Does SHOULD always imply COULD?

If I tell my child that he should clean his room it does strongly imply that he could clean his room. This is basic common sense, but is it applicable to how God deals with humanity? Is the implication in scripture of “you should” mean that “you could?”

I think we can all agree that “ought” strongly implies moral ability for all practical purposes, but is that a biblical reality in every instance? Sometimes the Bible defies our practical sensibilities and turns our reality up on its ear. Is that the case here? Do God’s expressions of what we SHOULD do imply that we actually COULD do it.[1]

Suppose you had a horrible gambling addiction and as a result accrued a debt so large that it was literally impossible for you to repay. Would your inability to pay off this debt excuse you from paying it? Of course not. You SHOULD pay off this debt regardless of whether or not you COULD pay off this debt. This is an example of where inability does not remove responsibility and thus SHOULD does not mean that one necessarily COULD.

Likewise, the scriptures teach us that we SHOULD obey the law of God perfectly (Matt. 5:48), but it also teaches us that no one COULD (Rom. 3:23). Our moral inability to fulfill the laws demands does not remove our moral responsibility to the law. We have a sin debt that we cannot pay, yet scripture seems to teach that we are held accountable for that debt nonetheless. In this instance it certainly does seem that SHOULD does not imply COULD.

But, continuing with the analogy above, suppose your wealthy and benevolent father offered to pay your gambling debt for you if you would confess your addiction and go to rehab. Clearly this is something you SHOULD do, but COULD you? Of course you COULD! Your inability to pay off the debt in no way hinders you from accepting the benevolent offer of your father’s provision.

Likewise, with regard to the law, your benevolent and gracious Father offers to pay your sin debt if you confess your sin addiction and trust in Him. Clearly this is something you SHOULD do, but COULD you? Of course you COULD! Your inability to pay off your sin debt in no way hinders you from accepting the benvolent offer of your Father’s gracious provision.

Suppose someone tried to convince you that one’s inability to pay off their debt equaled their inability to accept help when it was offered. Would you believe them? I ask because that is what our Calvinistic friends are attempting to get the church to believe. Allow me to explain further…

Could the “Rich Young Ruler” have willingly given up his wealth to follow Christ as Zacchaeus does in the very next chapter? Or was Zacchaeus granted an ability that was withheld from the Rich Young Ruler? (Note: I’m speaking of man’s moral/spiritual abilities to repent in faith, not their physical ability or mental assent, so please don’t try to rebut this article with the all too often “catch all” phrase of, “He is able but not willing.”)

Calvinists would agree with the Traditionalists that both Zacchaeus and Rich Young Ruler SHOULD have given up everything to follow Christ, but only the Traditionalist maintains that both of them COULD have willingly done so. Why do Calvinists insist that SHOULD doesn’t imply COULD when it comes to the Biblical revelation?

Dr. Wayne Grudem, a Calvinistic scholar, explains the issue in this manner:

“Advocates of the Arminian position draw attention to the frequency of the free offer of the gospel in the New Testament. They would say that these invitations to people to repent and come to Christ for salvation, if bona fide, must imply the ability to respond to them. Thus, all people without exception have the ability to respond, not just those who have been sovereignly given that ability by God in a special way.” [2]

Grudem, like John Hendryx of mongerism.com, rebuts this perspective by making arguments such as:

“What the Scriptures say we ‘ought’ to do does not necessarily imply what we ‘can’ do. The Ten Commandments, likewise, speak of what we ought to do but they do not imply that we have the moral ability to carry them out. The law of God was given so that we would be stripped of having any hope from ourselves. Even faith itself is a divine command that we cannot fulfill without the application of God’s regenerative grace by the Holy Spirit.”[3]

Are you following the Calvinistic argument? Here it is put very simply:

  1. God tells man they SHOULD keep all the commandments.
  2. Man CANNOT keep all the commandments.
  3. God also tells man they SHOULD believe and repent for breaking commandments.
  4. Therefore man also CANNOT believe and repent for breaking commandments.[4]

If the fallacy in this argument is not obvious to you, please allow me to use the analogy above as a parallel:

  1. The gambler SHOULD pay off his gambling debts.
  2. The gambler CANNOT pay off his gambling debts.
  3. The father tells the man he SHOULD admit his addiction and receive help.
  4. Therefore the gambler CANNOT admit his addiction and receive help.

Maybe another analogy will help bring more clarity? Back when my kids were younger we did a family activity that our church had suggested. I stood at the top of the stairs with my four children at the bottom.

I said to them, “Here are the rules. You must get from the bottom of the stairs to the top of the stairs without touching any of the railing, the wall or even the stairs. Ready, go!”

My kids looked at me and then each other and then back at their mother. With bewilderment in their eyes, they immediately began to whine and complain saying, “Dad, that is impossible!”

I told them to stop whining and figure it out.

The youngest stood at the bottom and started trying to jump, slamming himself into the steps over and over. The more creative one of the bunch began looking for tools to help build some kind of contraption. Another set down on the floor while loudly declaring, “This is just stupid, no one can do that!”

Finally, in exasperation one of the kids yelled out, “Dad, why don’t you just help us?” I raised my eyebrows as if to give them a clue that they may be on the right track. The eldest caught on quickly.

“Can you help us dad?” he shouted.

I replied quietly, “No one even asked me.”

“Can you carry us up the stairs?” he asked.

“I will if you ask me,” I said.

And one by one, I carried each child to the top after they simply asked.

Then, we sat down and talked about salvation. We talked about how it is impossible for us to get to heaven by our own efforts, but if we ask Christ for help then He will carry us. It was a great visual lesson of God’s grace in contrast with man’s works.

But suppose that my children’s inability to get to the top the stairs also meant they were incapable of asking me for help. Imagine how this story would’ve played out if it was impossible for my children not only to get to the top of the stairs but equally impossible for them to recognize that inability and request help when it was offered.

This illustrates the mistake of Calvinism. Let’s go back to their fallacy above as it relates to my story:

  1. Dad tells his kids they SHOULD get to the top of stairs.
  2. Kids CANNOT complete this task as requested.
  3. Dad also tells the kids they SHOULD ask for help.
  4. Therefore the kids CANNOT ask for help.

Do you see the problem now? The whole purpose of presenting my kids with that dilemma was to help them to discover their need for help. To suggest that they cannot realize their need and ask for help on the basis that they cannot get to the top of stairs completely undermines the very purpose of the giving them that dilemma.

The purpose of the father in both instances is to get others to trust Him. The law was not sent for the purpose of getting mankind to heaven. Just as the purpose of the activity was not to get the kids to the top of the staircase.  The purpose was to help them to see that they have a need and that they cannot do it on their own.

Calvinists have wrongly concluded that because mankind is unable to attain righteousness by works through the law, they must also be equally unable to attain righteousness by grace through faith. In other words, they have concluded that because mankind is incapable of “making it to the top of the stairs,” then they are equally incapable of “recognizing their inability and asking for help.”  IT DOES NOT FOLLOW AND IT IS NOT BIBLICAL. Paul said;

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith;but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works (Rom. 9:30-32).

It seems Calvinists would have us believe that because pursuit by works fails in attaining righteousness that a pursuit by faith would not even be possible. This is simply never taught in scripture.

When Calvinists are pressed on the obvious implication that SHOULD implies COULD, they appeal to the demands of the law, which is like appealing to my demands for the children to get to the top of the stairs without touching anything. I didn’t make that demand with the expectation of my children actually doing it, after all it is impossible. I made the demand to help them realize they could not do it without my help.

So too, God did not send the law with the expectation that we could actually fulfill its demands. That is not the purpose of the law. According the scripture, “No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin” (Rom. 3:20).

The law is a “tutor” who points us to our need for Christ (Gal. 3:24). The law was never sent for the purpose of being fulfilled by mankind, just as the stair-climbing activity was never intended to be completed by my kids. It was a “tutoring” lesson to teach my children that they must rely on someone else, a useless activity indeed if they are somehow incapable of coming to that realization or admitting their need for help.

If my kids are as completely incapable of understanding their need for help in getting to the top of stairs as they are in getting to top of the stairs without help, then why would I bother with the activity in the first place? Likewise, if mankind is as completely incapable of trusting in the One who fulfilled the law as they are in fulfilling the law themselves, then what is the point in sending an insufficient tutor to teach them a lesson they cannot learn?

The argument that SHOULD implies COULD remains virtually unanswered by the Calvinist who appeals to the law as their example. That is, unless they can demonstrate that it actually was God’s intention for us to fulfill the law’s demand in order to attain righteousness. After all, to conclude that man cannot fulfill the purpose of the law’s demands begs the question, because it presumes man cannot fulfill the purpose of the law by believing in the One who fulfilled it’s demands.

Basic common sense tells us that if one ought to do something, he can do it. This is especially true if one is punished for his failure to do that which is expected. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10, Paul says of the unrighteous, “They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth in order to be saved.” And in John 12:48, Jesus said, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”

Scripture never once says that we will perish because of Adam’s sin. But over and over again it says that we will each be held accountable for our response to the clear the revelation of God.  According to Paul, all men stand “without excuse” (Rom. 1:20), yet Calvinistic doctrine gives mankind the best excuse imaginable:

Judge: “Why did you remain in unbelief?”
Reprobate: “I was born hated and rejected by my God who sealed me in unbelief from the time I was born until the time I died due to the sin of another.”

Can you think of any better excuse than that?  I cannot.

248 thoughts on “Does SHOULD always imply COULD?

  1. A father stands over his son holding a pencil – commanding his son reach up and take it.
    If he does not obey and take the pencil, he will be thrown into a fire-pit where he will burn alive.

    The son reaches up to take the pencil. But alas the father is holding it up higher than he can reach.
    The son cannot take the pencil.

    Therefore, according to biblical ethics, the father is justified in throwing the son into the fire pit?

    This is the underlying principle – logically consistent within Calvinist ethics.
    The way the Calvinist avoids the specter good-evil inherent in his theology is by sophist double-speak.
    Calvinists are tutored in how to twist logic into a pretzel.

  2. As long as we do not fall into the fallacy that Calvinists have by equating our inability to fulfill the WHOLE of the law with a supposed inability to fulfill ANY commandment of God. Calvinists often make the Mosaic Law into nothing more than a list of impossible commandments.

  3. Good points made, Dr. Flowers. As usual, any honest, objective thinker would readily admit the logic of your argument.

    Any honest, objective thinker would acknowledge that a sincere, well-meaning God would not make demands upon his children that he has himself ensured that they cannot perform – via a blanket curse of all people for one man’s sin – and then ‘punish’ them for not doing what he has disabled them from doing. Except, that is, for a lucky few, who he ‘secretly’ transforms, makes alive and enables to ‘obey’ what all others cannot even properly understand.

    There simply is no excusing the unthinkable cruelty and injustice that such assertions lay at the feet of God. These are actions that would be condemned if performed by ANY parent, and yet Calvinists calmly assert them as justifiable acts of God. The truth is, the injustice and cruelty of Calvinism’s claims were long, long ago rejected by the majority of believing men and women. It is only those who have not thought through the logical ramifications of this theology that continue to be seduced by a system that is not being honestly presented and explained by its defenders.Thanks to Dr. Flowers for repeatedly setting forth clearly, for all to consider, the serious shortcomings of this theology.

  4. Love that illustration Leighton… and God doesn’t even make us suffer in trying to figure out if He’s available to help… He offers to lift us up the stairs right away, if we will humble ourselves and let him do it.

    But in real life there are also other lying voices telling us not to trust Him only and completely. Those voices are just as bad as the ones that say He doesn’t really want most of us to get to the top of the stairs… just His preselected favorites… and they can’t be sure their in that group until the end. Very sad.

    1. It really is beyond sad, if there are truly any affected by believing these abhorrent doctrines. I’m not sure how many are put off, as most who buy into this theology naturally assume that they just happen to be one of the lucky few chosen to receive salvation. But I most certainly have seen how this theology turns kind, loving men and women into arrogant, uncaring individuals who shrug at those who are not so ‘lucky’. Imagine, instead of feeling the need to spread the message of God’s love to the lost, being told that God did not actually love them; indeed, they are not so much ‘lost’ as rejected. It is deeply tragic all around, and yet Calvinists wonder why non-Calvinists are so repulsed by their teachings, and the devastation to lives, families and churches they result in. The many who ‘escaped’ as I did from my former church all assert a newfound joy and hope, as they once again believe in a loving, merciful God who truly means it when he says that he desires that none should perish.

  5. This is very good and helpful. The issue around the law pointing us to Christ shows how important the sacrifices were as part of Mosaic Law. It was the requirement of these sacrifices that allowed the Israelites to act in faith. This is of fundamental importance because salvation is always and only through faith.

    I have written previously that one can consider the Law as a set of rules, and the sacrifice as the mechanism of forgiveness for breaking the rules. We have a set of rules that God knows the Israelites cannot keep (due to sin, not due to the Law) and a mechanism for which forgiveness can be obtained. For these ancient Hebrews it was not obedience to the rules that saved them, it was faith in the sacrifice that saved them. They had to trust God that the sacrifice that he had specified would somehow remove their offence. We understand now that the particular sacrifices in themselves did not take away their sins (Hebrews 10), rather they just were the type pointing to the true sacrifice of Christ. Whatever clarity, or lack thereof, they had at that time concerning the animal sacrifices is less important than the faith they had in the God who had appointed the sacrifices; the God who told them that this was the path of redemption.

  6. What’s even more disturbing when looking deeper into it within Calvinism is that the stairs and any request to climb the stairs is actually an allusion.
    The fact is within Calvinism the father determined before his kids were born that most of them will not climb the stairs and then punish them for not climbing them. He determined that they would never understand his request to even climb them.
    He determined that only some of his kids would climb the stairs, therefore picks them up against their will and carries them up the stairs.
    But even that is also an allusion within Calvinism. Within Calvinism the kids are at the top of the stairs before they are even born. Any talk of being at the bottom is just a bad dream they have to endure until they wake up and realise they are at the top of the stairs.
    They don’t know how they they got to the top of the stairs as it’s a secret and hasn’t been revealed. In their bad dream their father carried them there against their will. But in their reality they were at the top the whole time before they were born for reasons unknown.

  7. Dr. Flowers writes, “Are you following the Calvinistic argument? Here it is put very simply:

    1. God tells man they SHOULD keep all the commandments.
    2. Man CANNOT keep all the commandments.
    3. God also tells man they SHOULD believe and repent for breaking commandments.
    4. Therefore man also CANNOT believe and repent for breaking commandments.”

    Point 4 is not a conclusion else point 2 would also be so and you would have:

    1. God tells man they SHOULD keep all the commandments.
    2. Therefore, Man CANNOT keep all the commandments.
    3. God also tells man they SHOULD believe and repent for breaking commandments.
    4. Therefore man also CANNOT believe and repent for breaking commandments.

    The conclusion should follow from the four premises.

    1. God tells man they SHOULD keep all the commandments.
    2. Man CANNOT keep all the commandments.
    3. God also tells man they SHOULD believe and repent for breaking commandments.
    4. Man also CANNOT believe and repent for breaking commandments.
    5. Therefore, man cannot be saved by his own effort.

    1. This is really an example of poor reading comprehension. Dr. Flowers is making the point that many Calvinists are making a false analogy here, so #4 is THEIR conclusion based on #1-3. Sure, Dr. Flowers could have put it into more precise logical form, but it doesn’t take much to understand the point (as the Calvinist quotes above make clear too). In fact, if you simply restate the argument like you just did, then a non-Calvinist will simply reject premise 4… but that statement is what Calvinists are trying to argue in the first place (at least in the absence of full regeneration). You essentially just turned it into a question-begging argument. What you need to do to address the point of the article is either deny that a false analogy is being made or give independent reasons why man cannot respond to the Gospel outside of regeneration.

      You miss the point again in your comment below. Again, Dr. Flowers is taking aim at what he sees to be a false analogy: Just because people cannot attain righteousness by following the whole law, even though they should, doesn’t mean that they also have no ability to repent, even though they should. Simply stating, “Calvinists maintain that righteousness can only be attained by grace through faith because righteousness cannot be attained through the law” completely whiffs the argument. Non-Calvinists say that too. What they don’t say is that faith is the result of regeneration.

      1. leesomniac writes, ” Dr. Flowers is making the point that many Calvinists are making a false analogy here, so #4 is THEIR conclusion based on #1-3.”

        Except that Calvinists don’t say this. Thus, Dr. Flowers attributes a false analogy to Calvinists that does not exist. Remember the doctrine of Total Depravity? What people “should” do is not related to what people “can” do. What people should do is tied to God’s commands e.g., “…repent and believe in the gospel.” What people can do is based on their nature – thus, Jesus says, “no one can come to me…” (john 6) and “No one can see the kingdom of heaven” and “no one can enter the kingdom of heaven.” (John 3) Then, reference is made to Paul to expand on this. This addresses your point, “What you need to do to address the point of the article is either deny that a false analogy is being made – I deny that Calvinists make this analogy – or give independent reasons why man cannot respond to the Gospel outside of regeneration – the reason being Total Depravity.”

        Then, “Just because people cannot attain righteousness by following the whole law, even though they should, doesn’t mean that they also have no ability to repent, even though they should.”

        Agreed. They are not related – and Calvinists do not tie them together as Dr. Flowers maintains.

        Then, ” What they don’t say is that faith is the result of regeneration.”

        This is not exactly right. Faith is the result of hearing the gospel. In order to hear the gospel, one must be regenerated – be prepared as good soil – as we understand from the parable. Take away the preaching of the gospel and all the regeneration in the world cannot result in faith.

      2. You’re really not understanding how to argue here. You simply assert this: “What people ;should’ do is not related to what people ‘can’ do” when this is the ENTIRE POINT OF THE ARTICLE. Calvinists are trying to use an analogy in order to break the connection between “ought” and “can,” and Dr. Flowers is disagreeing with it. Answering that requires more than “this is what Calvinists say.” We are aware of that. That doesn’t make it correct.

        Just read the quotes the Dr. Flowers gives. These are Calvinists that are making these claims. Now if you don’t agree with them, that’s fine; then this post doesn’t really concern the type of Calvinist you are.

        And I know what Calvinists believe about regeneration preceding faith. Of course it requires the hearing of the gospel as well (well, at least for Reformed Baptists); I simply gave shorthand, which was enough to make my point about what the divide is between most Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Dr. Flowers is arguing that “ought” implies can at least in some important respects. Calvinists try to deny this connection. Your responses are not addressing a single thing he said. You cannot simply ASSERT a Calvinist reading of total depravity and think that does anything.

      3. leesomniac writes, ““What people ‘should’ do is not related to what people ‘can’ do” when this is the ENTIRE POINT OF THE ARTICLE.”

        I understood the article to assume a relationship between “should” and “could” that was not substantiated. I think I was pretty direct is saying that “should” is tied to God’s commands (which it surely is because even Dr. Flowers asserts this writing, “the scriptures teach us that we SHOULD obey the law of God”). I also tied “could” to one’s nature (again Dr. Flowers said this, “I think we can all agree that “ought” strongly implies moral ability for all practical purposes…” Of course, Dr. Flowers argues that “should” actually means “could.”

        Then, “Calvinists are trying to use an analogy in order to break the connection between “ought” and “can,” and Dr. Flowers is disagreeing with it.”

        This is not a Calvinist analogy (as far as I know). Dr. Flowers created the analogy to illustrate his view of Calvinism. I think it is erroneous.

        Then, “Answering that requires more than “this is what Calvinists say.” We are aware of that. That doesn’t make it correct.”

        “…doesn’t make it correct”?? It is correct to portray the Calvinist position correctly. One way to do this is to state the Calvinist position as Calvinists describe their position.

        Then, “Just read the quotes the Dr. Flowers gives. These are Calvinists that are making these claims.”

        Dr. Flowers provides only two quotes from Calvinists. I have agreed with the second quote by Hendryx, “The Ten Commandments, likewise, speak of what we ought to do but they do not imply that we have the moral ability to carry them out.”

        Then, “I know what Calvinists believe about regeneration preceding faith.”

        You confused the issue by saying that regeneration results in faith without specifying the necessary role of the gospel. You should avoid shorthand statements of this sort.

        Then, “…what the divide is between most Calvinists and non-Calvinists.”

        The divide between Calvinist and non-Cals concerns the respective roles of God and man in salvation.

        Then, “Dr. Flowers is arguing that “ought” implies can at least in some important respects. Calvinists try to deny this connection.”

        Calvinists deny it on the basis of John 6, John 3, Romans 8, Ephesians 2, etc. This boils down to the legitimacy of the doctrine of Total Depravity (or Total Inability) and the necessity of grace – prevenient per the Arminians and saving per the Calvinists.

        Then,”Your responses are not addressing a single thing he said. You cannot simply ASSERT a Calvinist reading of total depravity and think that does anything.”

        If we do not assert the known doctrines of the Calvinists, where are the issues since it is opposition to those doctrines that give rise to the issues between Cals and non-Cals – and this is obviously so in the above commentary by Dr. Flowers.

      4. You’re still not getting it, but I’ll try one more time. Dr. Flowers doesn’t mean “should” means “could.” He is saying “should” IMPLIES “could,” at least in a certain respect. It’s an age-old debate in ethics if ought implies can. Calvinists tend to deny this or at least try to use a different meaning of “can.” He is disagreeing with that and he’s critiqued some analogies made by Calvinists. I can tell you that some Calvinists HAVE made this analogy. If that’s not you, again, then this post doesn’t concern you.

        And what I meant by “correct” was if the Calvinists’ theology is correct. Of course we should try to portray positions accurately (which I don’t think you’ve done at all for Dr. Flowers).

        If you deny the connection between ought and can based on those Scriptures, great… that’s a different discussion. Dr. Flowers here was narrowly aiming at an analogy that he and others have seen. I am not sure why this is difficult to see. If you don’t like how those Calvinists have argued for it, then your problem is with them.

      5. leesomniac writes, “He is saying “should” IMPLIES “could,” at least in a certain respect.”

        If that is the case, then he is not disagreeing with the Calvinists on this point.

        Then, “It’s an age-old debate in ethics if ought implies can. Calvinists tend to deny this or at least try to use a different meaning of ‘can.’”

        Absolutely wrong. The Calvinist agree that “ought implies can.” The issue is why a person who “ought” to be able to do X cannot actually do X. The Calvinist points to Total Depravity to explain why people who should be able to respond to the gospel are found not to be able to do so.

        Then, “He is disagreeing with that and he’s critiqued some analogies made by Calvinists. I can tell you that some Calvinists HAVE made this analogy. If that’s not you, again, then this post doesn’t concern you.”

        I am not aware of any Calvinist who has used this analogy. Certainly, Dr. Flowers does not identify such a person – the two quotes from Calvinists do not include this analogy. I think Dr. Flowers created a strawman to introduce his argument.

        Then, “Of course we should try to portray positions accurately (which I don’t think you’ve done at all for Dr. Flowers).”

        That’s fine. Only Dr. Flowers can sort this out at this point.

        Then, “If you deny the connection between ought and can based on those Scriptures, great… that’s a different discussion.”

        No problem in the Calvinist world with this connection. Calvinist observe the connection is broken for some reason.

        Then, “Dr. Flowers here was narrowly aiming at an analogy that he and others have seen. I am not sure why this is difficult to see. If you don’t like how those Calvinists have argued for it, then your problem is with them.”

        I disagree that any Calvinist has used this analogy. I think a citation is required to show this and the problem is with Dr. Flowers who now needs to provide such a citation.

      6. This is Rhutchin’s tactic that he repeats constantly on this blog, “It’s not really about X, but it’s about Y” and then goes on to expand upon Y which, of course, leads one in a Calvinist direction. It’s slightly less obvious red herring logical fallacy.

      7. EK writes, “It’s slightly less obvious red herring logical fallacy.”

        When it happens, you can point out the specifics and get the discussion back on track.

      8. EK writes, “I have several times and you have either repeated the fallacy or have ignored that part of my rebuttal.”

        That means I did not see a substantive argument. I tend to scan through a lot of words looking for the meat, so I can miss some things. I’ll slow down a little – at least on your comments.

      9. Hutch, “That means I did not see a substantive argument”

        But that’s just your bias seeping through. What is a “substantive argument” according to you? What qualifies? Anything you can steer towards your preferred topics?

        Instead, how about trying to determine, and then discuss, what your discussion partner thinks is substantive?

      10. EK writes, “…how about trying to determine, and then discuss, what your discussion partner thinks is substantive?”

        Sometimes hard to see – much I read in comments is little more than personal opinion without any attempt to provide Scriptural support. I focus on the Scriptures cited in comments and the use of those Scriptures in arguments. Take out the Scriptures and substance disappears from what I see. So, I’ll pay more attention to finding substance.

  8. Dr. Flowers writes, “Calvinists have wrongly concluded that because mankind is unable to attain righteousness by works through the law, they must also be equally unable to attain righteousness by grace through faith.”

    This is wrong. Calvinists maintain that righteousness can only be attained by grace through faith because righteousness cannot be attained through the law.

    1. Rhutchin you need to stop telling half truths. You also believe that those who can only attain rightousness by grace through faith, is only limited to those who have been irrisistably elected to receive it by a “secret decree” before they were born. Now that’s true Calvinism

      Readers don’t be deceived by Rhutchin’s half truths.

      1. DG writes, “…you need to stop telling half truths. You also believe that those who can only attain rightousness by grace through faith, is only limited to those who have been irrisistably elected to receive it by a “secret decree” before they were born. Now that’s true Calvinism ”

        Isn’t that common knowledge as that position is what the fuss is all about?? Should I have to explain TULIP every time I make a comment??

        However, since you use the term, “irresistibly elected” when it is “unconditionally elected” with its counterpart “irresistible grace” maybe further explanation is needed at times. That is, if we are speaking of “True Calvinism.”

    2. Hutch, if you ever wondered what it is we are talking about when we accuse you, and Calvinists in general of double speak. Here is exhibit A:

      “Calvinists maintain that righteousness can only be attained by grace through faith because righteousness cannot be attained through the law.”

      Right after you said:

      “The conclusion should follow from the four premises.

      1. God tells man they SHOULD keep all the commandments.
      2. Man CANNOT keep all the commandments.
      3. God also tells man they SHOULD believe and repent for breaking commandments.
      4. Man also CANNOT believe and repent for breaking commandments.
      5. Therefore, man cannot be saved by his own effort.”

      Man both cannot believe and man obtains salvation through faith. It’s a direct contradiction and you think because you use different language it’s not a contradiction. It is.

      1. EK writes, “Man both cannot believe and man obtains salvation through faith. It’s a direct contradiction and you think because you use different language it’s not a contradiction. It is.”

        OK, I am confused. People are not born with faith; therefore no one can believe. Faith is conveyed through the preaching of the gospel. A person must be given faith to be able to exercise faith to believe. I don’t understand your complaint.

      2. People are born with the ability to believe as the parable of the sower confirms. Even the hard heart has the ability to believe and be saved, and Satan knows this… I’m surprised you don’t want to believe the clear Scriptures on this matter.

      3. Good point. The parable of the sower single-handedly denounces the silliness of Total Depravity. The problem is not a God-caused curse deceptively termed ‘Total Depravity’ in a clever attempt to divert responsibility from the One its defenders assert is responsible for EVERYTHING!

      4. brianwagner writes, “People are born with the ability to believe as the parable of the sower confirms….”

        Fine. How about incorporating that which Paul says in Romans 10 and explain how you see this working – especially the part where Paul asks, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?”.

        12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
        13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
        14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
        15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
        16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”
        17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

      5. Most stop at verse 17 – but verse 18 has the answer – Rom 10:18 NKJV – But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

      6. brianwagner writes, “Most stop at verse 17 – but verse 18 has the answer – Rom 10:18 NKJV – But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

        You had said, ““People are born with the ability to believe as the parable of the sower confirms….” You seem to be saying that the ability to believe exists prior to the reception of the seed (that would make belief worthless without the seed). In the parable of the sower, are we to think that anything could happen absent the seed being sown? Could not the seed itself be the catalyst, even the source, for the belief that a person expresses? If so, could we not conclude, with Paul, that the faith conveyed to a person by the seed is necessary to one expressing belief? Since the seed had a positive effect only in the “good soil,” can’t we conclude reasonably that being “good soil” is also necessary for belief. If a person is born with the ability to believe, that ability would seem to be useless without the seed and the person first being rendered “good soil.” Saying that a person is born with the ability to believe, is like saying that a person is born with the ability to be an Einstein. That says nothing as even Einstein, who was born with then name, Einstein, did not become “AN” Einstein without something else happening. Perhaps he had a fertile mind and his study of physics was able to prosper because of that much like good soil that receives seed.

      7. Luke 8:12 NKJV — “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
        …not – lest they should become good soil first and then believe and be saved.

      8. 13 “And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.
        14 “And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
        15 “And the seed in the good soil,…

        So, do we know whether those who have the seed taken away would have been among those in the rocky or thorny soil or good soil. Even the devil doesn’t seem to know that and picks people at random. Surely, we are not to think that Satan could take the seed from a person’s heart without first asking permission from God (as we see in the example of Job) so maybe Satan is God’s means of judicial hardening or something else (whatever that might be in God’s plan).

      9. Wow… you really want to minimize what Jesus just said about the hard soil having the ability to believe and be saved. Remember Jesus is explaining this parable to disciples… why… so they will have wisdom in their ministry of the Word to appropriately warn the hard, shallow, and thorny soil. Jesus wants all to be saved, even if you don’t, Roger. But He did not predestinate before creation any to that salvation. He wants His grace to be freely received through personal faith… that even hard soil can exercise, Jesus said.

      10. brianwagner writes, “you really want to minimize what Jesus just said about the hard soil having the ability to believe and be saved.”

        Jesus actually says, ““And those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they may not believe and be saved.” These are people who hear the gospel. then Satan takes the word out of their heart. I think Jesus minimized that ability by saying that the people first “heard” and that the seed was in their “heart” and then trampled under foot, and all this before being taken away by Satan. Originally, Jesus said, “it was trampled under foot, and the birds of the air (a picture of Satan) ate it up. So, what are we to make of the phrase, “it was trampled under foot”? The person “hears” the gospel, it is in his “heart,” but then “trampled under foot.” Only after being trampled under foot does Satan enter to steal the seed away. The implication here is that the seed might still have saved had Satan not been able to steal it away. Yet, Satan cannot steal the seed away without first receiving God’s permission to do so. And God does not give Satan permission to steal the seed away until it is first trampled afoot, I am not sure that you have plumbed the depths of this parable. Maybe this parable ties into Jesus’ earlier warning, ““Do not give what is holy (the gospel) to dogs, and do not throw your pearls (again, the gospel) before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

        Then, “Jesus is explaining this parable to disciples… why… so they will have wisdom in their ministry of the Word to appropriately warn the hard, shallow, and thorny soil.”

        Or maybe, Jesus is warning the disciples not to be satisfied with merely preaching the gospel – but to be petitioning God to save the souls of those to whom they will preach. We should not assume that people are naturally, or normally, good soil.

      11. We should indeed not assume all soil is good… but we should assume all need to be helped to become good soil, since the parable clearly indicates what is keeping the other three from salvation, and it is not their inability to receive the word in their heart. It is the inability for the word to do what it is able to do because the hearts are interfered with.

        Yes God does allow trampling, stealing, withering and choking… but maybe we should pray and work against those things, so the word can have free course as it was designed to have in all hearts so that they believe and be saved.

      12. brianwagner writes, “we should assume all need to be helped to become good soil, since the parable clearly indicates what is keeping the other three from salvation, and it is not their inability to receive the word in their heart. It is the inability for the word to do what it is able to do because the hearts are interfered with.’

        What Calvinist could object to that. Sin has interfered with each person’s heart and turned the heart to stone.

        then, “…maybe we should pray and work against those things, so the word can have free course as it was designed to have in all hearts so that they believe and be saved.”

        And to whom do we pray, and work against those things through prayer, to give the word free course in the hearts of people – God. May God work in the hearts of all people to prepare them to receive the gospel.

      13. Rhutchin writes:
        “OK, I am confused.”

        That we will grant.

        Rhutchin writes:
        “People are not born with faith; therefore no one can believe. Faith is conveyed through the preaching of the gospel. A person must be given faith to be able to exercise faith to believe. I don’t understand your complaint.”

        That, if unpacked, might be due to confusion, or might be due to deliberate deception.

        It is true that people are not born with faith. The rest of his statement, however, is completely erroneous, resting on the faulty assumption that faith is an entity that can be given and received, and for which men are held responsible even though they have absolutely no control over whether or not they will be given this alleged gift.

        Calvinism must, in its desperate attempt to destroy the concept of a relationship with God as an actual relationship with genuine give and take, or response – like any relationship – attempt to define ‘faith’ as some sort of inanimate object that can be bestowed upon another without their desire, knowledge or participation. Like consciousness, this ‘faith’ is either given or withheld at God’s omnipotent whim.

        Faith is a response. It either arises in response to the proclamation of the gospel, or its opposite arises, which is unbelief. Faith is not, and cannot be ‘conveyed’, which is a carefully chosen word which might be easily replaced with synonyms such as ‘imparted’, ‘piped in’ or ‘transferred’. The meaning, as asserted under Calvinism, is that faith is a ‘possession’ that originates with God and is then in some manner commuted to or transferred into the possession of a resistless receiver.

        This is, I assert, contrary to natural understanding as well as scriptural usage. Jesus expressed at various times surprise, displeasure and pleasure at an individual’s faith or lack thereof. This would be inexplicable if faith was an ‘object’ given if, when, to whom and in the amount desired by his heavenly Father, as Calvinism asserts. Faith is always depicted in scripture as a valued and desired response from man to the existence and revelations of God.

        Rhutchin writes:
        “A person must be given faith to be able to exercise faith to believe.”

        That is pure gobbledygook. First faith is ‘given’, then it is ‘exercised’, which apparently results in ‘belief’, which is what allows one to be ‘accepted’ by God. What sort of silly charades is God playing? One could simply substitute ‘beceps’ – a muscle that natural man does not have – for faith, and arrive at the same sort of silliness:

        God proclaims that only men with beceps will be forgiven their sin and allowed entrance into the kingdom of God. No man is born with this muscle, nor can they ever hope to attain or develop it unless it is literally dropped from heaven into their physical body at the sole, express determination of God. Thus, it would be rather odd for Jesus to express surprise that some men have no beceps, or wonder that certain others do. If beceps come only from God, at his sole discrimination, then ‘Que sera, sera’.

        No one should be surprised, dismayed or hold impossible expectations. No one should hold up beceps as some amazing thing that men like Abraham happened to ‘have’, and to which other men should somehow (hopelessly) aspire, since it is absolutely out of their power, one way or the other.

      14. I had written, “People are not born with faith; therefore no one can believe. Faith is conveyed through the preaching of the gospel. A person must be given faith to be able to exercise faith to believe. I don’t understand your complaint.”

        ts00 responded, “It is true that people are not born with faith. The rest of his statement, however, is completely erroneous, resting on the faulty assumption that faith is an entity that can be given and received, and for which men are held responsible even though they have absolutely no control over whether or not they will be given this alleged gift.”

        We know from Hebrews 11 that “faith” is the assurance and conviction that God has dealt with man’s sin through Christ. So, ts00 says that:
        1. Faith is not a prerequisite to belief in Christ.
        2. Faith is not conveyed to a person through the hearing of the gospel.
        3. Faith is not a gift.
        4. God is not involved in giving a person faith.

        So, we have four points on which ts00 and I disagree.

      15. Hutch, “People are not born with faith”

        OK, we can try this again. So people who believe in other religions don’t have faith?

      16. EK writes, “So people who believe in other religions don’t have faith? ”

        They do not have that faith spoken of in the Scriptures – e.g., Ephesians 2, “…by grace you have been saved through faith;…” Whatever “faith” people in other religions have will not save them as “faith” in Christ does.

      17. It is actually not personal faith that saves but the grace that goes through the personal faith. The faith must be in place first before any salvation grace can go through it… including the grace of regeneration.

      18. brianwagner writes, “The faith must be in place first before any salvation grace can go through it… including the grace of regeneration.”

        The question asked by Calvinists is how faith can be put in place prior to, and without the preparation of the individual to receive faith accomplished, by regeneration.

      19. That is where you need to admit faith is clearly shown in Scripture as being expressed by those not yet born again. You want to teach the lie that there is a special faith needed and only given to an eternally immutable preselected group of individuals… also contradicted by clear Scriptures.

      20. brianwagner writes, “That is where you need to admit faith is clearly shown in Scripture as being expressed by those not yet born again.”

        I don’t see why. In the parable of the seed, it seems obvious that the first three types of soil represent people without faith. It is the seed (i.e., the gospel) that is the source of faith – but faith does not manifest in the first three types of soil. So, when Jesus identified one last soil as “good soil,” He does not explain what makes the good soil “good” (or why some people are fertile soil for the gospel). It can be assumed that good soil has been prepared to receive seed – hard ground has been broken up down to six inches or so and weeds and thorns taken away. The preparation of the soil to receive seed can be likened to regeneration.

        Then, “You want to teach the lie that there is a special faith needed and only given to an eternally immutable preselected group of individuals… also contradicted by clear Scriptures.”

        Not a special faith – but people specially prepared to receive the gospel, and thereby, faith. Let’s remember that the issue before us is to explain why some people hear the gospel preached and are irresistibly attracted to Christ while others hear the gospel and it is nothing but foolishness to them. One simple explanation is that some people are prepared by God to receive the gospel (and faith) and some are not.

      21. The second and third soils clearly express faith, and the first soil has the potential to express faith. Sorry you don’t wish to admit the clear evidence.

      22. brianwagner writes, ‘The second and third soils clearly express faith, and the first soil has the potential to express faith.”

        “…clearly…”??? Not really. The two soils could describe the Jews as Paul does, “they have a zeal (or joy but no root) for God, but not in accordance with knowledge For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” Then there are those Paul describes in Hebrews 6, who “have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, (they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life,)”Paul describes the effect of faith in Hebrews 3, “we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end;” Take away faith and “we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” Seems to me that the second and third soils “clearly” express a lack of faith. Perhaps, the clear evidence you are seeing is through dark glasses.

      23. You just ignored, Roger, the word “believe” in the parable to go to a passage that says the Jews did not have faith when trying to establish their own righteousness… are you really that shortsighted not to see that you are looking for evidence where there is none and ignoring the evidence where there is some. I thought you were doing a word study on every use of the word “faith”.

      24. brianwagner writes, “You just ignored…the word “believe” in the parable to go to a passage that says the Jews did not have faith when trying to establish their own righteousness… ”

        Do you say that “believing” is synonymous with “faith”? James 2 has, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.” The demons believe but have no faith. So, the belief expressed in the second soil can be exclusive of faith. The lack of faith would explain the subsequent falling away – a falling away I think we might compare to Hebrews 6..

        Then, “…are you really that shortsighted not to see that you are looking for evidence where there is none and ignoring the evidence where there is some.”

        What is the evidence you see – evidence of what?

        Then, “I thought you were doing a word study on every use of the word “faith”.

        there are about 200 verses and I am still organizing them. I am also having problems with my internet that is hindering my efforts. Finally, I give priority to responding to comments on SAT 101. Do you need more excuses?

      25. Roger… I think you would have to agree that “believe” is synonymous with personal faith. One of the most quoted verses in the NT from the OT is Gen 15:6 – “Abraham believed God…” And if the demons “believe” something… they certainly have “faith” about that something. In that context in James, their faith is in the fact there is one God, and it make them tremble.

        But God is looking for the exercise of personal faith, not just in facts, even though the same faith about that fact that God is (Heb 11:6) is necessary, and must be prior to regeneration too, but God is also looking for personal faith in His mercy which is promised to everyone who humbles themselves… but, of course, that was not a promise made available to demons to trust in. 😉

      26. brianwagner writes, “I think you would have to agree that “believe” is synonymous with personal faith.”

        Or personal faith provides the basis for one to believe, so a slight difference, so slight that one does not see the one without the other. Regardless, personal faith will not save – for that one needs the upgraded version derived from the gospel and one must be “good soil” if one is to receive the gospel to good effect and the faith conveyed through it.

      27. Faith doesn’t actually ever save. God saves through faith… He sees the act of faith/personal believing in His mercy and then He gives the new birth.

      28. brianwagner writes, “Faith doesn’t actually ever save. God saves through faith… ”

        Agreed. God saves people by various means that comprise a process, and faith is one of the means that is part of that process.

        Then, “He sees the act of faith/personal believing in His mercy and then He gives the new birth.”

        Here, you change from personal faith to personal believing. I like the distinction. Those to whom God conveys faith through the gospel are affected personally to believe. As we learn from the parable, it is the “good soil” that receives the seed to good result. People are not born as “good soil” in which the gospel finds a ready environment to prosper. So, do you have “good soil” as one of God’s acts of grace/mercy that precede and prepare a person to receive faith thereby leading to the person believing?

      29. Contrived Roger… contrived… just to maintain your loyalty to determinism. Personal repentance forms the good soil. That is done freely by the individual too, before the new birth. Ezekiel 18:30-31 NKJV — “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

      30. brianwagner writes, “Personal repentance forms the good soil. ”

        This has to be wrong. Personal repentance follows in response to the gospel (the seed). The seed is thrown into the good soil and affects personal repentance in the good soil. Take away the gospel, and what does a person repent of? I do do see how you can get to personal repentance without first declaring the gospel to a person (who is the soil into which the seed is thrown).

        Then, “That is done freely by the individual too, before the new birth.”

        That means you have to place “good soil” before the new birth. So, how does “good soil” come to be “good soil” while other soils are hard, rocky or weed invested? The “good soil” is only good because it provides an environment in which the seed can grow and produce fruit – faith, belief, repentance, good works.

        Then, “Ezekiel 18:30-31 NKJV — “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”’

        OK. So, do you have the Israel to whom God speaks to be equated with the “good soil” of the parable or must Israel be made “good soil” in order to respond to God and repent?

      31. Roger… you just can’t bring yourself to trust the clear Scripture evidence. Is the “new heart” not regeneration in Ezek 18, coming clearly after repentance? Repentance is before the gospel as the Light gives the opportunity for the change of mind that causes one to seek. Heb 6:6 speaks of renewal to this pre-salvation repentance being impossible for some if they apostacize.

      32. brianwagner writes, “Is the “new heart” not regeneration in Ezek 18, coming clearly after repentance? Repentance is before the gospel as the Light gives the opportunity for the change of mind that causes one to seek.

        Interesting philosophy you have drawn from Ezekiel. I’ll assume you are focused on this, “Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!’ Thus, you say that a person must first repent of his sins before the gospel can affect a change in mind to seek Christ. But how does, or why would, one repent without first finding Christ? What could compel a person to repent outside the knowledge of Christ? Are we to believe, as you seem to do, that a person can repent, create a new heart and spirit within himself and thereby convert himself to “good soil” into which the gospel may be sown thereby causing the person to seek that which he would not before?

        Then, ‘Heb 6:6 speaks of renewal to this pre-salvation repentance being impossible for some if they apostacize.”

        Is this not because a person cannot create a new heart or a new spirit within himself as these are things God must do?

      33. Very surprising, Roger, you just can’t bring yourself to see the order in God’s commands in Ezek 18 or the need to repent and start trusting the light that leads to getting a new heart from God. Your willful ignorance is amazing and very sad.

        Jesus clearly talked about doing the truth (that’s repentance at light given) before coming to Him – the true Light. John 3:21 NKJV — “But he who does the truth comes to the Light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

        Romans 2:4 NKJV — Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

        That “goodness” of God is given to all with the purpose to enable repentance. I wish you were more merciful in spirit, Roger. I think you would be able to see all this more clearly.

      34. brianwagner writes, “…the need to repent and start trusting the light that leads to getting a new heart from God.”

        So, I think you have the gospel leading one to repent and start trusting the light of the gospel that then enables God to give the person a new heart while the Holy Spirit gives their spirit new birth. Thus, the trusting the light precipitates receiving a new heart and this is turned around from the Calvinists who say a new heart is required for one to trust the light.

        Ezekiel has God commanding the person (actually, Israel) to “make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” So, it is not God who gives the person a new heart nor is it the Spirit that gives the person a new (or reborn) spirit. So either Jesus got it wrong or Israel (nor any person) is able, of themselves, to create a new heart within them or a new spirit. I think you are giving Ezekiel too much emphasis such that you have screwed up the context within the entirety of the Scriptures.

        Then, “That “goodness” of God is given to all with the purpose to enable repentance.”

        Of course, the issue pointed out by the Calvinists is that all, while supposedly enable to repent, do not repent. The question is, Why not? Given that God has truly enabled all to repent when they hear the gospel, we should expect all to repent – otherwise, something has gotten in the way. So, how do you account for ineffectiveness of God’s goodness for some when it works just fine for others?

      35. Very sad! The Israelites, I think, could figure out what you still refuse to try to accept, Roger. They knew God would have to make the change in their hearts to make it new, and their repentance was their step towards getting that new heart. When God says – “Save yourselves from this crooked and perverse generation”, or “whoever sins you forgive they are forgiven”, or “your faith has saved you” or Paul says, “by all means I might save some”, we understand that God does the saving, using His grace through personal faith.

        He makes it possible for all. I wish you were more merciful towards all, like God has been and continues to be, and that you would stop being loyal to your unmerciful theology. I’ll keep praying that you will submit to the truth of Scriptures.

      36. brianwagner writes, “They knew God would have to make the change in their hearts to make it new, and their repentance was their step towards getting that new heart.”

        You have not lost your sanity, after all. That is encouraging. So, when God tells Israel, ““Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” we know that this is a works based outcome – Israel would need to put away its sin in order to have God reward them with a new heart and new spirit. Guess that didn’t work out so well. As Paul notes in Romans 11, God had to do it all, “Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah–how he appealed to God against Israel: Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” If that were not bad enough, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”

        Then, “He makes it possible for all. I wish you were more merciful towards all, like God has been and continues to be, and that you would stop being loyal to your unmerciful theology. ”

        You just cannot explain how some reject the mercy God extends to them when those around them are grateful to that mercy and gratefully accept God’s mercy in order to be saved. Then, you want to blame it on me as if I have anything to do with it. Bad form, as Captain Hook would say.

      37. It certainly isn’t God’s fault if they don’t repent, as it would be if He had predestined their rejection of their opportunity and ability to repent. The work of repentance and the work of faith done by the unregenerate heart in response to God’s gracious light are NOT meritorious works. You should know not to try that ploy and straw man.

        They are works freely made that fulfill the sovereignly planned condition that He looks for before giving the new birth. The evidence it clear. Praise His Name.

        Take the last word in this thread. We are going over old ground again, my friend.

      38. The very title of the post pretty much explains it. If God tells a man he ‘should’ do something, which God has secretly ordained he never ‘could’ do, by ‘cursing’ him with Total Inability and never granting him a reprieve, as in granting him a wee bit of that ‘faith’ he so generously handed out to other equally undeserving and disabled persons, then God is cruel, deceitful and unkind, to say the least.

        This is the god of Calvinism. Thanks be to God, he is not the God of scripture, the One we must put our trust in to deliver us from sin, evil and destruction. Dr. Flowers is perhaps too genteel to come right out and say it, but Calvinism proclaims a false, cruel, unjust and unloving idol who plays deadly games in place of the true God who so loved the world that he sent his Son that we might believe in his loving mercy and receive forgiveness and life. My disdain for Calvinists’ false God does not prevent me from desiring that all would turn from this error and discover the blessed hope and good news of great joy which has been proclaimed to us.

      39. ts00 writes, “If God tells a man he ‘should’ do something,…”

        God tells people that which they must do – obey the law perfectly, repent, believe the gospel, etc.

        “…now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10)

        “…what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6)

        “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17)

      40. brianwagner writes, “It certainly isn’t God’s fault if they don’t repent, as it would be if He had predestined their rejection of their opportunity and ability to repent.”

        Only if such predestination were an active predestination.

        Then, “The work of repentance and the work of faith done by the unregenerate heart in response to God’s gracious light are NOT meritorious works.”

        That is because the work of faith, or that which faith works in a person, is belief and is the natural result of faith. It is not a work because God provides the faith. Repentance is also the result of faith and is a work of faith as is belief.

      41. That’s pretty contrived… belief is a result of faith… unless you mean by “faith” the enabling light God gives to each person. But that doesn’t irresistibly produce belief, but the opportunity to express belief in that light. And the unregenerate can express such belief. And God gives the new birth when they express that belief in His mercy. Praise His Name.

      42. brianwagner writes, “That’s pretty contrived… belief is a result of faith… unless you mean by “faith” the enabling light God gives to each person.”

        By “faith,” I mean that which Paul speaks of in Romans 10, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” We then take this faith to be that defined in Hebrews 11, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

        Then, “But that doesn’t irresistibly produce belief, but the opportunity to express belief in that light. And the unregenerate can express such belief.”

        I guess that is a matter of perspective. I see the assurance and conviction of faith noted in Hebrews 11 as manifesting as belief in Christ else there is neither assurance or conviction. Are we to say, as you seem to want, that such assurance and conviction is resistible, i.e., not that assuring or convicting?

        Then, “And God gives the new birth when they express that belief in His mercy.”

        “…belief in His mercy”?? Don’t you mean, “belief in Christ”? Does one have to comprehend God’s mercy in order to believe in Christ? Of course, one can see that God is merciful to him, but is that the object of our belief?

      43. Christ is God’s mercy… but the depth of information about Christ/God’s mercy varies throughout history… the bottom line is to trust God for His righteousness and forgiveness.

      44. brianwagner writes, “..the bottom line is to trust God for His righteousness and forgiveness.”

        …through Christ. You are saying good things – just a piece here and a piece there of the whole. Regardless, it is God who began a good work in us and He will be perfecting us until the day of Christ Jesus.

      45. God does begin the good work in everyone… drawing them. Those who believe and are then joined to Christ, whom Paul is talking to in Philippi, do gave the guaratee that the good work which was started for everyone will not end for them, now that they are in Christ. Praise His Name.

        Everyone is given the opportunity to be placed in Christ. None were eternally immutably predestined to be saved or damned.

      46. Brian writes:
        ‘Christ is God’s mercy… but the depth of information about Christ/God’s mercy varies throughout history… the bottom line is to trust God for His righteousness and forgiveness.’

        To that, I say ‘Amen’.

        Not only has the depth of information about Christ/God varied throughout history, it has been the main target of all of Satan’s deceptive powers. Thankfully, the necessity is not that we have the theologically correct understanding of the Trinity, or the proper theory of atonement or a complete understanding of eschatology – but that we believe in the love and mercy of God, demonstrated in and through the incarnation, life, suffering, death and resurrection of His only begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

        Those who focus only on understanding and debating the finer points of the ‘hows’ – of which I am so often guilty – often lose sight of, if they even understand, what it is that God demands of us. It is not the intellectual giants who are ‘the elect’ – it is those who hear of God’s love and mercy, demonstrated in Jesus, and joyfully believe in the promises he both spoke and demonstrated to be true. Our ‘faith’ is not the seal; rather, the Holy Spirit is the seal that is given to those who have faith, that is believe, in the message that is Jesus.

      47. Brian, Honestly, some days I would love to have the ‘pre-rib rapture’ promise in my pocket. Alas, neither before, during or since my Calvinist foray was I able to find it in scripture. But hey, I’d love to be presently surprised!

      48. Belief exists and is exercised before regeneration and becomes permanent by regeneration. One must believe and seek before coming to God… there is no gift/reward until after seeking.

        Hebrews 11:6 NKJV — But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

      49. Rhutchin writes:
        ‘Then, “And God gives the new birth when they express that belief in His mercy.”

        “…belief in His mercy”?? Don’t you mean, “belief in Christ”? Does one have to comprehend God’s mercy in order to believe in Christ? Of course, one can see that God is merciful to him, but is that the object of our belief?’

        If sincere, I would suggest that this is the crux of the error of Calvinism. They have been sold a story that they must believe in a set of doctrines, or some would even suggest merely the doctrine of the Trinity. I would suggest that what is meant to be expressed by ‘believing in the name of Jesus’ is first and foremost believing in the amazing love and mercy of God that his very existence demonstrates. It is not an academic knowledge that is being prescribed, but a belief in the loving, gracious nature of the true and living God.

        In truth, after years of ignorance and arrogance, I now believe that understanding this trumps all of the knowledge and understanding of complex theology or philosophy we might think we possess. The humble ‘sinner’ who believes in God’s mercy found grace, whereas the ‘perfect’ and learned ‘teacher’ was found self-righteous. Many whom I would once have self-righteously condemned as ‘sinners’ in the past, I would now view as mercifully loved. If you are sincere in this question, you are not far from the kingdom of God.

      50. Rhutchin writes:
        ‘Only if such predestination were an active predestination. ‘

        Ah, sounds like we are wandering over into non-Calvinist territory again. If there is an ‘active’ predestination, in which God actively predestines events, there must be a ‘passive’ predestination in which he does not; what the bible calls foreknowledge, whereby God knows, but does not predetermine, the choices and actions of men.

        Then comes the Calvinist redefining of faith:
        ‘That is because the work of faith, or that which faith works in a person, is belief and is the natural result of faith. It is not a work because God provides the faith. Repentance is also the result of faith and is a work of faith as is belief.’

        Of course scripture more readily can be interpreted, as most christians always have, to define faith as the response of man to God and his promises. Calvinism simply pretends as if Romans 3 does not exist (along with much else) and that Paul does not explain that faith was the response of Abraham that God saw, approved, and reckoned as righteousness. Despite Paul’s direct addressing of the fact that such a response is not a ‘work’ that ‘earns’ grace, but is the response that God requires of all men in order to credit them with righteousness and grant them everlasting life, Calvinism stubbornly insists that if man responds with his own genuine faith, it would be a work. I’m going with scripture. 😉

      51. ts00 writes, ” If there is an ‘active’ predestination, in which God actively predestines events, there must be a ‘passive’ predestination in which he does not; what the bible calls foreknowledge, whereby God knows, but does not predetermine, the choices and actions of men.”

        By “active” predestination, the Calvinist refers to God direct involvement in bringing about the end result – e.g., the flood of Noah, the destruction of Sodom, the impregnation of Mary. By “passive” predestination, the Calvinist refers to God’s passing over or non-intervention in the affairs of men allowing secondary means to bring about His purpose – e.g., the sale of Joseph by his brothers, the crucifixion of Christ, the stoning of Stephen. In both cases, God determines the outcome as His rule over (and control of) all events is absolute and God has nothing happen contrary to His eternal purpose or plan – e.g., God did not allow Joseph to be killed; only sold; God protected Jesus from stoning prior to the crucifixion.

        Then, “Of course scripture more readily can be interpreted, as most christians always have, to define faith as the response of man to God and his promises.”

        Faith is an “assurance” or “conviction.” “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed…” So, Romans 4, speaks of the one, “…believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,” The one who believes God form faith obeys God. The foundation of belief and obedience is faith. Belief presumes faith; faith is revealed by belief – that is, true belief for even the demons believe in God but w/o faith.

  9. No that’ll do Rhutchin, I’m happy with how ever you want to put it. As long as readers are aware that you believe that salvation is only possible for the elect few only – those that were chosen to be saved by secret decree before they were born for unrevealed reasons, and nobody else.

    It’s just good to clarify and can save a lot of circular back and forth, if others new to the blog don’t realise that is what you beleive. That’s all.

    1. And Calvinists also believe God’s secret decree included creating people already predestined to sin specific sins and never to be able to respond to His grace, even though He would deceptively say it was offered for their salvation. But it was not really available to them since that same predestination included their being damned forever before they were ever born.

      That’s not the truth about God who speaks the truth about Himself and His mercy for all in Scripture… There is no such wicked secret decree. No individual was eternally immutably predetermined before creation to be saved or damned. That neo-platonist determinism which has infected Christian theology for far too long is a lie.

      1. brianwagner writes, “And Calvinists also believe God’s secret decree included creating people already predestined to sin specific sins and never to be able to respond to His grace,…”

        So, your system says that God did not even know that Adam would eat the fruit and could not know it until God actually observed Adam to eat the fruit. If so, then God would have no knowledge of actualities after Adam ate the fruit – all of God’s knowledge of the future would consist of possibilities only. Is your position that extreme??

        Then, “…even though He would deceptively say it was offered for their salvation.”

        What deception? Even granting that God does take action to save specific individuals (who presumably would not otherwise be saved according to the Calvinists), God does not take similar action to prevent all other people freely responding to the gospel (except in the case of judicial hardening promoted by Dr. Flowers in his book). What’s your issue with God here?

        Then, “…that same predestination included their being damned forever before they were ever born.”

        Being damned for their sin but not predestined to reject salvation except by their specific choice.

        Then, “There is no such wicked secret decree. No individual was eternally immutably predetermined before creation to be saved or damned.”

        Full disclosure here – Brian rejects the notion that God is omniscient and by such omniscience knows the future disposition of any one person, much less all people. It may be that some people did not grasp this in your statement, “That’s not the truth about God who speaks the truth about Himself and His mercy for all in Scripture… “

      2. Others, Roger, will decide whose position about God is “extreme” and which clearly best represents the God of Scripture. And you misrepresented God’s secret decree as taught in Calvinism… it does indeed include each and every sin that man will commit before He even creates that man… and also their predestined damnation without them ever being able to respond freely to the gospel that He clearly said was for them… thus making God look like a deceiver. I can live with some thinking my view of His omniscience is “extreme” and will keep rejecting your horrible view of God’s justice and mercy.

      3. brianwagner writes, “Others, Roger, will decide whose position about God is “extreme” and which clearly best represents the God of Scripture. ”

        I though your philosophy allowed for God to have determined certain events in the future – Greg Boyd allows this. However, if God does not know that Adam will eat the fruit, then He cannot determine anything in the future until after Adam sins. This seems an extreme position to me, but it certainly seems to be your position (but I will not call it extreme if that upsets you).

        I think we have a technical disagreement regarding your other comment. Depends on whether we use “predestined” as it is used in the scriptures or as Calvin uses it – unless we agree that it does not mean equal ultimacy.

      4. The phrase “equal ultimacy”, Roger, is a smoke screen to make others feel like God’s will wasn’t truly active in every aspect of His decree which resulted in the predestination of all things. So much for their view of sovereignty! But they cant get around the real contradiction that is always staring them in the face, because Scripture plainly speaks of damnation! Determinism makes God logically responsible for the creation of each one predestined for damnation and creating them without any opportunity to be able to accept any grace that would alter that destiny!

        As for God predetermining conditonal elements in a plan that would trigger certain unconditonal elements, I’m ok with that… and it seems God’s Word is too. So – NO – Adam wasn’t predestined unconditionally to sin, nor was the Son predestined unconditionally to die, but it was unconditionally determined before creation that if Adam would sin the Son would die for it.

        That doesn’t sound as extreme as believing all sins were specifically predestined and that most people were predestined to damnation. Sorry. But you won’t change my mind nor can you change the clear Scriptures that reject that view.

      5. brianwagner writes, “The phrase “equal ultimacy”, Roger, is a smoke screen to make others feel like God’s will wasn’t truly active in every aspect of His decree which resulted in the predestination of all things.”

        No, it’s not. Equal ultimacy says that a person cannot be saved without God taking direct action to save him and then that a person cannot be lost without God also directly causing them to be lost (e.g. if God were to judicially harden a person who then dies under that hardening). Calvinists say that no one can be saved unless God takes action to save them. People are lost because God takes no action to save them. Their lost condition is the result of Adam’s freely chosen decision to sin that resulted in death for him that was then inherited by his progeny. It does not refer to God’s decrees (or decisions) but His actions required to execute those decisions.

        Then, “Determinism makes God logically responsible…”

        To which all agree – even the Scriptures. The issue is whether God must directly intervene to bring about His decrees or can do nothing thereby allowing His decrees to occur naturally. For example, God may decree gravity so that water flows downhill. God does not then have to cause water to flow downhill every time it rains.

        Then, “So – NO – Adam wasn’t predestined unconditionally to sin,…”

        That is what I understood you to mean. Thus, God could not know that Adam would sin until actually observing him to do so. Thus, God could not determine anything, except, as you note conditioned on Adam’s action. No event after Adam could be anything other than a possibility. I think that is extreme even for the Open Theists.

      6. So, Roger, you don’t believe God predetermined anyone’s sin and damnation, nor did He predestinate any of it, nor did He decree it… based on the idea there is not “equal ultimacy” in God’s decree. He’s not truly sovereign, as defined by you, since you want to call that part of His decree “permitting” man to sin every sin, even though each becomes necessary and His “not offering to save many” as just, even though that also becomes necessary and assures their damnation.

        Double speak! They are damned by decree before they were created. They were decreed never to be able to hear His voice. He decreed that He would never save them… before creation. He is responsible for every result of His decree. And if His decree made every sin necessary… He is guilty of participation in each.

        And if He decrees to feign an offer of mercy to any He knows can’t hear it, nor does He want them to hear it, even though He’s able to, that is deception and morally evil. To say He decreed to create many He knew would be damned and tormented forever without His hope and provision of grace being freely rejected (and I mean freely) makes God into a monster who wants to display capricious and unjustified wrath on many created in His image.

        God is not less merciful and just than the mercy and justice He demands of us. To say He isn’t at least as merciful and just as He said we should be is just faulty thinking, and probably redefining God in our own unmerciful and unjust character. That’s not the God of the Scriptures.

      7. brianwagner writes, “you don’t believe God predetermined anyone’s sin and damnation, nor did He predestinate any of it, nor did He decree it… based on the idea there is not “equal ultimacy” in God’s decree.”

        Not exactly. We distinguish between God being active or passive in the determination (predestination) of events and the execution of His sovereign rule over His creation. God was active in creating the world, the animals, Adam/Eve, the garden, the tree of knowledge, removing his protection so that Satan could enter and mess with Eve. God was passive and did not act in any way when Satan tempted Eve – He just watched events as they unfolded. God could easily have helped Eve but did not. So, God decreed, predetermined not to prevent Eve eating the fruit and thereby decreed/predetermined that she would eat the fruit. Equal Ultimacy says that God made Eve eat the fruit – a position rejected by Calvinism. That God is sovereign does not tell us how God exercises His sovereignty – whether He involves Himself in the affairs of people or not so involves Himself. If God intervenes to save a person who would not otherwise be saved, He displays His mercy. If God chooses not to save a person who would not otherwise be saved, that person is then subject to judgment and receives justice.

        Then, ‘They are damned by decree before they were created.”

        Under your system, they are also damned by decree. Under your system, God observes Eve about to eat the fruit and does nothing to stop her. Your complaint is that I maintain that God had decided this course of action before creation. Where is the “Double speak”???

        Then, “if He decrees to feign an offer of mercy to any He knows can’t hear it, nor does He want them to hear it, even though He’s able to, that is deception and morally evil.”

        So you have a problem with the doctrine of Total Depravity. Your argument here is the same made by the Universalist. If your system allows for people to be lost, then you argue against your own system, don’t you – if you are truly adamant about “…I mean freely…” I think you will have to fudge on “freely” in order to get the outcome that some are not saved.

      8. Roger, you might begin to wonder why others get frustrated with your approach to discussing arguments that are shown to you. Now you don’t know what “sovereignty” means in your system… Very convenient.

        It is wholly different to grant real permission to real people in the development of a relationship with them after they are created than it is to decree a fake permission that makes necessary only one choice for every action in a life before creating that life. Trying to escape “equal ultimacy” by simple denial or to escape “God is the author of every sin” by simple denial, while maintaining dogmatically God’s willful decree as the sole reason for the sovereign predestination of every event in human history, before starting that “history”, is either evidence of a great self-delusion (which is possible) or evidence of willful falsehood against the truth (which is possible) because repenting has been estimated as requiring too much, and the benefits of such repenting aren’t estimated as important enough.

      9. brianwagner writes, “Now you don’t know what “sovereignty” means in your system… Very convenient. ”

        I don’t see how you conclude that. Sovereignty is God’s absolute rule over His creation – not just in Calvinism but in all systems. God rules directly by bringing events to pass (e.g., the flood of Noah or the destruction of Sodom) or indirectly by letting natural events play out without interference from Him (e.g., death of Stephen). I have not deviated from that position at any time. God is sovereign regardless when He makes decisions on the execution of His sovereign power – so you and I should view sovereignty in the same way. If not, I do not see where we differ.

        Then, “It is wholly different to grant real permission to real people in the development of a relationship with them after they are created than it is to decree a fake permission that makes necessary only one choice for every action in a life before creating that life.”

        This just reflects your perspective on God’s omniscience. Somehow you think that God’s ignorance of people’s decisions makes a real difference between your system and mine. It doesn’t. Everything comes out the same either way. If not, can you provide an example where it does not?

        Then, “while maintaining dogmatically God’s willful decree as the sole reason for the sovereign predestination of every event in human history, before starting that “history”,…”

        All right. Take out the part about, “…before starting that “history”,…” and limit God to making His decrees in the course of time as events unfold. Nothing changes does it?? The only way things change is for new information to be generated that God did not know beforehand. However, you have allowed that God knows all future possibilities, so there is not room for new information and it doesn’t matter when God makes His decrees whether in eternity past or in the course of time – those decrees will be the same either way. If not, can you provide an example where an event changes between my system (Calvinism) and your system?

        Then, “is either evidence of a great self-delusion (which is possible) or evidence of willful falsehood against the truth (which is possible) because repenting has been estimated as requiring too much, and the benefits of such repenting aren’t estimated as important enough.”

        OK. So what really changes between your system and mine?? How about an example to illustrate your claim?

      10. Roger – You said – “those decrees will be the same either way”. We disagree and have been down that road of discussion before. You lock God into one future forever, because you have bought the platonist lie of what defines perfection… I believe Scripture shows He often has a number of possible choices in response to any event or choice, all of which are good, and that is God’s definition of perfection.

      11. brianwagner writes, “You lock God into one future forever,”

        So do you. God is locked into one future by the decisions (decrees) He makes. It does not matter that I say that God made those decisions were made in eternity past and you say that God makes them in the course of time. Whenever God makes a decision, He is locked into one future – the distinction you make is that God locks Himself in a bit at a time. In the end, God makes the same decisions – locks Himself into the same future – regardless when He makes those decisions.

      12. brianwagner writes, “God is not locked into the same future in both of our views.”

        Sure He is. You allow that God knows all future possibilities. You then allow that God has an infinite understanding of those future possibilities and His decisions to response to these possibilities reflects His perfect wisdom. I agree on this. So, unless you see new information being introduced at some point after creation, then His decisions will respond to that information He has even before the creation. Thus, it doesn’t matter when God decides how to respond to a future possibility – His decision will reflect the information He has. A decision made by God before creation will not change after creation unless something new happens that God could not have previously considered that would call for a different reaction. Do you see God dealing with new information after creation that He did not have before creation?

      13. You continue to ignore the fact that God can choose between two “good” possibilities, and He is not locked into one so-called “perfect” one for each response, just because your deterministic presupposition says He must be, or He is not “perfect”. Let God define perfection for you in His Word… That might work better, Roger, in helping you see why the future is not all predetermined in His mind. His decisions are not just influenced by cold logic, precalculating various scenarios. Remember, we are talking about His desire for covenant love which requires decisions based on relationship and free will between parties involved.

      14. brianwagner writes, “You continue to ignore the fact that God can choose between two “good” possibilities, and He is not locked into one so-called “perfect” one for each response,…”

        Each of the two “good” possibilities will give rise to an unique stream of subsequent possibilities. Each possibility stream will be different from the other and, while the initial possibilities may both be good, one will be better, relative to the other, based on the stream of possibilities coming from it. The possibilities will be different and only one can be “perfect” under the inspection of God’s understanding. It is good that you recognize that it is God who chooses between (or among) differing possibilities. God’s choice is guided by His plan and will accomplish His purposes.

        Then, “His decisions are not just influenced by cold logic, precalculating various scenarios. Remember, we are talking about His desire for covenant love which requires decisions based on relationship and free will between parties involved.”

        It is God’s covenantal love that drives God’s decisions relative to a relationship He initiates with a person and God’s actions precede, and enable, any free will interaction between God and the party involved. I don’t see a problem with cold logic characterizing what is happening – certainly, God’s actions will be logical rather than illogical.

      15. We will continue to disagree on the meaning of “perfect” locking God in, in your view.

        And we will continue to disagree that God is only working out a fantasy love story that was eternally immutably in His mind. It is logical that He is not doing that! 😉

      16. brianwagner writes, “We will continue to disagree on the meaning of “perfect” locking God in, in your view.”

        I think we agree that God locks Himself in whenever He makes a decision and God’s decisions are always perfect. Our disagreement is not whether God locks Himself in with His decisions but when God makes those decisions. I have pointed out that God’s decisions will be the same regardless when He makes those decisions – this because God does not receive new information and His understanding of the information He has does not change, thus, there is never a basis for God to change a decision just because some amount of time passes by. Your response is that it’s really complicated (e.g., the two good options theory) so God has to take time to figure out what He wants to do.

        Then, “And we will continue to disagree that God is only working out a fantasy love story that was eternally immutably in His mind. It is logical that He is not doing that! ”

        We both agree that it is not fantasy. Sometimes, I am not sure that you think God is working out “His” love story.

      17. Thank you, Roger, for confirming and expanding on our disagreement. Others can determine which of us is reflecting the biblical love story the best!

      18. Even Brian doesn’t have access to an edit function. How frustrating. But I knew what you meant.

        [Actually… I do… so play nice! lol bw]

      19. Retry:
        Rhutchin writes:
        “So you have a problem with the doctrine of Total Depravity. Your argument here is the same made by the Universalist.”

        What a silly statement. It matters little if one shares arguments with ‘Universalists’, atheists or aliens, if the argument is logically sound. The merit of a proposition does not rest in the perfections of its proposer.

        All men should have a problem with the doctrine of Total Depravity, whoever proposes it; it is an insult to not only moral justice but basic decency. It is certainly not described by the writers of scripture, but is totally manufactured by the likes of Augustine and Calvin to grant credence to their New Judaism (the new ‘chosen people’ theology).

        One would think the glorious message of the gospel, demonstrated by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and explained by his disciples would be impossible to hide. Ah, one so motivated is left with the necessity of attempting to distort it into something entirely other than it clearly is. This distortion of reality is the game yet played by all who use fabricated stories (fake news), false authority, propaganda and manipulation to mislead and control the beliefs and behavior of others.

        How could one possibly distort the clear message that salvation is, and never was, for the ‘chosen people’ into the message that salvation is for a new group of ‘chosen people’? The documented story of Calvin’s Geneva shows us the methodology: apply the clever tools of doublespeak, euphemism, distortion, contradiction and, when necessary, outright force to deceive those who have been ‘persuaded’ that you are the ultimate authority who holds the keys to the kingdom of God.

        Total Depravity, as defined by Calvinism, is total absurdity.

        Let’s see, the God who made a ‘perfect world’ wanted to spice things up a bit, so he secretly induced his ‘perfect’ creation to rebel and ‘sin’ against him. This enabled him to place a curse upon this humanity we are supposed to believe he ‘loved’ and created in his own image. That obviously didn’t last too long. Now these men, allegedly made in his image, are not only totally unlike God, but totally unable to hear, understand and obey him. Gee, that makes sense; who wouldn’t want to make the men you supposedly created to dwell with you in love and unity unable to even know who you are and what you expect from them? Make sense so far?

        Then, just to rub a little salt in the wound, God sets forth commands and warnings of divine punishment, in spite of the fact that he had just cursed all men with this inexplicable total inability to understand such things. Who wouldn’t threaten and punish a helpless infant for not being able to properly hold his fork? Rules are rules, and lets have not silly excuses about inability.

        Imagine, just to demonstrate how good and just he is, the father who creates a genetic mutant, an infant who is able to perform unthinkable feats by virtue of the ‘magic power’ granted to him by his brilliant father. This specially empowered mutant would be held up as the model of perfect obedience, a model that all ‘normal’, helpless infants could never be expected to emulate. But good news! This father has decided, in his grand generosity, to choose a select few helpless infants to be ‘forgiven’ their inabilities and ‘credited’ with the supernatural obedience of the superchild. These ‘elected’ infants, though in no way different from all their brethren, are nonetheless declared ‘acceptable’ and will receive none of the judgment, condemnation and, alas, punishment that awaits their helpless kindred who are utterly unable to keep the impossible requirements set before them, through no fault of their own. They are simply, totally unable to do that which has been commanded.

        This, supposedly, demonstrates how good and loving the father is, even though, in reality, he could have patiently allowed for the natural immaturity of all infants, and awaited the development of their innate ability to both comprehend and perform simple commands. Or, if the father was merely eager to demonstrate his brilliant powers, he could have chosen to grant all infants immunity from condemnation based on the exact same standards, demonstrating true love and mercy for all.

        The total absurdity doctrine appears to rely on a Darwinian like genetic mutation that ‘unfortunately’ infects all mankind with the consequences of Adam’s sin. However, even this suggestion is inexplicable under the model of an omniscient, omnipotent all-controlling deity who determines absolutely all events which shall ever come to pass. There is no escaping the fact that if man is under some so-called curse of so-called Total Depravity it is at the direct and deliberate command of the only non-coerced force in the universe. God.

        Under Calvinism/Predestination/Determinism, if sin and evil exists – which no one appears to deny – then it was deliberately planned, ordained and ’caused’ by one and only one being, who is God. For this God to then select a chosen few to spare the horrible suffering he has dreamed up to punish the awful ‘sin’ he dreamed up – how generous – while ‘punishing’ all others for that ‘sin’, which they are totally unable to avoid (who can resist the divine determinations of God?), is not only cruel and unjust, but cowardly deceptive, as he attempts to hide his irresistible orchestrations behind the use of the ‘Total Depravity’ sleight of hand.

        If Calvinism wants to assert the rights of an omniscient, totalitarian despot to viciously manipulate and destroy the helpless puppet-like creatures he has dreamed up to his heart’s content they should do so with honesty and clarity, rather than resorting to silly ruses and illogical schemes that can never disguise the culpability of an all-powerful creator – minus his granting genuine freedom of choice to his creatures. That means no games, no secret decrees, no secret curses, no secret gifts of ‘faith’ to a select few and no impossible demands made upon helpless, totally controlled creatures who are at the mercy of their creator.

      20. ts00 writes, “All men should have a problem with the doctrine of Total Depravity, whoever proposes it; it is an insult to not only moral justice but basic decency. It is certainly not described by the writers of scripture,”

        Yet, In John 6, Jesus says twice that “No one can come to me…” In John 3, Jesus says that “no one can see the kingdom of God,” and “no one can enter the kingdom of God.” In each case resolution of the condition of the person – called Total Depravity – necessitates a specific action by God. Do you read those verses to tell us something else?

      21. ts00 writes, “If Calvinism wants to assert the rights of an omniscient, totalitarian despot to viciously manipulate and destroy the helpless puppet-like creatures he has dreamed up to his heart’s content they should do so with honesty and clarity,…”

        They do. Calvinists are clear that God created Adam/Eve, placed them into a perfect garden, planted a tree whose fruit they were not to eat, and then opened the garden for Satan to enter whose purpose was to destroy that which God had created. How do you read the account in Genesis??

      22. “God does not take similar action to prevent all other people freely responding to the gospel.” That is a direct contradiction to the Calvinist teaching that everything that happens is a result of God’s secret decree which predestines everything to happen only one way. It is God’s will that prevents “all other people [besides the elect] freely responding to [meaning able to freely accept or reject] the gospel. But Calvinists will the rape “freely” of all its meaning to still claim it.

      23. Rhutchin writes:
        “God does not take similar action to prevent all other people freely responding to the gospel.”

        One cannot get any more blatantly dishonest than this. Of course, according to Calvinism, God most assuredly ‘took action to prevent all other people [from] freely responding to the gospel’. According to their system, God took the action of cursing every single human ever born with an inability to respond to the gospel. I didn’t make this stuff up, nor do I believe it – I’m just reporting what any investigation of Calvinism, Reformed Theology or the Westminster Confession reveals. This is, without the slightest question, the fundamental foundation of Calvinism, this (false) claim that God cursed innocent men and women with a total inability to respond to him, leaving them utterly unable, not only to save themselves, but even to respond to any offer of salvation by God. Just how can this translate into “God does not take similar action to prevent all other people freely responding to the gospel”? As usual, this is not some casual misstatement – it is a deliberate attempt to deceive and portray something other than what documented 5 point Calvinism states unequivocally.

        Why would would anyone accuse God of doing such a horrible, unthinkable thing, contrary to his own promises through that he would NEVER punish the ‘children’ for the sin of their ‘father’? Good question. And why would God repeatedly make offers and commands that men ‘should’ pursue, but – due to God’s deliberate curse – ‘cannot’? Who would understand this better than the God who allegedly orchestrated such a cruel, unjust dilemma?

        You can hardly blame the folks who want to distance themselves from such an abhorrent theology. It’s time they own up to the ugly assertions of Calvinism (It’s not like it is not well documented, from the Institutes on down!) or denounce them like the rest of us.

      24. ts00 writes, “According to their system, God took the action of cursing every single human ever born with an inability to respond to the gospel.”

        Let us appeal to the Scriptures on this. Adam was told that he would die the day he ate the fruit. Adam ate the fruit; he immediately died spiritually; physical death was initiated and eventually Adam dies physically. So, what happened to his progeny. They inherited death because they were of Adam. We see this continuing to play out today. Mutations (or corruptions) to the DNA in one generation are transferred by inheritance to following generations. This was by God’s decree – i.e., God was not going to intervene to restore Adam’s progeny to that purity Adam had before he ate the fruit. By eating the fruit, Adam became corrupt and that corruption was passed to his children who then passed it to their children. So, your comment is slanted because you leave out Adam and the role he played. God cursed Adam – as He plainly told Adam would be the case – and Adam then passed that curse to his progeny through inheritance. God was under no obligation to wipe out the corruption Adam incurred or prevent that corruption form being passed to Adam’s progeny.

        Then, “This is, without the slightest question, the fundamental foundation of Calvinism, this (false) claim that God cursed innocent men and women with a total inability to respond to him, leaving them utterly unable, not only to save themselves,…”

        That total inability reflects a complete lack of desire by people to save themselves. As a matter of logic, any person should easily choose eternal life over eternal death. In any other decision of life, people easily choose that option that provides them the greater benefit. Ask any person why they reject salvation and they offer illogical reasons – they don’t believe in God or it just doesn’t make sense to them. You are complaining that people are that which Paul describes in Romans 1 and blaming God for allowing people to choose, however illogical their reasoning, what they want to do.

    2. DG writes, “…you believe that salvation is only possible for the elect few only – those that were chosen to be saved by secret decree before they were born for unrevealed reasons, and nobody else.”

      And all this hinges on the extent to which one believes that God must be involved in the salvation of a person and the extent to which any person has the ability to seal the deal.

      1. That’s the point Rutchin. Within Calvinism all things were predetermined to come to pass the exact way they come to pass, right down to the finest detail of every thought of man.

        So when you talk of any ability whatsoever it is just fluff. Nobody has any ability at all within Calvinism. Any “ability” to sin or reject God is no different than any “ability” to accept him. Ability is redundant in the Calvinist system.

        So within your system when you talk about salvation being by grace through faith – faith in what? To save them from what? Because within Calvinism nothing could have been any different than what it is. As everything that happens is devoid of any “ability” or responsibility whatsoever.

      2. DG writes, ” Within Calvinism all things were predetermined to come to pass the exact way they come to pass, right down to the finest detail of every thought of man.”

        This established by God’s omniscience. So, let’s be up front on this – You side with Brian in concluding that God cannot be omniscient.

        Then, “Ability is redundant in the Calvinist system.”

        Hardly. Any person can study and learn new things. That is an ability. People can increase in knowledge and the decisions they made will reflect that knowledge and be different at different levels of knowledge. Any person can read the Scriptures and learn about God and make decisions consistent with that knowledge. If people are also selfish and prideful, then their decisions can logically reflect that pridefulness and selfishness. People certainly have the ability to sin – you demonstrate this by the sin that you do. The real issue is whether a person has the ability to accept salvation. If people make decisions that are logical, then they should easily accept salvation and all should be saved. Does God inhibit any person making a logical decision regarding salvation – absolutely not. Is God obligated to help people who make dumb, illogical decisions – of course not.

        Then, “So within your system when you talk about salvation being by grace through faith – faith in what?”

        Faith in Christ.

      3. Your faith in Christ Rhutchin can only “appear” like faith in Christ within Calvinism.
        Your faith in Christ was just a motion that was predetermined to come pass by the unchangeable secret decree within Calvinism.
        Every sin that comes to pass is not an ability to sin either within Calvinism. Every sin was predetermined to come to pass by every predetermined person predetermined to commit it.

        So you can harp on about responsibility, grace, faith, and all these other words but they all lose their meaning in a fatalistic unchangeable world within Calvinism.

        Grace for what? For faith in what? To save you from what? When you were already saved by a secret decree before you were born for reasons unrevealed. Now get that it’s “UNREVEALED”.
        It has nothing to do with the gospel because if it did it wouldn’t be unrevealed.

        Yet Rhutchin, you dogmatically defend Calvinism like it’s the gospel, when in ‘reality’ it has nothing to do with it.

  10. Actually Rhutchin – who are you trying to convince by putting up your posts on this blog? When you also believe that no one can be convinced of anything. Whatever anyone is seemingly “convinced” of couldn’t have been any different.

    1. DG writes, “who are you trying to convince by putting up your posts on this blog?”

      The object is engage discussion of a variety of positions and describe accurately the positions that people take. It helps everyone if they have to explain and defend the position they take. Of course, a lot of time is spent clarifying misunderstandings about Calvinism.

      1. Rhuthin, How can trying to “clarify” or “help” anyone within your belief in Calvinism be even possible? Calvinism says all thing that come to pass were predetermined to come to pass and couldn’t have been any different than what God decreed by the secret decree.

        So do you think you can help someone change their mind while also believing that their decision cannot be changed due to that decision being secretly decreed and un-changeable before they were born?

        Do you think you can bring understanding to an individual who was predetermined to misunderstand before they born by the secret decree the very thing that you are are trying to make them understand?

        Both of these things are impossible to change within Calvinism, yet you speak as if they could be.

        You say you want to “describe accurately the positions that people take”.
        Within Calvinism the positions that people take are the positions that they were predetermined to take by the secret decree and cannot be any different and are unchageable by the secret decree. So in actual fact within Calvinism people don’t actually “take” anything. They just fulfil what was decreed for them from before they were born.

        It’s all fluff, bluff and mirrors

      2. DG writes, “Calvinism says all thing that come to pass were predetermined to come to pass…”

        This just means that God is omniscient and knew the future perfectly before He created the universe. Those who disagree hold that God is not omniscient. We have clarified two opposite positions on this. Now discussion can ensue on whether the Scriptures support one position or the other.

        Then, “…and couldn’t have been any different than what God decreed by the secret decree.”

        That God decreed it means that God is sovereign and exerts absolute control over His creation. Few people disagree with this. That God’s decrees are secret means that God has not revealed what He is doing in every event that happens. That does not argue against God being in control of those events.

        Then, “So do you think you can help someone change their mind…”

        No. It just establishes points of disagreement that, if resolvable, can only be done through the Scriptures. I have no problem with you believing that God is not omniscient. So, do you want to engage the Scriptures to show how you see the Scriptures supporting your belief?

        Then, “Both of these things are impossible to change within Calvinism, yet you speak as if they could be.”

        All things have been determined by God, but God has not revealed all that He has determined. God has told us to ask Him for wisdom and then tells us that understanding is to be found in the study of the Scriptures. Thus, God builds into His determination of all things an increase in wisdom and understanding for His elect. We experience change even though that change was already known to God before we were born. Calvinism summarizes what is happening.

        Then, “They just fulfil what was decreed for them from before they were born.”

        So? God’s knowledge of the thoughts of your mind or the actions you take does not negate these thoughts being your thoughts and the actions you want to do. God does not force you to think one thing over another or take one action over another – but He can.

      3. Omniscient –
        the state of knowing everything.
        “the notion of divine omniscience”

        You have a wrong understand of omniscience
        Knowing what will come to pass is not the same as determining it to come to pass.
        Omniscience doesn’t equal determinism unless you are a Calvinist. Leighton has already gone over this with clarity.
        Look up any definition of omniscience and not one defines it as determinism, not one! So keep scratching Rhutchin.

        You say – “God does not force you to think one thing over another or take one action over another”

        I guess he wouldn’t if the action was already determined by the secret decree – God would only be forcing against the very thing he decreed.

        As I said, fluff and bluff, smoke and mirrors.

      4. DG writes, “Knowing what will come to pass is not the same as determining it to come to pass.”

        God’s knowledge of that which will come to pass makes the future certain but not necessary. I think this is the point you are making (William Craig made it already). Now, the issue is to identify what makes future events necessary (or determined).. Since God is omnipotent, nothing can happen without His decree. Thus, Satan must first petition God’s to decree that the hedge be removed so that Satan can torment Job. Are we to think that Satan could enter into Judas without first petitioning God to decree it?

        Perhaps you and I agree that God is omniscient and knows the future perfectly. The issue now seems to be to explain how certain events in the future come to be determined and is the role that God plays in this enough to conclude that He determines all things that He knows will happen..

        Then, “I guess he wouldn’t if the action was already determined by the secret decree – God would only be forcing against the very thing he decreed.”

        I guess God does have two types of decrees. One that encompasses that certain future known to Him alone. The other involving laws that He then gives people freedom to disobey.

      5. “And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin. Jer 32:35”

        “Neither came it into my mind”

        You can argue that one with God Rhutchin. I’ll just believe Him.

      6. DG writes, ““Neither came it into my mind” You can argue that one with God

        Net Bible translates this as, “Such a disgusting practice was not something I commanded them to do! It never even entered my mind to command them to do such a thing! So Judah is certainly liable for punishment.’”

        What conclusion are you drawing from the phrase, ““Neither came it into my mind”? I think Net Bible has captured the sense of the verse and I see no problems.

      7. Rhutchin, You being a Calvinist would say that God decreed all things that come to pass to come to pass before the world was created right? And are unchangeable right? Because God being omniscient knows what he decreed right? Yet here is something that came to pass that never entered into the mind of God that they would do such a thing.

        Never is never. Yet you would have to hold to that before the world was created God decreed that disgusting thing to come to pass by the secret decree. And you would have to say if you are a Calvinist that he didn’t just decree to “let” it come to pass – Because as Calvinism says nothing comes to pass that God doesn’t decree to come to pass right down to the finest detail, even every evil thought of man.

        That’s why I say – When God says never or ‘neither’ in my bible – I believe him!
        I don’t think he is just telling me a lie. He didn’t decree this disgusting thing to come to pass because as He said –

      8. DG writes, “Yet here is something that came to pass that never entered into the mind of God that they would do such a thing….That’s why I say – When God says never or ‘neither’ in my bible – I believe him!
        I don’t think he is just telling me a lie. He didn’t decree this disgusting thing to come to pass…”

        As I said earlier, the translation seems to be a problem. The NET Bible translates the verse this way – ““Such a disgusting practice was not something I commanded them to do! It never even entered my mind to command them to do such a thing! So Judah is certainly liable for punishment.’” You chose to ignore this and do not comment that it is a bad translation or anything. Doesn’t seem to be much more to say on this.

      9. Either translation says the same thing in different words.

        How convenient for you Rhutchin. Instead of addressing the issue you dodge it with a word play. You must love having 800 English translations on your shelf to choose from.
        Sorry if you think my bible isn’t the word of God.
        You should make your own out of the ones you like and copyright it – The RTV (Rhutchins Twisted Version) 😁

      10. DG writes, “Instead of addressing the issue you dodge it with a word play.”

        The two translations are unique but not really different.

        “which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

        “Such a disgusting practice was not something I commanded them to do! It never even entered my mind to command them to do such a thing! So Judah is certainly liable for punishment.’

        The difference is between “neither came it into my mind,” and “It never even entered my mind to command them to do such a thing!”

        You take the first – neither came it into my mind – to mean that the idea or concept never entered God’s mind. The second translation – “It never even entered my mind to command them” – properly allows that God could be aware of the practice but He would not think to command that Israel do those things.

        Your point is that God could not have decreed the things Israel was doing arguing, “Yet here is something that came to pass that never entered into the mind of God that they would do such a thing.” The acts themselves are not that which did not enter God’s mind; instead it never entered God’s mind to “command” Israel to do these things. God could decree that Israel do these things while never commanding that Israel do these things. This is similar to the crucifixion of Christ – God decreed that Pilate crucify Christ but did not command Pilate to crucify Christ.

      11. It is not similar or even remotely close to the crucifixion of Christ – this just goes to show your twisted thinking.
        Christ determining to deliver himself to die by the hand of Pilate and alike had everything to do what God knew beforehand – In His foreknowledge God knew what men with freedom to sin would do and also knew the remedy.
        “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:” Acts 2;23
        This was always in God’s mind.

        The verse in Jer 32:35 clearly says that the abomination they did “never even entered my mind” says the Lord.

        But what you are saying is that it did enter into Gods mind because he secretly decreed it to happen & decreed it unchangeable by the secret decree – the decree that secretly decrees all things including every abomination that come to pass – to come to pass.

        And you compare this to God’s determinate counsel and foreknowledge to send His Son to save the lost from perishing for eternity – Shame!

      12. DG complains, “The verse in Jer 32:35 clearly says that the abomination they did “never even entered my mind” says the Lord.
        But what you are saying is that it did enter into Gods mind because he secretly decreed it to happen…”

        You leave out the important context from the NET Bible translation – “It never entered God’s mind to command Israel…” It is God’s “command” that is in view and to be distinguished from God’s “decree.” The distinction between God’s “command” and His “decree” can be illustrated with the crucifixion of Christ – God “decreed” that Pilate order the crucifixion of Christ; God did not “command” Pilate to order the crucifixion of Christ.

        You ignore the NET Bible translation of Jeremiah 32 that gives a context tied to God’s command. That accounts for the difference between us on the point you keep hitting.

      13. And you ignore the fact that the NET bible or any bible for that matter does NOT say that God “decreed” that abomination to happen. Yet you still adamantly compare God wanting that abomination to come to pass the same as He wanted Salvation to come to pass, all by the “same” so called “secret decree” of God.
        Again – Shame!

      14. DG writes, “And you ignore the fact that the NET bible or any bible for that matter does NOT say that God “decreed” that abomination to happen. ”

        The point of discussion on Jeremiah had nothing to do with God’s decrees but God’s omniscience. The Jeremiah citation cannot be used to argue that there are things God does not know – i.e., that God is not omniscient. Nothing here about God’s decrees – other than Jeremiah identifies something God would not decree.

        Then, “Yet you still adamantly compare God wanting that abomination to come to pass the same as He wanted Salvation to come to pass, all by the “same” so called “secret decree” of God.”

        Not me. I think you have an active imagination and you are unable to control it.

      15. I’ll take that like a grain of salt and consider it a blessing. Thank you.

      16. Rhutchin writes:

        “DG writes, “Calvinism says all thing that come to pass were predetermined to come to pass…”

        This just means that God is omniscient and knew the future perfectly before He created the universe. Those who disagree hold that God is not omniscient. We have clarified two opposite positions on this. Now discussion can ensue on whether the Scriptures support one position or the other.”

        This is a good demonstration of how Calvinism so often reframes the discussion by creating an illusory, false dichotomy in place of the question at hand.

        Calvinism, indeed, asserts that God predetermines ‘whatsoever comes to pass’. One cannot legitimately deny the ramifications of such a statement, however hard and long the vaunted Westminster Divines and their defenders have tried. Thus, they attempt to reframe the discussion, hoping no one will understand that the reason everyone keeps stumbling is because of the huge elephant in the room.

        The false assertion, which Calvinism prefers to leave vaguely articulated so that they can cite it as an obvious conclusion, is that in order for God to know all things, he must, by necessity, determine all things. Philosophers may, and have, debates this concept, but it is dishonest of Calvinists to pretend that there is one and only one agreed upon conclusion:

        ‘If God is omniscient (knows all things) he necessarily predetermines all things (brings to pass whatsoever comes to pass).’

        This is the assertion in question, which is why it is erroneous and dishonest to assert it as a proven conclusion. While most believers assert that God is omniscient, the vast majority of them have historically rejected Calvinism’s assertion that he meticulously predetermines and controls every minute aspect of reality, in effect eliminating any genuine freedom of thought and action on the part of all men.

        So, no, Rhutchin has not clarified two genuine positions – he has reframed the argument by presenting unproven, fallacious positions. In other words, the argument is not

        A) God is omniscient, or
        B) God is not omniscient

        rather, the true argument is

        A) An omniscient God must meticulously determine and control whatsoever comes to pass, or
        B) An omniscient God may grant created beings genuine powers of reason and choice and the freedom to exercise them

      17. ts00 writes, “Calvinism, indeed, asserts that God predetermines ‘whatsoever comes to pass’.”

        This is based on (1) Ephesians 1 – “…[God] works all things after the counsel of His will…” and (2) Romans 8, specifically for Hos elect, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” It is also based on the argument from God’s omnipotence. being omnipotent, God can affect whatever outcome He wants. Thus, God directly brings about certain events by direct action and all others by not restraining those events. Thereby, God is said to determine all events. I have not seen ts00 argue against this.

        Then, “The false assertion, which Calvinism prefers to leave vaguely articulated so that they can cite it as an obvious conclusion, is that in order for God to know all things, he must, by necessity, determine all things.”

        There are three explanations for God’s knowledge of all events in the future (the present not being an issue because God is omnipresent):
        1. God knows all events in the future because He determines all such events.
        2. God is able to look into the future to determine what happens in the future absent His intervention,
        3. We don’t know how God knows the future.

        The first is the Calvinist view and Calvinists are up front about it – nothing false or vague here. Certainly no one, not even ts00, can prove the Calvinist view to be a “false assertion.” No one says that there is only one explanation. After all, there are books written to present and defend the various views of God’s knowledge of the future.

        I had said, “If God is omniscient (knows all things) he necessarily predetermines all things (brings to pass whatsoever comes to pass).” to which ts00 responds, “This is the assertion in question, which is why it is erroneous and dishonest to assert it as a proven conclusion.”

        There is nothing erroneous of dishonest here. This statement does not explain how God is omniscient; it agrees with ts00 who says, “..most believers assert that God is omniscient,…” So, given that God is omniscient and knows all events – even future events – then those events have been determined by something. Because God is omnipotent, He has the final say on whether any one event occurs, so God can be said to determine all events. Even ts00 does not dispute this. This does present a problem for “free will” as ts00 notes, it “eliminating any genuine freedom of thought and action on the part of all men.” This difficulty has not led to the denial of the above but of a denial that God is omniscient.

        The last comment by ts00 – “…the true argument is…” – is lacking support and is just ts00’s personal opinion. I doubt that ts00 can support this position without denying God’s omniscience as others have been forced to do.

      18. Hutch, “So, given that God is omniscient and knows all events – even future events – then those events have been determined by something.”

        This is a non-sequitor. It does not follow. Determinism is not the only explanation for omniscience. Another rational explanation for omniscience is simple foreknowledge. God is so powerful He is able to know what will happen without determining it. Why is that not a rational alternative to determinism?

      19. Well put. Merely because so-called philosophers make certain claims, does not make said claims so. God is certainly capable of, in some amazing manner that is absolutely unimaginable to finite, limited, time-bound humans know whatsoever will ever come to pass without in any way determining or meticulously controlling all future events; in no measure limiting or controlling the genuine, free future choices of yet unborn men and women.

        Joshua could justly challenge men to ‘Choose you this day whom you will serve’ because their choice was real and undetermined, taking place in a present moment on a particular day. It was not, as it must be under Calvinism, a disingenuous illusion, meant to deceive men into thinking that they have the ability and responsibility to make immensely important decisions, when in reality, all of their ‘decisions’ were previously determined by God long, long ago, making them nothing more than passive instruments through which his predetermined events are irresistibly carried out.

        Is God straightforward and honest, setting forth real choices, legitimate directives and life-saving correctives, or is life one big charade, in which a heartless, tyrannical director has predetermined every actor’s role down to the last synapse, yet cruelly holds each resistless player responsible for following his unchosen, unchangeable script to the letter?

        In Calvinism’s theater, actors are not rewarded justly for perfectly following their scripts – which all alike do – but inexcusably judged according to the role they were assigned, and fully followed. Those ‘elected’ to be heroes and heroines will be endlessly rewarded, while those compelled to be the ‘bad guys’ will be punished for perfectly performing their prescribed roles. In a desperate attempt to backpedal from the obvious absurdity and injustice of such a ‘system’, Calvinism has invented what they call ‘compatibilism’ – a futile attempt to assert that, while God is responsible for predetermining and ‘delivering’ whatever comes to pass, man can somehow be judged responsible for that which he was irrevocably ordained to perform. All who try, and inevitably fail to provide a reasonable explanation for such a contradiction end up shrugging and insisting that it is a ‘mystery’ and must merely be believed, because Calvinism says so.

        If men are to be justly rewarded or punished, they must possess the freedom and ability to choose or refuse the actions by which they will be judged. Any other judgment would be unjust. I have responsibility for my actions – as long as they are my own, freely chosen actions. I refuse to accept responsibility for thoughts, words and deeds someone else irresistibly predetermined must come to pass before I took my first breath.

        And yet, I rejoice that I will not be judged according to the law, by which my imperfections would be exposed and my ‘unrighteousness’ condemned. It is by believing in the goodness of God, who sent his Son to put and end to sin and death, an atonement that I believe we understand but dimly, that my ‘faith’ is judged as righteousness by God. No games, not magic ‘robes of righteousness’; God has proclaimed that our faith in him, a faith which will begin the lifelong process of transforming us, is all that is required.

        God has given us all that is necessary to be able to believe. He has lifted up his Son, Jesus, like the serpent in the wilderness, proclaiming that all who look to him will be healed and rescued from death. May many believe in his goodness and mercy, and turn to him in simple faith that all that he has promised, he will do, for those who trust in him.

      20. EK writes, “Another rational explanation for omniscience is simple foreknowledge…Why is that not a rational alternative to determinism?”

        I believe the simple foreknowledge view says that God looks into the future to learn what happens (e.g., who chooses Christ; who doesn’t). I think Dave Hunt advocated this view. It was among the three views explaining how God can know the future that I listed – consequently, I agree that it is an alternative. However, as it has God being ignorant of future events and having to look into the future to learn what will happen, it denies that God is omniscient. If you want to go that route, do so – then, we will have identified a point of disagreement between us. So, are you a simple foreknowledge person??

      21. Hutch, “However, as it has God being ignorant of future events and having to look into the future to learn what will happen, it denies that God is omniscient. If you want to go that route, do so – then, we will have identified a point of disagreement between us.”

        The disconnect you’re having with this view is that “God looks into the future”. How is this true of a being who is outside of time? God does not look “forward” in time. God is outside of time, looking down on it as a whole, like a helicopter is looking down on a parade. God sees everything that happens in time all at once. It’s not “future” to God. So the option of simple foreknowledge doesn’t have as many problems as you think.

      22. I would agree that God is outside of time. Many Calvinists choose to present a false image of how non-Calvinists perceive God’s omniscience. Admittedly, this is not something that finite, time-bound humans can adequately describe or even conceptualize, as we have nothing in our earthly realm that even approaches the wonders of God; we are the nearest to ‘Godlike’ that there is, and yet are far inferior. God is not like some soothsayer, peering into a magic ball to foretell what is to come. He is utterly unlimited by any of the boundaries of time, matter and all that is finite. It is absurd to place the limitations of created beings upon their Creator. He, and only he, can see, without being the causative power, all that is ever to be in this limited, finite creation. We can only dimly grasp the how’s and why’s of this world, which will one day be brought to an end, with all of the evils that free, rebellious men have promulgated. It, and we who trust in God, will be remade to reflect the perfections of its maker. I can hardly wait.

      23. ts00 writes, “Many Calvinists choose to present a false image of how non-Calvinists perceive God’s omniscience.”

        In his comment, ts00 cannot explain what he perceives God’s omniscience to be. If a non-Calvinist cannot explain how he views omniscience, then necessarily he declares attempts by others to explain his position to be false.

      24. EK writes, “God sees everything that happens in time all at once. It’s not “future” to God. So the option of simple foreknowledge doesn’t have as many problems as you think.”

        OK. You still have God observing the actions of people from “outside time” to learn what people do. That position also says that God is not omniscient. You can also go that route if you want, and it still means that we differ on whether God is omniscient.

      25. Hutch, “OK. You still have God observing the actions of people from “outside time” to learn what people do.”

        The problem you’re having is you keep using the word “learn”, which is inappropriate/does not fit in this context. I suspect you keep using “learn” because it allows you to equate simple foreknowledge with Open Theism without having to make an argument for why those two views are the same. “Learn” does not fit with the simple foreknowledge view because “learn” requires that there is a point in time (notice the word “time”) where the person does not know the thing they then, subsequently, (read: in time), learn. If you acknowledge that God is outside of time, and describing him in terms of “future” is therefore irrational, then you must also acknowledge that describing God in terms of “learning” is irrational since that also requires time. There is no point in time in which God does not know what all people will do, therefore there is no point in time where He learns what people will do. Simple foreknowledge still works.

      26. EK writes, “There is no point in time in which God does not know what all people will do, therefore there is no point in time where He learns what people will do. Simple foreknowledge still works.”

        OK. So, you disagree that God knows the future because He decrees that future or learns by observing that future. Yet, you cannot explain how God can be omniscient – thus you take the Simple Foreknowledge View that says, “We don’t know how God is omniscient.” That is how Dave Hunt explained it and he is an advocate of the Simple Foreknowledge View. That was my third point above – thus, a rational alternative to determinism.

      27. Hutch, “Yet, you cannot explain how God can be omniscient – thus you take the Simple Foreknowledge View that says, “We don’t know how God is omniscient.”

        I don’t understand the argument. Are you saying that because I don’t know “how” (whatever that means) a divine attribute “works” (whatever that means) therefore Simple Foreknowledge is not a rational alternative to how God knows the future?

      28. EK writes, “Are you saying that because I don’t know “how” (whatever that means) a divine attribute “works” (whatever that means) therefore Simple Foreknowledge is not a rational alternative to how God knows the future? ”

        No. Simple knowledge is a rational alternative to explaining how God knows the future – the “I don’t know” alternative. This is apart from whatever you think. That this is your position is evidenced by your explanation for how God knows the future being, “I don’t know.” The issue is not how omniscience works but how God came to be omniscient.

      29. Hutch, “The issue is not how omniscience works but how God came to be omniscient.”

        Gobblygook. Pure, deflecting, gobblygook. You’re putting works into a chatbox that you haven’t carefully considered in the slightest. Here you are suggesting that at some point God was not omniscient and became omniscient. That omniscience is not a part of His Being, like an ontological attribute of being God, but instead is a characteristic He gained by some means of growth. You haven’t thought this through at all.

        For some reason, and only you could know this, but for some reason, you have an absolute need to believe in determinism that leads you to defend determinism at the cost of believing that omniscience is not an ontological quality of divinity. I pray you will see this cost is too high.

      30. EK writes, “Here you are suggesting that at some point God was not omniscient and became omniscient.”

        This is not a new discussion. Books are written on this. It is a logical argument that seeks to understand how God can be omniscient. As I said before, there are three positions. You take the position that we just don’t know. Nonetheless, you seem to understand that omniscience means that God does not learn anything new – and that leads us to reject the position that has been taken by Arminians in the past – the God looking into the future argument or the God is outside time argument. That leaves two positions – God cannot know His decrees before He makes His decrees so His omniscience is comprised of His decrees and the We don’t know position.

        As far as determinism goes, God cannot first be omniscient and then decree X as His knowledge would then increase to include the decree X meaning that God cannot be omniscient and then decree X. The Totality of God’s decrees must be His omniscience. If, at this point, you want to say that we don’t know how this happens if omniscience is an eternal attribute of God, that is fine – but you can’t do this because that is yielding to Theological determinism.

      31. Hutch, “Books are written on this. It is a logical argument that seeks to understand how God can be omniscient.”

        I cannot think of a bigger waste of letters.

        “As I said before, there are three positions. You take the position that we just don’t know.”

        I take the position that omniscience is a way of expressing one aspect of what it is to be God. Omniscience comes with divinity or the being is not divine.

        “Nonetheless, you seem to understand that omniscience means that God does not learn anything new- that leads us to reject the position that has been taken by Arminians in the past – the God looking into the future argument or the God is outside time argument.”

        Sez you. Why can’t God be outside of time AND not learn anything new? False dichotomy much?

        The rest is pure sophistry meant to defend a position devoid of sound philosophy and biblical evidence. Yawn.

      32. EK writes, “I take the position that omniscience is a way of expressing one aspect of what it is to be God. Omniscience comes with divinity or the being is not divine. ”

        No problem there. My point was that you do not say anything beyond that. Your complaint with the Calvinists is that they delve more into omniscience – e.g., looking into the relationship between God’s omniscience and God’s decrees – and you don’t saying that we cannot know any more than what you write above.

        Then, “Why can’t God be outside of time AND not learn anything new?”

        He can, but why even make the argument that God is outside time if only to say that God is omniscient. That point was made before arguing that God is outside time. What is the purpose of arguing that God is outside time in relation to God’s omniscience? What more is added that was not already said without the argument?

        What is the point that you are trying to make about God’s omniscience beyond repeating that God is omniscient?

      33. Hutch, “What is the point that you are trying to make about God’s omniscience beyond repeating that God is omniscient?”

        Great. Then we agree that determinism as no explanatory power when it comes to omniscience. It’s completely rational just to say God is omniscient and no further clarification is necessary.

      34. EK writes, “It’s completely rational just to say God is omniscient and no further clarification is necessary. ”

        That is what the Simple Foreknowledge group says – basically saying that no one can describe God’s omniscience beyond that. I understand that as a position on God’s omniscience.

      35. Hutch, “That is what the Simple Foreknowledge group says – basically saying that no one can describe God’s omniscience beyond that. I understand that as a position on God’s omniscience.”

        Right, and you offer no rebuttal to this position so it’s a rational alternative to determinism that doesn’t come with the baggage of making God the author of evil. Cool.

      36. EK writes, “…you offer no rebuttal to this position so it’s a rational alternative to determinism that doesn’t come with the baggage of making God the author of evil.”

        No rebuttal because there is nothing to rebut – the position is a lighter version of the other positions. The difference is that proponents of Simple Knowledge do not want to ask more questions – such as, How do God’s decrees fit in with His omniscience.

        It should be obvious that even the Simple Knowledge view is a deterministic position – if God has knowledge of all future events, then those events have been determined. The issue is not determinism but God’s role in determining future events – the Simple Foreknowledge people don’t want to go there. Do you really go there?

        That God is the author of “evil” is not disputed. When God commanded Adam, “Do not eat,” God identified “evil” – eating the fruit. This agrees with your statement, “God originates/writes/authors/determines “whatsoever comes to pass.” As you note, whatsoever includes evil events. Even you seem to understand that God originates evil by His commands to people. If God did not command anything, there would be no occasion for people to do evil.

      37. Hutch, on Simple Foreknowledge, “No rebuttal because there is nothing to rebut – the position is a lighter version of the other positions. The difference is that proponents of Simple Knowledge do not want to ask more questions”

        Exactly. We find other questions to be meaningless sophistry, philosophical gobblygook meant to insert needless philosophical and theological baggage to the serve the purpose of equally meaningless preconceptions. These preconceptions demand the sophistry and gibberish to make fit what needs to fit because .

        “It should be obvious that even the Simple Knowledge view is a deterministic position – if God has knowledge of all future events, then those events have been determined.”

        Not only is this not obvious, but it is a category error, a modal fallacy that has no rational basis. Knowledge is not causation. Knowledge is not determination. Knowing what events will take place does not mean one determined those events to take place. Knowledge and determination/causation/origination are two categorically different things. Stating one does not state the other. Proving one does not prove the other.

        In your rebuttal, what will follow will be a lot of sophistry meant to shove all the baggage of determinism in with the term “foreknowledge” just so you do not have to add all the argumentation it would take to make determinism rational or biblical. You can’t do the latter, so you’ll write paragraph after paragraph to attempt the former.

        ” If God did not command anything, there would be no occasion for people to do evil.”

        This is biblical nonsense. But let’s stick with our philosophical discussion right now. Here are statements that describe our opposing views:

        Calvinism: “God determines whatsoever comes to pass including Adam’s evil desire to rebel against God and Adam’s action to rebel against God”

        LFW: “God determined to give Adam a true choice where both good and evil are options for him. God determined that Adam would be free to either rebel or obey”.

        See the difference?

      38. EK writes, “We find other questions to be meaningless sophistry,…’

        Others don’t see it that way. Yet, you seem compelled to complain about that which you find a waste of your time.

        Then, “Not only is this not obvious, but it is a category error, a modal fallacy that has no rational basis. Knowledge is not causation. ”

        Foreknowledge says that future events are certain; thus determined. No one says that foreknowledge is the cause or determiner of the events known. So, no category error. Knowing that future events are determined leads to the question – What determines those events? and What role does God have in determining those events.

        Then, “In your rebuttal, what will follow will be a lot of sophistry meant to shove all the baggage of determinism in with the term “foreknowledge”…”

        Absolutely not. My claim is only that foreknowledge makes future events certain and that it encompasses all those factors that determine those events but foreknowledge is not that which determines the future events.

        Then, “Calvinism: “God determines whatsoever comes to pass including Adam’s evil desire to rebel against God and Adam’s action to rebel against God”

        LFW: “God determined to give Adam a true choice where both good and evil are options for him. God determined that Adam would be free to either rebel or obey”.

        See the difference?’

        There is no difference – they say the same thing. The Calvinist position states that God determines all things. The LFW identifies the means God uses to bring about that which He has determined.

        “God determines whatsoever comes to pass including Adam’s evil desire to rebel against God by giving Adam a true choice where both good and evil are options for him. God determines Adam’s action to rebel against God by the free will God gave to Adam.”

        Adam’s free will is the means that God uses to bring about Adam’s rebellion. It is true that God set up the environment in which Adam found himself having to make a decision about eating the fruit. God prepared the garden for Adam to maintain and then removed His protection over the garden giving Satan freedom to enter and tempt Eve. Eve having eaten the fruit comes to Adam and offers him the fruit. So, now Adam uses the free will God gave him to make a decision. Whether Adam has an “evil desire” to rebel against God is debated by Calvinists and everyone else. However, Adam’s desires were certainly determined when God made Adam in His image and declared “good” by God. Those desires were then subject to change as Adam interacted with Eve and Satan in the garden. At what point Adam’s desires become corrupted – and evil – and how this happened is now debated. I am not aware that anyone has figured this out.

      39. EK, I’m beginning to think Rhutchin’s strategy is to drive a person nuts by his inane nonsense. 😉 He writes:

        ‘There is no difference – they say the same thing. The Calvinist position states that God determines all things. The LFW identifies the means God uses to bring about that which He has determined.

        “God determines whatsoever comes to pass including Adam’s evil desire to rebel against God by giving Adam a true choice where both good and evil are options for him. God determines Adam’s action to rebel against God by the free will God gave to Adam.”

        Adam’s free will is the means that God uses to bring about Adam’s rebellion.’

        Perhaps EK, when he is done pulling out his hair in frustration, will just shrug and laugh. I mean, what is the point of arguing with a slithering snake who sheds his skin and puts on a new facade every day? Let’s see how knowledgeable Calvinists describe Calvinism’s take on ‘free will’:

        ‘Free will is nonsense.’ (Spurgeon, Free Will a Slave)

        ‘Free will is the invention of man, instigated by the devil.’ (David Wilmoth, The Baptist Examiner, September 16, 1989)

        ‘Free will makes man his own savior and his own god.’ (Tom Ross, Abandoned Truth)

        ‘The heresy of free will dethrones God and enthrones man. … The ideas of free grace and free will are diametrically opposed. All who are strict advocates of free will are strangers to the grace of the sovereign God.’ (W. E. Best, Free Grace Versus Free Will)

        ‘To affirm that [man] is a free moral agent is to deny that he is totally depraved.’ (A.W. Pink, Sovereignty of God)

        ‘In matters pertaining to his salvation, the unregenerate man is not at liberty to choose between good and evil, but only to choose between greater and lesser evil, which is not properly free will… As the bird with a broken wing is ‘free’ to fly but not able, so the natural man is free to come to God but not able.’ (Loraine Boettner, Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

        ‘Inasmuch as Adam’s offspring are born with sinful natures, they do not have the ability to choose spiritual good over evil. Consequently, man’s will is no longer free (i.e., free from the dominion of sin) as Adam’s will was free before the Fall. Instead, man’s will, as the result of inherited depravity, is in bondage to his sinful nature.’ (Steele & Thomas, Five Points of Calvinism)

        ‘Let it stand, therefore, as an indubitable truth, which no engines can shake, that the mind of man is so entirely alienated from the righteousness of God, that he cannot conceive, desire, or design anything but what is wicked, distorted, foul, impure and iniquitous; that his heart is so thoroughly envenomed by sin, that it can breathe out nothing but corruption and rottenness; that if some men occasionally make a show of goodness, their mind is ever interwoven with hypocrisy and deceit, their soul inwardly bound with fetters of wickedness.’ (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. I)

        One would love to give Rhutchin the benefit of the doubt, and suggest helpfully that since he disagrees with these prominent Calvinists on such a foundational subject, perhaps he is not a Calvinist after all, and welcome him to the ranks of former Calvinists! Yet, after much experience, one perceives a coming onslaught of doublespeak and smoke-blowing to hide the fact that Rhutchin, like most Calvinist defenders, is compelled to talk out of both sides of his mouth in order to appear to agree with Calvinism and scripture – which are nearly always contradictory.

        Suggesting that a meticulously deterministic God uses ‘free will’ as a means to bring about his determined plan, were it logically possible, would pretty much prove centuries of disagreement and debate a needless waste, since all parties apparently believe the exact same thing! This is the feint compatibilism attempts to pull off, until a little critical thinking proves it logically impossible. It is like a movie producer proclaiming that he not only produced the movie on his own, but single-handedly determined every aspect of it, from sets, to costumes to the script. Then, when the truth is revealed that he actually had multiple set designers, costume designers and scriptwriters, the producer insists that he wasn’t lying – in essence his claims were true. Since he ‘chose’, for instance, the scriptwriters who did the actual writing, he could claim to be solely responsible for every line in the script. Sure, the unmentioned scriptwriters were ‘the means’ he used, but being in control of the whole process, he could ‘justly’ claim credit for determining ‘whatsoever came to pass’. Such explanations might keep him out of jail for perjury, but would not earn much respect for truth-telling.

        True, people can weasel their way out of nearly everything by twisting the meaning of words. But while most people will laughingly respond to ‘How can you tell when a politician is lying?’ with ‘When his lips are moving!’, few expect this description to apply to pastors, teachers and other ‘religious’ leaders. Such trusted ‘authorities’ are expected to say what they mean and mean what they say, rather than use CYA doublespeak that can be twisted to mean whatever suits the current audience. Even more importantly, no one expects God to use that sort of disingenuous doublespeak, commanding men to do that which he has deliberately made them unable to do, offering them atonement that was not really made for them and offering grace to ‘all’ when in reality (wink, wink) he means ‘all of those I have previously selected’.

      40. Seeker, “True, people can weasel their way out of nearly everything by twisting the meaning of words.”

        But what is most interesting about this is that Hutch finds is rational to tell me what my view is.

        Me: “LFW states X”

        Hutch: “No, LFW actually means Y”

        How is that rational, how is that discussion? I guess it allows him to never actually discuss but be able to respond by repeating his own view over and over again. His endurance in this endeavor is impressive. I wonder what he gets out of it.

      41. Hutch, “Yet, you seem compelled to complain about that which you find a waste of your time.”

        Why are you complaining about that which God has compelled me to complain about? Even if you find my complaining annoying, aren’t you just annoyed with me doing the will of God, meaning that I can do no different by His decree?

        “Foreknowledge says that future events are certain; thus determined.”

        That doesn’t follow. Because future events are certainly known by God does not mean that creatures do not have free will. Certainty does not = necessity. Free will creatures could actually choose another option and then THAT choice would have been certainly known. But I don’t expect a non-sequitor to bother you since direct contradictions don’t.

        “There is no difference – they say the same thing. The Calvinist position states that God determines all things. The LFW identifies the means God uses to bring about that which He has determined.”

        This is just…Hutch, I know you’re not a stupid person. But you’re either completely ignorant of LFW philosophical arguments or are being deliberately obtuse. I frankly don’t care which. And it’s not my job to do your homework for you. LFW states that man determines his choices. Either deal with that position or continue to look foolish .

        Your entire “free will is what God uses to determine…” is just another way to equivocate, strawman, and red herring your way out of actually dealing with opposing views. You just reframe them to your liking no matter how irrational nor how many times you’re shown otherwise .

      42. EK writes, “Why are you complaining about that which God has compelled me to complain about?”

        I am neither complaining nor annoyed. You had stated “The rest is pure sophistry meant to defend a position devoid of sound philosophy and biblical evidence. Yawn.” I took the “Yawn” to mean you thought it was a waste of your time. Guess I misread you.

        Then, “Because future events are certainly known by God does not mean that creatures do not have free will. Certainty does not = necessity.”

        I agree. That is the distinction that William Craig also makes. Do we not agree, then, that future events are certain because of God’s omniscience – but not necessary (i.e., omniscience is not the cause those events).

        Then, “I don’t expect a non-sequitor to bother you since direct contradictions don’t.”

        I don’t understand your point here.

        Then, “you’re either completely ignorant of LFW philosophical arguments or are being deliberately obtuse….LFW states that man determines his choices.”

        You have done no more than state a generalized definition of “LFW” that is no different than the Calvinist “free will.” If you cannot define LFW to make it different than Calvinist “Free will,” what is there to discuss?

        Then, ” You just reframe them to your liking no matter how irrational nor how many times you’re shown otherwise.”

        Until the non-Cal provides a coherent definition of “free will” that is different than Calvinist “free will,” then I can use their definition in a Calvinist sense. So, why don’t you produce a definition of “free will” that actually says something distinct from Calvinism and useful to non-Cals.

      43. Hutch, I had said, ““I don’t expect a non-sequitor to bother you since direct contradictions don’t.”

        Glad to clarify my accusation. You speak direct contradictions as true on a regular basis and are unconcerned or double down when the contradiction is shown to you. For example, most recently, you said that it is both that God determines all things that come to pass and that man determines his own choices. This isn’t even compatibilism doublespeak, it is flat out nonsense. Please don’t misunderstand; by “nonsense” I’m not saying “I disagree”. I’m saying that in your own worldview saying that man determines his choices is nonsense. Even after I pointed out this contradiction you were flat unconcerned. This leads me to the conclusion that irrationality does not bother you in slightest, so why would other logical fallacies besides contradiction bother you?

        “You have done no more than state a generalized definition of “LFW” that is no different than the Calvinist “free will.””

        Deliberately obtuse it is!

        “Until the non-Cal provides a coherent definition of “free will” that is different than Calvinist “free will,” then I can use their definition in a Calvinist sense. ”

        This is disingenuous code for “Until the non-Cal provides a definition of “free will” I agree with, I’m going to continue to build strawmen of their position”.

        But seriously, this is one of the weirdest arguments I’ve ever heard. You’re not striving to argue how your view is superior, instead you’re trying to show how my view isn’t what I think it is, and that our views are the some despite my protestations. You are, in essence, saying “I don’t believe what you say your view is, instead let me tell you what your view is”. Don’t you see it is your insistence that your opponents view is not what they say it is that is rendering further discussion pointless?

        “So, why don’t you produce a definition of “free will” that actually says something distinct from Calvinism and useful to non-Cals.”

        Mankind makes real choices, not compatibilistic choices. Given choice A or B, man could have done otherwise, could have wanted to do otherwise, could have truly, actually, in a non-illusory way done either A or B. Man self-causes his own choices and these choices are not, in any way, determined, ordained, caused, nor decided by God. God has not determined a single choice of man ever. Ever. Man makes the choices and God’s knowledge of the choices conforms to the choices, not the other way around. If you say that is not distinct from Calvinism, frankly Hutch, you’re being dishonest, maybe even to yourself, but dishonest none-the-less.

      44. EK writes, “For example, most recently, you said that it is both that God determines all things that come to pass and that man determines his own choices. This isn’t even compatibilism doublespeak, it is flat out nonsense.”

        Let’s take the example of Joseph’s brothers selling him to the Midianite slave traders. Later, Joseph explains to his brothers – You meant it for evil but God meant it for good. Thus, Joseph’s brothers determined their choices – they meant to sell Joseph – but God determined that they sell Joseph because that was His plan. We see this because they were first going to kill Joseph but God restrained them from doing so. So, in the case of Joseph, was not God working out His plan and the behavior of the brothers subordinate to God’s plan? Yet, the brothers acted freely intending to do evil to Joseph even if restrained by God from doing certain things (killing him). The Calvinist would say that their was a concurrence of the evil intended by Joseph’s brothers and the good intended by God. So it is in all that happens – there is concurrence between the evil that men choose to do and the good that God has planned to do so that the evil that men do serves God’s purpose to do good. So, why do you think this is nonsense? In the example of Joseph where is the contradiction between the brothers determining to do evil while God is simultaneously determining to do good.

        Then, “Mankind makes real choices, not compatibilistic choices. Given choice A or B, man could have done otherwise, could have wanted to do otherwise, could have truly, actually, in a non-illusory way done either A or B. Man self-causes his own choices and these choices are not, in any way, determined, ordained, caused, nor decided by God.”

        You claim that this is different than that which Calvinism defines as “free will.” Let’s give a person the choice between A and B. Are you saying that LFW requires that the person equally desire either A or B or do you side with the Calvinist in saying that the person can prefer A to B. Do you allow that LFW allows that a person can love A and hate B and still be able to choose otherwise? Do you allow that God can know beforehand the choice that the person will make and recognize that God’s knowledge of the choice actually made did not affect that choice? Do you really mean that LFW can only occur if God does not know what choice is made? You must take that position if you want to distinguish your LFW from Calvinist free will.

        Then, “God has not determined a single choice of man ever. Ever. Man makes the choices and God’s knowledge of the choices conforms to the choices, not the other way around. If you say that is not distinct from Calvinism, frankly Hutch, you’re being dishonest, maybe even to yourself, but dishonest none-the-less.”

        So, you are saying that God does not know how a person will choose until the person makes his choice – then God knows it. That’s fine – it means that you say that God is not omniscient while the Calvinist says that God is omniscient. We have now identified a key difference between you and the Calvinist.

      45. Hutch, I had said: “For example, most recently, you said that it is both that God determines all things that come to pass and that man determines his own choices. This isn’t even compatibilism doublespeak, it is flat out nonsense.”

        You replied, “The Calvinist would say that their was a concurrence of the evil intended by Joseph’s brothers and the good intended by God.”

        This is merely a restatement of your disingenuous, doublespeak, direct contradiction. You agree that God determines “whatsoever comes to pass” and then in the next breath say man intends something different than what God does. Nonsense. Irrationality. Dishonesty.

        “Are you saying that LFW requires that the person equally desire either A or B or do you side with the Calvinist in saying that the person can prefer A to B.”

        This is you attempting to reinterpret my words into your lens so that you do not have to actually deal with what I’m saying. Man can choose either A or B no matter which desires pull him in which way nor any other philosophical gobblygook you can come up with.

        “Do you really mean that LFW can only occur if God does not know what choice is made?”

        God both knows and in no way determines the choice.

        “So, you are saying that God does not know how a person will choose until the person makes his choice – then God knows it.”

        No. You already agreed that God is outside of time and so this “doesn’t know before the choice” stuff is nonsense. God is outside of time. He looks down and sees the choices people make. His knowledge in no way determines the choices. His act of creation in no way determines the choices. The choices are not set in any way and the choosers could still, truly, have chosen differently. But he still knows them. That’s the LFW position, it’s not Open Theism, it’s not compatibilism. No attempt of yours to equate it to something else you can more easily argue against will fly here. Omniscience is not determinism is any sense that you can make up to talk about it. You’re going to have to actually deal with the LFW position.

      46. EK writes, “You agree that God determines “whatsoever comes to pass” and then in the next breath say man intends something different than what God does. Nonsense. Irrationality. Dishonesty.”

        Where is the “Nonsense. Irrationality. Dishonesty.”? Man always intends something different than what God wants and does. Doesn’t he?? The only time man is happy is when God let’s him sin but then God uses his sin for good and sinful man is unhappy again – e.g., Judas betraying Christ.

        Then, “This is you attempting to reinterpret my words…Man can choose either A or B no matter which desires pull him in which way nor any other philosophical gobblygook you can come up with. ”

        Then, you need to help me understand what you really meant. So, what have you said above that changes anything. Do you intend to object to the idea that the person chooses according to his strongest desire?

        Then, “God both knows and in no way determines the choice.”

        I think you define “determine” as “cause.” If true, then I agree. If not, then I don’t know what you mean by “determine.”

        Then, I had said, ““So, you are saying that God does not know how a person will choose until the person makes his choice – then God knows it.”
        You responded, “[God] looks down and sees the choices people make. His knowledge in no way determines the choices.”

        I don’t understand you to say anything different even though I think that was your intent. You say that God looks down and “sees” (or learns) what a person chooses. Before God “sees the choices people make” He doesn’t know how people will choose, does He? If that is not what you are saying, I do not understand this comment.

        Then, “The choices are not set in any way and the choosers could still, truly, have chosen differently. But he still knows them. That’s the LFW position, it’s not Open Theism, it’s not compatibilism.”

        This makes no sense. You say, “The choices are not set in any way…” but God still knows them (thus they are set and certain). How can God know the future and the future not be “set”? Even William Craig doesn’t say this and he is strongly opposed to the Calvinist position on free will.

        Then, “Omniscience is not determinism is any sense that you can make up to talk about it. You’re going to have to actually deal with the LFW position.”

        then, you need to provide a coherent explanation of LFW that allows for God to be omniscient.

      47. EK writes:
        ‘Are you saying that because I don’t know “how” (whatever that means) a divine attribute “works” (whatever that means) therefore Simple Foreknowledge is not a rational alternative to how God knows the future?’

        It’s as good excuse as any. 🙂

        Rhutchin appears to believe that if he can force his definitions on all, limit possibilities to a contrived few and control the terms of debate, he can press his opinions victoriously. This does not, in my opinion, grant his arguments more strength, but leaves him looking defensive and desperate, as is repeatedly cornered and attempts to combat his way out. The many sound, thoughtful reasonable concerns with Calvinism’s contrary and illogical assertions set forth in this blog and its comments are, again and again, misleadingly addressed, deliberately misstated or carefully sidestepped.

        None of these are new issues – they have been endlessly discussed and have led to the rejection of Calvinism by the majority of thinking people for centuries; starting with Servetus, who was burned alive for daring to challenge and even laugh at the contradictory logic of Calvin.

      48. ts00 writes, “if he can force his definitions on all, limit possibilities to a contrived few and control the terms of debate, he can press his opinions victoriously.”

        The alternative is for people to establish their own arguments and not limit themselves to complaining about the other person’ argument.

      49. Hutch, you asked me to let you know when you were committing the red herring fallacy. Here is an example. You respond to DG who said: “DG writes, “Calvinism says all thing that come to pass were predetermined to come to pass…”

        You answered with: “This just means that God is omniscient and knew the future perfectly before He created the universe. Those who disagree hold that God is not omniscient. We have clarified two opposite positions on this. Now discussion can ensue on whether the Scriptures support one position or the other.”

        This is a red herring. You are performing what I charged you with making a regular practice of: specifically, “it’s not really about X but about Y” and then you go on to completely ignore X which was the original argument. Here you are saying, “It’s not really about determinism but omniscience” and then you go on to reframe the argument (read: commit the red herring logical fallacy) in a completely different direction which allows you to ignore, instead of address, the original point about determinism.

      50. EK writes. “This is a red herring. You are performing what I charged you…”

        That means I missed DG’s argument. DG began, “How can trying to “clarify” or “help” anyone within your belief in Calvinism be even possible?” I thought I addressed the ‘clarification” issue he raised. I showed that it was possible by an example that addressed his comment after, “Calvinism says all thing that come to pass were predetermined to come to pass and couldn’t have been any different than what God decreed by the secret decree.” Given that “omniscience” has been a contested issue, I just clarified the two sides of the issue. It is possible to distinguish a Calvinist position from some non-Calvinist positions (those that do not hold to omniscience).

        I was not saying ““It’s not really about determinism but omniscience.” I was saying, “determinism is all about omniscience.” If God is omniscient, then everything has been determined – hasn’t it? Look at the arguments presented by Brain and ts00 who seem to understand that God cannot be omniscient without also determining all things. One cannot argue determinism without also arguing omniscience.

      51. Hutch, “If God is omniscient, then everything has been determined – hasn’t it? ”

        Maybe you don’t realize you’re doing it, but changing the discussion from the point the person is making to another point that serves the purpose of the ignoring the original point is the red herring logical fallacy. Even if you believe the above statement to be true, it is still a red herring to insert it as a rebuttal to an argument discussing determinism.

        “You believe determinism”

        “Well determinism is just omniscience, so I believe in omniscience”

        That’s the red herring. You have to engage with what the person is talking about without changing the subject.

      52. EK writes, “…changing the discussion from the point the person is making to another point…”

        So what is DG’s point? You didn’t explain DG’s complaint, so maybe even you don’t understand what his argument is about. Is it that Calvinism has God determining all things? That’s a given isn’t it? No one is saying otherwise, are they? If so, can we move on to the effects of that determinism? If not, what needs to be addressed before we can do that?

      53. Hutch, DG is doing a swell job of explaining his point on his own, so I’ll leave him to that.

        As far as, “Is it that Calvinism has God determining all things? That’s a given isn’t it? No one is saying otherwise, are they?”

        You were saying otherwise. You were changing the discussion from that to omniscience. But you’re willing to back to the original topic so let’s do so.

        ” If so, can we move on to the effects of that determinism? If not, what needs to be addressed before we can do that?”

        Divine Determinism has the effect of making God the author of evil. If you like I can provide a (probably borrowed) argument for why that is the logical end of determinism.

      54. EK writes, “Divine Determinism has the effect of making God the author of evil. If you like I can provide a (probably borrowed) argument for why that is the logical end of determinism.”

        How about giving us the definition of author and then the argument for God being the author of evil if He determines all things.

      55. Hutch, “How about giving us the definition of author and then the argument for God being the author of evil if He determines all things.”

        Author = originator. Any number of terms can be used to describe this idea (author, creator, maker, etc) but the idea is the same. Evil originates in the mind of God.

        1. God originates/writes/authors/determines “whatsoever comes to pass”
        2. Evil thoughts and actions come to pass
        3. God is the originator of evil

      56. EK writes, “Author = originator.”

        I don’t think that gets you what you want. We have to remember that “evil” is not a living entity. “Evil” is an adjective that we use to describe things that are opposed to God. I think you understand this as you say, “2. Evil thoughts and actions come to pass”. When God tells Adam, “Don’t eat the fruit,” He originated evil – we now know that it is evil to eat the fruit. God also originates evil when He gives Moses the Ten Commandments. Had God not told Adam not to eat the fruit, there would be no evil for Adam to do and Adam would never have been able to sin.

        Given that you seem to be arguing against Calvinism, you need to define “author” to mean that God forces a person to sin. However, I don’t think anyone will accept that as the definition of “author” as no one believes that God forces, coerces, or otherwise directly intervenes in a person’s life to make them sin – people choose to sin, because they want to sin. So, to say that God is the “author” of evil or of sin – or the originator of evil or sin, doesn’t say much other than that God is the author of good and when God identifies what is good, He necessarily defines what is not good (or evil). Thus, your point “3, God is the originator of evil.”

      57. Hutch, let’s recall my argument below.

        1. God originates/writes/authors/determines “whatsoever comes to pass”
        2. Evil thoughts and actions come to pass
        3. God is the originator of evil

        You write, “We have to remember that “evil” is not a living entity.”
        and, “Given that you seem to be arguing against Calvinism, you need to define “author” to mean that God forces a person to sin.”

        This is just you doing what you normally do and changing the subject, the terms, and the discussion. I argued “come to pass” and you ignore it and change it to “living entity”, something I never argued. I said “come to pass” and you change it to “God forces a person to sin”, something I never argued. What you’re doing is you’re using these new terms to create a strawman of my argument, a made-up argument that I never made that is easier for you to argue against, and then you go on to argue against it.

        So, if you’d like to come back to the discussion we’re really having…

        ” people choose to sin, because they want to sin.”

        But is their desire to sin and their subsequent actions on that desire something that “comes to pass”? If not, how not? If so, then God determines/authors/originates everything that “comes to pass” including their desire to do evil.

      58. EK writes:
        “. . . is their desire to sin and their subsequent actions on that desire something that “comes to pass”? If not, how not? If so, then God determines/authors/originates everything that “comes to pass” including their desire to do evil.”

        Well said. Rhutchin resorts to the typical strawman topic, insisting that God does not ‘force’ as with a gun, or urge men against their own desires, so it is okay for God to irresistibly, meticulously predetermine men’s actions by some murky method of ensuring they ‘desire’ to do that which he intends for them to do.

        It matters not whether a tyrant uses a stick, a carrot or trauma-based mind control – those who seek to control the behavior of others in any manner apart from honest, straightforward reasoning cross the line of respect of the individual. People are often guilty of this same abusive manipulation, be it a parent using guilt or a lover employing sympathy. In a healthy relationship, the individual is respected, as is their right and responsibility to make independent, reasonable decisions. Of course Calvinism must first assert that man is Totally Depraved, supposedly giving God the ‘right’ and even necessity to intervene unasked into their thought and decision making process.

        I would assert that this is a false interpretation of scripture, and that, in reality, man only becomes depraved after continually resisting the urging of conscience by which God seeks to call all men to wisdom, love and righteous behavior. Only then, and after many pleadings, does God resort to the sad conclusion that such people have no desire to listen to him, walk in his ways or pursue a healthy relationship with him. In the end, such people ‘fit themselves for destruction’, having rejected all calls to listen to God and turn from the path of destruction which leads to death.

        What terrible blasphemy to instead blame God for the evil decisions and actions that men choose, in rejecting the revelation of creation, the Word and the very Son of God, along with repeated urgings of the Spirit of God. How utterly contrary to all that God has said and done, as he has sent his prophets and Word to seek out and call to repentance lost and rebellious men.

        The better I understand it, the more I see Calvinism as not only a slightly off interpretation of, but a complete rejection of the gospel. It denies the freedom and responsibility of man to respond to God, the loving mercy of God’s many appeals to men and the incomparable gift of his innocent Son making the ultimate sacrifice to deliver this good news of God’s love for and desire to be reconciled to his creatures.

        Compare Jesus’ gospel message in John 3 to Calvin’s ‘God so loved only a few’ that he didn’t even provide atonement for the rest. One is the true gospel of love, peace and hope for all men, while the other presents a distorted, hate-filled system of egalitarian partiality that allows the self righteous elite to lord it over those they believe to be nothing more than God-designed hell fodder.

      59. ts00 writes, “it is okay for God to irresistibly, meticulously predetermine men’s actions by some murky method of ensuring they ‘desire’ to do that which he intends for them to do.”

        Nothing murky about it. God takes a perosn’s heart of stone and makes it a heart of flesh. God open’s a person’s eyes to truth. God conveys faith to a person through the preaching of the gospel. God reveals Christ to people in such a way that they find Christ irresistible. This is basic Calvinism – God gives people a desire for Christ in order to get them to do that which He intends them to do.

      60. ts00 writes, “Compare Jesus’ gospel message in John 3 to Calvin’s ‘God so loved only a few’ that he didn’t even provide atonement for the rest.”

        Before God created the world, He knew those who were to be saved and those who were not. Thus, it is said that God loved those whom He knew were to be saved and hated those who were not to be saved, God then provided atonement for those who were to be saved. Why would God provide atonement for those who were never going to be saved?

      61. EK writes, “This is just you doing what you normally do and changing the subject, the terms, and the discussion. I argued “come to pass” and you ignore it and change it to “living entity”, something I never argued. ”

        That is the conclusion I came to – and noted in my comment based on your use of “evil” as an adjective, “Evil thoughts and actions…” We both agree that evil thoughts/actions come to pass. The point of your argument is to say that God is the author of evil (thoughts and actions) making your definition of author to be crucial to your argument. I think your position is that author should not be defined to mean, “God forces a person to sin.” So, we seem to agree on this.

        Then, you state, “God determines/authors/originates everything that “comes to pass” including their desire to do evil.”

        As we seem to agree that this does not mean,”“God forces a person to desire to sin,” I don’t see an issue here. God originates everything that comes to pass but does not force those things to come to pass. If God is not forcing a person to desire to sin, then a person must do this naturally in a self-determining way. Is this your position? If not, do you have a happy medium between God forcing a person to desire to sin and the person naturally desiring to sin? I had assumed that it is your intent to argue against Calvinism in your comments, but it seems to me that you are agreeing with Calvinism in this instance. If that is not what you want to do, then how do you distinguish yourself from Calvinism on the issue of God being the author of all things including evil desires.

      62. Hutch, for some reason this comment was shoved into the Spam and I had to pull it out.

        Your continued use of strawman has served you well in this discussion. It’s allowed you to insert the words “force” and into my argument where it never existed and then argue against the use of the word “force”. It’s a neat trick huh? Back in the real world, my real argument does not require the word “force” for God to be the author of evil.

        1. God originates/writes/authors/determines “whatsoever comes to pass”
        2. Evil thoughts and actions come to pass
        3. God is the originator of evil

        You said, “We both agree that evil thoughts/actions come to pass” and then “God originates everything that comes to pass but does not force those things to come to pass. If God is not forcing a person to desire to sin, then a person must do this naturally in a self-determining way.”

        This is completely irrational. How does saying “God originates the evil desires but doesn’t force them” not make God the originator of evil? If God originates evil desires what does “force” even mean? Of course He’s not forcing, He’s authoring!

        On a view where God determines “whatsoever comes to pass” what does “naturally” mean besides another way to say “God determines it”?

        On a view where God determines “whatsoever comes to pass” what does “self-determining” mean except a direct contradiction?

      63. EK writes, “Of course He’s not forcing, He’s authoring!”

        Then, what is your complaint with the Calvinists as this is their position also?

        Then, “does “naturally” mean besides another way to say “God determines it”?”

        Naturally means that events come to pass through secondary causes (God being the first cause) without the direct intervention of God to force those outcomes.

        Then, “On a view where God determines “whatsoever comes to pass” what does “self-determining” mean except a direct contradiction?”

        Self-determining means that God created people with the ability to gather information, think and make decisions so as to act in specific ways without being forced by God to do so. If you don’t like this, then you need only explain what you think it means for a person to be made in God’s image.

      64. Hutch, you are apparently incapable of not using strawman and red herring logical fallacies in discussing this topic. Let me quote my argument again:

        1. God originates/writes/authors/determines “whatsoever comes to pass”
        2. Evil thoughts and actions come to pass
        3. God is the originator of evil

        Every time you argue against the word “force” as a way to understand God being the originator of evil, you commit both strawman and red herring logical fallacies, read: you are being irrational. I mean, this is getting almost humorous. This is how this conversation has gone the last three replies.

        Me: “My argument has nothing to do with force.”

        Hutch: “Yea but God doesn’t force anyone”

        Me: “I know, I’m not talking about force”

        Hutch: “But for reals, God doesn’t force anyone”

        You have not rationally addressed much less rebutted my argument. You agreed God brings everything to pass. You agreed that evil thoughts and actions come to pass. Therefore, my conclusion follows. God is the author/originator of evil. Either return to my first or second premise and fashion an argument (read: not a strawman) against it or agree with me that God is the author of evil and we can discuss those implications.

        I’m beginning to suspect that you agree with me that God is the author of evil but as long as you can use the phrase “but he doesn’t force anyone” this means God is not the author of evil.

        “Naturally means that events come to pass through secondary causes (God being the first cause) without the direct intervention of God to force those outcomes.”

        Right, naturally = God determines it. We agree.

        “Self-determining means that God created people with the ability to gather information, think and make decisions so as to act in specific ways without being forced by God to do so. If you don’t like this, then you need only explain what you think it means for a person to be made in God’s image.”

        Gobblygook. Sophistry. Red herring that does nothing to respond to the charge that on “God determines everything that comes to pass” any talk of “Self-determining” is patently ridiculous. If God determines whatsoever comes to pass then human beings determine nothing that comes to pass. That is true no matter how many alternative phrases like “secondary causes” or “not being forced” you come up with.

        Respond to my actual argument in your next comment or I will consider you a troll unworthy of a second more of my time.

      65. EK, As you have noticed, the Calvinist attempts to pretend that God can predetermine whatsoever comes to pass, yet not be the sole source/author/originator of evil. The meaningless ruse they attempt to use asserts that God does not actively ‘force’ men to do evil, as in, he does no stand next to them with a gun in his hand. They try the old ‘It depends on your definition of ‘is” trick that made Clinton such a laughingstock.

        Of course, anyone with a lick of sense knows that it matters not the least what ‘means’ God employs – if he determines whatsoever comes to pass before men are even born, then he is indisputably the source/cause/author of all things whatsoever, including evil. Poor Rhutchin is just carrying on where the Westminster Divines left off, pretending as if mere assertion creates fact. What else can he do? He is committed to defending the Calvinist system, thus is left with no choice but to pursue logical fallacies and spout doublespeak, in hopes of confusing the issues.

        Note how quietly he conflated God looking down the corridors of time with God being outside of time. One has him correctly reading tea leaves to ‘guess’ what is going to happen, while the other has him standing over and above the entire created universe, as he indeed does. They are entirely different concepts. God’s being outside of time does not diminish his omniscience or any other aspect of his divinity, but reinforces them. In any case, man’s best attempts to philosophically explain ‘God’ will always fall short. How can one attempt to explain how an omniscient being is able to create something not yet existent? How can what is future ever be on the same continuum as what is past? It is absurd to attempt to confine the all-powerful divine Creator to human or material limits – he cannot be limited, and we are incapable of grasping his limitlessness.

      66. Yep, ultimately pointless, as it will always be twisted, distorted and deliberately misstated. One can only hope to expose for onlookers the deceptive tactics used by Calvinists in attempts to salvage their ugly scheme.

      67. EK writes, “Either return to my first or second premise and fashion an argument (read: not a strawman) against it or agree with me that God is the author of evil and we can discuss those implications.”

        I agree with your position. You offer two premises (1) and (2). Your point (3) is just a restatement of premise (1).

        So, let’s move on to implications. You then say, “as long as you can use the phrase “but he doesn’t force anyone” this means God is not the author of evil. ” No, what I say is that the implications of God being the author of evil do not include God forcing those evil acts to come to pass of which He is author.

        So, what implications do you see arising from God being the author of evil?

        Then, “If God determines whatsoever comes to pass then human beings determine nothing that comes to pass.”

        Sure they do. God can use people as the means to bring about whatsoever comes to pass. For example, God used Pilate as means to bring about the crucifixion of Jesus. Take away Pilate and the Romans with their system of punishment and the Jews would never have crucified Jesus – they would have stoned Him. Joseph’s brothers sell Joseph to the Midianite slave traders and Joseph later explains that they meant it for evil while God meant it for good. Take away the Midianite slave traders and Joseph’s brothers leave Joseph in the pit to die. The interactions of people who make decisions and determine what they will do are God’s means to accomplish that which He has determined to come to pass. As a Calvinist will say, there is a concurrence in what people determine to do and what God determines to do by taking advantage of what those people have determined to do.

      68. Hutch, I said, “or agree with me that God is the author of evil and we can discuss those implications.”

        And you replied, “I agree with your position.”

        Sweet.

        “You offer two premises (1) and (2). Your point (3) is just a restatement of premise (1).”

        Kinda. The purpose is to provide a logical backing for the claim “God is the author of evil”. Glad we agree this is your position.

        “God can use people as the means to bring about whatsoever comes to pass.”

        Implication #1: God does not have relationships with His creatures, He only uses them. That’s all He can do.

        Implication #2: Every time the Scriptures say “If you do this, then God will do this” or “You should do this” God is lying to us. God does not “respond”, he determines. We cannot do what God says we should do unless He determines we do. “God is the author of evil” makes God a liar.

        “The interactions of people who make decisions and determine what they will do are God’s means to accomplish that which He has determined to come to pass.”

        Writing down contradictions to what you just wrote three seconds ago is apparently as easy as breathing for you. It doesn’t matter how many times you claim a direct contradiction is true, it does not make it so. I feel zero obligation to repeat what you have been shown dozens of times.

      69. Hutch, “That God decreed it means that God is sovereign and exerts absolute control over His creation. Few people disagree with this. ”

        The vast majority of the Church for its 2k year history have disagreed with this, but OK.

      70. EK writes, “The vast majority of the Church for its 2k year history have disagreed with this, but OK. ”

        Call me skeptical about your claim.

  11. Can anyone really explain any of God’s attributes? Seems to me, if you need an explanation, you are trying to limit them in one way or another, because all are beyond human explanation.

    1. WW asks “Can anyone really explain any of God’s attributes?”

      We can explain God’s attributes to the extend to which God has revealed His attributes to us through His creation or through the Scriptures. For example, Romans 1, “…since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made,…”

      1. brianwagner writes, “Eternal sequential reality…. ”

        That is an extrapolation from the verse not necessarily warranted. Certainly, from the creation we see the sequential reality of events playing out under the direction pf God’s power with the presumption that God does not act haphazardly but with purpose and according to a plan.

      2. The word “eternal” is used in Rom 1 as part of what can be known. I’m not extrapolating… you are denying, Roger, and trying to impose a non- sequential meaning that can’t be known through creation. God defines His eternality “from everlasting to everlasting”… that confirms it is sequential in the normal meaning of terms.

      3. brianwagner writes, “The word “eternal” is used in Rom 1 as part of what can be known. I’m not extrapolating…”

        That God is eternal is not the point of contention as you note in your continuing comment.

        Then, “you are…trying to impose a non-sequential meaning that can’t be known through creation.”

        A non-sequential meaning can be imposed after creation. The verse implies nothing about a sequential meaning prior to creation (even if we were to allow that it does not oppose that understanding). Even you seem to understand this as you appeal to additional Scriptures to make that point and do not press your claim from this verse.

        Then, “God defines His eternality “from everlasting to everlasting”… that confirms it is sequential in the normal meaning of terms.”

        Certainly, God defines His eternality in the context of “from everlasting to everlasting.” “Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” (Psalm 90) But, is everlasting to everlasting really an indicator of sequential anything?? What in God’s being “from everlasting to everlasting” is sequential? What changes in God? Nothing that the Scriptures tell us.

      4. brianwagner writes, “Sorry you are not willing to see the evidence,…”

        And I am sorry that you, the teacher, are unable to explain the evidence.

      5. I’m sorry, Roger, that you find yourself isolated in this “classroom” as one of the few who can’t or won’t see that I have clearly explained the evidence. 😉

      6. I could always use more longsuffering towards those who have no need to remain dummies… 😉 They certainly weren’t predestined eternally immutably to be dummies. It’s their free choice! 😂

      7. brianwagner writes, “They certainly weren’t predestined eternally immutably to be dummies. It’s their free choice!”

        Or the two ends can be concurrent as the Calvinist says, the free choice lining up with God’s eternal, immutable plan.

      8. Great clear example, Roger, of Calvin’s belief in a contradiction as true. The immutable predestination of all events before creation, especially the creation of any other wills, makes the creation or function of any freewills to be involved in those events impossible. Sorry… but the term “freewill” must be raped of its meaning, for one to claim it can be created for such a limited and locked in created world.

      9. Rhutchin writes:
        ‘Or the two ends can be concurrent as the Calvinist says, the free choice lining up with God’s eternal, immutable plan.’

        He didn’t really write that, did he? If I were one of my kids I would be ROTFLO!

        Ah, the inconceivable coincidence, that astonishing moment when ‘free choice’ lines up perfectly with ‘God’s eternal, immutable plan’! And yet, where is the alternative to this glorious event, when ‘free choice’ does not line up with ‘God’s eternal, immutable plan’? What does the Calvinist call that truly inconceivable – being logically impossible – moment when ‘free choice’ departs from ‘God’s eternal, immutable plan’?

      10. brianwagner writes, “the term “freewill” must be raped of its meaning, for one to claim it can be created for such a limited and locked in created world.”

        So, it’s a contradiction if the term “freewill” has been raped of meaning. If it turns out that the term, “freewill,” has not been raped of meaning, then there is no contradiction. Of course, there is still the issue of free will. Here the term, “free,” is presumably raped of meaning in your world thereby creating a contradiction that would not otherwise exist.

      11. brianwagner writes, “It’s the one using the most normal meaning of words and Scripture!”

        So, what is the “most normal meaning” of “world”? Is it that meaning Brian gets from Webster’s Dictionary? Or is it a meaning that is derived from context? For example, in John 3, Jesus says “For God so loved the world…” If this is said to Nicodemus, what does Nicodemus think? He is thinking – No, God loves the Jew. The world to Nicodemus would include the gentiles as well as the Jew or refer just to the gentiles alone – There is the Jew and then there is the world. Regardless, it is a statement that would have floored him. So, is your view of the “world” the same as that of the Jew or as God means when He says the world? Or can they be different “worlds” in each context.

      12. I think we can safely assume that Jesus wanted Nicodemus to believe that the word “world” in that context at least included him and that he should believe the light Jesus was sharing with him so that he could be born again also!

      13. I’ll up you one, and suggest that we can fairly safely assume that Jesus intended Nicodemus to understand that ‘the world’ meant something very similar to modern day definitions of ‘world’ or ‘cosmos’. Had he intended to suggest that God loved only a limited aspect of the known world, there were countless words at his disposal to convey his actual meaning. I’m the last person (dare I say ‘in the world’?) to deny that much can be lost in translation, but few who are knowledgeable in ancient languages appear to suggest that ‘κόσμος’ or ‘kosmos’ suggests something other than the entire created universe, or, at least, all people therein.

      14. ts00 writes, “we can fairly safely assume that Jesus intended Nicodemus to understand that ‘the world’ meant something very similar to modern day definitions of ‘world’ or ‘cosmos’.”

        As a matter of eisegesis, one can do that. However, within the Biblical context, there is an obvious comparison of Jew and gentile throughout the NT and the explicit inclusion of the gentile in God’s plan of salvation. This is emphasized by Paul in Ephesians 3. For Jesus to tell Nicodemus that God loved the world would certainly have been understood by Nicodemus to mean that God loved the gentiles as much as He loved the Jews. That was a key themes in John and in Paul’s letters – so why not understand it that way in John 3. Modern day does not seem to grasp the reason the Jews (and Jesus) called the gentiles, dogs

      15. Rhutchin writes:
        ‘For Jesus to tell Nicodemus that God loved the world would certainly have been understood by Nicodemus to mean that God loved the gentiles as much as He loved the Jews.’

        So . . . when you add the non-Jews to the Jews, you get . . . everyone in the world.

        Which is the opposite of, ‘only a select few’ in the world (whether Jew, Gentile or some of each).

      16. ts00 writes, “So . . . when you add the non-Jews to the Jews, you get . . . everyone in the world. ”

        Broadly, Jew and gentile, but not individually, each and every Jew and gentile.

      17. ts00 writes, “So . . . when you add the non-Jews to the Jews, you get . . . everyone in the world. ”

        Rhuthin writes: ‘Broadly, Jew and gentile, but not individually, each and every Jew and gentile.’

        Absurd. God loves Jews and gentiles, every one; which was the radical message of Jesus, not, ‘Okay folks, we are going to expand on this exclusive club of the elect, and throw a few gentiles in with the select few Jews. Stay tuned, and see who the lucky ones are who God has really ‘chosen’.’

      18. Of course, the apostles, and the early church leaders were under the delusion that God loved all men, until Augustine and Calvin showed up to straighten things out. And now we have the current revival of such marvelous teaching, the second front in the Protestant Reformation. The same theology that brought the world burnings at the stake and torture would have us return to the teachings that God only loves a select few, because that is how evil and oppression on earth is justified. It is not of God.

      19. ts00 writes, “the apostles, and the early church leaders were under the delusion that God loved all men,…”

        yeah. That’s why no one left Jerusalem to evangelize the world until the persecution forced them out.

      20. Couldn’t possibly be because Jesus commanded them to spread the true gospel (God so loves the world) ‘first’ to Israel, which had been brainwashed with the false theology of Unconditional Election.

      21. brianwagner writes, “…we can safely assume that Jesus wanted Nicodemus to believe that the word “world” in that context at least included him…”

        Nicodemus would think that the “light” was only meant for the Jew – that was the OT position. For Jesus to say that it was for the world – for the gentiles also -would, no doubt, have been an eye-opener.

      22. But, Roger, the point is… he would have understood what Jesus meant and that Jesus was asking him to change his beliefs to conform to what He meant… or was encouraged to keep asking questions until he understood. I see Jesus as being very merciful to this unregenerate man.

      23. brianwagner writes, “the point is… ”

        Yes. A lot of things are going on here. The “world” of Nicodemus is being turned on its head. He is told that he must be born again and that God loves the world. Seems pretty traumatic for a Pharisee. Nicodemus is not repelled by what Jesus tells him as we see in his later behavior.

      24. The Calvinist distortion, that the great issue of the New Testament was who made up the chosen people, when, in reality, the darkness-shattering gospel message was that God loved all people without distinction, and desired that none perish, that the Jews were ‘chosen’ to deliver this good news to ‘the world’, not to alone receive God’s blessings.

        The problem with the Jewish leaders was their image of God, believing that he created the nations of the world to be their slaves, rather than understanding that God loved, equally, every man and woman ever born and desired that all turn from wickedness and that none perish. Only a man-made theory could turn the teaching of Jesus, Paul and all of the New Testament that God loves and desires to save all people into, ‘OK, since it’s racist to exclude all of the gentiles from his chosen elect, God is now only going to exclude most of them.’

        Sounds like modern quotas, in which a token woman or minority is given a break, rather than all people treated as if they are exactly of the same value. Maybe God was cornered by the PC crowd? Or maybe Calvin was the biggest impediment to ending the racism, sexism and every other oppression on earth that Jesus denounced, because of his teaching that God does not love all men exactly the same. The thing is, the Magisterial Reformers held to the same image of a cruel, partial, vindictive, loveless God that led to the destruction of Israel.

        Luther wrote that Jews are devils, blasphemers, and liars who “lie so clumsily and ineptly that anyone who is just a little observant can easily detect it,” a “miserable, blind and senseless” people, “nothing but thieves and robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing which they have not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury.” “God and all the angels dance when [the Jew] farts.” They should be “toss[ed] out … by the seat of their pants,” and “eject[ed] … forever from this country.” God’s anger with them is “so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!” and suggested their synagogues and schools must be set on fire to “bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them.” Their houses must be “razed and destroyed,” He was infamously quoted by the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials.

        Calvin hadn’t much better of an opinion of the ‘chosen’ nation, suggesting: “Their [the Jews] rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.”.

        These are the men Reformed Theology hold up as idols, their every word to be worshiped and adored by Protestants as the restoration of the ‘True Church’. With leaders like these, is it any wonder Christianity is so confused?

      25. I don’t claim to be an educated theologian, but it seems to me that rhut chin is limiting God in one way and Brian in another different but similar way. God is not his creation. God can’t be described solely in relation to his creation. Rhut wants to say God has to cause everything to have knowledge of what he causes. Brian wants God limited to the “now” to allow an unknown future. Either way, God is subject to his creation. Without it, he would not have total knowledge. If omniscience is a necessary attribute of God, it exists independently of time or matter or even God’s decisions.

      26. WW writes, “God is not his creation. God can’t be described solely in relation to his creation.”

        All agree. Attributes of God can be discerned by observing His creation as Romans 1 tells us. But not everything.

        Then, “If omniscience is a necessary attribute of God, it exists independently of time or matter or even God’s decisions.”

        All agree. The issue is how God knows. As I noted above, there are three views to explain how God is omniscient.

      27. How God knows is not an issue. If I as a mere human could understand any of God’s attributes, I would be smarter than anyone who ever lived. As I said before, if God has to determine everything thing to know it, there’s no mystery involved. And it makes God dependant on his decision. His omniscience no longer is a stand alone attribute.

      28. ww writes, “How God knows is not an issue.”

        It has been the point of discussion here.

        Then, “And it makes God dependant on his decision’

        No, it makes us dependent on God’s decisions. The decisions God makes depend on God.

  12. CAN CALVIN’S GOD DECREE ADAM FREE TO OBEY AND FREE TO NOT OBEY

    Can Calvin’s god decree Adam free to obey and free to not obey? Sure he can. But that decree does not provide the NECESSARY CONDITION for either of them to come to pass.

    It is LOGICALLY NECESSARY that Calvin’s god decree Adam’s disobedience, else it CANNOT come to pass. Since we know Adam’s disobedience came to pass, it MUST be the case Calvin’s god specifically decreed it. And the opposite CANNOT come to pass unless Calvin’s god specifically decrees the opposite.

    For Calvin’s god to leave the decision to obey or not obey OPEN to Adam would be a form of OPEN theism. And for the Calvinist, this would make Adam equal to god – having the power to make something come to pass, that Calvin’s god (because he left it OPEN) did not specifically decree. And thus Calvinism’s doctrine of meticulous decrees would be falsified and collapse.

    In Calvinism is Adam free to do the opposite of what Calvin’s god decrees Adam do?
    Not unless one embraces double-think.

    Let the Calvinist call that “freedom” if he wants to.
    But let the reader be savvy enough and intellectually honest enough to know better.

    1. br.d asks, “In Calvinism is Adam free to do the opposite of what Calvin’s god decrees Adam do?”

      Adam is free to do what Adam wants unless God says he cannot.

      1. br.d
        “In Calvinism is Adam free to do the opposite of what Calvin’s god decrees Adam do?”
        Not unless one embraces double-think.

        rhutchin
        Adam is free to do what Adam WANTS unless God says he cannot.

        br.d
        Thanks rutchin – another good example of Calvinist double-speak
        This language presents the falsehood that Adam can WANT the opposite of what Calvin’s god decrees Adam to WANT.

        To the reader:
        Once you get Calvinism’s deceptive double-talk figured out – this game actually becomes fun! :-]

      2. br.d writes, “This language presents the falsehood that Adam can WANT the opposite of what Calvin’s god decrees Adam to WANT.”

        Adam can want that which he wants. Adam’s wants are subordinate to God’s wants. If Adam wants that which God does not want, God’s will prevails by His decree.

        The reprobate naturally want those things that are opposite to God’s wants and God’s wants, expressed in His decrees, prevail.

  13. br.d
    “In Calvinism is Adam free to do the opposite of what Calvin’s god decrees Adam do?”
    Not unless one embraces double-think.

    rhutchin
    Adam is free to do what Adam WANTS unless God says he cannot.

    br.d
    Thanks rutchin – another good example of Calvinist double-speak
    This language presents the falsehood that Adam can WANT the opposite of what Calvin’s god decrees Adam to WANT.

    To the reader:
    Once you get Calvinism’s deceptive double-talk figured out – this game actually becomes fun! :-]

    rhutchin:
    Adam can want that which he wants. Adam’s wants are subordinate to God’s wants. If Adam wants that which God does not want, God’s will prevails by His decree.

    br.d
    “Adam can want that which he wants”
    Good example of Calvinist circular reasoning :-]

    “Adam’s WANTS are SUBORDINATE to God’s wants.”
    Thanks rhutchin this is another good example of Calvinist double-speak.
    This language presents the falsehood that Calvin’s god doesn’t decree every specific WANT Adam can have.

    rhutchin:
    The reprobate NATURALLY want those things that are OPPOSITE to God’s wants and God’s wants, expressed in HIS DECREES PREVAIL

    br.d
    “The reprobate NATURALLY”
    Thanks rhutchin or two good examples of Calvinist trick language.
    1) This language presents the falsehood that Calvin’s god does not meticulously decree what the reprobate NATURALLY want.

    2) This language is presents the falsehood that when Calvin’s god decrees what a person WANTS – that decree is opposite of what Calvin’s god wants. Calvin’s god is obviously fickle! :-]

    1. If one reviews the thread of rhutchin’s double-speak – it becomes obvious that all rhutch is doing is switching to new terms.
      The underlying double-think frame-work stays the same – all that changes is an unending supply of new terms to say the same thing.

      We are blessed to have such excellent examples of evasive double-speak! :-]

      1. br.d writes, “If one reviews the thread of rhutchin’s double-speak – it becomes obvious that all rhutch is doing is switching to new terms.”

        Or the new terms are intended to explain the situation better. Maybe you are starting to understand that position.

      2. The TULIP in everyday language (from an anonymous commenter on a blog):

        “Now let’s be honest about what Calvinism really teaches:

        T=Total Depravity—It’s not their fault. Their total depravity made them do it.

        U=Unconditional Election—-Salvation isn’t available to all because God only picked one lucky group that automatically gets it regardless of what they do.

        L=Limited Atonement—-Jesus only died for a lucky few. The rest of us are screwed.

        I=Irrestible Grace—-God will overpower your will and force you to do whatever God wants you to do.

        P=Preserverance of the Saints—-Sin all you want. No matter what you do—as long as you’re one of the lucky few chosen ones—God magically make sure you end up in Heaven!

        Nope. Not even close.

        Calvinism is actually a very subtle form of rebellion against God’s law of sowing and reaping. No matter how they try to deny this, the truth is that Calvinism tries to remove responsibility for our own decisions by transferring the blame – oops I mean responsibility for decision making – to God.”

        This type of clear, unequivocal explanation is what Calvinists fear most, for, if people understood what their theology actually asserts, most would – as demonstrated by history – reject it. Hence the need for masks, euphemism and meaningless double-speak. Or, as my former Calvinist pastor liked to say: “We would not put it like that’. No, obviously not – that would be too damnably honest.

        Once I realized the truth of “No matter how they try to deny this, the truth is that Calvinism tries to remove responsibility for our own decisions by transferring the blame – oops I mean responsibility for decision making – to God” I was finally able to confess that was the real draw of it, and get back to having an honest, humble relationship with God that entailed owning up to my own, freely chosen behavior. No more OSAS, no more ‘get out of hell free’ card, no more ‘God doesn’t see your sin’ silliness. God sees, and hates, our sin. That’s why he paid such an enormous price for it: not to pretend like it does not exist, but to offer us atonement and forgiveness when we humbly repent of it. (Hint: look up ‘repent’. It does not mean simply ‘saying’ you are sorry, or that you have adopted a new doctrine. The proof, always, is in the pudding. God sees the pudding.)

      3. ts00 writes, “This type of clear, unequivocal explanation is what Calvinists fear most, for, if people understood what their theology actually asserts, most would – as demonstrated by history – reject it.”

        How about applying your assertion to a real example. Calvinists say that people are Totally Depraved. This is based on the Scriptures that assert that “No one can come to Christ,” (John 6) and “No one can see or enter the kingdom of heaven,” (John 3). Supporting this are Romans 3 and 8 and 1 Corinthians 1 among other Scriptures.

        Why would people reject the above? Actually, the Arminians did not reject it. A lot of other non-Calvinists also accept the Calvinist conclusion – even the Traditionalists within the SBC. I think it is obvious to any reasonable person that your blanket condemnation of Calvinism is false.

      4. Great example, Roger, of ignoring that point that if Calvinism’s view of inability in Total Depravity is true – then it cannot be a person’s own fault that causes them to end up in hell, since the initial cause for their inability was outside of them and actually originated, according to them, in the decree of God, for which only He could be responsible for its effects. Also a great example of clipping verses out of their context to ignore clearly what God does to make all individuals able to respond to His grace and His mercy before He gives them regeneration, which is the permanent cure for inability.

      5. brianwagner writes, “…ignoring that point that if Calvinism’s view of inability in Total Depravity is true – then it cannot be a person’s own fault that causes them to end up in hell,…”

        We start with the Scriptures and take them where they lead us, don’t we? So, do the Scriptures I cited point us in the direction of “inability” to come to Christ or “ability” to come to Christ? If “inability” as the Calvinists conclude and God still holds people responsible for their sin, what do we do then? Seems like condemning Calvinism is a strawman when the Scriptures are the problem.

        Then, “…a great example of clipping verses out of their context to ignore clearly what God does to make all individuals able to respond to His grace and His mercy before He gives them regeneration, which is the permanent cure for inability.”

        What my “clipping” did was establish the initial condition of any person. Isn’t it this position that is a point of disagreement? You point out the necessity for God to intervene to change the situation and this agrees with the Calvinist assessment, doesn’t it? So, you are agreeing with two points made by the Calvinists – thereby arguing against the position taken by TS00?

      6. Wishful thinking Roger… recheck your definition of justice from Scripture and the teaching of God’s mercy in granting ability… God is certainly just and much more merciful than you seem to be “able” to believe! 😉

      7. brianwagner writes, “a great example of clipping verses out of their context to ignore clearly what God does to make all individuals able to respond to His grace and His mercy before He gives them regeneration, which is the permanent cure for inability.”

        Which doesn’t say a lot unless you have gone Universalist on us.

      8. ‘Universalist’ – Don’t tell me you saw that one coming? 😉

      9. TS00 – Though there was/is a small antinomian wing in Calvinism… most mainliners would disagree with that above description of P. And for I, they would say that at least God makes you think/feel (by regeneration) that your will is “freely” accepting His irresistible will. 😉 The rest is pretty spot on, imo.

  14. Remember….

    If it looks like Scripture does not uphold Calvinism….and you make a logical example of how Calvinism does not work…. be prepared for the ‘ole “you must be a Universalist then” card. Right on cue.

    1. FOH writes, “…be prepared for the ‘ole “you must be a Universalist then” card.”

      The card must be earned – you must argue as an Universalist to earn the card.

  15. Today’s reading. 2 Kings 13-14.

    17 Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he shot an arrow. Elisha proclaimed, “This is the Lord’s arrow, an arrow of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek.”

    18 Then he said, “Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times. 19 But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until it was entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.”

    —————
    Oh well….”should have” “could have” “would have” …… all these mean nothing for a Calvinist (even though we see thousands of them in the Word).

    Nope. Just playing with our minds. The whole thing was already “necessarily” set, determined, locked in by God. Showing Elisha scolding the kings is really just a…..a….hummmm…….. anthropomorphism! Yeah….doesnt really mean anything. Wasted ink on parchment.

    1. FOH writes, ‘Just playing with our minds. The whole thing was already “necessarily” set, determined, locked in by God.”

      If only the king had known that. He would have struck the ground a hundred times.

    2. Good ol’ God, such a trickster. Always playing around with his little toys, makin’ believe they are real, move of their own volition and are not being moved each and every step by his controlling hand. My sons used to do this by the hour with their toy soldiers. They grew bored with being in complete control of the outcome of every game, however, so they decided to roll dice to see who would get to advance, how far they could move, how many soldiers died, etc.

      If little boys see the boredom and uselessness of a determined ‘game’, you might imagine God would too. I guess that’s why he tries to convince himself that the outcomes are not all set in stone, and deals with us as if we live and breathe with genuine volition. If only those darn Calvinists hadn’t spilled the beans and exposed that it was all just a fairy tale. Now they try desperately to pretend that while God controls very move, the toy people also move of their own volition – ‘choosing’ to perform exactly what was completely predetermined for them. Pretty tough to pull off, unless you can manage to completely brainwash people into not thinking. But hey, maybe God determined that lots of people wouldn’t think!

    3. Maybe Calvinists think God uses dice? At least it would add a little interest to his ho-hum, always get my way existence. 1, I get my way, 2, I get my way, 3 . . . never mind.

      1. Short conversation with a Calvinist:

        Does God always get what He wants?

        Of course….otherwise He is not God.

        So, everything that happens is what God wants, even sin?

        No, He does not want you to sin.

        So if I sin, I am doing something He does not want?

        Yes.

        He wants us not to sin, but we do, so that is not getting what He wants.

        …………crickets……..

      2. FOH writes, “Short conversation with a Calvinist:”

        So, FOH, do we conclude that you were sleeping in class or that you purposely distort Calvinism here??? This si the way the conversation goes.

        Does God always get what He wants?

        Of course….otherwise He is not God.

        So, everything that happens is what God wants, even sin?

        Yes.

        So if I sin, I am doing something He does not want?

        Yes, but God gives you freedom to sin if that is your desire.

        He wants us not to sin, but we do, so that is not getting what He wants.

        God expresses His will for people in His law and then expresses His will in giving people the freedom to disobey His law. God expresses His will by not stopping people when they set out to disobey His law and sin. God expresses His will in various ways; whatever happens in the end is what God decides, or wills, to happen. As Brian might remind us, God made these decisions in eternity past.

Leave a Reply