Freewill as Taught in Scripture

Freewill as Taught in Scripture

by Brian H. Wagner, Ph.D.,
instructor of church history,
theology and biblical languages
at Virginia Baptist College

How often have I read in various Facebook theological discussions the declaration of a Calvinist – “Freewill is not taught in Scriptures”?  Of course, the freedom of will to go against one’s nature, even for God, is not possible.  It is impossible for God to lie or to deny Himself (Titus 1:2, Heb 6:18, 2 Tim 2:13).  And it is impossible for me to fly by just flapping my arms. But the ability to freely make decisions commensurate with the limits of one’s nature and with the opportunities provided for such decision making is logically part of God’s and man’s nature and experience.  The exercise of that ability by God and by man is also well documented in Scripture.  And I can fly… if I decide to get on an airplane and allow its power to transport me through the air!

The following is an attempt at a rather thorough study of words used in the OT and NT that teach aspects and examples of the exercise of freewill.  The reader will hopefully become convinced, contrary to Calvinistic dramatic false statements in opposition, that freewill is clearly taught in the Scriptures –

The Hebrew word [verb] נדב naw-dab’ is a primitive root that means – to impel; hence, to volunteer (as a soldier), to present spontaneously…primarily translated as an adverb “willingly” which indicates free motivation or voluntary decision. It is used 17 times in 15 verses throughout OT Scripture [also 3 times in 3 verses using the same root in Aramaic – Ezra 7:13, 15, 16].  (Most of definitions for this paper are adapted from Strong’s Concordance lexical definitions.)

Here are all the verses that translate this word, נדב naw-dab’, with the translation of it underlined.  The ESV translation for each verse was chosen to accommodate Calvinist readers, so they won’t have to keep running back to their favorite translation, which is deterministically flavored. 😉

Exod 25:2 ESV “… From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.

Exod 35:21 ESV And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him….

Exod 35:29 ESV All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.

Judg 5:2 ESV …that the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the LORD!

Ezr 7:13 ESV – 13 I make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you.

—-[The verbal form in this last verse is a participle, on the Hithpael stem, which is reflexive in meaning, thus the word “themselves” should be added. This Hithpael verbal stem is used 17 times in the same reflexive way – Jg 5:2, 9; 1Ch 29:5, 6, 9(2x), 14, 17(2x); 2Ch 17:16; Ezr 1:6, 2:68, 3:5, 7:13, 15, 16; Neh 11:2].  The reflexive action only helps to emphasize the non-compulsory action of the person’s will in the decision made in each context—-

The noun נדבה ned-aw-baw’ is used 26 times in 25 verses, mostly in connection with a voluntary – “freewill” – offering to God. With all these verses one cannot help but ask “How can you have a freewill offering without a freewill?” Calvinists reject its normal meaning, but the Bible literally uses the word 26 times.  Even the Calvinist translators of the KJV and ESV freely chose “freewill” as a suitable translation. Their translation choice is telling of what they believed this original word meant.

Here are the verses in which this noun is used:

Exod 35:29 ESV All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD. —-[The idea in this verse of a sacrifice made as a free-will offering, one not commanded as an obligation, is also found in – Ex 36:3; Le 7:16; 22:18, 21, 23; 23:38; Nu 15:3; 29:39; De 12:6, 17; 16:10; 2Ch 31:14; Ezr 1:4; 3:5; 8:28; Ps 54:6; 119:108; Eze 46:12(2x); Am 4:5]

Deut 23:23 ESV You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.

2Ch 35:8 ESV And his officials contributed willingly to the people, to the priests, and to the Levites….

Ps 68:9 ESV Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished;

Ps 110:3 ESV Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.

Hos 14:4 ESV I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.

—All these OT verses clearly confirm that man, even an unregenerate man, can exercise a free-will in a manner pleasing to God. Even God is said to exercise His freewill in Hos 14:4.  The translation in Ps 68:9 was obviously determined with some subjectivity. It could easily be translated – “A shower of freewill gifts, O God, you have shed abroad…”

Here are some NT words and verses to consider that also speak to the issue of the freedom of the will.  A Calvinist may try to attribute all of the following examples as a result of regeneration, but that does not seem to fit this first example –

Acts 17:11-12 ESV Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

—-[from προθυμια proth-oo-mee’-ah, meaning predisposition. See also 2Co 8:11, 12, 19, 9:2;] The Calvinist may endeavor to suggest this willing predisposition of the Bereans was a result of regeneration, which they think is before faith is expressed. It is very difficult to convince them otherwise when their loyalty to Calvinism is so strong that they refuse to see the gospel of John clearly teaches light is freely received before faith which is before new birth life is given. See John 1:4-13, 12:35-36, 20:30-31.

Other NT verses to consider that speak to the issue of freewill are these –

1Cor 7:37 ESV But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. —-from μη ἔχων ἀνάγκην , literally – “not having a necessity”, which would be impossible if everything was predetermined eternally and immutably, making every event a necessary result of God’s decree. Notice also the verse says this man “having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart.”

1Cor 9:17 ESV For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. —- from εχων hek-own’ meaning willingly.

2Cor 8:3 ESV For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, and 2Cor 8:17 ESV For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. —-from αυθαιρετος ow-thah’-ee-ret-os – meaning self-chosen, and by implication – voluntary.

2Cor 9:7 ESV Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. —- from προαιρεομαι pro-ahee-reh’-om-ahee – meaning to choose for oneself before another thing, to prefer and by implication, to intend.

Phlm 1:14 ESV but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. —- from εκουσιος hek-oo’-see-on – meaning willingness.

1Pet 5:2 ESV shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; —-from εκουσιον hek-oo-see’-ose – meaning willingly.

The existence of a free will, even post regeneration, runs counter to the idea of an eternally immutable divine will that had completely determined everything forever into the future before creation began. Calvinism is based upon that philosophical premise, making the exercise of any free-will for God or man impossible, before creation and especially after it. That premise makes a falsehood out of these clear Scriptures shared here. These Scriptures and many others clearly show that free will does exist and is being exercised by God and man.

499 thoughts on “Freewill as Taught in Scripture

  1. Thanks Brian for showing that Scripture supports the idea of man’s free will. Your humble spirit (here and on all your posts) supports the idea that you are not then consequently saying (as you will be accused of) that this means that “man is in charge,” or that you propose a “man-centered Gospel.”

  2. Thank you for your post Brian. I always appreciate your insight and your knowledge of scripture as well as your spirit of brotherly love with which you share here.

    Understanding how God gives man freedom and responsibility (ability to respond freely) only increases the awe of God’s Sovereignty, power, and love.

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

  3. Dr. Wagner writes, “..the ability to freely make decisions commensurate with the limits of one’s nature and with the opportunities provided for such decision making is logically part of God’s and man’s nature and experience.” No Calvinist should disagree with this statement. The “limits of one’s nature and…the opportunities provided for such decision making” restrain us from automatically concluding that every individual can exercise free will to the same extent – some have a greater freedom than others and it is possible that some have no real freedom espescially as it relates to making spiritual decisions.

    The point raised by the Calvinist concerns Dr Wagner’s “…limits of one’s nature…” Dr. Wagner chooses not to develop this, leaving it standing as an elephant in the room. However, we can conclude that the “…limits of one’s nature…” would result in some being able to exercise free will and some being unable to do so or not as much. That provides context for the analysis of all the verses dealing with free will and help the reader understand the need to consider context when Dr. Wagner writes, “All these OT verses clearly confirm that man, even an unregenerate man, can exercise a free-will in a manner pleasing to God,” and the fallacy of not doing so. Obviously, under the limitation imposed by Dr. Wagner, there is no reason to think that unregenerate man can exercise a free-will in a manner pleasing to God. Certainly, those verses do not lead to that conclusion as other explanations are available – within the limitations of one’s nature – that are just as plausible.

  4. I must admit being somewhat perplexed by this article. If I did a word study of “sovereignty” in the Bible as an argument against Traditionalism what do you think would be the response? The first reaction would be, “Hello, we believe in sovereignty, as well.” This would be followed by the valid criticism that I was implying that Traditionalists and Arminians don’t believe in sovereignty.

    This is just another example of caricaturing the Calvinist as a hard determinist. There is no discussion of the ability to choose contrary to one’s own nature, only the obvious and irrelevant statement that one makes decisions commensurate with one’s nature.

    Incidentally, the term “freewill offering” simply means “optional”—there’s no deep philosophical meaning behind it.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I’d be interested in a thorough word study of OT and NT words meaning sovereignty. But I wonder why the translators chose “freewill” over “optional” if you are correct!

      1. Good point. To answer that question I would do a word study on the words “optional, option, voluntary and free” and see if these individual words existed in the Hebrew and if perhaps their meanings overlapped, and look at the connections, if any, these words might have to each other.

      2. Great… I look forward to reading your results, Mike! Hopefully my study is a good start… since it includes the word “free” in the translation.

  5. The Calvinist argues that man’s nature prevents him from making the decisions which Brian offers scripture that affirms he does make. Unregenerate man can make decisions that please God. Unless all the children of Israel were regenerate, the Calvinist argument is nonsensical .

    Then we see this statement // Incidentally, the term “freewill offering” simply means “optional”—there’s no deep philosophical meaning behind it.// And how can it be optional without the freewill to choose.

    Thanks Brian, for showing another error of the Calvinist system.

    1. erneststrauss writes, “Unregenerate man can make decisions that please God.”

      In Romans 8, we read, “…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

      Do we believe you or Paul?

      1. RHutchins:
        You quoted Romans 8 as if walking in the flesh was synonymous with unregenerate. It is not. Walking in the flesh describes behavior. Unregenerate describes a man’s spiritual condition. A man is the agent of his behavior as evidenced by the many appeals by God and the prophets to change it. God is the agent of regeneration which He exercises when man believes. Calvinism suffers from its inability to distinguish agency. This results in many of the errors it makes.

      2. Erneststrauss:

        Get used to Calvinists pulling verses out of context.

        Here is the context:

        5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

        Rhutchin often mentions Paul’s agony in the 7th chapter of Romans (which he is forgetting now that he uses that Rom 8 verse), and Romans 7 does end on this note: “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

        So Paul is saying ….”dont live in the flesh!” Not trying to establish doctrine about one of the letters in TULIP!

        As I stated above, Luke tells us the both Elizabeth and Zechariah “were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” They we obviously pre-Christ, pre-cross. No mention of regeneration or any special intervention.

      3. “So Paul is saying ….”dont live in the flesh!” Not trying to establish doctrine about one of the letters in TULIP!”

        Paul begins, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” He then makes the contrast between those set on the flesh and those set on the spirit. The context has Paul describing two opposing positions. Paul is not telling people not to live in the flesh – his point is that they are no longer in the flesh but in the spirit – “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” There is no pulling of verses out of context here – Paul is explicit in his description.

        Then, “As I stated above, Luke tells us the both Elizabeth and Zechariah “were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.” They we obviously pre-Christ, pre-cross. No mention of regeneration or any special intervention.”

        Special intervention is obvious. Their actions are consistent with faith and faith was a gift to them from God. God was giving faith to people prior to Christ.

      4. Rhutchin:
        I forgot (or missed in the text) just how “obvious” it was that Elizabeth and Zechariah “were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly,” because God irresistibly made them that way. It just NEVER appears that way in the text when God mentions someone’s faith…..

        Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

        No matter what is ever said in this dialog, you just put a “God gave them that faith and denied faith to the others that He created for eternal damnation” sticker on it and that settles that.

        That same response was taught to me by books and blogs. It was not something I found (or anyone would find) in Scripture in simple reading.

      5. “It just NEVER appears that way in the text when God mentions someone’s faith…..”

        Where do people get faith if not from God? Who decides to give people faith if not God? Does not Ephesians 2 rule here? Did not Jesus say, “I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” The Baptist said, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.” The clear teaching of Scripture is that we can have nothing if it is not given to us by God – including the freedom to sin.

      6. erneststrauss writes, “You quoted Romans 8 as if walking in the flesh was synonymous with unregenerate.”

        You need to read Romans 8 again, “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…the mind set on the flesh is death,…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

        Paul is speaking of those whose mind is set on the flesh – they are unregenerate. Of course, a person acts in accord with his mind.

        You do not disagree with the conclusion that unregenerate man cannot please God. That is good to know.

  6. Rhutchin:
    Does Paul mean what you want him to mean?

    Does Paul agree with Luke?

    Luke 1: 5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly.

      1. RHutchins – you wrote //You need to read Romans 8 again, “those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…the mind set on the flesh is death,…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”// Did you not see “set there minds …” ? Once again, this is describing an action of man, a behavior. It does not describe his spiritual condition, unregenerate. Calvinism has distorted the meaning of regeneration and by doing so they distort the meaning of scripture. You conveniently have left out “walking according to the flesh” which is being compared to walking “according to the Spirit.” And then there is “living according to the flesh”. Paul is writing to believers with this warning – he says the spirit of Christ lives in you.
        Perhaps it is you who needs to read the context of Chapter 8 by going back and reading this: Romans 7:24-25 (HCSB)
        24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?
        25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
        Here we see Paul himself, a regenerate man, admitting that with his flesh he is a slave to sin.

      2. erneststrauss writes, “Did you not see “set there minds …” ? Once again, this is describing an action of man, a behavior. It does not describe his spiritual condition, unregenerate. Calvinism has distorted the meaning of regeneration…”

        The verse says, “…those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,….” Why did you leave out the part about “…those who are according to the flesh…”? This is what Calvinists point to as describing spiritual condition. Why do you, then, ignore it when arguing against the Calvinists?

        Then, “…You conveniently have left out “walking according to the flesh” which is being compared to walking “according to the Spirit.” And then there is “living according to the flesh”. Paul is writing to believers with this warning – he says the spirit of Christ lives in you.”

        OK. There are those who walk according to the flesh and those who walk according to the spirit. Then, Paul writes, “…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” This seems clear to me.

        Then, “Here we see Paul himself, a regenerate man, admitting that with his flesh he is a slave to sin.”

        Paul writes, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;” and “So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” and “…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.”

  7. Rhuthcin:

    BTW, you quoted a verse (of course out of context…but not my point right now) that says that God can “be pleased.”

    The normal position of Calvinism is that God is impassible, cannot be pleased or displeased (that would require Him to “change” in some way).

    Can man please or displease God?

    1. “Can man please or displease God?”

      From Hebrews 11, “…without faith it is impossible to please [God],…”

      So, consistent with Paul, no person who is in the flesh – without faith – can please God. One can only please God after being given faith by God that the person then exercises to believe.

  8. Isaiah 54 (ESV):

    13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
    and great shall be the peace of your children.
    14 In righteousness you shall be established;
    you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;
    and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
    15 If anyone stirs up strife,
    IT IS NOT FROM ME;
    whoever stirs up strife with you
    shall fall because of you.

    1. STCLA:

      Yes…His word says in many places that some things are just not Him.

      Notice the several places in Jeremiah where He says, “…and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind..” showing that man is doing some things that He has not ordained (hidden or not) and did not even come into His mind. How else can he say that he is not behind those things in any way?

      God has sovereignly decided to create in a way that man can do things that He does not want.

      Of course when you START with the presupposition that man has no free will and all things are decreed from God—-then you can cherry-pick a few verses, interpret them in a certain way, and “prove” that He decreed everything. But again….

      How else can he say that he is not behind those things in any way?

      I mean in what way could God better formulate a phrase to show us plainly that He did not decree those things?

      1. “showing that man is doing some things that He has not ordained (hidden or not) and did not even come into His mind. How else can he say that he is not behind those things in any way?”

        Such verses illustrate that the ways of evil people are completely foreign to God.

        Then, “God has sovereignly decided to create in a way that man can do things that He does not want.”

        All agree to this. God has given people freedom to pursue evil – up to a point.

        Then, “Of course when you START with the presupposition that man has no free will and all things are decreed from God—-then you can cherry-pick a few verses, interpret them in a certain way, and “prove” that He decreed everything. But again….”

        That God decrees all things does not mean that man is not free to pursue evil. By decree, God restrains the evil that people would do freely if not restrained.

        Then, “How else can he say that he is not behind those things in any way?”

        God is not behind such things because He does not influence people to do evil.

        Then, “I mean in what way could God better formulate a phrase to show us plainly that He did not decree those things?”

        Those verses do not deny God’s restraining influence, only that such evil does not originate with Him.

      2. Your imprecise language is alarming Roger… and truly mistepresents your views… you must see that. Would you like to rephrase the following?

        “…completely foreign to God.”
        “God is not behind such things.”
        “…such evil did not originate with Him.”

        Are you now denying omniscience and complete determinism? If His will is the source for everything that comes into existence… even the existence of His omniscience… then nothing is foreign to Him… He is behind all things… and even the existence of evil was willed by Him… according to what you really believe.

        Why do you hide your clearly held views behind such misleading jargon?

      3. brianwagner writes, “Your imprecise language is alarming…Would you like to rephrase the following?

        “…completely foreign to God.”
        “God is not behind such things.”
        “…such evil did not originate with Him.””

        That language seems pretty straightforward and precise to me. Apparently, you read those statements to mean different things to different people. Can you expand on your complaint so that more precise language might be found?

        Then, “Are you now denying omniscience and complete determinism? If His will is the source for everything that comes into existence… even the existence of His omniscience… then nothing is foreign to Him… He is behind all things… and even the existence of evil was willed by Him… according to what you really believe.”

        God’s will is not the immediate source of everything that exists – it controls everything that exists. The depraved mind is able to conceive evil on its own without help from God. God knows the thoughts of a person even before the depraved mind conceives those thoughts. God gives the depraved mind freedom to pursue all sorts of evil without interference from God. To say that evil is “foreign to God” says that God does not cause the depraved mind to think such evil. Evil originates with the depraved mind and its source is not God.

        Then, “Why do you hide your clearly held views behind such misleading jargon?”

        That is the point of discussion – to straighten out jargon. Your help explain what you see as misleading is necessary if we are to root out jargon.

      4. Phew! I am sure that Brian will be relieved that you are no longer a Calvinist. For, surely many quotes can be found from Calvin, Piper, and van Til (albeit not from Scripture) showing that every dust particle (good or bad) is determined by God. Thus, I believe your “foreign to God” demonstrates that you do not follow this thing.

        For how…in your definition of sovereign ….could ANYTHING be foreign to God?

      5. “For how…in your definition of sovereign ….could ANYTHING be foreign to God?”

        That which is foreign to God is that which God would not command people to do.

  9. In addition to what Brian said, above you said that all agree to the fact that “God has sovereignly decided to create in a way that man can do things that He does not want.”

    This is fundamental in the flawed idea of “irresistible grace”. God wants all men to come to Him (He says it, but Calvinist redefine “all” and “world” with cherry-picking semantics) —-but has created in a way that man can refuse Him. Their refusal “is foreign to Him.”

    1. “This is fundamental in the flawed idea of “irresistible grace”. God wants all men to come to Him (He says it, but Calvinist redefine “all” and “world” with cherry-picking semantics) —-but has created in a way that man can refuse Him.”

      Calvinist define “all men” to mean “Jew and gentile.” This is based on Ephesians 3. Your definition of “all men” to be each and every individual is based on Webster’s dictionary. I think we should let God speak for Himself and not Webster.

      Then, “Their refusal “is foreign to Him.””

      That people sin is not foreign to God. What is foreign to God is the idea that He commands such behavior.

      1. Once again you want it both ways.

        God does “command such behavior” in that all things (according to Calvin) are decreed, ordained and willed by Him.

        If man is sinning and God did not command it, then “man is sovereign” ….capable of doing something God has not planned.

        Can you see the double standard?

      2. “God does “command such behavior” in that all things (according to Calvin) are decreed, ordained and willed by Him.
        If man is sinning and God did not command it, then “man is sovereign” ….capable of doing something God has not planned.
        Can you see the double standard?”

        In the first instance God commands that people be free to pursue sin without interference from Him. In the second instance, God does not command that people use the freedom He gives then to sin. I don’t see a double standard – context is different.

        Maybe you could explain how a sovereign God might avoid having to decree, ordain, will everything that happens.

      3. Simply amazing. You cannot even hear yourself.

        Most of my Calvinist friends at this point would (reluctantly, but doggedly since “it must be so!”) admit that God does ordain sin.

        You however want Him ordaining all things, decreeing all things. You, by your definition of sovereignty —- declare that He is the ORIGIN of all things good and bad…..and yet…he only “allows” man to sin…”deciding if He should intervene to stop him or not.” Phew! Makes me dizzy!

      4. “You, by your definition of sovereignty —- declare that He is the ORIGIN of all things good and bad…..”

        God certainly knows all things good and bad. When God said to Adam, “Do not eat…,” He originated that which was good; Do not eat – and bad; Eat. God pretty much covered the waterfront in the Ten Commandments, so there is nothing new under the sun. However, even though God originated all things good and bad, He does not cause a person to do bad – a person, like Adam, can take credit for taking that which God told him not to do and doing it.

      5. Simple logic: Adam gets (bad) credit for eating….but God ordained it all along. So he could not have NOT eaten correct? He was compelled by God’s divine decree to eat, correct?

        Could Adam have live there, not eating of that forbidden fruit?

        It appears when reading the Bible that he had a choice. But in true Calvinism he had only the choice to disobey (as God had already willed, decreed, ordained, planned it). In this way of thinking the Bible constantly misleads the reader, by making him think that Adam really had a choice…when Calvin declares that he did not!

      6. “Simple logic: Adam gets (bad) credit for eating….but God ordained it all along. So he could not have NOT eaten correct? He was compelled by God’s divine decree to eat, correct?”

        Adam was not compelled by God’s decrees to eat. God created Adam and then set up the confrontation with Satan in the garden. Adam freely ate the fruit and it was God’s decree not to prevent Adam doing so.

        Then, “Could Adam have live there, not eating of that forbidden fruit?”

        Satan is the deceiver. Could Adam have seen through the deception and not eaten the fruit? I doubt it.

        Then, “It appears when reading the Bible that he had a choice. ”

        Adam certainly had a choice. However, God left Adam on his own. Without God’s help, Adam, like any of us, was helpless and hopeless.

        Then, “But in true Calvinism he had only the choice to disobey (as God had already willed, decreed, ordained, planned it). In this way of thinking the Bible constantly misleads the reader, by making him think that Adam really had a choice…when Calvin declares that he did not!”

        I don’t understand your argument. Adam was created perfect and he was perfectly obedient to God up to the point where he was faced with eating the fruit. His choice was whether to disobey God and eat the fruit – Adam made a choice despite the circumstances and despite God’s knowledge of that choice in eternity past. By contrast, we are not perfect and our choice is whether to obey God and stop eating the fruit – this is true despite our circumstances and despite God knowing how we will choose. God makes it plain that He is there to help us when we need Him, but He does not force us to ask Him for help.

      7. Wow! I have to admit, if I was not already a non-Calvinist, I would soon be listening to all this convoluted rambling. one minute he ordained all things…the next those sins are foreign to God. One minute God is the cause, the next minute God allows man and decides if He will stop him or not. Dizzying.

      8. Rhutchin writes…

        “Satan is the deceiver. Could Adam have seen through the deception and not eaten the fruit? I doubt it.”

        1 Timothy 2:14 (NKJV)…
        And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

        Rhutchin writes…

        “Satan is the deceiver.”

        Yet Calvin writes…..

        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*, and employs their iniquities to execute his Judgments……… From the first chapter of Job we learn that Satan appears in the presence of God *to receive his orders*, just as do the angels who obey spontaneously. The manner and the end are different, but still the fact is, that he cannot attempt anything without the will of God. – Institutes, book 1, chapter 18, section 1

      9. Phillip:
        Do not be surprised by Rhutchin’s double standards and contradicting Scripture. Great Scripture you quote…..but get used to the idea that Calvinists are going to say, “but it doesnt really mean that.”

      10. Good verse Philip! And Roger avoids also the problem his so-called all compassing divine decree faces in also being behind Lucifer’s fall… and Lucifer was not tempted from an evil outside source!

      11. brianwagner writes, “…the problem his so-called all compassing divine decree faces in also being behind Lucifer’s fall… and Lucifer was not tempted from an evil outside source!”

        Even you don’t know why Lucifer fell – only that he did. God did not cause Lucifer to fall – but certainly God knew the dynamic of the situation as it played out and could have reversed the situation at any time but decreed not to do so. Let’s hear you explain what happened – as if you could given that the Scriptures are silent on this.

        So, is the move to Tampa retirement?

      12. The “I wills” of Is 14, Roger, and the description from Ezek 28:15 – “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you” – have consistently been used to describe Lucifer’s fall. The obvious interpretation is a free choice to go against what was God’s will for his created purpose.

        The Calvinist cannot imagine God could have a purpose that is conditional with two or more possible outcomes and that can suffer loss or real disappointment… because their definition of perfect purpose/decree is something that must be eternally immutably locked into one set future forever and God certainly can’t experience change in his emotions.

        But the Scripture speaks the truth… and clearly counters these false theories of Calvinism.

        In Florida to enjoy grandchildren! Thanks for asking. Hope to keep teaching till I’m 80! Still teaching full-time this next year for VBC, all online live lectures. And also supervising an online class for SFBC.

      13. brianwagner writes, “The “I wills” of Is 14, Roger, and the description from Ezek 28:15 – “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you” – have consistently been used to describe Lucifer’s fall. The obvious interpretation is a free choice to go against what was God’s will for his created purpose.”

        Everyone agrees that Satan exercise a free will in opposing God. All the angels presumably had free will, so free will does not explain why Satan fell. The unknown part is how, “…wickedness was found in you.” Where did that wickedness come from – free will does not create wickedness in an angel or a person. So, even you don’t know – and this because the Scriptures don’t tell us. However, the Calvinists are right is saying that God was aware of everything going on, God knew the thoughts of Satan preceding his fall, and God could have intervened to keep Satan on the right path. It was God’s decree – His decision – not to intervene so as to let Satan fall and this we can presume because God had a plan and that plan included a fallen Satan entering the garden to tempt Eve.

        Then, “The Calvinist cannot imagine God could have a purpose that is conditional with two or more possible outcomes and that can suffer loss or real disappointment… because their definition of perfect purpose/decree is something that must be eternally immutably locked into one set future forever and God certainly can’t experience change in his emotions.”

        It doesn’t matter how many outcomes are possible, God still exercises sovereignty and He knows, even in real time, which outcome will prevail even if He only understands this a tenth of a second before the action occurs and that tenth of a second is eternity to God. The Calvinist definition of purpose/decree assumes that God is omniscient and no knowledge is withheld from Him (this because His decrees are the source of knowledge). Even under your system, you allow that God has full knowledge of all possible outcomes even if He does not know the final outcome. That still allows God to be as intimately involved and make decrees that are no different than those the Calvinist says He made in eternity past. Under the Calvinist system and your system everything plays out the same. Under either system, God’s decisions are eternally immutable locked into one future when God makes decisions and that future is determined by the extent to which God involves Himself in the affairs of men (and angels).

      14. Two things Roger – 1. You said – “free will does not create wickedness in an angel.” I think that is exactly what Scripture teaches… that sin is lawlessness… and Lucifer created sin in his soul by going against God’s will for Him. 2. There is a huge difference in the definition of theodicy if you have God determining the outcome of Lucifer’s sin before even creating Lucifer.

        You just seem to have a hard time comprehending or perhaps just accepting that God’s omniscience is not as you have learned it from philosophically corrupted “orthodoxy” of RC and Reformed theology. He is still perfect as God with a omniscience that foreknows the future as it actually is in reality… one that is only partially determined and partially undetermined. That Scriptural view of omniscience makes it impossible for the proposed contradictory premise of God determining as certain, but without being responsible for, Lucifer’s sin before even creating Lucifer with a free will that was not subject to the necessity of sinning.

      15. brianwagner writes, “1. You said – “free will does not create wickedness in an angel.” I think that is exactly what Scripture teaches… that sin is lawlessness… and Lucifer created sin in his soul by going against God’s will for Him. ”

        All the angels had free will and all could have gone against God’s will. We still don’t know why one of them did or why some then followed him. Free will explains the ability to do such, but not what motivated one angel, Lucifer, go against God’s will for Him? In people, we can point to a corrupted nature that can explain one’s desire for sin.

        Then, “2. There is a huge difference in the definition of theodicy if you have God determining the outcome of Lucifer’s sin before even creating Lucifer.”

        Certainly, God, as sovereign, exercised complete control over the situation. God could have intervened to set Lucifer straight before he fell. The question is whether God created the circumstances for Lucifer to fall as God did with Adam/Eve in the garden. If yes, then God had a plan and was implementing that plan which included Lucifer falling even before being created.

        Then, “You just seem to have a hard time comprehending or perhaps just accepting that God’s omniscience is not as you have learned it…”

        From the Scriptures. Even you allow that the future is partially determined. Once you allow the future to be partially determined, nothing prevents the future being fully determined – both are derived from God’s decrees.

        Then, “He is still perfect as God with a omniscience that foreknows the future as it actually is in reality… one that is only partially determined and partially undetermined.”

        A partially determined future includes events that God will learn about over time. An ever learning God cannot be described as omniscient.

        Then, “That Scriptural view of omniscience makes it impossible for the proposed contradictory premise of God determining as certain, but without being responsible for, Lucifer’s sin before even creating Lucifer with a free will that was not subject to the necessity of sinning.”

        I don’t believe the issue is whether God is responsible for what happens but whether God causes what happens – whether Lucifer or people act willingly or under coercion.

      16. Your piecemeal approach at responding to each part of what is said to you does not seem to do justice to the whole argument that was presented to you Roger. It actually appears as if you don’t comprehend the entire argument. Lucifer certainly spoke of the information that motivated his “I wills”. He saw God’s glory… he chose to want an equal share of it.

        And the issue is not what God is able to determine but what Scripture clearly teaches… that He was not locked in to an eternal immutable will of everything forever. And Scripture confirms that neither did He make such a determination.

        And logical changes in His mind as He makes free will decisions, have conversations between the persons of the Godhead, and increases in experiential knowledge but not in infinite understanding, might be called a type of learning but is not an imperfection just because you say so!

      17. I would be careful of saying that “His decrees are the source of knowledge.” I think Calvinists assume too much with this. I would also refrain from saying that “free will does not create wickedness”—this is another assumption that can be debated and is not part of Calvinist doctrine proper.

        Saying that Calvinists hold a corrupt idea of omniscience is just bluster. You can certainly disagree but the common view of omniscience from Arminians, Open Theists and secular philosophy is that God knows past, present and future perfectly. All future events that are known by God are true and necessary. This is illustrated in secular philosophy with discussions of time travel.

        I would be interested in understanding this “partially determined and partially undetermined” idea. How does this work? How does God determine in your system? How does he know with certainly that which is undetermined?

        I do resonate with the idea that God may have created an environment conducive to choosing sin for the angels as he did for Adam and Eve.

        “An ever learning God cannot be described as omniscient.” That’s a very strong point! Your rebuff was to put a qualification on “learning.” Wisdom and understanding are infinite and this is omniscience—“learning” is not knowledge and therefore not part of omniscience. Very clever!

      18. Thank you Mike for the response. I appreciated your advice, though I was thinking some might have been directed to Roger. And I appreciated your questions seeking further clarification of my view of the Scripture’s definition of omniscience.

        I think you will not find many who will agree with you that Open Theists along with Calvinists and Arminians all hold the same view of omniscience, especially in terms of how “foreknowledge” works.

        This may sound like I’m blowing smoke… but I assure you I am not. But I agree with you that God knows the “future perfectly” and that all “future events that are known by God are true and necessary” though I would add to that last statement – “that are known as determined by God”.

        The issue resides in understanding those words – “perfectly” and “known”. Also connected is the definition of reality – that is, whether the “past” still exists and the “future” already exists. My view from reading Scripture is that the past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist in reality.

        In God’s mind however the past is perfectly remembered as it had happened including all that could have happened. The future in God’s mind is perfectly known – not as completed – but as partially determined by Him already and as all the possibilities that can still be freely determined to be caused or permitted by Him.

        Among the strongest Scriptural evidences for this view is all the conditional statements, universal commands and warnings, verses about God making determinations after creation, and verses about possibilities.

        As for the term “learning”… there is no increase in His understanding, only a change in the nature of the knowledge within that understanding. Something known as possible becomes known as determined once God makes that determination. Something known as future becomes known as past once that event takes place. Something known as theoretical becomes known as experiential when God participates in that experience. These changes in His knowledge do not increase His understanding but could be labeled as “learning” – I suppose. 😉 The incarnation is a great example.

      19. Thanks for the clarification, Brian. I think you are right that Open Theists, Arminians and Calvinists disagree on omniscience and foreknowledge. I was not clear as to the point I was making. This gets complicated but if you compare the discussion of omniscience and foreknowledge with the discussion of time travel everyone understands what is being argued. And this paradox forces the different systems to reevaluate the common understanding. Does that make any sense?

        This connects with your discussion of time. I’m still wrestling with this issue of God inside and outside of time and how it effects the different theological views. I’ve read and listened to a fair amount of WLC on this. Are you in Craig’s camp? Sorry, I’ve forgotten, are you arguing from a Molinist or Open Theists perspective?

        When the scripture uses the book of life analogy this seems to compare to the B theory. Of course this can be argued against but it is not an illegitimate connection.

        I really think there is a caricature of Calvinistic determinism that is being assumed when opponents use scriptural references to conditional statements and possible outcomes as proof texts. Maybe I’m not a your average Calvinist but when I read the more philosophical Calvinists free will is not an illusion—it’s just not libertarian.

        I appreciate your explanation of knowledge. Thank you. I will think on it.

      20. Mike and Brian:

        Let me say how refreshing it is to see a civil conversation taking place here!

        I rarely go on blogs for forums (for theology) since it gets so snarky so fast! I dare say that if you even mentioned Molinism or Open T in a mainly Calvinist platform…..hummm…. break out the knives. And I dont mean sharp debating tools! It can get pretty vicious our there and there is no shortage of the word “heretic” just for even asking questions!

        Of course non-Calvinists are used to hear “you have a man-centered Gospel.” We live with that (we know better), but at least opponents are saying we “have a Gospel!”

        The “heretic,” “infiltrators,” and “false teacher,” accusations only remind us of the days when Calvinist knew all too well what to do with “heretics.”

        Keep up the civil tone! Hats off!

      21. “Of course non-Calvinists are used to hear “you have a man-centered Gospel.” We live with that (we know better),…”

        By “man-centered Gospel,” the Calvinists refer to the synergistic process advocated by non-Calvinists. To dispel that idea, the non-Calvinists need only show that he does not hold to a synergistic process of salvation. Even you wouldn’t do that, would you?

      22. Rhutchin:

        I DONT see the reduced-down-to-catch-phrases word “synergism” being discussed in the Word. To create a term, deem it as abhorrent, then accuse others of holding such an idea is —-well, a straw man at best.

        I DO see…
        Passover (the blood wont work unless applied),
        Serpent on the pole (no healing unless you find and look),
        Noah (ship wont save unless it is built),
        Jericho (walls wont fall unless you circle and blow your trumpets),
        Jesus (“seek first the kingdom”),
        Paul (Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness),
        Hebrews (And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him),

        ….and thousands of other stories, teachings, and events LOOKING very “synergistic” or participatory.

        Now, you can….as you do……gather all these thousands of verses up and stick the “But who gives faith?” sticker on them if you like. In your typical “nothing to see here” way. But again I would ask. What, then is the point?

        What is the point of God putting all of these thousands of verses and great stories of faith, if no one can in fact even have a personal faith?

        If you were correct, every one of these verses and stories should say ……God gave Noah faith and he built the ark. God gave every person faith to sprinkle the blood on the door in Egypt.

        But it never does….not even once.

        That would make more sense if indeed God was trying to teach us that all of these lauded moments of faith were in fact just Him pulling the strings.

        Why in God’s eternal world does He make such an effort to show personal faith, if in fact it is not true? Doesn’t your version seem a bit deceptive?

      23. “I DONT see the reduced-down-to-catch-phrases word “synergism” being discussed in the Word. To create a term, deem it as abhorrent, then accuse others of holding such an idea is —-well, a straw man at best.”

        There are two systems of salvation. One is promoted by the Calvinists and says that it is God alone who saves a person and a person can only be saved by God’s action alone. It is labelled monergism. The second is synergism which says that salvation is a cooperative effort between God and man whereby God provides the means for a person to be saved and a person decides whether he wants to be saved and will avail himself of that means. A synergist system can be described as a “man-centered gospel” that you noted earlier. Regardless the labels used to describe a man-centered gospel and a God-centered gospel, the point is that you described yourself as having a man-centered gospel (even though you gain this label from your opponents). So, you bring up the issue and now you find it abhorrent. That’s fine. Your problem, though, is that you cannot defend yourself against the charge – indeed you don’t seem to want to do so. As to whether a man-centered gospel is the true gospel or is what Paul argued against in Galatians 1 – that’s a different issue.

        Then, “If you were correct, every one of these verses and stories should say ……God gave Noah faith and he built the ark. God gave every person faith to sprinkle the blood on the door in Egypt. ”

        Yet, this is the message of the NT. Hebrews 11 tells us, “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” Paul, in Romans 8, says, “…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Then Ephesians 2, “…by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;…For we are His workmanship,…” Peter then explains the role of faith, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope…reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” While the Scriptures do not make the point of telling us that God gave Noah faith or God gave Abraham faith, God was careful to tell us through the NT writers that He is the source of faith and the He imparts power to His elect through the faith that He gives to them, and it is this faith that is critical to salvation.

      24. Since man is the one getting saved and that would definitely sound like good news to him… That sounds to me like a man-centered gospel! 😂

        Of course that does not lessen the beauty of God’s sovereign plan and wondrous mercy to pay the full amount to make that gospel applicable for everyone, and His plan to efficiently enable each person to begin to seek for its benefits!

        The bad news is the lie that some teach that God does not want His gospel to be freely accepted or rejected… but “tricks” some to accept it for their own good and His glory… and damns all the rest, not for their own good, but for His glory. That does not sound like good news that should be proclaimed to everyone!

      25. But you have to add to this Good News Brian…

        —The forced-to-believe ones deserve to suffer in hell eternally….but they will spend eternity with a God who micromanaged the eternal torment of 98% of mankind. Good News!

        —the ones who will serve this eternal torment punishment never had even one tiny chance since they were intended to go there by God …for His Glory! The forced-to-believe might be conflicted that this is all for His glory (the catch phrase they have learned), since, “…declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways…”

        —As these forced-to-believe ones send off to the grave their unbelieving loved ones, they cannot weep that their uncle never bowed his neck….no…..they must weep that the God who forced them to believe created their uncle for hell. Good News!

        Such glory! Such good news!

      26. “—The forced-to-believe ones deserve to suffer in hell eternally….but they will spend eternity with a God who micromanaged the eternal torment of 98% of mankind. Good News!”

        Yes. God could have judged all and left all to eternal torment and who could complain? Instead, God designed to save some. The reasonable person would then fall on his face and cry to God for salvation – for the Scriptures tell us that it is such people that God has determined to save – and any reasonable person would avail himself of such certainty. Good news indeed!!

        Then, “—the ones who will serve this eternal torment punishment never had even one tiny chance since they were intended to go there by God ”

        Talk to the atheist – he generally knows the Scriptures better than God’s people. See if he cares but looks forward to hell because having to live with God for eternity is the greater hell to him. He has no complaint; no regret.

        Then, “—As these forced-to-believe ones send off to the grave their unbelieving loved ones, they cannot weep that their uncle never bowed his neck….no…..they must weep that the God who forced them to believe created their uncle for hell. Good News!”

        Does not God tell the believer, “Ask and receive.” What believer, with unbelieving loved ones, does not petition God always on their behalf – the effectual fervent prayer availeth much – trusting God to do what is right after all is said and done. We serve a great God who has given believers great promises. That is Good News!!

      27. Story: I take 2 of my kids to season box seats to watch the Cowboys. I leave three others at home. I leave the same three home year after year after year.

        The ones who get to go ask me …. “Dad, don’t you have enough money to bring the other three kids?” “Sure I do….but be quiet and enjoy being here. I could have left you at home too you know.”

        Good news!

        You say….”the atheist………..has no complaint; no regret.” Of course not! According to Calvinism, he was created without even the least possibility of having any regret. He is only acting out the part that God has planned for him…..all for God’s glory!

        Good News!

        You really go off the rails implying that our prayers could impact God to change His mind about our uncle’s salvation. Your philosophy dictates that that decision was made before time began….rendering useless your proposed prayer idea.

      28. “Story: I take 2 of my kids to season box seats to watch the Cowboys. I leave three others at home. I leave the same three home year after year after year.”

        So, what’s the issue. You are in control; you take whomever you choose. Of course, your children always treat you like dirt without any respect and none deserves to be taken to the game. It is only by grace that you take any to the game. What is your point?

        Then, “According to Calvinism, he was created without even the least possibility of having any regret. He is only acting out the part that God has planned for him…..all for God’s glory!”

        “God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy….Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?” (Romans 9)

        Then, “You really go off the rails implying that our prayers could impact God to change His mind about our uncle’s salvation. Your philosophy dictates that that decision was made before time began….rendering useless your proposed prayer idea.”

        Are not our prayers incorporated into God’s plan and does not God provoke us to prayer through His word? Do we not joyfully ask God for the good things He has stated that He will give us and do so with the certain knowledge that God will give us the things we ask because He has already ordained that outcome?

      29. Ouch! Sorry that your kids treat you like dirt. Sounds like you assume everyone’s kids do?

        My point was that the two kids sitting there might say…..after 10 years….”why dont you bring the other guys Dad?” Dad’s only response is, “I don’t want to. I don’t love them like I love you. Be quiet and be glad I brought you.” In fact, after a while they may not even want to go with a dad that shows such favoritism. Oh but I forgot, they HAVE to go….it is irresistible!

        One of many reasons I left Calvinism is that I did not see in the Bible a God who asks/expects us to love all people, but turns around and creates 98% of humanity to be condemned…willingly…for His glory.

        Potter: easy

        1. Jeremiah 18 shows that Potter. Have a look. See if God’s example of Himself looks like He planned it all from the start.

        2. He is simply saying to the Jews (which fits the Jeremiah 18 analogy perfectly) —-who are you to say who I have to have as my chosen people? I can let the Gentiles in if I want. It is not talking at any time about individuals…. only Esau vs Jacob.

        Prayer:
        Your “our prayers incorporated into God’s plan” makes no sense. George Mueller said he prayed 19 years for the salvation of someone….who never came to Christ! How were his prayers incorporated into God’s plan??? He was—for 19 years—praying AGAINST God’s plan (since God apparently had no intention saving that man). And Christ’s blood was not even shed for him, so now dare Mueller pray against God’s plan for 19 years!!!

      30. brainwagner writes, “Since man is the one getting saved and that would definitely sound like good news to him… That sounds to me like a man-centered gospel!”

        I agree. But different context – so there are two different contexts in which “man-centered gospel” is used. One I explained above and this that you explain.

        Then, “Of course that does not lessen the beauty of God’s sovereign plan and wondrous mercy to pay the full amount to make that gospel applicable for everyone, and His plan to efficiently enable each person to begin to seek for its benefits!”

        Your claim is that God paid the full amount to make that gospel applicable for everyone – the payment being Christ’s death on the cross. Then, God efficiently enables each person to seek its benefits. If truly “efficient,” (meaning that it is also sufficient) then that enablement should accomplish its purpose so that all enabled seek its benefits. We know that this is true for God’s elect because they come to salvation. What about the rest – those supposedly enabled who do not seek its benefits. Were they actually enabled? Probably not – or not enabled to the degree the elect were enabled. God has discriminated among people in the enablement He provides.

        Then, “The bad news is the lie that some teach that God does not want His gospel to be freely accepted or rejected… but “tricks” some to accept it for their own good and His glory… and damns all the rest, not for their own good, but for His glory. That does not sound like good news that should be proclaimed to everyone!”

        Nonetheless, you still have God paying the full amount and then it is God who enables people to seek its benefits. If some people are saved and some not, then we look to see if the enablement God provided was only efficient/sufficient to bring His elect to salvation but not to bring the reprobate to salvation. In the end, under any system as you describe, God must determine who is saved and who is not as it is God’s action that makes the difference.

      31. Once again we solicit OT examples of redemption:

        Passover
        Noah
        Serpent-on-a-pole

        God provides the salvation. Tells them how to do it and enables them. Noah preached righteousness to them. They could have repented. Who knows, maybe God would have “repented” of His plan to destroy the world in the same way he “regretted that he had made man on the earth.” (ESV even!)

        God provides all that is needed for salvation (see above). He enables man to choose (“choose for yourselves this day” “seek first the kingdom” “draw near to God and He will draw near to you”). He asks us to trust Him.

        He allows pagans with faith (Rahab, Ruth) to enter into the chosen by faith.

        If you start with all your presuppositions……then you can arrive at any position you want.

      32. Denial of freewill is your only game plan, Roger, for your opinion that the motive for sin in Satan and Adam can’t be explained and for your dogmatism that God’s enlightenment of every person was not efficient to enable seeking when the person does not seek. Your opinion is very weak in the light of Scriptural evidence to the contrary. But that doesn’t seem to bother you as you comfortably rest in your loyalty to determinism which rejects and twists clear meanings from many Scriptures! How I wish you would jettison your unhealthy position!

      33. brianwagner writes, “Denial of freewill is your only game plan,…”

        Under your system, each person has free will but some choose to seek God and some do not – thus, free will cannot be the reason some seek God. Some other factor is in play. As both Satan and Adam had free will, that free will allowed them to disobey God but does not explain why they disobeyed God. We don’t know what motivated either Satan or Adam to disobey God. In the same manner, you have all people being given light by God and all have free will, so free will cannot explain why one seeks God and another does not. I don’t mind that you advocate free will across the board for all people; my point is that free will is not the motivating factor for people to act. Since God is the one enabling, we are left with God discriminating between His elect and the reprobate in whatever light He gives to them. I think your only option is to attribute different choices to mystery.

      34. Free will is the only necessary cause for sin and the acceptance of grace… all other things involved in those decisions are only conditional causes. You may not like it… but there you have it Roger!

      35. I still have more research to do in this area, Mike… but studying the different types of causes/conditions and not just limiting myself to Aristotle’s four causes – based on his materialistic determinism, has helped.

        Others have recognized the necessary, sufficient, conditional categories for causes… and I believe there might be subcategories in each of those.

      36. Mike, do you have – Come Let Us Reason, by Geisler and Brooks? I highly recommend it, and I use it as one of my texts for Apologetics. It has a good discussion of causation in my view, in the last chapter – Fallacies in Scientific Thinking. But I need to do more research.

      37. Please explain Mike.

        When I was a Calvinist, I realized that man was created sinless and perfect…..and yet could choose to sin.

        He was “completely alive.”

        Why, after sinning, was he de facto so dead that he could not see grace? So dead he could not save himself, yes, but the Bible is full of people who walked with God and served God by faith (Abel Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Zechariah and Elizabeth, etc).

        Why must I insist that “dead means dead” when alive didnt meant “incapable to sin”?

      38. It is going to be hard for me to really get into this in a short blog. Let me just say that I think one of the major problems with this debate is that both side define words and ideas differently, so there is a lot of talking past each other. Calvinists use the dead analogy legitimately due to the scriptural references to “dead in sin.” But, as many Arminians point out, you can take that analogy too far. So I don’t like to argue “dead means dead.” Hey, Arminians argue “all means all and that’s all it means.” So there are bad arguments on both sides.

        The OT sacrifices had to do with purification and sacred space (I believe in penal substitutionary atonement, which not all Arminians hold to, so I think the sacrifices pictured this as well but let’s not get into that). No matter how righteous and faithful all Israel had to participate in the sacrifices. This is key to understanding that nothing man does, even the exemplary acts of charity and self sacrifice are ultimately unacceptable to a holy God. That doesn’t mean that these acts are not good (though I would argue that all charitable acts are done for selfish reasons, but again that’s a long discussion). All those who walked with God needed the mediatorial sacrifices.

        LFW posits something beyond cause-and-effect. Because cause-and-effect is a so important and natural to cognitive thought its negation is a mystery that I can’t accept—which is why I say it is incoherent. So when I talk about free will before and after The Fall I am not referring to LFW. (I’ve read many philosophical Arminian explanations of free will in heaven and they are all bad!)

        So here is where it gets complicated. Why would God create meat-eating animals in Eden if they were to be vegetarians? Was everything before The Fall safe? Were natural disasters impossible before The Fall? What happen in The Fall? Was all existence effected by The Fall? If everything was in fact effected by The Fall, would mans nature and free will not also be effected?

        If a wizard appeared to you and told you that he has granted you the power of independent fight but that you must never use it because it will be your downfall. How would you know that the wizard was a wizard and was telling you the truth?

        I’m afraid that I have probably not said enough and what I have said is unclear and confusing. I apologize.

      39. You had my interest and I was following your reasoning up until the wizard! 🙂 If flying is supposed to be a metaphor for free will… it is a poor one, I’m thinking. For using the will in compliance to a command is still a use of free will. And Adam used his free will also to name the animals… whose names I don’t believe were already predetermined! 😉

        But maybe I’m guessing wrong about the wizard analogy!

      40. Mike:
        Thanks for that long one. Brian has a point about the animal. Not to mention “working and caring” for the garden —was man to have an impact on what plants produced or was that all predetermined also?

        No one is arguing that God COULD HAVE created a world in which “dead means dead” and everything is predetermined. No one is arguing that God could have made it so the Fall changed man’s ability. My main point is that all of these are taken so presupposition-ally, and casually by Calvinist—as if it were so obvious. As a young man I fell hard for the “dead men dont make choices” and just built my shaky scaffolding from there (pooh-poohing, mis-interpreting, or disregarding thousands of verses that did not fit).

        My journey out of Calvinism included lots of passages (that I would see as message-less and meaningless if Calvinism were true) such as the “dead” (called twice by Christ) son in Luke 15.

        What in the world can that story possibly mean? He did it all on his own (“came to his senses” while far away). MacArthur is so Romans-3-11-ized that he calls it the “story of the seeking father!” What? Now that is starting with the answer before you ask the question!!

        Ain’t no micro-managing father in that story—unless you just cram him in there by endless words.

        Speaking of that Romans 3:10-12 on which many a tower has been built. It is absolutely hilarious (and disingenuous) to hear Calvinist say that “all have turned aside” means “all”. I thought Calvinists said that all meant “all kinds of people” or “all… meaning both Jew and Gentile”. Why can’t “no one seeks God” mean —no one ethnic group? After all Jesus didn’t tell a massive crowd “seek first the kingdom”?

      41. The problem is the way you and Brian are linking Calvinism with hard determinism. First, I understand this, and it is not uncommon. From your stand point compatiblism is just semantic nonsense and is, in fact, divine hard determerminism. Second, many non-philosophical Calvinists don’t understand the difference themselves. Third, if you read philosophical Calvinist thought they define determinism in quite different ways. (see James Anderson http://www.proginosko.com/2014/07/calvinism-and-determinism/). Forth, I go against the Calvinist grain by arguing with them that they should stay away from the term determinism—but I’m nobody. And besides, as I say, compatiblism doesn’t really clear things up for the opposition.

        I’m sorry if I offend you but I’m so tired of hearing Arminians use the Prodigal Son like it is some LFW doctrinal manna from heaven. It is a parable and it has a number of specific meanings. One of the means has to do with the second son who is ethnic Israel. It is not talking about free will. And besides, as a Calvinist I believe in free will! On the other hand Romans is a doctrinal treatise.

        The Calvinism that I hold to does not believe that God micro-manages. Mico-managment make no sense but we do have to combine this with passages that talk about sparrows, hairs on your head and the many other absolute and meticulous sovereignty verses.

        You’re not being fair with your comment about “all.” What I was referring to was that “all” has different meanings based on the context. And Calvinists seem to recognize this more than Arminians.

        Calvinism has some logical problems but from my readings Arminianism has more. But I’m willing to be corrected. That is why I listing to this podcast—“iron sharpens iron” and all that!

      42. Thanks Mike:

        Never heard anyone even try to explain the “parable of the seeking father” like you did. Thanks. Not buying it, but it is better than MacArthur’s “seeking father.” You can say it is about the second son and not talking about Free Will all you want (so did I!) but that does not make it so. Nor does it explain what the point is about the first son….and the father….and the “came to his senses.” There is more in there than Keller’s Prodigal God.

        Didnt mean to wear out a worn out go-to, just telling you my story.

        Romans is a letter, right?

        Rom 3 quotes Psalms in several place and tells the same “all” that our lips are full of viper venom, and all of us have feet that shed blood. So, you have to agree that it is phenomenal that this particular passage should somehow eliminate all the “seek and you shall find” “draw near to God” verses….and especially Christ’s own (spoken not to believers but to a huge crowd) “seek first the kingdom” verses.

        That said, it is refreshing to talk to a free will Calvinist! Who is civil! Bravo!

        Speaking of Romans…. I get accused of works-salvation, because ipso facto if it is man who has faith that is a “work”.

        But then I read:
        4:2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

        Our faith is neither something we can boast about (did better than another—significant Calvinist gothca phrase) nor is it a work.

        He is not justified by works.
        He did not do anything to boast about.
        He is credited as righteous when he believes.

        There’s the rub. Calvinists say that the believing was given to him. It doenst look like it here or anywhere. Really. A simple reading of any of these faith/ believing passages looks like man has to have faith —and that he CAN have faith.

        And if this faith and all the list of faithful in Heb 11 was given to them unalterably-irresistibly, then what is the point?

        I mean really what IS the point of any of the Bible if we only have the faith God gives us, and must use it as prescribed, and we cannot learn from any of the hundreds of examples He gives us in His Word?

        Why even talk about Abraham’s faith?

        Can I learn from Abraham’s faith….and have an even greater faith?

        What are we to learn from Hebrew 11?

      43. There’s a lot here. Sorry I can’t respond to everything. Let me pick on one thing and then give you an overview. I want to mention the “simple reading” or sometimes it’s the “plain reading” or even the “surface reading.” The problem of course is that you accept the simple reading of the faith/believing passages but you don’t accept the simple readings of passages that show God controlling the show—for those passages there’s always a spin. You can’t have it both ways. (And that goes for Calvinists too.)

        You can’t get past the hard determinism. I understand. That is the main issue of the debate. In fact, you can’t really get into TULIP or anything else until divine determinism is dealt with. This is something many Calvinist apologist don’t seem to understand.

        All I can tell you is that before I accepted Calvinism I tried to make sense of the philosophical ideas implied and beneath the surface of the Biblical text and I couldn’t do it. And when I asked questions all I got was, well this is what Calvinists believe and it’s crazy. So Arminianism is right because Calvinism is wrong. That’s my journey. I’m not a pastor or scholar or teacher, so I don’t have a reputation or a job to protect. If I am convinced from scripture and reason that Arminianism is correct I will drop the Calvinism. But I rarely hear Arminians defending their system without mentioning Calvinism. And on the rare times that Arminians do preach on their foundational beliefs (for example Roger Olson’s Arminian Theology, and my attendance of an Arminian Anabaptist church for seven years) so may questions came up that just were never answer and worse, ignored.

        Maybe some day we can put the debate aside and I could just ask some questions and see if I could get some credible answers.

      44. Mike:
        I bet you could ask those questions. People would answer kindly.

        My testimony is on several other comment sections of the blog.

        MDiv, Hebrew, Greek, theo, Calvinist.

        I put it all aside and read huge portions of the Word.

        you mentioned …”you don’t accept the simple readings of passages that show God controlling the show”

        Oh yes I do!! But it is—honestly —never quite as clear and doctrinaire as it is made to be. Meaning: we outrun what the Scripture is saying.

        What I felt in the massive daily reading was the pathos….sheer energy….and passion. It really LOOKS like man matters and man is part of what is going on. I mean thousands of verses…..”If you had, I would have…..”You would not come to me…”Saul I would have made you king but you…..” I regret that I created….made you king….chose you people” over and over and over and over.

        Now, it I found myself constantly explaining what “these verses don’t mean.” Why? Because I had to!! Because they LOOKED like man’s decisions matter but I knew that could not be true.

        It is one thing to explain them all away saying what they look like they mean but they dont.

        it is another thing to ask….what in the world are they there for? Actually they deceive us if God is like the Calvinist God.

        All of the “God is in control” verses are totally acceptable to me. Sure….no spin. He does what He wants. That is not the same as “everything that happens is what He wants.” Does He know what He is gonna do? Yes!! Thus He knows the end from the beginning (pretty vague wording if you look at it).

        Does a calamity come that God did not forsee/ allow? of course we can agree to all of these verses (there are not that many).

        But what about the other 99.75 of the Bible? What’s the point? What’s the purpose? If we cannot grow, learn, stretch our faith from all the stories of human faith in the Bible…what is the point?

        God tells Cain he should/ can dominate over sin. Really? of course!

        But for me the Calvinist….hollow promise…. he was not given faith.

        On and on.

        I understand people moving from Arminianism to Calvinism. Those flock of bearded YRRs come at you with the “give God the glory” and you just wanna be humble and do it. I know. I did!

        they weren’t bearded and YRR at the time (70’s in So Cal)….it was just the beginning of the wave. Still, I have seen many long-term servants on the mission field where I serve surrender after just one Sproul book! No push back at all.

        One 40-years-in-ministry national friend of mine said “When I discovered Calvinism……” I only wondered….where was it hiding? I mean, it is supposed to be so obvious! How did he discover it? His 20-ish year-old-son. How did he? Piper’s blog, social media, and a Sproul book! Nothing more.

        Put the “roll the dice in the lap” with the “God had evil men crucify His son” with “dead men dont make choices” and “give God the glory” and presto…… I’m in !

        But what does the overall Bible sound like when we read it?

        Is God personal? Impassible? Does man matter?

      45. ” if it is man who has faith that is a “work””

        If faith is an inherent ability of a person that he is born with, then the exercise of that faith, like the exercise of any other physical ability, is a work. If faith is a gift from God that then results in a person acting in a way he could not without the gift of faith, then the exercise of that faith is not a work.

      46. Everything given at birth is a gift of God! The ability to exercise faith is one of those gifts. Later in life the enlightenment concerning the object to trust in, that is His mercy, is given (but not irresistibly), which will eventually lead to an opportunity to trust in the gospel (the faith), which is also a gift. This is what Paul meant when he said – “from faith to faith” Rom 1:17 and “on the basis of faith in Christ to all who and on all who believe” Rom 3:22.

      47. Okay….well if you say so! I mean I guess you just get to make up rules about faith. I just now supplied all the verses in Romans 4 where Paul clearly juxtaposes faith and works….showing that faith in Christ cannot be considered a work.

        But the presupposition-professionals can just stick on a “yeah because that faith was given to you” sticker.

        Paul doesn’t. He just writes Romans 4 like man should have faith not works. Not to mention James or Hebrews 11.

        If you come to the Bible with a Calvinist worldview to start, you can misinterpret all of these. I know. I did.

      48. ” I just now supplied all the verses in Romans 4 where Paul clearly juxtaposes faith and works….”

        OK. Let’s let you supply the definitions of faith and works and we will work with that (presuming they make sense Scripturally).

        Then, “…showing that faith in Christ cannot be considered a work.”

        That’s not the issue. The issue is the source of the faith by which one believes in Christ – and can the source of faith make a difference as to whether it can be viewed as a work?

      49. Only if you make up some rules that are outside the Scriptures. No where does it say or imply that the faith referred to in Roms 4, James, Hebrews is somehow NOT available to mankind. Every simple reading of the text would look like it is faith, human faith. God-given as a possibility for all. Just like all things in the world are God-given.

        My non-believing friends exercise faith (in me and others) every day. We all exercise faith. Something may start out as foolishness, then we look, then we understand, then place our faith.

        No Scriptures like “the things of God are foolishness” eliminate or regulate that. All of those verses are still understood and accepted by non-Calvinists.

      50. Rhutchin:
        This is huge.

        You said…..—-“and can the source of faith make a difference as to whether it can be viewed as a work?”

        Do you realize what this means? This means that you, and Troy, and Calvinists are saying that if a person even THINKS he is exercising personal faith in Christ, he is doing it from a works point of view.

        Meaning that the official position of Calvinism is that all who do not agree are works-dependent (therefore unsaved) and potentially— no—- really preaching a false gospel.

        That must be your position, right?

        I mean how can you consider anyone with even a tiny synergistic position to be a brother in Christ?

        Monergism or false gospel, right?

      51. “Meaning that the official position of Calvinism is that all who do not agree are works-dependent (therefore unsaved) and potentially— no—- really preaching a false gospel.
        That must be your position, right?”

        We agree with Romans 10 don’t we and Ephesians 2. Not just the Calvinists but all pretty much agree that a person who does not preach the gospel is preaching falsely. Thus, Paul in Galatians 1 argues, “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” Paul here argues that the person who preaches a gospel from other than the Scriptures is accursed.

      52. Let the reader note that we are not considered brothers in Christ.

        Rhutchin and Calvinist are hoping, trying to convert us to Christ (not just Calvinism, which is for them the same thing).

        Let the reader note that Rhutchin is saying that Wesley, Pentecostals, Tozer, etc are preaching a false gospel because they are saying that God created the world in such a way that man has a choice and exercises personal faith.

        Let the reader note that in many Calvinist minds we are not discussing theological differences within the body, but we (non-Calvinists) are proposing a false gospel that is accursed.

      53. The wizard analogy is what I came up with on-the-fly (pun intended). You’re right, it’s not that good. Flying is not a metaphor for “free will” but for “choice.” To know that choice is real it must be actualized.

      54. Thanks, Mike, for clarifying your flying illustration. Can you go a little further… for I’m still a little dense? 😉 Are you saying that any exercise of freewill/choice from your perspective is sin, and thus the warning from the wizard? Or is the exercise just the potential for sin, and the warning just for potential danger? And are you saying that there could not be a good understanding of the wizard unless the exercise of freewill/choice to sin takes place?

        I believe Adam exercised freewill in naming the animals, and that he would have had a sufficiently good understanding of God even if he had never exercised his freewill contrary to God’s.

      55. Brian, yeah, I think I need to come up with a better analogy. What I was trying to illustrate is that if you are given an ability but never use it than it is not really real, and you really can’t know if it is even real or just a lie. And if you never use it than why were you given the “supposed” ability anyway?

        I believe Adam excised free will in naming the animals as well. Though, naming the animals has nothing to do with free will. Naming in the ANE has to do with leadership and also, in Genesis, it demonstrates Adam’s destination as God’s image bearer.

      56. Hi Mike… I was a little confused by your two statements… “Adam exercised free will in naming the animals… naming the animals has nothing to do with free will.”

        I guess I was thinking that the phrase – “to see what he would call them” confirmed that their names had not been predetermined, but Adam was creatively exercising his free will in naming them.

        Gen 2:19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

      57. Brian, I think the main problem with understanding where I’m coming from—and this is not just you but all those who hold to LFW—is the fact that you believe that compatiblism is nonsense. Nowhere in the Bible is there a discussion of free will. A certain form of free will is simply assumed in the text as is a certain form of sovereignty. If you believe in LFW you will read LFW into all passages that deal with choice or uncertainty and you will “interpret” passages that deal with sovereignty and control in a way that they do not conflict with LFW. If you believe in compatiblism you simply accept the passage of choice, sovereignty and control as is. Uncertainty,—because it conflicts with God omniscience—will need to be “interpreted” (of course this is not a problem for a process or open view).

        As I read the ANE literature it is quite clear that people believed that man had free will and was responsible for his actions and at the same time the gods—or in the case of Israel, God—was in control of all existence and nothing was done apart from his official directive. I hesitate to provide any scriptural reference because they will be explained from a LFW point of view. But let me try this one just for the heck of it: Exodus 4:11 (ESV) Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

        I always have to cringe when Leighton Flowers uses his Chess Player analogy to argue against Calvinism. I don’t think he realizes it but he is comparing God to Deep Blue! 😉

      58. Mike:
        I am sure that Brian will offer a better response to this, but since these were my own questions as a Calvinist I will chime in.

        That is a typical “sovereign” verse and no one debates that God made our mouths etc (although we could argue that choice of a mate alters the “look” of the offspring—and what of contraception and abortion altering the “making of mouths”). It is not a quantitative or qualitative statement He is making. His point is that He is the creator.

        Why does such a general declaration necessitate that He is saying that He is “in control of all existence and nothing was done apart from his official directive.”? Why use allegory? Calvin had no trouble saying (for God) that all things that happen, happen exactly as God ordained. Why does God just not say it as clearly?

        For determinists, I challenge them to substitute …..Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

        Who makes a man brutally rape a 3-year-old girl? Is it not I, the Lord?

        Who makes a Christian pastor adulterous with 15 women over 20 years? Is it not I, the Lord?

        It becomes absurd.

        Speaking of chess. If you have ever played with a person who can think 15 moves ahead then you will realize that he may not force you to move any direction, but you will never outsmart him. Here are all the possible moves http://www.bernmedical.com/blog/how-many-possible-move-combinations-are-there-in-chess.

        I have not seen Leighton’s examples of chess but often ponder it myself. To “accuse” God of knowing all the thousands/millions of moves that can be made attributes to Him quite a bit of “sovereignty.”

        In fact I dont even understand where Calvinists come up with their definition of sovereignty. We have seen lots of “sovereigns” in history, but none that could force faith, obedience, and love from his people.

      59. “Why does God just not say it as clearly?”

        ” It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25) God intends people to search the Scriptures to discover the wisdom He has hidden within.

        Then, “Who makes a man brutally rape a 3-year-old girl? Is it not I, the Lord? Who makes a Christian pastor adulterous with 15 women over 20 years? Is it not I, the Lord? It becomes absurd.”

        God is present at each event observing all the intimate details of each event. God decreed the birth of each person involved and it is God who sustained the lives of each person, God grants people freedom to think evil thoughts and when people seek to turn evil thoughts into action, God does not intervene. Thus, we lay responsibility at the feet of God – and it seems God accepts such responsibility – but again, God does not impel any person to sin but did decree that the corruption of Adam’s nature consequent to his sin was to be inherited by his progeny.

        Then, “In fact I dont even understand where Calvinists come up with their definition of sovereignty.”

        The testimony of a pagan king in Daniel 4 is a good start, “[God’s] dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom endures from generation to generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, But He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’”

      60. We must not be discussing the same topics.

        You have slipped completely into the “God allows” column.

        As for what that pagan king said. Amen! He said God does what He wants. He did not say “all that happens is what God wants.” Any non-Calvinist can say what that king said easily. There is nothing of deterministic, micro-managing, decreeing-all-sin in that statement.

      61. ” He said God does what He wants. He did not say “all that happens is what God wants.””

        God is sovereign over His creation and has full knowledge of everything happening in His creation. Each and every event (down to the most insignificant) is known to God before it happens. As God is also omnipotent, He necessarily has the final say on every event – God either decides to intervene to change something or God grants freedom for the event to occur without interference from Him. Do you think otherwise? If so, can you explain how you think sovereignty works?

      62. I’m mystified be some of your statements. I know that you can’t get past hard determinism. So let me just ask you something. You made an interesting point about adding rape and adultery to mute, deaf and blind. Fine. Explain mute, deaf and blind in the passage?

      63. Mike:
        Ex 4. Context.

        God is allowed to be poetic.

        He is saying with irony and hyperbole to Moses that He can be trusted.

        I mean is He really saying every blind person is because of Him? You know that throughout history people would gouge out the eyes of people (Samson, Christ said it, etc). That person is then blind.

        Same example of a smoker losing his voice. He is now mute. Or some explosion or injury or illness causing someone to lose their hearing.

        Is He really saying that every gouged out eye is how He makes people blind?

        Not His point at all!

        His point is that He is the creator and can do what He wants….so trust Him.

      64. Interesting. You seem to be able to apply nuance and qualification to your own views but demand rigid and strict and clear statements from your opponents.

      65. Agreed Mike.

        Absolutely agree. Some wiggle room is required from both sides.

        That is in fact what helped me make the choice to leave Calvinism.

        I read the Bible through several times and listened to the message. For me it felt like we had a God who: created us in His image, wants a personal relationship with us, sees us disobey (but does not make us disobey), sees us repent (but does not make us repent), feels, weeps, regrets, plans, changes plans, can be pleased, can be displeased, can be sought, can be ignored….and resisted.

        In a nutshell if both sides require poetic reading of certain passages I wanted to hear the “overall” message was.

        If the overall message is that no faith is personal (despite the hundreds of names of faith given) and that man is doing what God had pre-ordained, predetermined him to do, then I dont see the point of anything. Even my despair is His plan.

      66. “If the overall message is…that man is doing what God had pre-ordained, predetermined him to do, then I dont see the point of anything.”

        Given that God is omniscient, the moment God created the universe, He necessarily pre-ordained, predetermined every event following, To avoid this conclusion, one would have to deny omniscience.

      67. There you go again… Roger, inconsistently putting predetermination after foreknowledge, when your system demands the opposite, unless you want to admit that changes take place in God’s omniscience!

      68. brianwagner writes, “…inconsistently putting predetermination after foreknowledge,…”

        People who claim to believe that God is omniscient can usually understand that God knew everything that was to happen at the point where He created the world – so I can write, “He necessarily pre-ordained, predetermined every event following.” It is simple for them to understand that everything would have been predetermined at that point if God is omniscient – I am arguing on their turf to make a point. That seems to confound them to no end such that they can never think of anything to say after that. However, once you get over that hump, it is easier to get into the logical order argument of how God can know the future – and here you get stuck because all they tend to argue is that it is a mystery. The inconsistency is necessary (only you ever catch it which is telling) to make an obvious point about the correlation between predetermination and foreknowledge without getting into causation.

      69. Mike:
        The LORD uses the word sovereign about Himself many times. When you see the all-caps small LORD you know that is one. A typical one (ironically in the Potter’s House in Jeremiah 18—-that Paul uses in Romans) follows:

        5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

        He can do whatever He wants. Including change His mind. That is what He says above. He planned it but does not do it, per the action of men. To Calvinists ….He planned to NOT do what He told everyone He planned to do. Gets a bit contrived.

        Of course that relates directly to the point in Romans 9-11 when Paul is demonstrating that God can do as He wants and let the non-Jew in.

        Chapter 19 is even better on His sovereignty.

      70. “He planned it but does not do it, per the action of men. To Calvinists ….He planned to NOT do what He told everyone He planned to do. Gets a bit contrived. ”

        This is common in the Scripture – especially the Psalms where God implores Israel to obey Him because He wants to bless them. We see this with Jonah and Nineveh. We have this is the NT. Seek first the kingdom of God…Ask for wisdom…believe on Christ. Obviously, if one does not seek, ask, believe, the blessings that God had promised do not follow.

      71. What? Do you even hear yourself?

        “Obviously, if one does not seek, ask, believe,….” then God cannot bless!

        Not only do you have man seeking (when apparently he cant) but you have God tied up waiting for man to act.

        You are galloping your way out of Calvinism…congratulations!

      72. “Not only do you have man seeking (when apparently he cant) but you have God tied up waiting for man to act.”

        I think context reveals that God says these things to people whom God has enabled to seek, ask, believe. God apparently has devised a positive reinforcement system where God responds positively to people who do what He says.

        How do you see context with the seek, ask, believe verses?

      73. Mike:
        God speaking of His sovereignty again.

        Jeremiah 19:3 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 4 For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. 5 They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.”

        He is wants to make sure we know it is the Sovereign LORD. There is all-caps LORD, then Almighty, then “God of Israel.” The trifecta of Sovereignty. Whatever happens here is from His strongest most emphatic position as Sovereign.

        Then He tells us what the Israelites have done…. and then tell us that He did not command it (orally or secretly)….did not even mention it. And a third way to say it for emphasis…..did not enter His mind.

        How in the world are we supposed to read this passage and go away thinking….”yes but he decreed it, and willed it for His glory”?

        I just could no longer stack this kind of absurdity onto obvious passages that occurred daily in my reading! I quit trying to defend Aristotle and Augustine!

      74. “Then He tells us what the Israelites have done…. and then tell us that He did not command it (orally or secretly)….did not even mention it. And a third way to say it for emphasis…..did not enter His mind. How in the world are we supposed to read this passage and go away thinking….”yes but he decreed it, and willed it for His glory”?”

        Not to command it or mention it can be confirmed through review of God’s commands and interactions with Israel. That is not contested language. The contested language is, “…did not enter His mind.” Here, God emphasizes that He never would have commanded such things. Nonetheless, Israel devised such things in their minds, God having decreed that Israel should be free to entertain such thoughts and even to act on such thoughts making them reality. That God ordained such things means only that God granted Israel freedom to pursue evil and would not intervene to restrain them – and this presumable because His purpose was to judge them.

      75. Rhutchin:
        Your answers are so convoluted. He willed it or He allowed it?

        Now his decrees only mean that he permits man to be evil. Your story is never the same from one day to the next.

      76. Three times He refers to Himself as Sovereign.

        Three times He makes it clear it is not from Him.

        And yet we are told He decrees all things, ordains all things, wills all actions.

        I would much prefer to discuss in what ways He has limited His own omniscience than to attribute all evil to Him —despite His very insistence that it is not!

      77. Why? because you say so?

        Christ can be both God and man. Oxymoron.

        God can exist in 3 persons. Oxymoron.

        God cannot create in such a way that He limits Himself? It very much appears in His word that He did.

        Who decides the definition of His omniscience? You? Why?

      78. Mike, I’m not limiting the meaning any more than saying it must only know one set future forever could be called a limitation. God’s nature brings with it certain self-limitations.

        God’s truth limits His omnipotence, making it impossible for Him to lie. God’s sequential eternality makes it impossible for the past to still exist and the future to already exist, which could be called a limit to His omnipresence… for He cannot be where there is no existence. God is immutable… but that is limited by the reality that He has made some changes in the Godhead… like one person becoming incarnate forever and the other persons not becoming incarnate.

        So Omniscience is only limited in that God can not know a future as complete if it is not complete. That would be knowing a lie as if it were true.

      79. Brian, I’m having a hard time keeping up with all this. I wish the streams were not so confusing.

        Regarding your comment which responded to my comment to the other guy: I can generally agree with everything you say in this comment. None of this really contradicts compatiblism. The argument for you (and Arminians) is about hard determinism, which I do not hold to. The argument for me is LFW which not only do I think you have not proven but you seem to be arguing against yourself.

        I have to believe in compatiblism because I see a conflict with contra-causal free will and cause-and-effect. How God can create dependent and independent beings is beyond my understanding. If you try to force the issue than you create logical problems. I remember hearing a Calvinist-Arminian debate where the Arminian postulated that God could have created an equally powerful God and still remain God. And in fact, from our human perspective, true love would have demanded that God do just that.

        God’s plan must be settled and extensive or he could not guarantee its outcome (let along make true prophecies). This does not mean that everything is some robotic program or scripted movie. But to guarantee the outcome he would have to manipulate certain circumstances. Those circumstances are evident in the diversity of human nature and existence. The free will choices I make are determined by my genetics, environment, and experiences which in turn develop my nature. Who creates my genetics? Who places me in my environment? If these where different my experiences would be different and my nature would be different as would my free will choices.

        We already talked about Adam’s nature before The Fall. Remember “the wizard?” Romans 5:12 doesn’t deal with the sin of the devil and his angels so it is making some other point that is not related to LFW.

        Anyway, I just want to say that this has been a very good discussion and I have learned a lot from you. Thanks!

      80. Thanks Mike for trying to understand. Here is your weakest statement in your last response in my opinion – “God’s plan must be settled and extensive or he could not guarantee its outcome (let along make true prophecies).”

        God can guarantee the outcome(s) He wants or will permit because of His omnipotence and infinite understanding. The plan does not need to be “settled” for that to happen. Also His omnipotence guarantees unconditional prophecies that He makes will take place. Again… a settled plan is not necessary for unconditional prophecies to be made. And making unconditional prophecies does not make a settled plan of all things necessary.

        Thank you too, Mike, for the conversation. You really help sharpen my thinking, and I think you have helped me at least present my views with greater clarity.

      81. brianwagner writes, “God can guarantee the outcome(s) He wants or will permit because of His omnipotence and infinite understanding.:

        In other words, timing is not a factor. As it is God who ultimately determines all things – by virtue of His omnipotence and infinite understanding – it doesn’t matter whether God determines things in eternity past or immediately before an event takes place. In some cases, God has to plan ahead, so some of the future can be be determined in eternity past but God can wait on the small stuff.

      82. He not only can wait on the small stuff… He has waited on much of the big stuff… And is still making free will decisions concerning them according to Scriptures. But you don’t believe, Roger, that God even waits on the small stuff… So why give the reader that impression you do?

      83. brianwagner writes, “So why give the reader that impression you do?”

        Sometimes people see things that are not there. Communication of concepts and ideas is somewhat an art and not always as precise as we want.

      84. brianwagner writes, “God’s truth limits His omnipotence, making it impossible for Him to lie.”

        God’s truth limits how He exercises His omnipotence,…”Limiting omnipotence seems like an oxymoron.

      85. Haha… Mike, to say the Scripture doesn’t teach freewill makes me wonder if you read the OP above! Thou may have forgotten, but I do believe that Scripture’s teaching can’t sustain the definition of omniscience that includes a fully set future in God’s mind forever.

        Just the verses alone that record God making determinations after creation make that definition of omniscience/ foreknowledge impossible. But God is still omniscient defined as meaning that He knows all that is true as true and all that is false is false and His infinite understanding changes in the character of what is known but not in a way that adds or takes away from it.

        But when I say the character of His knowledge changes, I mean what is known as future becomes known as past… what is known as possible becomes known as determined when God decides to cause or permit a future event or it becomes known as a counter-factual that could have happened but didn’t. Those changes do not add or take away from God’s infinite understanding or change the perfection of it.

        The verse you gave does not prove a set future forever in God’s mind… just that God is the creator, unless I’m missing something.

      86. Brian, as I said, you will translate any verse I provide through the lens of LFW. And I find your definitions of omniscience and foreknowledge too terrestrial.

        I did read your piece but I don’t agree with your conclusions. That should be evident by now. I wasn’t clear enough when I said scripture doesn’t teach free will.

        You say that “freedom of will to go against one’s nature, even for God, is not possible.” I’ve said the same thing many times and every LFW’er has argued against it. You don’t seem to understand that this simple admission is an argument against LFW. “The ability to freely make decisions commensurate with the limits of one’s nature and with the opportunities provided for such decisions making” is the definition of compatiblism!

        You obviously believe that these statements support LFW but you don’t explain or explore them. Instead you go on to do word studies that no Calvinists would disagree with. Willingly, motivation, voluntary, decide, heart or spirit moves, my own will, free will offering—all your article proves is that man has free will. And who is denying this?

        What is being denied is “libertarian, contra-causal” free will. What is the definition of “libertarian”? What does “contra” in “contra-causal” mean? These are anti cause-and-effect. Your statements at the beginning of the article and your word studies don’t support this mystical non-causal free will. In fact the Bible is full of cause-and-effect on almost every page. “God said let there be light and there was light.”

        You don’t seem to understand Calvinism except as a caricature. You’re in good company at Soteriology 101.

      87. Mike – Would you define the freewill that is according to one’s nature will always result in only one set choice being made… set in the sense that it was eternally immutably set in God’s mind as the choice that would be made even before that will was even created?

        If so then there is no “free” in that definition of freewill. Contra-causal freedom does not go against nature… but the nature of freewill is choosing between multiple choices (not just between one and its opposite)… and that choice not being caused by nature to choose only one.

        My definitions are Scripture oriented not philosophically oriented… unless you can show me Scriptures to the contrary. God giving physical limitations to a baby – blindness or deafness does not limit them from fulfilling His design to worship and serve Him forever. Only their freewill rejecting His offers of mercy and grace to fulfill that design will limit them.

      88. brianwagner (responding to MR) writes, “…set in the sense that it was eternally immutably set in God’s mind as the choice that would be made even before that will was even created?”

        Even in your system, the options are set even if not determined. Also set is the knowledge, understanding and wisdom of the person as well as the presence of a corrupt nature that is directed to self-preservation and self-gratification and the myriad of influences acting upon the corrupt nature, including temptations from Satan. All these factors affect the “freedom” of the will to choose among perceived options. Even a very smart computer program could probably predict what a person would likely choose under the circumstances. So, even if we deny that God has “determined” the outcome, we should expect that God can be close to 100% certain about that outcome simply because God is restraining the person to be totally depraved and not utterly depraved. The question still comes up – What do you mean by “free” when you advocate “free will”?

      89. God is not a computer and He is not locked behind one choice for Himself for each possibility… That is what free will means. But you can’t abide by that idea of God being perfect and not locked behind one immutable set future forever. Determinism of all things destroys the idea of love and trust in a relationship! I hope, Roger, you will repent of your loyalty to that false philosophy.

      90. Brian, I’m really confused by this. And it’s not just you. I agree that free will is choosing between multiple choices. It is the Arminian who insists that to be real the choice must be between one and its opposite—specifically between the ability to sin and not to sin. And you say the same when you imply that blindness or deafness does not effect ones free choices—the only choice that matters is rejecting God.

        Again, if you simply define contra-causal as multiple choices, well then, that is part of compatiblistc free will.

        “God is not a computer.” Right. (Again, Leighton Flowers compares God to Deep Blue in his chess analogy.) “He is not locked behind one choice.” Right. Who is saying that God does not have multiple choices? My GPS gives me multiple choices to get to my destination. But once God makes a choice or a plan he sticks to it. What is wrong with that? “Determinism of all things destroys the idea of love.” Again, you are forcing hard determinism on to Calvinists.

        “My definitions are Scripture oriented not philosophically oriented.” Show me in scripture where God uses the Free Will Theodicy? Show me where God says that evil is due to man’s libertarian free will apart from his corrupted nature?

        I do want to tell you that you have convinced me that the statement: “the Bible doesn’t discuss free will” is inaccurate . From now on I will be more precise and say that the Bible doesn’t discuss LWF.

      91. I have no problem saying compatibilistic freewill if you really believe there is in existence multiple choices and they were not settled as to which choice is made before creation of those wills. I do however believe that God does provide the opportunity a few times to freely choose between grace and it’s opposite –
        sin.

        I have no problem with God sticking to a plan… but don’t you agree that verses that speak to God making decisions and plans after creation confirm that He has not one settled plan in His mind that He is working out?

        Rom 5:12 – By one man sin entered into the world. — Adam’s nature was not corrupt forcing him to sin… so there is your example of freewill from Scripture according to your definition of LFW.

      92. Mike Ranieri writes, “Nowhere in the Bible is there a discussion of free will.”

        Yet, we easily understand that only God has “true” free will and this because God has perfect knowledge, and infinite understanding of all things, has perfect wisdom, and is not influenced by any forces outside the Godhead. People have limited knowledge, understanding little of that knowledge, and have no, or limited, ability to make wise decisions and is influenced by multiple and conflicting forces that people are unable to sort through. Whatever “freedom” is accorded to people is extremely limited – and if anyone says they can sort it out, they are deceiving themselevs.

      93. Like Mike… you must not have read the OP above Roger… or you are willfully rejecting the clear evidence of Scripture again. Freewill is not extremely limited if God speaks truly in His Word.

        You think that I deny God’s omniscience… I would rather be misunderstood in that regard then to have people think I believe God was deceptive throughout His written Word.

      94. brianwagner writes, ” Freewill is not extremely limited if God speaks truly in His Word.”

        In comparison to the freedom God has, human freedom is extremely limited. Right?? Isn’t the ability of a person to choose limited by his knowledge, understanding, and wisdom? Can you, or anyone, quantify how “free” a “free will” is?

        Then, “I would rather be misunderstood in that regard then to have people think I believe God was deceptive throughout His written Word.”

        The manner in which the prophets described God often picture God in human terms with human characteristics. Yet, we know that God is nothing like a human – e.g., God is spirit and not flesh and blood. Some accommodation seems in order to allow God to picture Himself in human terms in order to advance conversation with humans.

      95. “God is nothing like a human” is a false statement since man was created in His image. And though choices may be limited for God and man by many things… The “free” in freewill is not limited as long as there is truly a choice. Roger.

      96. brianwagner writes, “The “free” in freewill is not limited as long as there is truly a choice. ”

        Now, we have free will IF there is TRULY a choice. What do you mean by the descriptor, “truly”? You cannot define “free” except by an equally nebulous word, “truly.” So, what does it mean?

      97. hahaha… I only put the word “truly” in there because Calvinists want to say there is a choice, but they also want to defend the immutability of a set future forever… which means there “truly” is no real free choice is available, only the determined event that looks like a choice could have been made for a human’s perspective, but the fix was in, and everything other “so-called” choice were eternally immutably counterfactual.

      98. brianwagner writes, “I only put the word “truly” in there because Calvinists want to say there is a choice,…”

        OK. Let’s remove any knowledge God might have of the future choices of people. If they are “truly” free, what does “truly mean and if you just want to say that they are free, what does “free” mean? You speak of a “free” will in nebulous terms. You could even use the term, contra-causal, to define this freedom, but a definition of that term is no more than the nebulous “could have done otherwise.” As MR notes elsewhere, genetics, environment, and experiences come into play, don’t they? Add also a corrupted nature. So, what does “otherwise” really mean? Everyone says that people make choices and do so freely. Calvinists say that this means people are not coerced to choose a particular outcome. Have you or anyone else nailed done a definition that goes beyond that? If one exists, you should be able to write it down in 25 words or less.

      99. Roger… we have been around this side of the barn before. Free means the will has the final say and is able to choose differently up until the moment the choice is made, if there truly is a free choice. Some events are caused and in those determined events there is no freedom available to that will to make a free choice otherwise. But in a freewill choice, and there are many…the will is not caused by those other factors that MR mentioned as if they cause only one certain choice. They are just contributing causes that corporately and individually influence but are not corporately or individually necessary or corporately or individually efficient for that choice. The freewill is the necessary and efficient cause for the choice.

      100. brianwagner writes, “Free means the will has the final say and is able to choose differently up until the moment the choice is made, if there truly is a free choice….in a freewill choice, and there are many…the will is not caused by those other factors that MR mentioned as if they cause only one certain choice. They are just contributing causes that corporately and individually influence but are not corporately or individually necessary or corporately or individually efficient for that choice. The freewill is the necessary and efficient cause for the choice.”

        So, we could add at the beginning of your definition, “Given one’s knowledge of available options, understanding of the impacts of perceived choices, outside influences, biases inherent to the person, one’s internal nature, or any factor that might motivate the person to choose a particular option or any restraint on the person to act so long as no factor can be said to be the cause of the choice, Free means the will has the final say…” That is how the Calvinist defines it also. Seems like that is how everyone defines it. So, why do people argue over such a loose definition??

      101. Would you be willing Roger to change the phrase “that might motivate the person to choose a particular option” to “might motivate the person to choose between truly available possible options”?

      102. brianwagner writes, “Would you be willing Roger to change the phrase “that might motivate the person to choose a particular option” to “might motivate the person to choose between truly available possible options”?

        What does “truly” mean? If it is not a redundancy, then it has to add something. The only choice that matters is that of salvation. Whether we have “truly” is irrelevant if the person is so compromised that he has no choice. That is what the Calvinist says happens under Total Depravity. So, assuming that you are not willing to give up Total Depravity, it seems you have to negate Total Depravity and install a free will – I guess that is the purpose for your “light” theory.

      103. Thank you for confirming Roger that you don’t believe in freewill even though you tried to make others believe you did, but masked your determinism behind the word “particular”. Ann’s balked at accepting the change in wording that I made.

        And yes the nature received from Adam is still able to make free choices between gracious offers made to it by God before regeneration. Adam, Cain, Nicodemus, and Cornelius are great examples as well a universal invitations and warnings like Heb 3:7-8.

        This is all for this thread from me for now… we’re heading old well worn paths we already have walked down.

      104. brianwagner writes, “Thank you for confirming Roger that you don’t believe in freewill even though you tried to make others believe you did,…”

        As far as I can see, we both agree on the definition of free will. What you now realize is that your definition says nothing specific or quantitative thereby allowing everyone to agree with it. No free will advocate has ever been able to go beyond the “assumption” of free will – they will concede the “influence” of internal and external factors but assume that those influences do not, generally, have a determinative effect. You follow suit.

        Then, “…but masked your determinism behind the word “particular”. ”

        You read more into the word than is there. I am openly deterministic agreeing with Edwards that people choose in line with their greatest desires – no one chooses something that has no appeal for them.

        Then, “… we’re heading old well worn paths we already have walked down.”

        Well worn paths that are focusing more clearly on true positions – in this regard, you are taking on an increasingly Pelagian philosophy by softening the attitude of sinful man toward God. This is the natural outcome for free will advocates.

      105. The Scriptures teach freewill. It’s not an assumption. Pelagian was a sacramentalist that believed God had to give saving grace through a sacrament. God does have to graciously give light which presents the will with a choice to seek or harden against that grace.

        Determinism twists the normal meaning of Scriptures which dishonors God. God did not hide any fundamental truths about Himself that Calvinist scholars, who think they are “kings”, have discovered for everyone else.

        They twist the meaning of “freewill” so that it means every decision made was caused by something that made that one decision necessary. They twist many other words of God to maintain their loyalty to the prestige they feel from their scholarly philosophically based theology.

      106. brianwagner writes, “The Scriptures teach freewill.”

        That is not in dispute. The issue is the character of free will. Calvinists define free will to mean free from coercion. Those who disagree with Calvinism, like you, don’t seem able to distinguish free will as something different. Dr. Flowers will describe it as freedom to chose otherwise which says nothing more than freedom from coercion. The second issue is the degree to which factors influence a person’s choice even to the point of determining the choice. Here, Edwards set the bar in saying that a person chooses consistent with his strongest desire – a deterministic conclusion. No one seems able to offer anything better even though they don’t like the conclusion Edwards drew.

        Then, “Pelagian was a sacramentalist that believed God had to give saving grace through a sacrament.”

        He was a full fledged synergist in espousing salvation as a cooperative effort between God and man. From what I read, Pelagius stressed human autonomy and free will to take advantage of God’s saving grace – which seems to be the basic philosophy of non-Calvinists.

        Then, “God does have to graciously give light which presents the will with a choice to seek or harden against that grace.”

        And then, the issue is to explain why a will given such light would do other than seek God. To harden oneself in the face of that light suggests that the person simply doesn’t understand – so, Paul says, “There is none who understands. There is none who seeks God.” If that condition still holds after one is presumably given light, then they still don’t understand, and one must wonder if they received any light at all.

        Then, “Determinism twists the normal meaning of Scriptures which dishonors God.”

        Determinism just says that God is sovereign and is, necessarily, the final arbiter of everything that happens. I don’t see how that dishonors God.

        Then, “They twist the meaning of “freewill” so that it means every decision made was caused by something that made that one decision necessary.”

        In other words, there is a rational explanation behind every decision that is made – people do not make decisions spontaneously.

      107. Contradiction – Freewill means “freedom from coercion” and Freewill means “a person chooses consistent with his strongest desire – a deterministic conclusion.”

        The Calvinist wants us to believe the human will is making a free choice when it was opposed to God’s will in every way up to the moment of regeneration and then irresistibly inclined to trust Christ immediately after regeneration. Remind me not to trust Calvinists when they define things so obviously against Scripture.

      108. brianwagner writes, “Contradiction – Freewill means “freedom from coercion” and Freewill means “a person chooses consistent with his strongest desire – a deterministic conclusion.””

        What you are saying is that a person is forced to act as he does by his desires – he is unable to overcome his desires. Interesting – under determinism, a person is forced to be who he is; under free will, a person can be something he is not. So, under determinism, a person is coerced to be faithful to himself; under free will, a person can engage in deception – even deceiving himself.

        Then, “…irresistibly inclined to trust Christ immediately after regeneration.”

        Not exactly. “…irresistibly enabled…” The person must still hear the gospel in order to trust Christ. So, apparently, it is your misconceptions about Calvinism that have led you not to trust Calvinists.

      109. He doesn’t go against desires or plans… he freely chooses between them… they don’t force one choice out from his will.

        Regeneration according to Calvinism forces a change in the will that immediately, irresistibly, chooses faith in Christ which is always rejected previously. Yes, he must hear the gospel, but now, supposedly, he hears it with irresistible understanding… and his will is unable now to harden against that revealed understanding of God’s will for him… even though his will still can harden itself against other revealed aspects of God’s will. That is not a free will decision to trust Christ in the gospel… no matter how much you try to spin it, Roger.

      110. brianwagner writes, “He doesn’t go against desires or plans… he freely chooses between them… they don’t force one choice out from his will.”

        The difference between you and Calvinism is that Calvinism says a person chooses consistent with the strongest desire and you appear to be saying that the process by which a person chooses is a mystery because it is not necessarily consistent with the strongest desire.

        Then, “Regeneration according to Calvinism forces a change in the will that immediately, irresistibly, chooses faith in Christ which is always rejected previously.”

        Not exactly. The process is –
        (1) “…when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive …” (Colossians 2)
        (2) “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10)
        (3) “…you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,…” (Ephesians 1)

        So, God gives a person life, brings the person under the preaching of the gospel, conveys faith to the person, and the person exercises faith to believe in Christ.

        Then, “Yes, he must hear the gospel, but now, supposedly, he hears it with irresistible understanding…”

        OK. It is through hearing the gospel that faith is conveyed to the person. This faith is “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11) I guess we can describe that as an irresistible understanding.

        Then, “…his will is unable now to harden against that revealed understanding of God’s will for him…”

        I don’t know that we can say, “unable.” Certainly, very, very, very, very, unlikely.

        The, “…even though his will still can harden itself against other revealed aspects of God’s will.”

        Thus, Paul’s injunction to, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

        Finally, “That is not a free will decision to trust Christ in the gospel… ”

        The person is cognizant of the choices between him – eternal life and eternal death – and chooses that which he desires. This satisfies the Calvinist in not being coerced and the non-Calvinist in having an otherwise choice. Thus, a free will decision.

      111. Rhutchin:

        You misread:
        Calvinists label it as abhorrent…not me.

        My “defense” is Passover.

        In this incredibly cross-prophesying event did God save them from the angel of death or only provide the means?

        My “defense” is the serpent-on-the-pole.

        In this incredibly cross-prophesying event did God save them from death or only provide the means?

        My “defense” is the ark.

        In this incredibly cross-prophesying event did God save Noah’s family from death or only provide the means?

        All three are referred to in the NT as images of salvation in Christ. All three (an hundreds more) required faith and action from men.

        You can say “yes, but God gave them the faith,” but I am afraid you have no scriptural ground. You just impose that because of your presuppositions.

        I finally get the problem here. The word you are describing is “grace.” None of the verses you ever use describe faith. They describe grace, new live, regeneration, justification. The universal understanding of faith is that is it personal and “required to please God.” Look at the long list of people that God names in Hebrews 11. Why? What for? What’s the point? They have nothing to do with it (per you) and yet He names them by name.

        God puts their names in His eternal word and lauds their individual faith. Why? To teach us what? To show us what about the world He created?

        What is the lesson of Hebrews 11?

        Here’s how Hebrews 11 should read for you

        (not this)
        By faith Abel….
        (but this)

        God gave faith to Abel, and since Abel had no choice and could not NOT do it, he offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice.

        (not this)
        By faith Enoch …Before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

        (but this)
        God gave Enoch faith…..Before he was taken God had unalterably given him the ability to please God, and since Enoch had no choice, he pleased God.

        What is the message of Hebrews 11?

        What is the message of Passover? The ark (Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations)?

        What is God’s message to Cain: So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”????

        What caused me to leave Calvinism was that so much of my daily Bible reading made no sense!

      112. //God was careful to tell us through the NT writers that He is the source of faith // No He doesn’t. He says that He should be the object of our faith and reveals Himself to us so that all may believe. Man is the agent of his faith, not God. Once again we see the Calvinistic error of agency.

      113. erneststrauss writes; “Man is the agent of his faith, not God.”

        That’s a good Pelagian statement. Of course, you should oppose Calvinism.

      114. Hebrews 11 gives a whole list of agents of faith.

        What verse is Pelagius again?

      115. “Hebrews 11 gives a whole list of agents of faith.
        What verse is Pelagius again?”

        I understood erneststrauss’ position to be that all people are born with faith negating the need for God to give faith to any person and people, as agents of that inborn faith, are able to respond to the gospel without further help from God (which seems Pelagian to me and kinda fits the theology he generally expounds). In Hebrews 11, people are agents of faith by virtue of the faith that God gives to them to protect them by His power for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time..

      116. Just as I predicted! After that long list of faith-walkers, comes, wait …for… it……..” Buuuuut God gave them all that faith, so nothing to see here. Nothing to learn here. Go your way….and if God wants you to have faith, He will give it to so. Sorry I just used a whole chapter to say nothing!”

        You cannot “bring the proper sacrifice” like Abel unless God gives it to you….and if He does….you have to!

        You cannot leave your family and go where God tells you like Abraham…..unless God also gives you the faith that you cannot resist.

        Again…..what’s the point of God giving us His word if we cannot grow by it?

        Why does it LOOK like those people had faith?

        Once again the Scripture is only making us think that what we do matters!

        Why the names and the details? Why not say at least once (ANYWHERE in the Bible) “God gave so-and-so his faith”?

      117. “Why does it LOOK like those people had faith? ”

        Why not explain how you think people can have faith if not given to them by God?

      118. Why dont we let Paul explain it.

        4:2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

        Our faith is neither something we can boast about (did better than another—significant Calvinist gothca phrase) nor is it a work.

        He is not justified by works.
        He did not do anything to boast about.
        He is credited as righteous when he believes.

        There’s the rub. Calvinists say that the believing was given to him. It doesn’t look like it here or anywhere. Really. A simple reading of any of these faith/ believing passages looks like man has to have faith —and that he CAN have faith.

        And if this faith and all the list of faithful in Heb 11 was given to them unalterably-irresistibly, then what is the point?

        I mean really what IS the point of any of the Bible if we only have the faith God gives us, and must use it as prescribed, and we cannot learn from any of the hundreds of examples He gives us in His Word?

        Why even talk about Abraham’s faith?

        Can I learn from Abraham’s faith….and have an even greater faith?

        What are we to learn from Hebrew 11?

        What did Christ mean when He said “your faith has made you whole”?

        Paul go on….

        Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

        He is juxtaposing works and faith…..making it clear that faith is not a work.

        You can say “yes but YOUR faith is a work” all you want, but Paul disagrees.

        Please listen to one more passage from Paul.

        He wants to make sure that we understand that works dont count but faith does, and to make sure that we understand that works and faith are NOT the same.

        Rom 4:13 It was not through the law [works] that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by [non-works] faith.

        Paul, just to make sure that we don’t think Abraham’s personal faith was something unique…something we could not all have….added this.

        Romans 4:23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

        In fact that whole chapter is about Abraham, Abraham, Abraham; faith, faith, faith.

        That is a bit deceptive if, as you say, the whole message of the chapter is about not-the-faith-of-Abraham.

        Every reference to faith in Scripture should have a small * with “but God gives faith” by it. It NEVER does.

        Just lists people. Real, unregenerate people. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Sarah….

      119. “And if this faith and all the list of faithful in Heb 11 was given to them unalterably-irresistibly, then what is the point?”

        The point of Hebrews is, “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” and of those identified, “all these…gained approval through their faith,…” Hebrews 11 does not tell us how these particular people came to have faith – it just tells us that they had faith.

        Then, “In fact that whole chapter is about Abraham, Abraham, Abraham; faith, faith, faith.”

        Later on in Romans 8, we can contrast Abraham in chap 4 with the unsaved – “…the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” The unsaved do not have faith. So, how do people get “faith”? – “…faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10) Thus, faith is not something one is born with – one receives faith when hearing the gospel. Then in Ephesians 2, Paul tells us that faith is a gift from God and “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” This is consistent with Romans 9, “…it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” Thus, Paul says in Philippians 1, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

      120. I am quite familiar with the dozen or so go-to verses that build the (rickety) scaffolding that is supposed to re-define the meaning of faith.

        I believe that elsewhere in this blog answers are provided to all those verses.

        I still find it amazing that one has to go searching here and there to piece together the presuppositions when there are huge passage that say “by faith, by faith, by faith…..believe, believe, believe.”

        Here is your definition of faith:

        1. It has nothing to do with the people mentioned. God over road all of their personality. He gave them something (I hesitate to call it faith since no one in their right mind thinks of faith as “the assurance of things foisted on you”).

        2. the person then has no choice but to use the thing given to him by God.

        3. The person’s name and actions are listed in detail in God eternal Word for no reason, since we cannot learn from them, and they did not really do them.

        And all of that….because of a few verses here and there that have very acceptable alternate interpretations.

        So faith means absolutely nothing. Worse. It does NOT mean what any average person thinks it means.

      121. FOH… determinism must redefine faith and love away from what the clear Scriptures say, if it is going to be consistent with itself. But everyone knows intuitively as well as from Scripture that there is no real personal relationship without freely offered love and trust. Makes one wonder how close a dogmatic Calvinist feels in any of their “personal” relationships that he says he has on earth… if he has any!

      122. Thanks Brian.
        I remind people that real love cannot be force. It cannot be given to someone. I cannot make my kids love me.

        But the Calvinist image of Father is that He makes us love Him. I know there is the semantics of “we want to when we have been given faith.” But since what we are given is irresistible (cant have it unless He gives; must use it if He does) that intuitively and actually comes down to forcing.

        So….even though God uses terms like “Father, children of God, bride, groom, brothers” they do not mean what they appear to mean.

        I am an earthly father, son, husband, brother, and all of these are personal. The love and faith in these relationships cannot be forced. It cannot be given. And it certainly is not irresistible! Kids resist the grace shown to them all the time.

        I find it bizarre that God would use all these familial terms (that we identify with) only to say….”Nope, don’t draw from those images I use…I force all my (im)personal relationships.”

        Misled again, we are.

      123. “But the Calvinist image of Father is that He makes us love Him”

        This is a non-Calvinist caricature of Calvinism. The Scriptures describe Jesus healing people – removing paralysis, blindness, etc., – and those people then responding positively to Jesus. When God removes spiritual blindness or gives new life to one who was born blind, are we to conclude that this forces the person to love Him or might we conclude that the person responds with a personal gratefulness that comes from the heart?

      124. But not all do not continue to respond positively to miracles given to them… why? And Roger if you are conceding that people can respond positively to God’s grace before regeneration… be careful… you are now confirming the Scripture’s teaching of freely responding to being drawn by God before regeneration.

      125. brianwagner writes, “But not all do not continue to respond positively to miracles given to them… why?”

        Because God is not forcing a response – contrary to the claim, “…the Calvinist image of Father is that He makes us love Him.”

        Then, ” …if you are conceding that people can respond positively to God’s grace before regeneration… be careful… you are now confirming the Scripture’s teaching of freely responding to being drawn by God before regeneration.”

        God’s grace includes actions that do not have salvation as the end – e.g., providing rain for the just and unjust. Jesus extended grace to people to heal them; such healing was to identify Jesus as the Messiah and not necessarily to save. The point is that God’s grace does not force a response – even when God’s grace opens a person’s eyes to his need for salvation.

      126. RHutchin:

        This is semantic gobbledygook.

        (you said) “The point is that God’s grace does not force a response – even when God’s grace opens a person’s eyes to his need for salvation.”

        The I in TULIP is just that….Irresistible (otherwise His plans might go awry….sorry…”be thwarted’). At least be honest and appeal to “mystery” as to how He can force our free will….but don’t deny that you are saying it is irresistible and if irresistible it is forced.

        It was the “I” that was the final blow for me to leave Calvinism. I read over and over and over in the Bible people resisting the grace God extended to them. I got so tired of saying….”yes, but it doesnt mean that…”

      127. ” At least be honest and appeal to “mystery” as to how He can force our free will….but don’t deny that you are saying it is irresistible and if irresistible it is forced. ”

        We have the example of Lydia, “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” The Lord opened her heart and this was irresistible. Lydia did not even know what God had done. All Lydia knows is that Paul’s words are not foolishness as before but now, they make sense. If you want to say that God forced Himself upon her, then fine – but Lydia did not complain. Similarly, Lazarus lay dead in a tomb and God brought him back to life. If you want to say God forced Himself on Lazarus, then fine – Lazarus did not complain, so far as the Scriptures tell us. Similarly, God opens the ears of the lost to the gospel and grants them faith to believe – Have any complained. Paul tells us, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This is also God’s irresistible grace. For some reason, you are moved to anger at the thought that God would “force” Himself on anyone in order to bring them, irresistibly, to salvation. I don’t understand that.

      128. RHutchin:

        Please dont fall for the “pluck a few words out of a phrase” approach. Look at the whole context..

        Acts 16:14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized….”

        1. You said it went from foolishness to belief. Yet the Scripture says (a) She went to listen (you dont do that for foolishness; how could she “seek” before she was opened?), and (b) she was a worshiper of God. You cannot make her go from 0 to 60 on your own terms. She was seeking BEFORE the Lord opened her heart. She was a worshiper of God BEFORE He opened her heart.

        2. How did she respond? She got baptized. Are you for baptismal regeneration? That is the ONLY response we are told about in this passage. It is even possible that the Lord opened the heart of an already-believer to be baptized, right?

        3. It does not say the Lord gave her faith. Only that He opened her heart (vague meaning) and she was baptized. Too much mileage taken from one text…….again.

        4. I am not angry. What? I am disappointed that you use the concept “force” in every way “in order to bring them, irresistibly, to salvation…” and yet deny that it is ‘forcing.’ Just be honest. It is this mind-game, duplicity, tricksy, word-switch stuff that makes Calvinism so untrustworthy.

      129. 1. …the Scripture says (a) She went to listen (you dont do that for foolishness; how could she “seek” before she was opened?), and (b) she was a worshiper of God. You cannot make her go from 0 to 60 on your own terms. She was seeking BEFORE the Lord opened her heart. She was a worshiper of God BEFORE He opened her heart.”

        Even the Jews were worshippers of God. Paul noted two problems with the Jews, “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge, ” and “we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,…” So, even for a worshipper of God, we are told “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” The implication is that Lydia would not have responded to Paul’s message absent God’s irresistible work on Lydia. I think you falsely equate being a wordhipper of God with seeking God – this passage does not make that claim, so it is your personal eisegesis of the passage given that you add this information to get to the conclusion you want.

        Then, “2. How did she respond? She got baptized.”

        This seems to be pretty standard. Paul explains, “…do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” (Romans 6) and “…all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3) I don’t see Paul speaking of baptismal regeneration as regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit..

        Then, “3. It does not say the Lord gave her faith. Only that He opened her heart …”

        Elsewhere, Paul explains that faith comes through the hearing of the word. It seems clear that the opening of Lydia’s heart paved the way for faith to be conveyed through Paul’s preaching of the gospel. Nonetheless, Ephesians 2 is clear in saying that faith is a gift of God.

        Then, ” I am disappointed that you use the concept “force” in every way “in order to bring them, irresistibly, to salvation…”

        I never associate the irresistible work of God on a person with “force.” You have done that and I have sought to clarify what you mean by the term, “force.” Nonetheless, it appears to me that the idea that God would take certain irresistible actions to save a sinner causes you problems – you write like an angry person (my perception). But if you are fine with God saving people, that is great!

      130. RH:
        Your examples do nothing for the text. Why does the text even SAY worshiper of God and tell us that there were people seeking out Paul? In you version of timing….God opened her heart (is that your regeneration?) you have that happening after a person is indeed seeking God.

        That is not permitted from the tortured way the Calvinist interpret Roms 3:10-11. Was this worshiper of God who came out to hear Paul seeking God? If she was, then seeking is possible.

        I brought up the baptized idea because even though this is one of the few typical go-to passages (that all young Calvinists are taught out of the box) it STILL says nothing about giving her faith. It uses the vague term “opened her heart” and then she gets baptized. And that’s a proof text for you!!??

        Not this again. You cant just keep repeating that “Eph 2 is clear that faith is a gift”and eliminates all the “your faith has made you whole” passages!

        Christ is the one saying it. Why does He never say “my faith has made you whole.” “the faith God gave you has made you whole”.

        That is so misleading to the average reader.

        It is NOT clear that faith is the gift referred to in Eph 2.

        Even if it was…that’s not a problem since I already believe that we can only exercise faith because God made that possible to all men, thus a gift from God.

        Anyway, none of this matters since I was pre-determined, pre-ordained to leave Calvinism and you feel that I am preaching a false gospel (thus a wolf in sheep’s clothing)…….which I must have been pre-ordained to do too!

        Signing off of the comment string of this “Freewill” post…..FOH

      131. ” Why does the text even SAY worshiper of God…”

        Because they were.

        Then, “…and tell us that there were people seeking out Paul?”

        This is something the text does not say but you seem compelled to add.

        Then, “….God opened her heart (is that your regeneration?) you have that happening after a person is indeed seeking God. ”

        It is God’s grace toward Lydia and it is irresistible – Lydia does not even know that God has done it. God’s regeneration would have preceded and have been the basis for Lydia to seek Him. The reprobate do not naturally seek God. Still, Lydia does not have a true knowledge of God

        Then, ” It uses the vague term “opened her heart” and then she gets baptized. And that’s a proof text for you!!??”

        It is a text that reveals a “truth.” Any truth can be used as a proof text in combination with other “truths.” Your question is whether God must open the heart of any person before they will be receptive to the gospel. Paul earlier encourages believers that, “…you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness….” This speaks to the need for God to affect a change in the person’s heart if they are to be saved. With the example of Lydia, we can conclude that God must open the heart.

        Then, “You cant just keep repeating that “Eph 2 is clear that faith is a gift”and eliminates all the “your faith has made you whole” passages!”

        Faith is a gift (which oyu can’t seem to deny) and a perosn with faith is then able to exercise faith in Christ and be made whole. I don’t see your issue here.

        Then, “That is so misleading to the average reader.”

        It can appear misleading to the immature who have a minimal knowledge of the Scriptures. As one’s knowledge of the Scriptures increases, that which appeared misleading at first now makes sense as one combines truths from all across the Scriptures.

        Then, “none of this matters since I was pre-determined, pre-ordained to leave Calvinism and you feel that I am preaching a false gospel (thus a wolf in sheep’s clothing)…….which I must have been pre-ordained to do too!”

        Even you understand the precariousness of your position. I think you should complain to God.

      132. So you are faking that you agree with me again, Roger – You said – “The point is that God’s grace does not force a response – even when God’s grace opens a person’s eyes to his need for salvation.” So am I to take that to mean a person whose eyes are open by God to their need can choose to either seek God to meet that need or choose to harden their heart against God! Careful… if you don’t say yes then “force of a response” comes into play as true in your thinking!

      133. brianwagner writes, ” So am I to take that to mean a person whose eyes are open by God to their need can choose to either seek God to meet that need or choose to harden their heart against God! ”

        Yes. As the preacher once said, you got to get a person lost before you can get them saved. A person whose eye’s have been opened such that they see their lost condition does not know what to do and can go in any direction (e.g., works). I don’t think we would have them purposely hardening their hearts against God because they know that seeking God is the solution. There is the additional need to reveal Christ to them and to convey faith to them whereby they can believe in Christ.

      134. Ahh Roger… but during that time of his eyes open to his lostness he doesn’t forget the pleasures of that lostness or other options to choose besides seeking God’s mercy. So you seem open to the truth that he can freely choose to seek mercy or choose to harden… and I see that that choice even remains after hearing the truth of the gospel! No option is irresistible to the will even if the understanding of the options are irresistibly given. We are especially talking about choices of faith where the outcome is not seen but theoretically understood.

        Why you desire to be persuasive in a deterministic world, Roger, should intrigue you? It does me. Is there a command in Scripture that you are following to try to persuade others of determinism? What benefit do you believe there is for them, for me, if I change my mind to your view of determinism?

      135. brianwagner writes, “…during that time of his eyes open to his lostness he doesn’t forget the pleasures of that lostness or other options to choose besides seeking God’s mercy.”

        Of course not. – the pleasures of lostness don’t disappear even when a person believes as the old nature still hangs around. Of course, we are speculating about options. We never know that a person actually receives light or is born again until we see it manifested as belief in Christ.

        Then, “So you seem open to the truth that he can freely choose to seek mercy or choose to harden… ”

        There is really nothing to choose here. A person who has been given sufficient light to know that he is lost has not been given any real options. It is only after the person has come under the hearing of the gospel and has received faith that an option exists – his original position is that of not believing in Christ, the option now exists to choose to believe. Faith, if it is as defined in Hebrews 11, will always manifest as belief in Christ.

        Then, “No option is irresistible to the will even if the understanding of the options are irresistibly given. We are especially talking about choices of faith where the outcome is not seen but theoretically understood.”

        The reasonable choice where faith is present is to believe in Christ. If faith were not to manifest as belief, it would have to be something other than that described in Hebrews 11.

        Then, “Is there a command in Scripture that you are following to try to persuade others of determinism? What benefit do you believe there is for them, for me, if I change my mind to your view of determinism?”

        I am not trying to get you to change your mind – only God can do that. As this is Dr. Flowers blog, the primary purpose is to correct any errors in his presentation of Calvinism and try to make sure his arguments aren’t attacking strawmen. Other side discussions afford the chance to learn what other people believe and why – since few people ever seem to defend Dr. Flowers). Generally speaking, you and Dr. Flowers seem to be about the only people on the non-Calvinist side who can articulate a rationale for what he believes. Others, for whatever reason, just can’t seem to do that. Dr. Flowers challenges the Calvinist notion of Total Depravity and you challenge the notion of omniscience – each of you does so forthrightly (although, the more I listen to Dr. Flowers’ videos, the more he confuses me).

      136. Thanks for the insights into you motivation for posting here… though if God must cause the change in someone to Calvinism and your not motivated to want them to change… being here to defend Calvinism from strawmen arguments doesn’t make sense to me… but maybe I’m missing something.

        I can appreciate your desire to tease out or to try to understand better the positions Leighton and I have on certain things.

      137. Rhutchin

        1. The streets were lined with people who had seen or received miracles from Jesus who then rejected him. It is preposterous to say that all who saw or received a miracle from Christ then followed Him. Do you even hear yourself?

        Luke 17:17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

        That is one of your weakest statements RH. Even Christ showed us that people can see His healing, feel His healing….and still reject Him. Note also that he finishes once again with “your faith has made you well.”

        Note also that you have to do mental gymnastics to say that He gave the faith to the one…..He even asks “where are the other nine?”

        2. There is no caricature in the “forcing” idea. You state clearly that we cannot have it unless God gives it. You state clearly that if given this grace, it is irresistible. I cannot split that atom.

      138. Hi again Mike. I may not have been clear… but I believe time travel is illogical and thus impossible. The past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. I take that to be the normal definition of reality. That it is sequential – from everlasting to everlasting, (Ps 90:2) based on God’s eternal nature, who was and is and is to come (Rev 4:8). God being outside the sequence of events, or without sequence of events, is illogical and a platonic philosophical premise.

        I would be called by others an Open Theist, but I do not like the label since it covers a number of views about God and the future, some of which are unbiblical. If you need a label for me, I would call myself a partially determined futurist! 😉

        As for the book of life – the spiritual one – I believe it was empty of names at creation, and that names have been added to it “from the foundation of the world”. And I do believe freedom of will is limited by other aspects of one’s nature and by opportunity, but it is not limited by a determinism that is based on the false view that the future is already known as fully settled in God’s mind.

        Thank you for your patience in trying to digest my attempts at explaining what I think Scripture teaches about God’s omniscience and foreknowledge.

      139. Thanks again, Brian. This does help explain where you are coming from. Y’know this stuff is complicated and very difficult to explain in short easy blog posts. I’m a sci-fi fan and I particular enjoy time travel stories. I like using the example of time travel because everyone understands the issue. The paradoxes make it easy to just dismiss it. But if you do a little research on the actual scientific theory it is much more complex. Just Google Albert Einstein and Time Travel Theory.

        A “partially determined futurist”—I like it! You say that “freedom of will is limited by other aspects of one’s nature and by opportunity,…” I very much agree with this and it is foundational in my argumentation. “…but it is not limited by a determinism that is based on the false view that the future is already known”—this is where the contention is. This is a long discussion but let me just say that I wouldn’t necessary disagree with you here either because what I hear you say is “God isn’t just watching a movie of existence—life is not a computer program or windup toy.”

        I think you understand that Calvinists don’t think this way but you do believe that their system implies it and they are being inconsistent. I get that. I just see more false implications and inconsistencies with the other views.

      140. And, Mike, we do part ways also on time travel… though I like sci-fi also! 😉

      141. brianwagner writes, “As for the book of life – the spiritual one – I believe it was empty of names at creation, and that names have been added to it “from the foundation of the world”.

        I was thinking about this and it seems to me that one might argue that the Book of Life initially contained all names (thus, explaining why babies are saved) and then names are deleted over time. But then, everyone would get deleted the first time they sin (and as RC would say, every tine they commit a mortal sin) and must be added back in. So few verses; so much contention.

      142. Mike Ranieri writes, “I would be careful of saying that ‘His decrees are the source of knowledge.’”

        Certainly, God knows His decrees – a decree (or decision) by God is information that God would then know. I think your point may be that God would be adding to His knowledge every time He made a decree, so that He could not be described as omniscient. In this regard, Calvinists claim that we cannot point to a “time” (with “time” used for illustration) when a decree had not been made. Nonetheless, we can always restrict God’s omniscient to knowledge of His creation so that God is omniscient with regard to the universe He created at Genesis 1:1.

        Then, “I would also refrain from saying that “free will does not create wickedness”—this is another assumption that can be debated and is not part of Calvinist doctrine proper.”

        I think it can be argued that wickedness is the creation of the corrupt mind = “…the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6) and “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17; 21) and “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts.” (Proverbs 21)

      143. Roger, thanks for responding. You have articulated part of my thought here better than I could have. To add to this I would say that to explain, or restrict, God’s knowledge to a decree, which is usually defined as a determinative action, would exclude a general—let’s say—omni-wisdom. This is tricky, and I don’t want to make this just a semantic thing. I’m reacting to how the non-Calvinist interprets decree. The non-Calvinist is go to say (as Leighton Flowers has often said) that the Calvinist God only knows what he determines—God is simply running a movie that he has produced—pushing the button of the life machine that he constructed and letting it run it run down. I want to avoid this caricature. But I am aware that if you define decree as the creative order that was put in place by God and is in fact part of God as it is derived from his very nature than decree is a good term.

        The reason for the sin of Lucifer and the angels and Adam and Eve, who were created without an inherited sin nature, is a problem for the Calvinist. Some Calvinists like MacArthur, Piper and Slick hold to the viability of libertarian free will before The Fall. But I see this as a systematic inconsistency and therefore I disagree with it. I believe in free will but not libertarian free will. God does not have libertarian free will. Libertarian free will posits something beyond cause and effect and is therefore, in my opinion, irrational. I have some ideas on how one can approach this problem of sin before The Fall but it takes a little explaining and I don’t think I can do it justice in a short blog post.

        I’m with you most of the time. Keep up the good work!

        – Mike

      144. brianwagner writes, ” Lucifer certainly spoke of the information that motivated his “I wills”. He saw God’s glory… he chose to want an equal share of it. ”

        We agree on that, What we don’t know is what motivated Lucifer to desire God’s glory when so many others were not so motivated. Free will does not explain this. We have the same situation with Adam. All agree that Adam had free will and choose to eat the fruit. No one knows what motivated Adam to eat the fruit. Free will does not explain the choices that people make.

        Then, “the issue is not what God is able to determine but what Scripture clearly teaches… that He was not locked in to an eternal immutable will of everything forever. And Scripture confirms that neither did He make such a determination. ”

        The key word here being, “everything.” Even your system allows for “some'” things to have been determined in eternity past. Eventually, everything will be determined, and we quibble over the timing of those determinations.

        Then, “logical changes in His mind as He makes free will decisions, have conversations between the persons of the Godhead, and increases in experiential knowledge but not in infinite understanding, might be called a type of learning but is not an imperfection just because you say so!”

        No problem. So long as the “learning” occurs between the persons of the Godhead, there is no problem. God has free will and the ability to think new things (but is there anything new out there that God has not already considered?) and engage in discussion with the members of the Godhead (although how God is separate seems somewhat mysterious). It is only when people want to introduce new information from outside the Godhead – i.e., something man does that God cannot know until man decides – that problems arise.

      145. Being drawn away of one’s own desire, like Lucifer, or even enticed, like Adam is not sin in themselves… but those motivations were certainly used, in comparison with the knowledge of God’s will to reject those desires, to make decision between the two, and to choose the inner desire and enticement over God’s will… and thus sin was conceived. To claim you just don’t know how it happened and to deny free will was the source is to not want to understand or affirm culpability it seems.

      146. brianwagner writes, “To claim you just don’t know how it happened and to deny free will was the source is to not want to understand or affirm culpability it seems.”

        Free will describes conditions that govern how one is able to operate and to consider his surroundings, facts, needs. etc and make decisions according to his wants and desires. A free will is not coerced to make any particular decision and does not act spontaneously (without thinking) but is able to use laws of logic to make specific and sound decisions. One who is free can express his desires without hindrance from external forces. I don’t see a free will as the source of wickedness but a means to attain wickedness.

        If you can explain how a free will can be the source of – as opposed to a means to achieve – an event, that would be nice – I can’t see it. I don’t see what a free will has to do with culpability other than to exclude coercion as the cause for one’s actions.

        Then, “Being drawn away of one’s own desire, like Lucifer, or even enticed, like Adam is not sin in themselves… but those motivations were certainly used, in comparison with the knowledge of God’s will to reject those desires, to make decision between the two, and to choose the inner desire and enticement over God’s will… and thus sin was conceived. ”

        OK. But this seems to say nothing substantive. Not explained is how one’s desires form in the first place and where the motivations that manipulate those desires come from. Normally, we describe people as having corrupted natures and being subject to temptation to explain why they choose to sin. Neither Lucifer not Adam had corrupted natures and neither was tempted – each made a purposeful decision to disobey God. Each was culpable because they acted freely and were not coerced. No one can explain what led them to choose to oppose God and the Scriptures are silent on this. Who knows how Lucifer came to covet and say “I will make myself like the Most High.” All you seem to say above is that Lucifer was free to covet and not coerced.

      147. Amen – “Each was culpable because they acted freely and were not coerced.”

      148. Phillip cites, “1 Timothy 2:14 (NKJV)…
        And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

        Correct. Adam was not deceived. However, it would seem that Adam might have been aware of the interaction between Eve and Satan. It could be that Adam saw through the deception but ate the fruit anyway as some suggest. However, even if Adam did not see through the deception, his decision to eat the fruit could still be based on Eve having already eaten the fruit with no ill effect or of the anticipated effect on her – thus, his reasoning having nothing to do with the deception.

        Then, “Yet Calvin writes…..”

        I agree with Calvin. I would add that God restrains, and so directs, their malice, and uses their iniquities to gain His will making Satan’s will, as the angels, subordinate to God’s will.

      149. FromOverHere,

        “….get used to the idea that Calvinists are going to say, ‘but it doesn’t really mean that.’”

        Yes, thanks to our Calvinist brothers, the Bible has become nothing but a public relations disaster.

      150. Phillip writes, “thanks to our Calvinist brothers, the Bible has become nothing but a public relations disaster.”

        People don’t like the conclusion that Calvinists draw from the Scriptures, but you don’t see anyone offering alternatives (except some, like Brian, who have figured out that it is necessary to deny basic doctrines to avoid the Calvinsit conclusions). The Bible is a public relations disaster to the reprobate. Did you see Bernie Sanders grilling a believer about Muslims standing condemned before God?

      151. Brian,

        “And Roger avoids also the problem his so-called all compassing divine decree faces in also being behind Lucifer’s fall… and Lucifer was not tempted from an evil outside source!”

        Jude 1:6 (NKJV)…..
        And the angels *who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode*, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day

        Thanks to Calvinism, now we know better. 😉

      152. phillip writes, “Jude 1:6 (NKJV)…..
        And the angels *who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode*, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day
        Thanks to Calvinism, now we know better.”

        Not really. This is about all that the Scriptures say on this point.

  10. Wonderful article Brian!!!

    Calvinists use the term “free will” with the same linguistic strategy Kellogg’s uses the term “sugar free” 😉

    Blessings!

  11. There are so many people who confuse or conflate the terms “free will” and the ability to “make choices”. I don’t think anyone, Calvinist or otherwise has ever suggested that man cannot make choices. But to this article, I would simply add this: “Whatsoever comes not by faith is sin”. That means all the “good works” in the world, if not done in faith towards the Lord, and for the glory of God are sinful actions, thoughts, deeds or choices. The exact same works of the Christian, when done by the world are “as filthy rags” before the Lord. The decisions of the unrighteous are evil, even when they are the same decisions made by the righteous, because they do not proceed from faith.

    So, the question is, where does man get the faith that makes HIS choice “good”?

    1. Kael … we discussed this on FB… The ability to exercise faith is part of God’s gift in nature of those created in His image. See parable of sower to see examples of the exercise of faith before salvation.

      1. brianwagner writes, “The ability to exercise faith is part of God’s gift in nature of those created in His image.”

        Is this really true and taught in the Scriptures or is this your personal opinion?

      2. Truly taught… for God commands its use from unbelievers, and declares its existence as clearly taught in 1Cor 7:37… but we’ve been around that barn before. Others can read the Scriptural proof in the article and see that your confrontation question, Roger, has an easy answer.

      3. brianwagner writes, “Others can read the Scriptural proof in the article and see that your confrontation question, Roger, has an easy answer.”

        That’s nice but the article (presumably that which we find at the top) specifically addresses the issue of free will. Now, you introduce “faith” in an unique way that you did not address that in the article – unless you mean to equate freewill with faith. I found your reply to Kael to be confusing in that I don’t see a relationship between faith and free will other than that one may involve the other – but not necessarily.

      4. Faith as a disposition is always a response of the mind, will, and emotions. The will may become more passive in its expression for some things. The fact that it is commanded for certain things shows the will is involved.

      5. brianwagner writes, “Faith as a disposition is always a response of the mind, will, and emotions. ”

        That’s fine, but you had said, “The ability to exercise faith is part of God’s gift in nature of those created in His image.” Now, I see your focus on “ability,” and not on actually having faith. So, you seem to be saying that each person is born with the ability to exercise faith when they receive faith and this, according to Paul occurs only on hearing the word – “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ..” I am still not clear on your linkage of faith to free will other than that faith s exercised by a free will – but even Calvinists say this. Still, Kael asked, “where does man get the faith that makes HIS choice “good”?,” and I found your response confusing and then your comment back to me even more confusing. I can be confused easily.

      6. You would benefit from doing your own word study on the verb and noun, “believe” and “faith” in the NT, Roger. In my opinion you are confusing the different types of believing abilities and the objects of faith which both are also called “faith” in the NT. Let me know when you are finished if you have discovered the same things I have.

      7. brianwagner writes, “You would benefit from…”

        I did that many years ago, so I may do it again. I do remember concluding that the faith associated with salvation was a gift from God conveyed through the hearing of the gospel – and faith is the means by which a person comes to Christ and then to continue in Christ. However, in connection with free will, I concluded that faith unto salvation is exercised through a will that had been freed from enslavement to so, Actually, now I am a little excited about going through this study again.

      8. We both agree with the phrase “exercised through a will that had been freed from enslavement to [do] so.” But you believe that freedom is by the Calvinist view of “regeneration” for a few pre-selected that eternally immutably existed that way in God’s mind.

        I believe everyone is “freed” by God’s light temporarily a few times by God’s light given to them, enabling them to choose to seek His mercy, but not irresistibly.

  12. Freewill as Taught in Scripture: Gen 2:16  And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 
    Gen 2:17  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And a hundred other places in Scripture, but why post them since the principle is essentially the same.

    1. Richard writes, “Freewill as Taught in Scripture: Gen 2:16 ….And a hundred other places in Scripture, but why post them since the principle is essentially the same.”

      You left out the part in Genesis 3 where Adam uses his freedom to eat the fruit and corrupts the whole system God created and made his children slaves to sin. Where is freedom in slavery to sin except to sin.

      1. Genesis 3 doesn’t change the principle though. Adam chose to disobey God. True, that corrupts the whole system, but we still can choose to obey or not obey God after this…Gen 4:7  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.

      2. Richard writes, “Adam chose to disobey God. True, that corrupts the whole system, but we still can choose to obey or not obey God after this…”

        Paul writes, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

        The terms Paul uses – futility, understanding darkened,ignorance, blindness, and being alienated from the life of God – do not seem the description of a person who can choose to obey God.

        Even God, in warning Cain, knows that Cain will kill his brother – God’s warning meant nothing to him. I take Paul’s words to explain why,

      3. rhutchin
        The terms Paul uses – futility, understanding darkened,ignorance, blindness, and being alienated from the life of God – do not seem the description of a person who can choose to obey God.

        br.d
        That’s because – firstly – someone taught you that man can’t choose to obey. And then you were shown scriptures which “supposedly” proved that. But of course as we’ve seen with the other verse quoted here to prove Calvinist conceptions – the Calvinistic has invent ways to READ his system into verses – when they don’t EXPLICITLY state what he wants them to state.

        And that explains why Calvinists represent such a small fraction of the Christian population.

        rhutchin
        Even God, in warning Cain, knows that Cain will kill his brother – God’s warning meant nothing to him. I take Paul’s words to explain why,

        br.d
        Calvin’s god tells Cain he *CAN* obey – while SECRETLY knowing that he is not permitting Cain to obey – thus he communicates what he knows is FALSE.

        And the Calvinist is taught that comes from Paul also!
        So much for what Calvinists get from Paul! :-]

  13. DETERMINISM / COMPATIBILISM REQUIRES DOUBLE-THINK

    Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. – (Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    Thus the creature’s will is said to be “free” even though every part of the creature’s will is determined by factors outside the creature’s control – and thus the will is not determined by the creature. The creature’s role is to perceive (post-event) what his will was.

    The creature knows by A POSTIORI (knowledge after the fact by observation) what his will was determined to be.
    And he knows he himself did not determine what he willed – because that would contradict determinism.

    As a matter of fact – that very post-will perception of whatever his will was – was also similarly determined.
    Unless he relies on DOUBLE-THINK – he will constantly experience the sense – that nothing is in his control.

    Dr. Alvin Platinga dismisses compatibilism:
    -quote:
    It is utterly implausible. One might as well claim that being in jail doesn’t really limit one’s freedom on the grounds that if one were not in jail, he’d be free to come and go as he pleased”. – (God, Freedom, and Evil)

    Dr. William James dismisses the compatibilist as intellectually dishonest:
    -quote
    “Compatibilism is a quagmire of evasion. The Compatibilists strategy relies upon stealing the name of freedom to mask
    their underlying determinism. They make a pretense of restoring the caged bird to liberty with one hand, while with the
    other they anxiously tie a string to its leg to make sure it can’t get beyond determinism’s grasp.” – (The Dilemma of Determinism)

    Immanuel Kant dismisses the compatibilist as one who plays shell games with words:
    “Compatibilism is a wretched subterfuge with which some persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have
    solved lives problems with petty word-jugglery.” – (Critique of Practical Reason)

    Dr. William Lane Craig observes the compatibilist lives in a world of DOUBLE-THINK
    -quote
    Nobody can live as though all that he thinks and does is determined by causes outside himself. Even determinists recognize that we have to ACT *AS-IF* we had free will and so weigh our options and decide on what course of action to take, even though at the end of the day we are determined [by an external mind] to make the choices we do. Determinism is thus an unliveable view.

    John Calvin realized the conundrum and instructs his disciples to DOUBLE-THINK
    -quote
    “Hence as to future time, because the issue of all things is hidden from us, each ought to so to apply himself to his office,
    AS THOUGH nothing were determined about any part.” – (Concerning the eternal predestination of God)

    Did God design mankind to live in a world of DOUBLE-THINK?

    1. br.d writes, “Thus the creature’s will is said to be “free” even though every part of the creature’s will is determined by factors outside the creature’s control ”

      When the will acts, does it draw from some invisible vapor or has the will been shaped by outside causes. What part of the creature’s will has not been determined by factors outside the creature’s control? The creature did not determine the time of its birth, its parents, its culture, its IQ, etc- all of which shape and determine the creature’s will and the decisions it makes. The creature’s will is only free in the sense of not being coerced to one direction or another. Paul writes, “…we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” If that were not bad enough, Paul writes to the Ephesian believers, “you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,” It is evident from this that “every part of the creature’s will is determined by factors outside the creature’s control.”

      1. br.d
        “Thus the creature’s will is said to be “free” even though every part of the creature’s will is determined by factors outside the creature’s control ”

        rhutchin
        When the will acts, does it draw from some invisible vapor or has the will been shaped by outside causes.

        br.d
        Firstly:
        You can disagree with this classic statement if you want – you’ll simply be disagreeing with that which is universally recognized by all scholarship as a LOGICAL consequence of Determinism.

        Secondly:
        Calvinists say they -quote “Don’t know the MECHANICS” – so you’re on you’re own asking about invisible vapors.

        But it is also interesting how it is universally the case that observers of Calvinism liken it to a form of puppetry or robotic functionality.
        And the Calvinist himself inadvertently acknowledges this when he uses the term “MECHANICS” to describe it.
        These function as indicators :-]

        rhutchin
        What part of the creature’s will has not been determined by factors outside the creature’s control?

        br.d
        According to Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) the answer is ZERO.

        rhutchin
        culture, IQ, etc- all shape and determine the creature’s will and the decisions it makes.

        br.d
        *ALL* Attributes (including cutler, IQ, desires, etc etc etc) are determined by factors outside the creatures control.
        We’ve been around this tail-chasing routine before.

        Additionally Natural Determinism and Theological Determinism are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE
        The one that exists EXCLUDES the existence of the other

        And Calvinism is saddled with Theological Determinism
        So appealing to that which Calvinism EXCLUDES just comes off as IRRATIONAL.

        rhutchin
        The creature’s will is only free in the sense of not being coerced to one direction or another.

        br.d
        According the Determinism yes – this is the “Non-Coercion” or “Non-Force” argument
        And I’m sure Calvin’s god’s decrees have NO FORCE!
        Or perhaps he uses a FORCE that FORCES without FORCING! :-]

        rhutchin
        Paul writes, “……..etc

        br.d
        And John Calvin writes: “go about your office *AS-IF* nothing were (past tense) determined in any part.
        Which is DOUBLE-THINK for the Calvinists who is taught that EVERYTHING is determined in every part.

        So it makes perfect sense that Calvinists see DOUBLE-THINK taught in scripture. :-]

  14. rhutchin writes…Even God, in warning Cain, knows that Cain will kill his brother – God’s warning meant nothing to him. I take Paul’s words to explain why,…You don’t have to run to Paul to make TULIP work. The text is clear. “Gen 4:7  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. Clearly a fork in the road, Cain made his choice, God didn’t create robots. Heb_11:4  By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, You’re defending robot theology instead of believing Scripture. People make choices….Josh 24:25

    1. Richard – if I could ask for a favor.
      Could you separate your comments from rhutchins comments – when you make your posts?

      I can’t tell who is writing what – because for me all of the sentences seem to run together.

      1. BR.D, thank you for pointing that out, my apologies. From now on, I’ll use labels and quotes to clarify who is commenting.

    2. Richard writes, “Clearly a fork in the road, Cain made his choice, God didn’t create robots. ”

      I agree. So, do external and internal factors influence the choices people make?

      “Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve.”
      “…you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,…”
      “…if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded,…”
      “you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;”
      “…Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,…”
      Jesus said, ““No one can come to Me unless…”
      “…There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God….”
      “…those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,…the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be…those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

      Cain made a choice, and he is not a robot. What is your point?

      1. Richard
        “Clearly a fork in the road, Cain made his choice, God didn’t create robots. ”

        rhutchin
        I agree. So, do external and internal factors influence the choices people make?

        br.d
        Peter Van Inwagen – The Oxford Handbook of Free Will:
        -quote
        “Determinism may now be defined: it is the thesis that there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.”

        John Calvin – Institutes (Vol. i. p.193):
        -quote
        “All future things being uncertain to us, we hold them in suspense, *AS THOUGH* they might happen either one way or
        another.”

        This is called Calvinism’s *AS-IF* thinking pattern.
        – All human choices are predestined by Calvin’s god *AS-IF* they are not.
        – “mere” permission doesn’t exist *AS-IF* it does
        – Creaturely autonomy doesn’t exist *AS-IF* it does

        With his DOUBLE-MINDED condition – expecting coherent thinking from a Calvinist – is an IRRATIONAL expectation.

      2. If you actually read “The Oxford Handbook of Free Will” and not just search for quotes that support your presuppositions you will find that the issues are much more complex. Not everyone agrees with Van Inwagen and he understands this, and he also understands the complexity of the free will argument as well as the compatibilist arguments—he doesn’t label compatibilists as fools. There are many definitions of determinism in this book. If you want to paint all compatibilist arguments as incoherent that’s fine but at least admit, as Van Inwagen does, that LFW has its own logical problems!

      3. Hi Mike and welcome.
        Sure I understand Van Inwagen’s full position – as well as the position of others on this issue.
        But that doesn’t change the fact that every proposition comes with logical consequences.
        And so does determinism.

        You’ll find sentiments similar to what I just posted by numerous philosophers on this

        William Lane Craig:
        Even determinists recognize that they have to act *AS-IF* they had free will and so weigh options and decide on what course of action to take, even though at the end of the day they are determined to take the choices they do. Determinism is thus an unliveable view.

        Dr. Alvin Plantinga:
        One might as well claim that being in jail doesn’t really limit one’s freedom on the grounds that if one were not in jail, he’d be free to come and go as he pleased

        And you can see from Calvin’s quote – he actually instructs his disciples in the *AS-IF* thinking pattern

        So given the LOGIC involved – I think I’m in good company and solid ground. :-]

        And BTW – scripture does not call a double-minded man a fool – and so neither do I.

        But thank you for your post – good to see you!

    1. With all respect, I don’t think you are on solid ground. Both Craig and Plantinga are Molinists which is another convolution of logic. I find it interesting, and somewhat ironic, that all the philosophers that support LFW are in fact Molinists. I can accede to the difficulty of compatibilist logic. But I’m a compatibilist because the logic of LFW and Molinism is simply even more difficult and convoluted!

      1. There are others I could site who are not Molinists.

        But even then I’m assuming you also clearly see John Calvin teaches *AS-IF* thinking

        Examples to expect:
        All things are determined by the THEOS in every part *AS-IF* nothing is determined by the THEOS in any part.
        “mere” permission doesn’t exist *AS-IF* it does
        Adam was not permitted to obey *AS-IF* he was
        There is no escape from events that are RENDERED-CERTAIN *AS-IF* there are

        So how is that going to affect dialog with that thinking pattern in place?
        Lets say you are a loving father whose daughter is being brutally beaten by her boyfriend
        And when you dialog with her concerning it – you find she is in *AS-IF* thinking.

        He beats me *AS-IF* he doesn’t.

        Certainly you want to dialog with your daughter over this!
        But you are intelligent enough to take into consideration the consequence of her thinking pattern.
        You can anticipate your dialog is going to be a process of tail-chasing and expecting a degree of rationality which just isn’t there for her.

        We see this dialog model constantly here at SOT101 as a result of *AS-IF* thinking which Calvinists do instinctively.
        They don’t perceive themselves doing it – and when its pointed out they refuse to acknowledge it.
        And yet there it is!
        .
        If you go back to my post which you responded to – you will see that the intent was to remind SOT101 readers about expectations.

        There is no sense in expecting something when you already know you’re guaranteed to get the opposite

  15. I’d be very interested in reading any prominent LFW philosophers who support the simple foreknowledge view. The only prominent LFW philosophers I am aware of are Molinists and Open Theists. I don’t what to put you off but the “AS-IF” discussion is a long one. And I have to go to work right now. I’ll try to respond to your example later. But even if I agreed with you that the “AS-IF” logic was true and absurd that wouldn’t prove the coherence of LFW. One of the main problems with SOT101 is thinking that disproving Calvinism proves Arminianism!

    1. No problem and thanks Mike!
      Concerning *AS-IF* thinking two others I can think of right off the bat are Robert Lawrence Kuhn in his series “Closer to truth” on free will, and Daniel Dennett – certainly both are not Molinists.

      Consider the possibility that your response to this may be because you find yourself aligned on the side of those having the sighted issue.

      It would be interesting to enunciate similar thinking pattern as a consequence of LFW.
      But I don’t think it changes the dynamics in dialog and expectations.

      Again – when one wants something while expecting to get the opposite – one should proceed accordingly.

      Blessings to you!

    2. Hi Mike… I believe David Hunt (the other one) of Ranier College took the Simple Foreknowledge view in IVP’s Divine Foreknowledge: Four Views. Worth reading.

    3. BTW:
      You won’t find me arguing for the proof or defense of LFW any more than Van Inwagen would.
      And I don’t personally find it fruitful pitting Calvinism against Arminianism either – so you won’t find anything from me on that.

      I do find it very fruitful to help people understand the psychological effects of determinism.
      If they expect to have non-frustrating dialog with Calvinists they are well advised to understand it.

      Additionally Calvinists often complain the system is misrepresented or misunderstood.
      And that actually should be expected when we understand that *AS-IF* thinking is a form of double-mindedness – outwardly expressed as double-speak. If you know anything about double-speak – the speaker does it without being aware of it because its simply an outward expression of his normalized thinking.

      So helping people to recognize the psychology behind this goes a long way (for the non-Calvinist at least) in helping people to be aware of frustrating dialog that goes nowhere (for either party) but in circles.

  16. Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I had a number of life issues to get through in the passing weeks.

    I don’t deny we Calvinists must exercise AS-IF thinking. We all live AS-IF most of our choices originate unfettered and uninfluenced and uncoerced from our internal free will—even as we intellectually know that so much of our lives are effected by our genetics, culture, environment, time in history, etc.

    Atheists live life AS-IF existence came from nothing—AS-IF morality just is. Christians who believe in an omnipotent and omniscient God often live AS-IF God doesn’t know the future and has no plan for their lives. This is most evident in prayer. And those who hold to a Hard Libertarian Free Will live AS-IF cause-and-effect is a fiction (which I always find strange in that many of these same people use the Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God). And in fact, the Philosophy of “As If” is a system espoused by Hans Vaihinger which proposed that man willingly accept falsehoods or fictions in order to live peacefully in an irrational world. And I would imagine that Satan and the demons live AS-IF God’s victory is in question.

    As time bound human beings we must live with some unknowns and things we can not understand. Does this mean we have to embrace illogic? No, but if a higher logic points to a paradox, we will have to live with paradox. How can we not? All of God’s omni attributes are paradoxes. We are talking about a transcendent being with no beginning and no end that exists outside of time and created the unfathomable universe from nothing! There are no human analogies that can compare to God!

    BR.D, I guess I should have specified prominent “Christian” LFW philosophers. Both Robert Lawrence Kuhn and Daniel Dennett are atheists. The atheist arguments for LFW are very difference from the religious arguments. Daniel Dennett is one of the most prominent Compatibilists. And, in fact, most atheist philosophers are Compatibilists. Dennett has an article on Compatibilism in “The Oxford Handbook of Free Will.”

    David Hunt was mentioned as a possible non-Molinist/non-Open Theist, but if you read him and watch his interviews on “Closer to Truth” he has his own interesting take on LFW—it isn’t the simple foreknowledge view. Robert Lawrence Kuhn: “So are you telling me that every action of God, timelessly, eternally, back and forth forever, is entirely fixed, that it could not have been otherwise, and yet God is still totally free?” David Hunt: “I am saying that, surprisingly.” Kuhn thinks Hunt is a compatiblist but Hunt defends his LFW with his source-hood view and defining comptiablism in a very narrow way. In essence he does what all LFWers do—they argue against a straw-man.

    So why do Christian philosophers have problems with the simple foreknowledge view? Why are all the Christian LFW philosophers Molinists and Open Theists?

    There are so many philosophical definitions of free will and determinism which are being ignored. In an effort to “keep it simple” SOT101 labels all Calvinists as Hard Determinists (hyper-Calvinists). William Lane Craig’s quote on determinism is absurd given his Molinism. In Molinism God calculates free will decisions within the potential multiverse and then determines a single reality. The only free will is in the mind of God. Once God creates all existence is determined! But somehow WLC is an accepted supporter of LFW—I don’t get it.

    Instead of arguing against hard determinism, which no Calvinists accepts (except for the hypers like Hernandez and Zachariades), why not help me to understand the coherence and logic of Christian LFW?

    1. I think you suffer from the error of most Calvinist thinking God’s knowledge is causative. It is not. No knowledge is causative. All knowledge including God’s is dependent on events.

      1. Hmmm, that’s an interesting theory. How does this square with the aseity of God? How does God have knowledge in the “logical before” time and events existed?

      2. There is no “before” outside the time domain. To speak of a “logical before” is meaningless.

      3. Earnest, you really didn’t answer my questions but that’s okay. Can you refer me to any articles or books that would explain in full what you are getting at.

      4. You might want to bone up on the difference between “logical” priority and “chronological” priority.
        See William Lane Craig’s You-tube video – “Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom” where he gives an example.

      5. ernest to mike
        I think you suffer from the error of most Calvinist thinking God’s knowledge is causative. It is not. No knowledge is causative. All knowledge including God’s is dependent on events.

        br.d
        Hi ernest and welcome!

        Its not clear to me how you conclude that Mike suffers from that thinking. Most serious Calvinists know that foreknowledge is not causative. And I’ve always found Mike to be a very thoughtful person. So I’m not seeing what you’re seeing.

        I do however acknowledge that most Calvinists seek to avoid coming to grips with how deterministic their belief system really is.

      6. ernest writes, “I think you suffer from the error of most Calvinist thinking God’s knowledge is causative”

        Most Calvinists think that God has a perfect and infinite understanding of all things and this allows God to make decisions regarding His involvement in the affairs of men and those decisions are God’s knowledge. God’s decisions are the causative force beginning with His decision to create, to create Adam/Eve, to open the gate for Satan to enter the garden, to sit on the sidelines and not help Adam or Eve, and on and on we could go. It is God’s sovereign control over His creation that is, through His actions, causative – God’s knowledge is derived from His understanding of the actions/reactions arising from God’s decisions.

      7. rhutchin
        God’s knowledge is derived from His understanding of the actions/reactions arising from God’s decisions.

        br.d
        In other words – Calvin’s god exhaustively foreknows the future as a consequence of exhaustively decreeing every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future.

        As John Calvin states it:
        -quote
        “He foresees future events only in *CONSEQUENCE of his decree” (Institutes Vol ii. p. 169.)

      8. br.d writes, ‘In other words – Calvin’s god exhaustively foreknows the future as a consequence of exhaustively decreeing every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future.”

        Yes – those decrees depend on God’s perfect and infinite understanding of “every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future” and based on that understanding, God’s decrees accomplish His will and do so perfectly because they are also the product of God’s perfect wisdom.

      9. br.d
        ‘In other words – Calvin’s god exhaustively foreknows the future as a consequence of exhaustively decreeing every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future.”

        rhutchin
        Yes – those decrees depend on God’s perfect and infinite understanding of “every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future” and based on that understanding, God’s decrees accomplish His will and do so perfectly because they are also the product of God’s perfect wisdom.

        br.d
        All except that Calvin’s god’s foreknowledge is a CONSEQUENCE of his decrees and not the other way around.

        In other words his UNDERSTANDING of every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future” IS DERIVED FROM what he explicitly DECREES concerning every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future.

        He does not look into the future and OBSERVE and then derive his decrees from what he OBSERVES.

        “As John Calvin states it:
        -quote
        “He foresees future events only in *CONSEQUENCE* of his decree” (Institutes Vol ii. p. 169.)

      10. br.d writes, “Calvin’s god’s foreknowledge is a CONSEQUENCE of his decrees and not the other way around.”

        Yes, you seem to have grasped this point. As you correctly observe, “[God] does not look into the future and OBSERVE and then derive his decrees from what he OBSERVES.”

        Then, “his UNDERSTANDING of every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future” IS DERIVED FROM what he explicitly DECREES concerning every part of every minute movement of every attribute and event of the future.’

        Here, you need work. No one, not even God, makes decisions spontaneously without motive or reason. God’s decrees are derived from His eternal purpose and require that he understand all things to support his purpose and decrees. God’s decrees are derived from His understanding. Without understanding, God could not issue His decrees.

      11. br.d
        “Calvin’s god’s foreknowledge is a CONSEQUENCE of his decrees and not the other way around.”

        As Calvin states:
        -quote
        He foresees future events only in consequence of his decree

        rhutchin
        Here, you need work. No one, not even God, makes decisions spontaneously without motive or reason. God’s decrees are derived from His eternal purpose and require that he understand all things to support his purpose and decrees. God’s decrees are derived from His understanding. Without understanding, God could not issue His decrees.

        br.d
        Your statement simply needed a little work – clarification to remove any MISLEADING language.
        Any language designed to SMUGGLE IN foreknowledge via observation is dishonest language.

      12. Yes, BrD, Roger has given another clear example of how Determinists want it both ways. He says God decrees from His understanding, which of course he believes is an understanding of only one so-called “perfect” future already set to work out only one way.

        Then He decrees it and after decreeing it He comes to know (learn?) as foreknowledge that which He already supposedly knew in His perfect understanding. Silly circular reasoning just to remain loyal to a “scholarly” accepted view, even if it contradicts clear Scripture.

      13. brianwagner writes, ” He says God decrees from His understanding, which of course he believes is an understanding of only one so-called “perfect” future already set to work out only one way. ”

        Not exactly. God’s understanding of His creation enables His decrees to intervene in His creation (e.g., the flood of Noah, the impregnation of Mary) and result in the one “perfect” future where God’s involvement in His creation reflects His perfect wisdom and accomplishes His purpose. I like the way Molinism views this – God knows all possible worlds that He could create and God creates that one world that accomplishes His purpose.

        Then, ‘Then He decrees it and after decreeing it He comes to know (learn?) as foreknowledge which He already knew in His perfect understanding.”

        No, God does not “come to know” anything. Aren’t you the one who keeps reminding me that all this occurred in the mind of God in eternity past – way before anything happened in time? Why are you now seeming to plead ignorance to this?

      14. Roger… If in your view foreknowledge comes into existence after the event called “decree”, then how is that not “new” knowledge and the same as “learning” in someway.

        I’ve always held God does “learn” in that way, whenever he makes a decision using His infinite understanding. Are you agreeing with me now. 😁 And He is still making decisions.

        But you must believe that He didn’t “know” one set future already decreed by Him in His infinite understanding, but that He came to know it as a set future after He decreed it. And yet you affirm it all as eternal and immutable.
        Circular… fallacious.

      15. brianwagner writes, “If in your view foreknowledge comes into existence after the event called “decree”, then how is that not “new” knowledge and the same as “learning” in someway. ”

        It is. Omniscience does not prevent God making decisions or thinking new thoughts and thereby adding to His knowledge – so long as we understand His decisions/thoughts are “after the counsel of His will” and not a response to external factors in His creation. Obviously the Godhead interacted with each other in eternity past. Omniscience, omnipotence, etc are defined with reference to anything God creates.

        Then, ‘I’ve always held God does “learn” in that way, whenever he makes a decision using His infinite understanding. Are you agreeing with me now. �� And He is still making decisions.”

        With respect to the creation and all that happens, God is not continuing to make decisions. There is no need to do so because there is no new information being provided to God that would negate His perfect understanding or perfect wisdom in making the decisions He has already made.

        Then, “But you must believe that He didn’t “know” one set future already decreed by Him in His infinite understanding, but that He came to know it as a set future after He decreed it. And yet you affirm it all as eternal and immutable.”

        By eternal and immutable is meant that it was made in eternity past – before the creation – and it is not necessary to change anything. As a matter of logical order, God first decrees then knows but who knows how this all plays out in the mind of God.

      16. rhutchin
        Thinking new thoughts and thereby ADDING to His knowledge

        br.d
        *Essential* Omniscience is defined as the state in which there is no possibly of lacking knowledge at any point. Thus accordingly – ADDITIONAL knowledge is a LOGICAL impossibility.

      17. br.d writes, “*Essential* Omniscience is defined as the state in which there is no possibly of lacking knowledge at any point. Thus accordingly – ADDITIONAL knowledge is a LOGICAL impossibility.”

        That means that “omniscience” refers to God’s knowledge of events outside Himself – so, most people use the term. It does not refer to the interactions withing the Godhead.

      18. br.d
        *Essential* Omniscience is defined as the state in which there is no possibly of lacking knowledge at any point. Thus accordingly – ADDITIONAL knowledge is a LOGICAL impossibility.”

        rhutchin
        That means that “omniscience” refers to God’s knowledge of events outside Himself – so, most people use the term. It does not refer to the interactions withing the Godhead.

        br.d
        FALSE
        *Essential* Omniscience is not LIMITED knowledge (i.e., limited to any domain – such as external vs internal)
        *Essential* Omniscience is complete and total knowledge of all things that are knowable – whether external or internal to the mind of the Godhead.

      19. br.d writes, “*Essential* Omniscience is complete and total knowledge of all things that are knowable – whether external or internal to the mind of the Godhead.”

        A citation, other than your personal desire, on this would be nice.

      20. So now, after telling me how it works out, Roger, you suggest no one knows how it works out… including you, I guess. 😉

        So maybe you should bow out of conversation with those who are sure it does not work out as any contradiction to logic and Scripture, like determinists imagine and dogmatically state.

        I have nothing more to add. I can only go around in circles a couple times these days , before I start feeling nauseated. 😊 Blessings.

      21. Personally I don’t see rhutchin as being loyal to a scholarly view – as much as he is being loyal to Calvin’s instructions – quote “go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined [by the THEOS] in any part.”

        But I do agree with you that this is all about having one’s cake and eating it!

        I call this the “Calvinist two-step” :-]

      22. br.d writes, ‘Your statement simply needed a little work – clarification to remove any MISLEADING language.
        Any language designed to SMUGGLE IN foreknowledge via observation is dishonest language.”

        hopefully, you know have a better understanding of Calvinist concepts and future comments will reflect that understanding.

      23. rhutchin
        hopefully, you know have a better understanding of Calvinist concepts and future comments will reflect that understanding.

        br,d
        Too funny!
        An understanding of Calvinist concepts AND a love for TRUTH-TELLING rather than misleading language.

    2. Mike
      Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I had a number of life issues to get through in the passing weeks.

      br.d
      Mike I’m sincerely sorry for your troubles and hope very much all is well for you!

      Mike
      I don’t deny we Calvinists must exercise AS-IF thinking. We all live AS-IF most of our choices originate unfettered and uninfluenced and uncoerced from our internal free will—even as we intellectually know that so much of our lives are effected by our genetics, culture, environment, time in history, etc.

      br.d
      Actually its much more than that – in Universal Divine Causal Determinism – the THEOS at the foundation of the world determines ALL things without exception which will come to pass and in every part.

      It thus follows that every neurological impulse, perception, thought, choice etc are determined by the THEOS. The Muslim perceives his belief as true because the THEOS determines him to have that perception. The Catholic the same – the Jehovah’s Witness the same. And also the Calvinist’s every perception is likewise determined at the foundation of the world – by an external mind – before that Calvinist is created.

      In this model human perceptions do not evolve from rational reasoning. Especially where that reasoning entails a Libertarian mode of thinking. And by Libertarian we mean the processes whereby multiple options are set before you and you are “merely” permitted to determine yourself which choice is FALSE and which one is TRUE.

      That being the case – on this model – no person – (and that includes the Calvinist) has the ability to know for sure what is TRUE vs what is FALSE because all perceptions originate from an external mind. And that external mind makes each person believe the perceptions he’s given them are TRUE

      Mike
      Atheists live life AS-IF existence came from nothing—AS-IF morality just is. Christians who believe in an omnipotent and omniscient God often live AS-IF God doesn’t know the future and has no plan for their lives. This is most evident in prayer. And those who hold to a Hard Libertarian Free Will live AS-IF cause-and-effect is a fiction (which I always find strange in that many of these same people use the Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God).

      br.d
      This is very interesting – but I fail to see how it is really the case. And I’m not sure what is meant by “Hard” Libertarian. If what you mean is the concept that nothing is determined – then I would agree – that is fallacious thinking.

      Mike
      And in fact, the Philosophy of “As If” is a system espoused by Hans Vaihinger which proposed that man willingly accept falsehoods or fictions in order to live peacefully in an irrational world. And I would imagine that Satan and the demons live AS-IF God’s victory is in question.

      br.d
      This is very interesting! Thank you for referring to this – I’ll have to look into what exactly he is saying.
      We do know that people live with a certain degree of denialism and especially in circumstances that we don’t want to acknowledge. But its not my understanding that this is pervasive with the every day person who does not see himself as a determinist.

      Dr. Ravi Zacharias, in one of his talks, relates a story of a presentation given by Stephen Hawking, which Ravi attended. Hawking, was asked what he concluded and how he resolved believing in determinism. He indicated after looking at the matter for many years that he still believed. But he then proceeded to shock his audience by stating that he had resolved his need to live AS-IF determinism were false.

      I believe John Calvin was likewise cognizant of the psychological affects of believing in determinism and came to the same conclusion. And that’s why he instructed his disciples specifically in AS-IF thinking. But it is a form of double-mindedness to believe all things are determined in every part while going about your daily life AS-IF your belief is FALSE.

      Mike
      As time bound human beings we must live with some unknowns and things we can not understand. Does this mean we have to embrace illogic? No, but if a higher logic points to a paradox, we will have to live with paradox. How can we not? All of God’s omni attributes are paradoxes. We are talking about a transcendent being with no beginning and no end that exists outside of time and created the unfathomable universe from nothing! There are no human analogies that can compare to God!

      br.d
      As I stated earlier in this post – the notion that the Calvinist has in and of himself the ability to reach conclusions via rational reasoning is itself AS-IF thinking.

      Mike
      BR.D, I guess I should have specified prominent “Christian” LFW philosophers. Both Robert Lawrence Kuhn and Daniel Dennett are atheists. The atheist arguments for LFW are very difference from the religious arguments. Daniel Dennett is one of the most prominent Compatibilists. And, in fact, most atheist philosophers are Compatibilists. Dennett has an article on Compatibilism in “The Oxford Handbook of Free Will.”

      br.d
      Yes – I agree – but even then I find Dennett’s comments illuminating.

      Mike
      David Hunt was mentioned as a possible non-Molinist/non-Open Theist, but if you read him and watch his interviews on “Closer to Truth” he has his own interesting take on LFW—it isn’t the simple foreknowledge view. Robert Lawrence Kuhn: “So are you telling me that every action of God, timelessly, eternally, back and forth forever, is entirely fixed, that it could not have been otherwise, and yet God is still totally free?” David Hunt: “I am saying that, surprisingly.” Kuhn thinks Hunt is a compatiblist but Hunt defends his LFW with his source-hood view and defining comptiablism in a very narrow way. In essence he does what all LFWers do—they argue against a straw-man.

      br.d
      Thanks for mentioning this – I’ll have to think about where the straw-man is in this regard. And yes it does makes sense that each individual has a little different take on it.

      And yes you are insightful to point out that determinism is different in Theological Determinism – because in TD the THEOS actually does himself enjoy a Libertarian Free existence. Its just his creatures that do not. So the Calvinist who denies the existence of LFW has to deny that god’s choices are all likewise determined by factors beyond his control.

      Mike
      So why do Christian philosophers have problems with the simple foreknowledge view? Why are all the Christian LFW philosophers Molinists and Open Theists?

      br.d
      From my reading they’ve all transitioned into it from either following the evolving back-and-forth discourse on the subject or due to their own personal involvement doing so. Plantinga for example traces back the writings of Augustine, Aquinas, Boethius, and then finds Molina’s arguments as having the greatest logical viability. Dr. Craig also. But Peter Van Inwagen I believe is more in line with the simple foreknowledge view as the most viable while at the same time accepting any paradoxes that come with it.

      Mike
      There are so many philosophical definitions of free will and determinism which are being ignored. In an effort to “keep it simple” SOT101 labels all Calvinists as Hard Determinists (hyper-Calvinists). William Lane Craig’s quote on determinism is absurd given his Molinism.

      br.d
      Can you provide some examples of what you find absurd?
      What I’ve noticed seem quite rational to me.

      Mike
      In Molinism God calculates free will decisions within the potential multiverse and then determines a single reality. The only free will is in the mind of God. Once God creates all existence is determined! But somehow WLC is an accepted supporter of LFW—I don’t get it.

      br.d
      I don’t think you’ll find Molinists agreeing with this. They will say that Molina’s system allows for humans to live in a world designed for them to exercise LFW. However Molina’s world is deterministic in that he determines salvation just as much as it is in Calvinism. As I understand it – even though he creates man to live in a LFW world – he still determines each person’s eternal fate – by specifically placing each person in circumstances in which their LFW choices are part of the specific destiny he has for them. So if my understanding of Molinism is correct in this regard – I don’t think the Molinist can argue that his god is any more loving than Calvin’s god – since Molina’s god also elects the “MANY” for damnation.

      Mike
      Instead of arguing against hard determinism, which no Calvinists accepts (except for the hypers like Hernandez and Zachariades), why not help me to understand the coherence and logic of Christian LFW?

      br.d
      I’m personally not an advocate of LFW. I see myself as coming to the same conclusions as others, such as Plantinga, Dr. Craig, Ravi and Van inwagen. How-be-it I can only gather crumbs from from under the table they sit at! :-]

      But there are other aspects of Calvinism that I am aware of that I find concerning. And quite frankly un-Christ-like. The highly evolved misleading nature of the language for example. Now I don’t observe that with you Mike. But it is a prevalent phenomenon with most serious Calvinists. I believe Calvinists are taught talking-points as answers to questions. And the language which has evolved is strategically misleading. That becomes a red-flag to me that Calvinists themselves internally (at some level) are trying to escape the logical consequences of their own belief system. How is it that the God of scripture would have believers preach the TRUE gospel using duplicitous language? How is it the God of scripture would communicate to his people so as to mislead them into believing falsehoods?

      1. Br.D, thanks your prompt reply. Blogging has its advantages and disadvantage. The advantage is it gives you time to consider what the other is saying and try to give a thoughtful, clear and respectful reply. The disadvantage is the lack of immediacy and direct interaction. I say this because I think we are closer in agreement than we might have initially thought. It would be great to just try and hash this thing out in person. Anyway…

        The first section concerning Universal Divine Causal Determinism is very good. I’m not sure if I fully understand it. Could you send me some references. When you speak of the model of human perceptions and define Libertarian and use the word “merely,” are you saying that you agree with this model or just stating the fact? If I am understanding you correctly, you are making the point that, according to this model, the Theos as creator only gives a perception of free will because the entire creature, physical and psychological, springs from the creator?

        br.d: But its not my understanding that this is as a pervasive with the every day person who does not see himself as a determinist.

        Well, I would say that the man-in-the-street and the man-in-the-pew doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about free will and determinism. And if questioned they would quickly run into contradiction and confusion. Your examples of Hawking and Calvin are case in point. But when you mention “double-mindedness” you seem to distinguish it as something different—more problematic—than simple human AS-IF. I know that God knows the future but I still pray and ask him to make things happen.

        I find Dennett helpful as well, but then I’m a compatabilist.

        br.d: but in TD the THEOS actually does himself enjoy a Libertarian Free existence.

        This is a mystery to me because I can’t see how God has LFW if he is unable to sin and has no choice but to be holy, just and good.

        br.d: Can you provide some examples of what you find absurd?

        Well, that’s easy because it looks like we pretty much agree on the problems of Molinism. I agree that Molinists wouldn’t like my assessment but after reading quite a lot on Molinism I think the vocabulary problems you have with Calvinists are the same problems I have with Molinists.

        br.d: I’m personally not an advocate of LFW.

        Okay, well we agree. And I agree with you that some Calvinist apologists use misleading language. And especially those who have a bit of an ani-philosophy bent. Many theologians just don’t have the philosophical background and err on platitudes. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to read “Excusing Sinners and Blaming God: A Calvinist Assessment of Determinism, Moral Responsibility, and Divine Involvement in Evil” by Guillaume Bignon

        I’m quite into studying the bible in its cultural context. I think it is quite clear that the ancients struggled with the Gods’ controlling power and man’s freedom. Here’s a quote from the Wikipedia article on Free Will in Antiquity: “Free will in antiquity was not discussed in the same terms as used in the modern free will debates, but historians of the problem have speculated who exactly was first to take positions as determinist, libertarian, and compatibilist in antiquity. There is wide agreement that these views were essentially fully formed over 2000 years ago…Early religious accounts of man’s fate explored the degree of human freedom permitted by superhuman gods. A strong fatalism is present in tales that foretell the future, based on the idea that the gods have foreknowledge of future events. Anxious not to annoy the gods, the myth-makers rarely challenged the idea that the gods’ foreknowledge is compatible with human freedom.” It is the much later Greek philosophers that developed a system of LFW.

        I don’t find a clear systematic LFW in the Jewish Old Testament. I find a dichotomy in the biblical text between man’s free will and God’s determinism—this is why I am a compatabilist.

      2. Mike
        The first section concerning Universal Divine Causal Determinism is very good. I’m not sure if I fully understand it. Could you send me some references. When you speak of the model of human perceptions and define Libertarian and use the word “merely,” are you saying that you agree with this model or just stating the fact? If I am understanding you correctly, you are making the point that, according to this model, the Theos as creator only gives a perception of free will because the entire creature, physical and psychological, springs from the creator?

        br.d
        The term “mere” permission is a typical term found in Calvinism – as a form of permission that is rejected by the Calvin. In human-to-human interactions “mere” permission exists. An example would be a private asking a commanding officer “permission to speak freely sir”. In this example the commanding officer does not determine what the private will say. Calvin rejects this type model of permission as it pertains to the THEOS. In other words since the THEOS determines ALL things without exception – in Calvin’s “mere” permission exists between humans but is rejected as a form of divine permission. And you can see how that makes sense. Calvin’s way of rejecting it is to declare “Scripture clearly shows him to be the author of all things”. So for Calvin “mere” permission is permission without authorship. And that is logically excluded in Universal Divine Causal Determinism. BTW: The term “Universal” means everything without exception.

        Mike
        Well, I would say that the man-in-the-street and the man-in-the-pew doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about free will and determinism. And if questioned they would quickly run into contradiction and confusion. Your examples of Hawking and Calvin are case in point. But when you mention “double-mindedness” you seem to distinguish it as something different—more problematic—than simple human AS-IF. I know that God knows the future but I still pray and ask him to make things happen.

        br.d
        Yes I definitely agree with you Mike – the man on the street doesn’t think about determinism unless of course he has philosophically embraced it.

        Double-minded can be stated as
        True AS-IF False
        or
        False AS-IF True

        For example:
        Libertarian Free will does not exist AS-IF it does
        or
        “Mere” permission doesn’t exist AS-IF it does

        br.d: but in TD the THEOS actually does himself enjoy a Libertarian Free existence.

        Mike
        This is a mystery to me because I can’t see how God has LFW if he is unable to sin and has no choice but to be holy, just and good.

        It may depend upon your conception of LFW
        If you assert that the THEOS can choose between multiple options and can choose one over then that is a denial of determinism – where as Peter Van Inwagen states – is the thesis that every future event can only resolve to one physically possible future.

        In Christian literature on this topic this is refereed to as “The garden with a forked path”
        And it is stated that since determinism is the thesis that every future event can only resolve to one physically possible future – then there is no such thing as a garden with a forked path.

        For Calvin this would be stated: Every event which comes to pass in the human time-line is decreed at the foundation of the world. Where [X] is decreed to come to pass – then [NOT X] CANNOT come to pass because it would negate or falsify the decree. And additionally the THEOS cannot leave [X] OPEN to the creature to determine. That would be a form of Open Theism and a denial of exhaustive determinism.

        Mike
        after reading quite a lot on Molinism I think the vocabulary problems you have with Calvinists are the same problems I have with Molinists.

        br.d
        Yes – I can say that I’ve seen some of the same language problems in Molinism also.
        I suspect we can only chalk this up to the way we humans seek to de-emphasis dark conceptions.
        I had a conversation with a college professor who is a Molinist about what I mentioned to you in my last post and I could see him moving into euphemistic language. Euphemisms are fine as long as the motivation is to minimize emotional trauma. But euphemistic language can devolve into a form of deceptive language.
        That experience with that professor made me realize the language issue is not distinctly a Calvinist problem.
        But it is however much more observable within Calvinist language because the logical consequences of determinism are much more prevalent.

        Mike
        If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to read “Excusing Sinners and Blaming God: A Calvinist Assessment of Determinism, Moral Responsibility, and Divine Involvement in Evil” by Guillaume Bignon

        br.d
        Thanks Mike – I’ve heard of Guillaume Bignon recently – I’ll see where I can find this – thanks!

        On your quote about free-will ancient beliefs I think its pretty much what I’ve seen also.
        And I think the label LFW probably evolved from the term Libertarianism which was enunciated perhaps by Immanuel Kant in the late 1700s. Prior to that we have the early church fathers who simply used the term “Free Will”. But researching their writings it becomes clear their idea of it was what we would define today as LFW.

        Mike
        I don’t find a clear systematic LFW in the Jewish Old Testament. I find a dichotomy in the biblical text between man’s free will and God’s determinism—this is why I am a compatabilist.

        br.d
        Yes – William Lane Craig would say your observations line up with the ancient scholastic reformed “Divines” who also concluded two streams within scripture. One in which God definitely has control over his creation. And one in which he created a world in which his creatures are presented with multiple options. And all options are real and available to the creature and are not illusions (which if you unpackage would be LFW). And those reformed Divines concluded to resolve the issue as a divine mystery.

        But I don’t believe they would agree with with meticulous determinism the degree to which Paul Helm’s for example states:
        -quote “every thought and desire…..every twist and turn of each of these is under the direct control of God.”

        And I’m not sure how they deal with quotes from Calvin like this one:
        -quote “men can deliberately do nothing unless He inspire it”.

      3. Thanks for this conversation, Br.D. As I said, I think we are very much in agreement on most things. I’m a baptist and subscribe to New Covenant Theology, so I have a number of disagreements with Calvin. I guess I am much more moderate when it comes to the philosophy of divine determinism—I don’t really like that term. I think theological compatiblists need to hold free will and determinism in tension. I think both of those quotes from Helm and Calvin go too far, unless they are interpreted as the mystery of God creating man ex nihilo. If there are any books or articles that have benefited you or you think would help me please let me know. God bless.

      4. Yes Mike thank you very much for the good conversation.
        Its always a pleasure to come in touch with you.
        I always have a strong sense I’m coming in touch with a sincere and genuine person!

        And I think you are wise to take the stance you do.

        BTW:
        On the topic of how rational reasoning is logically excluded by determinism – here is a paraphrase quote from a Calvinist who enunciates this.

        Greg Koukl – Stand to Reason ministry

        “The problem with determinism is that it makes no room for rationality to operate. One could never judge between a good idea and a bad one. One would only hold beliefs because he had been predetermined to do so. . . . Although it is theoretically possible that determinism is true — there is no internal contradiction, as far as I can tell — no one could ever know it if it were. Every one of our thoughts, dispositions, and opinions would have been decided for us by factors completely out of our control. Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.”

        Blessings to you my friend – and to you and you’re family – be well!

      5. br.d quotes Koukl, “Every one of our thoughts, dispositions, and opinions would have been decided for us by factors completely out of our control. Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.”

        Everyone knows that our, “thoughts, dispositions, and opinions,” are determined by each person’s knowledge, understanding, intelligence (IQ), life experiences, culture, and a host of other factors all of which determine our motives and reasons for deciding one way over another and thereby our decisions are determined by factors completely out of our control.

        In what sense does Koukl say, “Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.” I’m betting that br.d, and maybe Koik; himself. is clueless about this.

      6. rhutchin
        br.d quotes Koukl, “Every one of our thoughts, dispositions, and opinions would have been decided for us by factors completely out of our control. Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.”

        rhutchin
        Everyone knows that our, “thoughts, dispositions, and opinions,” are determined by each person’s knowledge, understanding, intelligence (IQ), life experiences, culture, and a host of other factors all of which determine our motives and reasons for deciding one way over another and thereby our decisions are determined by factors completely out of our control.

        In what sense does Koukl say, “Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.” I’m betting that br.d, and maybe Koik; himself. is clueless about this.

        br.d
        Calvin’s god determines *ALL* things without exception
        Take the sum-total of things determined and subtract *ALL* from it
        Now how many things do you have left over for nature to determine? :-]

        Some Calvinists apparently have an emotional need to BLIND themselves to the fact that in Calvinism all human attributes (as listed above) along with every neurological impulse that will ever appear in his brain – are all themselves PRE-DETERMINED by an external mind.
        I guess this makes the Calvinist feel better.

        But calling another Calvinist “clueless” simply because he chooses not to so BLIND himself – is that manifestation of “clueless”.

        Again with the reverse-attribution :-]

      7. br.d writes, “Some Calvinists apparently have an emotional need to BLIND themselves to the fact that in Calvinism all human attributes (as listed above) along with every neurological impulse that will ever appear in his brain – are all themselves PRE-DETERMINED by an external mind.”

        Calvinist readily admit that human attributes are determined by God. For example, both understanding and wisdom are derived from a fear of God. Neurological impulses are derived from the interaction of the mind with its environment. God understands what causes them and knows when they will appear before they do so because of His understanding. God determines those neurological impulses but does not have to initiate them in the mind of a person. Many are automatic as those involved in bodily functions (heartbeat, oxygen transfer, etc.) and many are initiated when a person sees, hears, or touches things. Many are controlled by the sin nature that biases how one reacts to God and His laws.

        Then, “But calling another Calvinist “clueless” simply because he chooses not to so BLIND himself – is that manifestation of “clueless”.”

        Here, br.d confirms his cluelessness about Koulkl’s meaning in the statement he made, “Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.” I don’t understand it either.

      8. rhutchin
        Calvinist readily admit that human attributes are determined by God……Neurological impulses are derived from the interaction of the mind with its environment.

        br.d
        But some can be confused by simple math

        Calvin’s god determines *ALL* things.
        Take the sum total of things determined and subtract *ALL* from it
        Now how many things are there left over for nature to determine. :-]

        However I noted on your last post – you stopped referring to nature as the DETERMINER.
        Bravo! That is an improvement!

        rhutchin
        Here, br.d confirms his cluelessness about Koulkl’s meaning in the statement he made, “Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.” I don’t understand it either.

        br.d
        Reverse Attribution (i.e. Psychological Projection) is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself by attributing its own attributes onto others.

      9. br.d writes, “Calvin’s god determines *ALL* things. Take the sum total of things determined and subtract *ALL* from it”

        Of course God determines some events through secondary means (e.g., the crucifixion of Jesus).

        Then, “However I noted on your last post – you stopped referring to nature as the DETERMINER.”

        Do we always have to state all things all the time just because you forget. God does use nature (especially the sin nature) as the means to determine some events.

        Then, ‘Reverse Attribution (i.e. Psychological Projection) is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself by attributing its own attributes onto others.”

        I am not attributing anything to you other than the obvious – your inability to explain what Koukl meant when he said, ““Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.” Your inability to explain what Kukl meant, shows that you do not know what he meant. You deflect from this conclusion by falsely claiming Reverse Attribution.

      10. br.d
        Elementary math:

        Calvin’s god determines *ALL* things.
        Take the sum total of things determined and subtract *ALL* from it
        Now how many things do you have left over for Nature to determine?

        rhutchin
        Of course God determines some events through secondary means…

        br.d
        True but irrelevant – since secondary means are not the DETERMINER

        rhutchin
        Do we always have to state all things all the time just because you forget.

        br.d
        Again with the false attribution.
        We refrain from deceptive language because we have a love for TRUTH-TELLING.

        rhutchin
        God does use nature (especially the sin nature) as the means to determine some events.

        br.d
        See answer above

        Then, ‘Reverse Attribution (i.e. Psychological Projection) is a defense mechanism in which the human ego defends itself by attributing its own attributes onto others.”

        rhutchin
        I am not attributing anything to you other than the obvious ….your inability to explain what Koukl meant when he said….

        br.d
        I’ve known for a very long time when it is the case that you don’t want to understand something.
        That’s the nature of the beast!

        Perhaps when you were a child you refused to accept gifts your parents got for you – so you could accuse them of not giving you any gifts?

        Suffice to say – its an act of futility to try and give something to someone who refuses to accept it.

      11. br.d writes, “True but irrelevant – since secondary means are not the DETERMINER”

        Sure they are. Cain determined the death of Abel. David determined the adultery with Bathsheba. The Roman soldiers determined the death of Jesus. As God exercised sovereign control over each of these events, He is the ultimate determiner using Cain, David and the Romans as the means to accomplish His purposes.

        Then, “I’ve known for a very long time when it is the case that you don’t want to understand something.”

        I want to understand what Koukl meant when he said, ““Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.” You quoted Koukl on this but even you do not know what he meant by it. When you figure it our, let me know.

      12. br.d
        True but irrelevant – since secondary means are not the DETERMINER”

        rhutchin
        Sure they are. Cain determined the death of Abel…..etc

        br.d
        Perhaps you are claiming that Calvin’s god does NOT determine *ALL* things?
        Which would mean that he leaves some thing OPEN for secondary means to determine.
        But that would be a denial of Universal Divine Causal Determinism – so I don’t think so.

        What you are doing here is using the term “determine” in an equivocal manner.
        To show this is the case – we look at secondary means.

        It is not LOGICALLY NECESSARY that a secondary means be a sentient being.
        Three Billiard balls hitting each other to conclude in the 8 ball going into the corner pocket all function as secondary means.
        Using SEMANTICS – each of these three balls can be said to “determine” the subsequent movement of the next ball.
        While it is also the case that Calvin’s god DETERMINES the movement of each ball and its subsequent effect.

        In this case of SEMANTICS – the term “determine” is not the same in both senses.
        And neither would it be if the 3 balls were 3 humans.

        So if you choose to use the word DETERMINE in the same sense for both – then we have a classic SEMANTIC argument strategically designed to be misleading

        rhutchin
        I want to understand what Koukl meant when he said, ““Therefore, in practice, arguments for determinism are self-defeating.”

        br.d
        Yes – its clear and understandable to me what Calvinist Greg Koukl is staying in that statement.
        It is also enunciated by William Lane Craig also – at his web site where he states “Universal Divine Causal Determinism cannot be rationally affirmed”. Why don’t you go there and read that also. It shouldn’t be difficult to understand. But we here at SOT101 are all familiar with you pretending to sincerely ask for info so that you can then later claim you never got it.

      13. br.d writes, “Perhaps you are claiming that Calvin’s god does NOT determine *ALL* things?”

        Nope. Only that God uses secondary means to determine some things.

        Then, “Which would mean that he leaves some thing OPEN for secondary means to determine.”

        Nope. It means that God has an infinite understanding of all things.

        Then, “What you are doing here is using the term “determine” in an equivocal manner.”

        Nope. That God determines all things derives from His sovereignty over all things.

        Then, “So if you choose to use the word DETERMINE in the same sense for both – then we have a classic SEMANTIC argument strategically designed to be misleading”

        In each case, God’s sovereignty ensures the outcomes whether the result of inanimate objects or people.

        Then, “Yes – its clear and understandable to me what Calvinist Greg Koukl is staying in that statement.”

        Yet, you still refuse to explain it. I don’t think you understand Koukl. No problem, I don’t either. Of course, I did not cite him.

      14. br.d
        Perhaps you are claiming that Calvin’s god does NOT determine *ALL* things?”

        rhutchin
        Nope. Only that God uses secondary means to determine some things.

        br.d
        Ok then you do the math – how many things are left over for Nature to determine?
        If you’re answer is not zero – you failed elementary math :-]

        Or perhaps
        Your thinking is that he leaves some things OPEN for secondary means to determine.”

        rhutchin
        Nope. It means that God has an infinite understanding of all things.

        br.d
        Well then he has understanding of elementary math – and he knows he leaves nothing left over for Nature to determine.
        And he knows he does not leave anything OPEN for secondary means to determine.

        What you are doing here is using the term “determine” in an equivocal manner.”

        rhutchin
        Nope. That God determines all things derives from His sovereignty over all things.

        br.d
        This is what WES-ARM means when he says – when absent LOGIC – you pontificate
        No Logic – No Go! :-]

        br.d
        So if you choose to use the word DETERMINE in the same sense for both – then we have a classic SEMANTIC argument strategically designed to be misleading”

        rhutchin
        In each case, God’s sovereignty ensures the outcomes whether the result of inanimate objects or people.

        br.d
        Here you pontificate again – its obvious – because you strategically avoid using the term “DETERMINE” so that you don’t have to deal with the equivocal way you are using it.

        And Yes – its clear and understandable to me what Calvinist Greg Koukl is staying in that statement.”

        rhutchin
        Yet, you still refuse to explain it. I don’t think you understand Koukl. No problem, I don’t either. Of course, I did not cite him.

        br.d
        rhutchin – I don’t have patience for this pretense game anymore – do you’re own homework on this one.

        And BTW: You still have to show how you’re not equivocating with the term “Determine”
        Simply making pontifications goes nowhere.
        Or as you would put it – says nothing substantive :-]

      15. br.d writes, “Here you pontificate again – its obvious – because you strategically avoid using the term “DETERMINE” so that you don’t have to deal with the equivocal way you are using it.”

        I use the term, “determine,” to refer to both internal and external forces acting on a person, while you seem to use the term, “determine,” to refer only to external forces acting on a person. I argue apples; you argue oranges.

        Then, “rhutchin – I don’t have patience for this pretense game anymore – do you’re own homework on this one.”

        LOL!!! Ignorance is bliss. But, then you have demonstrated your ignorance about Koukl and now use the only argument remaining to you, “do you’re own homework on this one.”

      16. br.d
        Here you pontificate again – its obvious – because you strategically avoid using the term “DETERMINE” so that you don’t have to deal with the equivocal way you are using it.”

        rhutchin
        I use the term, “determine,” to refer to both internal and external forces acting on a person, while you seem to use the term, “determine,” to refer only to external forces acting on a person. I argue apples; you argue oranges.

        br.d
        The term “Determine” as used within Philosophy – as it pertains to Theological Determinism entails functioning as “decisive factor” or NECESSARY factor.

        In Theological Determinism there is only one “decisive” or NECESSARY factor – and that is the THEOS.

        Also I don’t have patience for your pretense game anymore – do you’re own homework on this one (i.e. the quote from Calvinist Koukle and Dr. William Lane Craig).

        rhutchin
        LOL!!! Ignorance is bliss. But, then you have demonstrated your ignorance about Koukl and now use the only argument remaining to you, “do you’re own homework on this one.”

        br.d
        Now you’ve devolved into your kinder-garden bully routine again – what else is new!

      17. br.d writes, “Now you’ve devolved into your kinder-garden bully routine again – what else is new!”

        Yep, the only response now available to you. Ignorance truly is bliss.

      18. rhutchin states:

        Ignorance is bliss…

        My response:

        Yes, it does, especially in Romans 5:13 that Calvinists PURPOSEFULLY DELETE when referencing Romans 5, and neglecting to discuss Abraham in Romans 4, who was IGNORANT himself of HIS OWN SINS.

        Ed Chapman

      19. chapmaned24 writes, “especially in Romans 5:13 that Calvinists PURPOSEFULLY DELETE when referencing Romans 5,”

        Calvinists include v14, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses,…” So, sin is not accounted where there is no law but people still died. As Paul explains, “…by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one,…Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation,…” Calvinists don’t delete Scriptures; they look to all the Scriptures.

      20. rhutchin,

        You had said:
        “Calvinists include v14, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses,…” So, sin is not accounted where there is no law but people still died. As Paul explains, “…by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one,…Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation,…” Calvinists don’t delete Scriptures; they look to all the Scriptures.”

        My response:
        That’s NOT TRUE…

        Calvinists BEGIN with verse 12, DON’T MENTION VERSE 13, skipping over it, and continue with verse 14, thereby LEAVING OUT IMPORTANT INFORMATION.

        You will see that the death being discussed, that so-called “inheritance” is the death of the body only, not spiritual death.

        PUT VERSE 13 BACK INTO THE EQUATION, because NOT EVERYONE is spiritually dead…ABRAHAM WAS NOT SPIRITUALLY DEAD. He never died a spiritual death. Romans 4 explains, and so does 1 Cor 15:36-end and so does Romans 5:13

        Ed Chapman

      21. chapmanes24 writes, “Calvinists BEGIN with verse 12, DON’T MENTION VERSE 13, skipping over it, and continue with verse 14, thereby LEAVING OUT IMPORTANT INFORMATION.”

        I don’t see that to be a true statement.

        Then, “You will see that the death being discussed, that so-called “inheritance” is the death of the body only, not spiritual death….PUT VERSE 13 BACK INTO THE EQUATION, because NOT EVERYONE is spiritually dead…”

        Without faith, one is spiritually dead. That Abraham had faith means that he was no longer spiritually dead not that he never died a spiritual death.

      22. Rhutchin said:

        I don’t see that to be a true statement.

        Then, “You will see that the death being discussed, that so-called “inheritance” is the death of the body only, not spiritual death….PUT VERSE 13 BACK INTO THE EQUATION, because NOT EVERYONE is spiritually dead…”

        Without faith, one is spiritually dead. That Abraham had faith means that he was no longer spiritually dead not that he never died a spiritual death.

        My response:

        I do indeed see that as a true statement that Calvinists DO NOT reference verse 13 when discussing Romans 5. I see it all the time.

        And NO, your statement of “without faith one is spiritually dead” is ALSO WRONG.

        Romans 7 explains that NO ONE is spiritually dead until they get KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL, no different than Adam and Eve.

        Romans 7:9
        9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

        And as Romans 5:13 states, and Romans 4:15, THERE CAN BE NO SIN IMPUTED to anyone who has NO KNOWLEDGE of THE LAW (good and evil), therefore NOT SPIRITUALLY DEAD.

        Ed Chapman

      23. chapmaned24 writes, “And NO, your statement of “without faith one is spiritually dead” is ALSO WRONG.”

        I guess we have two different and distinct beliefs.

      24. Br.D. I really shouldn’t but into this conversation…and this will probably open up a can of worms I’m not totally prepared to deal with but…

        I respectfully ask you to consider something. I think you are a little to unforgiving or at least strict on your accusation of Double-Speak. I completely understand the frustration.

        If one applies strict logic to a complete determinism that is foundational to creation then all existence is just a play or movie, a robotic execution of events, a theatrical puppet show, dominoes falling—all the the analogies Calvinism is accused of. There is no sense is speaking of God intervening in human affairs because all human activity is already mapped out—predetermined. God has no need to intervene. I get that. So one has to wonder why, as a logical and reasonable person, I would accept this Calvinistic idea.

        There are, of course, a number of issues but on a simple logical reason base it is because I believe that consistency needs to be one of the main foundations of logic. I mean, you can’t argue for rationality on one issue—like the irrationality of determinism—and then ignore the rational problems on other issues—such as the irrationality LFW. I can’t abide this kind of “compartmental thinking.”

        Here is what I’m getting at: When I apply strict logic to hard determinism I see the irrationality and it upsets me but before I condemn it completely I apply this same strict logic to another theological issue to see if it will withstand the same scrutiny.

        All Christians agree the God is not the author of evil. But evil exist. Is not God the creator of existence? Therefore God must be the creator of evil. This is simple strict logic. But of course we Christians cannot have God creating evil so we employ a myriad of nuanced explanations why simple strict logic is insufficient and in error.

        Evil is the privation of good. Perhaps, but did God create the good? Euthiphro. But if evil is enviable with the separation of good then the creation of separate beings makes God the creator of evil.

        God created the potential for evil but not evil itself. Why? Without evil there would be no choice. Choice can exist between good things. Choice between good and evil is human. What about angels and demons? Without choice between good and evil there would be no love. Can God choose evil? Is there no love in God? Is not God love?

        As humans we create situations and laws and substances with the potential for harm and abuse. And depending on how “inevitable” these potentials are we are either condemned or given a pass. But can the creator of existence really get a pass on potential? Isn’t potential part of existence?

        Of course evil don’t exist. It is the absence of good. But then does good exist? Evil is the opposite of good. But is there always an opposite to good and an opposite to evil? Are there not some things that are good and evil that have no opposite? How can we tell what is good without evil? If this were true there could be no eternal good God or a good God would be dependent on evil.

        And what is true choice? is choice between two good things as relevant as choice between two opposite things? Is free choice really truly free if there are dire consequences for choosing wrongly? Are not dire consequences coercive and therefore effect the freedom of the choice?

        The paradoxes go on and on.

      25. Hi Mike… belief in paradoxes may give a satisfied feeling to have actually mentally transversed the impossible. But no helpful conversation and understanding, imo, can exist if one throws away strict logic to promote that their position is founded on paradox.

        Strict logic doesn’t make God the creator of evil just because He created an existence with the potential for evil. Potential is part of existence only as potential… and nothing more.

        God creating a creator that can create evil may sound risky, but God cannot be culpable for the evil that might never be created by that “good” creator He created… right?

      26. Honestly, Brian, I think you’re arguing against yourself. And I do that myself. It’s just as easy to dismiss people for believing in paradoxes so they don’t have to deal with strict logic as to believing that paradoxes really don’t exist or don’t apply to God. You need to go though all the questions I pose and think about them deeply, not just dismiss them as some crazy compatibilist Calvinist. Reread your last sentence. It’s as paradoxical and circular as any deterministic idea. “God creating a creator.” What does that really mean? “Risky.” The creator of the universe takes risks? How can an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent being take risks? “God cannot be culpable for the evil that might never be created by that “good” creator He created.” I don’t understand. This doesn’t even make sense from a Molinist stand point. I’m sorry if this sound disrespectful. Maybe I’m just too dumb to understand what you’re getting at.

      27. You don’t sound disrespectful Mike. And I don’t mind the push back. I appreciate you thoughtfulness on these things. I hope my response did not come across as disrespectful. Perhaps we have two different definitions of “paradox”, but I use the definition that has two logically valid premises or syllogisms in form but that contradict each other, and are logically invalid, in content. Meaningful conversation and understanding cannot progress between two people if one or both believe contradictions are true. For any false thing can be true in that case, as I see it.

        How is God creating a creator, illogical? His creating ability is being shared, just like the attribute of love is being shared. I used the word “creating” because I felt it helped define what a free will actually does, it creates a portion of reality. If the Creator is creating a free-will being that can create a change in the reality of existence so that evil can come into existence, which is contrary to God’s own character, that certainly is risky. But the created being does not possess all of God’s character. God’s immutable righteousness keeps His free will from creating evil. But man was created innocent, and not with immutable righteousness. His innocence was not able to keep His free will from creating evil, if it so freely chose to do so. We know God took that risk so that the free-will being He created, could participate with Him in creating a love relationship based on mutual trust and obligation.

        Yes it does necessitate redefining (back to Scripture, imo) the definition of omniscience. I am not a Molinist. And I thought I had shared with you previously why I think that the immutably set foreknowledge view of Calvinism, Armininianism, and Molinism was unbiblical. But if you want me to share it again. Just ask. 😉

      28. brianwagner writes, ‘Strict logic doesn’t make God the creator of evil…”

        I don’t think evil as a noun exists – at least God did not create “evil.” The term, “evil,” is an adjective and describes actions that we further describe as disobedience and such “evil” or “disobedience” cannot happen until God declares that an action is disobedience (or evil).

        God created Adam (and Eve) with less than omniscient knowledge, less than perfect understanding to increase his knowledge and less than perfect wisdom. Still, Adam was part of God’s creation and God declared His creation “good.”

        God then defined disobedience as “Do not eat the fruit…” Adam ate the fruit and his action can be described as an evil action. We now describe Adam as “evil” not referring to that person which God created but to that person which now disobeys God.

        Just because people do things that we describe as “evil” does not make God the creator of those evil actions. We can say that God determined that Adam would disobey Him because God is sovereign and could easily have stepped in, pulled Adam aside, and had a little talk with him about eating the fruit.

        God made Adam to be dependent on God and He did this understanding perfectly that Adam would go off on his own and make poor decisions – like eating the fruit. God also understood that one consequence of this would be Cain killing Abel and eventually, God’s destruction of the world by the flood of Noah’s day. When God created as described in Genesis 1, He had a full and complete understanding of all that would happen including how He would interact with His creation, so He knew everything that was to happen – even all the actions of men that we describe as evil. The world was a fully deterministic world from God’s perspective as nothing was going to happen that He did not understand and know know would happen.

        When Mike says, “If one applies strict logic to a complete determinism that is foundational to creation then all existence is just a play or movie, a robotic execution of events, a theatrical puppet show, dominoes falling—all the the analogies Calvinism is accused of,” we understand Calvinism to hold that nothing happens spontaneously but all things happen for a reason and are determined by that reason. God understands all the reasons behind all the events that took place after He created the world and they certainly can be described as robotic.

      29. I think you will have to do more research, Roger, on the Scripture’s use of the noun “evil”. Just because you don’t think it exists as a noun, doesn’t mean it doesn’t, unless you can prove with grammatical evidence that all the Hebrew and Greek lexical scholars who say it does are wrong, and especially include the noun “sin” in your study, for “evil” is not the main term. We both agree God did not create it. We just disagree that He “created the world… described as robotic” that “was a fully deterministic world” in which “God determined that Adam would disobey”.

        You make it sound like the only way Adam’s sin would not have happened would have been if God “stepped in” and gave Adam more knowledge. It almost sounds like you are saying all sin is because of ignorance or insufficient knowledge which you seem to suggest reaches a level of irresistiblity to keep one from sin. Who was responsible for that ignorance in Satan and in Adam? And are you suggesting that withholding sufficient knowledge that makes sin inevitable still keeps God from being culpable in some way for that inevitable sin, and that it also does not make God look negligent and unkind to the creation He loves.

      30. Brian, some paradoxes can be logically explained as A and not A. But what does one do when faced with a paradox that cannot be explained? Example: wave-particle duality, and the larger paradox literature in which many known paradoxes have yet to be explained.

        When you say God is creating a creator, I have to give you the benefit of the doubt in order to make sense of this. God as THE creator can not create another God—another creator. Then he would not be God. The definition of the Judeo-Christian God is his oneness. (Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34-36 is a different issue). I have to assume that you mean God creates creatures that have imagination and are able to use the existing elements of creation to invent, compose and discover. But these creatures can not create ex nihilo.

        To say God “shares” his attributes can refer to an entire theological system that needs to be explain. If I share something with someone that something is no long mine alone. One can say that love is “shared” or that we both have love for one another or I have love for you and you do not have love for me. Love is an emotion that is expressed by the individual, that is unless you subscribe to some Platonic Form.

        What is creation? Once again, humans create using what exists, including their own existence. On strict basic logic God’s creation comes forth from himself. There is no other place it can come from because the timeless God is “logically before” all existence. Therefore everything that exits come from God!

        But, for the sake of argument, suppose God could create another God. If we rely on common sense human morality then God must create an equal. If he holds back any of his attributes he creates an inferior being. If I create a robot to perform a particular task do I blame the robot for not being able to perform a different task? Also, when I construct and program the robot I do so to the extent as to eliminate any defects. If defects arise I do not blame the robot. Perhaps I am aware of potential defects that could occur, but because of my lack a ability and my need to have the robot perform the task I take the risk that perhaps the defect will not occur. Or if I am sure that the defect will occur I am prepared to replace the robot with another defective robot and so on. But in no case do I blame the robot for the defect. And if robots are bad analogies let’s change them to genetically modified animals or even babies. If I genetically alter an embryo to display a certain trait that I know will only be effective 2 out of 3 times. I don’t blame the baby for have or not having the trait.

        Once again I think you are assuming a very human analogy for God in relation to risk and love. Love exists in God with no risk.

        I remember that you are not a Molinist. But we are on SOT101 and as much as I am trying to understand the different views of the participants of this blog, Flowers/Provisionism is always in the back of my mind.

      31. Thank you, Mike, for your thoughtful reply. In my mind your examples have not justified the belief in paradoxes is justified. Apparent paradoxes do exist, and I think we agree there is no true contradiction with truth. But something has to be a fallacy in the identity of the content of either the A or the not A, and some kind of equivocation in the main term.

        You seemed to be leaning on a contradiction to propose God does thing “prior” creation that really are not done “prior” to creation, because you believe “timeless” is a necessary attribute. Uncreated sequence of experience before creation between members of the Godhead really is not hard to believe as much as simplicity and non-sequential existence are, since those are not found taught in Scripture.

        Yes, God and man can only create from what they have available to them. God created this world from His Word and not from any created thing in this world, which is what out of no”thing” means. We create outcomes for our futures from exercising our freewill, but can only choose between choices available to us, and God must respond with either causing or permitting what we have chosen. It is just not the case that all those choices were thought us for us and chosen for us by God before creation.

        Not much more to share. All the best.

      32. Brian, I’m not trying to get you to believe in paradoxes. The fact is, paradoxes exist! At least until they can be explained. And until then we just have to put up with them. But you know this.

        To think that we can understand the complexity and transcendence of God, and that thinking after God will not bring us to some paradoxes is putting a lot of faith in human knowledge. For me, God’s sovereignty and free will and his interaction with human history and the future is paradox. How can God foreknow eternity?

        Timelessness is a logical consequence of foreknowledge. But as you say scripture does not say that God is timeless. Scripture doesn’t give us a definition of free will either (free will in the Bible means “optional”). So I’m not dogmatic about it. Though most libertarians explain foreknowledge with timelessness.

        I don’t believe that God makes our decisions or choices for us, but I also don’t think we are completely autonomous in our choices either. Our free choices are freely determined by the self as it is directed by a myriad of physical and psychological stimuli. There is a mystery here that can not be fully understood—regardless of whether God is timeless or not. An infinite spiritual being can not be fully conceived by earth-bound humans.

        Besides Calvinism is the only explanation for the billions of people who parish in unbelief having never heard the gospel. Yeah, I know, that’s a whole other rabbit hole.

        Take care!

      33. Mike Ranieri states:

        “Besides Calvinism is the only explanation for the billions of people who parish in unbelief having never heard the gospel. Yeah, I know, that’s a whole other rabbit hole.”

        My response:

        Romans 2:14-16

        Romans 5:13

        Romans 4:15

        Then we have, for the Jews…

        Romans 11:32

        Just as with Paul

        1 Timothy 1:13

        NO MORE MYSTERY. Mystery solved.

        Ed Chapman

      34. Mike Ranieri states: “Besides Calvinism is the only explanation for the billions of people who parish in unbelief having never heard the gospel. Yeah, I know, that’s a whole other rabbit hole.”
        Ed Chapman responds: Romans 2:14-16, etc…. NO MORE MYSTERY. Mystery solved.”

        I think this agrees with Mike. Now, if we could get everyone else to agree.

      35. rhutchin states:

        Mike Ranieri states: “Besides Calvinism is the only explanation for the billions of people who parish in unbelief having never heard the gospel. Yeah, I know, that’s a whole other rabbit hole.”
        Ed Chapman responds: Romans 2:14-16, etc…. NO MORE MYSTERY. Mystery solved.”

        I think this agrees with Mike. Now, if we could get everyone else to agree.

        My response:

        Didn’t you say something about the word “ALL” in John 6?

        To wit:

        ALL

        John 6:37
        All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

        John 6:39
        And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

        John 6:45
        It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.

        WHAT ABOUT THE UNBELIEVERS, rhutchin? WHAT ABOUT THEM UNBELIEVERS?

        Romans 11:32
        For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

        Looks to me like ALL UNBELIEVERS GET MERCY.

        WHAT SAY YOU?

        ACTUALLY, LIKE I’VE BEEN SAYING ABOUT JOHN 6, THE AUDIENCE WAS JEWS, AND I’LL LET YA IN ON A LITTLE SECRET…

        ROMANS 11 IS ABOUT THE JEWS, TOO!

        JOHN 6 IS NOT ABOUT THE GENTILES, AND NEITHER IS ROMANS 11, OR 10, OR EVEN 9.

        ***All Unbelieving Jews get MERCY.

        Ed Chapman

      36. chapmaned24 writes, “JOHN 6 IS NOT ABOUT THE GENTILES, AND NEITHER IS ROMANS 11, OR 10, OR EVEN 9.”

        In John 6, Jesus is speaking to Jews but uses an universal negative, “No one can…” Logically, if the Jews could not come to Jesus, how could the gentiles. As Paul explains of the Jews in Romans 9, “…to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;of whom are the fathers and from whom,…” It is Paul who introduces the gentiles when he says, “…even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” thereby including them among the children of promise as he explains in Ephesians 3, “…God made known to me [Paul] the mystery…which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel,…”

      37. rhutchin states:
        “In John 6, Jesus is speaking to Jews but uses an universal negative, “No one can…” Logically, if the Jews could not come to Jesus, how could the gentiles. ”

        My response:

        You clearly did not finish what I had asked in Romans 11, that God has CONCLUDED “ALL” in unbelief, that he will have mercy on “ALL”.

        But besides that, regarding your “LOGICALLY” QUESTION (with a period), here is your logically…the Jews are in a SLUMBER that they CAN’T understand, for they have NOT been given eyes to see, ears to hear…but for us Gentiles…logically speaking, of course:

        Romans 15:21
        But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

        That verse is about the Gentiles. The following verse is about the Jews:

        Acts 28:26
        Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:

        Acts 28:27
        For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

        And it was GOD THAT PUT THEM THAT WAY FROM THE VERY START, AS NOTED IN ROMANS 9-11 GOING ALL THE WAY BACK TO DEUTERONOMY WHEN MOSES SAID SO…BUT MOSES UNDERSTOOD.

        But Romans 15:21 is about GENTILES understanding and seeing.

        The whole book of Romans shows a DISTINCTION between the two groups (JEWS/Gentiles), regardless of your CONTINUOUS claim that there is NO JEW/GENTILE blah blah.

        Ed Chapman

      38. chapmaned24 writes, “You clearly did not finish what I had asked in Romans 11, that God has CONCLUDED “ALL” in unbelief, that he will have mercy on “ALL”.”

        All is a reference to both Jews and gentiles. The important addition to this being the Jews as gentiles, obviously, were in unbelief.

      39. RHUTCHIN,

        You had said:
        “chapmaned24 writes, “You clearly did not finish what I had asked in Romans 11, that God has CONCLUDED “ALL” in unbelief, that he will have mercy on “ALL”.”

        All is a reference to both Jews and gentiles. The important addition to this being the Jews as gentiles, obviously, were in unbelief.

        My response:

        Oh, so your conclusion LOGICALLY is that “ALL”, or EVERYONE WHO IS IN UNBELIEF WILL GET MERCY, then, huh?

        Romans 11:32
        For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

      40. chapmaned24 asks, “Oh, so your conclusion LOGICALLY is that “ALL”, or EVERYONE WHO IS IN UNBELIEF WILL GET MERCY, then, huh?”

        Yes, both Jews ans gentiles receive mercy.

      41. Well Mike… if you can comprehend foreknowledge as dynamic and not set (Matt 26:39) … that freewill is defined in Scripture as choice without necessity (1Cor 7:37)… and that Scripture says they all have sufficiently “heard” the necessary truth to draw them (Rom 10:18)… you and I might move towards greater agreement. 😊

        Blessings are always wished for you.

      42. brianwagner writes, “Well… if you can comprehend foreknowledge as dynamic and not set (Matt 26:39) … that freewill is defined in Scripture as choice without necessity (1Cor 7:37)… and that Scripture says they all have sufficiently “heard” the necessary truth to draw them (Rom 10:18)… you and I might move towards greater agreement.”

        Toss in God’s infinite understanding and the future becomes certain from God’s perspective even when dynamic under man’s understanding.

      43. rhutchin
        the future becomes certain from God’s perspective even when dynamic under man’s understanding.

        br.d
        Here we have a curious use of the term “dynamic”.

        Here is the LOGIC:
        Whatever perspective/understanding is in disagreement with the DIVINE perspective/understanding – LOGICALLY equates to a FALSE perspective/understanding.

        And in such case – in Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) – it LOGICALLY follows – Calvin’s god FIRST-CONCEIVED that man’s FALSE perspective/understanding. And also RENDERED-CERTAIN that man’s FALSE perspective/understanding.

        The Muslim has a perspective which he believes is TRUE.
        The Jehovah’s witness – the same
        The Catholic – the same
        The Calvinist – the same.

        Each human is convinced his perspective/understanding is TRUE – while it may in fact be FALSE.
        The human has no way of proving TRUE vs FALSE
        Because his each perspective/understanding is determined by factors of outside his control (i.e. by an external mind – Calvin’s god).

      44. br.d writes, “Here is the LOGIC:
        Whatever perspective/understanding is in disagreement with the DIVINE perspective/understanding – LOGICALLY equates to a FALSE perspective/understanding.”

        God has perfect understanding, perfect wisdom, perfect knowledge, etc. Man has imperfect understanding, imperfect wisdom, imperfect knowledge, etc. So, man’s perspective will always be different from, and disagree with, God’s perspective.

        Then, “it LOGICALLY follows – Calvin’s god FIRST-CONCEIVED that man’s FALSE perspective/understanding. And also RENDERED-CERTAIN that man’s FALSE perspective/understanding.”

        God does this through His perfect understanding of His creation. That God does not change this situation renders certain man’s FALSE perspective/understanding.

        Then, “The human has no way of proving TRUE vs FALSE
        Because his each perspective/understanding is determined by factors of outside his control (i.e. by an external mind – Calvin’s god).”

        That is why Paul instructs, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” and Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

      45. br.d writes, “Here is the LOGIC:
        Whatever perspective/understanding is in disagreement with the DIVINE perspective/understanding – LOGICALLY equates to a FALSE perspective/understanding.”

        Thus it LOGICALLY follows – Calvin’s god FIRST-CONCEIVED that man’s FALSE perspective/understanding. And also RENDERED-CERTAIN that man’s FALSE perspective/understanding.”

        rhutchin
        God has perfect understanding, perfect wisdom, perfect knowledge, etc. Man has imperfect understanding, imperfect wisdom, imperfect knowledge, etc. So, man’s perspective will always be different from, and disagree with, God’s perspective.

        br.d
        Obviously not completely – or it would LOGICALLY Follow that John Calvin got it all wrong. :-]

        Now the human has no way of proving TRUE vs FALSE
        Because his each perspective/understanding is determined by factors outside of his control (i.e. by an external mind – Calvin’s god).”

        rhutchin
        God does this through His perfect understanding of His creation.

        br.d
        Makes no difference to LOGIC – since it is still the case that Calvin’s god FIRST-CONCEIVES man’s FALSE perspective/understanding and then RENDERS-CERTAIN man’s FALSE perspective/understanding

        rhutchin
        That God does not change this situation renders certain man’s FALSE perspective/understanding.

        br.d
        John Calvin
        -quote
        Men may not even agitate anything in their deliberations but what He INSPIRES.
        – A Defense of the secret providence of god – PDF version pg 190

        Now the Muslim is made to believe his perspective/understanding is TRUE
        And the Jehovah’s witness – the same
        And the Catholic – the same
        And the Calvinist – the same

        None of these knows for sure if his perspective/understanding is TRUE
        Because his perspective/understanding is determined by an external mind
        Additionally in Theological Determinism “Libertarian Free” choice and deliberation don’t exist.
        So the each of these people above cannot choose between TRUE vs FALSE
        That choice being pre-determined for them.

        rhutchin
        That is why Paul instructs, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” and Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”

        br.d
        I never make the silly mistake of conflating Calvinism with scripture. :-]

      46. br.d writes, “Obviously not completely – or it would LOGICALLY Follow that John Calvin got it all wrong. :-]”

        That is why Calvin, and others, rely on the Scriptures and not on their own understanding. Per the proverb, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”

      47. br.d
        “Obviously not completely – or it would LOGICALLY Follow that John Calvin got it all wrong. :-]”

        rhutchin
        That is why Calvin, and others, rely on the Scriptures and not on their own understanding….etc

        br.d
        AH! But the scripture for Calvin is nothing more than the “Enunciated” or “Prescriptive” will
        While the “SECRET” will can and often is – the exact total opposite.
        And since the opposite is a SECRET – it LOGICALLY follows – no man knows which is TRUE or FALSE.

        And this affirms my previous statement – thank you! :-]

      48. brianwagner writes, “I think you will have to do more research, Roger, on the Scripture’s use of the noun “evil”.”

        A couple citations would have been really effective here.

        Then, “…include the noun “sin” in your study,…”

        “Sin” is obviously used as a noun. Moses said, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

        Then, “Who was responsible for that ignorance in Satan and in Adam?”

        We both seem to agree that God was responsible because God created them.

        Then, “And are you suggesting that withholding sufficient knowledge that makes sin inevitable still keeps God from being culpable in some way for that inevitable sin, and that it also does not make God look negligent and unkind to the creation He loves.”

        God is culpable in the sense of responsible; that does not mean that God coerces people to sin.

      49. Mike
        Br.D. I really shouldn’t but into this conversation…and this will probably open up a can of worms I’m not totally prepared to deal with but…

        I respectfully ask you to consider something. I think you are a little to unforgiving or at least strict on your accusation of Double-Speak. I completely understand the frustration.

        br.d
        It is not good to be unforgiving – but on the other hand the scripture teaches us to be weary of misleading or deceptive communications. Jesus for example says “Let your YEA be YEA and your NAY be NAY for anything else comes of evil”

        Double-Speak language is a YEA-NAY language – and to incorporate it into my speech is to disobey Jesus’ command.

        One of the issues with Calvinism’s Double-Speak language is that a Calvinist can give both a YEA answer and a NAY answer to many questions. When the recipient does not understand the underlying psychology behind this aspect of Calvinist language – that recipient is guaranteed to be mislead. It would make perfect sense then – for that Calvinist afterwords to claim his doctrine was being misrepresented. This is the evil that Jesus was referring to.

        Mike
        If one applies strict logic to a complete determinism that is foundational to creation then all existence is just a play or movie, a robotic execution of events, a theatrical puppet show, dominoes falling—all the the analogies Calvinism is accused of. There is no sense is speaking of God intervening in human affairs because all human activity is already mapped out—predetermined. God has no need to intervene. I get that. So one has to wonder why, as a logical and reasonable person, I would accept this Calvinistic idea.

        br.d
        BINGO! Yes – and that is in fact what Non-Calvinists see.
        Calvin very aggressively asserts that *ALL* events without exception are AUTHORED by the THEOS.
        There is no such thing as “mere” permission.
        The only thing he permits is what he AUTHORS – nothing more nothing less.

        Therefore if there is an event AUTHORED in which the THEOS intervenes – then it is an event which the THEOS AUTHORED for himself to prevent. And yes – that doesn’t make much sense does it. But that is what LOGICALLY follows in Calvinism.

        Mike
        There are, of course, a number of issues but on a simple logical reason base it is because I believe that consistency needs to be one of the main foundations of logic. I mean, you can’t argue for rationality on one issue—like the irrationality of determinism—and then ignore the rational problems on other issues—such as the irrationality LFW. I can’t abide this kind of “compartmental thinking.”

        br.d
        I can understand that – and I think you’ve stated yourself that scholars like Peter Van Inwagen totally agree.
        But is the degree of logical problems the same for both?
        Currently I don’t believe we see that – and I don’t believe scholars enunciate that.

        Mike
        Here is what I’m getting at: When I apply strict logic to hard determinism I see the irrationality and it upsets me but before I condemn it completely I apply this same strict logic to another theological issue to see if it will withstand the same scrutiny.

        br.d
        I’m not sure how you define “Hard” determinism – and how you distinguish it from another form of determinism.
        To me its pretty clearly enunciated in all Christian Philosophical literature.
        We can trace back to Augustine, Aquinus, Boethius, Molina etc – where do you see any distinguish a difference between “Hard” or other Determinism?

        Mike
        All Christians agree the God is not the author of evil. But evil exist.

        br.d
        Yes they want to SAY that – but we humans often say things that are not true of our own belief system.
        Calvin for example states this:
        -quote
        It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the AUTHOR of them. Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God (pg 176)

        In Calvin’s vernacular – the Old French of his day the term “Author” is “Auctor” – meaning Originator, Creator, Instigator

        As William Lane Craig states – its pretty hard not to connect the dots here.

        Mike
        Is not God the creator of existence? Therefore God must be the creator of evil. This is simple strict logic. But of course we Christians cannot have God creating evil so we employ a myriad of nuanced explanations why simple strict logic is insufficient and in error.

        Evil is the privation of good. Perhaps, but did God create the good? Euthiphro. But if evil is enviable with the separation of good then the creation of separate beings makes God the creator of evil.

        God created the potential for evil but not evil itself. Why? Without evil there would be no choice. Choice can exist between good things. Choice between good and evil is human. What about angels and demons? Without choice between good and evil there would be no love. Can God choose evil? Is there no love in God? Is not God love?

        br.d
        For me this is where we distinguish between the Early Church Fathers understanding of these things vs the Gnostic NeoPlatonist understanding. The ancient Gnostic NeoPlatonist Christians of Augustine’s day understood evil and good to be co-equal and co-necessary constituents of the “ONE”. Augustine called them ANTITHESIS. And Jon Edwards later asserted that divine evil is necessary.
        -quote
        the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect both because the parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.”

        Personally – I believe Calvinism evolved from Augustine – the synchronization of Gnostic & NeoPlatonist thought into Christian doctrine. And Calvin in his adoration for Augustine carried it forward.

        This is the very aspect of Calvinism that all Non-Calvinist Christians struggle with or are repulsed by.

        Mike
        As humans we create situations and laws and substances with the potential for harm and abuse. And depending on how “inevitable” these potentials are we are either condemned or given a pass. But can the creator of existence really get a pass on potential? Isn’t potential part of existence?

        br.d
        Not sure where you are going here – but if you are saying there is potential without Calvin’s god decreeing it into existence – then the stipulations of the doctrine make that not logically possible.

        Mike
        Of course evil don’t exist. It is the absence of good. But then does good exist? Evil is the opposite of good. But is there always an opposite to good and an opposite to evil? Are there not some things that are good and evil that have no opposite? How can we tell what is good without evil? If this were true there could be no eternal good God or a good God would be dependent on evil.

        br.d
        Yes – I agree – for this reason the Gnostic NeoPlatonists called evil “beautiful”
        See my above answer about Augustine, Edwards and the Gnostic NeoPlatonist view on good-evil.

        Mike
        And what is true choice? is choice between two good things as relevant as choice between two opposite things? Is free choice really truly free if there are dire consequences for choosing wrongly? Are not dire consequences coercive and therefore effect the freedom of the choice?

        br.d
        Yes I see your question – and if someone external to you makes your choice for you – can it really be stated that you made that choice? Are you familiar with the Frankfurt “Do Otherwise” experiment? If not you may be interested to read up on it.
        Frankfurt shows that “Do Otherwise” is not always necessary for there to be a true choice. But his experiment only shows that to be the case half of the time. And most people would not want to acknowledge all of their choices follow that model.

        Mike
        The paradoxes go on and on.

        br.d
        Yes there are paradoxes – but some of what have been claimed as paradox can in fact be resolved using logic.

      50. BR.D, yes Double-Speak language is bad. I’m just saying that perhaps what you may think is Double-Speak by the Calvinist is just the Calvinist trying their best to communicate an idea which is difficult, and if pushed too far can devolve into paradox. This is what I’ve been trying to illustrate as I contemplate the omni’s of God, God’s creation and God’s free will.

        Look, libertarians do the same thing. They espouse human LFW but never mention that God does not have that same LFW. That’s why there is some freedom to speak freely—as-if launguage, if you will—once compatiblism wins out over LFW and hard determinism.

        As you noted, I do understand the problem with determinism and the problem non-Calvinists have with it. And I agree that “mere permission” is a problem. But perhaps it’s like the term “free will.” Not everyone who uses free will defines it as the ability to do otherwise—which is the common and dominate meaning—accept within philosophical circles.

        So, I do understand the issue. But you need to understand that you are arguing against hard determinism. And it is not just you, it is pretty much all non-Calvinists—theologians, philosophers and laity. And I understand why—you think compatiblism is a trick, a lie, an incoherence. But compatiblism does have a long and distinguished history. It is the dominate view within secular philosophy. And, again, you need to ask yourself why are all the theistic philosophers Molinists or Open Theists!

        Are the degree of logical problems the same for both LFW and hard determinism? No, but yes between LFW and compatiblism. And this is supported by the scholars.

        “Hard” determinism is a legitimate term. Both the hard and soft prefixes can be, and are, applied to all three systems of thought. Just refer to the “Oxford Handbook of Free Will” for evidence. In antiquity you will not find the hard and soft prefixes—they are modern, but so is most of the advance philosophical discussion. You wouldn’t find Frankfurt cases in antiquity. You also won’t find a definition of LFW in scripture. In the Bible the term free will means “optional.” But scripture is quite clear in numerous passages that God determines and directs the future.

        Yes, Calvin is inconsistent. So is Augustine. Luckily I don’t have to take everything they say as gospel. As for WLC, he defines free will as non-coercive choice and is an “deterministic” Molinist. ; )

        It’s just too easy to relegate all this to an invention of the Gnostics or Sotics or Platonic thought. And, of course, Augustine was so weak minded that he brought all this, and his former Manichaeism, into a system that he invented and was completely foreign to the church. This is just crazy revisionist history and it pains me when I hear scholars who should know better peddling this kind of thing (sorry if that sounds insulting, I’m not directing all of this at you personally).

        Jonathan Edwards goes too far speculating on a lot of stuff (and he is very verbose).

        Compatiblists agree that the definition of free will is non-coercion. But the majority of LFW advocates—including SOT101—define it as the ability to do otherwise and that is the primary debate!

      51. Hi Mike,
        I don’t have time to fully respond to this right now – have a job I’m in the middle of.

        But think about this statement from Dr. Bella Depaulo – Social Scientist in her work “The Hows and whys of lies”

        WHAT IS ALTRUISTIC DISHONESTY:
        -quote:
        “Altruistic dishonesty occurs when a person is working to protect a ‘target’. A high percentage of people who rationalize
        the use of dishonest language, experience some sub-level degree of discomfort, but which is effectively outweighed by
        rationalizations. And they generally do not regard their lies as lies. And this is especially true with people who are
        working to protect a ‘target’.”

        These are called “other-oriented” or “altruistic” dishonesties. Protecting the ‘target’ allows them to perceive themselves
        as honest rather than dishonest. For the sake of protecting the ‘target,’ a high percentage report they would have felt
        worse if they had been honest, because honesty would have revealed things about the “target” they do not want people
        to see.”

        Altruism is in fact an excellent way to understand Calvinism’s euphemistic, equivocal, and cosmetic language. A battered wife may choose to restrain herself from communicating anything that may paint her husband in a bad light – even if she knows what she is communicating is false rather than truth-telling. She is simply protecting the ‘target.’

        How much more would a Calvinist refrain from communicating anything that would in any way reflect badly on God or the gospel. He would feel worse if his language were truth-telling – because it would reveal things about the ‘target’ he doesn’t want people to see.

      52. brianwagner writes, “… check pending.”

        “…fact check pending.” You inadvertently, I’m sure, left out a crucial word.

      53. Thx Roger for great example of reading into a context a meaning that is not there. I was telling BrD just exactly what he needed to know… “Check pending”. 😉

      54. brianwagner writes, “Thx Roger for great example of reading into a context a meaning that is not there.”

        Well, I was convinced that you were a trust but verify person. Bummer.

      55. 🤣 Another great example of jumping to a conclusion without evidence! Thx again Roger. You’ll just have to take my word that I’m a “trust but verify person.” My “Check pending” was actually evidence of that… ask BrD. 😊

      56. rhutchin states:
        “brianwagner writes, “… check pending.”

        “…fact check pending.” You inadvertently, I’m sure, left out a crucial word.”

        My response:
        Since I’m a former payroll clerk from the US Navy, I prefer the money, because we know the FACT checkers needs to be fact checked, themselves.

        Ed Chapman

      57. chapmaned24 writes, “we know the FACT checkers needs to be fact checked, themselves.”

        I agree. I was convinced that Brian believed this also.

      58. br.d writes, “Altruism is in fact an excellent way to understand Calvinism’s euphemistic, equivocal, and cosmetic language….How much more would a Calvinist refrain from communicating anything that would in any way reflect badly on God or the gospel.”

        That Calvinism is the opposite of what br.d says is evident by the great controversy that it engenders among non-Calvinists. It is because Calvinism is straightforward in its approach such that people clearly understand its doctrines that gives rise to so much discussion. What we find is that people have to distort Calvinist doctrine in order to argue against it so compelling are the Scriptures put forward in defense of Calvinist doctrine.

      59. br.d
        Altruism is in fact an excellent way to understand Calvinism’s euphemistic, equivocal, and cosmetic language….How much more would a Calvinist refrain from communicating anything that would in any way reflect badly on God or the gospel.” He will refrain from TRUTH-TELLING because telling the truth will reveal things about the “target” he doesn’t want people to see.

        rhutchin
        That Calvinism is the opposite of what br.d says is evident by the great controversy that it engenders among non-Calvinists. It is because Calvinism is straightforward in its approach such that people clearly understand its doctrines that gives rise to so much discussion. What we find is that people have to distort Calvinist doctrine in order to argue against it so compelling are the Scriptures put forward in defense of Calvinist doctrine.

        br.d
        Lots of pontification – no logic!
        Nothing new here – move along – move along :-]

      60. rhutchin states:
        ” It is because Calvinism is straightforward in its approach such that people clearly understand its doctrines that gives rise to so much discussion. What we find is that people have to distort Calvinist doctrine in order to argue against it so compelling are the Scriptures put forward in defense of Calvinist doctrine.”

        My response:
        Hmmmmmmmm….from my understanding, many NEW Calvinist preachers are bringing in Calvinism to a non-Calvinist church in a STEALTH mode, thereby LYING to the congregation, NOT BEING STRAIGHT FORWARD AT ALL, being deceptive, and there is a RULE BOOK as to how to do it without ANYONE NOTICING.

        I’ll never forget when a friend of mine asked me for my comment regarding IRRESISTIBLE GRACE. He said it in a very PASSIONATE way, for which when IRRESISTIBLE is used in a sentence, like, “THAT CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE IS IRRESISTIBLE”, that is RHETORICAL, and therefore, NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

        And because I had never heard of Calvinism before, THAT was a NEW catch phrase that I had never heard of before, but I was WEARY about it, all because it had to do with RELIGION.

        Thank God I didn’t buy off on it, because I finally learned what that means, and NO, I DO NOT BELIEVE IN IT, STRAIGHT FORWARD.

        I believe that ANYONE AT ANY TIME CAN RESIST GOD’S GRACE BY FREE WILL. ANYONE, and that means ALL CALVINISTS included.

        Ed Chapman

      61. chapmaned24 writes, “I believe that ANYONE AT ANY TIME CAN RESIST GOD’S GRACE BY FREE WILL. ANYONE, and that means ALL CALVINISTS included. ”

        Calvinists say that ALL, All the time, resist God’s grace until they are born again. ALL includes Calvinists/

      62. rhutchin states:
        “chapmaned24 writes, “I believe that ANYONE AT ANY TIME CAN RESIST GOD’S GRACE BY FREE WILL. ANYONE, and that means ALL CALVINISTS included. ”

        Calvinists say that ALL, All the time, resist God’s grace until they are born again. ALL includes Calvinists/”

        My response:
        You added a word that I didn’t, and that word is, “UNTIL”.

        I disagree with that word.

        In your Calvinist sect, there are many BORN AGAIN’s that NOW are atheists. How do I know that? Read spiritual abuse blogs. Calvinism has produced a LOT of atheists, who ONCE BELIEVED, made alive, born again, baptized, regenerated (a word that I don’t even use, because it is ONLY directed at and to the Jews only).

        Ed Chapman

      63. Mike Ranieri writes, ““Hard” determinism is a legitimate term. Both the hard and soft prefixes can be, and are, applied to all three systems of thought.”

        I think “hard” determinism refers to all actions by people being determined by factors external to the person. Thus, “soft” determinism allows for actions of people being determined by factors internal and external to the person. Thus, your statement, “Compatiblists agree that the definition of free will is non-coercion.”

        All actions people take are determined because no one does anything spontaneously, but all people act with motive and reason (even if they are unaware of those motives/reasons) One of the primary internal motivations for people to act is the sin nature that results in a self-centered (pride and selfish) motivation to act. Even though God understands perfectly the motivations of a person down to each neurological impulse and determines all motivations because He is the final arbiter of all that happens, this does not mean that God forces any particular neurological impulse on a person or uses His sovereign power to coerce any particular outcome (although it may seem like this when Paul says that God hardens whom He will and has mercy on whom He will).

      64. br.d
        Hi Mike – I am now free to tackle your comments here

        Mike
        BR.D, yes Double-Speak language is bad. I’m just saying that perhaps what you may think is Double-Speak by the Calvinist is just the Calvinist trying their best to communicate an idea which is difficult, and if pushed too far can devolve into paradox. This is what I’ve been trying to illustrate as I contemplate the omni’s of God, God’s creation and God’s free will.

        br.d
        I’ve been examining Calvinism for many years – and I am not alone.
        I can give you almost a dozen authors of published books who observe the exact same phenomenon that I do.
        And these authors are current today – and going back to the 1800s all refer to the phenomenon as double-speak.
        There is a consensus that it is part of the psychology of Calvinism
        However, if one looks a little further back in time – one sees the exact same phenomenon with the Stoics and the pagan determinists.

        Mike
        Look, libertarians do the same thing. They espouse human LFW but never mention that God does not have that same LFW. That’s why there is some freedom to speak freely—as-if launguage, if you will—once compatiblism wins out over LFW and hard determinism.

        br.d
        Mike – you’ve mentioned you don’t personally believe God has LFW – and I don’t know how you come to that conclusion LOGICALLY.
        Also I don’t know any main-stream Christians who believe God doesn’t have LFW.
        If he has the ability to choose from multiple options which all exist as real options – then he has LFW.

        Mike
        As you noted, I do understand the problem with determinism and the problem non-Calvinists have with it. And I agree that “mere permission” is a problem. But perhaps it’s like the term “free will.” Not everyone who uses free will defines it as the ability to do otherwise—which is the common and dominate meaning—accept within philosophical circles.

        So, I do understand the issue. But you need to understand that you are arguing against hard determinism. And it is not just you, it is pretty much all non-Calvinists—theologians, philosophers and laity. And I understand why—you think compatiblism is a trick, a lie, an incoherence. But compatiblism does have a long and distinguished history. It is the dominate view within secular philosophy. And, again, you need to ask yourself why are all the theistic philosophers Molinists or Open Theists!

        br.d
        Here I think you simply have a different perception than I do.
        The doctrine stipulates the THEOS determines *ALL* things without exception.
        For me LOGIC stipulates that proposition is either TRUE or it is FALSE

        So I interpret your position as perhaps wanting to have determinism on your own terms?

        Mike
        Are the degree of logical problems the same for both LFW and hard determinism? No, but yes between LFW and compatiblism. And this is supported by the scholars.

        br.d
        I agree with this – but I’m not sure what difference it makes.

        Mike
        “Hard” determinism is a legitimate term. Both the hard and soft prefixes can be, and are, applied to all three systems of thought. Just refer to the “Oxford Handbook of Free Will” for evidence. In antiquity you will not find the hard and soft prefixes—they are modern, but so is most of the advance philosophical discussion. You wouldn’t find Frankfurt cases in antiquity. You also won’t find a definition of LFW in scripture. In the Bible the term free will means “optional.” But scripture is quite clear in numerous passages that God determines and directs the future.

        br.d
        Ok there is a traditional view called “Hard” determinism which is the view that it is non-compatible with freedom.
        But that is not what is deliberated about here.
        We all know that Calvinism embraced a compatiblist form of free-will.
        But that doesn’t negate any of the LOGICAL consequences of determinism.
        Those very consequences you have acknowledged in this thread.

        Mike
        Yes, Calvin is inconsistent. So is Augustine. Luckily I don’t have to take everything they say as gospel. As for WLC, he defines free will as non-coercive choice and is an “deterministic” Molinist. ; )

        br.d
        Thanks for acknowledging that!
        And on WLC – I happen to know he – as a Molinist- does espouse LFW
        That is how he can LOGICALLY conclude that determinism cannot be rationally affirmed.

        Mike
        It’s just too easy to relegate all this to an invention of the Gnostics or Sotics or Platonic thought. And, of course, Augustine was so weak minded that he brought all this, and his former Manichaeism, into a system that he invented and was completely foreign to the church. This is just crazy revisionist history and it pains me when I hear scholars who should know better peddling this kind of thing (sorry if that sounds insulting, I’m not directing all of this at you personally).

        Jonathan Edwards goes too far speculating on a lot of stuff (and he is very verbose).

        br.d
        All doctrinal systems evolve over time – and so didn’t Augustine’s.
        And synchretism is a huge reality.
        It was one of Israel’s biggest downfalls.

        And all scholars agree that the influences of Stoicism, Gnosticism, and NeoPlatonism are lasting to various degrees throughout Augustine’s life and writings.

        I think you’re not alone in your position on Edwards – but what he enunciates – following Augustine – can be traced back to the moral-dualism of Gnosticism.

        Mike
        Compatiblists agree that the definition of free will is non-coercion. But the majority of LFW advocates—including SOT101—define it as the ability to do otherwise and that is the primary debate!

        br.d
        You are correct when you say Frankfurt’s contribution is much more current – but its still a recognized understanding.
        Do otherwise is vitally important – but as I said – Frankfurt shows – half of the time its not necessary.
        There is a little more to it also than just “do otherwise”
        In Theological Determinism your every neurological impulse is pre-determined by an external mind.
        This logically excludes any rational reasoning on your part – which is based on a LFW process of deliberation.
        That is why I mentioned the quote from Calvinist Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason ministry
        Following the LOGIC – it follows you have no way of knowing what is TRUE vs FALSE.
        And yet no one can live AS-IF he has no ability to discern TRUE from FALSE.
        And that is another contributing factor of why Calvinism’s language is full of Double-Speak.

        As Dr. Flowers has stated many times – if Calvinists would let go of determinism – all these problems would disappear.
        And one does not have to let go of divine sovereignty to do that.

        Blessings Mike! :-]

      65. Br.D, I’m more than willing to admit that there are Calvinist apologists that double-speak and are inconsistent. And I’m quite sure that there are many books by anti-Calvinists that all agree that Calvinism is psychologically dishonest or deceiving. But I’ve been studying this debate myself for many years and I find just as much dishonesty and deception on the other side as well. Now, just because the other side does it doesn’t mean it’s alright for my side.

        All I’m trying to say is not everything the Calvinist says is double-speak just because you don’t agree with it. Look, I’ve listened to SOT101 from the beginning and the primary debate is against hard determinism and hyper-Calvinism—this was perfectly demonstrated by the Flowers/Pritchett vs Hernandez/Zachariades debate (what a train wreck).

        Now, it is very clear that SOT101 and most non-Calvinists can’t (or won’t) see the difference between compatiblism and hard determinism, and Calvinism and hyper-Calvinsm. Therefore accusations of double-speak are inevitable. I could do the same thing if I refused to see any difference between LFW and randomness. In fact I often point out the absurdity of LFW’s rejection of cause-and-effect (which I’m sure you will disagree with). If I always equated non-Calvinism with Pelagianism then I could make an accusation of double-speak.

        I understand where you are coming from and I can appreciate your problems with the Calvinistic system. But I don’t think you really understand where I’m coming from.

        I believe in free will and free choice. I don’t apply the mystical “libertarian” to it because I understand the limitations of human beings and the complexity of existence And I don’t believe that humans are robots or puppets. I make a strong distinction between determinism and compatiblism. I dislike when compatibilits say that compaiblism is a form of determinism. Compatiblism is the compromise between LFW and hard determinism. I admit that I don’t understand God’s knowledge of eternity or his complete sovereignty. So, when Calvinists speak of free will and God preventing and restraining evil I don’t call that double-speak.

        I guess I’m not your average radical Calvinist. Do I want to have determinism on my own terms? I did considered that, but my reading, including the “Oxford Handbook of Free Will,” proved to me that there are many different definitions and nuances to determinism. I think it is you and other non-Calavinsts who want to focus on the one definition that favours your argument. And, once again, I could do the same right back at you!

        I’m not a theological determinist. I’m theological compatbilist. So what are you saying about Calvinist Greg Koukl? He and I agree. I guess we are both double-speaking? Flowers (and many others) just doesn’t understand the difference between determinism, compatiblism and the logical problems of LFW.

        Look, there are two main definitions of LFW: 1. The ability to do otherwise. And 2. Non coercive choice. Compatiblist free will accepts 2 and rejects 1.

        (Molinists, and WLC in particular, only accept definition 2. And given the hard-determinism that is implicit in the Molinist system, I don’t take Molinist acceptance of LFW very seriously. Besides, there are Calvinistic Molinists).

        The ability to choose is different than the ability to do otherwise. And the key theological argument is the free ability to accept or reject God—that is, the free ability not to sin or to sin. Also, and this a the big sticking point for SOT101, if the persons essential makeup prevents the ability to do otherwise than this is coercive and violates both definitions. It is not enough to say that the individual wants or chooses to sin if that individual’s makeup is geared for sin or unable not to sin. This is the foundation of the debate!

        So, please explain to me, with regard to the above stated definition, how God, who is unable is sin and is unable to be anything but holy, just and righteous, can have LFW? And please explain how the redeemed who will be unable to sin in the world to come have LFW?

      66. Mike
        Br.D, I’m more than willing to admit that there are Calvinist apologists that double-speak and are inconsistent.

        br.d
        Yes – quite frankly out of all of the Calvinists that venture here, I find you standing head and shoulders above all of them in regard to intellectual honesty. I don’t know how you escaped the snare they all fell into – but I’m sure thankful you did! :-]

        Mike
        And I’m quite sure that there are many books by anti-Calvinists that all agree that Calvinism is psychologically dishonest or deceiving. But I’ve been studying this debate myself for many years and I find just as much dishonesty and deception on the other side as well. Now, just because the other side does it doesn’t mean it’s alright for my side.

        br.d
        So I think we both agree that misleading language and what linguists call “insider” language – is a consistent characteristic within Calvinist language patterns. So its this regard its consistency we are looking for. Can you give some examples that you find in the Non-Calvinist world you run into consistently? It would be great to get your observation in that regard.

        Mike
        All I’m trying to say is not everything the Calvinist says is double-speak just because you don’t agree with it.

        br.d
        Sure – I think we’re going to find not all of it is. That’s normal. But there is enough of it that if Non-Calvinists are not prepared for it they are going to be mislead by it. And the Lord has laid that on my heart as a burden. And I can’t for the life of me see how anyone would consider misleading language as an ambassador for Christ. Even the Atheists can see through it.

        v
        Look, I’ve listened to SOT101 from the beginning and the primary debate is against hard determinism and hyper-Calvinism—this was perfectly demonstrated by the Flowers/Pritchett vs Hernandez/Zachariades debate (what a train wreck).

        Now, it is very clear that SOT101 and most non-Calvinists can’t (or won’t) see the difference between compatiblism and hard determinism, and Calvinism and hyper-Calvinsm. Therefore accusations of double-speak are inevitable. I could do the same thing if I refused to see any difference between LFW and randomness. In fact I often point out the absurdity of LFW’s rejection of cause-and-effect (which I’m sure you will disagree with). If I always equated non-Calvinism with Pelagianism then I could make an accusation of double-speak.

        br.d
        You seem to be very convinced that it is miss-placed. And that what is being attributed to compatibilism is rightfully attributed to “hard” determinism which holds there is no such thing as free will of any kind.

        Can you show that to be the case using a logical argument?

        Mike
        I understand where you are coming from and I can appreciate your problems with the Calvinistic system. But I don’t think you really understand where I’m coming from.

        I believe in free will and free choice. I don’t apply the mystical “libertarian” to it because I understand the limitations of human beings and the complexity of existence And I don’t believe that humans are robots or puppets. I make a strong distinction between determinism and compatiblism. I dislike when compatibilits say that compaiblism is a form of determinism. Compatiblism is the compromise between LFW and hard determinism. I admit that I don’t understand God’s knowledge of eternity or his complete sovereignty. So, when Calvinists speak of free will and God preventing and restraining evil I don’t call that double-speak.

        br.d
        Let me better understand what you mean by free choice as you see it.
        Model A:
        God sets multiple options before you. And all of those options exist as real options. And all of them are truly available to you. And God “merely” permits you to choose one over the other(s)

        Model B:
        Only one option is TRULY available to you. And you are only permitted to choose that one option. You may have the illusion that other options are available to you. You may have the illusion that other options are real. You may have the illusion that God “merely” permits you to choose other options. And you may have the illusion that you physically can choose other options.

        Which of these models is the one you see as free will?

        Mike
        I guess I’m not your average radical Calvinist. Do I want to have determinism on my own terms? I did considered that, but my reading, including the “Oxford Handbook of Free Will,” proved to me that there are many different definitions and nuances to determinism. I think it is you and other non-Calavinsts who want to focus on the one definition that favours your argument. And, once again, I could do the same right back at you!

        br.d
        That may be true. But you seem to believe or feel that the critiques are unwarranted. Personally if there were a group of Christians in your neighborhood who you observed consistently using misleading language I wonder if you wouldn’t warn Christians you know to be on the lookout for the problem and not be mislead by it. And if I know you the way I do – I think you would want me to do the same.

        Mike
        I’m not a theological determinist. I’m theological compatbilist.

        br.d
        But you do know that compatiblism is a view of free will predicated on determinism – right?

        Mike
        So what are you saying about Calvinist Greg Koukl? He and I agree. I guess we are both double-speaking? Flowers (and many others) just doesn’t understand the difference between determinism, compatiblism and the logical problems of LFW.

        br.d
        If you read his statement – he is not double-speaking there in my mind.
        I don’t know how you got that??
        And I don’t know how you got the ideal that you would be either?

        Let me give you a little more detailed info on Double-Speak.

        Here is Dr. William Lutz – and one of his definitions of Double-Speak
        -quote
        Double-speak works by taking advantage of the inherent implicitness of meaning conveyed through everyday language.
        It takes advantage of the fact that normal everyday language use is fundamentally *COOPERATIVE*.
        Doublespeak exploits these principles to do just the opposite.
        To appear like honest communication while actually hiding facts.

        Here is an example:
        A boy takes the girl he’s been dating for a year to lover’s lane and she soon realizes his intent.
        She says STOP – I need to know if you LOVE me.
        He knows what her definition of LOVE in this context is.
        He knows that she defines LOVE as a life-time commitment.
        He knows according to her definition of LOVE he does does not LOVE her.
        So he reasons that he has his own definition of LOVE – but he doesn’t tell her that.
        “Of course I Love you” he says.

        Dr. Lutz would characterize this as NON-COOPERATIVE language.
        He is not using her definition of LOVE and he is not letting her know he has a different definition.

        Non-Calvinists face these types of language problems with Calvinists all the time because Calvinists often have “insider” definitions for terms and phrased they use. And they do not reveal to people they have hidden definitions or meanings. And quite frankly they don’t care if the person their are talking with is mislead or not. Its just as easy to allow the people to be mislead.

        That is what Dr. Lutz would call a NON-COOPERATIVE language model – and most people would learn not to trust it.

        Mike
        Look, there are two main definitions of LFW: 1. The ability to do otherwise. And 2. Non coercive choice. Compatiblist free will accepts 2 and rejects 1.

        br.d
        Yes – agreed.
        And I for one don’ t argue against the Calvinist’s appeal to non-coercive choice.
        But do Calvinists REALLY believe that the immutable decrees have no force?
        That doesn’t sound to logical does it?

        And John Calvin himself states this:
        -quote
        “The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly….cannot move a single finger…unless in so far as He COMMANDS…they are FORCED to do Him service.” Institutes.

        and
        -quote
        Since God’s will is said to be the CAUSE of all things, I have made this providence the determinative principle for all human plans and works, not only in order to display its FORCE in the elect…….but also to COMPEL the reprobate to obedience. – Institutes

        I think the no-force argument is a derivative of modern determinism/compatiblism – and these quotes from John Calvin show he wasn’t familiar with it.

        I think the no-force argument is fairly useful for an Atheist determinist to make.
        But I don’t think its a very strong argument for a Calvinist.
        Even so I don’t argue against this appeal much since no one really knows if there is any force applied or not.

        Mike
        (Molinists, and WLC in particular, only accept definition 2. And given the hard-determinism that is implicit in the Molinist system, I don’t take Molinist acceptance of LFW very seriously. Besides, there are Calvinistic Molinists).

        br.d
        This is the second time you’ve attributed “hard” determinism to Molinism.
        I don’t know how you come to that conclusion when Molinism is predicated on the existence of LFW.

        Here is a quote from author Kirk MgGregor in his book “Luise De Molina”
        -quote
        Many counterfactuals involve agents with Libertarian Free will. Thus, included in God’s middle knowledge is God’s awareness of what all possible individuals with Libertarian Freedom would freely do in any set of circumstances in which they find themselves.

        Since Molina embraced LFW I can’t see how you can call Molinism “hard” determinism – in which there is no free will at all.

        Mike
        The ability to choose is different than the ability to do otherwise. And the key theological argument is the free ability to accept or reject God—that is, the free ability not to sin or to sin. Also, and this a the big sticking point for SOT101, if the persons essential makeup prevents the ability to do otherwise than this is coercive and violates both definitions. It is not enough to say that the individual wants or chooses to sin if that individual’s makeup is geared for sin or unable not to sin. This is the foundation of the debate!

        br.d
        Since you brought up the issue of sin – lets do a little thought experiment on it.

        Lets say that at the foundation of the world the THEOS decreed you commit a hideous sin at 10 AM tomorrow.
        Now the THEOS knows and believes that he decreed you to commit that sin
        And if that event does not come to pass – then his decree is falsified – and his knowledge and belief are falsified.
        Are you free to NOT commit that sin?

        Mike
        So, please explain to me, with regard to the above stated definition, how God, who is unable is sin and is unable to be anything but holy, just and righteous, can have LFW?

        br.d
        I think Dr. Alvin Plantinga was asked this question and his answer was “I don’t see any problem there”.
        Personally – I would not be comfortable stating that God us UNABLE to do something – even sin for example.
        I would say it is against his nature to sin and he willingly chooses not to.
        And of course choosing not to sin requires a Libertarian Free deliberation.

        Mike
        And please explain how the redeemed who will be unable to sin in the world to come have LFW?

        br.d
        Now that is a huge question I agree!
        Are they UNABLE to sin?
        Was Jesus UNABLE to sin?

        I don’t think we know enough to do more than speculate.
        Scripture calls Jesus our “Proto-Type” – using the word “First-Fruit”.
        Jesus was in the world and ABLE to sin – yet without sin.
        I think that is as close a guess as I can make – in regard to what our natures will be in the new heavens and new earth.

        But again for me – I believe God does have LFW.
        And so it makes sense that the redeemed will also.

      67. Br.D, you bring up many good points and I need some time to think them through. I believe that I am at odds with some of the standard arguments that some prominent Calvinists use—including Calvin himself. I’ve often thought of moving away from calling myself a Calvinist and using some other label—theistic compatibilist, simple monergist, free will Calvinist—but all this will do is make things more obscure. This is what happens on the non-Calvinist side. I can’t refer to my opponents as Arminians, I have to use the negative non-Calvinist.

        Anyway, let me just say that I try to read all the relevant material because I do understand the problems on both sides. I’ve read Plantinga, Craig and MacGregor—and Augustine, Calvin, Luther and Edwards, all of who I have problems with. I’ve read Arminian Theology by Olson, some Wesley and Arminius on the topic, Why I am not a Calvinist/Arminian, For Calvinism/Against Calvinsm, Deviant Calvinism and Saving Calvinism by Crisp, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility by Carson, Calvinsim and the Problem of Evil, Excusing Sinners and Blaming God, Paradox in Christian Theology, and most of the modern Calvinists and non-Calvinists (I’m not a big fan of Pipers’ arguments). And I’ve read The Oxford Handbook of Free Will and other secular philosophers on free will, and watched every episode of Closer to Truth on free will and listened to countless lectures and podcasts on free will, both secular and theological. And I still have much more to read and study and learn.

        And aside from my issues will the logic/mystery of “libertarian” free will, I have never been satisfied with the many different explanations from non-Calvinists concerning the fate of those people who have never heard the gospel—including infants and the mentally challenged. And, if the Free Will Theodicy is so strong why is it not clearly stated in scripture? In Job a Theodicy of God’s Sovereignty is given. And Jesus refrains from any clear Theodicy in Luke 13:2-5.

        Give me a bit of time and I will get back to you on the individual points you’ve made. And thanks again for the conversation. It is very helpful for one to have their ideas challenged.

      68. Mike – as always – I am impressed with your sincerity and desire to face things head on!
        It has been my privilege to meet you here and to know you.

        May the Lord enrich you mightily as you walk closer to him.
        Blessings my friend until we chat again!

        br.d :-]

      69. Br.D (Part 1), This is a long one but hopefully it will give you more of an understanding of my position. The advantage of being a layman is that my job isn’t on the line if I switch camps. For me, it’s about trying to find some consistency in doctrine.

        As for examples of non-Calvinist misrepresentation, that would be some of the things that we have been discussing. Not seeing the difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism. Even Craig is quoted as not seeing a real difference, saying that Calvin was a hyper-Calvinist. And not understanding the difference and nuance between determinism and hard determinism and compatilbilsm, when there is so much literature on the subject from both secular and religious philosophers. How many times have I heard the joke about not being at fault because God determined it. But I get it. LFW philosophers and theologians don’t see the real distinctions (a distinction without a difference).

        Most non-Calvinists consider unconditional election “arbitrary.” But they never speak of God’s election of the nation of Israel as arbitrary (appealing to the faith of Abraham just pushes the question back further in time).

        Non-Calvinists insist that humans must have a libertarian free will choice to enter the kingdom. But I don’t hear them immediately making the exception for infants, the mentally challenged, and those who have never heard the gospel—that comes later.

        Many non-Calvinists are inconsistent as to whether someone can loose their salvation by exercising their LFW.

        Most average non-Calvinists believe in God’s simple foreknowledge—and we are told this was the view of the early church fathers before Augustine. But almost all non-Calvinists philosophers don’t believe in simple foreknowledge?

        Do I consider these double-speak or deception? No. I just attribute it to ignorance and inconsistency.

        Some Calvinists when promoting Calvinism hide alternative interpretations and arguments. I don’t like this and I think it can be disingenuous but I don’t think it is necessarily double-speak—but of course it depends on what is actually being said.

        I agree that some of the Calvinist language can be misleading but again I’m not sure it is intentional. When I was a new Calvinist I was always aware when my Calvinistic pastor said things like “it’s up to you to choose” or “God gives us a choice” or “you have the free will to do such and such.” And he says “God restrains evil.” I imagine that he has a qualified idea of divine determinism. Granted, he could just be inconsistent.

        Take the Westminster Confession for example. It clearly states that God is not the author of sin, but how is this possible if God is the creator of all existence? Is this double-speak? It must be, because evil only began after God created and only God Is responsible for existence.

        You ask me to show you the difference between compatibilism and hard determinism using logical argument. Well, this a long and hard discussion. Most of the discussion is secular. And there is some mystery and paradox involved. And frankly, it can get darn confusing. Check out these links:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCGtkDzELAI
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KETTtiprINU
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESM43eA9u6o
        https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/38029/what-is-the-difference-between-hard-determinism-and-compatibilism-under-the-ass
        https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-in-the-concepts-of-determinism-free-will-compatibilism-incompatibilism-and-indeterminism/answer/Bruce-Silverstein-1

      70. Mike writes, “Most non-Calvinists consider unconditional election “arbitrary.”…”

        I think they do this in order to justify their arguments. Scripture tells us, “God works all things according to the counsel of His will.” The Westminster Confession says the same thing, “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will,freely, and unchangeable ordain whatsoever comes to pass;” So, God works all things, including His election of those He will save according to His will; therefore not arbitrary unless they mean, “based on or determined by God’s preference or convenience rather than by necessity or reflecting the intrinsic nature of man.”

        Then, “Non-Calvinists insist that humans must have a libertarian free will choice to enter the kingdom.”

        I don’t think this can be true. Jesus said that one must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God, Once a person is born again, even Calvinists say that man has LFW. As non-Calvinists place the exercise of faith to be prior to the new birth, I think they define LFW as a choice that qualifies them for the new birth and then to enter the kingdom.

        Then, “Many non-Calvinists are inconsistent as to whether someone can loose their salvation by exercising their LFW.”

        This presumes that the new birth conveys no special qualities that prevent this. Peter wrote, “[you have] been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible,…” Seems like “incorruptible seed” would affect some protection from against losing salvation.

        Then, “It clearly states that God is not the author of sin, but how is this possible if God is the creator of all existence?”

        Sin is not a created entity. It is a term used to describe disobedience by people, “Whatever is not of faith is sin.” If God were the author of sin, He would have to coerce people to disobey Him. Yet, James says that God does not even tempt people to sin, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;…”

      71. Mike writes, “You ask me to show you the difference between compatibilism and hard determinism using logical argument.”

        Hard determinism is as br.d defined it. All events are determined by EXTERNAL factors, so hard determinism is no different than fatalism.

        Compatibilism says events are determined by EXTERNAL and INTERNAL factors. The moral component prevents a choice not to sin.

        LFW incorporates a moral component that allows a choice not to sin.

      72. Br.D (Part 1). As for examples of non-Calvinist misrepresentation, that would be some of the things that we have been discussing. Not seeing the difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism. Even Craig is quoted as not seeing a real difference, saying that Calvin was a hyper-Calvinist. And not understanding the difference and nuance between determinism and hard determinism and compatilbilsm, when there is so much literature on the subject from both secular and religious philosophers. How many times have I heard the joke about not being at fault because God determined it. But I get it. LFW philosophers and theologians don’t see the real distinctions (a distinction without a difference).

        Most non-Calvinists consider unconditional election “arbitrary.” But they never speak of God’s election of the nation of Israel as arbitrary (appealing to the faith of Abraham just pushes the question back further in time).

        Non-Calvinists insist that humans must have a libertarian free will choice to enter the kingdom. But I don’t hear them immediately making the exception for infants, the mentally challenged, and those who have never heard the gospel—that comes later.

        Many non-Calvinists are inconsistent as to whether someone can loose their salvation by exercising their LFW.

        Most average non-Calvinists believe in God’s simple foreknowledge—and we are told this was the view of the early church fathers before Augustine. But almost all non-Calvinists philosophers don’t believe in simple foreknowledge?

        Do I consider these double-speak or deception? No. I just attribute it to ignorance and inconsistency.

        Some Calvinists when promoting Calvinism hide alternative interpretations and arguments. I don’t like this and I think it can be disingenuous but I don’t think it is necessarily double-speak—but of course it depends on what is actually being said.

        I agree that some of the Calvinist language can be misleading but again I’m not sure it is intentional. When I was a new Calvinist I was always aware when my Calvinistic pastor said things like “it’s up to you to choose” or “God gives us a choice” or “you have the free will to do such and such.” And he says “God restrains evil.” I imagine that he has a qualified idea of divine determinism. Granted, he could just be inconsistent.

        Take the Westminster Confession for example. It clearly states that God is not the author of sin, but how is this possible if God is the creator of all existence? Is this double-speak? It must be, because evil only began after God created and only God Is responsible for existence.

        You ask me to show you the difference between compatibilism and hard determinism using logical argument. Well, this a long and hard discussion. Most of the discussion is secular. And there is some mystery and paradox involved. And frankly, it can get darn confusing. Check out these links:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCGtkDzELAI
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KETTtiprINU
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESM43eA9u6o
        https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/38029/what-is-the-difference-between-hard-determinism-and-compatibilism-under-the-ass
        https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-in-the-concepts-of-determinism-free-will-compatibilism-incompatibilism-and-indeterminism/answer/Bruce-Silverstein-1

      73. On the first video – Yes I’m familiar with the Oedipus story.
        And I agree if fate exists then it has all of its logical consequences.
        But fate is traditionally differentiated from determinism – by distinguishing events occurring by Necessity (fate) vs occurring as Certainty (determinism)

        On your 2nd video – I really like Jordan Peterson and I agree with everything he says here. And I think Dr. Craig would agree with what he says here also. And also Robert Kane would perhaps see Peterson’s term “Gradient” as fitting into his idea of “Self-forming-actions” – where Peterson describes it as driving and having free will from a distance which becomes increasingly deterministic as distance and time diminishes.

        On your link describing hard determinism vs compatiblism. This is normal dialog about these – but it does not presuppose Theological Determinism in which the THEOS determines all things which will have existence – including determining which events will have existence and which events will not which of your future choices will be granted existence and which will not.

        On your last link “what is the differences in concept of determinism, free will, compatiblism…etc.

        Did you notice this statement concerning compatiblism:
        Compatibilism is a position that seeks to harmonize Determinism and Free Will and posits that the can coexist— typically (i) by watering down the pure form of Free Will to include the ILLUSION of choice.

        This was in my Model B of my question to you.

      74. Okay, I’m not a Calvin Calvinist, I’m more of a Turretin Calvinist. I’m fine with that. As I’ve said I disagree with many of Calvin’s ideas.

        On your NO. 3 concerning whether the Molinist model can be called LFW…
        So, cohesion and manipulation are part of LFW?

        How do you come to the conclusion that God is “UNABLE” to sin for example?
        Scripture? God is holy. He can’t even be in the presence of sinful man. He cannot lie (Num 23:19, Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2). God cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13). God cannot go against his own holy and sinless nature (2 Timothy 2:13).

      75. MIke
        Okay, I’m not a Calvin Calvinist, I’m more of a Turretin Calvinist. I’m fine with that. As I’ve said I disagree with many of Calvin’s ideas.

        br.d
        I think you’re the better man for it! :-]

        MIke
        On your NO. 3 concerning whether the Molinist model can be called LFW…
        So, cohesion and manipulation are part of LFW?

        br.d
        Yes I would have to agree – and I mentioned something similar to this to a college professor who is a Molinist.
        And I did notice him swinging into euphemistic language – the same way I notice Calvinists do.
        I would have hoped for more intellectual integrity than that.
        But we understand that people have what is called “buyers bias” or “investors bias” where people will refuse to let go of collapsing stocks because of the emotional investment – and loose their shirts in the process.

        MIke
        How do you come to the conclusion that God is “UNABLE” to sin for example?
        Scripture? God is holy. He can’t even be in the presence of sinful man. He cannot lie (Num 23:19, Hebrews 6:18, Titus 1:2). God cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13). God cannot go against his own holy and sinless nature (2 Timothy 2:13).

        br.d
        Thanks for these scriptures – I’ll have to consult a little further on these.
        But I notice immediately we are equating CANNOT with UNABLE
        How do you deal with the question of this compromising divine omnipotence?

      76. Okay, I can see what you mean about equating CANNOT with UNABLE. But I think that is been very picky and it’s also relying on a human analogy. If I say I “cannot” have dairy because I’m lactose intolerance that’s different than if I say I “cannot” fly. It would certainly be double-speak if the apostle is saying that God cannot lie and is meaning something other than unable. At least in my estimation.

      77. Mike
        It would certainly be double-speak if the apostle is saying that God cannot lie and is meaning something other than unable. At least in my estimation

        br.d
        There is a difference for me between cannot and unable.
        Dr. Gordon Fee relates in one of his seminars – how it was not unusual while he is a professor of NT exegesis to be asked by first year students coming from a reformed background – how they could -quote “get around” certain verses in the NT that contradicted their belief system.

        He responds with “I’m sorry but I cannot help you with that”.

        But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the intellectual ability to do so.

        So personally I believe God does have whatever ability it would take to sin – but when scripture says he cannot – in my mind it infers the same thing that Dr. Fee is saying when he answers those reformed students. He cannot – means he refuses to do so – because its against his principles. His principle don’t allow him to do so. But that doesn’t infer he is unable.

      78. Well, what can I say. This to me is double-speak. When the scripture says “impossible” what do you think the average person is going to understand. Come on now.

      79. I’m sorry but people use the term “cannot” to be synonymous with “will not” all the time.
        This appears to be a difference in our personal interpretation of language usage.

        And for me – the scripture is God’s words written through the conceptual framework of human minds.
        So the authors of scripture are going to convey concepts through their own personal conceptual framework.
        So the NT authors saying “God cannot lie” is synonymous with “God will not lie”

        BTW: On the scriptures you quoted – can you show exegetical proof that INABILITY is expressly stated in those verses?

      80. I agree with you that the scriptures are written by humans in a cultural context. And you’re assuming that your understanding in your context is the same as their cultural context. And you’re saying that though the man on the street today confuses terms that wouldn’t happen here.

        Why are you just picking on “will not” and “cannot,” that’s just one of the verses I gave. What about “it is impossible for God to lie,” Hebrews 6:18. You’re proving my point about double-speak. I don’t think you are trying to be deceptive. I just think you aren’t being thorough.

        Also, to ask me if I can show exegetical proof is valid but it is also a tactic. I’m just taking the words at face value and you are asking me to do a lot of work to go through all the Greek and Hebrew to prove that the plain reading is really plain. I could do the same thing. I could ask you to prove exegetically that the obvious meaning is not correct. I could ask you to prove to me that “cannot” is synonymous with “will not” in the ancient Greek!

        Sorry for getting testy. All, I can tell you is I’ll have to do some work on this and get back to you.

      81. Mike
        I agree with you that the scriptures are written by humans in a cultural context. And you’re assuming that your understanding in your context is the same as their cultural context. And you’re saying that though the man on the street today confuses terms that wouldn’t happen here.

        br.d
        Excellent point!
        But then it seems we will need to consult those who are the leading thinkers on NT contextual language patterns.

        Mike
        Why are you just picking on “will not” and “cannot,” that’s just one of the verses I gave. What about “it is impossible for God to lie,” Hebrews 6:18. You’re proving my point about double-speak. I don’t think you are trying to be deceptive. I just think you aren’t being thorough.

        br.d
        I’m hoping you’ll notice I’m not making declarative statements in this dialog – but rather walking along with you in it. Can you show me where I am appealing to our current proposition as [A] and [NOT A] at the same time? If indeed I am – then that would be double-speak.

        Now I’ve been thinking more of the term “impossible” (as in Logically impossible) and coming closer to your position on UNABLE.
        I expressed that in a different post which I suspect is coming up after this one.

        Mike
        Also, to ask me if I can show exegetical proof is valid but it is also a tactic. I’m just taking the words at face value and you are asking me to do a lot of work to go through all the Greek and Hebrew to prove that the plain reading is really plain. I could do the same thing. I could ask you to prove exegetically that the obvious meaning is not correct. I could ask you to prove to me that “cannot” is synonymous with “will not” in the ancient Greek!

        br.d
        Yes – agreed – same point as above on consulting thinkers on NT contextual language patterns.
        What prompted me to ask is that I know of no scholar who has ever used the term UNABLE in reference to God.
        Do you know of any who do?

        Mike
        Sorry for getting testy. All, I can tell you is I’ll have to do some work on this and get back to you.

        br.d
        No problem – you’re being thorough and sincere – and that needs to be respected.

      82. br.d writes, “I’m sorry but people use the term “cannot” to be synonymous with “will not” all the time.”

        That just means that people do not understand the difference between “can” and “will.” You should have said, “”I’m sorry for people who…”

      83. br.d
        I’m sorry but people use the term “cannot” to be synonymous with “will not” all the time.”

        rhutchin
        That just means that people do not understand the difference between “can” and “will.” You should have said, “”I’m sorry for people who…”

        br.d
        In your mind maybe! :-]

      84. Lets say that due to laws of logic – the THEOS is UNABLE to create a square circle.
        That would be logical to me.
        How does his inability to do that negate LFW?

        Perhaps from that you will say that he is therefore not FREE to choose to create a square circle – and I would agree.

        But doesn’t that just establish that *SOME* things are not available to him to choose?
        And that wouldn’t necessarily make it the case that multiple options of other kinds are also not available to him – right?
        If so – then multiple options of other kinds would be available to him.
        And being able to choose between multiple options is the essence of LFW.

        In that vein, lets say that he is UNABLE to choose to sin or lie
        Does that make it the case that he is UNABLE to choose anything?
        I’m trying to figure out how that would completely strip him of LFW?

      85. Br.D: Let’s say that due to laws of logic—the THEOS is UNABLE to create a square circle.

        Mike: Let’s not just say it but acknowledge that it is obviously true (at least in our 3D reality—see how I made that qualification just in case this comes back to bite me).

        Br.D: How does his inability to do that negate LFW?

        Mike: It doesn’t. God can’t do the absurd. When I say that all the omni’s of God are paradoxes I’m saying this from a human perspective.

        Br.D: Perhaps from that you will say that he is therefore not FREE to choose to create a square circle—and I would agree.

        Mike: Nope. A square circle is just a human created oxymoron. God is not subject to our creative fantasies.

        Br.D: But doesn’t that just establish that *SOME* things are not available to him to choose?

        Mike: With that example, no.

        Br.D: And that wouldn’t necessarily make it the case that multiple options of other kinds are also not available to him—right?

        Mike: Right. God can’t sin (can’t, cannot, will not, unable, incapable, powerless to, ain’t gonna happen, it’s impossible).

        Br.D: If so—then multiple options of other kinds would be available to him. And being able to choose between multiple options is the essence of LFW.

        Mike: No. It’s the essence of free will. LFW is all encompassing. It demands not just choice but choice opposites. “Sophie’s Choice” is not a LFW choice. A choice between chocolate and vanilla is a free will choice but LFW demands moral choices—the ability to kill or not to kill, to sin or not to sin, to reject God or accept God.

        Br.D: In that vein, let’s say that he is UNABLE to choose to sin or lie. Does that make it the case that he is UNABLE to choose anything?

        Mike: No.

        Br.D: I’m trying to figure out how that would completely strip him of LFW?

        Mike: God has free will. Because he IS love (I learned that from Ravi), and truth, and justice, and wisdom, and holy holy holy, by nature (refer to the Euthyphro Dilemma Response) he always chooses the good. Because he IS the good and it would be a logical contradiction for the good to be bad—to sin—A and Not A!

      86. Ok – well done!

        Lets go back to this one:

        br.d
        If so—then multiple options of other kinds would be available to him. And being able to choose between multiple options is the essence of LFW.

        Mike:
        No. It’s the essence of free will. LFW is all encompassing. It demands not just choice but choice opposites. “Sophie’s Choice” is not a LFW choice. A choice between chocolate and vanilla is a free will choice but LFW demands moral choices—the ability to kill or not to kill, to sin or not to sin, to reject God or accept God.

        br.d
        Wait a minute Mike – it seems to me here you are saying “No” but then your explanation says “Yes:

        It seems to me you’ve accepted Peter Van Inwagen’s statement on determinism whether “hard” or “soft”.
        – “Determinism may now be defined: it is the thesis that there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.”

        It also seems to me you’ve accepted the thought experiment that if the THEOS decrees you turning left is what will exist for you – then turning right doesn’t exist for you. And that the ILLUSION of turning right may exist for you. We discovered from a philosophy reference you provided that compatiblism can include “do otherwise” as an ILLUSION.

        It also seems to me you’ve accepted that a human cannot falsify/negate the divine decree or divine omniscience.
        And it is a logical impossibility for the THEOS to decree [A] and [NOT A] both exist at the same time.
        And I assume you reject the notion that the THEOS can leave the future OPEN.

        Then having accepted all of those things – how can you logically conclude the multiple options REALLY exist in any model except LFW?

      87. Br.D. I’m going through all your posts and I will respond but I just wanted to respond quickly to this one first. As I said in my post to you this morning, you’re right, there is a flaw in my logic here. I must have been sleeping on it. Darn, I thought I had it all figured out. I need to rethink this. Thanks for your help! I’ll get back to you.

      88. Thanks for that Mike
        We’re both in the same boat when it comes to logic – we have a sincere desire to get it right. :-]

      89. Hey, Br.D, I just realized that there is an error in my assessment of LFW in my last post to you. I said that LFW demands moral opposites. But if I make that distinction than the angels and Adam and Eve did have LFW. My contention is that they had free will but not LFW. This works for God, as it is impossible for him to sin, but he created beings who could sin. To be logically consistent I need to explain the difference between Adam’s free will and LFW.

        My problem with LFW is that it down plays genetics, environment, culture, historical placement and treats them as things that can be overcome, and disregards cause-and-effect. The angels and Adam and Eve were subject to cause-and-effect but they overcame their trappings. I need to reevaluate my thinking on this. Thanks for your help. I’ll get back to you.

      90. Mike
        My problem with LFW is that it down plays genetics, environment, culture, historical placement and treats them as things that can be overcome, and disregards cause-and-effect. The angels and Adam and Eve were subject to cause-and-effect but they overcame their trappings. I need to reevaluate my thinking on this. Thanks for your help. I’ll get back to you.

        br.d
        For me LFW does not obliterate determinism – or cause-and-effect. I think the two can co-exist.

        Also – for me – when God says “Behold I set before you life and death – choose life” – in the deterministic model this is double-speak.

        Because he cannot predestine both “life” and “death” at the same time because one would falsify/negate the other.
        And with determinism – he cannot leave the choice OPEN to the creature.

        Also I fully acknowledge genetics, environment, culture etc.
        These do introduce deterministic factors beyond our control.
        But I don’t see that as totally excluding LFW.

        Thanks MIke! :-]

      91. br.d: For me LFW does not obliterate determinism – or cause-and-effect. I think the two can co-exist.

        Mike: Okay, help me through this. For you, is there a difference between free will and LFW?

        br.d: Because he cannot predestine both “life” and “death” at the same time because one would falsify/negate the other. And with determinism – he cannot leave the choice OPEN to the creature.

        Mike: I might want to nuance this but I understand. But from your reasoning we can see that at least Molinism is mistaken. I was going to ask you where stand on Molinism.

        Also I fully acknowledge genetics, environment, culture etc. These do introduce deterministic factors beyond our control. But I don’t see that as totally excluding LFW.

        Mike: Okay, well this is good. I think we might be getting somewhere. I see any introduction of determinism into LFW as compatiblism. So where do you think I’m going wrong?

      92. br.d
        me LFW does not obliterate determinism – or cause-and-effect. I think the two can co-exist.

        Mike
        okay, help me through this. For you, is there a difference between free will and LFW?

        br.d
        For me – LFW exclusively has the element of multiple options that exist as real and not illusions.
        And Theological Determinism by its inherent nature excludes multiple options that exist as REAL – because these would either have to be OPEN – or we would have to allow for options to logically falsify/negate each other.

        Mike: I might want to nuance this but I understand. But from your reasoning we can see that at least Molinism is mistaken. I was going to ask you where stand on Molinism.

        br.d
        Can you identify where it is mistaken in that regard? Are you saying that LFW (i.e. multiple options) are excluded by Molinism?

        Mike: Okay, well this is good. I think we might be getting somewhere. I see any introduction of determinism into LFW as compatiblism. So where do you think I’m going wrong?

        br.d
        One thing I think we need to agree on is whether or not multiple options can logically exist as real in a world in which all events can only resolve to one single predestined outcome. Or as Van Inwagen would say “One physically possible future”.

        On the issue of options existing as ILLUSIONS – Calvinists will often state that within the divine mind – future events are epistemically held as “Certain”. While within the human mind they are held as “Uncertain”. But here we have a disagreement between the divine mind and the human mind. And as you say God cannot be wrong.

        So if there is a disagreement between the divine mind and the human mind – and the divine mind is never wrong – then the human mind must be. So any time a human belief is in disagreement with the divine belief – it follows the human has a FALSE belief. And a FALSE belief is in essence an ILLUSION.

      93. br.d: For me – LFW exclusively has the element of multiple options that exist as real and not illusions.

        Mike: Okay, how does this differ from just free will? In simple free will our choices are determined by our desires. And our desires are determined by a multiplicity of determinants (cause-and-effect). So I guess you are saying that simple free will choices are illusory? So to be real choices can not have any determinants? Or the determinants must always be able to be overridden? What is that override? How does it work? Is it randomness? Is it just a mystery? If psychotherapy proves anything it proves that many of us, if not all, are often unaware of our real determinants for decision making.

        be.d: Are you saying that LFW (i.e. multiple options) are excluded by Molinism?

        Mike: In Molinism both options exist in possible worlds in the mind of God. It is God who chooses which option to actualize. This is how I understand all the reading (and listening to Craig) I’ve done. Am I wrong?

        br.d: One thing I think we need to agree on is whether or not multiple options can logically exist as real in a world in which all events can only resolve to one single predestined outcome. Or as Van Inwagen would say “One physically possible future.”

        Mike: This is tricky. When you say, “multiple options can logically exist as real,” you mean real hypothetical? Until the option is actualized it is merely a hypothetical possibility—kinda of like what Molinism is doing but without all the possible worlds stuff. In the real world (sans Molinism and the multiverse) there can be only one single outcome. Using “predestined outcome” adds a layer of complexity that I think will take us on a rabbit trail. The question is: How is that outcome determined?

        Now it gets even trickier. Is it determined by God alone or by man alone? How could it be by man alone if he and his situation and all existence are created by God? If it is by God alone by direct action than no free choice is possible. There must be some middle way, even if it isn’t evidently logical.

      94. br.d
        For me – LFW exclusively has the element of multiple options that exist as real and not illusions.

        Mike:
        Okay, how does this differ from just free will? In simple free will our choices are determined by our desires. And our desires are determined by a multiplicity of determinants (cause-and-effect). So I guess you are saying that simple free will choices are illusory? So to be real choices can not have any determinants? Or the determinants must always be able to be overridden? What is that override? How does it work? Is it randomness? Is it just a mystery? If psychotherapy proves anything it proves that many of us, if not all, are often unaware of our real determinants for decision making.

        br.d
        I think about this in two phases
        Firstly, in my mind a unique distinction exists for Theological Determinism – where it is stipulated that *ALL* things without exception are determined by the THEOS. This would leave nothing left over for nature (e.g. inclinations, desires etc) to determine.
        That distinction relies on defining the term “Determine” in one sense and one sense only.

        And I think others use the term “Determine” in an equivocal manner.
        Because if it is TRUE that the THEOS determines *ALL* things that can be determined – then it follows there is nothing left over for nature to determine.

        So we know that in Theological Determinism – cause-&-effects which occur within nature are classified as “Secondary” causes. And William Lane Craig for example will say it is dubious that “Secondary” causes have “Agency” but it is more likely their functionality is limited to “Instrumentation”.

        From this he concludes it is dubious that in Theological Determinism there is any other “Agent” outside of the THEOS. Other Non-Calvinists would simply say that attributes of the creature are not self-determining – but are themselves determined by the THEOS. Since that is the case – there really isn’t a multiplicity of determinants. There is just one true determinant – the THEOS who meticulously determines every part of every movement of every cause and effect.

        But since I don’t embrace Theological Determinism – that logical consequence is not in effect for me. So then without a THEOS who exclusively determines all things – then it can be the case that “multiple determinants” (as you enunciate it) can exist as real for me.

        Secondly – and to your question.
        If in my mind the THEOS does not determine *ALL* things exclusively and “multiple determinants” do exist as real – which means there is a fluctuating degree of determinism a work per event – then how do I resolve a LFW event or choice? I think in this world I am constrained by many multiple determinants. And in many cases I may only have one single pre-determined choice that exists for me – (even if I have the illusion that others do exist). And I think illusions like that can exist for me. However that would not be the case all of the time. And in various cases there may in fact be multiple options which exist as real for me and me alone to determine – and which have not been determined by factors outside of my control. The question then becomes – how would one prove such a thesis?
        And I think this is where we find Robert Kane coming up with his idea of “Self-Forming-Actions”. And where we find Van Iwagen acknowledging he does not have that answer. But when he weighs the pros and the cons – he finds that belief in LFW less problematic than the belief in Theological Determinism.

        Are you saying that LFW (i.e. multiple options) are excluded by Molinism?

        Mike
        In Molinism both options exist in possible worlds in the mind of God. It is God who chooses which option to actualize. This is how I understand all the reading (and listening to Craig) I’ve done. Am I wrong?

        br.d
        I think that is correct up to a point. Craig uses the term “soft” actualization. The THEOS puts the person into a circumstance having multiple options that exist as real. But he does so with infallible knowledge of what choice the creature will make – without determining the choice the creature will make. Personally I don’t see it as much of a distinction – but at least the creature’s functionality isn’t reduced to being robotic.

        br.d: One thing I think we need to agree on is whether or not multiple options can logically exist as real in a world in which all events can only resolve to one single predestined outcome. Or as Van Inwagen would say “One physically possible future.”

        Mike: This is tricky. When you say, “multiple options can logically exist as real,” you mean real hypothetical? Until the option is actualized it is merely a hypothetical possibility—kinda of like what Molinism is doing but without all the possible worlds stuff. In the real world (sans Molinism and the multiverse) there can be only one single outcome. Using “predestined outcome” adds a layer of complexity that I think will take us on a rabbit trail. The question is: How is that outcome determined?

        br.d
        I think this goes back to my previous answer above. Yes there will be multiple options that will exist as hypothetical but we can say they are truly available options rather than there only being one option and the others exist only as illusions.

        Mike
        Now it gets even trickier. Is it determined by God alone or by man alone? How could it be by man alone if he and his situation and all existence are created by God? If it is by God alone by direct action than no free choice is possible. There must be some middle way, even if it isn’t evidently logical.

        Perhaps this again goes back to the early reformed divines who determined there were two streams of texts in scripture – and that we lack the intellectual ability to discern – so they classified it as a mystery. Either way – we end up with some degree of mystery since so much about this is unknown to us.