of omniscience and some of the other commitments they seem to have (e.g. the denial of God being eternal and outside of time, the denial of God’s immutability, etc.). So they are really interested in Molinism and its attempts at holding to both omniscience and LFW simultaneously. While I am not persuaded that full Molinism is correct, it does seem that something like it, or a version of Molinism may be the best way to go. And the philosophers that I know most personally, J. P. Moreland, Alvin Plantinga and Tom Flint are all Molinists! And then my favorite apologist, Wiliam Lane Craig is also Molinist.

      What is helpful for ordinary folks like us is that there are some very good articles and books by these guys available to us (both in print and on the web). If you are a student Br.D I suggest you put some serious time into investigating Molinism (and begin email discussions with these guys). Even if you disagree with it, you will be stimulated and challenged in your thinking.

      1. Hi Robert! Merry Christmas my friend!!
        I consistently enjoy how open minded and thoughtful you often are. You could call me a student more than anything else…but a life-long student. In the myers briggs, tests I consistently come out as the logician. I have more books than I can read and a house that is not big enough to hold them. :-]

        I think my position could be stated most closely to Peter Van Inwagen’s. One can take 1 of 3 positions on a certain proposition. One believes it to be true. One believes it to be false, or one feels the evidence is not yet conclusive enough for a deductive truth evaluation. But one can use inductive reasoning to formulate a “best probable” inclination.

        Like Van Inwagen, I’m not entirely sure if LFW exists, or in what ways it exists. It is unavoidable that many things are brought about by cause and effect. We do perceive ourselves as exercising LFW, but our choices are obviously limited by our options of what is feasible and what is possible. But like Inwagen I find a deterministic universe too logically and morally problematic. And God, in scripture consistently communicates with man in such a way to always infer that He endows man with LFW and holds man accountable based on it.

        I definitely don’t embrace Calvinism. It teaches and demands too much dishonesty of its adherents. It mentors its students in dishonest semantic subtleties. The scripture instructs us that we become like unto what we worship. The Calvinist deity speaks with a forked tongue. And we observe the Calvinist following that pattern. Additionally “author of evil” is so logically entailed in Calvinism , one is required to be an expert in double-talk to get around it, I and feel sorry for the Calvinists that do.

        On the subject of omniscience, I’m really not convinced the three positions are that different. Van Inwagen makes an interesting point in an interview on omniscience, where he states that Christians commonly recognize, some things are impossible even for God. For example, God can’t negate himself. Inwagen says, Christians need to start seeking answers for things that are metaphysical impossibilities for God’s omniscience.

        I have a high regard for true Christian scholarship. I see scholars who have different comfort levels with beliefs, like Plantinga, and Inwagen, give each other plenty of room, and they hold each other in honor, because their love for and pursuit of truth, shines a strong flashlight on their own intellectual vulnerabilities.
        Blessings Robert – – Hope this finds you and your’s well!
        Thanks for the good post. :-]

      2. Robert writes, “…and the calvinists rejecting LFW…”

        Defining LFW is important here. We know that God has free will by virtue of His omniscience, omnipotence, infinite understanding, and perfect wisdom. If we define God to have “libertarian” free will, then man has some drastically inferior form of free will by virtue of not being omniscient, not being omnipotent, not having infinite understanding and not having perfect wisdom. So, man does not have that pure form of “libertarian” free will enjoyed by God.

        Of course, the whole discussion is about the effects of Adam’s sin on the “free” will of his progeny. Augustine said that one effect was that men loss the ability to not sin. If LFW is defined as contra-causal freedom – the freedom to choose otherwise – then man lost any semblance of LFW when they lost the ability to choose to not sin. So, hold the Calvinists, and it is not until God restores some semblance of LFW in man that they are then able to choose salvation.

      3. The degree to which Calvinistic postulations require breaching the law of non-contradiction, and appealing to ontological impossibilities, is the key to understanding Calvinist logic for me.

        It became clear to me when I studied Aristotle’s “square of opposition”. And I realized that Calvinism consistently proceeds in three steps.

        1) Assert a universal positive proposition concerning God’s role in events which come to pass.
        2) Seek to find ways around the logical entailments that come with that proposition by asserting its negation in the form of particular negative propositions.
        3) Hiding logical negations and contradictions behind the camouflage of equivocal language (.i.e. words and terms that can be used with duplicitous meanings).

        The other noteworthy aspect of Calvinism, becoming increasingly clear to me, is the degree to which it consistently flirts with fatalism. William Lane Craig is right when he says Augustine and the reformed divines were savvy enough to avoid theological fatalism in their arguments. But is certainly not the case today with Calvinists who unwittingly assert premises in their arguments which clearly entail fatalism. That’s why I call it “Flirting”.

        Another aspect of Calvinism that is problematic is how it is a closed system of logic. An academic degree in religious philosophy is in many respects a waste of time and money for a Calvinist, because he is trained to believe nothing exists outside of Calvinism’s tiny universe. And this explains why, out of all of the internationally recognized thinkers in religious philosophy, none are Calvinists.

        Based on those facts, it should be clear that the average Christian would not want to get himself entangled in it.

      4. br;d writes, “I realized that Calvinism consistently proceeds in three steps. ”

        It would help a lot if you would give examples where you see Calvinism doing this. I don’t see this pattern in Calvinism, and as with other instances where you claim patterns in Calvinism without using examples, my conclusion is that you just make up stuff that sounds good to you, but it means nothing.

      5. That’s a very understandable. :-]
        But all you need do is review your responses in our dialog together, to see great examples.
        The evidence is right there. One just needs to know how to identify it.

        And as we understand how confirmation bias works, we understand the human mind can be predisposed to not see evidence that is clearly present, because it produces cognitive conflict.

        Look for evidences of step 2 and then a ton of evidences of step 3. Look for words and terms that reappear within Calvinist language, that have double meanings, and you will find many which have at least one meaning entailing determinism or fatalism, and where such words are used equivocally.

        Look for assertions that are reliant upon something that is ontologically impossible. For example, is it a sound argument to assert that God can decree Adam to freely do something that is ontologically impossible? This is why we call such assertions double-think, or magical thinking.

        A universal positive proposition logically entails, everything outside of the “ALL” does not exist. To couple that with a particular negative proposition is to assert “SOME” things outside of the “ALL” do exist. That is why those two propositions are negations/contradictions of each other.

        The universal positive proposition can be found in Calvinisms primary foundational stance. The particular negative proportions which follow the first proposition, and which result in negations of that first proposition, can be found in Calvinism’s defense arguments.

        All of the evidence is right there for one who has eyes to see them.
        It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.
        And you have it within you to do so rhutchin. God has blessed you with the eyes to see them.
        And He wants you to seek and search out the matter for yourself. :-]

      6. br.d writes, “All of the evidence is right there for one who has eyes to see them.”

        Call me blind then. But, I’m kinda betting even you don’t know legitimate examples.

      7. As far as blindness, we’re all in that same boat. As the scripture says: The heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it, and every man’s way is right in his own eyes. Those apply to me, as much as to anyone. We humans hold beliefs as possessions. And our beliefs become part of our self-image. That’s why we feel attacked when someone disagrees with them.

        Each of us wears rose colored glasses, when looking at ourselves and our possessions, while we wear the lens of the critical thinker when looking at others. And when it comes to our mentors, we turn off our critical thinking brain and switch to “believe every word” mode. Its part of the bondage of corruption that afflicts every human. I wonder how much Socrates was right when he said: The unquestioned life is not worth living.

        The more we both self-examine, the more we will both learn together, how our personal and human biases influence our perception.

      8. I would argue that though Calvinism wants to affirm LFW for God, but LFW for God cannot actually exist in their system. Calvinists believe that the predetermination of all things is eternally “baked in” to God’s nature, therefore, in my opinion, He can not exercise His will contrary to that predetermination. LFW in man is defined as being able to act contrary to predetermination, at least to some extent. LFW in God, in my view, would mean demonstrating the ability to act contrary to a predetermined plan made, because it has conditional elements “baked in” to it.

        I know that Calvinists will present the argument that God would not want to use such freedom that He possesses, since, they say (or rather assume), there is only one “perfect” set of events that can be predetermined, and His nature has defaulted to that ideal of perfection. So to them it is not a matter of cannot for God, but that He wills not to use His free will. He “freely” never exercises free will. 🙂

        But their assumption concerning the predetermined ideal of perfection is unproven from Scripture, and their theology continues to force clear Scriptures that reveal God exercising LFW in conditionally planned circumstances as all being anthropomorphic revelations concerning divine history and Hi interaction with man.

        They thus make void the Scriptures of its authority when buying into such an accommodation theory of revelation, especially in historical narratives in Scripture, imo.

      9. brianwagner writes, “Calvinists believe that the predetermination of all things is eternally “baked in” to God’s nature,”

        Given Ephesians 1, “God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,” the predetermination of all things would be derived from the counsel of His will – thus the exercise of His will. To say, “He can not exercise His will contrary to that predetermination,” would then be wrong as it is God’s exercise of His will that predetermines all things. Therefore, when you say, “LFW in God, in my view, would mean demonstrating the ability to act contrary to a predetermined plan,” you have God acting contrary to His will, as it is the source of His predetermined plan.

        Then, “LFW in man is defined as being able to act contrary to predetermination, at least to some extent.”

        Contrary to a predetermination that is derived from God’s will, so contrary to God’s will with God’s will enshrined in His omniscience. Of course, under TD, man is not able to choose to not sin. Take away TD and a person could choose to sin or not sin and God’s knowledge of the man’s choice would not be the cause that choice with such causes also being part of God’s omniscience.

        Then, “to [Calvinists] it is not a matter of cannot for God, but that He wills not to use His free will.”

        To Calvinists, God exercises His will once and given the perfection of that willfully determined action, there is no need to will something different.

        Then, “[Calvinists] assumption concerning the predetermined ideal of perfection is unproven from Scripture,”

        What conclusion are we to draw from the many references to God’s wisdom and to His infinite understanding? If the “ideal of perfection” does not hold, can God really have infinite understanding or be said to act in wisdom?

        Then, “[Calvinist] theology continues to force clear Scriptures that reveal God exercising LFW in conditionally planned circumstances as all being anthropomorphic revelations concerning divine history and His interaction with man. ”

        Did you mean to insert, “conditionally”? That suggests a synergistic environment where God predicates His actions on the actions of men. That is not the issue. Your point has seemed to be that God delays making decisions until events occur in the course of time so that LFW is not really an issue; only the timing of the LFW decision.

      10. Roger, we have talked about Eph 1:11 before, and how Calvinists try to prove to much from it. Literally it reads “… according to the intention/goal of the one working with or in all things (not causing) according to the plan of His desire.” There are no delimitations given in this context that necessitate that a divine plan with no conditional elements available for God and man to exercise true LFW.

        I think you might need to read what I wrote again. I got the impression that you started responding line by line before comprehending the whole.

        You did confirm that God never exercises His will anymore, just as I had described, because of the Calvinist assumed view of perfection. I would argue that you cannot even say that He exercised it even once, unless you become a Molinist. You can say His locked in eternal plan (will) or locked in eternal desire (will) is being worked out, but not because of a divine choice (willed).

      11. brianwagner writes, “…Eph 1:11…Literally it reads “… according to the intention/goal of the one working with or in all things (not causing) according to the plan of His desire.” There are no delimitations given in this context that necessitate that a divine plan with no conditional elements available for God and man to exercise true LFW.”

        I don’t think the verse says anything directly about LFW. It refers to God’s involvement in all things and that His involvement is directed by a plan that reflects His desires. Where God’s involvement in some event involves the predetermination of that event, then we known that God’s predetermination is derived from that plan and therefore from God’s desires (or will). That was the major point as I understood you to claim that Calvinist Theology did the reverse. LFW comes into play when we assume that God is able to freely express His desires through His involvement in the affairs of people. I agree with you that there are no conditions on God’s exercise of His desires (or will) and this is what Calvinism says also. Whether God’s involvement in the affairs of people has any effect on the freedom of people to pursue their desires is not affected by this verse. I don’t see a dispute between us on this verse or between you and Calvinism on this verse.

        Then, “You did confirm that God never exercises His will anymore, just as I had described, because of the Calvinist assumed view of perfection.”

        That’s fine. Our disagreement is not is not over what God does (we both have God making the same decisions) but on the timing of those decisions. The timing issue does not result in a dispute between you and Calvinism.

        Then, “I would argue that you cannot even say that He exercised it even once, unless you become a Molinist. You can say His locked in eternal plan (will) or locked in eternal desire (will) is being worked out, but not because of a divine choice (willed).”

        I disagree. Again referring to Ephesians 1, the working (or decisions/determinations) of God follow His plan (His expressed will) so that God has a plan that predates His implementation of that plan. If God has a plan, then He exercised His will to formulate that plan – so God exercised His will at least once. After that, God then carries out His plan and that plan requires no alterations..

      12. I agree Roger that Eph 1:11 does not prove your view of God’s plan or mine. It only says He is working “in/with” all things (not causing all things) according to that plan that mirrors His desire.

        I disagree that you should even use the words “exercised His will to formulate a plan” as an expression of God’s free will (unless you accept Molinism), for those words require discursive thinking and choices, or else you need to admit that the word “formulate” is an anthropomorphism. Your view is not that the plan came into being… it is eternal in your view.

        Finally, you continue to misrepresent our main disagreement – You said – “Our disagreement is not is not over what God does (we both have God making the same decisions) but on the timing of those decisions.” Actually, our disagreement is over what God does, for I believe the Scripture reveals God making decisions that were never, ever made before. And we do not have God making the same decisions, for we have two different definitions of perfection. But you are right that we have a disagreement on the timing of many of His decisions, because we define His eternal nature differently. I believe the Scripture clearly reveals it as an everlasting sequential reality.

      13. brianwagner writes, “Eph 1:11 does not prove your view of God’s plan or mine. ”

        The only view here is the conclusion that God has a plan and is working according to that plan. Isn’t that what the verse actually says – and if so, is not that which the verse says proof of that which the verse says?

        Then, “Your view is not that the plan came into being… it is eternal in your view.”

        My view is that we don’t really know how God thinks except that He does not think like us. I diverge from Calvinism here because I don’t think we can deny God the ability to have an original thought. What that thought might be is beyond that which our finite minds might imagine.

        Then, “our disagreement is over what God does, for I believe the Scripture reveals God making decisions that were never, ever made before. And we do not have God making the same decisions, for we have two different definitions of perfection.”

        Definitions of perfection are not relevant, to me. You have God knowing all possibilities in the future and then making decisions in the course of time. Calvinists (and me) also have God knowing all possibilities in the future. The decisions Calvinists have God making are the same that you have Him making – this because you do not allow for God to receive new information, so there is no basis for a different decision regardless when God makes His decisions.

      14. It’s a little like when my wife says it’s in the cabinet and I looked a couple times and didn’t see it, and an convinced it’s not there… Of course it was.

        Do you understand Roger that plans can have undecided conditional elements in it? Do you understand that God can have two or even more choices that He can make and He decides not to make one of them until that certain situation may or may not materialize because of other possible choices that may or may not be made.

        This is in no way like your limited view of only one settled future with all God’s choices made before creation, without mentioning again that the Scripture clearly says they were not all made before creation.

      15. brianwagner writes, “Do you understand that God can have two or even more choices that He can make and He decides not to make one of them until that certain situation may or may not materialize because of other possible choices that may or may not be made.”

        This is a little confused but let’s work with it. God knows that Adam may or may not eat the fruit. God makes one choice (decides how He will respond) based on the event where where Adam does not eat the fruit and one choice where Adam does eat the fruit. I see no reason for God to have two (or more) choices in the case where Adam does eat the fruit other than best, better, and good enough options. As the Scriptures always speak of the wisdom of God, that wisdom would always entail God making the optimal (best or perfect) choice for every situation.

        Then, “This is in no way like your limited view of only one settled future with all God’s choices made before creation, without mentioning again that the Scripture clearly says they were not all made before creation.”

        Why is it limited? Don’t you have God making choices? In your system, once God makes a choice, does He then revisit that choice – actually He can’t because the situation is past and a done deal. Don’t you limit God once He makes a choice unless you have God reworking the past until He gets what He wants. As we both have God making the same choices, my view is no more limiting than your view – until you can explain how it is.

      16. It’s right there on the shelf, Roger, let me show it to you again. We disagree that God has more than one choice based on our disagreement about the definition of perfection. I do believe God had a variety of options to choose from for the situation of Adam may or may not sin. And He understood all those options perfectly, and any one of those options picked would have fit the biblical definition of good!

      17. brianwagner writes, “We disagree that God has more than one choice based on our disagreement about the definition of perfection.”

        OK. So, I say that God always makes the perfect choice because He has perfect wisdom and you say that God purposely makes less than perfect choices despite His perfect wisdom. I guess you have to take this position or abdicate to the Calvinist position. However, once God makes His less than perfect decision, He cannot undo it but must compensate with a later choice if such becomes necessary. At least we have differentiated a difference between your position and the Calvinist position. I guess Robert and I now have to adjust our thinking on your position.

        Thus we find the source of “a variety of options to choose from for the situation of Adam may or may not sin, ” in the ability of God to choose from among a plethora of less than perfect options.

        Then, “He understood all those options perfectly, and any one of those options picked would have fit the biblical definition of good!”

        Yep, good in the relative sense of not the best but not the worse, either. That should be comforting to those who read Romans 8, “…in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”

      18. Now you found the item on the shelf, Roger! We have discussed this before how you and I have different definitions of what is “perfect” as we do for the definitions of “omniscience” between us. My definition of perfect does include choices between various “goods”. Jesus must have understood this when He prayed “… if it be possible” or when He told His disciples concerning the fall of Jerusalem, “Pray that your flight be not in winter.” The whole of Scripture with its conditional statements, universal invitations and warnings and examples of “good” and “better” both being true, only make sense if the future is still partially open.

      19. rhutchin writes: “God knows that Adam may or may not eat the fruit.”

        Hi Rhutchin,
        Seeing that Calvinism (i.e., determinism) asserts that God does no allow any alternatives to exist, and seeing that this statement logically entails God allowing an alternative (i.e. “may or may not” ), how is this statement not a self contradiction?

      20. br.d asks, “how is this statement not a self contradiction?”

        Context. If you put on a Molinist hat, it should pop out at you. God knows what Adam may or may not do before He creates the world. Once God creates the world, determinism then asserts itself as God’s omniscient script then plays out. That God knows what Adam may or may not do does not require that God allow alternatives. Once God opens the door for Satan to enter the garden, it is a foregone conclusion that Adam will eat the fruit regardless the theoretical may or may not position.

      21. Rutchin:”it is a foregone conclusion that Adam will eat the fruit regardless the theoretical may or may not position.”

        AH! so you acknowledge that the (may or may not) is “theoretical”. That is a good step closer towards intellectual honesty.
        The next thing for the (logically consistent) Calvinist to acknowledge, is that within Calvinism’s (non-Molinistic) world, “may or may not” is not just “theoretical”, it is an “illusion”, because it logically necessitates “doing otherwise”, which strict Calvinism rejects. However, if you see logical answers within Molinism, you won’t be faced with that dilemma.

        I see you like some of Molinism Rhutchin! You are seeing that it helps reduce the need to otherwise evade logical consequences of a deterministic world, with the traditional Calvinistic answers….1) calling contradictions mysteries, or worse, 2) make-believing contradictions don’t exist. Good to see you moving in that direction. More rational imho.

      22. br.d writes, “so you acknowledge that the (may or may not) is “theoretical”. That is a good step closer towards intellectual honesty.”

        What’s the issue here? Prior to God’s creation of the universe as described in Genesis 1, everything is theoretical in the mind of God until He makes His final decision (per the Molinists which is OK with me). Whether there was ever a point where God had not made His decision seems to be of philosophical interest. However, once God creates the universe as described in Genesis 1, everything is settled (determined) and plays out consistent with God’s omniscience.

        Then, “t is an “illusion”, because it logically necessitates “doing otherwise”, which strict Calvinism rejects.”

        God’s knowledge encompasses both events and the causes of those events. From a human perspective, a person can always do otherwise, but from God’s perspective the person does exactly as He knows they will. The “doing otherwise” position only works where God has no idea what will happen. If you want to call free will an illusion, that’s fine with me so long as you understand that this applies to LFW.

        Then, “I see you like some of Molinism. You are seeing that it helps reduce the need to otherwise evade logical consequences of a deterministic world, with the traditional Calvinistic answers….1) calling contradictions mysteries, or worse, 2) make-believing contradictions don’t exist. ”

        I have no problem with Molinism as an effort to describe God’s pre-creation activities. That does not conflict with Calvinism that deals with the created world in which all events are settled. I think Molinism is compatible with Molinism because they are mutually exclusive.

      23. rhutchin writes: “From a human perspective, a person can always do otherwise”

        Thank you for making my point! In Calvinism, “doing otherwise” is a human illusion for Adam. And its also a human illusion for a human Calvinist who asserts it. :-]

      24. br. d writes, “In Calvinism, “doing otherwise” is a human illusion for Adam. And its also a human illusion for a human Calvinist who asserts it. :-]”

        I would not see Adam having that sense – nor anyone today.

        Nonetheless, I don’t see your charge limited to Calvinism. Any one who holds that God is omniscient can be challenged on this point. I am not sure the charge is necessarily true. I think it might depend on what “doing otherwise” means – how you define it.

      25. Brian, would you say it is true, the Calvinist interpretation of scripture is “inference” reliant? In other words, the scripture, nowhere “explicitly” states Calvinistic propositions. So Calvinist exegesis is reliant upon drawing “inferences” from scripture.

        Another question concerns what is “Functionally” cannon for the interpreter of scripture. If NeoPlatonic concepts “Function” as cannon for the interpreter, then it becomes a part of the cannon of scripture “Functionally” for that interpreter. And as cannon interprets cannon, what occurs there, is NeoPlatonic concepts “Functioning” as cannon, are used to interpret the cannon of scripture’

        I suspect this explains Calvinistic interpretation of scripture.

      26. Well Br. D., I would agree with you that “the Calvinist interpretation of scripture is ‘inference’ reliant”. All of us use inference when interpreting, but we should never formulate dogma from inference or use inference as a rule of interpretation.

        Your misspelling of “canon” as “cannon” is a bit Freudian, I think. For Calvinists certainly “blow up” the authority of Scripture, imo, by using their “cannons” borrowed from Neo-Platonism. lol 🙂 That’s why they must call so much of God’s activity and the revelation of His nature in Scripture as anthropomorphic, for their “ideal” of God is not even able to communicate univocally in Scripture about Himself.

      27. Thanks for the correction!! I need to learn to differentiate between a cannonite and a canonite! 😀

      28. Hi Robert,
        You mentioned “Flint’s book is very good, and he is also a very nice guy to interact with (I have asked him some questions and interacted with him via email”

        Thanks for this tip Robert. How did you go about getting Dr. Flint’s email? I would be interested if he is that open to correspondence with!
        Thanks! br.d

  27. Brian wrote, “I would argue that though Calvinism wants to affirm LFW for God, but LFW for God cannot actually exist in their system. Calvinists believe that the predetermination of all things is eternally ‘baked in’ to God’s nature, therefore, in my opinion, He can not exercise His will contrary to that predetermination.”

    Exactly right! In the Calvinistic system, the Potter is not free, irrespective of the title of James White’s book. He does not devise plans, and He makes no choices. One could argue that He freely chose to create man but could have chosen not to create man. Not true! He had exhaustive eternal foreknowledge of every “choice” He would ever make, and since He cannot do anything contrary to His knowledge of what He is going to do, He, like the rest of us, is following an eternal script. He cannot change it. Any “change” He makes is one that He eternally knew He would make, so it is not truly a change of mind or change to a new plan of action or change in the eternal script; It’s a part of the unchangeable script.

    For me, the whole idea of such a static, unchanging God who does not truly interact with the creatures that bear His image is very depressing. Add to that the Calvinist doctrine that God’s eternally “baked-in” purpose for creation is self-glorification, and we’re left with a concept of God that, in my opinion, has little resemblance to the God of the Bible.

    1. Vance writes, “In the Calvinistic system, the Potter is not free,.. He does not devise plans, and He makes no choices.”

      Ephesians 1 is a big deal in Calvinist Theology and v11 clearly identifies a “plan” that God has. In the Calvinist system, God has devised a plan and in devising that plan, Calvinism says that God made choices. Even Brian’s literal rendering has, “…according to the plan of His desire.” In the Calvinist system, the Potter is implementing his plan.

      1. Hi Rhutchin. I’m heartened that your language included the term “in the Calvinist system”.
        It is much much less misleading and much much less ambiguous than “the Calvinist says”.
        That’s an excellent step in the direction of moving away from equivocal language.
        Well done :-]

    2. Vance,

      While I reject Calvinism and the Calvinist system, at the same time we need to be ***fair in our representation of views we reject***. From what you and Brian wrote you are not representing Calvinism fairly.

      {{Brian wrote, “I would argue that though Calvinism wants to affirm LFW for God, but LFW for God cannot actually exist in their system. Calvinists believe that the predetermination of all things is eternally ‘baked in’ to God’s nature, therefore, in my opinion, He can not exercise His will contrary to that predetermination.”}}

      Brian believes that the future is made up of what he would call “Settled” and “unsettled events”. The “settled” events include things God has predetermined to happen. Regarding these events God chose beforehand a certain outcome or event. He chose that outcome and chose it freely, though he will not change his choice when the time comes. If this is true, would he be acting freely regarding that event? Yes, he made a choice to do this rather than that. To use a relevant example that comes directly from calvinism, he chose this person to be elect and this person not to be elect. So He is definitely acting freely, it is just that he made the choices way before the outcomes occur.

      Now Calvinists of course take this further and argue that all events are predecided in this way. But this is not a lack of free will on God’s part, rather, He made these choices before he created the world in eternity. Open theists like to attack this claiming that this means God is “frozen” in His plan, but that is not relevant, the issue is whether or not this eliminates God having free will with regards to these choices. Do we really want a God who makes choices before but then just arbitrarily comes along later and changes his choices? And what would he be basing his change of mind upon, new information that he gained later after he initially made His choices? But if he gains new information in this way, He is not omniscient and He is not the God of the Bible but the God of the open theists!

      “Exactly right! In the Calvinistic system, the Potter is not free, irrespective of the title of James White’s book. He does not devise plans, and He makes no choices.”

      See Vance this is not accurate. He does make plans, He just makes them in eternity before He creates according to Calvinists (and Molinists hold this as well as do other non-Calvinists including Arminians believe this with the crucifixion of Jesus being one of these plans made in eternity that God will not choose to change and did not choose to change when it happened) He also makes choices, He just makes them before He creates the world. He would not have free will if he had to make the choices he makes and has no choice in what He chooses (but most Calvinists do not believe this, they believe for example “He has mercy on whom He has mercy and He hardens whom He hardens” but these are choices freely made by God). Now you could argue upon what basis does He choose to save one and not the other, but you are not arguing against their view if you claim He has no choices.

      “One could argue that He freely chose to create man but could have chosen not to create man. Not true! He had exhaustive eternal foreknowledge of every “choice” He would ever make, and since He cannot do anything contrary to His knowledge of what He is going to do, He, like the rest of us, is following an eternal script. He cannot change it.”

      Ah, but you miss something here Vance, say there is this eternal script (in which such and such is predecided to happen [note I am not a calvinist I am only trying to be fair with their view]): Didn’t God then freely choose THIS SCRIPT when other scripts also could have been chosen as his eternal plan?

      Yes, unless he had to choose this particular script. But again most calvinists do not believe he had to pick this script, they believe he freely chose this script when others also could have been chosen.

      “Any “change” He makes is one that He eternally knew He would make, so it is not truly a change of mind or change to a new plan of action or change in the eternal script; It’s a part of the unchangeable script.”

      But again, if his choice is in what particular script He wants to be the one, then He is acting freely unless he had to choose that script (and say that He chooses one script rather than another, think of how many decisions are nested in that one world history, literally billions of events that He decides upon, makes choices about in coming up with the one total plan).

      “For me, the whole idea of such a static, unchanging God who does not truly interact with the creatures that bear His image is very depressing.”

      When you speak of an “unchanging God” do you mean that his attributes do not change (e.g. he remains all powerful, all knowing) or do you mean he that he does not interact with people in real time?

      “Add to that the Calvinist doctrine that God’s eternally “baked-in” purpose for creation is self-glorification, and we’re left with a concept of God that, in my opinion, has little resemblance to the God of the Bible.”

      Say he does have this script that is “baked-in” or set from the beginning, that still does not mean He has no choices because the Calvinist will claim he could have chosen a different script. They will also say, if He has this script why is He going to want to change it if it is His will?

      Again I am no Calvinist, and I reject Calvinism, but we have to be fair in how we represent it. The objections you and Brian are positing are not helpful as they are aimed at a view that Calvinists do not hold at all.

      1. “Say he does have this script that is ‘baked-in’ or set from the beginning, that still does not mean He has no choices because the Calvinist will claim he could have chosen a different script.”

        Yes, the Calvinist would say that, and he would say that I’m misrepresenting his system, but I say he’s not thinking his system through. If God knew from eternity which script He would follow, He *could not* somewhere down the road choose a script different from the one He foreknew from eternity. Not possible! Think it through, Robert. If you say that God had choices as to what kind of world He would make, I would say fine, but if He had choices, then He could not have already had foreknowledge of which world He would make, for then there would be no choice; what God would do was already determined and could not be changed. Are you not getting this? If God, in eternity, knew with absolute certainty that He would make this world, not some other one, then there were never any choices. He could not have made a world different from the world He eternally, exhaustively, and perfectly knew He would make. The Calvinistic system, when carried to its logical conclusion, simply does not allow for choices or options or MAKING plans. All plans are eternal and therefore cannot be *made* or chosen or changed. To make, choose, or change a plan requires real options and rules out any predetermined blueprint.

        “When you speak of an ‘unchanging God’ do you mean that his attributes do not change (e.g. he remains all powerful, all knowing) or do you mean he that he does not interact with people in real time?”

        God’s character never changes. He is eternally faithful, loving, etc. But Scripture presents a God interacts with His people in time. He answers prayer in real time and makes choices, in real time, based on what people do—i.e., whether they repent, etc. In the Calvinistic system, what does answered prayer look like? Does God decide, in time, whether and how to answer our petitions? Or were all that He and we would do eternally known of Him? If all of it were eternally known, then He did not look across the millennia through the corridors of time, see Robert pray for the healing of a friend, and decide how He would respond to Robert’s prayer. If God’s knowledge of all time is exhaustive and eternal, there is no deciding. In fact, Robert’s prayer does not precede God’s “response.” Calvinists may say that Robert’s prayer “logically” precedes God’s response but does not precede it in time, but that’s a lot of philosophical mumbo-jumbo! It’s senseless. The bottom line is, if God has all knowledge of all things from eternity, there simply is no deciding, for all things are eternally settled. The minute details of everything about Robert and the events of his life had no beginning in the mind of God. God could not have decided to make Robert 5 foot 10 rather than 6 foot 4, for Robert’s 6 foot 4 height is a matter of eternal fact in the divine mind, so there was no decision that could be made. Indeed, if one carries Calvinism to its logical conclusion, one realizes that one of the things IMPOSSIBLE for God to do is make a decision. That’s why Molinism is such an illogical system. In that system, God knows from eternity the exhaustive details of the world He would create, so to add “middle knowledge” to that system so as to give God options from an infinite variety of possible worlds makes no sense whatsoever. How does that solve anything? If God already knows the details of the world He will make, then that’s the world He will make, and there never were or could be any other possible worlds.

        “Again I am no Calvinist, and I reject Calvinism, but we have to be fair in how we represent it. The objections you and Brian are positing are not helpful as they are aimed at a view that Calvinists do not hold at all.”

        You are right, Robert. They do not hold the views Brian and I are positing. But I believe that if they were to think their system through, laying aside all bias, they would have to conclude that their system is as illogical and contradictory as Brian and I say it is. I’m not trying to represent what Calvinists believe; I’m trying to show why what they believe is illogical. And I think that is helpful.

      2. Vance writes, “If God, in eternity, knew with absolute certainty that He would make this world, not some other one, then there were never any choices”

        This is incorrect. There is the choice God makes – the world He will create. After this choice is made, there would be no need for God to revisit His choice or second-guess that choice so there would not be the need for different choices on this one issue – the world He will create.

      3. rhutchin writes: “This is incorrect. There is the choice God makes – the world He will create. After this choice is made, there would be no need for God to revisit His choice or second-guess that choice so there would not be the need for different choices on this one issue – the world He will create.”

        Hi rhutchin,
        In response to Vance statement: “this is incorrect”.

        But then you restate Vance’s point: “there is the choice God makes….After this choice is made, there would be no……etc”

        Vance’s point did not concern itself with issues like God’s NEED to make post-decree choices, or the idea of God SECOND-GUESSING post-decree choices. His statement simply enunciated the mere fact that there are no “Alternative” choices available to God, after God makes **ALL** choices, including his own, “settled”, post-decree.

        From my view, I think the larger concern you have, appears to consistently be, the language by which these conceptions are presented. The critical thinker disciplines himself to make his language emotionally neutral, and as precise and fact-focused as possible.

        Have you noticed a tendency to massage statements to make them appear more palatable?

      4. br.d asks, “Have you noticed a tendency to massage statements to make them appear more palatable?”

        …more palatable; NO. Furthering understanding; YES. Your massaging is my using different words to communicate a common concept. Since you seem to have trouble understanding the Calvinist position, I explain it different ways hoping that you will eventually grasp that position.

      5. What I clearly see is you massaging statements, by adding ambiguities and equivocations into them so that they **appear** more palatable, by hiding logical entailments, which are more clearly visible within unambiguous language. Sometimes you’ll call a statement false and then simply re-state it using your own language, while being unable to see the self-contradiction.

        BTW: Equivocation comes in two forms. And one form which appears consistently in your statements, is:
        “The misleading use of A TERM with more than one meaning or sense” see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation

        Take the word “certain” which you use often, for example. It has more than one meaning.
        http://www.dictionary.com/browse/certain

        1) In regard to a person’s disposition: Free from doubt or reservation; confident; sure:
        2) In regard to a future event: Inevitable; bound to occur, destined, fated.

        When “certain” is used in statements regarding Calvinism, and where which one of its meanings is left undisclosed, it becomes equivocal. And since its meaning regarding future events infers fatalism, it becomes a red-flag for theological fatalism within Calvinist statements.

      6. br. d writes, “2) In regard to a future event: Inevitable; bound to occur, destined, fated.

        When “certain” is used in statements regarding Calvinism, and where which one of its meanings is left undisclosed, it becomes equivocal. ”

        As applied to God’s knowledge of future events, the second definition is used consistently by Calvinists in the sense of being certain but not necessary.

        Then, “And since its meaning regarding future events infers fatalism, it becomes a red-flag for theological fatalism within Calvinist statements.”

        This is wrong. If God’s knowledge made future events “necessary,” then fatalism would be an issue.

      7. On Dec 29 br.d writes: “And since its (i.e., the word “certain”) meaning regarding future events infers fatalism, it becomes a red-flag for theological fatalism within Calvinist statements.”

        rhutchin responds: Thu, 29 Dec 2016 –
        “This is wrong. If God’s knowledge made future events “necessary,” then fatalism would be an issue.”

        However on December 15, br.d writes to rhutchin: “I don’t think you realized it but, the premises statements you wrote happen to be classic statements for theological fatalism.”

        rutchin responds to this with:

        “Theological fatalism has an all-knowing, perfectly wise God in control of that which He created. Can’t beat that!”

        You wanted examples of contradictions rhutchin…and I indicated they are everywhere in your posts.
        And they are!!!

      8. br. d writes, “You wanted examples of contradictions …”

        Theological fatalism has God in control of all events (therefore, whatever God has determned’decided’decreed to occur will occur); it does not necessitate God causing all events directly but incorporates the use of secondary causes. Similarly, God’s foreknowledge makes all events certain but not necessary. There is no contradiction in this. A contradiction would occur if I also argued that some events occur without cause – as the free will people will argue (as they must). If, however, you see a contradiction in what I have written, you can always explain that contradiction – rather than just identifying two statements and claiming a contradiction where none really exists.

      9. rutchin writes: “If, however, you see a contradiction in what I have written, you can always explain that contradiction – rather than just identifying two statements and claiming a contradiction where none really exists.”

        The condition or nature of a “contradiction” entails two statements which contradict or negate one another. There are so many of them here in your statements, that only you don’t see them. Everyone else does. Like I’ve said before, I can lead a horse to water, but I can’t make him drink.

        However, if you want people to take you seriously, you will eventually be forced to face your tendency towards lexical ambiguities and equivocations, and logical contradictions.

        In a libertarian world, God can decree you free to choose to face them or not. :-]

      10. Vance writes: “Yes, the Calvinist would say that, and he would say that I’m misrepresenting his system, but I say he’s not thinking his system through. If God knew from eternity which script He would follow, He *could not* somewhere down the road choose a script different from the one He foreknew from eternity”

        I had never thought about this in this way before. But it makes sense to me….at least as I understand it at this time.

        If God at T1 decrees **ALL** things (without exception) that come to pass, assuming **ALL** means everything after T1, then it follows that **ALL** choices after T1 are predestined, including his own. In such case, everything God thinks and does, after T1, are constricted to conform to follow the script he created at T1.

        In this case, the same “constrained” freedom that Calvinism asserts God imposes upon the creature, God also imposes upon himself. Any type of “deliberation” over something that is prescripted is severely limited by the degree to which thoughts are prescripted. Thus, if at T1, **ALL** thoughts are predestined by God, then any “deliberation” on God’s part, after T1, is just God following the script of thoughts and choices, at T1, which he predestined himself to have after T1.

      11. br.d writes, “If God at T1 decrees **ALL** things (without exception) that come to pass, assuming **ALL** means everything after T1, then it follows that **ALL** choices after T1 are predestined, including his own. In such case, everything God thinks and does, after T1, are constricted to conform to follow the script he created at T1.”

        God, by His choices decrees ALL things after T1. Once God has made His choices, there would by no need for God to make further choices. Thus, it is God’s choices that constrain Him (regardless when He makes those choices) and of course God implements the script comprised of His choices.

      12. rhutchin writes: “God, by His choices decrees ALL things after T1.”

        I’m curious about your analysis of something?

        Proposition 1) **ALL** future events which will come to pass are ordained by god through decrees at (T1 = the foundation of the world)

        Proposition 2) **SOME** future events which will come to pass are NOT ordained by god through decrees at (T1= the foundation of the world)

        rhutchin, do you believe these two propositions are both true?

      13. br.d writes, “Proposition 1) **ALL** future events which will come to pass are ordained by god through decrees at (T1 = the foundation of the world)
        Proposition 2) **SOME** future events which will come to pass are NOT ordained by god through decrees at (T1= the foundation of the world)
        do you believe these two propositions are both true?”

        First, a redundancy – to ordain X is to decree, to decide X. To say that God ordains through decrees is like saying that God decides by deciding.

        Make Proposition 2 to read, 2) **ALL** future events… and I can agree to both propositions. God ordains all that happens; nothing happens that God does not ordain.

      14. br.d writes, “Proposition 1) **ALL** future events which will come to pass are ordained by god through decrees at (T1 = the foundation of the world)
        Proposition 2) **SOME** future events which will come to pass are NOT ordained by god through decrees at (T1= the foundation of the world)
        do you believe these two propositions are both true?”

        rhutchin writes:
        “First, a redundancy – to ordain X is to decree, to decide X. To say that God ordains through decrees is like saying that God decides by deciding.”

        The problem with this response is that it doesn’t recognize the equivocal nature of the word “ordain”. Again, equivocation can occur where A TERM is used having more than one meaning, and the meaning is left ambiguous.
        Dictionary.com

        1) A judicial decision or order.
        2) Theology. one of the eternal purposes of God, by which events are foreordained.

        In philosophical terms, “decree” is a sufficient condition for “ordain”, but not a “necessary” condition for “ordain”.
        So “Ordain through decrees” is language which removes the ambiguity and possible equivocation.

        Rhuthin writes:
        Make Proposition 2 to read, 2) **ALL** future events… and I can agree to both propositions. God ordains all that happens; nothing happens that God does not ordain.

        Ok, I assume then, you realize, by removing **SOME** in this statement, you are logically asserting that the only time God ordains by decrees is at (T1 = the foundation of the world).
        Are you willing to acknowledge that?

      15. br. d writes, “In philosophical terms, “decree” is a sufficient condition for “ordain”, but not a “necessary” condition for “ordain”.”

        I view “decree” and “ordain” as synonyms. To say that God decreed X is to say that God ordained X. If not, and a decree is a necessary condition to ordain, what additional action is required to get us from “decree” to “ordain”?

        Then, “1) A judicial decision or order.
        2) Theology. one of the eternal purposes of God, by which events are foreordained.”

        I don’t see two different meanings here. (1) is a general definition. (2) is the application of (1) to the case of theology. The meaning of the term does not change just because it is applied to a specific situation (theology).

        Then, “I assume then, you realize, by removing **SOME** in this statement, you are logically asserting that the only time God ordains by decrees is at (T1 = the foundation of the world).
        Are you willing to acknowledge that?”

        No. God can decree/ordain in eternity past if He wanted. Nothing requires that God wait to make decisions at some unique point.

      16. Look in the dictionary rhutchin instead of resisting the evidence. Two meanings are obvious.

      17. br. d writes, “Look in the dictionary rhutchin instead of resisting the evidence. Two meanings are obvious.”

        I didn’t see two meanings, The first was a broad meaning that was applied in the second as a specific application of the first from what I understood. If you can explain how they were uniquely different, have at it.

      18. 1) I am “certain” that 2 * 2 = 4
        2) That Adam will disobey God’s command is “certain” to happen.

        1) This meaning or sense focuses on cognition of a sentient being.
        2) This meaning or sense has nothing to do with the cognition of a sentient being, but rather focuses on the inevitability of an event, and not one’s perception of the event or its inevitability.

        Statement: “With God X is certain, but with man X is not certain”

        This statement is equivocal because the second “certain” can only refer to man’s perception of X, but the first “certain” can either refer to God’s perception of X, or the inevitability of X.

      19. br.d writes, “Statement: “With God X is certain, but with man X is not certain”

        This statement is equivocal because the second “certain” can only refer to man’s perception of X, but the first “certain” can either refer to God’s perception of X, or the inevitability of X.”

        Oh Brdie!!! This is where CONTEXT comes into play and is easily seen. We all know that changing the context can nuance words. Nonetheless, in your two definitions, context was not changed. The first definition would apply in a general broad context and the second definition takes the first defi