Tim Keller, a well-known Calvinistic author and pastor, wrote an article at The Gospel Coalition titled, “3 Objections to the Doctrine of Election” that I wish to unpack further today. For the sake of brevity, I will only deal with the first of Keller’s three objections in this article.
It first should be noted that the title technically should be “3 Objections to the Calvinistic Doctrine of Election,” given that non-Calvinistic scholars are not objecting to the “doctrine of election” itself but specifically to how Calvinists have interpreted this otherwise glorious biblical doctrine.
With all due respect to our Calvinistic brethren, and I mean that when I say it, the Calvinistic worldview does not own a monopoly on the concepts of election, predestination, sovereignty and Divine glory. These are all wonderful biblical doctrines that both Calvinists and non-Calvinists affirm, though we do understand and explain them very differently. Keller presumes the Calvinistic worldview from the beginning without actually establishing it biblically (though to be fair, he does do that elsewhere in his teachings). Keller begins his argument (in blue),
The [Calvinistic] doctrine of election—that those who freely come to God are those whom God has freely chosen—is easy to understand, and clearly taught in God’s Word, but it is not easy to accept. It has given thoughtful believers problems for centuries, and continues to do so today.
Here are 3 key points about this opening paragraph that the reader must understand in order to deal objectively and intelligently with the rest of this article:
FREELY? – When a Calvinist says “those who freely come to God” they do not mean it the way you think they do. By “freely” a Compatibilistic Calvinist means that a person is “acting according to their greatest desire” which is determined by their nature in their given circumstances, all of which are meticulously determined by God. So, when Keller says “those who freely come” he means “those who God has supernaturally given a new nature to make them desire to come irresistibly.” He does not mean that each individual had an actual “free” choice in the way you and I typically think about a “choice” (“the act of picking or deciding between two or more possibilities.” –Websters).
According to Calvinism all people are born morally incapable of coming when God makes His appeal’s through the gospel, so that really is not a “possibility” that can be chosen unless and until God irresistibly changes the lost man’s nature/desires.
EASY TO UNDERSTAND? – Compatibilism, as defined above, is not that easy to understand, as reflected in the volumes of work that has been produced to explain and defend it. Not to mention that the common accusation of “you just don’t understand Calvinism” is typically referencing misunderstandings on this very point. As Dr. David Allen points out, “Calvinists often use the same vocabulary but they have a different dictionary.” So, Keller says “freely” but as a Calvinist he means something very different than what the average person understands that word to mean.
God making a genuine appeal for all to accept or reject His offer of reconciliation through Christ is easy to understand, but that is not Compatibilistic Calvinism.
EASY TO ACCEPT? – Compatibilistic Calvinism is what is difficult to accept, not the biblical doctrine of election when rightly interpreted and understood. The idea that all people are born guilty and unable to willingly come to God for reconciliation, (even though He is pleading for all to come) unless He effectually changes their nature/desires, is VERY DIFFICULT to accept. Calvinists give testimony as to how much they struggled and wept over how “difficult this pill was to swallow.” John Calvin himself called it a “dreadful decree.” Those who rightly understand our interpretation of election accept it gladly and with great delight as genuinely good news for the entire world!
Now, let’s continue to consider Keller’s perceived objection to Calvinistic election:
- If you believe in [Calvinistic] election, doesn’t that leave you with the problem of why God doesn’t choose to save everyone?
Yes, but the same is true for Christians who don’t believe in [Calvinistic] election. [Calvinistic] Election doesn’t create the problem, it only leads us to think about it. To deny the [Calvinistic] doctrine of election does not help you escape the issue.
As you can see, I have been adding in the qualifier [Calvinistic] in order to reveal the underlying problem in Keller’s reasoning. Christians who understand election from the corporate (provisionist/traditionalist) perspective do not have the same problem as our Calvinistic friends. Only the Calvinist has God “longing to gather” and “making an appeal” and “holding out his hands” to people born morally incapable of willingly coming (by His own decree), while only effectually causing some of them to willingly come. On Keller’s view of Calvinistic election, God could effectually regenerate all people to make them “freely come” (just like he did for the “elect”), but for unknown reasons God presents Himself as loving and wanting all to come while only providing the means for a relative few to actually do so. This is what is so difficult to understand and accept about Keller’s Calvinism, yet he never deals with those troubling matters in this article. Keller continues,
All Christians have this problem, and so we cannot object to [Calvinistic] election by appealing to it.
All Keller has said here is, “All Christians have the problem created by Calvinistic election so you cannot object to Calvinistic election by appealing to Calvinistic election,” which of course sounds like non-sense because it is based on circular reasoning and a fallacy called “question begging.” By presuming Calvinistic election is true Christian doctrine (the very point up for debate) he reasons that all Christians have the problem created by Calvinism’s view of election. Non-Calvinists, like myself, can and will object to Calvinistic election by appealing to our interpretation of election not to the very dilemma Calvinism itself creates. This issue will become more clear when we look at Keller’s argument below,
A person who doesn’t believe in [Calvinistic] election faces this dilemma:
(a) God wants everybody saved.
(b) God could save everyone.
(c) God does not.
The question, though, still remains: Why not? That is the ultimate mystery, but abandoning the doctrine of [Calvinistic] election does not answer it.
We would take issue with the first point of Keller’s syllogism. We do not believe God desires everybody to be saved by whatever means can be imagined (i.e. God effectually controlling what free creature desire to do). The scripture tells us plainly the means by which God wishes to save morally accountable beings who were create in His own image. He desires all to FREELY repent so as to be saved. If you understand “freely” as simply to mean that one has the moral capacity to make a choice (“the act of picking or deciding between two or more possibilities.”- Websters), then there is no dilemma here. Keller’s syllogism, if consistent, should read:
- God wants everybody saved regardless of the means it takes to save them.
- God could save everyone if He chose to use means not revealed in the scriptures (ie compatibilistic control over free creature’s desires and choices)
- God does not use such means.
Why not? Because God has not chosen Calvinism as the system by which he elects and saves people. Keller then anticipates an objection of one who reject’s his version of Calvinism:
Someone says: “But I believe that though God doesn’t want us to be lost, some are lost because they choose wrongly and God will not violate their freedom of choice.” But why is freedom of choice sacrosanct? I try to honor my child’s freedom of will, but not if I see he is about to be killed by it! Why can’t God “insult” our freedom of will for a moment and save us for eternity?
Why is “freedom of choice” sacrosanct? Sacrosanct just means “regarded as too important or valuable to be interfered with.” So why is man’s responsibility (freedom to make real and meaningful choices) “too important to be interfered with?” Because God’s inspired word is sacrosanct and if God teaches that mankind has the kind of responsibility we believe he does then that would be “sacrosanct.” Just as Keller believe’s his understanding of election from scripture cannot be interfered with because its believed to be from God, so too we believe our understanding of human responsibility is from God.
Regardless of whether you think we are saved by our choice or by God’s, you still face the same question: Why wouldn’t God save us all if he has the power and desire to do so? Again, it is a hard question, but it cannot be used as an argument against the [Calvinistic] doctrine of election.
First, we all believe that we are saved by God’s choice. This goes back to the same old Calvinistic conflation that we have had to correct a number of times.
Only when a Calvinist, like Keller in the quote above, conflates man’s choice to humbly repent in faith with God’s choice to save whosoever does so are these types of dilemmas created. In other words, Calvinists have created a problem by conflating two choices as if they were one and calling them both “salvation.”
For instance, the prodigal son’s choice to return home is distinct from the father’s choice to redeem (save) him once he arrives. To treat those two distinct choices as if they were one in the same [i.e. under the meticulous control of the father] creates an unnecessary dilemma.
Second, Keller asks, “Why wouldn’t God save us all if he has the power and desire to do so?” This technically should say, “Why wouldn’t our all powerful God use irresistible means to make us all want to repent so as to be saved if God has the desire to do so?”
The answer is obvious. God does not desire to do so, which is why we reject Calvinism’s underlying premise (i.e. to be saved God has to make you want to believe and trust in Him, otherwise you could not desire to do so by His own sovereign decree). As AW Tozer so eloquently put it,
“God sovereignly decreed that man should be free to exercise moral choice, and man from the beginning has fulfilled that decree by making his choice between good and evil. When he chooses to do evil, he does not thereby countervail the sovereign will of God but fulfills it, inasmuch as the eternal decree decided not which choice the man should make but that he should be free to make it. If in His absolute freedom God has willed to give man limited freedom, who is there to stay His hand or say, ‘What doest thou?’ Man’s will is free because God is sovereign. A God less than sovereign could not bestow moral freedom upon His creatures. He would be afraid to do so.” – A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy: The Attributes of God
Keller then goes on to make a purely philosophical argument:
We can go further. Suppose [Calvinistic] election is not true. Suppose that eons ago God set up salvation on this system: Every person will have an equal ability to accept or reject Christ, who will die and be raised and be presented through the gospel message. The moment God determined to set up salvation on that system, he would’ve immediately known exactly which persons would be saved and which would be condemned on that basis. So the minute he “set it up,” he would be de facto electing some and passing over others. We come out to the same place. God could save all, but he doesn’t.
I agree with CS Lewis who wrote, “Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.” Compatibilistic determinism is just bad philosophy that the scripture never implicitly or explicitly teaches. Keller’s dilemma above is created from a purely philosophical speculation based on the inscrutable nature of Divine omniscience in relation to a temporal and finite world. None of us can fully fathom how God’s knowledge works in relation to His creation. We must appeal to mystery where the Bible is silent while speaking out against any manmade philosophy that undermines His attributes of love and holiness, or the clear biblical instruction of mankind’s responsibility in light of God’s appeals.
Any philosophy that teaches Divine omniscience demands Divine determinism is a bad philosophy. I believe Molinism held by William Lane Craig, or the Eternal Now view held by Boethius (and popularized by CS Lewis) provide sound philosophical answers to some of the dilemmas our finite minds vainly attempt to grasp with regard to God’s infinite attributes.
88 thoughts on “Tim Keller: “3 Objections to the [Calvinistic] Doctrine of Election””
Good evaluation of Keller’s attempt to “sell” the Calvinistic view of election. I was glad when you pointed out the actual logical fallacies behind his statements but I wished for more Scriptural confirmation also.
Of course, you know that I hold the idea that certainty of completely settled foreknowledge before creation, though it is not determinative of future events, does confirm that all future events are certain to happen only one way, and therefore predetermined by something or someone, making the notion of freewill impossible, logically speaking, imo.
After 50 years of conversations, observations, literature, sermons, and the like, I’m completely convinced that certain minds, for whatever reason, being bias or simply the lack of some degree of intuitive reasoning, just cannot grasp that *Knowledge of the future does not cause it.
I’m at the point where I just refuse to even engage people who have been enslaved by the kind of determinism that breeds Calvinism because in virtually every case they are a certain type of person – in the same way that any quick glance at an atheist convention yields a “profile” – that clearly points out to me its not the doctrine or about truth , it’s the type of person.
They all shout up the same rhetoric like they’re passing around a chain letter and for some reason, they just cannot See a few little points that everyone else gets with virtually no effort at all. It’s like they’re trapped in a time loop in which the same errors in reasoning and biblical hermeneutics are repeated and again reinforced with this philosophical “computer god” made of stone, that is so distant from Jesus Christ that it’s a pity these people cannot grasp the God they worship.
But the litany of “sovereign” “dead body” and “Good Pleasure” diatribes just feeds the lust so many calvinists crave. Armins do it too, no doubt… but that little calvinist speech and the cringe worthy philosophy that’s sure to follow as you get accused is getting old.
Is this is what they think Christ commanded?
You makes some good points, James. But no-one should be viewed as beyond hope from our perspective. We may just need wisdom on what weapons to use next – 2Co 10:3-5 NKJV – 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ….”
James, I would posit that much of what people believe – including you and I – is mostly the result of unthinking indoctrination. Brainwashing, if you will. The ‘script’ you hear people citing is the script that supports a particular narrative, and it is essential not only to win converts but to reinforce the mind control of those who have been previously programmed. Definitions of words, which have been arbitrarily chosen, are asserted as biblical and unquestionable. Stories are provided which defend the narrative, but present a limited and biased perspective.
Take ‘Sovereignty’, as it is one of their planks that you mentioned. Who would dare to assert that a Sovereign God cannot do whatever he chooses with his creation? The Calvinist, for all his vaunted defense of God’s ‘Sovereignty’, is the one who falsely claims that God ‘cannot’ allow man to have a choice in his own eternal destiny. The thinking person would ask, ‘Says who?’
There is no necessity to affirm Calvinism’s rigid definition of Sovereignty, which has simply been derived by the philosophical reasoning of men. Few who believe in One who created all things would deny that he has the power to do whatever he desires with his creation; honesty insists that we allow God’s own recorded words to inform us as to what those desires are. The Calvinist asserts that God is all about ascribing glory to himself, which explains why Calvinists tend to be so narcissistic. The narrative they have been sold, the script, if you will, presents a self-absorbed, heartless tyrant, who just as easily tosses people into hell as the child plucks petals from a daisy – ‘I love him, I love him not, I love him . . .’ There is no genuine mercy, no compunction on the part of Calvin’s God in torturing people without offering them a wisp of hope. One begins to understand how Calvin could have been so cruel and murderous, as history well documents his own words and actions.
Scripture, on the other hand, presents a suffering, sacrificial servant sent forth to reach defiant, unrighteous persons with a message of love and forgiveness. Whereas the self-righteous Pharisees sought the stoning of an adulterous woman, Jesus desired her salvation from a life of sin and misery. What legalistic Calvinism cannot grasp is that the cross enables Jesus to look past our sin and urge us to leave it behind and walk with him. In other words, no person, however sinful, is ‘reprobate’ or without hope, for God provided atonement for all men and genuinely desires that none perish, but that all would freely turn from wickedness and live.
This the Calvinist cannot have. This would reduce them, the self righteous, chosen elite to mere sinners like the rest of us, responsible for their choices and actions all the days of their lives. No Once Saved, Always Saved to allow them a few of their pet sins. One can see the parallel between Calvinists and the Judaizers of old. They put their trust in structures (The Law), in a belief in the right doctrines, and rather than seek to walk under the leading of the very Spirit Jesus died that we might receive, they put their trust in their unconditional election. Just as the Judaizers looked to their ceremonial sacrifices to deal with their sin, the Calvinist believes that this unique atonement for sin has been limited to a special chosen few. One can see the appeal of a theology that makes no serious demands on the individual. They can do nothing to improve their position, and nothing to imperil it, although they do manage to sneak works righteousness back in under ‘assurance’ and sanctification lest their followers take their theology to the obvious conclusion and live like the devil with no remorse.
Just as rabid right wing ideologues and equally rabid left wing ideologues have been shaped by different scripts, the Calvinist has been carefully brainwashed with a well-scripted ‘story’. All of these stories indeed contain a germ of truth, as the best deception always does. But all employ distortions, emphasizing one aspect of truth while ignoring or even decrying another. All use scripts that deliberately misdefine important concepts like love, righteousness and justice. Just look at the memes on social media, and you will see how stories are used to push an agenda. The right are told the barbarians are at the gate, while the left are told the barbarians are running the institution. Sincere people, looking to the ‘experts’ for the ‘truth’ are manipulated by different scripts; we believe the deceptions designed and implemented to continue our enslavement, oppression and destruction.
You are in essence correct that ideologues are simply brainwashed dupes reading the same chain letter. The only cure is to cease letting someone else do your thinking and begin to question all that you are told ‘must’ be true. You will quickly discover that not only have you frequently been lied to, but that the truth of scripture has been terribly distorted and misrepresented for centuries.
Brian, it is amazing to me that you believe there are things in the future that God is or was not aware of. Am I misunderstanding you? If I’m correct, the question is, was that doctrine which you hold created because you object to the unconditional election that seems to be taught in Romans 9, or does your view of God’s ignorance of some future events create that objection to such sovereign election? Just wanting to be sure I know where you’re coming from. Thanks.
But God is “aware” of all future possibilities, and has no “ignorance of some future events”, both unconditionally determined ones or possible conditional ones that still exist. He doesn’t know a false future as defined by neo-platonism that says it is eternally immutably predestined to work out only one way.
Hi, Brian. So God does or does not know every choice that every human will make in the future? I’m still not clear on that.
Scott… think of it this way. If God still has possible free choices to make in the future, He can only know them as possible free choices to make in the future. He can not know them as already made choices for then they would not be possible free choices to make in the future. Right?
Brian, I’m thinking that would only be true of a God who exists solely in time. I’m thinking it would be true of a God who doesn’t know all the thoughts of people and the words they will speak before it’s ever on their tongue. When you talk about future choices, the future could be a thousand years away or it could be 3 seconds away. Are you saying he doesn’t know what people’s choices will be ahead of time, or what his choices will be ahead of time or both?
Scott, I noticed you ignored my example of God’s knowledge of His own unmade decisions. You also introduced the illogical and unbiblical idea of a non-sequential reality.
Ps 90, 2 Sequential Reality
There are two definitions for “time”. One is connected only to creation… it is the measurement of matter in motion. The other is connected to reality which is from God’s nature.
Reality is sequential events… befores and afters going backwards infinitely and forwards infinitely. “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2)… “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). There were events of communication, relationship, and decision making in the Godhead before creation of space and matter… right?
A reality that is sequential and non-sequential for God at the same “time” is a logical contradiction borrowed into Christianity from neo-platonism. The Scripture gives no other “competing” reality for God’s presence, which is contradictory to the word “reality” anyway.
His foreknowledge is dynamic therefore and not static. His understanding is infinite (Ps 147:5). He knows all the possibilities that still exist and all things that are already determined that limit those possibilities.
Some like the illustration of God as a blimp watching the full parade below. But for a blimp to watch a parade, the full parade has to exist. The future does not exist as a completed entity to watch either as a place or in God’s mind.
Reality is only sequential, and comes from God’s eternal nature – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2), “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). Relationship and communication in the Godhead before creation was sequential (befores and afters).
The underlying important issue is – does God’s mind reflect univocally the sequential reality of His Word, or have scholars discovered in their philosophical reasoning that God hid from Scripture His perspective of reality? It would be a perspective that also makes man’s perspective in Scripture actually faulty, for Scripture makes the future as not yet existing, but in reality it is already existing as completed (forever), for God’s reality is the only true one.
Brian, interesting, and a little difficult for me to comprehend. How does the statement by Jesus, “Before Abraham was, I am.” relate to what you are saying?
Additionally I would say that your statements are conjectures based on limited understanding of God, the limited understanding we all have.
“For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” (1 John 3:20).
“Known to God from eternity are all his works.”-Acts 15:18
There are so many statements in scripture about the perfection of God’s understanding and his knowledge, that I’m reluctant to underestimate all that it might mean or to impose a conjecture about sequential versus omnipresent, Etc..
Help me out.
Scott, I gave you clear Scripture about the linear nature of reality. There are a number of clear Scriptures of God making decisions after creation… contradicting the idea that all decisions were made before creation by Him.
Jesus did not mean… Before Abraham was, I am *there*. He just meant He is the I AM God of the OT.
I have no problem with the truths of 1John 3:20 and Acts 15:18. We just read a different definition of “know” and “all things”. You can’t imagine God’s knowledge as dynamic. For example – Do you believe any of His thoughts match the tensed language of the truth of Scripture, or is everything thought by Him as statements of what “is” only?
👍 👍 Gotcha. Fair amount of opinion stated there by you. Thanks for clarifying.
Which “opinion”, Scott, was not reasonable to the grammar and context of Scripture… and why not? And you did not answer my last question. It wasn’t meant to be rhetorical. I’m really interested to see how you would answer it. Thx.
From Brian: “think of it this way. If God still has possible free choices to make in the future, He can only know them as possible free choices to make in the future. He can not know them as already made choices for then they would not be possible free choices to make in the future. Right?”
Brian, what I’m saying is that I don’t believe that God is sequential in his existence where it touches our existence like you think he is. And I believe that to think other than what I just said about my own view is not any more supported than a non-sequential view. Just because it says that God was in existence before he created the Earth does not mean that we understand the nature of his reality and his existence. Those words in Psalm 90 verse 2 and other places are in all likelihood just an accommodation to our human understanding. And so the fact that he could know every choice that every human being is going to ever make and if he exists in a reality such that we can’t comprehend how he could know already every choice he is going to make in the future… that doesn’t bother me at all, because his ways are truly so far above our ways that there is great limitation to our rational figuring out of how these things could be true. I just don’t see that anything you have said or cited contradict says.
Hope I said that in a way that is comprehendible!
Thanks for answering that question, Scott… but it was the other “last” question, that I meant. 🙂 It goes to this issue of God not choosing to speak clearly in Scripture about His nature or thinking, which I believe He clearly does… for “to everlasting” is understood clearly as linear… and so is “from everlasting”, therefore. The “accomodation” seems to be only for those poor “dummies” in Bible times, for reformed scholars have finally figured out what God meant, even though it sounds the opposite of what He actually said. 😉
My last, last question was – Do you believe any of His thoughts match the tensed language of the truth of Scripture, or is everything thought by Him as statements of what “is” only?
And all the verses that clearly have God making decisions after creation, contradicts the idea of them all having been made before creation, doesn’t it? So His thinking would be of some future decisions that are still to be made, and known only to Him as possibilities for His free will to choose between. Otherwise, He has not freewill, or use to exercise it at least, because there does not exist any true possibilities for the future. Right?
Thanks, Brian, I honestly chalk it up to God’s ways being completely incomprehensible to us when we try to understand eternity and where he dwells, both spatially and temporally. Don’t get me wrong and take too far what I’m about to say, but I think our ability to fully comprehend his reality is very similar to the characters in a novel trying to comprehend the fact that their existence, if they probe to the deepest levels of reality, is composed of letters of the alphabet formed into words! It is completely beyond what they thought it was! Again don’t take that too far!
“By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
I actually see that statement as a very metaphysical one that tells us that when we get to the most basic components of atomic structure, it dissolves into things completely Beyond are ability to research and breakdown. It will be kind of like the movie The Truman Show where he got to the edge of the sea and found out there was a wall with a painting of the sky at the end of it. Now don’t take that illustration too far, but the point is that our very existence is utterly different than what we are able to comprehend.
Have fun with that!
Scott, honestly I feel like your illustrations are deflections and your decision not to directly answer my questions in the last response is puzzling to me. Are you trying to say you could be wrong about thinking that God’s reality is non-sequential and that I could be right that it is sequential?
FWIW, I actually find Scott’s responses honest and humble. If I understand him properly, I would agree that we must admit we are contemplating and philosophizing above our pay grade any time we are attempting to understand or explain God.
My (limited) understanding of scripture leads me to believe that God genuinely knows all things, past, present and future, yet without meticulously determining them, although he certainly upholds the existence of all that is, and governs many variables beyond our understanding. And yet, to allow and respect the freedom of reason, thought and choice with which he created human beings, I believe that God interacts with us on the basis of the present.
Thus, the perspectives of Open Theism (as much as I understand them) would be operative in God’s interactions with men, and he speaks within these limitations (for the most part).
When a father asks his young children, ‘Do you guys want to go get ice cream, or just turn in?’ he ‘knows’ what their choice is going to be, without in any way determining it. (I’m leaving out crunchy families who raise their kids with the awareness of how toxic sugar is. ;)) In a somewhat similar manner, God already knows everything we will ever say or do, not simply due to foreknowledge, but also his ‘godlike’ knowledge of all people to their deepest core.
Thus, when God allows Abraham to make the choice to offer up Isaac, it isn’t as if he did not already know what Abraham would do, but he allowed the event to unfold in real time. The same is true as to whether or not an individual will respond in faith to God. I believe he fully knows, yet allows our choices to unfold uncoerced, and gives us genuine opportunity to do what is right, even while knowing we will not. While this has some similarities, to what Calvinism suggests, it is completely absent of God’s determination or meticulous control of what men will think, say and do.
When God states, ‘If you do this, I will do that’ I believe he is being completely genuine. Yet many times he states, ‘But I know you will do this’, not because he has foreordained this choice, but he knows it as he knows all things. Nonetheless, for existence to have any meaning, God must limit his interactions with us to the present, and speak to us in the time-limited reality in which we live.
This may not be where Scott was going, but I thought I’d add in my two cents in case it helps any. 😉
Your’s is a popular view TS00. I would call it the compatibilist view, or one that believes in antinomy. But the main issue with any belief in set foreknowledge is to figure out how there can be a set foreknowledge of how things will work out in all lives of people (as you say – “knowledge of all people to their deepest core”) before any of those people’s cores actually exist, and also factoring in true free will. I believe such set foreknowledge is impossible, because it is illogical. That child who always chooses ice cream, must be created with a core that always chooses ice cream, and thus is not free to choose anything else. And if they have true free will, they might usually say yes to icecream, but sometimes they may freely say no because of weighing the same circumstances differently the next time for themselves. 😉
I think God can have expectations that are disappointed, which means His foreknowledge was not set to work out only one way, for why then would He question the outcome. See Isaiah 5:1-4. Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. 2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected [it] to bring forth [good] grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes. 3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge, please, between Me and My vineyard. 4 What more could have been done to My vineyard That I have not done in it? Why then, when I expected [it] to bring forth [good] grapes, Did it bring forth wild grapes?
Brian, I wasn’t trying to dodge or deflect, just trying to stay where I’m coming from. I would be interested in hearing you comment on the illustration I gave him my last post, but I think what I’m saying is that there is abundant statements in scripture about the immensity of God and how far above us he is such that not only can neither one of us say conclusively that God lives in a sequential reality or not, but even if it turned out that hit was sequential it’s possible we could find out we had no clue what that even means in the full reality of where God lives! “If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know.” 1Cor8:2 what I do see is that the Bible says God knows the end from the beginning and that he works all things after the counsel of his own will and that he knows all things, Etc.
Also, while I believe that Jesus was making the statement you said he made when he said before Abraham was I am, I believe he was stating more than that! I think proper interpretation would demand that.
We are both in agreement, I think, that there is much about God that we will never know or understand. Your illustrations are fine to point that out. But I am not sure if you have come to agree with me that nothing that is unknown would ever literally contradict what is known. And you ended this last response with some evidence that you still feel pretty certain that there is a non-sequential aspect to God’s experience, which makes the sequential experience for Him contradictory, since they are opposites and can not be logically true at the same time. That is why I asked if you believe everything is “is” for God, and the tensed language – “was”, “is” and “will be” is actually not a true representation of His thinking.
God does know all things, and that knowledge changes as reality of sequential events keeps changing… so “will be” becomes known as “has been” and “might be” becomes known as “was” or “could have been”. God is working (present tense) with all things to accomplish His plan, which has many conditional elements in it that He is fine with them working out either way.
I think many have made too much out of Is 46:10. God knows all the ends that He has declared to be ends already… But that says nothing about the inbetween events that He and man can freely interact to establish… He knows all those possibilities perfectly… But God has not yet made choices for all the inbetween possibilities, which to cause or permit.
Isaiah 46, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times [things] that are not [yet] done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,’
Look carefully at Is 46:10 again and realize that it does not prove what I think you think it does… that is, you think God is clearly saying that all things were eternally immutably determined even before creation (or at least known already as set to work out only one way after creation). But it is only teaching that God declares the end from the beginning/from ancient times. It does not say “before” the beginning.
In fact He has declared the end (Christ’s coming to reign) from the beginning/ancient times (by Enoch). Or it may mean something more general. It may mean that if God declares an end from a beginning you can be certain that it will come about. But He has certainly not declared to us every end. And what is in between the beginning and the end of something includes many undetermined, undeclared possibilities.
He can rule the universe any way He wants. And He is not locked into one set future forever, for He chose not to be. The phrase “all knowing” has to be interpreted and defined by Scripture and not by pagan philosophy.
Just like all powerful includes that He is unable to lie, and all present includes that He is not still in the past, and eternal includes that He is not already in the future, and immutable includes that one person of the Godhead became flesh (the God-man) forever, so all knowing includes not knowing something as false as true.
One set future forever is false.
Brian, thanks for that. I think the main thing I was truly trying to communicate is that I have not thought much about the issue of Gods existence relative to sequential and non-sequential. I’m just saying that there is enough in Scripture help us know that he is the mense, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and completely sovereign. And I think there’s enough in there to tell us that we can’t fully comprehend all the ins and outs of that. And you might know better than I do weather most calvinist woodsy things the way you were perceiving my thoughts or not??
I followed the conversation with Brian but I was unable to comment.
Question: If God wanted to create a world where He was going to allow the future to be open (except for the things He declares will come to pass), how would He say it? I mean how could He write it in a way that would satisfy you?
You (and Calvinists in general) make statements like this:
“… there is enough in Scripture help us know that he is the mense, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and completely sovereign. And I think there’s enough in there to tell us that we can’t fully comprehend all the ins and outs of that.”
Of course we cannot completely understand…but why do Reformed guys insist that their “not understanding” is the proper not understanding? The (very few) Scriptures used to “prove” all these points are vague and can be interpreted another way every time.
But the hundreds and hundreds verses, passages —in book after book — and all kinds of writing (psalms, proverbs, history, epistles) that imply that He is letting some parts of humanity play out without micromanaging it…. are all just passed over as “it doesnt really mean that.”
Only because the Greek understanding of “how God must be” is the filter used to toss out all of these hundreds of verses.
Again, if God wanted to create a world where He was going to allow the future to be open (except for the things He declares will come to pass), how would He say it?
I’m thinking then that what you are saying is that although God knows every tiny detail of everything that will happen and every nanosecond of the future in every corner of the universe, his forrknowledge doesn’t force men to make the choices that they make. They exercise their will in their choices. Is this what you were getting at? Because I fully agree with that and so do Calvinists. But philosophers may not, because they can’t comprehend the mystery. Is this closer to what you are saying?
Have Keller explain ancient Israel and red Heifer sacrifice and application to elect Israel and the stranger. When did individual election begin?
Wow, Keller does a really bad job there, especially that last point!
This article demonstrates the typical modus operandi of Calvinists, of redefining words into unrecognizable caricatures of their commonly understood meaning and pretending as if no one should question those nonsense definitions.
People on this blog, along with its author, have repeatedly rejected Calvinism’s pretense that Calvinism’s definition of salvation retains any aspect of ‘freely’ that would be recognizable to knowledgeable users of the English language.
Certainly God’s grace cannot said to be ‘freely’ offered to all, for, under Calvinism’s system Jesus did not shed his blood for all men, but only a limited few. Thus, if you are not one of the predetermined (chosen) elect as defined by Calvinism, God’s grace cannot possibly be acquired, as it was never intended for you. Under Calvinism, there is no shed blood that paid for the sins of all, merely awaiting the freely proffered belief and repentance of the sinner to have its atonement granted. Although a few self-claimed Calvinists recoil at the objectionable theory of Limited Atonement, and call themselves ‘four pointers’, the rest of the system requires its conclusions. As often pointed out, the logical cohesion of the system requires each of the five points for it to work.
Nor can Calvinism claim that any man ‘freely’ comes or responds to God’s call, as, under their system, all are ‘dead’ and cannot respond to that call. What MUST first take place is a definitely ‘non-free’ work upon an uwitting, unseeking, unresponsive person to MAKE them alive, regenerated, or able to hear and desire to come to God. Though hidden underneath lengthy explanations concerning Original Sin, Total Depravity, Inability and the like, in its bare essence Calvinism posits a Divine rape rather than a Divine romance. The chosen victim ‘freely’ comes to God only after an irresistible, life-transforming action has been mysically worked upon them, wholely without their desire or consent.
Under Calvinism, the forceful Deity mystically changes the unwilling victim into a cooperative party, inflicting the Divine date rape drug of ‘Regeneration’ to overcome their former unwillingness. Calvinists will cry foul, but they undeniably insist that the unregenerated ‘victim’ is dead to God, does not desire to serve him and would never come in response to his call. Until and unless he/she received – unasked – the date-rape drug which irresistibly causes them to ‘desire’ God. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, of a freely made choice in this forcible conversion of the unwilling, however grand the end result. It is simply a case of the ends justify the means, and the forced, irresistible conversion is mostly rushed past. A date rape drug with this sort of invisible power to transform victims into gleeful, willing participants would be priceless to those who do not trust in their ability to win another’s heart the old-fashioned way.
Calvinism, in its essence, posits Christianity as a sort of religious Stockholm Syndrome, made famous by Patricia Hearst, whereby those ‘captured’ by God’s irresistible decree become so aligned with his agenda that they ‘freely’ serve him. But in Calvinism’s case, something irresistible and permanent, albeit mystical, is done to the victim, forever placing them in the service of their Divine Captor. One might admire the good intentions of Calvinism’s God in saving the unwilling from certain death, but no one could honestly suggest that men come to him ‘freely’ for this ‘salvation’.
This is the reprehensible caricature that Calvinism makes of the word ‘freely’, robbing it of all of its true meaning, ignoring the inescapable logic that any action irresistibly predetermined by a more powerful being cannot be said to be ‘freely’ chosen by its ordained victim of predetermination, however much they have had a resistiless ‘desire’ engrafted into them.
I believe Calvinism is false
But your post, is despicable. When a Christian speaks, a Real Christian speaks about God, he is to bring forth the breath of the Holy Spirit, not engage in disgusting accusations of rape.
God can do anything he pleases. He has zero moral obligations to man. If he chose to covert a person with irresistible grace he could do that. To claim that as rape is blasphemy.
These claims people make that God would be a moral monster if he doesn’t adhere to your specific package of beliefs are treading on dangerous ground and are made by people who seem afraid.
As I said in my other post. It’s not just Calvinists who go too far. Let’s not go past what is Written. Calm down. Trust the Lord and stop trying to win so badly that you trounce on the Cross & its pardon.
James, it is fascinating that the person who says it is wrong to criticize the logical conclusion of a theology based upon “your specific package of beliefs” finds it right, and charitable, to accuse someone who differs from THEIR “specific package of beliefs” of blasphemy. Pot. kettle, black.
If you want to inflame passions, this probably isn’t the site for you. If you’d like to have a discussion come on over to the adult’s table.
What Calvinists believe about God is true. I know because I am completely depraved and have been for two years since I said “May God strike me dead if I am lying” and I was lying. You can only come to the Him if you are chosen. You are incapable of choosing him. I have been dead for two years even though my physical body is still alive. 24 hours feels like 1000 years and God knows what you think, say, feel and will do before you do it. His promises and death were only for His chosen.
Lisa – if you embrace Calvinism – then you don’t simply say “god knows what you think”
What you say is:
Calvin’s god FIRST-CONCEIVES and then RENDERS-CERTAIN every neurological impulse that appears in my brain. My evil thoughts don’t originate from me. They originate from within his mind and he wills them to then appear inside my brain”
I have found an interesting book call The Anti Gospel by Edward Hendrie. You can find an excerpt on google books when you search the anti gospel edward hendrie. I am curious if anyone would be willing to comment. Everyone seems to research quite alot on this blog.
There is a PDF of that book online. I just googled it, and opened the PDF. He thinks that FREE WILL is an ANTI-CHRIST doctrine taught in HEATHEN church’s.
I, on the other hand, think that Calvinism’s doctrines are straight out of the pit of hell. So, go figure.
But he reminds me of such church’s as the United Church of God, where they had preached that they were the only TRUE church, and all other church’s were of the devil, heathen. Even the 7th Day Adventists do the same, if we go to a HEATHEN church on SUNDAY, that is.
I do not buy off on the doctrine of depravity at all. I believe in free will, and that Satan is here SO THAT we can make a choice between what he tempts us with, and what God desires of us.
Now, you and I would have differences between what YOU mean in Romans 9, vs. what I mean in Romans 9.
We also would have differences regarding David, Adam, etc.
Both Calvin and Luther were former Catholics, and they surely didn’t ditch everything Catholic.
But here is a CLUE…they all didn’t like the Jews very much. Their understanding of the Jews is one of the main reasons that they all have skewed the whole Bible as far as I am concerned.
But, I am on the outside looking in. I’m not a Calvinist, never will be, never once considered it, so, therefore, I’m not a FORMER Calvinist, either, and I find that former Calvinists and Calvinists STILL hold similar beliefs in many things that outsider Christians would never even consider in the first place.
There is a huge amount of SPIRITUAL ABUSE that Calvin’s doctrines cause, as well, but that’s another story.
Anyway, that’s my short take.
Hi Lisa and welcome
I believe if you dig a little you will find that Edward Hendrie embraces the Reformed (probably Calvinist) tradition of interpreting scripture. And from what I can gather he also believes the earth does not revolve around the sun. (i.e. the heliocentric solar system model)
He’s not an author I would personally be interested in reading – but that’s just me. :-]
CAN CALVINIST LANGUAGE BE TRUSTED?
Wonderful Article TIm!!
– those who FREELY come to God are those whom God has FREELY chosen
– God doesn’t want us to be lost, some are lost because they choose wrongly and God will not violate their FREEDOM.
The term “FREELY” in the first statement is used twice with two distinctly different meanings. The statement is clearly equivocal and strategically misleading. Calvin’s god immutably decrees what people choose – and people cannot choose otherwise than what Calvin’s immutably decrees. This is Calvinism’s HIDDEN truth – and most Calvinists will say ANYTHING to evade revealing it – and instead try to paint the opposite picture.
– If you believe in [CALVINISTIC] election, doesn’t that leave you with the problem of why God doesn’t choose to save everyone? ……..
– All Christians have this problem, and so we cannot object to [CALVINISTIC] election by appealing to it……
– A person who doesn’t believe in [CALVINISTIC] election faces this dilemma:
– but abandoning the doctrine of [CALVINISTIC] election does not answer it.
Notice how one has to fill the critical qualifiers the Calvinist strategically HIDES in his statements. This is a clear re-flag the Calvinist internally knows he needs to use deceptive language – and he debilitates his conscience in the process.
Regardless of whether you think we are saved [A] by our choice OR [B] by God’s
Notice how this statement paints a picture of [A] vs. [B].
While what the Calvinist HIDES is in his system man’s choice is made millennia before he is born.
Why wouldn’t God save us all if he has the power and desire to do so? Again, it is a hard question, but it cannot be used as an argument against the [Calvinistic] doctrine of election.
Sorry – this statement is completely false! Does the Calvinist know it is false? Perhaps not – if he lives in a cave!
– he would be de facto electing some and passing over others.
I think its clear by this point – there is a certain repeating pattern in Calvinist language.
Once the pattern of equivocation and obfuscation is recognized – Calvinist language simply cannot be trusted.
Your reply to Keller is replete with your usually double standards. But the best part is the last sentence. After making a point about bad philosophy you show your ignorance concerning Molinism. William Lane Craig’s definition of free will is simply that of choices that are not coerced. Kirk MacGregor, who was a student of Craig, defines free will in his new book on Molina as the ability to choose between options that are consistent with one’s nature. Both of these definitions are the definitions of free will used by compatibilists. The irony that you fail to admit is that there are no notable Arminian or Traditionalist philosophers. All notable Christian philosophers that hold to so called “libertarian” free will are either Molinists or Open Theists. The reason for this is that the theistic philosophers understand the logical problem with libertainism even though you do not. I suggest do a little more research on Molinism before you go recommending it as providing sound philosophical answers. I think you will find that Molinism is just as deterministic as Calvinism.
Welcome back Mike. We do agree that Molinism is indeed, at its roots, deterministic, since it posits that there is made the so-called divine choice of a completed world (which is never really completed since it goes on forever).
Have you read the MacGregor book? I really liked it. I’ve also listened to and watched the author on podcasts and YouTube—a very nice and patient guy. He makes a good case for Calvinists being able to also be Molinists.
Haven’t yet… I’ll have to look into it. But my hermeneutic presuppositions are pretty final when it comes to seeing God’s self revelation in Scripture as clearly showing a sequential divine eternal reality and a mutable functional divine knowledge with infinite understanding.
MacGregor’s book does not seem to be readily available at a “convenient price”, Mike ;-)… but in doing some quick research looking for a review of it, I found this article that proposes the same kind of wedding of Calvinism/Molinism/Compatibilism. You might be interested in it. It is well researched – https://www.galaxie.com/article/jets55-4-09 If you don’t have a subscription, message me and I’ll send you a copy.
the ability to choose between options that are consistent with one’s nature. Both of these definitions are the definitions of free will used by compatibilists.
Mike I didn’t see this post until now. I’m afraid “The ability to choose between multiple options” does not exist for the compatibilist.
1) Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are mutually compatible. In Determinism – you do not choose between multiple options – because only one option TRULY exists – that option which was determined for you to choose. And what you will choose is not “up to you”.
2) Peter Van Inwagen confirms:
Determinism may now be defined: it is the thesis that there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.”
Now the compatibilist can have the ILLUSION that multiple options exist as REAL.
And he can have the ILLUSION that he has the ability to choose one over the other.
But he embraces these as simply human perceptions which only exist as mental ILLUSIONS in his mind.
And in the case of Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) those ILLUSIONS are divinely implanted into your brain by the THEOS
Thus you go through your whole life being deceived by the THEOS.
And everything you read in scripture concerning the THEOS’ will for you life – may in fact be the opposite.
In scripture his PRESCRIBED will may say that he loves you and is for you
While unbeknownst to you – his SECRET will is that he designed you to be a vessel of wrath – fitted for destruction.
As for the Eternal Now, once again you demonstrate your double standard, as this idea is just as difficult and seemingly contradictory as compatiblism. (Incidentally William Lane Craig is opposed to this idea.)
For some unexplained reason God looking into the future to have knowledge of the future is not logical for Traditionalists and some Arminians. But God having knowledge of what is right in front of him because for God there is not past or future is much more logical. Why? It is suggested that God knowledge is not like human knowledge. But this “Eternal Now” idea is logical because it is more like human knowledge in that humans have knowledge only of the now. This is quite inconsistent—God’s knowledge is not like our but it is like ours. Once again this is no more logical than comptiblism and just as paradoxical.
I can see your point, Brian. Your view makes more sense of eternity—and I don’t think Calvinism has a good explanation here. As I said, this is why all the notable philosophers who hold to libertarian free will are Molinists or Open Theists.
“According to Calvinism all people are born morally incapable of coming when God makes His appeals through the gospel, so that really is not a ‘possibility’ that can be chosen unless and until God irresistibly changes the lost man’s nature/desires.”
Precisely what an Arminian believes.
“….the Calvinistic worldview does not own a monopoly on the concepts of election, predestination, sovereignty and Divine glory.”
O, it pretty much does. Arminianism, the offspring of Calvinism, has its own view of election. That being that those who are “in Christ” make up the elect. These are by far the 2 most popular and taught views.
“Christians who understand election from the corporate (provisionist/traditionalist) perspective do not have the same problem as our Calvinistic friends.”
No. But they have created another one. Unless I am mistaken, this view is the same as the Arminian view, mainly, “I am elect because I elected to believe”. That would be like saying God elected Israel, because Israel elected God. And, yet, our Lord told His Jewish apostles…. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.”
“All Christians have this problem, and so we cannot object to election by appealing to it.”
Not all. Some see a distinction between election and salvation. Election is reserved for Israel. Salvation available to all. Israel is His elect (Isaiah 45:4, Isaiah 65:9, Isaiah 65:22, Matthew 24:22, Matthew 24:24, Matthew 24:31, Romans 9:11, Romans 11:28, 2 Timothy 2:10, 1 Peter 1:2). The church is His body (Ephesians 5:23, Colossians 1:18, Colossians 1:24).
You are correct about corporate election. And I like your observation. For some reason that is never really explained Traditionalists and Arminians think that corporate election solves the problem of God’s so called “arbitrary” choice of Jacob and Esau in Romans 9. Even if we accept the idea that God is talking about people groups (which s a possibility) the text says God chooses the groups NOT based on anything they would do in the future. The corporate view posits the hatred of Esau based on the sins of his descendant people group. There is a further irony here in that this view implies that God is looking down the corridors of time to see the behavior of Esau’s decedents. This idea of God looking into the future (which is part of classical Arminianism) is rejected be Traditionalists though they never explain why they dislike it.
A lot there, brother, but I will just respond to this….
“This idea of God looking into the future (which is part of classical Arminianism) is rejected by Traditionalists though they never explain why they dislike it.”
The reason, I believe (an assumption on my part), they reject it is because it suggests God “learned” something. In other words, God had to look down the corridors of time, because He was clueless who would be recipients of His grace until He peaked into the future. Now, having done so, He elected them based on His foreseeing their act of faith.
I reject this, as I reject the corporate view of election as well (if I understand it properly). As I have stated before, Arminius invented this notion (conditional election) in a desperate attempt to distance himself from the Calvinistic notion of unconditional election (to salvation).
Since I see a distinction between election and salvation, I have distanced myself (safely) from both views (Calvinistic and Arminian).
Just a side note that “noted Calvinist” Keller is regularly hammered by other Calvinists for a plethora of reasons. Just saying….
In my daily reading I come to Acts 7.(Stephen recounting Israelite history).
33 “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. 34 I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt.’
——-Why does God say He “has seen and heard”? That leaves one with the impressions that he is letting things play out… not making them all happen deterministically. Why does God give us the impression that He is “responding” to their groanings? That contradicts the Reformed tenet that “God only acts and never reacts.”
35 “So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. 36 And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years.
——-The people rejected Moses. Again God continually leaves the impression in His Word that He is giving man some freedom. Also note that it says by “many wonders and miraculous signs He led them out.” That is what is says about Christ too (Acts 2:22; John 2:11; John 3:2; John 10:38; John 14:11)! Those wonders and signs were given “so that people would believe.” Why does God/ Christ do wonders “so people will believe” if He really is just giving them faith anyway?
——-Christ basically tells people (several times) ….. “well at least believe in me because of the miracles I do—- I mean, you gotta at least believe that!” Why all this “at leave believe in what your eyes are seeing” (giving he impression that the believing is us to you) if God is just gonna either give/ not give them faith? Calvinism renders the Scriptures so meaningless.
39 “But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’ 41 So they made an idol shaped like a calf, and they sacrificed to it and celebrated over this thing they had made. 42 Then God turned away from them and abandoned them to serve the stars of heaven as their gods! In the book of the prophets it is written,
‘Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings
during those forty years in the wilderness, Israel?
No, you carried your pagan gods—
the shrine of Molech,
the star of your god Rephan,
and the images you made to worship them.
So I will send you into exile
as far away as Babylon.’[d]
——–How clear can the OT (and now here in the NT) be about God not having anything to do with them sacrificing to idols? Yet Calvinists says He was planning/ ordaining/ willing/ desiring/ conceiving their child-sacrifice all along. Shame on them!
Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. Calvinism makes that relationship a façade, because, for Calvinism (and to a point, Arminianism), if man was left to his own devices, he would never want/desire/choose God.
I remember one staunch Calvinist saying “I’m glad God changed me.” I thought to myself “No you’re not. Not really. Not the ‘real’ you. All God would have to do is flip that ‘toggle switch’ back where it was before and the ‘real’ you would go right back to hating Him.”
If Calvinism is true, then His relationship with His children is a total joke. And He knows it.
Excellent observations. I particularly affirm your statement about relationship vs. religion. What God desires is a relationship with willing individuals. Had he wanted programmed robots, he would not have given us the power of reason, the freedom of choice and the responsibility to face the consequences of our actions.
Although, I might be willing to grant that ‘christianity’ is a religion, made up by men as a substitute for knowing God personally. But that is not the same thing as the relationship that God has offered and desires to have with us.
1 John 4:19 (NKJV)….
We love Him because He first loved us.
If Calvinism is true, then the Lost can justifiably say…
“We hate God, because He first hated us.”
I’ve been thinking about the word “sovereign.”
In common usage a king or queen is referred to as sovereign. We also often say “a sovereign nation.” The British constitution refers to the queen (or king) as the “Sovereign of the nation.”
Was king David the sovereign king of Israel? Of course.
Was he anointed king? Yes (three times).
Was he anointed even at the same time that King Saul was the reigning sovereign? Yes.
Both sovereign. Both kings.
In neither case (or any case anywhere or anytime in history) did the word sovereign mean that (1) he always gets what he wants, or (2) everything that happens — in his sovereign kingdom—- is what he wants to happen. Everything.
I dont understand why Calvinists put an unnatural and unbiblical twist on the word sovereign.
Yes you do. 😉 It is because it suits their purposes. It is necessary to uphold their system. A system that conveniently allows them to have an authoritarian, controlling hierarchy, granting power, status and sometimes wealth to those at the top.
If Calvinists really wanted to understand what God was like, they would spend more time studying Jesus and his life. They might question how the whole ‘sovereign’, divine ruler analogy fits his commands to not Lord it over others, or to not have a hierarchical, priestly class-ruled institution like the Religion they were leaving.
They might study and understand that ‘submission’ is not a word that grants men the right to dominate, manipulate and oppress women, but a word that can only apply to people who are NOT compelled to do what another says. When you submit, you voluntarily lay aside your own opinion or right – at a particular point in time – to be respectful and supportive of another’s. Submission does not suggest a system of rank, or seniority; it is the system by which those in equal rank dwell with and work together. Obedience is the only ‘choice’ of the slave. Submission is a freely chosen state of surrendering the God-given right to do something else. The very right which defines us as men and women made in the image of God.
How many well-meaning husbands, with wives who desire only to love them and God, have been falsely taught to oppress those wives to the deep hurt of them and of their marriage? Given a false definition of ‘submit’, a false view of relationship and, most of all, a false picture of servant leadership, fundagelicals, mostly led by closet Calvinists, are driving intelligent, compassionate women out of their patriarchal tribe as they bow at the alter of ‘Sovereignty’.
How many men, who would never dream of lifting a hand against her, yet looks upon this beautiful, intelligent, sensitive creature who married them in good faith, and arrogantly demands, ‘Are you going to do what I say, or continue to disobey God?’ The stories coming out suggest that this has been prominently drilled into ignorant men’s brains, and they, as well as their wives, are the worse off for the offense of belittling and marginalizing precious human beings indwelt by the Spirit of God. They have not only hurt those who they have been commanded to love as Jesus loved his bride, they hurt themselves by obliterating the insight and assistance they were granted and most desperately need. All because they want to be Sovereign kings in their own little fiefdom, as modeled by their pastors and elders.
Not really where I was going with that but good points nonetheless.
I think the key of what you said —and the key to life in general— is to look at Christ.
Jesus defines everything for us. Does He fit the determinist model (always gets what He wants, all things that happen are what He wants to happen)?
Not at all!
Submissive, humble, pleading (“Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem….but you would not”), loving (all; “come to me all you who labor”), responsive (“reacts”) to others, and on and on.
The very nature, actions, and existence of Christ defies the Calvinist model.
Sorry, didn’t meant to hijack. Though not Baptist, I have been carefully observing the unfolding of abuse and corruption that many are only now recognizing as a Calvinist Takeover – cleverly disguised as a Conservative Resurgence – over at the SBC.
Essentially the same tactics used by closet Calvinists everywhere, as well as political operatives who created the corollary ‘religious right’ – save the world from those God-hating liberals (anyone who disagrees with me)!
Edwin H. Palmer writes (From: The 5 Points of Calvinism)…
“God is in back of everything. He decides and causes all things to happen that do happen….He has foreordained everything ‘after the counsel of his will’: the moving of a finger…the mistake of a typist, even sin.”
If God is already “in back of everything” then why pray…
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?
I mean, what’s the point? Apparently, everything is going according to script.
Shakespeare must have been a Calvinist when he said “All the world’s a stage”.
And, yet, most are eternally damned for playing their part perfectly.
I have asked “what’s the point?” many many times on these pages.
Apparently even us disputing determinism, and us asking the question “what’s the point?” is part of the script.
But where this really hits home is when I hear of a man (who has been cheating on his wife) saying in the pastor’s office, “Yes pastor, I see my wife balling right next to me and yes, I know you said I should not have done that—- but it is you who has been teaching from your pulpit that all that happens is ordained/ scripted/ willed/ planned/ desired/ decreed by God. So…. in a very real sense…according to your theology…. I have simply done what He planned.”
God is in control of everything even the wicked He ordained. He creates evil Isaiah 45:7 and all the world is His stage. I never knew this before my life changed two years ago.
Thank you Lisa and welcome!
The question then – is that control so meticulous that humans are designed to function robotically?
As Calvinist Paul Helm’s puts it for example:
“Not only is every atom and molecule, every thought and desire, kept in being by God, but every twist and turn of each of these is under the DIRECT CONTROL of God. – The Providence of God
Reading through the Bible, I come to 1 Kings 9-10. I could post non-Calvinist findings like this every day, but dont really have the time. Every day. The whole Bible refutes Calvinism.
1 Kings 9:3 The Lord said to him,
“I have heard your prayer and your petition. I have set this Temple apart to be holy—this place you have built where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.
4 “As for you, if you will follow me with integrity and godliness, as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 5 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty over Israel forever. For I made this promise to your father, David: ‘One of your descendants will always sit on the throne of Israel.’
6 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the commands and decrees I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 7 then I will uproot Israel from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make Israel an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 8 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled and will gasp in horror. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
A. Why does the Lord say, “I have heard your prayer” (giving us the impression that His actions are based on human request)?
B. Why does the Lord say, “If you will follow me…” (giving us the impression that it has not been decided yet— remains unknown)?
C. Why does the Lord say, “If you ….then I will….” (giving us the impression that His good actions will be determined by man’s first good actions)?
D. Why does the Lord say, “But if you…. serve other gods….then I will….” (giving us the impression again(!) that man will make the choice)?
E. Why does the Lord say, “I will reject this Temple…. that I have made holy to honor my name….” (giving us the impression that He planned for it to be holy/ honor Him, but He could change that plan…and will change it, according to what man does)?
F. What would the answer be to the question, “Why did the Lord do such terrible things …?” (giving us the impression that the answer would be…. Even though the Lord intended good with His temple, He changed that plan because His CHOSEN people chose to be unfaithful.)
What does Keller say? How would Keller exegete this passage from a pulpit? I did not look it up, but I am fairly sure that he would teach it like a good Arminian/ Traditionalist. He would teach it like our actions matter, help shape history. He, like Piper and MacArthur, would get no flack for this since they carry the C-card.
They theologize like Calvinists, but live and teach like the rest of us.
What we do matters.
Determinism is not a way of life.
Daily reading 1 Kings 11-12.
11:4 In Solomon’s old age, they turned his heart to worship other gods instead of being completely faithful to the Lord his God, as his father, David, had been. 5 Solomon worshiped Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molech, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 In this way, Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; he refused to follow the Lord completely, as his father, David, had done.
A. Solomon is from the “chosen people.”
B. Solomon was chosen by David and the Lord to reign (he was “sovereign” over all Israel).
C. Solomon is told that if he reigns well his family will stay on the throne.
Does it look here like God “wants” Solomon to do evil? No. Does God want Solomon to follow Him? Yes. Does God get what He wants? No.
How can anyone do “what was evil in the Lord’s sight” and be doing will of God?
Ah! Unless you create (out of thin air) that God has two wills —– what He says for us to do (will of command) and we do (secret will).
Determinism is not a way of life.
Follow up on the 1 Kings reading.
11:9 The Lord was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 He had warned Solomon specifically about worshiping other gods, but Solomon did not listen to the Lord’s command. 11 So now the Lord said to him, “Since you have not kept my covenant and have disobeyed my decrees, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your servants. 12 But for the sake of your father, David, I will not do this while you are still alive.
How clear can God and His Word be?
A. The Lord is angry with Solomon (not directing him to do it!).
B. His heart had “turned away” from the Lord (so, no such “Yes, bad people can only do bad things” card).
C. The Lord had appeared to him twice…. and had warned him specifically —– do not do this!
D. Solomon did not listen. He could have listened (history would have been different). There is no determined-before-time-began business here. Solomon —God’s chosen — COULD have listened.
E. The Lord says….”Since you have not…..” So God is saying that His decision is based on Solomon’s. The thousands of “since you….I” combinations in Scripture disprove Calvinist-determinism every day.
F. The Lord says, “But for the sake of your father, David, I will not…” demonstrating that He does things (makes decisions) based on human relationships. I’m not making this up…..God is saying it Himself in His word.
It is Calvinists who say that if this is true then ‘God is small’ or ‘man is stronger than God.’
It is a pity that they create a god that has not revealed Himself that way in His Word.
Why dont we just let God tell us what He is like?
“Why dont we just let God tell us what He is like?”
In my opinion, true children of God do. But everything with four walls and a steeple is not necessarily a temple containing the Spirit of God. That honor has long since been given to individuals, despite the institutions that seek to deny it. Those running ‘The Church’ have always chosen to ignore that inconvenient little fact, playing by the Old Covenant rules that require priests, Pharisees and Sadducees, tidily rebranded as ‘pastors’ and ‘elders’. Calvinism, with its extreme emphasis on authority and ruling elders are among the worst offenders as they try to rebuild Geneva.
Daily reading gets me to Acts 9.
34 And he was healed instantly. 35 Then the whole population of Lydda and Sharon saw Aeneas walking around, and they turned to the Lord.
Once again (like I posted above) people see a miracle and they turn to the Lord (see Moses; see Jesus).
Totally a human reaction. Seeing a miracle….so we can believe. The idea of “turning to the Lord.” No mention at (or ever) that there is a special giving of faith.
42 The news spread [about the Tabitha raising] through the whole town, and many believed in the Lord.
Once again…seeing a miracle and believing. No extra “dead men regenerating” needed or mentioned.
I have never seen a Calvinist deal with these thousands of cases of God’s warnings, if/or offers or the many statements that God is acting in response to an individual’s choices and actions. They simply put their fingers in their ears and keep chanting their handful of prooftexts. It’s pretty much: ‘I’ve chosen my theology, so don’t bother me with all the instances in which it doesn’t work.’
“All the instances where it [Calvinism] doesn’t work” is pretty much the whole Bible.
Funny YRR Troy who used to post here (until he realized that a few proof text post from him would, amazingly, not just knock us down) used to say “look at ALL the Scripture.”
I find that so ironic, cuz it doesnt mean that at all. He does not want us to look at ALL the Scripture. It means…..look at (or dismiss) the thousands of verses by filtering them all through the lens of what (we say) these 40 verses mean.
It is really as simple as that.
“We have made up our minds of how God ‘must be’ and no hundreds/thousands of verses to the contrary will dissuade us.”
But we do know that these miracles were sufficient to overcome man’s fallen nature and restoring him to a pre-fall condition, thus freeing him from the bondage of sin, which enabled him to choose to believe the miracles or not, right?
I mean, there are so many examples of this in scripture.
Sarcasm aside, scripture NEVER makes an attempt to set forth the need for something to take place before God can deal with an individual. Just. Doesn’t. Happen. All that is ever needed to transform a man or woman is to be confronted with the living God – and believe him. The transformation that takes place – which God HAS predetermined in his quest to transform imperfect creatures into Christlike creatures – simply requires the indwelling presence and power of the living God, to guide, instruct and constantly remind us whose we are. And our willing cooperation. No one will ever be transformed into the image of Christ with a magic ‘poof’. It requires the willingness to lay down our own desires and passions and learn to put God and others first. Which is what being Christlike means.
Philosophy is fun, huh? How about just acknowledging that the enterprise isn’t about body counts nor about God’s power to make anything happen. It’s about you becoming (to paraphrase the EO folks) most completely the image of God. That becoming, to be real, must be voluntary, not externally determined.
Philosophy truly is fun. But these three verses, which were omitted in Leighton’s article, simply destroy his fun: “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.””
Although there are many many other passages that support unconditional election, these are at the heart of why Calvinists have no choice but to believe the doctrine. Most, like Piper and RC Sproul, fought against the doctrine until they allowed scripture to fully form their theology.
If Paul in these verses in Romans 9 were teaching what Leighton flowers is teaching, there would be absolutely no reason for him to then address the expected outrage by people who cannot leave a mystery alone but rather choose to judge God for his sovereignty or, to give them the benefit of the doubt, to judge those who see the full implications of God’s sovereignty in passages like this: “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.””
This is not rocket science, nor is it philosophy. It is simply God laying out the mystery of Election as plainly as he’s going to lay it out and no further. Some people simply do not like that, and choose to be the people Paul addresses, who say, “[THAT] God is unjust!”. Again, Leighton’s Doctrine yields no such outrage. Paul’s does. End of story.
Calvinists make too much out of “Esau have I hated”…. see my fuller post on this site. https://soteriology101.com/2016/01/18/esau-have-i-loved-jacob-have-i-hated/
Overview of Romans 9
It would help if the context of Christ-like love for all the lost, demonstrated in Paul from verses 1-3 were recognized before reading the rest. Paul wished he was accursed for the salvation of his countrymen of Israel… not just any so-called elect among them.
It would also help to note that no verse in the whole chapter mentions election before creation, but that there is a “seed” in Paul’s day that is currently being reckoned (present tense), according to verse 6.
It also would help if it wouldn’t be skipped over so easily that God’s purpose in hardening Pharaoh is clearly stated that God’s Name would spread over ALL the earth, according to vs 17.
And it would be helpful to know the phrases “on whomever I will have mercy” and “on whomever I will have compassion” are literally as “I should have mercy and… I should have compassion” in verse 15. And God has mercy on whom He “wants to” in verse 18.
That should lead the reader to wonder on whom then “should” God have mercy or on whom does God “want” to have mercy. It is easy to discover that He wants His mercy to be on a people who were not His “people” or “beloved” before.
This excludes the idea of a loved elect individual person before creation (besides Christ) being read into verses 25-26. But God will have mercy on those whom He grants His righteousness which they pursued and came to possess through faith (vs 32). In fact He will have some kind of mercy on all (11:32), giving all sufficient opportunity to hear His call to them to seek Him (10:18).
The biggest confusion a Calvinist has is in not seeing that God’s sovereign choice of individuals according to Romans 9 was indeed to help fulfill His promise of salvation in Christ, but those choices of individuals did not guarantee their personal salvation or damnation. The prophecy – Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated – did not guarantee the salvation of Jacob or of everyone else in Israel, nor did it guarantee damnation of Esau or of everyone else in Edom.
Here is evidence that Esau later became a believer and that any Edomites were welcome to become believers also.
Gen 33:4, 10 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept…. “No, please!” said Jacob. “If I have found favor in your eyes, accept this gift from me. For to see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably.”
Deut 23:7-8 Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.
Who does Esau remind you of in 33:4? Hint Luke 15:20.
Nah…. he’s just talking about the outrage the Jews will have that God is now including the Jews.
And Paul is saying that God can do that if He likes.
He doesn’t “hate” Esau and all his since many of them come to Christ.
Anyway…. hate as in “hate your parents” right?
Also, have a look at the potter in Jeremiah 18 from where this is taken. It shows God (the Potter) changing His plan!! I wrestled with that till I finally let the Bible speak and tell me that God can change His plan…..which is what He is telling us in Romans 9 (and who are we to question that!?). You are right about one thing…. it aint rocket science!
To my mind, Paul’s explanation of God choosing Israel as the people to bring the good news of salvation to all mankind is to do exactly the opposite of what so many who believe ‘It’s all about Israel’ suggest.
Throughout Romans Paul is attempting to make clear that salvation was never intended or guaranteed for any limited group, including Israel. Using their own cherished history, Paul demonstrates that there was never any guarantee of being ‘in’ with God simply by being an Israelite – many rebellious Israelites were punished and/or cut off, and many non-Israelites (by blood) were added in.
This suggests that Paul is trying to clarify the difference between Israel being chosen for a special task in God’s work of salvation and the actual route to salvation, which is and always was individual faith. Much of the confusion arises, in my opinion, from not focusing on Paul’s emphasis on the fact that not all who are ‘of Israel’ are ‘true Israel’.
The stubborn, rebellious, idolatrous nation of Israel was never guaranteed to receive irrevocable blessings no matter what. The giving of the law was replete with conditions, most of which Israel failed to keep, and the clear warnings that this failure would lead to the forfeiting of promised blessings. Yet many insist that God is partial, always intended to save all of Israel, making all of these conditions and most of Romans meaningless.
Why would Paul dramatically state his grief for his brethren, had he intended to later suggest that none could possibly perish? Was he not expressing the very human natural affection for one’s family and nation, while explaining that, in God’s eyes, his true children – true Israel – had always been those, and only those, who believed in his promises.
The message of Jesus, and the entire New Testament, is the good news that this had always been true, and salvation was always intended for believers of ever race, tongue and nation. To believe in a partial, limited election based on anything but faith is to misunderstand the gospel. To believe in a limited, partial, irresistible election of any group of individuals is to misunderstand the character of God.
2019 I would just like to hear this in lay persons understanding! Without all the extra words. One short sentence.
It seems to me that the problem here is that people forget that time is not linear with God. He created time and exists outside of it. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. We do not have the ability to understand an existence outside of linear time because we have no common frame of reference with a being for whom EVERYTHING happens at once. There is no “fore” or “future” anything with God. He is Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Free will can certainly exist for a God who exists outside of time.
Hello Mike and welcome
The issue of the divine relationship to time is not new.
We still have a more critical issue at hand.
A divine perfect being cannot deny the TRUTH because he would be denying himself.
It is acknowledged everywhere that a divine perfect being cannot make a square that is NOT a square – or a circle that is NOT a circle.
He cannot make an infallible decree that is NOT infallible.
In other words – he cannot evade the law of non-contradiction – because in doing so – he would be making TRUE = FALSE
And in doing so – he would be denying himself – which is impossible.
Because EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM is Calvinist foundational core – it comes with logical consequences.
Those logical consequences are not palatable to the Calvinist.
So he attempts to evade them.
We understand the reason the Calvinist needs self-contradiction within his belief system
And a standard argument in an attempt to have self-contradiction – is to argument that these things are above human understanding.
But anyone can use that argument to support anything – no matter how irrational it is.
For example – someone can claim the Bible teaches the sun orbits around the earth.
And if anyone tries to use rational evidence to show how that is not the case – then we simply wave off that rational evidence because God’s ways are higher than our ways. We are to simply accept what we are told is true.
Please explain to us what that means that He exists outside of time and where the Scripture explains that.
Science can answer that. Math. How is time measured? Space times speed. This universe had a beginning, based on Genesis 1:1. That is when time began, because there was space.
It is further explained in:
Isaiah 42:5: “Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out…”
Isaiah 44:24: “… I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens…”
Isaiah 45:12: “I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host.”
Jeremiah 10:12: “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.”
Jeremiah 51:15: “It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.”
God lives in “Eternity”, where he has no beginning, no ending, and his abode has always existed. But our heaven has a beginnig, and an ending:
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
If God had a beginning, then there would be time where he is from.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy
Inhabits eternity. If God is light, how do we measure our time here? A sunrise/sunset. There is no sunrise/sunset in eternity.
Actually Mike, I believe the Scripture clearly confirms reality is sequential (linear, if you will). Consider this – Ps 90, 2 Sequential Reality
There are two definitions for “time”. One is connected only to creation… it is the measurement of matter in motion. The other is connected to reality which is from God’s nature.
Reality consists of sequential events… befores and afters, coming out of the infinite past and going forwards infinitely. His eternality is described clearly – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2)… “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). There were events of communication, relationship, and decision making in the Godhead before creation of space and matter… right?
The premise that reality is both sequential (the incarnation) and non-sequential for God at the same “time” is a logical contradiction borrowed into Christianity from neo-platonism. The Scripture gives no other “competing” reality for God’s presence, than the sequential one, and a competing reality would be contradictory to the word “reality” anyway.
His foreknowledge is dynamic therefore, each time He makes a decision about the future His knowing goes from “might happen” to “will happen”. It is not static. His understanding is infinite (Ps 147:5). He knows all the possibilities that still exist to decide upon, to cause one or permit another, and He knows all things that are already determined by Him that limit those possibilities.
Some like the illustration of God as in a blimp watching the full parade below. But for a sight from a blimp to watch a parade, the full parade has to exist. The future does not exist as a completed entity to watch, either as a place to see or as a finished story in God’s mind.
The underlying important issue is – Does God’s mind reflect univocally the sequential reality of His Word, or have scholars discovered in their philosophical reasoning that God hid from Scripture His perspective of a non-sequential reality? This philosophical reasoning would be a perspective that also makes man’s normal perspective in Scripture actually faulty, for Scripture reveals the future as not yet existing, but in these scholars’ “reality” it is already existing as completed (forever). But God’s reality as revealed in Scripture is the only true one.
Actually, your statement:
“from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2)… “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). There were events of communication, relationship, and decision making in the Godhead before creation of space and matter… right?”
is not contradictory to God existing out of time. How else would God explain himself to “linear” beings? God is omnipresent. He is everywhere at all times, at once, and is so powerful that he can interact with all of the different instances of our linear time at once.
People always think God did this and then he did this, because that’s how it manifests in our linear reality. God “foreknew” Esau, because he saw all his wicked choices (and those of his descendants).
If the Calvinists are right, then this is how an honest man would witness to his neighbor.
“Hi, I have good news! God chose some people to go to heaven and others to go to hell.
But, no matter how you try, you really can’t do anything about it either way, so good luck!”
Have a blessed day in Christ,
God “foreknew” Esau, because he saw all his wicked choices
Hello Mike – nice post!
Just a comment on how divine foreknowledge and the impossibility of “choice” granted to the creature works within Calvinism.
Since Calvinism is founded on EXHAUSTIVE DIVINE DETERMINISM (EDD) – it constitutes a world in which whatsoever comes to pass is FIXED (i.e. determined) by infallible decree.
Any ALTERNATIVE from that which is decreed would falsify the decree – which is not possible because the decree is infallible.
Thus – multiple option(S) are never granted to creation because they would constitute an ALTERNATIVE from that which is decreed.
Now the standard definition for the term “Choice” entails a NECESSARY CONDITION of more than one available option – in order to constitute what people understand as – having a “Choice”.
But in the world of Calvinism – for every human event – and every human impulse – there is never granted more than ONE SINGLE PREDESTINED RENDERED-CERTAIN option. And the creature is granted NO CHOICE in the matter of what that option will be – and no ability to refrain.
No Option(S) + No ability to refrain = NO CHOICE
So in Calvinism – Esau is not granted a “Choice” in the matter of anything.
Additionally – in Calvinism – divine foreknowledge is simply knowledge of that which has been decreed. Calvin’s god knows what impulse will come to pass within the Calvinist’s brain – because he decrees every impulse that will come to pass within the Calvinist brain.
Determinism also entails the thesis that whatsoever comes to pass – is determined by antecedent factors totally outside of human control. Thus in Calvinism – every impulse that comes to pass within the Calvinist brain – is determined by antecedent factors totally outside of the Calvinist’s brains control.
So even if more than one option was granted to a Calvinist in order to constitute a “Choice” – the Calvinist brain would not have sufficient control to make such a “Choice”.
So in Calvinism – Esau – per the doctrine of decrees – was not granted a “Choice” in the matter of anything.
Also in Calvinism – Esau was not FOUND wicked. That would be an Arminian conception of divine foreknowledge
In Calvinism – human moral accountability is NEVER based on a RESPONSE to the creature.
It is base solely and exclusively on the decree – which is solely within himself.
So in Calvinism Esau’s wickedness was not based on anything having to do with Esau. But rather solely based on the decree.
Hi Mike, Thank you for your thoughtful reply and well wishes. You asked “How else would God explain himself to ‘linear’ beings”, and then you proceeded to explain God with details about His nature and mode of revelation that God never revealed in His Word! Curious! So you can explain God, the way He really is and talks to man, but God is not able to do that in His own Word? Do you see a problem there?
God described Himself as “from everlasting to everlasting” (linear), “who was, and is, and is to come” (linear). He did not decribe Himself, using our words for “time” (chronos, or kairos), as “timeless” or “outside of time”. Right? He did say He is outside of and before creation. And even one moment “before” creation is a part of His linear reality, in which now “we live and move and have our being”, inside His linear relational being?
God is omnipresent… but the past no longer exists and the future does not yet exist. They are not places where you and I are still or are already experiencing reality, as if our current reality is lying to us, telling us we are only in the present! The incarnation confirms the one sequential reality of God. It is a contradiction to say there are two realities, and especially saying two contradictory realities for God – a sequential one and a non-sequential one.
The Calvinists are not right, and thankfully we don’t have to witness that way to our neighbors! Do you believe in the inerrancy of Scripture? And is your current view called the “Simple Foreknowledge” view? Thanks.
You have a blessed day also – Brian
I have a minor problem with your explanation of “time”.
This UNIVERSE was created. This universe did not exist prior to God creating it. There was no space.
The heavens are expanding.
who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
Which alone spreadeth out the heavens,
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
God was not discussing his abode, when he said “heaven” here in Genesis 1:1, or Pslam 104:2
It’s expanding like a baloon being blown up with your mouth.
But in the end, it will scroll back!
And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.
So, considering that the universe was created, that means that God resides OUTSIDE of creation, outside of “TIME”, oustide of our universe.
God has no beginning. Where did God reside before creation of our universe?
You had said:
“He did not say He is outside of and before creation.”
I don’t understand your statement. He is indeed outside of and before creation. He always existed. There is never a time that he didn’t exist. And he certainly did not exist in a realm that was not created yet (our heavens).
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy;
In our universe, specifically, our planet, how is time measured?
Time = Distance ÷ Speed
Where is God’s abode? It’s not in our universe. And our universe is expanding, so no matter how far you (Distance), or how fast you go (speed), you will never find it here in our universe. That seems to be outside of “time”.
How do you measure God’s existence? How do you measure your existence on this planet? You existance is still based on distance/speed. The earth’s rotation around the sun being distance, and the speed by which that happens.
How do you conclude that there is time in eternity?
Good catch Ed. I removed the “not”. I missed that in my read-through editing. God did say He is before and outside of creation. But His experience has always been sequential, “befores” and “afters”.
Addendum to my last:
One thing that is being missed is the presense of the Holy Spirit, which is God, which is hovering over the face of the deep.
Hell was created for the fallen Angels, and hell is located on this earth. So, the earth was flooded, in my opinion, to purify it from Satans presence on it, because earth was his abode, and still is.
Then after it was flooded, then God FORMED it, in a manner that he wanted for creation of man.
My point…the Holy Spirit is for US, in this universe, and the Holy Spirit is God in OUR TIME.
God, the Father, has never left his Throne, and the Bible describes God’s throne as:
Heaven is my throne, the earth is my footstool.
So, God the Father has always been in Heaven, as he is still on the Throne. That’s a different realm.
The Holy Spirit is in our realm.