Calvinism’s Conflation

THE CONFLATION OF THE CALVINIST

In my reading of a book critique (written by Calvinistic scholar Broughton Knox in reply to an Arminian scholar Howard Marshall) I happened upon another prime example of the Calvinistic conflation that we have discussed a number of times. Knox wrote:

“The Pelagian mind is inclined to ascribe, shall we say, 5% to God and 95% to man, the semi-Pelagian 50%-50%, while the evangelical Arminian, such as our writer, 95% to God and 5% to man. Yet, after all, it is this last 5% which makes the difference between heaven and hell, so that man is, in the end, his own saviour.”

I must ask this vital question: What exactly are these percentages representing? We (non-Calvinistic “pelagians”) are ascribing 95% OF WHAT to God?

95% of man’s desires?

95% of man’s sin?

95% of man’s choices?

95% of Christ’s provision of atonement?

95% of salvation?

95% of WHAT!?!

It seems to me that in the well-meant effort of the Calvinist to ascribe all good things to God they have unintentionally also ascribed all bad things to Him. So, while the Calvinist seems most concerned with making sure mankind takes no credit for their salvation, the non-Calvinist seems more concerned with a recognizably good and Holy God. I suspect both men have a noble purpose in their pursuits, but as with most disputes the balance is somewhere in the middle.

But this balance cannot be seen in dividing vaguely defined percentages of what is to be ascribed to God and to man. Salvation of 100% of God. Merely affirming the responsibility of mankind to accept and/or reject God’s appeals for reconciliation does not in any way affect that percentage.

Only when a Calvinist, like Knox in the quote above, conflates man’s choice to humbly repent in faith with God’s choice to save whosoever does so are these types of dilemmas created. In other words, Calvinists have created a dilemma by conflating two choices as if they were one and calling them both “salvation.”

For instance, the prodigal son’s choice to return home is distinct from the father’s choice to redeem him once he arrives. To treat those two distinct choices as if they were one in the same [i.e. under the meticulous control of the father] creates an unnecessary dilemma.

Likewise, a sinner’s choice to repent in response to God’s appeals for reconciliation is distinct from God’s choice to provide those means of reconciliation through Christ’s blood. Thus, God is always the decisive cause of who He saves and the means by which He saves them. And mankind is the decisive cause of his own sin and his choice to repent of it. Only by conflating these two distinct choices is the Calvinistic dilemma really a dilemma at all.

God is 100% responsible for his choices.

Man is 100% responsible for his choices.

There is no dilemma here.

101 thoughts on “Calvinism’s Conflation

  1. Leighton:

    Your logic here (“For instance, the prodigal son’s choice to return home is distinct from the father’s choice to redeem him once he arrives”) is also applicable in so many other place of the Bible.

    Matthew’s (22) parable of the Wedding Feast has so many people making the choice to come or not….. and the King’s choice to accept only those who are “clothed in Christ” dressed properly. Each one is responsible for his choices and actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The bigger issue is that there can be no covenant love relationship based on mutual commitment between two parties, if one party has manipulated the other party’s commitment to be certainly made before that other party is even born, or created.

    Thanks Leighton for bringing up this discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes Brian,
    it is humorous to see dispensationalist MacArthur drill home the covenants and periods. As if God knew how to make a covenant with Adam, Abraham, Moses, et al, and then somehow needed to micromanage during the last dispensation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I believe it might also be helpful to acknowledge that what Jesus did was provide a once-for-all atonement for the sin of the world. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” All sin could thenceforth be considered taken away, or ‘covered’ by the blood; if, that is, the sinner complies with God’s only condition: believe in the love of God, revealed through his mercy in providing free and undeserved pardon, and his faithfulness to his promise to forgive and grant everlasting life. All are summed up in ‘believing in the name’ of Jesus – that is, everything he said and did – the full meaning of which, like so much else, is somewhat lost in the translation.

    When you view the atonement as distinct from salvation, it becomes less confusing to understand what was provided by God, and accomplished through Jesus. Man had absolutely no part whatsoever in this necessary act of atonement, which fulfilled the requirements of justice, and allows man to be freed from the curse of sin and death. But scripture never expresses this as a universal salvation applied immediately to all mankind, whether they desired it or not. Indeed, as most who partake in such discussions well know, scripture repeatedly declares the one and only condition to receiving the free gift of grace – belief in the promises of God fulfilled through the finished atoning work of his Only Son.

    No man can be compelled to believe, nor can they ‘receive’ belief from someone else; both are antithetical to the very meaning of the word. Believing denotes a free action, and can never be compelled or removed by an outside force. Obedience can be compelled, but belief can never. Belief, or faith, like love, must be freely offered in response to someone or something. Obviously man could not have just ‘believed’ himself into God’s promised salvation from sin and death – there had to be something, which came first, in which he was believing. The ‘object’ of belief must exist before belief can come into existence. Thus, when atonement and salvation are properly understood, the suggestion of percentages is shown to be little more than a strawman. God alone provided atonement, and man’s task – set forth by God through the teaching of Jesus and his apostles – is to choose whether or not he will put his trust in this freely offered, fully accomplished atonement. As Jesus taught, “He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already . . .”, revealing the two, and only two, possible choices that each man must choose between: believe or not believe.

    I doub that many, if any, non-Calvinists actually believe that man had any part in providing his own atonement. Under the Law, all men were required to bring temporary sacrifices for the priest to offer in their behalf, the doing of which proved their ‘belief’ in God’s promise of forgiveness. Under the new covenant, God provided the sacrifice, deemed it acceptable, providing a final, once-for-all atonement for all sin that only He could provide.

    Even under the Law, only those who believed in the promises of God and chose to participate in the rituals of atonement, actually received the promised forgiveness of sin. The priest did not perform a ritual that was applied universally to all Israelites, even though it was freely offered to all. Only those who believed in the promises of God under the Law and brought their sacrifices, and only those who believe in the promises of God as revealed through Jesus demonstrate their faith in God’s redemptive plan, and receive the promised forgiveness of sin. Like those who looked upon the serpent in the wilderness in order to receive life, all that was required of man was simple faith – the power to forgive, heal and grant life can only ever come from God.

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    1. ts00 writes, “I doub that many, if any, non-Calvinists actually believe that man had any part in providing his own atonement.”

      What the non-Calvinists seems to believe is that a person has the final say on whether he wants to be saved and God cannot make that decision for him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ts00 writes, “I doub that many, if any, non-Calvinists actually believe that man had any part in providing his own atonement.”

        rhutchin responds
        What the non-Calvinists seems to believe is that a person has the final say on whether he wants to be saved and God CANNOT make that decision for him.

        br.d
        From my perception of the way non-Calvinists (i.e. non-determinists) see it – they would say God CAN make that decision for them if he wants to. He’s God – he can do anything he wants to.
        But he doesn’t program people’s decisions like robot’s
        He wants people to love him by their own decision – without making that decision for them.

        He proposes marriage to her – and honors her decision – and doesn’t make her decision for her.
        He allows her to say no – and doesn’t determine her choice.

        The mode of Calvinism in contrast parallels that of a supernatural love potion.
        Or the great bull who make himself irresistible to Europa

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Exactly. The non-Calvinist does not suggest that there is anything that God CANNOT do; that is entirely different from asserting that there are things God Will not do. God will not sin. God will not ordain sin. God will not create people for the deliberate purpose of destroying them. God will not punish the son for the sins of his father, and on and on it goes. All of these are things that God COULD do, but he always does what is good and just. Sadly, in order to hold up their system, Calvinists assert that something is good and just because God does it, insisting that anything they claim God does must be just. However, injustice is injustice, whether done by a human judge or the Creator of all things. Of course, God COULD be unjust – and even get away with it. But he never WOULD. Too bad Calvinists don’t understand that.

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      3. Excellent point TruthSeeker!

        This good-evil (yin-hang) component of Calvinism is one of Augustine’s synchronizations of Gnosticism’s cosmology of moral-dualism into his doctrine. Augustine called it “antithesis”.

        Where good and evil exist as contrasting – yet complimentary constituents of the “one”.
        Both having equal divine status.

        This good-evil dualism component within Calvinism has its source in Gnosticism/NeoPlatonism which Augustine embraced on his intellectual journey into Catholicism.

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      4. The better I understand Calvinist theology, the more I pity the consistent Calvinist. I honestly doubt if he knows God as God desires him to. How can he, if he perceives him as capable of cruelty, injustice, lack of love and mercy, willing to be deceitfully secretive and disingenuous, and so on? I realize, somewhat sadly, that these people do not know God like I do. I don’t mean that in an arrogant, ‘I know everything’ sort of way. The older I get, the more I realize how little I know with certainty. What I do mean is, they do not seem to know him as a beloved Father. When you know God intimately, as one whom you can trust and adore implicitly, without ever doubting his goodness, justice, faithfulness, mercy and willingness to do anything for your good, you simply cannot read Calvinism into scripture. Calvinists, to be fair, score very highly on believing in God’s sovereignty and power – which non-Calvinists do as well – but they fail utterly to perceive his limitless love for his creatures, his genuine, responsive nature that sees even the slightest spark of possibility and works to bring it to fruition in each person. For he truly, truly desires that none perish. He truly, truly desires that each and every person cast aside wickedness and return to sweet fellowship with him. I sincerely pray that every person who earnestly seeks God sees him as he truly is, and not in the various false caricatures that distort his ultimate, holy perfection.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. ts00 writes, “…[God] truly, truly desires that none perish. He truly, truly desires that each and every person cast aside wickedness and return to sweet fellowship with him.’

        This is true even when God is omniscient and knows that He will be rejected.

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      6. A few more dots to connect and we can see the source of Calvinism’s cosmology of dualism.

        Wikipedia: on Dualism
        -quote:
        The first explicit conception of dualism came from the Ancient Persian religion of ***Zoroastrianism*** around the mid-fifth century BC. Zoroastrianism is a monotheistic religion….

        Early Christian dualism is largely based on Platonic Dualism (See: Neoplatonism and Christianity).
        quotes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dualism -end quote

        Biographical sketches of memorable Christians of the past – Augustine of Hippo
        -quote
        For a long time Augustine was attracted by the teachings of Manicheeism, named for Mani, a Persian who had preached an alternate form of **Zoroastrianism**, the dominant religion of Persia.
        http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/50.html

        THE HUMAN PSYCHE AND THE COLOR OF SYNCRETISM:

        If you’ve ever been in a store where people buy paint, you’ve probably seen the mixing of primary colors, very precisely measured into a base color. This mixing process results in a well-controlled final color. We humans find it easy to mix paints together. If, for example, we mixed white with blue, our final color would result in a light blue. Easy, right? But once those two colors are mixed together, it is not easy for us to examine the resulting color and discern the original blue from the original white—its virtually impossible.

        Nor is it possible for us to separate the white and the blue, back into their original forms. Now lets say someone mixed various paints into one, and sold it to you claiming it was the original.

        Syncretism works the same way. When components from various religions are synchronized together, we no longer have the original, but instead we have a final result, based on a mixture, which we embrace as the original. We may be psychologically invested in the assertion that our resulting religion is the superior and pure one. And we may blindly and forcefully assert it as the original, just because we have an emotional need to perceive it as such.

        We currently see numerous theologies, which are thoroughly syncretistic; with each heavily vested in claiming theirs as the original. One observation we sadly recognize among their tactics is to take their unique distinctive syncretistic form of Christianity, and superimpose it on all things honored in the early church, surreptitiously deceiving people into believing the syncretistic system is the original.

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      7. br.d writes, “We currently see numerous theologies, which are thoroughly syncretistic; ”

        Thus, the reliance, and emphasis, by the Calvinists on sola scriptura.

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      8. br.d writes, “We currently see numerous theologies, which are thoroughly syncretistic; ”

        rhutchin:
        Thus, the reliance, and emphasis, by the Calvinists on sola scriptura.

        br.d
        AS-IF! 😀

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      9. br.d

        The “take the high road” maneuver of saying “sola scriptura” (especially as though others don’t do that that) is another canard.

        They have not one Scripture (not one!) that verifies in simple speech most of the claims they make (God decreed all that comes to pass; God does not mean “all men” when He says “all men”; God is not sincere when He says HUNDREDS of times “If you do this I will do this…..”).

        Those are not sola scriptura ideas. At all! They are man-made, scaffolded-together ideas build on the foundation of the Greek concept of God.

        Of course the confessions-catechisms say clearly “God decrees all that comes to pass” —– and you can find these quoted on most monergism sites……but that is a vivid, vivid illustration that they are not (!) sola scriptura.

        The very fact that they would publish confession after confession with a list of “truths” that are re-worded, re-packaged (as is scriptural packaging was not good enough!) shows that there is more than scriptura involved here!

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      10. Thank you FOH!

        Yes I know rhutchin is doing what he always does – better known as puffery.

        I understand Calvinism’s use of scripture.
        To co-opt it and mold it into Calvin’s image – and then claim the opposite.

        Calvin’s god is a double-think, double-speak deity.
        And the psalmist expresses a spiritual principle: “they who worship it become like unto it”.

        That’s why Calvinists language is so saturated with double-speak.

        I appreciate your love for scripture btw!!
        It is very evident in all of your posts.
        My thanks!
        Your friend – br.d :-]

        Liked by 1 person

      11. ts00 writes, “God will not create people for the deliberate purpose of destroying them.”

        Surely, under your view that God is not omniscient, He would still know, or strongly suspect, that He was creating many people who would not be saved.

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      12. ts00 writes, “God will not create people for the deliberate purpose of destroying them.”

        rhutchin
        Surely, under your view that God is not omniscient, He would still know, or strongly suspect, that He was creating many people who would not be saved.

        br.d
        On your view God does not have “essential” omniscience – for your position is God did not have omniscience before he created the world with decrees – which means he existed at a point in time/eternity with out omniscience – as you have stated “logically prior to the decrees”. So on your account god LEARNED from his decrees.

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      13. br.d writes, “So on your account god LEARNED from his decrees.”

        OK. God generates knowledge within Himself without outside influence. When we say that God knows “X,” it is not possible to identify a point where God did not know “X.” Other than through an argument that argues a logical order to God’s knowledge – God’s decrees precede knowledge of those decrees.

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      14. Now that’s a great line Roger to demonstrate how determinism calls on its followers to be loyal to illogical premises – “God’s decrees precede knowledge of those decrees.” Can you really conceive of making a decree without having prior knowledge to use in forming those decrees? Doesn’t the whole idea of making a decree become ludicrous if we are asked to believe it came from an “empty” inactive mind or a mind filled with random thoughts that magically coalesce into a decree? Doesn’t God have to decree, make choices, among His thoughts in His infinite understanding of the possible to form a true decree that will stand for the future, for a truly logical decree for the future to be created?

        Of course my last rhetorical question describes the God of the Scripture and not the definition of God put into the box of philosophical determinism as projected in my earlier rhetorical questions. Why Christian determinists trust thoughts composed by unregenerate minds, who supposedly cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God… is beyond me! 😉

        Liked by 2 people

      15. brianwagner writes, ““God’s decrees precede knowledge of those decrees.””

        Great observations and questions. Necessarily, if God decrees X, then God knows X because He decreed X. God cannot know X without having decreed X. Your questions go to the issue of a basis for God to decide to decree X and whatever process God goes through to decide X. I don’t have the answers – we cannot do more than speculate in this area, Can we?

        If God decrees X, then we might reasonably conclude that God knows perfectly all things concerning X. Thus, where God decrees to create a universe, we can reasonably conclude that God knows perfectly all things concerning that universe.

        Then, “Why Christian determinists trust thoughts composed by unregenerate minds, who supposedly cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God… is beyond me! ”

        Requiring that we reason from the Scriptures and not go beyond the Scriptures.

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      16. Thanks Roger for confirming there must be knowledge God uses to making decrees… which contradicts your previous statement.

        The issue is not using logical theories… especially from believers to help understand Scriptures further… the issue is making dogma out of theories from unbelieving philosophers that are used to define Scriptures and destroy its authority for forming the definitions and dogma about God’s nature.

        It still is surprising to me that those who eschew the most the idea that natural man cannot understand things of God lean the most on natural man’s definitions about God!

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      17. brianwagner writes, “Thanks Roger for confirming there must be knowledge God uses to making decrees… which contradicts your previous statement.”

        Not exactly. God has always had knowledge and that is knowledge of Himself – God knows everything about Himself and has always known everything about Himself. This is not knowledge outside Himself. God creates knowledge outside Himself by His decrees. God decrees to create an universe and has perfect and complete knowledge of the universe that He has decreed to create. That decree is exhaustive and includes everything that He will do with that universe.

        Then, “the issue is making dogma out of theories from unbelieving philosophers that are used to define Scriptures and destroy its authority for forming the definitions and dogma about God’s nature.”

        I don’t know why this is an issue. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists start with the Scriptures and use those Scriptures to describe God before the creation when there is only God. Philosophy is about discovering truth and then building truth from truth. Even unbelieving philosophers can conceive of God as Paul explains in Romans 1 – they just don’t believe that the God they can discover through truth actually exists. It is only when the conclusions philosophers draw about God exceed the bounds of truth and Scripture that we need to reject those conclusions.

        then, “It still is surprising to me that those who eschew the most the idea that natural man cannot understand things of God lean the most on natural man’s definitions about God!”

        Then, you should have no problem with the Calvinists.

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      18. Dancing again Roger… just to keep from admitting you clearly contradicted yourself… That was certainly a weird “dance move”, saying – “God creates knowledge outside Himself by His decrees.” When is God’s knowledge ever outside Himself? What does that even mean? Did He create that knowledge in other people’s minds, but it never before existed in His own, and still doesn’t except as an observation? Wow… that shoots the idea of eternal, immutable “known” decree in the head… but not God’s ;-)?

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      19. In all my following of this blog Brian, I have never seen Calvinists here learn anything or admit to contradicting themselves…. or saying, good point, or I might not have that right.

        I see others do it to each other.

        But that goes with the authoritarian way of fatalistic-Calvinism. Kind of a “this is right no matter what you say” attitude.

        This is a good attitude if a hostile regime is asking you to deny Christ etc, but not when brothers are discussing what the Word may-or-may-not mean….. always doubling down on any contradictions cuz anything else would be a sign of weakness and buckling in to modernism or liberalism.

        It’s no way to hold a careful, gentile, sensible discussion.

        Liked by 1 person

      20. Every time the statue of dagon fell over on its face in front of the arc – its priests/defenders/protectors never failed to come running back in to pick it back up and keep it waxed and polished. Man made contrivances always require continual maintenance. :-]

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      21. In the holy war by John Bunyan there’s a funny piece I’ll always remember.
        King Shaddai and his army are at the gate ready to re-take man-soul away from Diabolus’s grip.

        -quote “Then Diabolus disseminated the finest bit of double-talk that could be manufactured in such short notice”

        Always get a kick out of how Calvinists fit that picture! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      22. brianwagner writes, “saying – “God creates knowledge outside Himself by His decrees.”

        Yeah. How does one characterize God’s knowledge of things He creates (like the universe). Are such things outside God, or part of God but kinda unique? Maybe some smart guy will devise terminology to distinguish between God’s knowledge of Himself versus His knowledge of things He creates so that you won’t get upset. Maybe there is no difference. Also, does God change when He creates? Describing God is a lot harder than dealing with issues of the created universe and man’s salvation mostly because God doesn’t provide us all that much information.

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      23. Really Roger… you are going to stand by saying – “Describing God is a lot harder than dealing with issues of the created universe and man’s salvation mostly because God doesn’t provide us all that much information.” Your loyalty and dogmatism about God’s nature as defined by Calvinism and its supposed influence to understand His creation and salvation is well documented and didn’t appear that difficult for you to describe.

        Shame on you for throwing up that smoke screen and deflection that is such a misrepresentation of your previous interactions. I expect better from you and have seen better from you.

        Liked by 1 person

      24. I think perhaps SOT101 participants increasing ability to catch rhutchin attempting to draw people into tail-chasing rabbit-trails is making it more likely he finds himself the court jester rather than the court attorney. And he hasn’t formalized a new double-speak strategy yet.
        He’s in a transition phase.
        Let’s wait and see what the new double-speak strategy will be. :-]

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      25. I think your point was lost on him.
        What I understood you to say that in his scheme his god doesn’t know what he’s going to decree (logically anterior) to the decree.
        He only knows what he decreed (logically posterior to the decree).
        It all makes perfect sense – if you take the blue pill. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      26. br.d
        On your view God does not have “essential” omniscience – for your position is God did not have omniscience before he created the world with decrees – which means he existed at a point in time/eternity with out omniscience – as you have stated “logically prior to the decrees”. So on your account god LEARNED from his decrees.

        rhutchin
        OK. God generates knowledge within Himself without outside influence. When we say that God knows “X,” it is not possible to identify a point where God did not know “X.” Other than through an argument that argues a logical order to God’s knowledge – God’s decrees precede knowledge of those decrees.

        br.d
        All that to re-iterate what I pointed out. On your view this god’s omniscience is not an “essential” quality. By definition and “essential” quality is one that is essential to one’s existence. Since on your view this god did not have full comprehensive knowledge of the future “logically” prior to his decrees to create the world – it logically follows there was a point in time/eternity in which he lacked omniscience – which he obtained/learned later via decrees. This scheme appears to be man’s way of creating a man-made pyramid of divine attributes – and placing decrees at the top – where all of this god’s attributes are subservient to decrees. One would ask the question of whether this follows the characterization of the God of scripture.

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      27. br.d writes, “This scheme appears to be man’s way of creating a man-made pyramid of divine attributes – and placing decrees at the top – where all of this god’s attributes are subservient to decrees.”

        That is wrong. It says that God is and this prior to a decree. Thus, divine attributes are determined by looking at God in His essence prior to any decree. It is here that people take information the Scriptures tell us about God and extrapolate logically prior to any decree.

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      28. rhutchin asserts “logically” prior to his decrees to create the world – his god doesn’t have omniscience .

        And then states:
        Divine attributes [a reference to the attribute of omniscience] are determined by looking at God in His essence prior to any decree.

        br.d
        Right! on your view he doesn’t have any!
        Additionally, I wasn’t aware you were present looking at your god prior to any decree – that would make you very old. 😉

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    2. Hi Truth Seeker

      Just wanted to thank you for the angle that you brought to light on this topic. I remember when I read the same verse, “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World” and realising exactly what you said ref atonement, that how this really was GOODNEWS which is the meaning of the word gospel. And how one could evangelize by , just letting people know that…Hey! your sins have been paid for!”.

      It also brought more clarity to me of what the angels meant when they said in Luke2:
      10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY, which shall be TO ALL PEOPLE.
      11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a SAVIOUR, which is Christ the Lord,
      14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE, GOOD WILL toward men.

      God has shown GOOD WILL and that was the depth of His Good will, that He extended to man while we were yet sinners!… He took away our sin, offering Peace to man! AMAZING!!.

      Now, the later part of what/how you explained “Belief” is what I think is especially fantastic, because I think it even /really answers the question of “why do some believe” or as I heard recently..”did you elect yourself?”.

      Well whatever the reason, this is what we can be sure of. It cannot be Gods doing (in the way Calvinist say it is). Simply because
      “Obedience can be compelled, but belief can never. Belief, or faith, like love, must be freely offered in response to someone or something. ”

      This truth makes the question redundant!. Though God still gets the Glory in 2ways.
      1) He sovereignly made man with the ability to believe (just as He made man with everything that he has).
      2) He sovereignly engineered that even after the Fall, the capacity to believe was still intact!
      This too is His Kindness and to His Glory!.

      Its similar to having a BAD accident and parts of the body maybe damaged, but some parts are still left in tact and useable… and we Thank God! for His mercy realising it could have been much worse.

      It reminds me of what Paul said in Corinthians….

      7…………..and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

      Point for me being that there is never a place in which we can get the Glory, even with human capacity/ability because even the mechanism to do anything is of God, we didn’t make ourselves.

      Like the psalmist said psalm 100

      2Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
      3Know ye that the LORD he is God: IT IS HE THAT HATH MADE US, AND NOT WE OURSELVES; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
      4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
      5FOR THE LORD IS GOOD; HIS MERCY is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations

      In summary… the question is redundant, and 2. in EVERY (non Calvinist) WAY ie human responsibility; God gets the Glory and not man, For it is He that made us mechanically able, and mercifully so, even after the Fall

      So! Thank you! you’ve brought to light a concise truth, which I can use to remove the stumbling block that is put in one’s part with the question…”did you elect yourself!?” The real question should be “are you taking the Glory!??”….. to which the answer is a RESOUNDING NOO!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. William Lane Craig provides an answer – in recognizing Calvinism is founded upon the philosophical foundation-stone of ***UNIVERSAL*** divine causal determinism.

    In Philosophy the term UNIVERSAL means EVERYTHING WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
    There is no such thing as a percentage.
    Any idea of a percentage is a ruse.

    It might be the case that there is conflation here.
    But the Calvinist argument of percentages is just more Calvinist deceptive double-speak.

    A robot does not follow 90% of the program which determines what it thinks/says/does.
    The program determines **ALL** that it thinks/says/does and it CANNOT DO OTHERWISE

    In UNIVERSAL divine causal determinism the decree determines **ALL** the creature thinks/says/does and he CANNOT DO OTHERWISE.

    Obviously, human beings are different (in makeup) from robots.
    But in Calvinism’s UNIVERSAL divine causal determinism they both **FUNCTION** the same.
    So this argument by the Calvinist is just another example of their systems deceptive double-talk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dr. Flowers writes, “It seems to me that in the well-meant effort of the Calvinist to ascribe all good things to God they have unintentionally also ascribed all bad things to Him.”

    Rest assured; they have not. Calvinists ascribe all good things to the active intervention of God in the lives of people – so, Paul, in Ephesians 2, “…we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,…”. Calvinists ascribe all bad things to the absence of God’s active intervention in the lives of people that then provides the sin nature of the person freedom to run amok (that it gleefully does).

    Then, “Calvinists have created a dilemma by conflating two choices as if they were one and calling them both “salvation.””

    Not really. Calvinists say that no person can come to Christ unless God draw the person. God’s drawing of the person to Christ is necessary to the salvation of the person and sufficient to produce a willingness by the person to come to Christ and that willingness then becomes action when the person hears the gospel and has faith conveyed to him through that hearing.

    Then, “the prodigal son’s choice to return home is distinct from the father’s choice to redeem him once he arrives.”

    I don’t read it that way. The father’s choice is to “love” his son (the father has no knowledge of the son’s activities). The father does not forgive the son as, technically, the father had given the son freedom to do whatever the son desired with his inheritance. The son did not sin against the father – did he?? Despite the son’s claim to have sinned against his father, the father seems oblivious to anything the son says.. Thus, no redemption is required.

    Then, “a sinner’s choice to repent in response to God’s appeals for reconciliation is distinct from God’s choice to provide those means of reconciliation through Christ’s blood. Thus, God is always the decisive cause of who He saves and the means by which He saves them. And mankind is the decisive cause of his own sin and his choice to repent of it. Only by conflating these two distinct choices is the Calvinistic dilemma really a dilemma at all.”

    There is no conflation. The issue between the Cal and non-Cal is the extent to which God is involved in a person’s “choice” to repent. There is no dilemma.

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  7. Rhutchin,

    Brian said it quite well already:

    “The bigger issue is that there can be no covenant love relationship based on mutual commitment between two parties, if one party has manipulated the other party’s commitment to be certainly made before that other party is even born, or created.”

    Same would hold true with a spouse, one doesn’t push a button on the back of his/her neck to compel them to love them back. How could that be true love??

    Russ

    Liked by 2 people

    1. rnie,am writes, “Same would hold true with a spouse, one doesn’t push a button on the back of his/her neck to compel them to love them back. How could that be true love?? ”

      I agree. So, what is your issue? If Christ heals the deaf person whereupon he then hears the gospel preached (not being able to escape that preaching through deafness) and believes, could not the deaf person legitimately love Christ with true love?

      Like

      1. “(not being able to escape that preaching through deafness)”

        You make no sense Rhutchin. In your belief system is it not God that determined that they would be deaf by his unchageable decree? So you are saying God is “healing” his own unchageable decree. Well then healing isn’t healing and has lost its meaning…….. and unchageable is no longer unchageable if healing still holds it meaning. Calvinists are so non-sensical.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Excellent point Damon!!!

        We call this Calvinism’s *AS-IF* thinking model.

        So far I’ve compiled a list of 18 of Calvinism’s *AS-IF* thinking modes.
        Here are a few from the list.

        1) Decreed-divine-knowledge-AS-IF-not-decreed:
        This is where God, at the foundation of the world, first conceived of Cain murdering Able, and rendered it Cain’s one unique certain future. Consequently God has Divine foreknowledge. He foreknows when and how he decreed Cain will murder Able. But this is a special kind of knowledge, in which God knows Cain is going to murder Able *AS-IF* God wasn’t the one who first conceived it, and then rendered it Cain’s one unique certain future.

        4) Doublespeak-AS-IF-not-doublespeak:
        This is where God commands his people to repent, and choose life, *AS-IF* he really wills them to repent and choose life. Or where God commands Adam and Eve to not eat the forbidden fruit, *AS-IF* he really willed them to not eat the forbidden fruit. So, this is a special kind of divine speech in which God deceives his people into believing he is speaking his “real” will, when he is really speaking a “revealed” will *AS-IF* it were his “real” will.

        5) Half-truth-AS-IF-the-whole-truth:
        This is where the Calvinist asserts things like “Cain murdered Able because of Cain’s own evil desires”, and this half-truth is recited *AS-IF* it where the whole truth. While the Calvinist secretly holds to another truth – that God first conceived Cain’s murder, and conceived all of Cain’s evil desires, and then made those things Cain’s one unique certain future. But the Calvinist has a very special obligation to attack that truth *AS-IF* it is NOT truth. As a result, many Calvinist half-truths are very special kinds of truths, which function as half-truths *AS-IF* the-whole-truth.

        10) Forced-AS-IF-not-forced:
        This is where John Calvin asserts: “evil men, thieves and murderers are FORCED to do God’s service”. But this is a special FORCE where men are FORCED, with a FORCE that does not FORCE.

        😛

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  8. In discussing the father of the prodigal son, you stated that the son had not sinned against the father so the father did not need to forgive him. But when the son asked for his inheritance before his father died, he was showing great disrespect towards his father and sinning against him. As one commentator said on the subject, he was practically wishing his father dead so he could receive his money. (The unsaved still want to receive before God’s appointing of the inheritance.) Also, we cannot ignore the father’s statement about his son once being dead but now being alive, lost but found. The father did not go looking for the son. He is found when the son comes to him of his own free will. What drew the son to the father? The son “came to himself.” He reasoned within himself. He made a choice.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Regina writes, “But when the son asked for his inheritance before his father died, he was showing great disrespect towards his father and sinning against him….”

      OK. Christ does not seem to use the story to highlight this point, but He may have implied it as easily understood by His audience.

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      1. Regina writes, “But when the son asked for his inheritance before his father died, he was showing great disrespect towards his father and sinning against him….”

        rhutchin
        OK. Christ does not seem to use the story to highlight this point, but He may have implied it as easily understood by His audience.

        br.d
        I think Regina is referring to Jewish traditions of social family dynamics – as ascribed to Jesus’ narrative – from numerous commentaries which draw on social norms of first century Judaism.

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      2. br.d writes, “I think Regina is referring to Jewish traditions of social family dynamics – as ascribed to Jesus’ narrative – from numerous commentaries which draw on social norms of first century Judaism.”

        That is to argue that the Scriptures cannot be understood without reference to sources of information outside the Scriptures. Once we bring in outside sources of information to explain the Scriptures, we bias our understanding of the Scriptures by that information. Many find such biases destructive to a true understanding of the Scriptures.

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      3. br.d writes, “I think Regina is referring to Jewish traditions of social family dynamics – as ascribed to Jesus’ narrative – from numerous commentaries which draw on social norms of first century Judaism.”

        rhutchin
        That is to argue that the Scriptures cannot be understood without reference to sources of information outside the Scriptures.

        br.d
        Following that logic you’ll have to discount a great percentage of biblical commentary from Calvinist authors – as many rely on historical context (what scholars call milieu) of the period in which scripture refers. F.F. Bruce, one of the top 10 noted scholars of the 20th century – was so noted because of his outstanding research on historical context. For example – why were there two functioning high priests during Jesus’ earthly ministry?

        You’ll probably find his 50+ publications in many seminary libraries. No one would accuse him of implying that scriptures cannot be understood without such historical information. But scholars are typically excited to have it.

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      4. Rhutchin writes: “That is to argue that the Scriptures cannot be understood without reference to sources of information outside the Scriptures. Once we bring in outside sources of information to explain the Scriptures, we bias our understanding of the Scriptures by that information. Many find such biases destructive to a true understanding of the Scriptures.”

        By this logic, you must be reading Scripture in the original languages of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, and you must have been born in the Ancient Near East around 2,000 years ago. The fact of the matter is that any reading of Scripture includes interpretation, and that interpretation has both a linguistic and cultural component to it. That’s why every scholarly and popular level commentary includes background information about the culture and circumstances, including information that helps to understand the historical particulars and occasion, especially in the New Testament, for writing the letter. That’s why we have things like Bible dictionaries and study bibles and study guides. Being 2,000 years removed from even the most recent writings in Scripture, we are in many ways incapable of understanding the particular culture of the original authors and audience of Scripture without looking to “outside” sources for help.

        In fact, according to every single translation and hermeneutical approach of which I am aware, we look to outside sources precisely to remove, not create, biases to our understanding of Scripture. Because without using any critical outside information, you are merely relying on your own 21st century American cultural and linguistic biases to inform how you interpret, understand, and apply Scripture. If you have no understanding of the many cultural influences impacting the various human authors (for example, the cultural differences between the Hebrew-born, Egyptian-raised, shepherd-by-trade Moses and the Jewish and Roman citizen, religiously-trained lawyer who began as a zealot Paul who lived around 1600 years later and how those particulars influenced what and how they wrote), how different genres of Scripture (poetry, prose, prophecy, apocalypse, parables, etc.) must be understood and interpreted, how the author and occasion for a letter affects how it is understood, etc., then it could be argued that you really cannot have a complete understanding of what Scripture is teaching in many particulars (such as the sin that the prodigal son committed against his father). The fact that you think that the parable does not explicitly reveal any sin of the son against the father simply shows that you are reading it from a 21st century American bias instead of understanding from a 1st century Jewish perspective.

        Sir, if you truly think that you need no outside source other than Scripture itself (which would include, by the way, the very presence of the Holy Spirit, who was given to us, in part, to “teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, ESV)), then you are taking a very naive and dangerous approach to the study of Scripture.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. Adam,

        Well said. This is why I so often say “….in every genre and type of Scripture: history, poetry, epistle, etc.”

        God says certain things about Himself “in poetry” but if He says the same kinds of things in narrative, straight prose “I the Sovereign Lord say,” history, etc then He is really making it clear. He does that with so many ideas especially over and over with the ” If you do this…. I will do this,” which shows that He is interacting with man, and not pulling puppet strings.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. FOH writes, “God says certain things about Himself “in poetry”…”

        You agree with me then. We start with “God says…” and never deviate from what “God says…”

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      7. Adam, I heartily ‘Amen’ your response. While attending a Calvinist church for over a decade, I fell prey to the faulty assertion that scripture could be ‘clearly’ and ‘literally’ interpreted, and the problem was that people were unwilling to submit to God. Only later did I realize that this actually meant ‘submit to his personal opinions’ concerning God and scripture. I began to wake up; when my pastor touted the inerrancy of scripture, I longed to ask ‘Which version do you affirm as inerrant? They cannot all be.’ When he asserted his own preferred interpretation as the only acceptable and ‘right’ one, I wondered how so many other, even Reformed Theologians – some of whom I knew personally, such as Bruce Ware or Doug Moo – could have gotten it wrong.

        At the heart of Calvinism is the insistence that the congregation submit to the authority of its self-claimed ‘rulers’. Never question the system. Never balk at inconsistencies or logical lapses. Once the spell is broken, you realize how simplistic and absurd it is to claim certainty concerning what is, for the most part, mere opinion. As you stated so well, the influences of culture, the variances in languages and even personal experience are all factors in our interpretation of groups of words. No longer am I willing to bow to the authority of men to dictate to me what scripture means. I am willing, even eager, to hear various opinions, to study the original languages, to uncover ancient cultural oddities that are foreign to modern life and then to very loosely form the best conclusions I can – always remaining open to new information and, most of all, the instructive wisdom of the Spirit of God.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. adamvg78 writes, ‘By this logic, you must be reading Scripture in the original languages of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, and you must have been born in the Ancient Near East around 2,000 years ago.”

        Of course not. God is the author of the Scriptures and motivated a variety of people to write as inspired by His spirit. Thus, the writings of these people will be consistent and complementary to each other. So, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” We can, solely through appeal to the Scriptures, understand the Scriptures. We do need an accurate translation of the Scriptures – but I agree that an ability to read the Scriptures in the original languages would be great. There is no reason to think that we would have to have been born in the Ancient Near East around 2,000 years ago as God is the author and the Scriptures transcend culture but can speak to culture where that information is necessary.

        Then, “if you truly think that you need no outside source other than Scripture itself…then you are taking a very naive and dangerous approach to the study of Scripture.”

        Only because you exclude the Holy Spirit as one of those outside sources. As I include the Holy Spirit as an outside source helping us to understand the Scriptures, I don’t think your claim is valid. If your claim is that additional outside sources are required to understand the Scriptures, then I think those outside sources can bias one’s understanding of the Scriptures away from a true understanding of the Scriptures.

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      9. Okay, rhutchin, I have seen and read your interactions with others on this blog, and it is apparent that you are here to argue and not to learn. That being said, I will respond only this once to your response, because I am not interested in arguing but instead but in trying to learn and better understand (and maybe even teach) the truths of Scripture.

        Rhutchin, in your response, you said: “Only because you exclude the Holy Spirit as one of those outside sources. As I include the Holy Spirit as an outside source helping us to understand the Scriptures, I don’t think your claim is valid. If your claim is that additional outside sources are required to understand the Scriptures, then I think those outside sources can bias one’s understanding of the Scriptures away from a true understanding of the Scriptures.”

        Now, I will readily admit that Scripture itself is clear and quite easy to understand, at least the dictionary definitions and meanings of words. I heard it once said (though I don’t know if this is true), that on the whole, the Bible is written at about a 9th grade reading comprehension level. So, it is certainly true that you can read and understand every word in Scripture without necessarily appealing to any outside source.

        But, rhutchin, comprehension of words, understanding definitions, is not what we are talking about here, and I think you know it. What we are discussing here is understanding the meaning, the intent, of Scripture, and not just knowing the definitions of words. Any time you are removed culturally from a specific writing, you need to overcome the cultural barriers that inhibit our understanding of the meanings of specific words, phrases, metaphors, figures of speech, etc. which are foreign to our own cultures. Or, even more dangerous, when we think that we can import our own culture’s understandings onto a word, phrase, metaphor, figure of speech, etc. This is what a bias is, and this is what using outside sources, such as commentaries, histories, dictionaries, etc., is designed to avoid. For example, if it were possible to ask someone living even 15 years ago what a “tweet” was, what do you think the response would be? Have you ever tried to read Shakespeare (which was written in English, I might add) without any commentary or aid? Sure, you can sound out and maybe even know the definitions of the words being used, but really, what does this mean:
        “Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
        Wherein he puts alms for oblivion.
        A great-sized monster of ingratitudes.”

        It would be just plain wrong to claim that you can understand this without any other outside reference simply based on the meanings of the words being used precisely because many of these words have subtly or grossly different meanings in our culture in comparison to what Shakespeare’s culture understood them to mean. And yes, I do understand that the Holy Spirit can and does help in our understanding of the truths of Scripture, but this doesn’t mean that He does all the work, that we can expect to magically understand the all of the nuances and cultural differences between ourselves and the original authors and audiences.

        Using outside, reputable sources aids in our understanding of the meaning of Scripture. Yes, there are many truths that are self-evident, that transcend culture and geography, but there are some that do not. For example, a popular misconception of Jesus wishing that the church in Laodicea would be either hot or cold (Rev. 3:15-16), is that “hot” refers to spiritual fervor while “cold” refers to antagonism towards God. A quick search of commentaries, and other ancient sources, however, brings much greater clarity. Because of where Laodicea was located, it had no natural water sources and had to pipe in water from elsewhere, which was lukewarm when it arrived. Colossae, in contrast, had a source of cold, refreshing water suitable for drinking. And nearby Hierapolis had hot springs, which were useful for bathing and had medicinal qualities. Laodicea’s water was lukewarm, and therefore neither useful nor enjoyable (hence, the lukewarm being spat out). Both the hot and the cold water were useful and desirable, and they were not intended to signify one’s spiritual condition towards God, but to point the finger at Laodicea’s spiritual apathy. Yet, this meaning is not readily apparent to us today, some 2,000 years removed culturally and geographically, unless we appeal to outside sources for assistance.

        Rhutchin, you baldly assert: “We can, solely through appeal to the Scriptures, understand the Scriptures.” This is a very, very dangerous assertion which reeks of pride and self-sufficiency. I would invite you to make this statement to your own pastor and see what he has to say about it. But, if you truly believe that this is the case, that all you need is Scripture itself (including the work of the Holy Spirit), then I would invite you to try to live this out practically.

        This means that you better not go to church, because you don’t need Christian community to better understand and apply Scripture. This means that cannot listen to your pastor or teachers, because these teachers and pastors (if they truly care about the hermeneutics) are using these same sources that “bias one’s understanding of the Scriptures away from a true understanding of the Scriptures” as you so claim. If you have a study Bible, throw it away because any notes, any annotations (including book names and chapter and verse divisions) are extra-biblical and will keep you from correctly discerning the truth of Scripture. Don’t ever listen to or read John Piper, Al Mohler, or any other Calvinistic author, because they are outside sources that can and will contaminate your pristine understanding of what the Bible teaches. John Calvin’s Institutes are out, because they aren’t part of the canon and will bias your understanding of the true meaning of Scripture. Don’t you dare read another religious book, another blog, listen to another podcast, study another systematic theology, have a conversation about Scripture with anyone else, or really do anything other than read your Bible, because all of these things are outside sources, and you don’t need anything other than your Bible, right? Especially if you are in danger, as you claim, of biasing yourself against a true understanding of Scripture if you contaminate yourself with any of these other sources…

        Rhutchin, I am pretty sure that you are arguing simply for the sake of arguing, but if you aren’t, then please know that you are on very dangerous ground if you think that you can cut yourself off from Christian community, from 2,000 years of church tradition and approaches to the study and interpretation of Scripture, and think that you will be able to accurately understand the meaning of Scripture. If you want to talk about this more, I would invite you to contact me directly. My email is pastoradamvg@gmail.com.

        Liked by 2 people

      10. Adam VG,

        Great post!

        When I started commenting a few months ago, I fell into it also thinking that he wanted to learn and it was a dialog. Once I saw he was only there to argue I quit responding and let him name-call and disparage me all he wanted (he does!).

        I recently posted how silly their constant “Sola Scriptura” is when they have so maaaaany creeds, confessions, and catechisms that re-word the scriptura all the time!

        You forgot one “you better never” and that would be visit monergism.com. The whole young, cage-rage, YRR took off thanks to the internet and sites like that where the sharks can circle and sharpen their teeth and try to out-reform each other!

        I got my Calvinism by laboring through tomes by van Til, Pink, and Boettner. Young bucks now get the hip version in minutes from the web. ….. sorry….. I mean they get it from sola scriptura.

        Liked by 3 people

      11. Agreed!
        Rhutchin loves to shadow box.
        He typically has 3 modes:
        – The “Dancing Boxer”
        – The “Greased Pig”
        – The “Superior Intellect”.

        He’s provides excellent example of Calvinism’s double-speak. 😀

        Like

      12. FOH writes, “When I started commenting a few months ago, I fell into it also thinking that he wanted to learn and it was a dialog….I got my Calvinism by laboring through tomes by van Til, Pink, and Boettner. Young bucks now get the hip version in minutes from the web. ….. sorry….. I mean they get it from sola scriptura.”

        My comments to you seem to always point out misconceptions you have of Calvinism and I stick it to you by telling you that you were snoozing in class (given that you claim, ‘I got my Calvinism by laboring through tomes by van Til, Pink, and Boettner.”. Never have you been able to show that you were right and I was wrong. Obviously, you don’t like what I say, but I think what you resent most is being forced to admit to yourself that you got it wrong and I was right. I also read Pink and Boettner but substitute Sproul for Van Til.

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      13. brianwagner asks, “What book by Pink would you recommend for a clear view of his ideas on the eternality and foreknowledge of God?”

        I think you have read these already.

        BOOK: The Attributes of God (particularly the first seven chapters)
        1. The Solitariness of God
        2. The Decrees of God
        3. The Knowledge of God
        4. The Foreknowledge of God
        5. The Supremacy of God
        6. The Sovereignty of God
        7. The Immutability of God

        BOOK: The Sovereignty of God (Particularly the chapter)
        – The Sovereignty of God in Administration

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Brian,
        I don’t think anyone doubts that God is Sovereign. It just depends on the definition of that.

        I’ll be curious to see if Pink deals with the hundreds and hundreds of verses that say something like…. I The Sovereign Lord God of Israel will do this… If you will do this…

        Meaning that in those verses He defines His sovereignty and of course it appears by His given definition that He’s not getting his own way every time nor is He dictating what people will do.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. FOH – The issue is not sovereignty that I’m looking at… it is to see if Pink’s wording about foreknowledge and eternality as it relates to election sounds like philosophical neo-platonism and determinism.

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      16. Thanks. I am presently on a dissertation committee for a project critiquing Pink’s view of eternality and foreknowledge as it relates to election and comparisons with neo-platonist definitions. Do you know if Pink said anything specific about the charge of neo-platonism or philosophy in general brought against determinism?

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      17. brianwagner asks, “Do you know if Pink said anything specific about the charge of neo-platonism or philosophy in general brought against determinism?”

        No. It doesn’t sound like something Pink would address directly. He seems to be pretty much focused on issues involving the understanding of the Scriptures. His chapter on God’s Decrees is certainly deterministic but ignores issues outside the Scriptures like neo-platonism. I’ll do a little more research.

        Liked by 1 person

      18. Yes, Roger… it seems he just bought Charnock and Calvin’s views without recognizing the philosophical underpinnings. I haven’t found yet the “outside” of time idea in his discussion of eternity.

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      19. brianwagner writes, “it seems he just bought Charnock and Calvin’s views without recognizing the philosophical underpinnings.”

        Assuming that there were philosophical underpinnings rather than philosophical agreement.

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      20. If there are no clear Scripture support for definitions, such as “outside of time” or “all things predetermined” when describing divine eternerality and foreknowledge, then it is indeed taken from a philosophy of man’s making.

        Liked by 1 person

      21. brianwagner writes, “If there are no clear Scripture support for definitions, such as “outside of time” or “all things predetermined”…”

        There is support for such concepts even if the actual words used to define them don’t work well. We humans only know time because we have a beginning and an ending of our physical life. God said, ““Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years;…” Take away the universe and there is no time. Even with the universe, God is not contained in that universe – the universe is only something God created. Comparing the universe to God can be illustrated as a mustard seed in a person’s hand (recognizing the exaggeration). God is outside the universe, so is He outside the rule of the laws that He established to govern the universe? Seems to me that He is – but the Scriptures don’t spend time on such things.

        As to all things predetermined, the issue is with the “pre.” All things are determined by God as Paul states in Ephesians 1, “[God] works all things after the counsel of His will…” – but can be derived from God’s omnipotence. That God predetermines “certain” things is evidenced by specific statements throughout the Scriptures, and there is no reason why we cannot extrapolate from these that God necessarily predetermines all things.

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      22. Since your assertion is that Calvinist doctrine is not the outcome of philosophy but is the outcome of scripture, please provide the scripture which states your assertion – quote “Take away the universe and there is no time.”

        Thanks in advance.

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      23. br.d writes, “…please provide the scripture which states your assertion – quote “Take away the universe and there is no time.”

        From Genesis 1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years;” By this, we know that the passing of time in the universe created by God is tied to the lights in the expanse. One cannot conclude from this that “lights in the expanse” were created by God prior to this creation. One might speculate that there was some means of measuring time prior to creation, but such could not exceed speculation.

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      24. rhutchin
        “There is no reason why we [Calvinists] cannot extrapolate from these that God necessarily predetermines all things”.

        br.d
        What is meant by “necessarily” in this statement?

        Are you saying: “There is no reason why we [Calvinists] cannot extrapolate from these that God OF NECESSITY predetermines all things”.?

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      25. br d.
        thanks for pointing that out. did you not know that “necessarily” covers a multitude of sins? It has always been sprinkled in to sentences to kind a make it smooooooth. Sorry…. necessarily smooth.

        It is actually a substitute where there is a lack of scripture. Meaning —- do the ipso facto when you dont have proof.

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      26. Yes I can see what your saying.
        Rhutchin has used it quite often in reference to Calvin’s god’s actions/decrees etc.

        The term, in Rhutchin’s case – like so many other terms – is used equivocally (having duplicitous meaning).
        In its literal philosophical meaning – it is a clear reference to fatalism.

        -quote:
        By appeal to logical laws and metaphysical **NECESSITIES**
        or
        By appeal to the existence and nature of God — by appeal to causal determinism.

        When argued for in the first way, it is commonly called “Logical fatalism” (or, in some cases, “Metaphysical fatalism”)
        When argued for in the second way, it is commonly called “Theological fatalism” appeal to causal determinism.”

        https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fatalism/

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      27. rhutchin
        “There is no reason why we [Calvinists] cannot extrapolate from these that God necessarily predetermines all things”.

        br.d
        What is meant by “necessarily” in this statement?

        rhutchin
        “Necessarily” means that no other option exists.

        br.d
        How do you know exactly what Calvin’s god predetermines?

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      28. I certainly don’t’ know them in a form which I could enunciate them.
        But there are historians who have done this piece of work.

        Author Stephen MacKenna – in his book “The Essence of Plotinus: Extracts from the Six Enneads” writes:

        -quote:
        “To understand Augustine one must be familiar with the language and ideas of Plotinus from whom he borrowed not only scattered thoughts but the best part of his doctrine on the Soul, on Providence, on the Transcendence of God, on evil as the negation of good, and on freedom; and his theory of time and eternity.”

        This book is on my future reading list. :-]

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      29. BrD. Here is sample describing God’s eternality-
        Plotinus – “…nowhere is there any future, for every then is a now; nor is there any past, for nothing there has ever ceased to be; everything has taken its stand for ever.” Enneads 3.7.6
        Augustine – “For in that which is properly called eternal there is nothing past as if it has already transpired, nor anything future as if it does not yet exist, but whatever is simply is.” 83 Questions, 19.

        Of course this makes revelation in Scripture of God’s sequential eternality a farse. Scripture could easily have said to us the same things Plotinus and Augustine said… but instead it contradicts there view of eternality by clearly presenting the existence of only one reality – “from everlasting to everlasting”… “who was and is and is to come.”

        Liked by 1 person

      30. Plotinus’ philosophy was said to be heavily reliant upon mysticism. And I can see some of that flavor in the quote you provided.
        Augustine I think was quite literally a plagiarist of Plato and Plotinus. From my perspective his writing “City of God” finds its inspiration in Plato’s Ideal City-State. And as your quote from Augustine show – he finds his inspiration in the language and concepts of Plotinus as well. Augustine’s letters of correspondence are also illustrative. Augustine corresponded by letter to a close friend Nebridius, who praises how Augustine’s letters: “speak of Christ, Plato and Plotinus. I think it goes without saying when you read Augustine, you are likely to be reading either Plato or Plotinus.

        Liked by 3 people

      31. brianwagner quotes, “Augustine – “For in that which is properly called eternal there is nothing past as if it has already transpired, nor anything future as if it does not yet exist, but whatever is simply is.” 83 Questions, 19.”

        This sounds like your philosophy – “…nor anything future as if it does not yet exist,…”

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      32. Roger… I think you need to re-read that quote… I believe he is saying the past and future are in continual existence for God. Of course that would mean you and I are still in our past and already in our future from God’s transcendent perspective… which logically contradicts reality as revealed in Scripture.

        The past no longer exists for God, except as perfect memory and the future does not yet exist for God, except as perfect understanding of what He has planned conditionally or unconditionally and all the possibilities that still exist for freewill love and communication with those created in His image.

        Liked by 1 person

      33. brianwagner writes, “I believe he is saying the past and future are in continual existence for God.”

        I take him to say that the past and future do not matter – “there is nothing past…nor anything future…” Certainly, Augustine would say that God has knowledge of our past, so he can’t be writing about God’s knowledge at this point. What is the purpose for his argument?? But who cares – in the end, only the Scriptures matter.

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      34. Roger… Scripture is all that matters. And “pre” means “pre”… to God and man… except not to Augustine’s description of God. And God is not contained in creation, but He does exist and function in it and in the rest of sequential reality outside of it that logically makes love and communication possible in the Godhead… but not in Augustine’s description of God.

        It is sad that such an intelligent person as you remain loyal to such an obviously unbiblical and illogical description of reality and of God.

        Liked by 1 person

      35. Brian – wouldn’t you agree its pretty clear that Augustine’s conception of divine timelessness is linked to and has its source in Plato’s doctrine of Divine Immutability – first taught by Plato 800 years before Augustine?

        -quote:
        The doctrine of Divine Immutability (DDI)
        – In “The Republic Book II” Plato argued for the full DDI.
        – Plato’s doctrine of Divine Immutability (DDI) asserts that god cannot undergo real or intrinsic change in any respect.

        https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/immutability/

        We see Plato’s doctrine reiterated in Calvin’s dialogs where he uses Plato’s term “immutabilis” quite frequently.

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      36. brianwagner writees, “…not in Augustine’s description of God.”

        I think you are arguing that we should ignore Augustine and derive any conclusion about God directly from the Scriptures.. I’m OK with that.

        Liked by 1 person

      37. Brian,
        Of course you know this must be shocking to many. We are drilled with the “outside of time” so much in our society and inside the church that it becomes a way of life without question. It becomes the truth by mere repetition.

        But as you state, it has no foundation in Scripture. It is, however, a sacred cow that is difficult to give up.

        Liked by 1 person

      38. brianwagner asks, “Do you know if Pink said anything specific about the charge of neo-platonism or philosophy in general brought against determinism?”

        Pink wrote a short book/pamphlet titled, “The Godhood of God.” The 5th chapter, “The God of the Bible,”…

        http://www.chapellibrary.org/literature/epub-reader/?fldCode=gog3

        …basically says that any conception of God outside the Scriptures is worthless (my take). I think this argues against Pink giving any credibility to claims that Scriptural doctrine was derived from neo-platonism. More likely that Pink might think that neo-platonism (and Plato’s concepts of God, also) was derived from/inspired by the Scriptures.

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      39. The Christian NeoPlatonits were known to regard the concepts of NeoPlatonism as a lens through which one would have a superior understanding of scripture.

        The Greeks had often likened Socrates and Plato to midwives whose philosophy works to extract the child of understanding from the data of life.

        Ancient Christian NeoPlatonits used the same metaphor to describe the doctrines of Plotinus who re-formed Plato’s doctrines into a religious form – asserting his doctrines function as a midwife for extracting a superior interpretation of scripture.

        Liked by 1 person

      40. adamvg78 writes, “Now, I will readily admit that Scripture itself is clear and quite easy to understand,…”

        Not necessarily. For instance, much in Isaiah and the major and minor prophets is incomprehensible to me – I understand what they say, but not why God inspired that these things be written to us. The gospel’s seem clear, but people – especially Jews – in the first century had problems as evidence in Galatians (with Acts 15). Then, we have Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 1, “…we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,…” Also, Jesus declared in Matthew 7, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven;…” Then, we have the differences between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Not to forget, Romans 9, where some say this concerns Israel as a nation of promise where others say it concerns the children of promise who were part of the nation of Israel (and included the gentiles). So, I agree when you say, ” it is certainly true that you can read and understand every word in Scripture without necessarily appealing to any outside source,” recognizing that this understanding can require much prayer and study – things don’t always pop out at you.

        Then, “comprehension of words, understanding definitions, is not what we are talking about here, and I think you know it.”

        Definitely. I could not agree more. This and the following paragraph.

        Then, “…this meaning (of Rev. 3:15-16) is not readily apparent to us today, some 2,000 years removed culturally and geographically, unless we appeal to outside sources for assistance.”

        I would not go this route (as you describe in this paragraph). I define v15-16 by v17-18 and ignore outside sourced explanations.

        Then, “you baldly assert: “We can, solely through appeal to the Scriptures, understand the Scriptures.” This is a very, very dangerous assertion which reeks of pride and self-sufficiency….if you truly believe that this is the case, that all you need is Scripture itself (including the work of the Holy Spirit), then I would invite you to try to live this out practically.”

        I actually do believe this and seek to live this out practically.

        Then, “This means that you better not go to church…”

        I disagree with you here. I attend a very good Bible study at my church. In discussion, people with often preface a comment by saying something like, “This agrees with that which we read in (scripture cited),….” or “This complements what we read in (scripture cited…” Many commentaries will do this. Calvin will make statements and then cite a variety of Scriptures – although not to the extent that we might want leaving the reader to do the work. So when you write, “Don’t you dare read another religious book, another blog, listen to another podcast, study another systematic theology, have a conversation about Scripture with anyone else, or really do anything other than read your Bible, because all of these things are outside sources, and you don’t need anything other than your Bible, right?,” I respond that there are outside sources and then there are outside sources – we have to be careful.

        Then, “I am pretty sure that you are arguing simply for the sake of arguing, but if you aren’t,”

        I see myself arguing very little here. I spend most of my time correcting errors made by others especially as they relate to Calvinist doctrine. Despite all this, what are the two things that continually dominate discussion – (1) Does God know the future perfectly (Is God omniscient?) and Is God in complete control of all things (Is God sovereign?). Resolve these two issues and 98% of the discussion would disappear.

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  9. VIEWING GOD’S INTENTIONS THROUGH THE LENS OF UNIVERSAL DIVINE CASUAL DETERMINISM

    Calvin asserts that God’s determinative causal-will is effectual for all events universally, and that every event is determined in advance, at the foundation of the world, and prior to the time in which each event will obtain.

    This over-arching view controls Calvin’s perception of God’s interactions with humanity described within scripture. For example, Calvin writes concerning the Genesis narrative where God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the forbidden tree. Here Calvin notes that Adam and Eve’s obedience was not what obtained. Instead, their disobedience obtained. This is known by A Posteriori knowledge.

    Calvin following his line of reasoning asserts that God must have actually willed Adam and Eve’s disobedience or else it would not have been possible to obtain. But this brings into question God’s deliberate choice to communicate to Adam and Eve that which was contrary to his real will.

    Calvin asserts that God must withhold information from his people when he communicates. Here Calvin creates an Ad Hoc Rescue, claiming that God spoke to Adam and Eve a “Revealed” will. And that God must have withheld from Adam and Eve his true will, which Calvin then construes as God’s “Secret” will. His will that their disobedience obtains – which information he withholds from Adam and Eve leading them to believe the opposite.

    Calvin avoids addressing the critical difference between withholding information from someone, and purposefully misleading someone.

    Is it possible to trust someone who tells you [A] and secretly means [NOT A]?
    Calvin’s deity does not speak the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth when he speaks.
    There is very little to trust – beyond the knowledge he will do whatever he pleases with you – whether good or evil.

    If he chooses for you as a baby to be thrown into the fire of Molech – then you can at be comforted with the knowledge that he did what he pleased with you.

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  10. Making my way through the Bible….Exodus 17, 18, Matt 23

    —————————–
    10 So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. 11 As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage.

    Who was winning that victory? God. Did He require human participation (men being killed, Moses lifting hands)? Apparently. Synergistic.

    ——————————-
    14 After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”). 16 He said, “They have raised their fist against the Lord’s throne, so now the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.”

    In the natural reading of this story, God decided to erase the memory of the Amalekietes…… because they raised their fist against the Lord’s throne.

    How unbiblcal (not supported in any way by Scripture or context) to say that God decreed that “they raise their fists”…. so He could have some of His people be killed in the battle(s) against them. Just nonsense.

    ———————————-
    18:12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came out and joined him in a sacrificial meal in God’s presence.

    Here we see a non-Jew, non-chosen person honoring God. His family (daughter, grandchildren) is grafted into the chosen people by faith.

    ———————————
    24 Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. 25 He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten.

    Here Moses, God’s messenger and meekest-man is getting a lesson from someone who according to fatalist-deteminists “can do no good.”

    ———————————-
    19:4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.

    God reminds them that “all the earth belongs to Him” ….He reminds them of what He did to the Egyptians….. but He still —–still—— says “if you will obey me and keep my covenant….you will.” All the earth belongs to Him —-yes—- and He has set it up so that man must and can respond.

    Very much an if-then. God is showing His relationship with His people….. and it is not one-way. It is not monegeristic.

    ———————————-
    Matt 23:2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.

    Looks like some of the chosen who knew the law….then chose not to practice what they preached. But they could have!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Rhutchin wrote: “As I include the Holy Spirit as an outside source helping us to understand the Scriptures, I don’t think your claim is valid. If your claim is that additional outside sources are required to understand the Scriptures, then I think those outside sources can bias one’s understanding of the Scriptures away from a true understanding of the Scriptures.”

    It’s not so much that outside sources are needed to understand the Bible as it is that we are living in a different time and to interpret the scriptures by our way of thinking, is to bring in “outside” sources.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Regina writes, “It’s not so much that outside sources are needed to understand the Bible as it is that we are living in a different time and to interpret the scriptures by our way of thinking, is to bring in “outside” sources.”

      Exactly right. Couldn’t agree more. Thus, we seek to understand the Scriptures only by means of the Scriptures – we seek to understand that which God has written in one Scripture by those things God has written in all other Scriptures. Outside sources – even from the time in which the Scriptures were written – would constitute an uninspired source. To use those sources would be to subordinate (or condition) the understanding of the inspired Scriptures to uninspired sources.

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  12. CALVINISM CANNOT BE RATOINALLY AFFIRMED
    William Lane Craig

    -quote
    Universal causal determinism cannot be rationally affirmed.

    There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so.

    One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one’s mind on that basis.

    The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was determined by causal factors outside himself to believe and the other not to believe.

    When you come to realize that your decision to believe in determinism was itself determined and that even your present realization of that fact right now is likewise determined, a sort of vertigo sets in, for everything that you think, even this very thought itself, is outside your control. Determinism could be true; but it is very hard to see how it could ever be rationally affirmed, since its affirmation undermines the rationality of its affirmation. -end quote

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  13. CALVINISM CANNOT BE RATIONALLY AFFIRMED
    William Lane Craig
    -quote
    Universal Divine Causal Determinism cannot be rationally affirmed.

    There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so.

    One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one’s mind on that basis. The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was determined by causal factors outside himself to believe and the other not to believe.

    When you come to realize that your decision to believe in determinism was itself determined and that even your present realization of that fact right now is likewise determined, a sort of vertigo sets in, for everything that you think, even this very thought itself, is outside your control. Determinism could be true; but it is very hard to see how it could ever be rationally affirmed, since its affirmation undermines the rationality of its affirmation.
    -end quote

    Like

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