Calvinism and Catching Clouds

Suppose someone said, “I can lift cars over my head.” Well, there is an easy way to falsify that claim. “There is a car, go pick it up.” If they can’t lift the car over their head, you know the original claim was false.

What if, when faced with the counterevidence they cannot lift the car if they simply readjust, “I did not say I could lift a car over my head with my hands. There are different ways to lift a car, you know,” and then they proceed to press a button as a hydraulic lift whirs and the car rises. The original claim is still false even with the readjustment.

Similarly, Calvinism makes claims that cannot hold the weight of biblical evidence and so must make readjustments to the claim. That would be fine, we all must adjust our claims based upon the evidence, except that the Calvinist insists the original claim is still true even after the radical alteration.

Worldview Tests

I would like to apply two worldview tests to Calvinism from Christian Philosopher and Apologist Dr. Douglas Groothuis:

10. Radical ad hoc readjustment: “When a worldview is faced with potentially defeating counterevidence, an adherent may readjust its core claims to accommodate the evidence against it. Various theories and worldviews can legitimately refine their beliefs over time, but radical ad hoc readjustment reveals a deep problem…”

and

5. Falsifiability: “Worldviews which cannot be found to be false cannot be found to be true either.”

I put #10 before #5 above because I will argue the proponents of Calvinism use radical ad hoc readjustments to render Calvinism unfalsifiable. That is, to protect Calvinism from any possible counterevidence.

I will argue that when faced with evidence against their claims, Calvinism simply re-adjusts off the fly, and this is evidence their original claim is false. I’m going to confine my evaluation to the Reformed doctrines of the two wills of God and the two meanings of dead.

Two Kinds of Wills

The following is from this article, written by John Piper, on Desiring God

1. God does all things according to his will (sovereign will).

“He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand” (Daniel 4:35).

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalms 115:3).

2. Some things happen that are not God’s will (moral will).

“Whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17)—implying some don’t.

“The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)—yet some do perish.

For this article, I’m putting aside my arguments on how we should properly understand the sovereignty of God such that “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” does not necessitate “God wills all things.” Instead, I’m focused on the question of what methods Calvinists use to shield their view from falsification.

To that end, I am going to do my best to state Piper’s argument as a truth claim in such a way that Piper would agree with it. According to Piper, Calvinism’s truth claim is (my paraphrase):

The Bible teaches that God’s will is to determine all things that come to pass. 

In order for this truth claim to be considered true, it must be able to be falsified according to Groothuis’ Worldview Test #5. In other words, I should be able to find counterevidence to this claim.

As counterevidence to the claim, a non-Calvinist such as myself might quote exactly that kind of passage that John Piper does. For example, as Piper puts it: “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)—yet some do perish.” Exactly. If Calvinism is claiming that God’s will is to determine all things that come to pass and I can find Biblical evidence saying “The Lord is not willing that X should come to pass” and yet we know X comes to pass, that would falsify the truth claim.

So, does Piper acknowledge the counterevidence he just quoted? Does he re-orient his understanding of God’s sovereignty such that some things do come to pass that God does not will? No. He just asks us to accept a direct contradiction as true. Don’t take my word for it, Piper explains:

One of the clearest evidences of the difference between God’s sovereign will and his moral will is the fact that God morally forbids murder:

“Do not kill the innocent” (Exodus 23:7).

And yet he willed the murder of his Son:

“Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27–28).

Piper admits there exists direct counterevidence of “God willed murder” yet claims both are true. Instead of re-working the original truth claim to fit the Biblical evidence, Calvinists simply make a radical ad hoc readjustment (#10 from Groothuis’ worldview test) to relieve the tension. The readjustment is asserting a different kind of will.

But the counterevidence does not go away just because the Calvinist asserts a different kind of will. Nevermind, for now, the biblical validity of the category. My point is: If direct counterevidence is not evidence enough to disprove a truth claim, then what is? The answer: Nothing. If ad hoc category-creation is able to push aside direct contradictions that the Calvinist admits are contradictions then there is no possible biblical evidence that could be mounted to falsify the truth claim.

So when attempting to nail down exactly what the Calvinist believes about God’s will, you will get answers that are direct contradictions.
“Do you believe God wills all things that come to pass?”
“Yes”
“Yet the Bible says there are things that happen God does not will”
“Yes”

This can leave you feeling like you’re trying to pin a cloud to a wall.

Even if I come up a dozen pieces of counterevidence to the Reformed worldview, all the Reformed folks have to do is come up with a dozen new categories and the worldview can truck along. This isn’t an exaggeration. Ad hoc category creation is not a bug in the Reformed worldview, it’s a feature.

Two Meanings of “Dead”

In a sermon entitled “The Doctrine of Absolute Inability”, MacArthur is speaking of Lazuras when he says:

Now what interests me here is that Jesus gave a command to a dead man. . . Dead men can’t hear.  Dead men can’t think. Dead men can’t respond cause they’re dead and dead means the absolute inability to do anything in response to any stimulus.  There’s no will.  There’s no power to think or act.

A few paragraphs later, still referencing this description of Lazarus as dead:

Now, from there I want you to go to Ephesians chapter 2 and here we see the depth of this problem. Ephesians chapter 2.  This is not a description of Lazarus.  This is a description of everybody. Ephesians 2:1.  “And you were dead.”  “You were dead in your trespasses and sins.  In that condition you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air – ” Satan “ – the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience.” 

. . .We were all dead.  Dead to what?  Dead to God, dead to spiritual reality, dead to the truth.

Man’s basic problem is not. . . that he needs to make a few adjustments to sort of get God on his wavelength.  Man’s problem is he is absolutely dead, and he is incapable of relating to God at all – God’s person, God’s truth, or God’s commands. 

As MacArthur makes abundantly clear, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins” means total, absolute, corpse-like inability to relate to God at all. Dead men can do nothing spiritual.

So how could a non-Calvinist refute such an idea? Biblical evidence of dead men doing something spiritual would do. Enter Romans 6:

How can we who died to sin still live in it?

and

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Christians have died to sin and yet can and do still sin.

In a transcript from a sermon, you can listen to here, regarding the Rom 6 phrase “died to sin” John MacArthur says:

You have died to sin.  That is fundamental to his whole argument.  And the question immediately is going to come, how, in what way, what does that mean to me?  Does that mean that I’m dead to sin?  No, it didn’t say that. Didn’t say you’re in a state of death, which would mean that you’re utterly unresponsive to sin, sin can’t move you, sin can’t motivate you, sin can’t awaken you, sin can’t stimulate you.  It doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say you are dead to sin.  

He goes on to explain several paragraphs later:

It means basically [sin is] deprived of its strength. In fact you could translate it this way: Deprived of its controlling influence.  But then he defines exactly what he means in the next phrase, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. That’s the issue.  It is rendered inoperative only as the sovereign of our lives. It loses not its influence altogether but its controlling influence, its sovereign influence, its mastery, its dominion.  You remember how he says in 7 that sin will no longer have dominion over us.  He’s not saying there won’t be sin; he’s saying sin isn’t in charge any more.  The tyranny of sin is broken.

So, for MacArthur:

Dead = a corpse.

Dead also = not a corpse.

Dead = cannot do the thing you’re dead to (Eph 2)

Dead = can totally do the thing you’re dead to but it has less strength (Rom 6)

A = not A.

The crazy part is that I agree with MacArthur’s explanation of “dead” in Rom 6. In fact, that entire sermon is great, I recommend you listen to the whole thing for your own edification. What I cannot fathom is how he cannot see that is exactly how Paul means it in Eph 2 as well. But that’s an article for another time.

Dead means you cannot do anything spiritual. Dead also means you can absolutely do something spiritual. MacArthur is comfortable using a radical ad hoc readjustment of what “dead” means that renders Calvinism unfalsifiable. Instead of adjusting the original truth claim “Dead means corpse-like inability in Eph 2” when faced with counterevidence from elsewhere in Scripture (Rom 6), they just claim “dead” means the opposite.

A Feature of the System

Once you see this Game of Adjustments that Calvinists play you will see it everywhere. I have listened to lengthy conversations, and read lengthy dialogues, that are almost completely an exercise in the Calvinist effortlessly and expertly switching from category to category without ever dealing with a single piece of counterevidence. It is like trying to catch a cloud.

There are many other examples of these invented categories. In order to get around the “For God so loved the world…”-type passages so that they can say God hates an individual, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated”, the Calvinist has invented two kinds of love; general love and salvific love. There are also two kinds of calling; a general call to salvation to all men even though they cannot answer, and a specific call to specific men which they will irresistibly-every-time answer. Because the Calvinist has backed himself into a corner which says that ontologically, universally there is not a single man who is righteous nor seeks God, they must make for themselves two ways to receive regeneration. Namely, one way the saints/prophets in the Old Testament received it and one way we receive it in the New Testament. Of course, there are also two kinds of grace. One type of grace that is extended to all men which will never-any-time-ever lead them to faith in God and another type of grace which will every-time-always-irresistibly lead them to faith in God. Have you come into contact with any more of these invented categories that I missed?

And the Calvinist isn’t being malicious. This is not purposeful. It is a feature of the system. Throwing every piece of evidence into unfalsifiable categories is as easy as inhaling to the learned Calvinist, of which there are many. The only way I can see to get away from chasing them from category to category is to call out this practice for what it is; irrational, radical ad hoc readjustments that render evaluating the truth of Calvinism impossible.

 

310 thoughts on “Calvinism and Catching Clouds

  1. Interesting post. The length that Reformed folks will go in order to defend their points is simply outrageous. I wish that they just knew when to stop and listen. May God open the hearts of our Calvinist brothers to the truth of Scripture. May God allow them to see the reality that He lovingly provided a means of atonement for the entirety of mankind. It is ironic how they oftentimes criticize us for resorting to allegedly “humanistic” reasoning, while at the same time they use unbiblical philosophy to substantiate their TULIP theology. I’m tired of their word games.

    1. The Calvinist God is one who is unable to be sovereign unless he is able to micromanage every event in history.
      The Calvinist God is one who shows partiality by choosing random people for salvation.
      The Calvinist Christ did not love enough to die for the whole world, but only died for the elect.
      The Calvinist Christ was unable to or unwilling to atone for the sins of the whole world.
      The Calvinist God is insecure enough to cause irresistible drawing.

      1. Thanks floor,

        comment more often.

        The Calvinist God created man in His own image only to determine/plan before time that most of these imago dei were to be tortured in Hell, for His glory.

        The Calvinist God says (countless times!) “If only you had….” knowing full well that He planned the contrary.

        The Calvinist Christ says “O Jerusalem….I would have…” and “come unto me all who labor….” and “seek first the kingdom of God” all the while (wink- wink) knowing that He planned the opposite.

      2. FOH writes, “The Calvinist God says (countless times!) “If only you had….” knowing full well that He planned the contrary.”

        That is planned to give people freedom to say, No.

      3. floor writes, “The Calvinist God is one who is unable to be sovereign unless he is able to micromanage every event in history.”

        God does not chose to be sovereign; that is a characteristic of God. As sovereign God necessarily is able to micromanage every event in history and does manage every event for God sustains all things and does so for His purposes.

        Then, “The Calvinist God is one who shows partiality by choosing random people for salvation.”

        But if God choose to save each and every people, no one is going to object.

        Then, ‘The Calvinist Christ did not love enough to die for the whole world, but only died for the elect.”

        Christ certainly died for the elect; if the elect turn out to be the whole world, GREAT!!!

        Then, “The Calvinist Christ was unable to or unwilling to atone for the sins of the whole world.”

        The atonement can be applied to anyone God chooses to apply it. If God chooses to apply the atonement to each and every person, He can do so.

        Then, ‘The Calvinist God is insecure enough to cause irresistible drawing.”

        Or secure enough to save people from making a bad mistake.

      4. To Rhutchin
        I was merely describing the characteristics of the God of the Calvinists. I’m merely describing how Calvinists define their God’s unlimited sovereignty, arbitrary election, limited love, insufficient atonement (unless you’re an amyraldian type Calvinist), and whose foreknowledge is so imperfect that he’s unsure who will get saved unless he drags them into salvation.

      5. Floor writes, ‘I was merely describing the characteristics of the God of the Calvinists.”

        Was your distortion in using the words, “unable,” “shows partiality,” “insecure,” on purpose? Were you describing or advertising your biases?

      6. I would encourage you to respond to the descriptions of God that Calvinists have made for themselves. I’m sure they try to make it sound more palatable and spiritual. However at the end of the day, what I’ve mentioned is basically what their view is.

        All your responses to my description of the Calvinist God were subjunctive. None of your points refuted my description of the Calvinist God.

  2. This is so true, and why it nearly impossible to debate Calvinists on an even playing field. The whole doctrine defies scripture, reason, and logic. The system has developed so many “work-arounds” to its’ contradictions, that it is mind-boggling. Black is black, except when its’ white, then and only then it is white.

  3. Great article Eric!

    I have posted this 80-min video where MacArthur says over and over that the Prodigal son is “dead” (Christ said it two times) and that the father even had a funeral for him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPxSgB28v3M

    Then the son comes to his senses and comes home from far away country. The father stayed at home.

    And yet, and yet…… MacArthur says it is the father who is “the seeking one” since he meets him in the road close to home!!!

    Then he throws in a gratuitous quote from go-to Romans 3:10-11…. saying that of course it is not the dead son who is doing anything because we all know that “there are none who seek that.”

    What? It is is mind-boggling.

    Of course MacArthur is so articulate and looooooong when he tells a story that the listener is lost by that time. But it aint rocket science if you listen to it. The dead son (and he makes sure we know he is dead) who had a funeral, and qualifies for “no one can seek” is the one who comes to his senses and returns from a far away land.

    Dead cannot possibly mean incapable since the son is the only one who does anything!

  4. Thank you Eric. Excellent article. The multitude of contradictions in Calvinism when one really goes deep into it is one of the three or four major reasons I rejected Calvinism. One of my favorite quotes is this one from Edwin Palmer, who incredibly admits the illogical and nonsensical nature of the Calvinism when you drill down into so many of it’s claims. “He [the Calvinist] realizes that what he advocates is ridiculous … The Calvinist freely admits that his position is illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” However, “this secret matter belongs to the Lord our God, and we should leave it there. We ought not to probe into that secret counsel of God.” -Edwin Palmer, leading Calvinist apologist and author of The Five Points of Calvinism, when explaining how God reprobates people “unconditionally” (because He himself foreordained sin and rendered it certain) and yet the reprobate are solely responsible and deserve their eternal punishment (because their reprobation is “conditional”).

    1. AndyB,

      Exactly!

      A = not-A, but that is “mystery”.

      So that gets you what? I used to say to them, “Don’t you see that you are telling the world that the God of the Bible, the God who ‘is love’ is the same being that purposely created most of humanity in His image only to torture them in Hell?”

      But them they would answer basically, “Who cares what the world thinks. God is gonna save His elect and we dont care what the others think of Him!”

      That’s Good News all right!

      There have been plenty that have left this blog in disgust asking, “Who would even want to spend eternity with a god that purposely —with no hope—- created my brother (sister, father, son, wife) for torture. If you said that about someone in the human world we would consider that person a monster!”

    2. Excellent point Andy B.

      Another issue facing the Calvinists is that many of them on their death beds are unsure of whether they are elect. There’s an excellent video on this on YouTube.

      Their being unsure had led them to ironically turn to a teaching of works salvation among their congregants as proof of being one of the elect so that they could baptize their congregants

      1. Floor writes, ‘Another issue facing the Calvinists is that many of them on their death beds are unsure of whether they are elect.”

        This because of the sin that still plagued them in life causing them great anguish. It is easily resolved through a faith in God’s promise, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The momentary lapse of assurance gives way to confidence also in God’s promise, “God who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” God’s providence is to give some people a deathbed; but not all.

  5. Wonderful article!!
    Focusing no the argumentation strategies that Calvinists use is very instructive!!
    Under scrutiny it becomes obvious there is a library of language and word-game strategies which Jesus would definitely never approve of.

    He who becomes astute at looking for equivocations, obfuscations, and shape-shifting definitions – will find them in plentiful supply within the language of Calvinism.

    Blessings! :-]

  6. Excellent Article Eric

    The big weakness one can drive a semi-through is the shape-shifting nature of Calvinist language.

    As Dr. Jerry Walls says “If it weren’t for their expertise in misleading rhetoric – Calvinism would loose credibility in two years”.

  7. Agreed FOH!
    I was just recently reading through MacArthur’s Book “The God Who Loves (He will do whatever it takes to draw us to Him)”

    He basically wrote an entire book in which he goes in circles trying to explain how God truly and sincerely loves all people yet He has only a “salvific” love that irresistibly draws a very small number of those to Him and “passes over the rest” (and somehow this is the biblical love of God we are to emulate), and how God’s offer of salvation is “sincere,” even though He knows those whom he is making the offer can’t respond to it. In any human context we would label this kind of thinking utter madness, a cosmic tease or bully, or worse.

    True to the Calvinist form of inventing catagories and double speak, He says “His decrees do not always reflect His desires; His purposes are not necessarily accomplished in accord with His preferences”.

    And of course, as “moderate” Calvinists always do, he ends in mystery saying “We do not know why He does not turn the heart of every sinner to Himself. Nor should we speculate in this area. It remains a mystery the answer to which God has not seen fit to reveal. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God”; only “the things revealed belong to us” (Deut. 29:29). At some point, we must say with the psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it” (Ps. 139:6).
    The Calvinist ends up in mystery because the dual catagories that he creates and the contradictions inherent in their systematic can not be supported by scripture. If there was scriptural support I guarantee they would be quoting it. But because there isn’t they must resort to mystery and this is where it ends. After all, how do you argue against or prove false a “mystery” (as someone recently said, it’s like catching clouds).

    1. AndyB,
      Please comment more often!

      We are trying to build a data base of material so when the young Troy’s and Jose’s of this world come to Christ and then the YRR enthusiasts descend on them…. they have some material to work with with avoid the wave!

      The wave sucked me in cuz I had no help pushing back. Then I found help when I put down the books (put aside the 40 verses) and picked up the Bible.

      1. FOH, thanks and I will try to comment more often. The database sounds exciting and a much needed resource. This website helped me a great deal as I I picked up the Bible and began working thru this issue in much the same way you did. The articles of course are excellent but I’ve gained much from the comments and discussions here as well.

    2. AndyB,

      On a previous thread I quoted Piper’s book “Dont Waste Your Life” to demonstrate how most of it could have easily been written by an Arminian. He just goes on and one encouraging readers to get up and get going to make a difference for the Gospel.

      Of course that is all so much silliness within the frame of reformed theology! It has already all been decided.

      1. FOH,
        When my eyes were opened and I understand what the Calvinist systematic teaches, i see this illogical silliness all the time. Not but a couple weeks ago I heard a Calvinist pastor give an invitation saying “for you who have not believed, I plead with you to repent and turn to Christ.” But not two minutes later he was preaching from Romans 8 on how only some are deterministically called and predestined, essentially and sadly rendering his previous invitation meaningless – if they are deterministically and irresisitbly called, then what good does your pleading with them to repent do? God determined before they were born that they will repent, your pleading didnt change that, only God’s irresistible and effectyual calling did that. And if they were a retrobate, then God determined that they won’t repent because He would “pass over them” with His “sovereign grace” and no amount of pleading with them to repent is going to change that.

      2. andyb2015 writes, “I heard a Calvinist pastor give an invitation saying “for you who have not believed, I plead with you to repent and turn to Christ.”

        At that point, everyone listening to the pastor should have repented and turned to Christ – that decision is a no-brainer. Yet, that did not happen. To explain why people behave so irrationally, you note, “he was preaching from Romans 8 on how only some are deterministically called and predestined,…” That was his explanation for people refusing to turn to Christ. It’s OK that you don’t find that explanation satisfying – so, how do you explain it?

    3. AndyB,

      Here is another quote from that book.

      There is “a sincere desire on God’s part to see every sinner turn to Christ.”

      So…. we can see that MacArthur is saying that God has created a world where He does not always get what He wants…

      If NOTHING else….. these kind of quotes should put to rest the question:

      Does God always get what He wants?

      Calvinist MacArthur would give a resounding NO!

      If He has a “sincere desire to see every sinner turn” …. then that sincere desire (want) is not happening.

      Let all Calvinists go and disagree with Johnny Mac. MacArthur is in full agreement that God does NOT always get what he wants.

    4. AndyB,
      Even the Subtitle of the book shows that MacArthur is living in a world with opposing ideas.

      He want the book to show God’s love (good idea), but he says in the subtitle….

      “The God Who Loves (He will do whatever it takes to draw us to Him)”

      What does that mean….. whatever it takes. It sounds like it is an effort. But in the book and elsewhere he states clearly that this was all decided unilaterally by God before time. So what can that mean…. “He will do whatever it takes”?

      The Title could easily be (and should be):

      “The God Who Loves Some People (He will do whatever it takes to draw a small elect to Himself and make sure —before time began — the rest of humanity is tortured in Hell)”

  8. The two wills thing with the Calvinist is ridiculous to say the least.

    “we know that God in some sense wills what he does not will in another sense” John Piper.

    See, there is the two “senses” now as well. Everything is double with the Calvinist!

    Could we have multiple wills that could contradict each other? Would this stand up in a court of God’s law? If I said that I had a will that didn’t want to commit adultery with my neighbor, but then what comes to pass is that I commit adultery with my neighbor; Can I then say to God that I had “two wills” – my “will of want” and my “will of decree”. Can I say to God that in one of my wills I never wanted that to happen? but then another will that decreed it to happen? Would he believe me? Of course, not! I would be judged harshly for even insinuating that I had two wills that would contradict each other.

    1. I know this is old and you will probably never see it but I thought it was important to comment nonetheless. I believe man does have two wills and they are contradictory. On the one hand I want to serve and trust God but on the other I want to fulfill the desires of my flesh. God, I believe also has two wills. On the one hand, God wants to save all sinners but on the other he wants to allow men to freely choose his gracious offer of salvation. This indicates two wills, however they do not contradict one another but instead show the priority given by God to free will and I believe God’s reason for allowing free will is to display his Love and in turn his Glory. Love that can not be rejected or returned in like manner is not truly displayed.
      It is the fact that man has a will that is capable of contradiction that separates us from the Holiness of God.

      1. Fair enough, I normally see the “two wills” idea from Calvinists. So I guess I would simply object to saying “two wills” and prefer to think of God as truly desiring all men to be saved but holding a higher value on a free response that allows true relationship rather than automatons who only believe in Him cause He ordained them to. So it’s not two wills, it’s the one will with a self-imposed restriction on His controlling power for what He considers to be a greater purpose.

      2. I understand you not liking the term “two wills” because it could seem to you to indicate a contradiction. However, whether you were to say “two wills” or one will that is multifaceted my point is that man’s will is contadictory and God’s is not. It seems as though you saw me write “two wills” and automatically assumed you disagree with me and did not take the time to understand what I was saying. If we would like for Calvinist to hear and understand our perspective then should we not listen and understand their’s and other people’s perspective also? My initial reply was to correct the idea that man’s will cannot be contadictory which I think is absolutely wrong. Every day I struggle with temptations that I want to do and at the same time do not want to do. The reason I don’t mind using the term “two wills” is because I have taken time to talk to people with that viewpoint and even though I do not agree with them on many of the things they try to say about two wills (ie: prescriptive vs decreative) I do understand how they could see two wills of God just not contradictory wills.

      3. I could see perhaps using the terminology of ‘two wills’ had it not been so distorted by Calvinists. But once you put determinism into the mix, two wills becomes extremely ugly, as the ‘bad’ God fights with the ‘good’ God, ordaining what he does not desire. It makes absolutely no sense; why would God ordain what he does not desire? Whereas ‘allowing’ what he does not desire is simply his decision to set aside his power and right in order to grant men freedom of action. Calvinism’s two wills is a complete distortion of the acknowledgement that whereas God wills for no man to perish, he has allowed (willed, if you will) that men have the freedom of choice that necessitates the freedom of men to choose to perish.

        When you add in Jesus’ prayer that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, I believe it becomes more accurate to say that God has a single, unchanging will – to restore all things to the perfection for which he designed them – but has given to men the freedom and ability to act against that will, at least for a time. The fact that we are told that there is real power in prayer, that God’s will is given greater access – or freedom to ‘interfere’, if you will – by our requesting of him to intercede, is astounding.

      4. So should we also not use words like sovereignty, predestined, elect and grace because Calvinist have used them to mean something very different from what we see in scripture or should we use the terms and rightly define them?

      5. I don’t shy away from using any terms that are actually biblical, but I do try to make my definitions clear when they are terms that have been co-opted by one particular worldview. 😉 I do not think one could claim that ‘two wills’ is used anywhere in scripture.

      6. Exactly, so feel free to not defend it. Extra-biblical terms, (of course we realize that no English terms were in the original autographs) must be held to very loosely, as they are mere man’s attempt to capture the essence of God. Even biblical terms must be humbly acknowledged as being seen through lenses, so that we must not rush to claim certainty on understanding.

        I don’t have an issue with you believing in some sort of two wills, nor do I suggest you were arrogant about it. I thought you presented your views respectfully and graciously, and our differences are likely mostly semantic. I merely wish to point out that the concept seems to inevitably lead to a view of a dualistic or two-minded God.

        My real issue is with those who set forth man-made doctrines through which all scripture MUST be interpreted. Again, I am not suggesting that you did this, but Calvinism does. We all attempt to ‘make doctrine’ in one manner or another. But we do not all force every one else to accept our doctrine as unquestionable. (This of course was the cruel and murderous, authoritarian spirit of the Roman Church and of Calvin, and was what led to the Enlightenment and an insistence on freedom of religion.) If we are wise and humble, we will hold to our ‘doctrines’ very loosely, and allow the Spirit of God to lead us into ever fuller understanding. And we will graciously allow others to hold to different understandings. I refuse to be chained to a set of doctrines and close my mind to all further teaching, from other, more mature men and women, and from God.

      7. I hope you and everyone else understands that my original reply to Damon was never intended to setup and support the two wills concept. My original reply was to refute the IDEA that MAN can NOT have a contraction in his will whether it is one will or two. I explained it from the idea of two wills and I admit this is an idea and not absolute fact. Then Erik and yourself began to critique my use of “two wills” instead of my definition of “two wills” so I pushed back. I am sure we would probably agree on how the will of man or God plays itself out and probably with very little difference if any. That being said, Erik wrote a fantastic article that I agree with wholeheartedly and I am sure you and I would agree on most things. I simply do not understand the focus on my use of “two wills” when I felt I did a good job of explaining it but maybe I didn’t.

      8. You’re fine Brian. We get it.

        You are not one of the people proposing that God has two, three, four wills…all contradicting.

      9. Brian, I agree with your assessment. Perhaps I would simply word things slightly differently (semantics, perhaps?). You wrote:
        ‘God, I believe also has two wills. On the one hand, God wants to save all sinners but on the other he wants to allow men to freely choose his gracious offer of salvation. This indicates two wills, however they do not contradict one another but instead show the priority given by God to free will and I believe God’s reason for allowing free will is to display his Love and in turn his Glory. Love that can not be rejected or returned in like manner is not truly displayed.’

        I believe something very similar, but I would probably state it as God having multiple desires (which are not deterministic, but allow for genuine freedom of action), but only one will: that all men retain the genuine freedom of choice with which they were designed. It is his deep desire that all men would use that choice wisely, trust in Him and avoid needless misery and destruction. His desire is always for our good, and there is not a single human being he ever designated to perish with no hope of salvation. (That does not mean bad things will never come our way, for even when we trust in him, we cannot avoid the consequences of other men’s evil choices, including our parents, bosses, spouses, etc.)

        God’s single, unchanging will, I believe, is to provide salvation from the false and destructive lures of evil and the death to which it leads, for all men; which he has done through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Having dealt with sin once for all, he instituted the restoration of his creation to the condition he has always intended, which I believe he will someday complete. That will require eliminating wickedness, by conversion or destruction of the wicked. As God will not force men to ‘be righteous’ against their will (although he certainly could have created perfectly obedient beings with no individual will), I believe that Universal conversion is unlikely; but I would love to be pleasantly surprised!

        As you say, I suspect we think more alike than not, but posing God as having ‘two wills’ seems to invite misunderstanding, leaving room for the faulty Calvinist assertion that on one hand ,God ‘wills’ to save all and, on the other hand, he ‘wills’ only to save some – a logical impossibility, unless God is divided against himself. I assert that he only and always desires for none to perish, but, as he has determined to not achieve this desire by force, he grants to men the prerogative of not fulfilling his genuine desire. In other words, his will is not at this time being accomplished on this earth. His true will, which will someday be done on earth as it is in heaven, is that all men unfailingly live righteously, doing what is good, right and just at all times.

      10. I looked up the definition of will and it is an ambiguous word. Two of its definitions indicate desire or intention. So to say God has multiple desires can be understood to mean God has multiple wills and it fit perfectly within the definition. I am tired of arguing and it isn’t helping anything. I sicerley hope you have good day and God bless.

      11. I know I said I am tired of arguing and I am and that is not what I want to do know but this is really eating at me. I don’t understand where our disconnect is. When you said you would explain it as multiple desires, I was thinking to myself that is what I have been doing the whole time. So I am trying now to honestly and humbly ask how would you define will and why? Is there something I am missing? Is it different in greek? I was assuming you just don’t like the term because Calvinist use it in a contadictory and deterministic way. Do you think that is what I have been doing? Part of my reason for asking these questions is because of the long replies where you address the point of contention and then list a whole lot of things I agree with. If I am getting something wrong I really want to know so that I can correct it or it will just keep eating at me. By the way, I am sorry for assuming your intent.

      12. Brian, I tend to go on too long sometimes, so don’t take it personally. 😉 It truly was not my intention to argue with you, as I think we actually hold pretty similar viewpoints. I felt badly that you got the impression that we were piling on you, and, in my attempt to explain myself better, I probably just made things worse. I do that too often. Likely, FOH’s succinct response was wiser.

        If you really are interested in what is behind my personal thinking, read further. If not, feel free to just stop here.

        Perhaps it is simply my personal history, or my time under Calvinist teaching, but my impression of the word ‘will’, when applied to God, tends to be deterministic, as in ‘it will be done’, whereas ‘desire’, in my mind, reflects the granting of choice. I might add that I may be somewhat defensive as some on this sight will deliberately switch back and forth between the two words in an attempt to confuse or mislead. So, at least in this setting, since we are debating Calvinism, I am pretty careful about using words that are loaded with a very particular definition by the Calvinist camp, even when I know they do not hold the same meaning for others. (As you pointed out ‘sovereignty’ is another loaded word when used by Calvinists, as it goes far beyond the normal dictionary meaning that non-Calvinists generally assume.) Many non-Calvinists or self-claimed Calvinists have been confused by this subtle shifting back and forth between similar terms, as if that changes what the Calvinist actually meant. If you have been around these parts long, you know that many of us refer to this little game as ‘doublespeak’.

        In my own mind, rightly or wrongly, when a person in authority ‘wills’ something, anyone under his authority had better shut up and obey, to put it bluntly. If a king sent a messenger to a peasant that it was his ‘will’ that he sell him his land, the peasant would not likely risk angering the king by refusing. Whereas, if the messenger merely stated that the king ‘desired’ his property and wished to discuss it with him, the peasant might be forgiven for believing he actually had the prerogative to politely refuse without risking his neck. I suppose it has something to do with rightful authority.

        And, in order to understand where I am coming from, you would need to know that my personal belief that being ‘like Christ’ – which scripture tells us is God’s intention (dare I say ‘will’?) for us – means to come to the point where we genuinely put his will before our own. But God wants us to surrender to his will freely, not from fear of punishment. I do not believe that, in his flesh, Jesus ‘willed’ to suffer what he knew he faced. I also believe he was grieved over the fear and confusion his followers would inevitably suffer. My thinking is that he probably wished there was some other way to accomplish what he and his Father both desired to accomplish. And yet, as our example, he humbly and willingly professed, ‘Not my will, but thine’. Seeing that as the essence of being like Christ probably makes me a little touchy about the word ‘will’.

        Secondly, in order to make sense of evil without making a ‘sovereign’ God it’s author, I remind myself that although God desires that no man do evil, it is because he does not force his will upon his creatures – as he certainly could – that evil is indeed pursued by men. I will not deny that I struggle with the existence of evil, and ‘carry on’ with God about it often. I sort of think he will forgive my childish indignation as I struggle to cope with the existence of evil and the many who suffer innocently. It certainly is not my worst failing.

        I really didn’t mean to make a big case out of it, and I apologize if I did not make my intentions clear. I realize that what we are discussing is a very subtle distinction, and it may be just my personal history that shapes my perspective on the two words. Please do not let it disturb you due to my perhaps insensitive comments.

      13. I appreciate your response. I am just overly sensitive. I think in part due to my history. I have been a member of a church for the last four or five years that has Calvinistic leadership and every discussion I have ever had on topics of Soteriology or Theology have been with people who disagree with me. Four or five years ago I did not even know what Calvinism or Soteriology were and had a very vague understanding of what Theology meant. My only conversations being with people with differing views is what led me to read the blog. On a side note I am thankful for Soteriology101 and the podcast. It had not been around very long when I began to have these discussions and really helped me to articulate some of the things I was thinking and to discover many new things I had never considered.

      14. TS00 writes, “my impression of the word ‘will’, when applied to God, tends to be deterministic, as in ‘it will be done’, whereas ‘desire’, in my mind, reflects the granting of choice.”

        So, where the Calvinist distinguishes between the active and passive actions of God, you distinguish between the will and desire of God. Thus, God destroys Sodom expressing His will and it has God actively bringing about the outcome. Then, God does nothing to prevent the stoning of Stephan – thereby granting the Jews freedom of choice in stoning Stephan, so God expresses His desire by passive non-interference. Calvinists say that both events illustrate ways that God expresses His will.

      15. Rhutchin responds:
        ‘TS00 writes, “my impression of the word ‘will’, when applied to God, tends to be deterministic, as in ‘it will be done’, whereas ‘desire’, in my mind, reflects the granting of choice.”

        So, where the Calvinist distinguishes between the active and passive actions of God, you distinguish between the will and desire of God. Thus, God destroys Sodom expressing His will and it has God actively bringing about the outcome. Then, God does nothing to prevent the stoning of Stephan – thereby granting the Jews freedom of choice in stoning Stephan, so God expresses His desire by passive non-interference. Calvinists say that both events illustrate ways that God expresses His will.’

        In most respects, this is an accurate depiction of what takes place. The error is in insisting, falsely, I would say, that God pre-determined in eternity past, before these individuals were ever born, those very choices that are now said to take place through ‘freedom of choice . . . by passive non-interference.’

        Rhutchin knows full well that non-Calvinists grant that God passively allows evil to happen, but explain it without tacking on the caveat that (wink, wink), he really pre-determined these now ‘passively allowed’ actions to irresistibly occur long ago. Non-Calvinists will grant that God had foreknowledge of these, and all things, but that is not to be conflated with predetermination. That is one of the very huge differences that deceptive Calvinist language always attempts to hide.

        Non-Calvinists also assert, as Rhutchin knows, that God passively allows evil, not because he chose it to exist in order to bring him ‘glory’, but because he created creatures with genuine freedom of choice; which necessitates that those choices can be either in cooperation with God’s will or in rebellion to God’s will. This is the meaning of ‘free will’, (which, supposedly, we can never define.) Under non-Calvinism, this is more than a mere illusion of freedom – it is real. Men do evil that God neither determined nor desires, AGAINST his will, in rebellion, which he, indeed, due to his self-chosen granting of this freedom, now passively allows. In other words, God’s unlimited power has been self-limited – the only way he can ever be limited.

        Calvinism has God passively non-interfering with actions that he predetermined. Well, duh. Why WOULD God interfere with his own plans? There is no need to ‘passively allow’ that which he has ordained to come to pass! (Should I quote Palmer again? He was one Calvinist, at least, who got how absurd, illogical and nonsensical such claims are.) In reality, Calvinism is attempting to disguise that their theology makes God the author of all evil by suggesting that he merely ‘passively non-interferes’; but the real truth of the matter is that God is not passively allowing men to do as they desire and choose. This is a furtive borrowing of the free will theology Calvinism firmly rejects. One which they know most believers are comfortable with – because it is true and actually makes sense. What they are hiding is that since God initiated those desires – in whatever secretive, ‘passive’ manner any Calvinist might invent – he can pretend to ‘passively not interfere’, when, in reality, all men merely pursue the desires which he himself put within them. Do they do what they desire? Sure? Why? Because God determined what they would desire, then ‘allowed’ them to pursue those desires.

        In fact, if poor Calvinists were not mere sock puppets dancing at the end of invisible strings, they might ask God why he even uses ‘invisible’ strings? If he, indeed, is the only true source, cause, or determiner of ‘whatsoever comes to pass’ why does he not simply admit it, take the ‘glory’ and stop confusing simple-minded mortals? Calvinism simply borrows concepts of modern technology, and tries to insist that, since God uses Bluetooth instead of physical wires, he is not really calling all the shots. Most understand that, wires or no wires, that music in our ears comes from somewhere else, and does not arise from our autonomous minds. Likewise, if God causes whatsoever comes to pass, it matters little whether he uses wires, Bluetooth or an entirely unknown ‘God’ technology.

        If the Calvinist God desires you to desire good, that is what you will desire and irresistibly do. If he desires you to do evil, that is what you will desire and irresistibly do. This, let me be very clear, is NOT the genuine free choices that free will advocates describe. It is a parody, a freedom without anything being free, a wireless transmission being portrayed as if it didn’t exist. Calvinism, as usual, deceptively uses non-offensive non-Calvinist language to throw naïve followers off the scent of what its theology actually demands. Make no mistake; under Calvinism, God ALWAYS determines what WILL be done, period.

      16. TS00 writes, “The error is in insisting, falsely, I would say, that God pre-determined in eternity past, before these individuals were ever born, those very choices that are now said to take place…”

        Calvinists are not Open Theists. It is an argument about God’s knowledge – what God knows and when He knew it.

      17. Ah yes, the cloud-catching technique of reverting to name-calling and ‘isms’. In this game, one fabricates or chooses a straw man, then proceeds to attack it. This is a great technique, long known as ‘changing the subject’ or ‘distraction’. Calvinists do this whenever their ugly little theology is being exposed, or when their God as the manipulative, controlling author of Evil comes to the forefront. ‘Donatist!’, ‘Heretic!’, ‘Pelagian!’ or ‘Open Theist!’ – it’s all the same game.

        It is difficult to hide the ugly, as it undergirds their entire system. God determines all. Period. Even sounds rather majestic – until you get into the nitty gritty details. So they try desperately to change the subject. Or modify the ‘God determines all’ with, ‘but of course not so as to make him the author of evil’ or some such. Which is just a bunch of words that make no sense, as they basically say that ‘God determines all, everything under the sun, whatsoever comes to pass; but of course he musn’t be held responsible for the evil ones’. The responsibility for evil must be placed on the useful idiots, the creatures whom God creates out of thin air and instills with whatever characteristics, desires, beliefs and desires he chooses. Then he blames them for ‘pursuing’ those desires. Yep, the same ones he determined in eternity past that they would pursue to their own, irresistible, unchangeable destruction.

        Calvinists always remind of the Music Man, who distracts the ‘hounds’ sent after him by getting them to sing four-part harmony. Not that the music isn’t nice, but it’s purpose is to distract and prevent the exposure of the pretender. Calvinist con-men are well-versed in such arts, as the blog post explains and Rhutchin helpfully demonstrates.

      18. Here you go TS00

        “We Calvinists believe in the ‘Doctrines of Grace’ and really understand the only true message from God.”

        “Wow. That’s huge”

        “Yes, we are the only ones who can interpret ‘sovereignty’ and ‘omniscience’ and we believe God did everything.”

        “Everything?”

        “Yes, He decided everything and ordained it and made it come to pass—without fail —exactly the way it has come to pass.”

        “Man that sounds so honoring and lofty and spiritual! But wait… does that mean everything?”

        “Yep, insignificant humanoid. Everything.”

        “So all the torture, mass killings, rape, human malformations…. even the torture of the Inquisition, Calvin’s own torturing of people, even the Holocaust?”

        “Well, yeah, all those things too but He did not sin in any of it. He only let man do what he naturally does—evil. God did not sin in any of it.”

        “Okay, wait. He ordained it all to come to pass exactly as it did…. but He didn’t do it?”

        “Yep. We call that ‘compartmental-ism’ or ‘cannibalism’ or something like that. He does it ALL, but does not sin. Man…. filthy, sinful, good-for-nothing man does it all.”

        “You mean the man that was created in God’s image?”

        “Yes, that man….who is only capable of evil all the time. No good ever. Even a kind gesture toward a beggar is only because the giver is evil and doing it out of self-interest.”

        “Yes, I know that you teach that man does only evil all the time and that is the T in your doctrine saying man is ‘totally displaced’ or ‘totally enraged’ or ‘totally deprived’ or something, but ‘splain to be one more time how God ordains/wills/ plans/ decrees every act that ever will take place but is not responsible for any of the evil.”

        “I just did. That’s it. That’s all. He decreed/willed/planned/ordained everything that ever happened but did not do it.”

        “I still don’t get it.”

        “What…. are you some kind of universalist? You don’t believe in the heresy of Open Theism do you? You are not one of those semi-Polynesians are you? ”

        “What? Uh, no, I just read my Bible and listen to the big-story message.”

        “Put that down and read this book….. you don’t wanna turn into some kind of name-it-and-claim-it, poison-drinking, snake-handler do you?”

        “Well no….I …”

        “If you must read your Bible read the Sproul ESV Explanation Bible with these 45 filter-verses already highlighted for you.”

        “Can I just read my own Bib…..”

        “You dont want a ‘man-centered’ theology do you?”

        “No… I guess not….I..”

        “You think you are bigger than God? You universalist! Repent! (if God gave repentance to you). Read this book called ‘Desiring God’ by our arch-bishop Piper.”

        “Great! So I CAN desire God then?”

        “Only if he has decreed from before time that you desire Him.”

        “Huh? So reading this helps me how?”

        “Universalist!

      19. I only ask because, as a pale-skin, I kinda envy their golden skin and gorgeous raven hair. But I try not to covet.

      20. TS00 writes, “Ah yes, the cloud-catching technique of reverting to name-calling and ‘isms’. In this game, one fabricates or chooses a straw man, then proceeds to attack it.”

        LOL!!! You said, “The error is in insisting, falsely, I would say, that God pre-determined in eternity past, before these individuals were ever born, those very choices that are now said to take place…” Notice your use of the terms’ “error” and “mistake” to describe the Calvinist position. Whatever, could that mean??? perhaps it means that you disagree with the Calvinist notion that “…God pre-determined in eternity past, before these individuals were ever born, those very choices that are now said to take place…” Isn’t that what you said? So, you disagree that God determined these things in eternity past. So, do you allow that God pre-determined these things a few thousand years ago? I doubt it. I think your point is that God does not pre-determine anything, even at the moment that event takes place. If God does not pre-determine anything, then God cannot have knowledge of anything before it happens. That is a position normally identified as Open Theist. If that is name-calling, then set the record straight, since you appear to be communicating a position about yourself that you now say is in error. You need only explain what you actually believe.

      21. Rhutchin writes:
        ” If God does not pre-determine anything, then God cannot have knowledge of anything before it happens.”

        Says who?

        That is what is known as an assumption, an assertion made with no basis in fact, experience or scriptural teaching. There is absolutely nothing to prevent God from having foreknowledge apart from predetermination. I repeat, NOTHING.

        Of course, those schooled in Calvinism, know that Calvinism conflates the two; but insistent repetition does not make their groundless assertions true. Foreknowledge is scriptural, meticulous divine determinism is not.

      22. TS00 writes, “There is absolutely nothing to prevent God from having foreknowledge apart from predetermination. I repeat, NOTHING.”

        Now, that is an assertion that requires proof. Let’s see:

        God knows what TS00 will do tomorrow.
        God is omnipotent and can stop TS00 from doing anything TS00 will do tomorrow.
        If God does not stop TS00 from doing whatever he plans, then God has determined TS00 to do that evil.
        The price for God being being omniscience and omnipotent is that He necessarily determines all that TS00 does by His failure to prevent anything that TS00 does.

        Ooopps! Wrong argument.

      23. Brian beck writes, “I meant to say I don’t think the word sovereignty is in the bible.”

        I think you probably meant the KJV translation of the Bible. NASB does include the term in Psalm 103:19, “The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all.” KJV renders this, “The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” NASB appeared to see “”His kingdom ruleth” as an awkward way to express the idea here and sought to explain this better by using sovereignty in its translation. The meaning is clear either way – God rules over everything in His kingdom and that is the same as saying that God is sovereign. This concept is expressed elsewhere in the Bible even though he term, “sovereign,” is not used.

  9. For me, it all seems to come back to a lack of understanding what Jesus said was the prime imperative. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” John 3:7. It’s the preamble to John 3:16. It was spoken to someone Piper and MacAurthur would call a corpse.

    Then Jesus said something I find striking. “If I have told you of earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”

    Again, spoken to a supposed corpse.

    “Say” “Told” “Tell” all remind me that my own faith came by “hearing.” Romans 10:17. My living, conscious, alert, earthly body provided the earthly means for my dead spirit to be born again. For that miracle of grace to happen, God took the living part to speak life to the dead part. It took the breath of heaven. Take it from the oldest book in the Bible, it has ALWAYS been that way: “But there is a spirit in man, And the breath of the Almighty gives him understanding.” Job 32:8 NKJV. In another place we are reminded: “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, lighting the inward parts of the belly.” Proverbs 20:27 KJV. God wants me to see me. The inward me. That part of me we call the soul. That part of me He desires to save. He will use His breath to light my dead spirit so that I may appreciate the tragic state of my sin-cursed soul. He wants me to see me. Because all scripture is given by inspiration (literally God breathed) the source of the breath is universally available. And now Romans 10:17 makes perfect sense. God’s word is not just what the sinner needs to hear, it is also how he will be able (though spiritually dead) to hear it. God lights the candle. John 1:9 makes perfect sense.

    I have often remarked that our basic disagreement with our Calvinist friends isn’t over the means of salvation. It’s over the scope of the call. I have concluded, however, that many of our reformed friends do not really understand the means. If they truly did, John 12:32 and 2 Peter 3:9-10 would put to rest any question about the scope of the call.

    1. Rick Patton writes, ‘If they truly did, John 12:32 and 2 Peter 3:9-10 would put to rest any question about the scope of the call.”

      This is somewhat duplicitous because it implies that all agree on the understanding of these verses when they are highly contested.

      John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

      The NET Bible has this comment: “Grk “all.” The word “people” is not in the Greek text but is supplied for stylistic reasons and for clarity (cf. KJV “all men”). So, most versions insert “men” or “people” or something similar. Calvinists say that Christ had said in John 6, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing,…” They conclude that “a;;” refers back to those whom God has given Him.

      2 Peter 3:9-10: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

      The Universalist says that “any” and “all” refer to each and every individual so God will save all each and every person. The Calvinist says that “any” and “all” refer to the previous “you” and “you” refers to those to whom Peter writes the epistle; i.e., to believers.

      The point here is that the verses are not as cut and dried as Patton seems to suggest.

  10. EK writes, “According to Piper, Calvinism’s truth claim is (my paraphrase):
    The Bible teaches that God’s will is to determine all things that come to pass. ”

    Not exactly. God determines all things because He is sovereign. The statement, “God’s will is to determine,” says that “God’s will is to be sovereign.” Obviously, God does not will to be sovereign as God is sovereign. So, let’s correct the above to make it reflect Calvinist Theology.

    The Bible teaches that God sovereignly determines all things that come to pass and that which God determines necessarily expresses His will.

    That which must be falsified is the claim that a sovereign God necessarily expresses His will in that which He determines (i.e., all things). That can lead us into a discussion of God’s will.

    1. Hutch, this is you proving exactly the point of the article. You hoc create a new category such that sovereignty = determinism then stick my statement into your new category and then argue against your newly fashioned statement. It renders discussion impossible which was the point of my article and proven yet again here. I understand you cannot dialogue without doing it, it’s a feature of your system.

      1. EK writes, “You hoc create a new category such that sovereignty = determinism”

        You read it wrong. If God is sovereign, then He rules over His creation and His rule as sovereign results in a deterministic creation – one where all things are necessarily determined by Him.

        Notwithstanding this, the way you originally framed your statement, “The Bible teaches that God’s will is to determine all things that come to pass,” is off. God’s will is expressed in Revelation 5, ‘“Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.” In the process of bringing about His will, God determines all things, but His will is not to determine all things. His will is, in part, to work all things together for good for His elect and this requires that He determine events such that good accrues to His elect. You misrepresent the Calvinist position in your statement.

        The problem you face is that you cannot avoid a deterministic outcome if you hold that God is sovereign. We if allow that God is sovereign, then there is nothing that God doesn’t determine. That’s true for any system where God is sovereign; not just Calvinism.

      2. “If God is sovereign, then He rules over His creation and His rule as sovereign results in a deterministic creation – one where all things are necessarily determined by Him.”

        Sovereignty means “rule” and in no way implies that God, or any other ruler who has ever existed, is in deterministic control of his subjects. It is simply an irrational non-sequitor you’ve attached on to the concept of Divine Rule and read the Scriptures through this presupposition. I know this irrationality has been shown to you time and again but for reasons outside of rational consideration you continue to hold tightly on to the presupposition.

        “In the process of bringing about His will, God determines all things, but His will is not to determine all things.”

        In other words, God’s will is to determine all things. Got it.

        “The problem you face is that you cannot avoid a deterministic outcome if you hold that God is sovereign.”

        Yes I can, you just don’t agree. And that’s fine. Rule does not equal control and not only would you have to provide an argument for how rule = control but you would have to show how my position of “rule does not = control” is irrational. Good luck.

        “We if allow that God is sovereign, then there is nothing that God doesn’t determine.”

        Except that that’s exactly what the Bible says happens even as quoted by Piper. I’m sorry you don’t like that.

        “That’s true for any system where God is sovereign; not just Calvinism.”

        It is amazing how you cannot see how irrational this is. It’s the same as saying “I’m the only one who sees X rightly and since I have it right, everyone agrees with me even if they say they do not”.

        This will be my final interaction as anything passed this just runs in circles of you doing exactly what this article describes.

      3. Eric,

        You are right to cease interaction with him at this point.

        As for new commentators on this blog, take heed. The main Calvinist that comments on these pages will just move the goal posts ever time you try to discuss anything. Two wills? Sure! One will? Sure! Determinist? Sure! Free will? Sure! Man can choose? Sure! God chooses everything? Sure? Christ wants all to be save? Sure? Christ only died for a few? Sure! What we do makes a difference? Sure! Has God already planned ever dust-particle and event? Sure! Does God love everyone? Sure! Does God love only the elect? Sure. Is God the author of sin? No! Is God —from before time — the author of every act for every person? Yes!

        And on and on..

      4. EK writes, “Sovereignty means “rule” and in no way implies that God, or any other ruler who has ever existed, is in deterministic control of his subjects….I know this irrationality has been shown to you time and again but for reasons outside of rational consideration you continue to hold tightly on to the presupposition.”

        People have expressed opinions as you do. No “reasons of rational consideration” have been ventured that I remember. God has perfect knowledge of present events and is omnipotent. Thus, God is both aware of everything that is happening and able to affect whatever change He wants in anything that is happening. Consequently, God either supernaturally intervenes to prevent the natural outcome of events or God does nothing so that natural events play out naturally. That decision makes God the determiner of all outcomes.

        Then, “In other words, God’s will is to determine all things. Got it. ”

        OK. However, that is different than saying that sovereignty = determinism. To address your original statement of the Calvinist position. God’s will is to accomplish His purposes. In that process, God willfully determines all things. Take away purpose and it is not necessary for God to determine anything. Add purpose and God wills the determination of all things to accomplish His purpose. Your statement makes no mention of purpose, so you provide no context for God to determine anything – so, “God’s will is to determine all things” is not necessarily a true statement. God determines all things to gain His purpose; take away purpose and God does not determine anything. The real issue from the Calvinist point of view is whether, and what, God purposes (His will), because that which God purposes necessitates that which He determines. So, we have: God is sovereign; God’s will is to accomplish His purposes; God wills (determines) all things to accomplish His purposes; that which God determines expresses willful decisions He has made to accomplish His purpose. To reflect the Calvinist position, we can reformulate your original statement as:

        – The Bible teaches that God’s will is to accomplish His purposes and to accomplish His purposes, God determine all things that come to pass.

        Then, “Rule does not equal control and not only would you have to provide an argument for how rule = control but you would have to show how my position of “rule does not = control” is irrational.”

        You leave out important factors. An omniscient and omnipotent sovereign necessarily exercises absolute control over all things in ruling His kingdom. Through omniscience and omnipotence, the sovereign God is necessarily the final arbiter of anything that happens. There is no event over which God is not the final arbiter. Therefore, “rule does not = control” is an irrational conclusion from the premises of omniscience and omnipotence. Can you provide an exception to the conclusion that “rule = control” in the case of an omniscient and omnipotent sovereign?

        Then, “Except that that’s exactly what the Bible says happens even as quoted by Piper. I’m sorry you don’t like that.”

        We seem to agree that God determines all things (or we agree that this is the Calvinist position). The issue is whether (1) God’s will is to determine all things, or (2) God’s will is to accomplish His purpose and He accomplishes His purpose by willfully determining all things.

  11. Rhutchin writes,

    “The Bible teaches that God sovereignly determines all things that come to pass”

    Do you have a verse you can reference to prove this Rhutchin?

  12. This is my first post here, but I am a long-time reader. I am a 0-point Calvinist. I reject it 100%. I believe in libertarian human free will. But I do question rejecting the idea that God has two wills. I would like to be corrected in my thoughts in this area if they are wrong.

    I use an analogy of a super-rich man desiring to buy a new car. He desires his new car to be a blue Cadillac Escalade with a panoramic sunroof and rear air conditioning. He goes to the dealer who informs him that Escalades do not come with BOTH a panoramic sunroof AND rear A/C. The man chooses to buy a blue Escalade with a panoramic roof with no rear A/C. The exact thing he wanted was not available to him so he bought the car that was closest to what he wanted.

    Could the rich man’s friend, knowing that he is very rich and so could afford whichever options he wanted, rightly conclude that the rich man did not want rear A/C (for if he had, he would surely have it)?

    Well, in a sense the friend is correct and in a sense he is not. The rich man did NOT desire rear A/C GIVEN THAT that would entail not having a sunroof. On the other hand, not considering the limitations of what combinations of optional features Cadillac can/will combine in one car, the rich man DID want rear A/C. Yet his car does not have rear A/C.

    So I find it reasonable to say that the rich man had two wills regarding rear A/C—he wanted it and he didn’t want it.

    The parallels to soteriology are obvious. God is the rich man who wants everyone to be saved. But, because of human libertarian free will, not everyone WILL be saved (this is akin to Cadillac not making Escalades with every conceivable combinatin of options). Yet, God still chose this world to make actual (from among all feasible worlds available to Him—and not every conceivable world is feasible—see Molinism).

    So we can say, IN A SENSE, that God did NOT will for Person A to be saved because God chose which feasible world to make actual (and He knew that Person A was not saved in this world). But He chose this world nonetheless because OVERALL it was the best feasible world He could make.

    But this concept of “two wills” (one conceived of in isolation of feasible options vs. the other being conceived in light of feasible options) still does not help Calvinism. Calvinism’s concept of absolute sovereignty means that God controls absolutely everything and can force any combination of options to exist. Calvinists do not believe there is a difference between conceivable and feasible combinations of options. So I do not see how Calvinism can hold to the idea of two wills in God.

    But I think it is a valuable construct for the libertarian free will and Molinist perspectives.

    1. Bill Matthews writes, ” God…wants everyone to be saved. But, because of human libertarian free will, not everyone WILL be saved…”

      By Libertarian Free Will, you basically refer to the ability to say. No, to God. It is God who creates man with Libertarian Free Will and the ability to say, No, to Him. However God is still sovereign, and omnipotent, and can easily override any decision a person makes. Within the church, we express this by saying that God opens doors and God closes doors. People get their way when that which they want to do concurs, or agrees, with that which God wants to do. Not everyone is saved because God chooses not to save everyone, when He can, and God actions not to save express His will not to save.

      Then, “Yet, God still chose this world to make actual (from among all feasible worlds available to Him—and not every conceivable world is feasible—see Molinism).”

      Obviously, under the Molinist system, that world God chooses to create is one in which God has determined everything that happens – if God wanted different outcomes, He would have created a different world. It was God’s will to create this world and therefore His will that all things happen as they do.

      Then, ‘So we can say, IN A SENSE, that God did NOT will for Person A to be saved because God chose which feasible world to make actual (and He knew that Person A was not saved in this world). But He chose this world nonetheless because OVERALL it was the best feasible world He could make.”

      If God wanted Person A to be saved, He would have chosen to create that world in which Person A was saved. The best feasible world, from a human perspective, is that world in which everyone is saved. That God creates a world in which some are lost tells us that it was God’s will that some be lost – this described by Paul in Romans 9, “does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,…”

      Then, “Calvinism’s concept of absolute sovereignty means that God controls absolutely everything and can force any combination of options to exist.”

      Of course, “absolute sovereignty” is redundant. For God to be sovereign is for God to be an absolute sovereign. As you describe above, under Molinism, God can force any combination of options He wants by virtue of the world He chooses to create. Thus, the world God choose to create expresses His will and does so perfectly.

      Then, “Calvinists do not believe there is a difference between conceivable and feasible combinations of options.”

      That is because all feasible options are conceivable and all conceivable options are feasible. There is not a world in which any combination of feasible options is not conceivable. If there is, can you explain with an example.

      Then, “So I do not see how Calvinism can hold to the idea of two wills in God.”

      Under Calvinism, God expresses one will as conditional and dependent on the actions of people. For example, in Deuteronomy, God tells Israel that obedience brings a certain result and disobedience brings a different result. God commands people to repent and believe the gospel (an expression of His will for people) and then gives people the freedom to reject His command (also an expression of His will). However, ultimately, the final outcome of all things is the expression of God’s will as He could have determined a different outcome had He wanted (i.e., created a different world).

      1. RHUTCHINS writes “Under Calvinism, God expresses one will as conditional and dependent on the actions of people.” Presumably, then, the “second will” is unconditional.

        But both of these wills collapse into one IF God controls how a person responds to His condition. So if God expresses His conditional will to a person or group of people (if you do A, I will do X, but if you do B (=not A), I will do Y)–as in your example from Deuteronomy–, but then He determines whether they do A or B, then he also determines if He does X or Y. The apparent two wills collapse into one. Surely you can see this!

        And with all due respect, I do not think you considered my Escalade analogy closely enough.

        Perhaps the confusion stems from me not explaining what I mean by conceivable vs. feasible worlds. (This discussion relies on some concepts from Molinism.) A conceivable world is any world that can be thought about rationally without internal contradictions. So a world with square circles is NOT a conceivable world (even for God). All worlds with square circles cannot be created because they are not conceivable.

        Now say that God knows that Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do X in situation M. (Now some say this is impossible. But that is a separate discussion.) All conceivable worlds where Person A does not libertarianly do X in situation M are not FEASIBLE. They are conceivable, but not feasible. Given that God wants a world with libertarianly free creatures in it, the world where Person A does not libertarianly do X in situation M is NOT feasible, and so cannot be made actual. It was not in the set of world God could choose from because it was contrary to His knowledge. It is not this world.

        (In my Escalade analogy, buying a blue Cadillac Escalade with a panoramic sunroof AND rear A/C is conceivable, but not feasible. That explains why the actual car that the rich man ends up buying does not have rear A/C in it even though he can afford all options and desired rear A/C. That combination of options was not open to him in the same way that a world where Person A does not libertarianly do X in Situation M is not possible for God to make actual.)

        You wrote, “That is because all feasible options are conceivable and all conceivable options are feasible. There is not a world in which any combination of feasible options is not conceivable. If there is, can you explain with an example.”

        Of course all feasible worlds are conceivable. I never claimed the opposite, so why demand an example from me?

        So I agree that all feasible worlds are conceivable. But I disagree that all conceivable worlds are feasible. (Just like buying a blue Cadillac Escalade with a panoramic sunroof AND rear A/C is conceivable but not feasible.) And THIS, I think, is the crux of the matter.

        I think this analogy allows us understand passages that teach that God determines all things that come to pass (like the rich man determined the fact that he owns a blue Cadillac Escalade with panoramic sunroof but without rear A/C) but also that humans are free moral agents and are therefore responsible. It allows us to agree when scripture asserts that God desires all people to be saved (akin to the rich man desiring a blue Cadillac Escalade with panoramic sunroof and rear A/C), but that many go through the wide gate to destruction (akin to the actual car that the rich man owns NOT having rear A/C). In this way of thinking, the libertarian free will of man is akin to the limited combination of options that Cadillac offers. The libertarian free will of man determines if Person A does X or Y in situation M. God works with all the foreknown combinations (which also reflect His non-coercive and limited coercive interactions) and selects the best feasible world to make actual.

        So He ordained all things (including libertarianly free will decisions) that come to pass, but He did not do so relative to every single micro-event. (In a world where every micro-event influences every other micro-event, determinations about each event and state cannot be made in isolation from all other events and states. In my analogy, this is reflected in the fact that you can’t decide to have rear A/C independently of your decision to have a panoramic sunroof.)

        He decided which world to make actual by weighing in totality every feasible world against all others and selecting the best.

      2. BillM,

        I think you are new here.

        Of course your examples are logical and biblical! (And I am glad you provide them for future readers to see!!)

        It is when you said “Surely you can see this!” that you err.

        That shuffling sound in the background is the Calvinist moving the goal posts. Prepare for some logic-bending, non-answer.

      3. Bill Matthews writes, ‘“Under Calvinism, God expresses one will as conditional and dependent on the actions of people.” Presumably, then, the “second will” is unconditional.”

        Unconditional and independent of the actions of people.

        God’s ‘first will’ is the freedom God gives to people to obey or disobey Him.The ‘second will’ reflects God’s free will and this is what ultimately happens – God’s will (the second will) always prevails. People prevail in what they want to do under the first will only as it is concurrent with God’s free will (the second will). In Isaiah 10, the Assyrians desire to invade Israel (to disobey God), but they are prevented from doing so until God removes His restraints whereupon they invade Israel; otherwise they are free to invade other countries (the concurrence of first and second will).

        Then, “…both of these wills collapse into one IF God controls how a person responds to His condition….but then He determines whether they do A or B, then he also determines if He does X or Y. The apparent two wills collapse into one. Surely you can see this!”

        Big “IF.” God does not dictate how a person responds, so no collapse. God can, but does not have to, affect the response a person makes. God is said to determine what a person does because God is necessarily the final arbiter of what a person does. God can do nothing to influence whether a person does A or B so that the initiative to act and choose A or B rests with the person (under God’s first will). Again, in the example of the Assyrians. The Assyrians are free to invade any of the countries except Israel (first will). God does nothing to restrain them from invading those countries (making it God’s will for them to do so – the second will). The Assyrians can only invade Israel when God removes His protection and when God does this, we know that it is the will of God (second will) for them to fulfill their desires (first will) and invade Israel.

      4. More power to you Bill Matthews if you can keep track of all that determinism-now-not-determinism.

        Personally I got dizzy with all the first will/ second will business. And of course all that is mere speculation as none of it resembles any teachings in Scripture (and no doubt the formula changes from one Calvinist to another as they describe God’s one, two, three, four wills). But hey, you gotta make pretzels out logic to make this thing fit!

      5. FOH, happy to know I am not alone, as my eyes glaze over from the nonsense talk. Do they really think that the meaningless webs of illogical speculation they weave will persuade thinking people that they are so ‘smart’ they must know what they are talking about? I just find myself yawning, and skipping the silliness. Go ahead, make up definitions, concepts, contradictory claims and grossly illogical speculations. That is not going to persuade me to shrink back from studying the word of God and looking for genuine, meaningful, consistent patterns that reveal who God is and what he is telling us.

      6. Bill Matthews writes,, “So a world with square circles is NOT a conceivable world (even for God). All worlds with square circles cannot be created because they are not conceivable.”

        I take your point to be that any world with things that you, or anyone else, imagine that cannot exist and cannot be created by God is not a conceivable world. Fine, but who cares?? Aren’t we dealing with worlds containing things created by God.

        Conceivable worlds incorporate things that exist. A feasible world is one that comprises things that can exist (God can speak them into existence), so any feasible world is a conceivable world. For purposes of our discussion, we are dealing with worlds that are both feasible and conceivable. Given that our focus is salvation, this means that, under Molinism, God can choose to create a world in which all people are saved or no person is saved and any combination in between.

        In your Escalade example, I expectrd you to use an Escalade with a square circle (or such non-existent items) as not feasible. Everything else is feasible and conceivable. You created confusion for me by arbitrarily declaring something that exists to be not feasible. However, your argument is that non-existent items are not feasible (“A conceivable world is any world that can be thought about rationally without internal contradictions.”). So, your Escalade argument doesn’t help explain anything for me.

        Then, “Now say that God knows that Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do X in situation M….All conceivable worlds where Person A does not libertarianly do X in situation M are not FEASIBLE. They are conceivable, but not feasible.”

        So what?? That’s the whole point of Molinism. You have one world where Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do X in situation M. Situation M is unique to that world. There are many other unique worlds where Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do X in situation N, O, P… There are also many other unique worlds where Person A will libertarianly freely choose to do ~X in situation C, D, E, F… All these worlds are both feasible and conceivable for God to create. Under Molinism, God has the ability to see all possible worlds and choose that unique world that accomplishes His purpose. The world God chose to create is described beginning with Genesis 1.

        God created one unique world and God knew the X number of people would be saved and the rest not saved in that world. Molinism concerns the manner in which that would was chosen; Calvinism describes that world as created.

        Then, “Given that God wants a world with libertarianly free creatures in it, the world where Person A does not libertarianly do X in situation M is NOT feasible, and so cannot be made actual. It was not in the set of worlds God could choose from because it was contrary to His knowledge. It is not this world.”

        Why is that an issue? It seems like you are complaining that, under situation M, a person will only choose X. However, that is the point of Molinism. God knows up front that he can create a world with situation M where a person certainly chooses X. God can also create a world with situation B where a person certainly chooses ~X. In this manner, Molinism defines the choices that God has so that God can choose to create that unique world that accomplishes His purposes and does so perfectly. I don’t see the problem you have with this.

        Then, “I disagree that all conceivable worlds are feasible. (Just like buying a blue Cadillac Escalade with a panoramic sunroof AND rear A/C is conceivable but not feasible.) And THIS, I think, is the crux of the matter. “

        To me, a conceivable world is one in which all things can exist – we don’t have the square circle problem as worlds with square circles are not conceivable. So long as there are no square circles, the world is also feasible. I don’t understand the “crux of the matter.”

        Then, “God works with all the foreknown combinations (which also reflect His non-coercive and limited coercive interactions) and selects the best feasible world to make actual.”

        Bottom line, we agree. God has the ability to create that one, unique world that accomplishes His purpose.

        Then, “So He ordained all things (including libertarianly free will decisions) that come to pass, but He did not do so relative to every single micro-event. (In a world where every micro-event influences every other micro-event, determinations about each event and state cannot be made in isolation from all other events and states. In my analogy, this is reflected in the fact that you can’t decide to have rear A/C independently of your decision to have a panoramic sunroof.)”

        This statement makes no sense to me probably because I find your Escalade example confusing and I cannot tie that to your argument.

        Then, “He decided which world to make actual by weighing in totality every feasible world against all others and selecting the best.”

        Again, we agree.

      7. Rhutchin writes:
        ‘Given that our focus is salvation, this means that, under Molinism, God can choose to create a world in which all people are saved or no person is saved and any combination in between.’

        What is ignored is, as Bill Matthews patiently explains, is that even God cannot create a world in which two contradictory truths exist. God cannot create a world that is round and yet square, not because he is not smart enough or sovereign enough, but because two contradictory realities cannot exist at the same time. No matter how powerful is the creative force.

        Thus, God cannot create a world in which he determines all things and in which men freely determine their own actions at the same time. These are two contradictory realities. Either God determines all things, or he does not. It is a mere red herring to state it as ‘a world in which all people are saved or no person is saved . . .’ The problem is not in the numbers, the problem is in the means. Either God determines who will be saved, or men play a role.

        If God determines who will be saved, then the philosophers are correct in stating that such a God, in deliberately determining to save only some, is evil. If the determination is all of God, and he has deliberately determined to save some but not others, for no other reason than his ‘desire that it be so’, then he is a cruel, wicked and untrustworthy God. All claims of love, mercy and kindness are false and deliberately misleading.

        If, instead, as scripture can most readily be interpreted, God deemed it right to create human beings who actually can choose their own actions, even up to and including rejecting God’s will, then it is no contradiction to state that God both desires all men to be saved, and yet – because men have a say in the matter – all men are not saved.

        Any contradiction in the ‘will’ of God is manufactured by the faulty precepts of Calvinism. Scripture, properly defined, as above, does not create any contradiction. The sovereign Creator, who could indeed do whatever he chose – as long as it is feasible (i.e., non-contradictory) – chose to make creatures with the ability to believe or not believe in his offer of grace. He could, indeed, have made men who had no power of choice, giving him three possible options:

        1) Save all men
        2) Save no men
        3) Save some men

        Calvinism(Reformed Theology) asserts this complete ‘sovereign’ determination of whatsoever comes to pass, and that, as per option 3, God chose not to save all men. This means that he did not desire to save all men, as he most definitely could have with no contradiction to his choice to determine all things.

        Properly interpreted, scripture tells us that God desired to make man in his own image, which, unlike brute beasts, grants him the powers of reason, choice and creative action. Under this scenario God is left, by his own sovereign choice, with only one feasible possibility:

        Only those men who choose to believe in (trust in) his free offer of grace will be saved.

        There are no other possibilities. If men have freedom of choice, then God cannot determine their actions. This is the undeniable logic which Calvinism seeks desperately to avoid. They create all sorts of straw men and red herrings in an attempt to muddy the waters, but should a person ever cast off the man-made restraints of their philosophy, reason will quickly reveal that what they assert is not only illogical but impossible. It is not feasible for God to both determine all things and not determine all things. The indefensible claim that both are somehow mysteriously, incomprehensibly true under Compatibilism is simply a false claim.

        Perhaps the most telling quote I have ever read from a Calvinist was on this thread, quoting esteemed Calvinist Edwin Palmer:

        “He [the Calvinist] realizes that what he advocates is ridiculous … The Calvinist freely admits that his position is illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” However, “this secret matter belongs to the Lord our God, and we should leave it there. We ought not to probe into that secret counsel of God.”

        Palmer was wrong, but at least he was honest. Calvinist asserts the illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical and foolish claim that God both determines all things, and brings to pass ‘whatsoever comes to pass’ and yet man is somehow, inconceivably, responsible for the actions that were determined and made inevitable by God. These two, contradictory assertions are not feasible; that is, they can NEVER coexist, because they are opposite and contradictory. They are no more possible of God than tall, short people, dry, wet water or mortal, immortal men. Such contradictory states are not feasible, even by a sovereign God. Calvinists insists upon closing their eyes and covering their ears and shouting, ‘It is too so!’ despite all logic and reason, which, by the way, were given to men by God in able to be able to conceive what is truth, and comprehend as much of his nature as mere creatures can comprehend. Romans tells us that it is enough for us to know who God is and what he wants from us; only man’s deliberate rejection of the truth revealed to them leads to increasing wickedness and total depravity.

      8. TS00 writes, “Thus, God cannot create a world in which he determines all things and in which men freely determine their own actions at the same time. These are two contradictory realities. Either God determines all things, or he does not….Either God determines who will be saved, or men play a role.”

        It would be nice if you could present some argument for this position. Nothing prevents God determining all things and incorporating the free decisions of people in those determinations. We see this in the death of Christ. God determined that Christ should die but the means to bring this about involved the free decisions of the Jews and Pilate. God determined the choices of the Jews and Pilate by giving them free rein to do as they wanted – only restraining the Jews when they sought to kill (stone) Jesus before the appointed time..

      9. Rhutchin writes:
        ‘It would be nice if you could present some argument for this position.’ Perhaps he should reread the post. A and not-A cannot both be true at the same time in the same way. Basic logic, and it has been pointed out to Rhutchin countless times. Instead he offers up nonsense like:

        ‘God determined the choices . . . by giving them free rein to do as they wanted’ [determine their own choices].

        God determines choices by not determining choices? What sort of nonsense is that? My argument stands. If God determines all, God determines all. If man determines his own choices, God does not determine all. Very simple, but some simply do not want to face logical reality. They must hide behind Palmer’s admission as quoted before:

        ‘He [the Calvinist] realizes that what he advocates is ridiculous … The Calvinist freely admits that his position is illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” However, “this secret matter belongs to the Lord our God, and we should leave it there. We ought not to probe into that secret counsel of God.’

        Only Rhutchin refuses to acknowledge that his claims are illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical and foolish.

      10. TS00,
        No matter what you ever, ever say, he will always say…. why dont you present a position. Brian has explained John 6:44 at least 3 times and STILL gets the ‘ol “no one has ever explained it.”

      11. FOH writes, “Brian has explained John 6:44 at least 3 times and STILL gets the ‘ol “no one has ever explained it.””

        Let us remember that Brian appeals to some distributive principle to explain 6:44 but cannot explain how he thinks that works to support his position on the verse – even you cannot explain Brian’s reasoning on 6:44.

      12. Very funny… now it’s not just that I did not explain how 6:44 fits my view against determinism but that I “cannot explain” it. 😂😂😂

        For those new readers… here is some of my “explaining” again without getting into the weeds again how “unless the Father draws” is not logically a distributed premise.

        << And John 6:44 is not a gotcha verse if one recognizes that the one drawn is not logically guaranteed in that grammatical construction to either come or to be raised up just because he is drawn. Only the one drawn and who also comes is promised to be raised up. Even if "drag" is used here or in John 12:32… the meaning is only to drag to a location… There is no change made in the person just by being drawn. Once they are brought to the location or before the person, like Christ… they have to make a decision what to do next and how to respond to the options they have in that location or before that person!

        The same Greek word for "drawn" is used in the LXX in Neh 9:30… and that group of Israelites, though drawn by God to the opportunity to obey Him, did not do it. The Hebrew word for "drawn" used in Neh 9:30 is also used in Hos 11:4-5, which again is showing that Israel was “drawn” by God with love to Himself, but they refused Him. Paul recalls this kind of drawing with love, using the words of Isaiah where God said – “All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people” Rom 10:21. Does God only play act His love already knowing it will only be rejected? Not my God.

        Paul and Silas were "drawn" before the rulers of Philippi and then thrown into prison (Acts 16:19)… there they were free to either groan and complain or pray and sing! We know what they freely chose to do! I actually prefer the idea of "drag". God graciously "drags" us to a place of decision. We cannot escape that "grace", and we are responsible for how we freely respond to it… making us clearly without excuse at the final judgment of God!

      13. brianwagner writes, “here is some of my “explaining” again without getting into the weeds again how “unless the Father draws” is not logically a distributed premise.”

        So, we have two positions:
        1. The Calvinists – All whom God draws, Christ will raise.
        2. Brian – Some of whom God draws, Christ will raise.

        Then, Brain writes, “Even if “drag” is used here or in John 12:32… the meaning is only to drag to a location… There is no change made in the person just by being drawn.”

        If such were true, then the original condition – No one can come to me – has not changed either. If drawing affects no change in the person, then the person still cannot come to Christ. What, then, is the purpose of drawing? According to Brian, “Once they are brought to the location or before the person, like Christ… they have to make a decision what to do next and how to respond to the options they have in that location or before that person!” However, the universal negative expressed by Christ – No one can come to me – is not location dependent – Christ speaks this to people standing in front of Him whom He describes as being unable to come to Him. The universal negative – No one can come to me – is not true only for some locations and not others – it is true everywhere. Thus, it is necessary that God draw the person and that drawing must, at a minimum, grant the ability to the person to come to Christ.

        So, what has Brian explained. He puts forward the notion that all are drawn to Christ but only some come to Christ. Even this is not true. If we allow that being drawn to Christ only refers to God bringing a person within the hearing of the gospel, then we know that all are not drawn as there are many people in the world who never hear the gospel. Even in the US, there are people who have never heard the gospel through any means. So, Brian’s position becomes, “God draws some people to Christ (which is what the Calvinist says) and some, but not all, of those come to Christ.” This requires that God’s drawing affect no change in the person He draws. This is not an explanation, it is the corner one paints himself into trying to avoid Calvinist conclusions.

        Finally, Brian writes, “Does God only play act His love already knowing it will only be rejected? Not my God.”

        Let us remember John 3:16 – God so loved the world that He gave His son. For what reason – that those who believe would have eternal life. What about those who do not believe – Did God love them also with a love that led Him to send His son to die for them but not enough to actually save them. As Dave Hunt asked, “What Love is That?”

      14. Romans 10:18 NKJV — But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”

        John 1:9 NKJV — That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

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

      15. Romans 10:18;-21 NKJV —
        18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed:
        “Their sound has gone out to all the earth,
        And their words to the ends of the world.”
        19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says:
        “I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation,
        I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”
        20 But Isaiah is very bold and says:
        “I was found by those who did not seek Me;
        I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”
        21 But to Israel he says:
        “All day long I have stretched out My hands
        To a disobedient and contrary people.”

        So, all – both Jews and Gentiles – have heard. Yet who has believed? Not all – Of the Gentiles, “I was found by those who did not seek Me;I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” But of the Jews, “All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.”

        John 1:9-11 NKJV —
        9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
        10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
        11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

        Christ was the light but the world did not know Him. Only those born of God received Him.

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

        5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,…

      16. Roger… What is light from Jesus to each man if not knowledge? The world according to your definition is a whole… and not all individual persons… right? So as a whole the world did not recognize Him. But each individual is given sufficient light and do hear enough to be led to repentance… but not irresistibly.

        The verses I shared are clear. It is only you and others who read into those contexts the need for a theologically invented “regeneration” to vouchsafe that only the so-called predetermined elect hear and know God’s call which is truly universal and to every individual.

        Very sad and disrespectful to the mercy and justice of God imo! Take the last word in this interaction. I have no more to add.

      17. TS00 writes, “If man determines his own choices, God does not determine all.”

        That is not necessarily true. God can determine events through the free will choices of people. Isaiah 10 provides an example of this 9as has been cited before and ignored by you). You have expressed an opinion that you cannot prove to be true – and you haven’t even tried other than by piling opinion on top of opinion..

      18. Rhutchin writes:
        “That God creates a world in which some are lost tells us that it was God’s will that some be lost . . .”

        This is, of course, mere speculation. That God creates a world in which some are lost could be explained by many possibilities, some of which are:
        A) It was God’s will that some be lost.
        B) It was not God’s will that some be lost, but there are other powers in the world greater than him.
        C) It was not God’s will that some be lost, but he has schizophrenia, and forgot to save all.
        D) It was not God’s will that some be lost, and in the end, none will be lost.
        E)It was not God’s will that some be lost, but because it was also not his will to coerce people to do his will, man has the ability to choose to ‘be lost’.

        It is likely that one could add many other possible reasons for why God created a world in which (discounting Universalism) some are lost. It is simply absurd to assert that because something exists, God desired it to exist. Bill Matthews was much more logical in asserting that God is indeed limited by logical possibility.

        It is not possible to have genuine love without freedom of choice. It is not possible to have freedom of choice without having the possibility of choosing contrary to God’s will. Thus, as God judges that love is the greatest of all goods, he creates men with freedom of choice to reject his will. This would explain the existence of evil, and does not require a deterministic God who ordains all things, good and evil.

        It is either deceptive or overly simplistic to state that since God is sovereign, and evil exists, he must have desired evil to exist. Quite simply, in a genuine world, in which people have volition of action, the possibility of evil MUST exist. This does not, in and of itself, suggest whether or not God desires men to do evil. It is God’s own many statements that he does not desire anyone to do evil, that he did not ordain wickedness, nor did certain wicked deeds even enter his mind that informs us that God did indeed NOT desire for evil to exist.

      19. TS00
        Said like only TS00 can say it! Bravo!

        Yes, for true love to exist, for a personal relationship to exist, choice must exist.

        Will your good summary and the thousands of verses to back that up, we can easily, in good conscience, find alternative interpretations to the 40 verses that reformers use to blame all sin, torture, rape on God.

        Their whole premise is that God (“is love”) hated a huge part of humanity before they even existed. That’s not Good News by any stretch of the imagination.

      20. Much error has been promoted in so-called Christianity by relying on the admirable sounding words: ‘Scripture says’. What most need to be reminded is that what ‘scripture says’ did not arrive on a rock carved by the finger of God with a spokesman to explain it.

        We have words that were written in an entirely different language, translated by men with a particular world view, then interpreted by a man or men, also loyal to a particular worldview. From this multi-step process we arrive at the preposterous conclusion that we can know not only exactly what scripture ‘says’ but exactly what it means. My father’s favorite exclamation for such nonsense was ‘Baloney!’

        We must start with ‘This is a, hopefully, sincere attempt to accurately translate what is hopefully a relatively accurate representation of what the original author wrote.’ From that less than rock solid certainty we move to even less stable ground, as we must acknowledge that the real work begins when we attempt to grasp the meaning of the now multi-filtered words. Do the chosen words even give us a glimpse of what was trying to be expressed? At times, scholars suggest, ‘Not so well’. The rest of the time, honest men must admit that words can be taken in many ways, and we must honestly, open-mindedly grapple with the many possible meanings that can, have and might arise in the minds of men.

        What I am suggesting, for those who have perhaps dwelt within an institutional church setting in which a man or men assert that they have ‘done the work’ and arrived at all of the answers, which it is now their solemn duty to pass on to other, less capable men and women: This simply is not so. There are a very few sentences in scripture which can be asserted to have one and only one possible meaning. Nearly all, if not all, require the study of the rest of scripture to better assure oneself of their most likely intended meaning. This is not relativism, it is the simple truth that arriving at some measure of understanding of spiritual things much higher than our own minds, written in another language by men from another era living in an entirely different culture requires much diligence and, most of all, the continual instruction of the Spirit of God, provided to us for just such a purpose.

        Please do not discount your own ability to study and learn. Do not accept the pronouncements of any man or men, but take them into account and hold them up to other, often dissimilar pronouncements of other men. An honest teacher will acknowledge that different opinions exist, that temperate, humble, God-fearing men have believed vastly different things than what he personally believes about a particular verse or doctrine.

        It is this humility that is most lacking in the Institutional Church, in which, from its start, arrogant, cruel men have literally killed in order to have their preferred interpretations prevail. This should not be so.

      21. TS)) writes, “We must start with ‘This is a, hopefully, sincere attempt to accurately translate what is hopefully a relatively accurate representation of what the original author wrote.’”

        Most scholars who deal with the ancient manuscripts of the OT and NT would say that we have pretty much an accurate representation of what the original manuscripts said. No one says that major doctrine would be affected by any improvements to what we have. The translations of the OT and NT pretty much agree although there are disputed passages but even here. major doctrines are not impacted. Where people differ is in the understanding of the Scriptures and these differences result from how different people view context

      22. rhutchinwrote, ““That God creates a world in which some are lost tells us that it was God’s will that some be lost . . .”
        ts00 responded, “This is, of course, mere speculation.”

        But it is a Calvinist conclusion. If John dies of cancer when God could have healed him of cancer, then the conclusion is that it was God’s will – God’s decision – that John die of cancer. If it were not God’s will that John die of cancer, then God would have saved John. The Calvinist says that God’s will is reflected in God’s actions.

        Then, “That God creates a world in which some are lost could be explained by many possibilities, some of which are:
        A) It was God’s will that some be lost….”

        People don’t choose to be lost, people are born lost. People choose not to remedy their situation through the means provided by God.

        Then, “It is simply absurd to assert that because something exists, God desired it to exist.”

        Why is that absurd. Do not your actions express your will? Why should not God’s actions express His will.

        Then, “as God judges that love is the greatest of all goods, he creates men with freedom of choice to reject his will. This would explain the existence of evil,…

        This is what the Calvinists say.

        Then, “…and does not require a deterministic God who ordains all things, good and evil.”

        No, but where you have a God who is sovereign, then you have a God who ordains all things, good and evil. This is because God has the power to prevent any evil and when God does not prevent evil, God ordains evil.

        Then, “It is either deceptive or overly simplistic to state that since God is sovereign, and evil exists, he must have desired evil to exist.”

        You complain but do not argue against this. God has the power to prevent evil; if God does not prevent evil, then He desired it. If you could stop evil and you do not stop evil, then I can conclude that you desire that evil – and you can’t say, No. Actions speak louder than words.

      23. Rhutchin writes:

        “No, but where you have a God who is sovereign, then you have a God who ordains all things, good and evil. This is because God has the power to prevent any evil and when God does not prevent evil, God ordains evil.

        Then, “It is either deceptive or overly simplistic to state that since God is sovereign, and evil exists, he must have desired evil to exist.”

        You complain but do not argue against this. God has the power to prevent evil; if God does not prevent evil, then He desired it. If you could stop evil and you do not stop evil, then I can conclude that you desire that evil – and you can’t say, No. Actions speak louder than words.”

        Note what was ignored, and what by Calvinism is always ignored:

        Meaningful existence, in which men genuinely think, choose and act freely, requires the capability of said men to reject God’s will and do otherwise – which is the essence of evil. What blasphemy to say, instead, that God ‘ordained’ that rejection of his will which produced wickedness. Nay, that the very rejection of his will was his will!

        Ignore it all they will; assert, with absolutely no valid basis, that a sovereign God who has ultimate power and control must ordain and predetermine all that occurs in his created universe. Insisting that this is true does not make it true.

        As for the rest, who desire to know and understand who God is, what he has done and what he desires for us, we can rest assured that God neither ordains nor desires any wickedness, period. Indeed, his ultimate desire is, as Jesus prayed, that we will all seek his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven – and as it is not currently done on earth. Don’t let the Calvinist confuse you with his word games.

        God created free creatures, thus allowing them the possibility of what he would NEVER will or desire them to do, which is to reject, disobey and walk without him. This, my friends, is NOT his will, he did not predestine it for any creature, and he desires that all repent of this insurrection, be forgiven, restored and dwell with him as he most certainly desires and wills. Please don’t fall for the ‘If it exists, it must be God’s will’ ploy, for it is without merit, and only leads to hopelessness and despair. God’s will for you, and every person he has given the breath of life, is good and only good, and the ‘good news’ is that he has made this possible, if you will only believe it.

      24. TS00
        I am as pleased by your response as I am puzzled that you bothered.

        I thought you said you would no longer respond to his circular, illogical, unbiblical reasoning??

        Anyway, well done. True love/ relationship cannot exist without freedom. Freedom (love, personal relationship) means rejection/ sin is possible. It is God’s will that it be possible, but not His will that it happen.

        It is my will and strongest desire that my sons love me, obey me, and follow me. If I could, and did, make them love me, it would be neither love nor personal.

        One of the many reasons that God refers to Himself as our Father.

      25. Yeah, I guess I can’t resist poking a hole once in a while when I see a balloon full of hot air masquerading as the sun.

      26. ts00 writes, ‘Meaningful existence, in which men genuinely think, choose and act freely, requires the capability of said men to reject God’s will and do otherwise – which is the essence of evil. What blasphemy to say, instead, that God ‘ordained’ that rejection of his will which produced wickedness. Nay, that the very rejection of his will was his will!”

        God made man in His image to genuinely think, choose and act freely, with the capability of said men to reject God’s will and do otherwise. However, God is still able to overrule any evil that people may do. God could easily prevent any person from rejecting His will; when God does not prevent a person doing evil, then God has ordained that the person do the evil. What do you call it when God does not prevent evil that He is able to prevent?

        Then, “…a sovereign God who has ultimate power and control must ordain and predetermine all that occurs…”

        The argument is that ‘…a sovereign God who has ultimate power and control necessarily ordains and predetermine all that occurs…”

  13. DG asks, “Do you have a verse you can reference to prove this..”

    Just the standard argument and the verses cited. EK references two of those verses in the article. We also add Ephesians 1:11 and Romans 8:28.

    However, the argument can also be made on the meaning of “sovereign” and its application to God.

    1. DG,
      As you can see these are hardly the kind of verses you would be expecting.

      If one is to make the claim that before time God determined all things that will happen (without any chance of altering the course of even “the slightest dust particle” as they say)…. including, all sin, torture, rape etc…. you would think there would be a clearer verse.

      “…who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…”

      This phrases could just as easily mean that it was His will to allow men to interact with Him, make choices, refuse Him, follow Him, etc.

      But no….. somehow that verse and their presupposed Greek-philosophy definition of “sovereignty” allow them to set up a position that the God who “is love” determined before time to tease and torment people.

      This concept…. that He determined all outcomes, sins, tortures, etc while pretending to invite all (MacArthur and Piper say the invitation really is to all, but He just does not allow some to make it) would be considered barbaric in any human setting. Yet the God who is love, who created man in His image, who tells us to love our enemies…. determined it this way.

      Good News!

      1. FOH,

        Yes, it’s the old Calvinist “all things” when it suits them trick.

        “But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples” Mark 4:34.
        Because Jesus expounded “all things”, does that mean that he told them absolutely everything there is to know? Like how to perform an open heart bi-pass surgery and thing like that? No.

        “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” Mark 9:23.
        Because Jesus said “all things” are possible to him that believes, does that mean a believer can do absolutely everything? Like grow wings and fly? No! Not even Calvinists would say that.

        “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Corinthians 6:12.
        Because Paul said that “all things” are lawful for him, does that include absolutely everything? Like Satan worship or eating children and that sort of thing? No! Not even Calvinists would say that.

        It is clear when “all things” is written in the bible it pertains to the context and subject being discussed. All things” doesn’t always mean all things, as in everything.

        “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:”
        ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:11‬.
        Because Paul says God worketh “all things” after the counsel of his own will, does that include rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice and sort of thing? No………but for same strange reason YES! If you are a Calvinist!

      2. DG,
        Great example.

        That would also take care of young Jose’s go-to verse that we can do “nothing apart from Christ.”

        The same that is true for “all things” is true for “no thing.”

        The same can be said for his “Jacob have I loved and Esau hated” —- since Christ tells us we have to “hate” our parents.

        ((Besides Romans is talking about the difference between Israel and others there)).

        It is stunning….. and I mean mind-blowing to think of how much Calvinists want us to be literal (“all things” “nothing” “hate”) when it suits them (and matches their other 37 verses), but not when it matches the rest of the tenor of the Bible.

      3. FOH writes, “mind-blowing to think of how much Calvinists want us to be literal (“all things” “nothing” “hate”) when it suits them (and matches their other 37 verses), but not when it matches the rest of the tenor of the Bible.”

        So, is this distortion purposeful?

      4. DG writes, “It is clear when “all things” is written in the bible it pertains to the context and subject being discussed. ”

        That is the point consistently made by Calvinists and often rejected by non-Calvinists.

        Then, ‘Because Paul says God worketh “all things” after the counsel of his own will, does that include rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice and sort of thing? No………but for same strange reason YES! If you are a Calvinist! ”

        We also have Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Believers are raped and murdered, so are these included in the “all things” God is working for good? Again the Calvinist says, Yes. DG says, no.

        So we ask, Can God prevent rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice and every sort of thing? The Calvinist says, yes. DG appears to be saying, No.

      5. Rhutchin writes,

        “So we ask, Can God prevent rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice and every sort of thing? The Calvinist says, yes. DG appears to be saying, No.”

        Rhutchin, are you saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, that He predetermined to come to pass in every detail before the world began? Is God preventing the very things He ordained to unchangeably come to pass?

        Calvinists such as Rhutchin say Yes & No……..depending on which side of the mouth they wants to speak out of. You know…..I want my cake and eat it type of thing.

      6. DG asks “Rhutchin, are you saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, that He predetermined to come to pass in every detail before the world began?”

        I am saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, and He predetermines these things by not stopping them when He has the power to do so. The timing of God’s decision has no influence on this issue.

        So, we still seem to have DG saying that God cannot prevent rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing. DG takes a position against God.

      7. Rhutchin writes,

        “I am saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, and He predetermines these things by not stopping them when He has the power to do so. The timing of God’s decision has no influence on this issue.”

        Notice Rhutchin’s self defeating argument –
        “He predetermines these things by not stopping them”

        He then tries to sneak in a little escape and says –
        “The timing of God’s decision has no influence on this issue”

        Well, it actually does according to Calvinism. According to Calvinism God predetermined everything that comes to pass, to come to pass before the world began for unknown reasons, and rendered it unchangeable.

        So God doesn’t use His power to stop the evil He predetermined to meticulously come to pass; that same evil that he predetermined to the finest detail for His own glory that cannot be changed.

        I mean, why would He? That’d be just silly wouldn’t it?

      8. Great comment! Rhutchin’s constant escape hatch of ‘God chose not to prevent’ certain things is a mere nonsensical impossibility. If God has already ordained ‘whatsoever’ has and ever will come to pass, there is nothing further to ’cause’ or ‘prevent’. Only an illusory, ineffectual ‘will’ of man, which obviously cannot resist the predetermined will of the Sovereign Creator and ordainer of all things. Why would Calvinism invent such a nonsensical, illusory will that has no logical meaning or purpose? Because they have to have some reason for God punishing men, who, otherwise, are merely doing what God irresistibly ordained. They are desperately trying to create a plausible excuse for the cruel injustice of their manufactured deity.

        Thus, they make up a nonsensical world in which God irresistibly determines ALL things, yet man has an illusory, ineffectual (and apparently irresistibly determined) will to do otherwise. God has ordained all things in eternity past, yet each man is supposedly responsible for doing the very evil God determined before he came into existence. It is both preposterous and logically impossible, like an emaciated fat cat or a loud mute. It is both! Cue up ‘The Candy Man’ so our minds become open to a made-up world of sugary clouds and candy flowers!

        If indeed God predetermines (and not merely foreknows) all things, then there is NOTHING EVER to prevent! His will is done on earth, just as it is in heaven. The evil that Jesus instructs us to pray for deliverance from, comes from God’s own hand. It is all a scam! God pretends to offer us deliverance from things he irresistibly determined to occur eons ago! Yet, somehow the Calvinist mind controls the pliant believer into turning off his or her power of logic and reason, allowing him to accept whatever the theology asserts to be true. For you see, when you turn off your mind, and do not apply your God-given power of logic and reason, you are no longer fully human, and you can be persuaded that literally anything is possible. The person is persuaded to take the word of the Calvinist ‘on faith’ – to believe what is literally, logically impossible because they have put their faith in a set of traditions crafted by men. This is how deluded cult members are persuaded to think, believe and do what anyone with a sound, functioning mind would consider to be unreasonable, or even unthinkable.

      9. TS00
        You of course are right about your ’emaciated fat cat’ idea. But you are just a ‘loud mute’ shouting it to them. The rest of us can hear you, but they cannot.

        It is a comfortable world (not biblical—-but you can turn a few half-verses to get by) where they get to have their cake and eat it too: God (they get to stay “really Sovereign”) calls all the shots from before time (literally robots to any person who thinks about it), yet man is responsible for all his choices and even encouraged to make right / wrong ones (help those kids with their homework to improve their future!!).

        It makes no sense. It has been illustrated many times the disconnect between theology and they way they live their lives (what we do matters(!) and we can improve/ change our future).

        But worse, it does not in any way resemble the story of the Bible —- or myriad books that are written by them (“Don’t Waste Your Life!”). It just simply is not a way of living or Good News!

      10. Rhutchin writes:

        “Howe discussed the July 4, 1995 incident where Tom Chantry punched 12-year-old Victim 5 in the face, knocking him to the ground. Chantry had only been at the church for a short time and was still in “interim” status. Rich Howe testified that he did not witness the actual punch to the face.

        Susan Eazer asked Howe if there were concerns or discussions about Chantry’s behavior. Howe said there was, and they had talked to Tom, but at the end of the day, they decided to forgive Tom and move on.”

        Same ol’ error – God CANNOT meticulously control the actions of men he granted the gift of a free will and the right to use it. Just as God CANNOT do evil. Of course, as far as power and ability, he COULD do either, but God is good, honest, faithful, true, just, etc., and will never break the ‘covenant’ he made with created beings when he created them in his image with the power of thought, reason and autonomous choice. Unless they ask him to, grant him permission to, pray for his supernatural interference in their lives to make them new persons, give them new hearts and instill his very Spirit within them.

        It is as if Calvinists read an entirely different bible and live entirely different lives in an entirely different world than the rest of mankind. Were I to live in their world, I would curse God and die – believing, of course, that it was foreordained for me to do so.

        In the real world – and this is part of the good news – men always have a second chance, unless and until they have so long resisted the voice of God that they can no longer even hear it. Yes, men can become so dead in sin that they cannot hear or see God, but it is the result of their own choices, not the lack of God’s love for them. But back to the rest, who sincerely desire a better world, a life worth living, peace on earth, or however the desire for goodness manifests itself in their minds, there exists a Way out, and that Way is Jesus.

        Even a condemned murderer, hanging on a cross, has hope of forgiveness. And every desperate man, hopeless woman or frightened child has that very same hope. By believing that God is good, that the evil in the world is not his doing, and that he offers them a Way out, they can indeed find forgiveness, new life and hope.

        This does not exist in Calvinism. Hope is for a select few. Forgiveness is for only the limited number Jesus chose to die for, when he could just as easily have atoned for all. Life everlasting, with no more sin, sorrow or death is the hope of only a predetermined few, while to the rest, God, the Creator or all things, says to all others ‘Go to hell, for which I made you’. Ya wanna live in that world – it’s all yours.

      11. Oops, my quoted text was from another document. Sorry for the confusion. It should have read:

        “DG asks “Rhutchin, are you saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, that He predetermined to come to pass in every detail before the world began?”

        I am saying that God can prevent the rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing, and He predetermines these things by not stopping them when He has the power to do so. The timing of God’s decision has no influence on this issue.

        So, we still seem to have DG saying that God cannot prevent rape, murder, Satan worship, child sacrifice, and that sort of thing. DG takes a position against God.”

        (And don’t know why my page was not refreshing and showing my comments?)

  14. Here’s an interesting fact.

    The phrase “will of God” is found in the KJV bible in 23 verses. Every single one of these verses speak about the will of God in a singular sense.
    This alone should settle the matter!

    For example, Mark 3:35 Jesus says, “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.”

    If God has “two wills” or more as the Calvinists assume, and nothing can go against the “will of decree” as the Calvinists’ say; then the liar, the thief, the murderer, the adulterer, the same then is God’s brother, and his sister, and his mother; because as according to John Piper the fact that these things happen, is then assumed that God has a separate ‘will of decree’ that wanted these things to come to pass.

    Not once in the bible is the “will of God” spoken about in the plural, and especially a plural sense that would contradict itself.

    1. What can be more heinous than to assign the blame for man’s wickedness upon the ‘will of God’ rather than to it’s genuine cause – man’s rebellion against the will of God? In exchange for the freedom to sin without fear, or ‘sin boldly’ as Luther would put it, the Reformed folk sacrifice the unchallengable goodness and trustworthiness of God. They assign to him the blame for the very evil he so hates and has sacrificed to overcome.

      1. TS00,
        If you come to the Bible with the presupposition that “sovereignty” means what the Greek philosophers say it means…. and not what the Bible says (the way God portrays Himself: “I the Sovereign Lord say…..”) then you can blame anything on God.

      2. ts)) writes, “What can be more heinous than to assign the blame for man’s wickedness upon the ‘will of God’ rather than to it’s genuine cause – man’s rebellion ”

        Just because God willed the death of Christ does not make God the cause of Christ’s death or absolve man of the blame for His death. No one else is confused on this point, so why should you be confused.

    2. Actually Damon, a closer look will reveal that there are at least two or more “divine wills” only because of the different meanings that the word “will” has in English and how that one word is used for translating two or more different Greek words. In English we can use the word “will” to mean desire, purpose, plan, injunction (command), and promise. Greek has different words for each of these, and usually it is only the words meaning to desire (thelo) and to plan (boulomai) that are translated “will”. But God has both kinds!

    3. DG writes, “Not once in the bible is the “will of God” spoken about in the plural, and especially a plural sense that would contradict itself.”

      So, was it the will of God that Stephen be stoned to death or that Christ be crucified or that Adam eat the fruit?

      1. Rhutchin asks,

        “So, was it the will of God that Stephen be stoned to death or that Christ be crucified or that Adam eat the fruit?”

        Why would this be hard to answer?

        No it wasn’t God’s will that Stephen be stoned to death.

        Christ willingly went to the cross. He laid down his own life for the sins of the whole world.

        No it wasn’t God’s will that Adam ate the fruit. God actually warned him not to.

        Easy to answer if you are not a Calvinist.

      2. DG,
        Agreed that those are easy to answer. Why overthink it?

        God told Adam not to. It was not His will.

        A better one is Cain in Genesis 4:7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

        God wanted him to bring the right sacrifice.

        God wanted him to rule over sin. Only Calvinists can tell you that God determined/ willed him to sin when telling him you must rule over.

      3. FOH,

        Yes it’s the old Calvinist double speak.

        God had “two wills” for Cain. One that he would obey and another that determined that he wouldn’t obey.

        God had one of his “two loves” for Cain. The one that gave him sunshine and rain, but not the other love that ever wanted him to repent and be saved.

        God had “two truths” for Cain. One that he will be punished and be held responsible for not obeying. The other that God determined that he never would obey from before he was born for unknown reasons.

        God used one of his “two calls” to salvation for Cain, being the general call that doesn’t really call anybody because it is not the “effectual call”.

        Cain would have looked at the Calvinist archway that says on the front “whosever ever believes shall be saved” but on the back would have be written “you were never chosen to be saved from before you were born for secret reasons”

      4. DG writes, “God had “two wills” for Cain. One that he would obey and another that determined that he wouldn’t obey.”

        Why must non-Calvinists continually distort the Calvinist position?? God willed that Cain have the freedom to do as he wanted and God willed to let Cain do what he wanted without interference from Him. Cain determined that he would not obey; God determined that Cain be free to disobey – given that God could have prevented Cain from killing Abel (which even DG does not deny), we can conclude that God determined Cain’s disobedience by failing to prevent it.

      5. Rhutchin writes,

        “God willed to let Cain do what he wanted without interference from Him”

        Not according to Calvinism. God didn’t “let” Cain do anything. According to Calvinism it was predetermined that Cain would do this evil for God’s own glory, right down to the finest detail. Cain just meticulously did the secret will of God and couldn’t have done otherwise according to Calvinism. It was determined unchangeable before the the work began for unknown reasons.

        Oh! but you just don’t understand Calvinism!

      6. DG writes, “According to Calvinism it was predetermined that Cain would do this evil for God’s own glory, right down to the finest detail.”

        God had predetermined – decided – to give Cain freedom to do as he wanted without God restraining him. God would not have done this if it were not for His glory. Remember Joseph and his brothers, “…as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis 50)

        Then, “Cain just meticulously did the secret will of God and couldn’t have done otherwise according to Calvinism.’

        Yes, Cain was a slave to sin and could only seek a selfish end to his desires. As you note, God had perfect knowledge of all future events and knew exactly what Cain would do. It was God’s plan – God gave Cain life; sustained Cain; God gave Cain freedom to kill Able.

      7. DG,
        Nice try but there is no way to get them to hear logic or biblical sense here.

        We are told “Yes, Cain was a slave to sin and could only seek a selfish end to his desires,” (so therefore he sinned— could “only sin”). Never mind that he no doubt did some good acts in his life. Never mind that Abel was in the same situation and yet “by faith” ” brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings.”

        Could “only sin” my eye!

        It goes on that… “by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Which in my understanding means he speaks to all of us — Have faith!!! dont do like Cain.

        But no. In the Calvinist system, he doesn’t speak at all. Cuz you get faith or your dont…. so no lesson to learn from Abel.

      8. Rhutchin writes,

        “Yes, Cain was a slave to sin and could only seek a selfish end to his desires.”

        Notice Rhutchin say “his desires” as if they were Cain’s desires.
        Cain was only fulfilling God’s desire according to Calvinism. According to Calvinism Cain’s thoughts and actions were meticulously predetermined by God before he was born by the secret decree.
        What He did was the desire of God because what He did brings Glory to God according to Calvinism.

        Rhutchin even says –
        ” God gave Cain freedom to kill Able” as if Cain was free to do otherwise; when Calvinism says all things that come to pass, come to pass by God’s secret decree that decreed it unchangeable before the world began.

        The Calvinist will always try and blame the sinner for the sin God meticulously desired and predetermined them to do. Even “as if” it was the sinners desire.

        When a Calvinist such as this uses words like “free”. He doesn’t actually mean free like anyone else would.

        Cain free to kill able? – No God determined to kill able using Cains…… ‘wink wink’ 😉 “freedom”

      9. DG writes, “Cain was only fulfilling God’s desire according to Calvinism. According to Calvinism Cain’s thoughts and actions were meticulously predetermined by God before he was born by the secret decree.”

        Cain was responsible for his own personal desires. Cain, because of Adam’s sin, was born with a corrupted nature and without faith. He was a self-determining person who chose freely to kill his brother. God knew hat was going through Cain’s mind and God could have acted to redirect Cain’s thoughts (God’s decisions were made in eternity past). God predetermined that people would be free to sin and then God would use that sin to His glory. We see this in the sin of Joseph’s brothers to sell Joseph to the slave traders and in the crucifixion of Christ by the Romans. That God has predetermined all things results from His sovereignty over His creation together with His omnipotence and omniscience. DG never tries to argue against God – How could he? – preferring instead to complain about the Calvinist but never able to argue against them either.

        Then, “The Calvinist will always try and blame the sinner for the sin God meticulously desired and predetermined them to do.”

        What is the issue here? God does not force people to sin; God is still sovereign over people. People are rightly blamed for their sin because they choose freely to sin. DG’s complaint is that God knows that people want to sin and determined the final outcome by not stopping people as they sinned. Forget the Calvinists; DG has a lot of issues in the way God is ruling His creation.

        Then, “When a Calvinist such as this uses words like “free”. He doesn’t actually mean free like anyone else would. ”

        So, explain the difference – if there really is one.

        Then, “Cain free to kill able? – No God determined to kill able using Cains”

        DG doesn’t like what God has done.

      10. You said – “DG doesn’t like what God has done.” Careful Roger not to dogmatically or sarcastically attribute false or wrong motives or feelings to others that you cannot prove! You might express a question about motives and feelings, but sometimes even that can be seen as fleshly. I know… I have done it! 😉

      11. brianwagner writes, “Careful Roger not to dogmatically or sarcastically attribute false or wrong motives or feelings…”

        Like many commenters, DG makes comments about Calvinism’s interpretation the Scriptures regarding God. However, he can silent on his personal position leaving the reader to read his mind. If I have misread DG’s mind, he can correct the record. So far, he has not, so I think I am on the right track. I don’t use sarcasm.

      12. Roger – Then you should have said – “DG doesn’t like what Calvinists teach what God has done.” Do you see the difference? How would you interpret – “Roger doesn’t like what God has done”? Would you see that as a prejudiced judgment on your motives and feelings?

      13. Brian,
        You are so kind to figure this out for us!

        Now that RH tells us that he does not use sarcasm I realize all those times that he said I was “sleeping in class” or only “pretending to be (lying about being) a former Calvinist” it is because he was in the back of the room watching me sleep! This just in….. it must have been someone else he saw!

      14. brianwagner writes, ‘Would you see that as a prejudiced judgment on your motives and feelings?”

        It’s called reading the person’s mind. Personalize to incite a response. People do that to me all the time, don’t they?

      15. Well… if they do, Roger, my evaluation is the same, which I hope you will eventually agree with… it’s a “prejudiced judgment” and not welcome here on this site. I’m going to try to do better at deleting such comments that denigrate a person’s feelings or motives. Asking questions about feelings or motives, of course is ok.

      16. brianwagner writes, “t’s a “prejudiced judgment” and not welcome here on this site.”

        If a person puts forth is a “prejudicial judgement,” then does that not expose the shallowness of someone’s argument? If one person is not able to argue his point but only offers personal opinion, has he not opened himself up to “prejudicial judgment” of those opinions. One may easily respond to “prejudicial judgments” by just being open about what he believes. You easily state your open future philosophy. Why are others seemingly afraid to be as open with regard to their philosophies?

      17. We all make prejudiced judgments Roger. 😊 The ones against a person’s motives or feelings as ad hominem or provocation are the ones banned.

        Graciously edifying explanation is welcome. But if someone does not respond after awhile, I recommend just praying for them and posting comments you deem helpful but not directed at them or addressing them in the comment.

      18. Rhutchin writes,

        “God knew what was going through Cain’s mind and God could have acted to redirect Cain’s thoughts”

        What Rhutchin fails to tell is that according to Calvinism it was God who implanted the very thoughts of Cains mind in such a way that he couldn’t have thought any differently.

        So, of course God “could” have have acted to redirect Cain’s thoughts……….but then again that would just be silly wouldn’t it? Because implanted the very thoughts that would have redirected. Very silly Rhutchin.

      19. Getting late, 😴 sorry about missing words at the end of my last statement. I meant to say-
        …but then again that would just be silly wouldn’t it? Because God implanted the very thoughts that He would have been redirecting. Very silly Rhutchin.

      20. The funny thing is, Rhutchin actually comes close to the way God actually works. His error is in asserting an extra-biblical assumption that is not only logically impossibly but which renders God cruel, hateful, deceitful, disingenuous, untrustworthy, and so on.

        God has created men with a feww will, who have the power of reason and the freedom to choose their own actions, or follow their own desires, ven when they are opposed o God’s will. And, truly, God foreknows that these things will happen. This is the world as most people undersand it. We know that an all-powerful deity created us with an amazing ability to be like him, to think, reason and create. The serpent suggested, for the first time, that not only could man resist God’s will, but that he would be better off for doing so. That was the lie, and it is one men continue to embrace.

        Satan is always selling the ‘You can have your cake and eat it too’ myth. This myth appealed to Adam, who chose to believe he could disobey, which God warned would result in death, and yet live. Augustine, with a long history of sexual promiscuity, bought into a myth that would let him have his sex and be a man of God too – blame it on God!

        Calvin and friends polished this myth into its current finesse. Sin boldly! God doesn’t see the sin of his ‘elect’, so nothing you ever do can separate you from God! (That’s called a distortion of scripture’s assurance of God’s faithfulness.) If God is the sole mover, planning, designing, ordaining and bringing to pass whatsoever comes to pass, then even our sin brings him glory! (Paul addresses this license to sin as well, but Calvinists appear to ignore it.)

        It reminds me of the outlaw in Silverado, who somehow managed to get himself appointed sheriff. It doesn’t get any sweeter than that – a license to sin, and no one to stop you. That is Calvinism in a nutshell. If God is meticulously arranging and controlling all things, we have no need to concern ourselves with the sin and evil we do. God obviously planned it to bring himself glory, and we sure wouldn’t want to rob him of any glory, now would we?

        So, by taking a few pieces of verses, and distorting their meaning, Augustine’s protege concocted an entire systematic theology, complete with proof texts, that makes God the author of evil. That worked out when the people were mostly uneducated, and did not have scriptures that they could study on their own. It also helped that Calvin could expunge or murder anyone who dared disagree with him. But lo and behold, Godly men even then questioned, and even dared to laugh at, his ridiculous, inconsistent doctrines that made God responsible for the very evil he promised to punish and destroy! Such men had to run for their lives, and many of them ended up on the wrong side of the flames, or other torture devices.

        Now, as then, rational men laugh at the obvious inconsistencies and logical fallacies still inherent to Calvin’s systematic. Much as we all might like to, you simply cannot have your cake and eat it too. Either God chooses evil to exist by controlling men via his deterministic will, or men cause it to exist by freely resisting his expressed will. It simply cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be both. And yet the loyal Calvinist blathers on, blithely insisting that both are true, and, like Servetus, thinking men and women laugh at the absurdity of it all. We can be thankful we do not, so far, end up tied to a stake with smoking green wood at our feet.

      21. ts00 writes, “Either God chooses evil to exist by controlling men via his deterministic will, or men cause it to exist by freely resisting his expressed will. It simply cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be both. And yet the loyal Calvinist blathers on, blithely insisting that both are true,…”

        If ts00 could not distort Calvinism, what would he do? Even the Calvinists agree that people are self-determining beings able to think and make decisions. God has given people the freedom of will to do as God commands or go off and do their own thing. Such is what Calvinism teaches – the Westminster confession says it this way, “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” What the Confession states is that God uses the actions of sinful people to accomplish His plan. We see this in the account of Joseph and his brothers, the Assyrians in Isaiah 10, and the crucifixion of Christ.

      22. Everyone,

        Hutch said: “Even the Calvinists agree that people are self-determining beings able to think and make decisions. ”

        Can we all just, finally, stop taking him seriously now?

      23. Eric,
        Thanks. We dont take him too seriously. Sometimes I think he is just here to rile people up, saying one thing one day and the exact opposite the next.

        We have learned from him that man is “free to choose” —and he will always choose sin. That leaves us no way to interpret most of the Bible.

        Heb. 11:4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

        Genesis 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
        ————-
        Automatically the Calvinist has to read-into and superimpose strong presuppositions. God (irresistibly gave faith to and) made Abel do well, and God warned, even instructed, Cain—- but never intended to give him any ability to overcome sin (mocking him).

        Calvinism renders any message of the Word impossible to understand (how does Abel still speak to us?). The only time it sounds like they are making sense is when they wander over into talking like non-Calvinists…. which they do all the time!

      24. FOH writes, “We have learned from him that man is “free to choose” —and he will always choose sin. That leaves us no way to interpret most of the Bible.”

        This from the man who “claims” to have been a Calvinist. How is it possible that he makes statements like this? The Calvinist points to Elijah’s experience and God’s response to him, ““I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” From this Paul, says, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.” So, are we left with no way to interpret the Bible as FOH claims? Perhaps, we can follow the lead of the Scriptures and attribute faith to God’s grace and that God has reserved to Himself those whom He chooses – many identified in Hebrews 11.

        Then, ’”…he Calvinist has to read-into and superimpose strong presuppositions.”

        Those suppositions being that Adam’s sin resulted in a corrupted nature then inherited by his progeny together with the loss of faith. Paul tells us plainly in 2 Thessalonians 3, “not all have faith.”

        Then, “God (irresistibly gave faith to and) made Abel do well,…”

        If God is not the source of faith, then who is?

        Then, “and God warned, even instructed, Cain—- but never intended to give him any ability to overcome sin (mocking him).”

        The warning was sufficient was it not?

      25. EK writes, “Hutch said: “Even the Calvinists agree that people are self-determining beings able to think and make decisions. ”
        Can we all just, finally, stop taking him seriously now? ”

        Now, that is sarcasm. But not very effective. That people are self-determining beings is clearly expressed in the Westminster Confession – I even quoted it to show such to be the case. Then, one can read Jonathan Edwards’ treatment of free will and see it there. Edwards, of course, is viewed by many as a Calvinist.

      26. TS00,
        You said that many are seeing through this new, inconsistent Calvinism, but many are also joining the wave. Of course they are all (ALL!) claiming to have found it in the Scriptures all by themselves, but the truth is in them using the same 40 verses and words like “necessarily” “thwart” “effectual grace” … and “semi-pelagian”. Yes…. they are taught in this….. but like to think they found it themselves.

        But I have also made the point that many are joining because they feel that it is either Calvinism or X Y Z. They (rightly or wrongly) feel the need to stand against ideas such as Pentecostalism, the Faith movement, Open Theology, Conditional immortality, Universalism, the Emerging church, etc.

        The only “safe” place for them is in the traditions of the reformers. You can hear this when they talk. Within minutes they will accuse any person that does not follow them as one or more of the above. Straw-man, brow-beating tactics. They win over the young (mostly) guys who want to honor God and give Him glory and “not get sucked into some tangent.”

      27. DG writes, ‘…according to Calvinism it was God who implanted the very thoughts of Cains mind in such a way that he couldn’t have thought any differently.”

        This is not true. Why do non-Calvinists have to distort the Calvinist position?? Is it because, they cannot argue against Calvinism and have to create something that they can malign more easily?

      28. DG,
        You are correct. The Reformed/ Calvinist/ Determinist position is that “every dust particle” since before time has been planned by God. But when we remind them of this fact and try to see how it does/ does not fit the biblical narrative, we are told that we are distorting their position.

        It just never ends.

      29. FOH writes, ‘The Reformed/ Calvinist/ Determinist position is that “every dust particle” since before time has been planned by God.”

        If God has not planned it, then who has planned it? Who is sovereign if not God? Where does this fail to fit the Biblical narrative?

      30. Really Rhutchin? Well let’s just Calvin to spell it out for you –

        “We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

        “thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which he has resolved to inflict.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 5)

        Oh! But you just don’t understand Calvinism!

      31. DG,
        Let’s hear Spurgeon on the matter..

        “I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes – that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens – that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses. The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence – the fall of leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche. He who believes in God must believe this truth. There is no standing point between this and Atheism. There is no halfway between an Almighty God, who works all things according to the good pleasure of his will, and no God at all!” Charles Spurgeon
        ———-

        I mean, doesn’t everyone want to elevate our Glorious King?

        But of course the bottom line of this means that we are robots and God ordained/planned/willed/ decreed all sin. Notice also, that Spurgeon has no room for any other position. His way or Atheism. Period. Is this how Calvin strong armed the masses in Geneva? (methinks)

        I would rather stick with what it appears the Bible teaches. God worked “all things according to the good pleasure of His will” and created the world with the possibility of sin, possibility of resisting sin, and the possibility of personal relationship (robots are not personal).

        No matter….. Spurgeon did not live or preach like he thought this was true. But it does sound good!!

      32. FOH,

        Good point. I have never come across a Calvinist that preaches exactly what he believes or believes exactly what he preaches, which ever way you want to look at it.

        If it’s all fixed. What’s the point of preaching? If it’s all fixed what is there to believe in? If it’s all fixed – it’s all fixed. And if anyone thinks otherwise, it’s because that decision was fixed. So why does the Calvinist try to convince? What is there to convince? It’s all fixed!

        Words in the bible like “persuade” “come” “let” “turn” “foresake” “trust” “believe” “judgement” “rebuke” ……..all loose any legitimacy, and the list could go on an on.

      33. DG,

        That list of words does go on and on!

        Their answer would be they do things “because we are commanded to do it.” For prayer they say, “We pray for what God has promised.”

        Well that works if you are praying, “Lord give me patience.” But not so much if you pray for safety on the road or that your child does X Y Z. Those things are just not “promised” things.

        And as for the “because we are commanded to” that is baloney too. We are commanded to love and train our children. But every man (even a Calvinist) lives his life with the idea that the more time spent with our kids, the more time helping them with their homework, etc increases the possibility of their good future. Even Calvinist counselors and authors drive that home again and again.

        So… relax everyone. People may call themselves Calvinist-Determinists, but they still live like what they do matters. And it does!

      34. FOH,

        Even that statement “because we are commanded to” becomes void. The very word “commanded” loses all of its meaning and legitimacy in a fixed world.
        There is nothing to “command” if it’s all fixed.
        A “commandment” becomes absolutely hollow.

      35. Dg,
        True the word command loses all meaning….especially since we can do or not do it???

        The dead-to-sin sinning Christian can choose to obey a command or not. Not easy to squeeze all those variables into a determinist philosophy. But who wants to anyway?!

      36. FOH,

        Yes, it would be a lot easier to blame our sin on fixed dust particles (as the atheist is trying to do mind you) but somehow I don’t think God is going to buy that!

        Obviously it’s not as fixed as the Calvinist would like and even they cannot escape that fact.

      37. DG writes, “The very word “commanded” loses all of its meaning and legitimacy in a fixed world.”

        God’s commandments separate the elect from the reprobate. Everyone knows exactly where they stand with God and no one will have any basis to stand before God and complain – if a person has a complaint, now is the time to complain.

      38. DG,
        We are told God’s commandments, “separate the elect from the reprobate,” meaning that when God says “be patient” He is talking to His people. Of course (we are told) of course the reprobate cannot be patient, be kind, love his neighbor, live sacrificially, etc. He can only do evil. And if he does good, it is only out of selfish desires.

        Not only do Calvinists have a “problem with evil” (claiming that God has ordained/ decreed/ desired all our evil acts), but they have “problem with good.”

        Surely any good act by “the reprobate” (who were created only to be destroyed and to contrast God’s grace show to the elect) is impossible to explain. “Mystery” will be the first word and then….. “they do it out of selfish intent” will be the next.

        But all of us know some who have passed away without Christ (“the reprobate”) who were also very kind, good people.

      39. Prayer is a huge problem for Calvinists. I once heard a young, newly Calvinist pastor preach the most confused, contradictory sermon, as he struggled to somehow make sense of prayer. You could literally see the angst, and the confusion, as he sought to impress on his small group of followers that not ‘everything’ was totally determined, and that prayer really mattered, then rushed to assure them that he was not abandoning Calvinism. He was just performing the contradictions necessary to clinging to the theology of Calvinism while trying to convince oneself that life actually had genuine purposefulness and meaning.

        A woman posting on another site mentioned that she had lost an adult son to alcoholism. One can only imagine the agony, and the many tearful prayers. What I cannot imagine is believing that the alcoholism, suffering and early death of one’s beloved child had all been predetermined and irresistibly decreed by God, rather than tragic choices made against God’s loving will.

        If you have lived through such real tragedies you realize that there is a vast distinction between a God who respects the freedom he created mankind to have and use, and a tyrannical dictator who concocts evil to destroy people who are helpless to do other than as he dictates. The former desires, as he expressed to Cain, that we choose wisely, but respects his own decision to give us a power of choice. The latter, under Calvinism, came up with a plan to create evil in order to ‘glorify’ himself by overcoming it. Without the slightest concern for the helpless souls who are hurt and destroyed by his evil plans ordained for men to pursue.

        Ol’ Rhutchin and his comrades can rock back and forth inconsistently between God determining all things and man choosing his own desires all they want, but the thinking person sees the implausibility of both being true. It is only if you turn off that thinking mind God gave you, and bow to the ‘authority’ of the traditions of men and those who teach them, that you can come to hold irreconcilable beliefs, without ever facing their contradictions. I know many, many people who refuse to face that cognitive dissonance, and unblushingly hold to illogical, contradictory beliefs, without grasping how silly they seem to people who reason and think.

        Refusing to do the hard thinking (some are unable), such persons chalk the logical fallacies all up to ‘mystery’. It is indeed a mystery how two irreconcilable, contradictory truths can coexist, how God can both meticulously predetermine every thought, word and action and yet man can freely choose to follow his own ‘desires’. (Hint: God uses sneaky, secretive ‘secondary means’ to make us think we freely choose, when in reality, we are simply doing what he has ‘ordained’ us to do!) Were they able, and God had a different ‘logic’ than he granted to men, we would be helpless to understand or make sense of either God or our world.

        The very research that demonstrates how men can compartmentalize and hold many illogical, contradictory beliefs, sadly, also provides the blueprint for cultish leaders to pursue such an agenda. We see it at work in the political realm, as well as the religious.

      40. FOH writes, “People may call themselves Calvinist-Determinists, but they still live like what they do matters.”

        Calvinists live like what they do matters because God has said that obedience to Him matters.

      41. DG asks, “What’s the point of preaching? ”

        Preaching is the means God uses to draw His elect out of the world. It solidifies the judgment of the reprobate.

        Then, “So why does the Calvinist try to convince? What is there to convince? It’s all fixed!”

        It is God “who works all things after the counsel of His will…” and “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” It’s the system that God set up. It is God who fixed all things and that which God does reflects His perfect wisdom.

        Then, “Words in the bible like “persuade” “come” “let” “turn” “foresake” “trust” “believe” “judgement” “rebuke” ……..all loose any legitimacy, and the list could go on an on.”

        If one could be persuaded, he would be persuaded; if he could come, he would come; if he could believe, he would believe. That all people are not persuaded, nor come, nor believe in the face of the power of the word tells us that something is going on – it is “God who began a good work in [His elect] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

      42. FOH writes, “But of course the bottom line of this means that we are robots….”

        A non sequitur if there ever was one. FOH sees robots because that is what he wants to see.

      43. DG writes, “Well let’s just Calvin to spell it out for you…Oh! But you just don’t understand Calvinism!”

        So, what is your point? Calvin says that God is sovereign and people are subordinate to Him. God determines all things some through the free actions of sinful people. Let’s use the example in Isaiah 10, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger And the staff in whose hands is My indignation, I send it against a godless nation And commission it against the people of My fury To capture booty and to seize plunder, And to trample them down like mud in the streets. Yet it does not so intend Nor does it plan so in its heart, But rather it is its purpose to destroy, And to cut off many nations. For it says, “Are not my princes all kings? “Is not Calno like Carchemish, Or Hamath like Arpad, Or Samaria like Damascus? “As my hand has reached to the kingdoms of the idols, Whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, Shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images Just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?” So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.” For he has said, “By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this, For I have understanding; And I removed the boundaries of the peoples, And plundered their treasures, And like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants,…”

        What clever insight did you think you got from Calvin that supports whatever point you are trying to make?

      44. DG,

        No matter what you say, Calvinists will pull out Isaiah 10 and the Joseph phrase, and the Acts 4 verse….. each one turned on its head to make a Determinist point. Oh…. Let’s not forget Proverb 16 about throwing dice.

        So… you just put aside the natural reading of the Bible. In fact, don’t even translate 98% of the Bible if you are going to go and do a translation for people. Just give them a couple of passages and tell them…. “We know what these mean and you must filter all the rest of the Bible through them.”

        So… DG, you may read through the Bible and journal (or post) ideas about the amazing ability of God to created a free world where He intervenes, fulfilling His purpose, even while allowing men to freely disobey or obey Him. He is not so small that He has to micro-manage everything out of insecurity that if He doesnt something might not work. He is not so small that He has even scripted the praise that we give Him. Truly His greatness is seen in His ability to “work all things according to His purpose” even though man has the ability to join in or not.

        But…. just expect that despite seeing this in hundreds of verses and hundreds of ways and all books of the Bible…. you will receive as a response one of their 40-50 filter verses.

      45. DG quotes:

        “We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed. Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

        As I suggested earlier, when Calvin invented his monstrous, tyrannical God, the vast majority of people had no formal education, and few, if any, had a copy of scripture they could read for themselves. No Google, if you can imagine! Add to that the immense political power Calvin had amassed, so that he could, literally, have anyone who challenged him ostracized or condemned to death. Scholars suggest that his power reached well beyond Geneva, and dissenters found it very difficult to obtain protection even from those who were sympathetic to their cause. All were afraid of Calvin’s reach.

        Thus, Calvin could say whatever Calvin wanted, and none but the bravest could challenge him openly. Besides, unless they were actually paying attention through all of Calvin’s long-winded (required) sermons, few knew what it was he taught anyway. The pew, much like today, simply heard that God was ‘sovereign’ and most were okay with that. Sadly, apart from sites like this one, most self-claimed Calvinists know little more about what they claim to believe than yesterday’s Genevans did. They too are told that God is Sovereign, to which all say a hearty ‘Amen’ and that is that. God saw fit to end the tyranny empowered by limited information, increasing the ability of the powerless to acquire knowledge, education and countless copies of the written word. The printing press not only gives us access to the scriptures, but to the words of men like Calvin, which were once accessible by only a few privileged scholars.

        All that to say, once people began to have access to the written words of Calvin, they were well repudiated. There are countless books and articles, dating back hundreds of years, discounting his teachings with excellent logic and scriptural support. Even most modern Calvinists prefer to distance themselves somewhat from Calvin and his teachings, but, in reality, one cannot dispense of any of Calvin’s less palatable doctrines without destroying the whole flower.

        In order to maintain Calvinism’s meticulous determinism, one must have the theories of Original Sin, Total Depravity, Irresistible Grace, etc. Yet today’s Calvinist, having learned from history that even the simplest, least educated of men refuse to believe in their monstrous God, seek to reinvent him. Whereas Calvin could, with little danger, write for a well-controlled class of scholars that “. . . we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined” today’s Calvinists must be more subtle.

        It is pitifully simple, as few actually read for themselves, or grapple with the meaning of Calvin’s words, those of the Westminster Confession or their particular church’s ‘statement of belief’. Those who do, and seek to inform others of statements like “the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined” will be repeatedly faced with denials that Calvinism actually asserts that God meticulously controls EVERYTHING, including the counsels and wills of men. ‘You just don’t understand Calvinism’ is the official mantra. They will falsely assert a kinder, gentler Calvinism that allows for men to retain some measure of free will, or at least the ability to make some so-called choices based on so-called personal desires along with a God who predetermined the movement of every atom in the universe.

        In truth, this cannot be so. It was the negation of this common belief that made Calvin’s Institutes the transformative ideas they were. All of history documents this well-recorded dispute, and yet today’s Compatabilist Calvinist pretends as if it were not so. They insist that one can have their cake and eat it too; affirm a sole mover in the universe and the freedom of man’s actions, which is its antithesis.

        It is only the so-called ‘hyper-Calvinist’ who honestly confronts the ugly truths of Reformed Theology, yet they are more reviled by the New Calvinist than the non-Calvinist. The New Calvinists, like ol’ Rhutchin here, try to see-saw back and forth, first claiming to affirm one assertion, then quoting scripture that affirms its exact opposite. After a while, one can’t tell what they really believe, and I suppose that is the goal. Like a clever politician, they can pull up a statement or policy in favor of any special interest, so all are satisfied, despite having vastly disparate agendas.

        Just as the above post describes.

      46. Rhutchin writes,

        “God determines all things some through the free actions of sinful people.”

        What he fails to tell in this instance is that it is all fixed. Every “free” action that came to pass wasn’t actually free at all. It was a fixed action and couldn’t have been any freer than being fixed. That’s what he means by “free”.

        Then as a typical Calvinist he uses actions in the bible of sinful men to prove this point “as if” they had true freedom, when in reality it is all fixed by the secret counsel of God before the world began according to Calvinism.

        It’s just a “clever” but not so clever play on words and juggling.
        All to try and prove that only a select few are picked out to be believers before they are born for no given reason, leaving the rest not picked before they were born for the same mysterious reason.

      47. DG writes, “It was a fixed action and couldn’t have been any freer than being fixed. That’s what he means by “free”.”

        Just because an action is fixed — God knows that it will happen – does not mean that it is not free. God “fixes” outcomes consistent with the desires of a person. To be free, a person need only be able to act on his desires and not be coerced to act against his desires.

        DG writes, “he uses actions in the bible of sinful men to prove this point “as if” they had true freedom, when in reality it is all fixed by the secret counsel of God before the world began according to Calvinism.”

        There is no conflict or contradiction between an event being fixed by the secret counsel of God and that event resulting from the free actions of people. Within the church, people speak of God opening doors and closing doors. People know that they act freely to pursue their desires but that God can close doors to prevent them going in certain directions and opening doors so that they can go in other directions. Where God closes doors, the presumption is that God knows better and is preventing a person making a mistake.

      48. Rhutchin writes,

        “Just because an action is fixed — God knows that it will happen – does not mean that it is not free”

        Or we could say it like this – just because you are eating a cookie doesn’t mean that you are eating a cookie 😉

        Or like this – just because a man is locked in prison cell with no possible way of getting out doesn’t mean that he can’t leave whenever he wants 😉

        I think I get it 😜

      49. You see, since God determined that the man should be locked in prison with no way out, he also gave the man the desire to be locked in prison, so he can ‘honestly’ shrug it off with: ‘The man simply chose what he desired’. He points to these ‘desires’ (which he made sure the man had) and blame them for the man’s ‘choices. God determines whatsoever will happen, instills the necessary desires so that men will do as he has determined and God gets whatever he wants – while man gets the blame. What a clever, cruel, controlling, dishonest monster Calvinists would have us trust in.

      50. TS00 writes, “You see, since God determined that the man should be locked in prison with no way out, he also gave the man the desire to be locked in prison,…”

        No. That God determined a person to be in jail says nothing about the person’s desire to be in jail.

        Then, “The man simply chose what he desired’”

        Those desires – reflecting a depraved nature – resulted in criminal behavior that led to his being incarcerated.

        Then, “What a clever, cruel, controlling, dishonest monster Calvinists would have us trust in.”

        Except that your preceding your opinions have nothing to do with Calvinism.

      51. DG writes, “Or we could say it like this – just because you are eating a cookie doesn’t mean that you are eating a cookie ”

        No, it would be, “just because God knows you will eat a cookie doesn’t mean that you will not eat the cookie of your own free will.” Follow the argument.

        Then, ‘Or like this – just because a man is locked in prison cell with no possible way of getting out doesn’t mean that he can’t leave whenever he wants ”

        Again, No. It would be, “just because a man is locked in prison cell with no possible way of getting out doesn’t mean that he can’t freely do whatever he wants within the jail cell.” God may close the door on certain outcomes (leaving the jail cell) but that does not mean that the person is no longer free within the constraints of the closed door.

      52. Rhutchin writes, ”

        No, it would be, “just because God knows you will eat a cookie doesn’t mean that you will not eat the cookie of your own free will.” Follow the argument.

        No, I don’t follow the argument because as you have stated elsewhere that God only knows what He has determined to happen.

        Or as Calvinism says whatever comes to pass is whatever God determined to come to pass by His unchangeable decree.

        So God determined that I would eat a cookie and it will come to pass whether I like it or not.
        In fact according to Calvinism I cannot desire to “like it or not” either. My desire to like it was also determined.

        So no, I don’t follow.

      53. DG writes, ‘In fact according to Calvinism I cannot desire to “like it or not” either. My desire to like it was also determined. ”

        Yeah, determined by your desires. God has determined that you are free to make choices that reflect your desires. You have free will when you are able to make choices that reflect your desires. God has ensured that you can do that. So, what is the issue here? Where is there a conflict or a contradiction?

      54. “My desire to like it was also determined”, according to Rhutchin – by my desires.

        So I desired that my desire would be that I like it?

        That’s clever. Just move it back one step and it’s all good👍. Maybe DG won’t notice.

        But still my first desire was determined unchangeable by God’s “secret decree”

        Rhutchin will then move it back another step.

        It then becomes – I desired that my desire would be that I desired that my desire would be that I like it?

        See, just keep it moving back a step and try and fool people.

        But it doesn’t matter how many steps you move it back the fact will remain that Calvinism says that the first desire was determined by God, unchangeable by God’s “secret decree” because it is the very desire God wanted to come to pass so therefore brings it to pass, because according to Calvinism that wicked desire or whatever he brings to pass brings Him glory.

        So whatever my desire is, wicked or otherwise, according to Calvinism is actually God’s desire.

        But Rhutchin here will just move it back a step…….you watch!

      55. DG writes, “So I desired that my desire would be that I like it?”

        If we are dealing with Calvinism, then your desires are determined by your nature – by who you are. You have desires that are unique to you and help to define you as a person.

        Then, “But still my first desire was determined unchangeable by God’s “secret decree””

        under Calvinism, your first desire was determined by the nature with which you were born, and that nature was inherited from your parents…and from Adam. It is a nature that Adam was created with but then corrupted when Adam sinned.

        Then, “I desired that my desire would be that I desired that my desire would be that I like it?”

        The fault is mine in that I thought we were dealing with Calvinism and that you had a basic understanding of Calvinism. I now know different, so we need to go back to the basics. The things you desire are a function of who you are and this is determined by the unique nature that you have. Your nature, and desires, are unique from other people, because you have different experiences, knowledge, abilities, etc. that separate you from other people. God has granted you the freedom to exercise whatever desires you have generally unimpeded by Him.

        Then, “Calvinism says that the first desire was determined by God”

        This is wrong. Calvinism says that your first desire was derived from your nature and that nature was inherited from your parents (through Adam).

        Then, “So whatever my desire is, wicked or otherwise, according to Calvinism is actually God’s desire. ”

        It is God’s desire that you be free to exercise evil desires if you want. God also has a nature from which His desires arise but God does not have wicked desires as you do but He has a knowledge of your wicked desires. Your desires cannot be attributed to God (as if God had those same desires0 but only that God knows your desires and has granted you freedom to express those desires.

      56. There we go, just as I said Rhutchin would do. He has to move it once again. But this time he moves it back two steps.

        So now it is – Because of Adams sin my nature is that I can only desire that my desire would be that I desired that my desire would be that I like it?”

        But what Rhutchin fails to tell is that Adam’s desire to sin was predetermined to come to pass by the “secret counsel” of God and Adam did exactly what God secretly predetermined for him to do, and determined it unchangeable by the “secret decree”.

        Then Rhutchin throws out a whole lot of empty words like “The fault is mine in that I thought we were dealing with Calvinism and that you had a basic understanding of Calvinism.”

        But get ready – Rhutchin will now attempt to move it forward a step, you watch. He will now attempt to say it’s because of God’s foreknowledge of my desire.

        See, what the Calvinist like Rhutchin does is keep moving the pieces back and forth and there is no end to it. It just goes on and on.

        And all of this because in a nut shell, they dogmatically believe that God preselected only a few individuals to be believers from before the world began by a “secret decree” for unrevealed reasons, leaving the rest born into the world un-selected for the same mysterious reason inadvertently predetermined to hell. And they say this brings God glory.

      57. DG writes, “Rhutchin fails to tell is that Adam’s desire to sin was predetermined to come to pass by the “secret counsel” of God and Adam did exactly what God secretly predetermined for him to do, and determined it unchangeable by the “secret decree”.”

        Now, all you need to do is explain that in the context of the garden and Adam’s sin and show how it doesn’t apply as that seems to be the intent of your comment.

        Then, “…a whole lot of empty words…”

        But DG cannot explain what it is that makes them empty words. You seem not to understand Calvinism given that your comments require that we deal with basic Calvinist doctrine that you rail against.

        Then, “He will now attempt to say it’s because of God’s foreknowledge of my desire. ”

        Even you agree that God has foreknowledge of your desires, don’t you?

        Then, “…[Calvinists] dogmatically believe that God preselected only a few individuals to be believers…”

        Does not Saul of Tarsus fit this description? What is your objection here??

      58. See everyone, I told you –

        Rhutchin “Even you agree that God has foreknowledge of your desires, don’t you?”

        Then we start all over again working our way step by step back to Adam and jump forward again………. and then back again………. and the forward again…….and on and on and on and on.

        “catching clouds”

        What a fitting title for this article!

      59. DG was doubtless ordained to desire logic and consistency, thus predetermined to pursue those desires by pointing out there noted absence. Of course, it is difficult to tell which of God’s wills this arises from, but since it has come to pass, it is obviously from one of God’s wills, and we must give him the glory.

      60. TS00 writes, “DG was doubtless ordained to desire logic and consistency,”

        Even TS00 cannot explain DG’s problem. That’s two people who can’t do it.

      61. brianwagner writes, “I don’t see what the problem is in DG’s evaluation…”

        But even you don’t try to explain his issue. Is it so difficult if you don’t see a problem in the evaluation? If not difficult, then why no effort?

      62. DG explained things well. Nothing to add. The issue is rather that you see a problem Roger that others do not. God knows who is seeing it correctly from His perspective! I take comfort in that.

      63. brianwagner writes, “DG explained things well. Nothing to add. ”

        You still won’t explain the point DG is arguing. I don’t think you know. I know that I don’t know. At least, I admit it.

      64. Even better, Rhutchin responds with the assertion that your ‘unique nature’ determines your desires. (Because he sure doesn’t want to admit that his doctrine of determinism dictates that ‘whatsoever comes to pass’ has been determined by God and God alone. Desires, curses, corrupt natures, telegrams – whatever ‘means’ God has chosen to use, it is He, and He alone who has determined what you will do, and you have absolutely no option to do otherwise. But the use of secondary means offers plausible deniability, which all evildoers seek.)

        That’s the beauty of Calvinism – you never have to be restricted by such inconveniences as logic, reason or consistency!

      65. TS00,

        As I just commented to DG about his conversation with Jose on the “manipulation” thread….. the whole point of Piper’s two wills that is that God tells us not to do something, but in hindsight if we did it that automatically MUST be God second will “will of decree” “secret will” “hidden will.”

        There is no wiggle room here.

        According to Calvinism, if it did happen, it was God’s secret will.

      66. And if a parent had such schizophrenia, telling their child to not eat candy, while secretly placing candy in their room, knowing they could not resist, what would we say of such persons? We would, rightly, accuse them of being two-faced, deceitful hypocrites who were determined to bring about the very act they were pretending to forbid.

        And we would judge them as evil.

      67. TS00 writes, “if a parent had such schizophrenia, telling their child to not eat candy, while secretly placing candy in their room, knowing they could not resist, what would we say of such persons?”

        Did not God tell Adam not to eat the fruit that He had placed prominently in Adam’s sight – and then did not God remove His protection over Adam and give Satan freedom to enter the garden to do evil? Are you really going to call God evil?

      68. FOH writes, “According to Calvinism, if it did happen, it was God’s secret will.”

        A correct statement with no distortion. Of course, not all that God brings about is a secret – it would just take too many books to list everything, so God tells us the things He wants us to know.

      69. TS00 writes, “whatever ‘means’ God has chosen to use, it is He, and He alone who has determined what you will do, and you have absolutely no option to do otherwise. But the use of secondary means offers plausible deniability, which all evildoers seek.”

        As Paul explains in Romans 2, “every man of you who passes judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” It is not the supposed absence of an option to chose otherwise that is important here; it is the lack of any desire to choose otherwise that is the basis for God’s judgment.

      70. In other words, we have an utterly corrupt sinful nature, inherited from Adam and yet, we have unique natures that are determined by circumstances.

        As you pointed out earlier, in one post you posit one assertion, then in the next, you posit its exact opposite. I would love to have the technology to sort through every statement Rhutchin has ever made on this site. It would be quite amusing to see how frequently he disagrees with himself. 😉

      71. TS00,

        br.d use to place side-by-side direct quotes from RH showing him saying opposite things.

        One could do that with newly-minted Calvinist Jose too. He makes clear statements that man can do things that are against God’s will….

        “2. God destroyed humanity during the global flood, a very clear manifestation that God dislike what the people were doing during Noah’s time. This means that this is against His will.”

        Yet in other places he quotes Piper defining for us the idea of two wills of God (meaning that —according to Piper and Jose, even the above disobedience is God’s will).

      72. FOH writes, “br.d use to place side-by-side direct quotes from RH showing him saying opposite things.”

        Let’s be fair now – br.d often ignores context.

        Then, “Yet in other places he quotes Piper defining for us the idea of two wills of God (meaning that —according to Piper and Jose, even the above disobedience is God’s will).”

        Even non-Calvinists are faced with this situation. God commands, “Do not murder,” and then God stands by watching as Cain murders Abel? Is not God’s will expressed first in the command and then again in His actions toward those who disobey the command? Do you have a different explanation?

      73. TS00 writes, “In other words, we have an utterly corrupt sinful nature, inherited from Adam and yet, we have unique natures that are determined by circumstances.”

        Yes, all people are born with corrupt natures and all people are unique in the desires that arise from those corrupt natures because each person experiences different influences in growing up. All people have evil hearts (As Jeremiah said, ““The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”) but each person is still unique.

        Then, “As you pointed out earlier, in one post you posit one assertion, then in the next, you posit its exact opposite.”

        That was your opportunity to say something substantive. Yet, you declined. Pity!

      74. Rhutchin writes:

        “DG writes, “Or we could say it like this – just because you are eating a cookie doesn’t mean that you are eating a cookie ”

        No, it would be, “just because God knows you will eat a cookie doesn’t mean that you will not eat the cookie of your own free will.” Follow the argument.”

        Now here is a grand example of a Calvinist borrowing the theology of his arch-rivals and pretending as if it is not the antithesis of everything his theology asserts. The non-Calvinist most correctly grants that God foreknows all events without determining them. For a Calvinist to claim what is such ‘heresy’ (to Calvinism) is the height of deception.

        When my former Calvinist pastor played that game, I was outta there. If you want to proclaim an offensive and difficult doctrine, at least be honest and consistent. Present what the doctrines assert, and don’t hide behind doublespeak and gobbledygook talk. Calvinism does NOT for a second allow God to merely foreknow man’s actions, but insists that God ordained, determined and irresistibly caused them. It is sheer BS (pardon my french) for the Calvinist to pretend their definition of sovereignty is the same as the definition most non-Calvinists apply to foreknowledge. If Calvinism actually asserted such, they would be on the same page as non-Calvinist believers. There would be no divide, no debates, no difference of opinions. This is cloud catching – doubletalking deception, just as the post explains.

      75. TS00 writes, “The non-Calvinist most correctly grants that God foreknows all events without determining them. ”

        That’s correct. So, how do the non-Calvinists explain God’s knowledge of future events – its’ a mystery! All the Calvinist does is drop down one level and explain how God knows the future. The non-Calvinist does not want to go there. That’s fine, but they have no other explanation and no argument against the Calvinist position – they just don’t like it..

        Then, “For a Calvinist to claim what is such ‘heresy’ (to Calvinism) is the height of deception.”

        Heresy!!! Both agree that God foreknows the future fully. What heresy??

        Then, “Present what the doctrines assert, and don’t hide behind doublespeak and gobbledygook talk. Calvinism does NOT for a second allow God to merely foreknow man’s actions, but insists that God ordained, determined and irresistibly caused them.”

        Calvinism merely offers one way for God to know the future – by determining that future. It’s the only explanation anyone has offered. You don’t have an explanation, do you – for you, it’s a mystery, isn’t it? There’s no “doublespeak and gobbledygook talk” here by anyone.

        Then, “It is sheer BS (pardon my french) for the Calvinist to pretend their definition of sovereignty is the same as the definition most non-Calvinists apply to foreknowledge.”

        So, what is the definition of sovereignty that “most non-Calvinists apply”?

        Then, “If Calvinism actually asserted such, they would be on the same page as non-Calvinist believers. There would be no divide, no debates, no difference of opinions. This is cloud catching – doubletalking deception, just as the post explains.”

        As far as I know, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists have the same definition of sovereignty. I think you are trying to argue a difference that does not exist.

      76. Roger… is your memory failing again? 😉 We have the same definition for sovereignty… really? And we all certainly don’t agree on how God determines and creates in His mind the knowledge of the future.

      77. brianwagner writes, “We have the same definition for sovereignty… really? ”

        LOL!!! I like the way you did not provide a definition of sovereignty to demonstrate your point. Any chance you could give us a definition of sovereignty?

        Then, “And we all certainly don’t agree on how God determines and creates in His mind the knowledge of the future”

        I thought our disagreement was over the timing of God’s decisions. I don’t think we disagree on “how God determines and creates in His mind the knowledge of the future.” The “how” is the same for each of us – God takes the information He has and makes a decision consistent with His character.

      78. I’m guessing Roger that you already know the different definitions of sovereignty floating around, as well read as you are. And you slso know that in Calvinism God no longer “takes the information He has and makes a decision…” There you go again, using the present tense for God’s decision making when in determinism the present tense not yours to use to describe what has already been eternally immutably made.

      79. brianwagner writes, “…you already know the different definitions of sovereignty floating around…”

        I actually don’t. From what I gather, non-Calvinists pretty much avoid defining terms like sovereignty or free will. I like the way you again refuse to define sovereignty. I think that means that you know you have a problem defining sovereignty such that you distinguish yourself from Calvinism. You are free to give it the old college try.

        Then, “in Calvinism God no longer “takes the information He has and makes a decision…”

        God says his thoughts are different than ours, so trying to describe God’s thoughts is probably not feasible. What we do is assume a logical order to God’s thoughts even if all God’s thoughts are essentially one thought. So, following logical order, God initiates information by a decree (e.g., to create the earth) and then God decrees the physical attributes of His creation and the physical laws by which it will operate. So, we might think of God building a system in a logical order (that He does in the execution of His decrees) so that His decrees build on each other. Thus, God’s decrees build an information database that we see as having logical order. For God all this happens in one thought.

        Then, “There you go again, using the present tense for God’s decision making when in determinism the present tense not yours to use to describe what has already been eternally immutably made.’

        I do that because you seem to understand how things happen in the present and how God can interact with His creation in the present. All I need to do then is add that everything was known to God in eternity past because we both are talking about the same outcomes.. I’ll assume that we both understand that the “present” is nothing more than a blip in time that separates the past from the future. When the Scriptures speak of God doing something, they refer to past actions or future actions.

      80. Actually, Roger,.. last year in the post on this site – SAVING “SOVEREIGNTY” you affirmed that there were other definitions of sovereignty that you knew of and disagreed with.

        I did not say above that you knew there were other definitions because I didn’t have my own to share… but I said it because I assumed you knew you were making a false statement that everyone’s definition is the same, and that you were making that false statement anyway for some rhetorical reason.

        But I guess my sarcasm was misplaced… you didn’t remember that there are other definitions. Go back to the comments in that blog and refresh your memory. I can’t be your memory and do all your homework for you! 😉

        And I also don’t prefer explaining again and again how our views of foreknowledge and the outcome of the future are not the same even though you want to dogmatically state that they are.

        God will have to use someone else to convince you that they are different and that you also misrepresent the meaning of determinism, in my view, by not saying everything was decreed in the past before creation, but saying instead that God decrees in the present the things now that are happening.

        That’s all I have for this thread. Take the last word if you wish.

      81. brianwagner writes, “last year in the post on this site – SAVING “SOVEREIGNTY” you affirmed that there were other definitions of sovereignty that you knew of and disagreed with.”

        I kinda scanned the comments and much discussion was about god’s “exercise” of His sovereignty – particularly whether sovereignty conveys control to God over His creation. Everyone seemed to be citing the Scriptures to show that God is sovereign, and here everyone seems to agree that sovereignty means that God is the ruler of His creation. I did not see the specific comment where you claimed that I stated a knowledge of other definitions of sovereignty – probably because I just scanned through the comments. Nonetheless, the issue did not seem to be a definition of sovereignty (as all seemed to agree on that) but of “control” and the exercise of sovereignty.

        Then, ” I can’t be your memory and do all your homework for you! ”

        Nope, but you did the next best thing – citing the SAVING “SOVEREIGNTY blog. Can’t complain about that.

        Then, “I also don’t prefer explaining again and again how our views of foreknowledge and the outcome of the future are not the same even though you want to dogmatically state that they are. ”

        Yeah, if someone else understands your argument, maybe they can try to explain it. If I couldn’t understand it, I tend to doubt that anyone else will – not that I am that smart, but you generally explain things well and don’t get into complicated, obyuse explanations.

      82. FOH writes, “God told Adam not to. It was not His will.”

        Yet, God then gives Adam the freedom to eat the fruit and then God does not step in to keep Adam from making a bad decision. Don’t God’s actions mean anything to you? Or do you find it best to turn and look the other way?

      83. Rhutchin writes:

        “FOH writes, “God told Adam not to. It was not His will.”

        Yet, God then gives Adam the freedom to eat the fruit and then God does not step in to keep Adam from making a bad decision. Don’t God’s actions mean anything to you? Or do you find it best to turn and look the other way?”

        As if on cue, Rhutchin again provides material evidence of the cloud catching tactics the post describes!

        Agree that God commands man not to sin, implying man actually has the genuine ability to perform either action – obey or disobey. (Scripture forces him into this admission.) So, now we are working within the scriptural framework of God’s will being proscriptive, but not determinitive. That’s easy to understand. But not so fast; a sleight of hand occurs, and Rhutchin’s God, the magician, swiftly replaces that genuine scriptural framework with a faulty one. Without ‘force’ He ‘allows’ Adam to make the bad decision (you know, he one he predetermined him to make in eternity past and which he could never have resisted), but disingenuously makes it ‘appear’ to be his own freely made decision! Ol’ Adam never saw the switcheroo, and actually thought he had the choice to obey or disobey; in reality, God had scripted the entire event, and secretly given Adam the irresistible desire – which he could not choose to not choose – to disobey.

        Ah, did you see the sleight of hand involved? Magicians are oh so clever! All God had to do was insert a tiny little ‘as if’ and the unobservant Adam never even saw what happened! God pretends ‘as if’ Adam actually has the freedom to pursue his ‘own desires’ whatever they be; what he omits is telling Adam (or us) that he has actually predetermined those desires, so that, in reality, Adam’s ‘choice’ is inevitable. Voila! God gets his way, and man, thinking he made a naughty, self-determined choice, pays the consequences. Poor ol’ Adam goes to his grave thinking he’s a dirty, rotten, little sinner (sorry, it’s an old Hybels’ phrase I picked up years ago) when, in reality, he is just performing what God determined, scripted and irresistibly brought to pass.

        ‘That is impossible! How can this be?’ cry the amazed onlookers, but alas, the magician must not reveal the ‘mystery’ or the magic will disappear. Calvinists firmly believe in the magic. The rest of us think someone is being duped. Or maybe Calvinists really are closet Universalists, and at the last day, when God reveals that he was indeed the author, ordainer and bringer-to-pass of all things, all will be forgiven for only doing what they had to do.

      84. TS00,
        Well now there you go….. calling them Universalists when that is their moniker to pin on us!

        But hey….wait….. if the whole thing is scripted you might be right. You know… kind of like at the end of a scripted play when all the actors (good guys and bad guys) come out for a bow. In fact in some plays, the biggest bouquet of flowers goes to the bad guy, so you might have a point there.

      85. FOH writes:

        “But hey….wait….. if the whole thing is scripted you might be right. You know… kind of like at the end of a scripted play when all the actors (good guys and bad guys) come out for a bow. In fact in some plays, the biggest bouquet of flowers goes to the bad guy, so you might have a point there.”

        That’s kinda how I’m seeing it; if the ‘bad guys’ followed their script just as did the ‘good guys’, why wouldn’t God say ‘Well done, thou bad and faithful servant’ and give them an equal reward?

      86. DG writes, “No it wasn’t God’s will that Stephen be stoned to death.,,,No it wasn’t God’s will that Adam ate the fruit. God actually warned him not to.”

        God was present when Stephan was killed and when Adam ate the fruit. God had the ability and power to stop both outcomes. God had made a conscious decision that He would not stop either event. DG says that God’s actions have nothing to do with what God wanted. Jesus said that people are known by their fruit (or actions). Do we not also come to know God by His actions? DG apparently does not think so.

        Then, “Christ willingly went to the cross. He laid down his own life for the sins of the whole world.”

        And we know that this was according to God’s will as Peter explains in Acts 2, “this Man (Jesus), delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”

      87. Rhutchin writes,

        God was present when Stephan was killed and when Adam ate the fruit. God had the ability and power to stop both outcomes.”

        What? To stop the very thing that He meticulously determined to unchangeably come to pass?

        That’s just silly.

      88. DG writes, “What? To stop the very thing that He meticulously determined to unchangeably come to pass?”

        Yes. God could have determined a different future, but He didn’t. God has a plan and He is sticking to it.

  15. Thanks Brian,

    When these words used whether Greek or English they don’t contradict themselves or have a “double meaning”. Or intentionally have two meanings up for debate as the Calvinist would like.

    I think that’s what I’m trying to get across.

  16. I have written a little bit about the disconnect between Calvinist theology and Calvinist life.

    Take prayer. RH says that we pray for what God promises and He gives it. Well…. not so much.

    I can easily hear my Calvinist friends praying prayers such as:

    Lord, grant us favor with the authorities …

    Lord, bend the hearts of the leaders….

    Lord, bring our children to faith in you…

    Lord give me X, Y, Z etc……….

    Lord keep my children safe on the road…..

    For a non-determinist these would be real cries from the heart. Real pleadings with a good God who can respond to our desires and needs.

    For a determinist this is ….just….. well what is it? I mean they are not praying for precise promises of God. In fact, it might clearly be God’s intention to do the opposite (so therefore NOT a promise to do it). In fact….. in all cases….. in every case…. for a determinist, the decision for that request was already made before eternity began. And so was your asking for it …. so He could refuse you.

    Phew! It’s enough to make you dizzy all that man-makes-no-different philosophy!

    1. FOH writes, “For a non-determinist these would be real cries from the heart.”

      Why would a non-determinist ask God for such things if he doesn’t believe God determines such things.

  17. Andyb,

    Of course the Calvinist will quickly say “we don’t know who God has chosen so we invite all.”

    But that is not much of an “invitation”.

    That renders Christ very insincere when He says “come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

    There should be (but isnt) a footnote saying, “I dont mean all who labor… just the ones we already picked, but I wanna make it sound like anyone can.”

    1. FOH writes, ‘That renders Christ very insincere when He says “come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

      What is insincere about this invitation?? Are not all people who come to Christ given rest?? What is wrong with God then stepping in and drawing some of those who refused Chrit’s invitation and saving them from making the worst decision of their lives??

  18. DG,
    All those double “wills” and things (works for double speak!!).

    Did you ever see that Apollo 13 film where the engineer says “We have to make this, fit in the place designed for this…. using only this.”?

    They have to get real creative. Just like Calvinists with God’s “two wills” “two loves” “two truths” “two calls”. I mean, they cannot even hear themselves making up all these terms “general call” and “effectual call” (not to mention all their Latin).

    Of course you can (like the creative engineers in the movie) make a square peg fit a round hole, finding a verse here and a half-verse there, but that does not at all mean God designed His world that way. Those engineers make that makeshift gear work, but they would never have sent the rocket up with that gear!!

  19. Daily reading. Prov 21:1-3

    One of the Calvinist 40, go-to verses is found in my reading today.

    21:1 The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.
    —–
    We dont really get doctrine from the Proverbs, but Piper does when needed. This verse is used as a prop-up verse saying that all acts by all men at all times have already been decided by God. If it is yanked out of context, and a good amount of bloviating is applied, one can turn it to mean that (if that is the pre-arranged goal). But the simple reader will not see that at all.

    Besides the world doesnt even have kings anymore, and you and I are certainly not kings! Let’s look at the two following verses….

    21:2 People may be right in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their heart.
    ——————
    What? People make their own choices that the Lord does not dictate to them?

    Why does it say the “Lord examines their heart,” if it was the Lord who gave them their every desire?

    Why does He even need to examine? It sounds very much like it is taking place in real time…. and certainly, certainly would contradict the Calvinist interpretation of the previous verse (but remember they only quote one verse, or half-verse at a time. Calvinist rule: avoid context).

    21:3 The Lord is more pleased when we do what is right and just than when we offer him sacrifices.
    ————
    What? The Lord can be pleased? Yes! But that contradicts the impassible doctrine taught by Calvinists.

    People can do what is right? Yes! But that contradicts the idea that “man can do no good” taught by Calvinists.

    I’m not cherry-picking these verses…… Daily reading will rinse Calvinism away.

    1. FOH writes, “We dont really get doctrine from the Proverbs,…”

      What does Paul tell us, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” All Scripture, even the Proverbs, is truth and truth is doctrine. FOH, for some reason, insists on denigrating the Scriptures. For what purpose???

  20. Daily reading in Ezra 10

    10:2 Then Shecaniah son of Jehiel, a descendant of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God, for we have married these pagan women of the land. But in spite of this there is hope for Israel.”
    ———–

    A. The Calvinist concept of God micro-controlling all action would have Ezra respond, “Don’t worry about it; that was God’s hidden, secret will.”

    B. Shecaniah obviously disagrees with Calvinists since he says we can do things that God does not want.

    C. Then he says that in spite of this there is still hope. The following verses show that the “hope” he is referring to is in their “man-centered” obedience. No outside intervention from God, no special giving of faith (they are, remember, already the “chosen” people)…. they just need to turn from sin and be obedient.

    This is the message in a thousand place and a thousand ways in the Bible. God has given you what you need (“chosen people,” non-believers, believers) to repent and turn.

    1. FOH writes, “A. The Calvinist concept of God micro-controlling all action would have Ezra respond, “Don’t worry about it; that was God’s hidden, secret will.”

      The Calvinist follows the lead of Christ who said to peter, ““Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”

      Then, ‘B. Shecaniah obviously disagrees with Calvinists since he says we can do things that God does not want.”

      Calvinists say that people are always doing things that God does not want. Remember Genesis 6, so often quoted by Calvinists, “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

      Then, “C. Then he says that in spite of this there is still hope. ”

      God tells us in Hebrews 1, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” That in which a person has hope is God.

      What precedes the verse you cite (a purposeful omission on your part??), “while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women, and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly.”

      Then, “This is the message in a thousand place and a thousand ways in the Bible. God has given you what you need (“chosen people,” non-believers, believers) to repent and turn.”

      Thus, we see that the decision to submit to God is a no-brainer.

  21. brianwagner writes, “We all make prejudiced judgments Roger. 😊 The ones against a person’s motives or feelings as ad hominem or provocation are the ones banned.”

    Dr. Flowers opens “Does Calvary Prove Divine Determinism” with this: “…are you saying that God is sovereignly working so as to redeem the very sins He sovereignly worked to bring about? Is Calvary just about God cleaning up His own mess — redeeming His own determinations?”

    Would you classify this as a prejudiced judgment? Or is framing such things as questions the workaround?

    1. Roger – What part of “against a person’s motives or feelings as ad hominem or provocation” don’t you understand? Your example of Leighton’s words don’t fit that description.

      1. brianwagner writes, “What part of “against a person’s motives or feelings as ad hominem or provocation” don’t you understand? You example of Leighton’s words don’t fit that description.”

        There is the inference to Calvinism about “God cleaning up His own mess.” A somewhat loaded statement to be applied to Calvinist thinking is it not? Could it be that you are just sensitive to comments made about non-Calvinists and not those made against Calvinists? (Notice the use of a question to impugn your reputation.) Insults are often in the eye oft he beholder, whether intended or not.

        Then, there is the claim at the end, “These are questions many Calvinists seem unwilling to entertain at any depth.” Really????

      2. Keep reading more closely… see the phrase “a person’s”…. like “Brian believes God causes sin and then cleans up His mess later to cover His tracks”…. that’s banned (unless of course Brian said those words). But “Calvinism makes God the author of all sin and then proposes that He cleans up His mess for some.” That is not banned. Are you following now?

      3. brianwagner writes, “like “Brian believes God causes sin and then cleans up His mess later to cover His tracks”…. that’s banned (unless of course Brian said those words). But “Calvinism makes God the author of all sin and then proposes that He cleans up His mess for some.” That is not banned.”

        So, I can say Brian is an open futurist as often as I want. Then separately, I can say that open futurists are dumb, stupid, slobs as often as I want and that is OK.

      4. You might want to add, Roger, “… slobs in my opinion”. 😉 The idea is to try to edify each other, no matter their position, as much as possible. Many have not not caught on to that purpose on this site, at least not always for everyone!

  22. Romans 6 clearly teaches we are to live without sin. If your life doesn’t align with this, then it’s not a problem of the “actual” meaning (how Gnostic is that?!) but of you not living up to the Biblical standard.

      1. FYI, crosstheology.wordpress.com/does-romans-7-describe-the-christian-life/

        You should also know that Augustine changed his interpretation of Romans 7 to believing this describes the Christian. There were quite some things he changed, not in accordance with Tradition.

        And then we have Romans 8 following on Romans 7. Near the end of Romans 7 and especially at the beginning of Romans 8, it shows that is the life of the present (“now”).

        It is not fortunate to believe that we are to live with sin. Christ came to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21), not in our sins. It is not fortunate to be sinning, it is very unfortunate, as the wages of sin is death.

  23. DG asks, “And what would be the point of closing a door on something God determined they would never walk through anyway?”

    LOL!!! “God determined they would never walk through [the door] anyway” by closing the door.

  24. This is an honest question I am asking to gain further insight into Calvinistic/Reformed theology (which I do not hold to):

    Calvinism and Reformed Theology speak of two wills of God: decretal (God decrees everything that comes to pass–good, bad, and neutral) and prescriptive (God’s moral will–He commands us to do good and to not do evil). While there is over-lap, not everything in God’s decretal will is included in His prescriptive will and not everything in His prescriptive will is in His decretal will.

    Calvinism and Reformed Theology also maintain that God is absolutely sovereign (able to control absolutely everything). They also adhere to a compatibilistic view of human freedom (humans are held responsible for doing what they desire even though their desires are dictated by prior circumstances outside of their control).

    Given all of that, why would God’s decretal will ever differ from His prescriptive will?

    1. Bill Matthews asks:

      “. . . Given all of that, why would God’s decretal will ever differ from His prescriptive will?”

      Very astute question. As you might guess, it is simply the Calvinist attempt (which fails, imo) to explain why an all-powerful, good, loving deity who claims to hate and punish evil, in fact dreamed up, ordained and brought to pass evil in what could have been a good, perfect and non-evil world – because he was the one who calls all the shots.

      Their catch-all answer? ‘To get himself ‘glory’!’

      Seriously, I would give (Calvinism’s) God a lot more glory if he hadn’t ordained evil.

      Thankfully, my God explains that evil came from genuinely free choices of men, not (wink, wink) seemingly ‘free’ choices that were actually determined and settled in the heavens before they were ever born.

      1. I too have considered the answer “To maximize His glory”. However, I do not think this is a an answer to the question. Here’s why:

        If God is absolutely (and meticulously) sovereign (as asserted in the set-up of my question), He could have created this world (via His decree) to exactly match His prescriptive will–and it could have ALSO maximized His glory. This is so because He can determine (because of His sovereignty) what events or conditions lead His creatures to maximize the amount of glory they give Him.

        So He could have decreed a world that exactly matched His prescriptive will AND was full of creatures which He decreed would give Him maximum glory in light of the world He created that exactly matched His prescriptive will.

        But He did not do this.

        So again, given God’s absolute/meticulous soveriegnty and man’s compatilibilistic free will, WHY would God’s decretal will ever differ from his prescriptive will?

      2. Bill Matthews writes, “So again, given God’s absolute/meticulous soveriegnty and man’s compatilibilistic free will, WHY would God’s decretal will ever differ from his prescriptive will?”

        Because that is the way God did it – as many examples attest to. What purpose did God have? “the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3) and “God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter;” (2 Peter 2) and “with many of the Israelites God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” (1 Corinthians 10) It’s all according to God’s plan.

      3. TS00 writes, “God explains that evil came from genuinely free choices of men,”

        Who watches people as they use the freedom that God has given them to do evil and thereby ordains that evil because He could have stopped the evil but had chosen not to do so? Who really rules – man or God?

      4. Thank you for your reply RHUTCHIN!

        One of the examples you gave in answer to my question was “with many of the Israelites God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.”

        Event A = God allowing Israel to sin in the wilderness.
        Event B = Us seeing Israel’s example and presumably then NOT sinning.

        Both events are part of God’s decretal will (obviously, since they did occur).

        Event A is outside God’s prescriptive will (sin, by definition, is outside God’s prescriptive will).
        Event B is inside God’s prescriptive will (assuming Israel’s examples leads us to NOT sin).

        Let’s also say that the theoretical event Event A’ = God did NOT allow (decree) Israel to sin in the wilderness.

        So this seems to be a good example of God creating a world where His decretal will (events A and B occur) does not match His prescriptive world (events A’ and B occur). However, I do not think this successfully resolves the question of WHY God would resort to the A+B world over the A’+B world.

        I contend that, given God’s absolutely/meticulously sovereignty (as understood in the Calvinistic/Reformed tradition), He could have created a world where Event A’ and Event B BOTH occurred. This means that God could have formed us (those who saw Israel’s example) such that we would NOT sin (Event B) after viewing Israel’s example of NOT sinning (Event A’).

        If He had, His decretal will (at least as far as the two events in this example go) would have matched His prescriptive will (that neither Israel NOR we sinned in these two scenarios).

        A world where events A’ and B occur is better than a world where events A and B occur (at least as far as these two scenarios go) because it involves less sin.

        So what could possibly lead God to choose A+B instead of A’+B?

      5. Bill Matthews asks, “So what could possibly lead God to choose A+B instead of A’+B?”

        The best I can figure is that God decided to make man in His image and thereby to convey to man the freedom to make decisions even if those decisions could be contrary to God’s command.

        Let’s expand your Event A and B to reflect my understanding of what you are saying:

        Event A = God gives Israel the freedom to sin in the wilderness.
        Event B = God gives believers Israel as an example of what sin entails thereby encouraging believers not to sin. Nonetheless, God gives believers the freedom to sin in the wilderness (i.e., this present life).

        Thus, “freedom to choose” is God’s will. Then, the choices people freely make are also God’s will. God’s will expressed in what He wants people to do can be different than what people choose to do.

        Then, you say, “Let’s also say that the theoretical event Event A’ = God did NOT allow (decree) Israel to sin in the wilderness.”

        This will be the condition of believers in heaven. It requires that God interact with believers in heaven to keep them from sinning. So, Event A’ would have required that God interact with Israel in such a way as to prevent Israel from sinning. Obviously, God could have done this.

        The bottom line is what I said above. God choose A+B instead of A’+B because He wanted to give people freedom to make choices even if those choices were contrary to His prescriptive will. God does not tell us how He came to decide this.

        As a side note, I had submitted a comment with citations to the Ligonier website for brief comments on God’s will. I don’t see that comment. above. Don’t know what happened to it. It would have explained my comment about having answered adequately.

      6. Rhutchin:

        “The best I can figure is that God decided to make man in His image and thereby to convey to man the freedom to make decisions even if those decisions could be contrary to God’s command.”

        So, he has been listening. (But the least he could do is give credit to the many who have repeatedly stated this exact thing, rather than claiming he figured it out all on his own.) 😉

        Rhutchin:

        “Thus, “freedom to choose” is God’s will.”

        Excellent! I believe he has finally seen the light.

        Rhutchin:
        “Then, the choices people freely make are also God’s will.”

        Buzzzzzzzzz. Logical leap into error.

        It is absurd to claim that from “Thus, “freedom to choose” is God’s will.” one obviously derives “Then, the choices people freely make are also God’s will” as if implying the same exact meaning of ‘will’. What is happening here is a whole lot of mixing up of ‘will’s’ until no one understands what is actually meant.

        In other words, it is making nonsense of meaning to say that ‘It is God’s will that you freely choose your own will; thus, no matter what you will, it can always be claimed to be God’s will. This would make nonsensical Jesus’ words ‘Not my will, but thine’ and ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’. Didn’t Jesus know that God’s will is always done, no matter what men do? If every choice we make is God’s will, what in the world is Jesus talking about?

        Rhutchin finally admits that God has willed that people make free choices. So far so good. What he appears to miss – even though I and countless others have spelled it out repeatedly – is that what people are given the right to freely choose is to DO or NOT DO God’s will. Just as Jesus implied: In this world, men often DO NOT do God’s will; in heaven, all DO God’s will at all times. It is a false and silly game that Rhutchin would have us believe God is playing, allowing us to choose between his ‘this’ will or his ‘that’ will (insert whatever descriptors preferred). In this way, God can claim that ‘his will was done’ no matter what anyone does! Now that is glory. Or might it not better be termed deception? If God’s will is always done, let’s just be honest about it and stop all of the pretense of men having their own desires and making their own choices.

        Men are not disingenuously given the freedom to choose from God’s stable of wills. They are given the freedom to do his will, or reject his will; to do what is truly revealed as good, or exchange the truth for a lie and do what is evil. It is indeed man’s choice, and it is indeed God’s one and only ‘will’ that men do good, and not evil. But since God does not force his will upon us, we have the choice of whether or not to do it.

        Rhutchin would have God offering a deceptive, meaningless ‘choice’:
        ‘You may freely choose to obey my will that you be a faithful spouse or you may freely choose to obey my will that you be an unfaithful spouse. It matters not, simply follow your own desires, follow your inborn nature, because, whatever you choose, it is my will. Oh, and this ‘choice’ of yours – don’t let it go to your head, because I have determined which one of my wills you will ‘choose’. If you are lucky, I will have chosen you for life, and you will obey my good will. If you aren’t so lucky, I will have chosen you for destruction, and you will obey my evil will. Doesn’t matter to me, because I always win. Now, give me the glory for having thought of everything!’

        The honest, thinking person understands that God indeed offers us a genuine choice:
        ‘You may freely choose to obey my will that you be faithful to your spouse or you may disobey my will that you be faithful to your spouse. I only and always will for all who are married to be faithful spouses, but have given each the responsibility to make their own choices. Choose you this day whom you will serve, me or your selfish, fleshly desires. It is my desire that you trust me, resist the temptation to seek your own pleasure and follow my commands. Your choices have real consequences. Obey my will, and you will receive he gift of forgiveness and life provided by my Son. Reject my will, and you also reject the gift of forgiveness and life. I urge you to choose life. I do not desire that any perish, but that all turn from wickedness and live. Resist evil, with my help, and it will not rule over you.’

        God is not playing word games with us in order to hide the real nature of our existence, or of his love and desire to restore us to himself. Calvinists are.

      7. TS00 writes, “It is absurd to claim that from “Thus, “freedom to choose” is God’s will.” one obviously derives “Then, the choices people freely make are also God’s will” as if implying the same exact meaning of ‘will’.”

        No one said that one is derived from the other. You made that up, presumably, I’ll guess, to have something to rant about. God is sovereign and it is God who chose to give people freedom to choose – thus it is God’s will that people have freedom to choose. God is sovereign and the choices people make must be approved by God because God can overturn any decision a person might want to make. God’s refusal to overrule a person’s decision is also His will. All outcomes are God’s will with this conclusion derived from God’s sovereignty.

        Then, “What he appears to miss – even though I and countless others have spelled it out repeatedly – is that what people are given the right to freely choose is to DO or NOT DO God’s will.”

        The argument here is whether one chooses according to their desires (compatibilism) or according to something called libertarianism (whatever that is).

      8. Actually the ‘thus . . . then . . .’ is quoted directly from Rhutchin, but why quibble about facts, when one can obfuscate?

      9. TS00 writes, “Actually the ‘thus . . . then . . .’ is quoted directly from Rhutchin, but why quibble about facts, when one can obfuscate?”

        Not contested. The issue is how you label that an absurdity. Why do you run away from the issue? Did you realize that you invented a condition that does not exist and are now trying to cover for yourself by claiming obfuscation on my part – which is not even there.

    2. Bill Matthews asks, “Given all of that, why would God’s decretal will ever differ from His prescriptive will?”

      I think the normal distinction is preceptive will and decretive will.

      I think this, from the Ligonier website responds to your question.

      On Decretive Will: https://www.ligonier.org/blog/comprehending-decretive-will-god/
      “God’s decretive will is sometimes described as the sovereign, efficacious will by which God brings to pass whatever He pleases by His divine decree. An example of this may be seen in God’s work of creation. When God said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), He issued a divine imperative. He exercised His sovereign, efficacious will. When He did so, it was impossible for the light not to appear. It appeared by the sheer necessity of consequence.

      The decretive will can have no other effect, no other consequence than what God sovereignly commands. He did not request the light to shine. Neither did He coax, cajole, or woo it into existence. It was a matter of absolute authority and power.”

      On Preceptive Will: https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/examining-preceptive-will-god/
      “The preceptive will of God relates to the revealed commandments of God’s published law. When God commands us not to steal, this decree does not carry with it the immediate necessity of consequence. Where it was not possible for the light to refuse to shine in creation, it is possible for us to refuse to obey this command. In a word, we steal.

      We must be careful not to make too much of this distinction. We must not be lulled into thinking that the preceptive will of God is divorced form His decretive will. It is not as though the preceptive will has no effect or no necessity of consequence. We may have the power to disobey the precept. We do not have the power to disobey it with impunity. Neither can we annul it by our disregard. His law remains intact whether we obey or disobey it.

      In one sense, the preceptive will is part of the decretive will. God sovereignly and efficaciously decrees that His Law be established. It is established and nothing can disestablish it. His Law exists as surely as the light by which we read it.

    3. Thanks for your reply RHUTCHIN. I can largely agree with it except that I think we rely on two different concepts of Free Will. My concept (Libertarian Free Will) successfully resolves the internal contradiction of the three tenets of Calvinist/Reformed theology I laid out above while your concept of Free Will (presumably Compatibilistic Free Will) does not. In order to keep this thread as clean as possible, I will expound on this in a reply I will make to your post below (where I will also respond to points you made in that post).

  25. Hi Bill,

    Bill asks again – “WHY would God’s decretal will ever differ from his prescriptive will?”

    I agree! why would it? The question then that needs to be asked is this – Is there more than one “will of God”. Or is it that within ‘God’s will’ He determines things to come to pass (like the times before appointed and the bounds of our habitation – Acts 17:26) – which would include the sun rising and setting etc, etc, and within those times & boundaries God’s will allows man to seek the Lord and if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us -Acts 17:27

    To me that makes much more biblical sense than giving God dozens of separate wills that do nothing but confuse people with overlaps and so on.

    This still allows God to be absolutely sovereign (He set the times and boundaries and all the different possibilities within those times and boundaries and none can go beyond them) Yet within these times and boundaries men have a free will. To me that’s glorious! And I can see how that would bring God glory!

    1. Thanks for your reply Damon,

      My question is meant to demonstrate that the following three tenets of Calvinism/Reformed theology are internally contradictory:

      1. God has two non-identical wills: decretive and prescriptive.
      2. God is absolutely and meticulously sovereign (defined as controlling reality, not just theoretically able to do so).
      3. Humanity’s “free” will is compatibilistic in nature.

      As a non-Calvinist, non-Reformed Christian, I resolve the contradiction by denying #3 in lieu of humanity’s free will being libertarian in nature. This rejection then also modifies #2 in that God is sovereign because He is able to control everything but sovereignly chooses not to in order to enjoy a world that has creatures with libertarian free will. (If God is really sovereign, surely this sovereignty extends to His ability and right to make a world where He leaves room for libertarianly free creatures.)

      But as far as #1 goes, I am fine with the two wills idea. But it ONLY makes sense given creaturely libertarian (and not compatibilistic) free will.

      1. Bill Matthews to Dg writes, “the following three tenets of Calvinism/Reformed theology are internally contradictory:
        1. God has two non-identical wills: decretive and prescriptive.
        2. God is absolutely and meticulously sovereign (defined as controlling reality, not just theoretically able to do so).
        3. Humanity’s “free” will is compatibilistic in nature.”

        Can you explain the contradiction you see in the three statements?

        I think you should rephrase your points as
        1. God expresses His will in two ways: decretive and prescriptive.
        2. God is sovereign over His creation and rules His creation absolutely and meticulously.
        3. Humanity’s “free” will is compatibilistic in nature so that people are free to choose according to their desires without coercion.

        Maybe that will help resolve whatever contradiction you think exists.

        Then, ‘I resolve the contradiction by denying #3 in lieu of humanity’s free will being libertarian in nature. ‘

        Can you explain what you mean by “libertarian in nature” and the contradiction it resolves?

        Then, “This rejection then also modifies #2 in that God is sovereign because He is able to control everything but sovereignly chooses not to in order to enjoy a world that has creatures with libertarian free will.”

        God is sovereign because He rules His creation and He is able to enforce His sovereign rule (i.e., execute His decrees) because He is omniscient and omnipotent. God does not choose not to control His creation – He can choose not to interact with His creation at certain times. For example, God chose not to intervene to prevent Adam eating the fruit: David bedding Bathsheba; the Jews stoning Stephan; etc. Nonetheless, God remains in complete control of His creation.

        Then, “(If God is really sovereign, surely this sovereignty extends to His ability and right to make a world where He leaves room for libertarianly free creatures.)’

        That depends on what you mean by “libertarianly free creatures.”

      2. RHUTCHIN,

        Regarding your proposed re-statements of the three tenets of Calvinist/Reformed theology that I claim to be internally contradictory:

        #1: I am fine with your re-statement. My main question then becomes: Why would God ever express His will in two different ways (given absolute, meticulous sovereignty and compatibilistic human freedom)? It’s the same problem.

        #2: I think your re-statement is pretty near identical to my original statement. You just shuffled some words around and replaced my “controls” with your “rules”.

        #3: I am fine with your re-statement. I do not think the clause you appended to the end of the statement adds anything as that is already bound up with the idea of compatibilistic freedom that was included in my original version.

        So even with your three revised statements, I still contend that there is an internal contradiction. And it all hinges on the nature of human freedom: libertarian or compatibilistic.

        Compatibilistic Freedom holds that men always attempt to act in accordance with their strongest desire in any given situation. That their strongest desire DETERMINES what they will (attempt to) do. Men cannot choose, alter, or influence what their desires are–least not what their strongest desire is. Man can (attempt to) do as he pleases, but he cannot please as he pleases. As long as man is not coerced by an OUTSIDE force to act against his strongest desire, then he is said to be “free”.

        I reject this definition of freedom. What is described above I call “instinct”. Animals have instincts. Humans have instincts too, But humans ALSO have reasoning ability and a moral sense. This elevates humanity over mere animals. Reason and morality allow humans to deliberate on their desires and to choose against the strongest one if they so choose.

        Compatibilistic freedom makes human “free” in the same way that dogs are “free”. Both are compelled to (attempt to) act in accordance with their instinct–no more, no less. They cannot choose, alter, or influence their instincts.

        Further, I think the Bible shows that there is a human “faculty of choice” ABOVE our desires/instincts. I Corinthians 12:32 tells us that we ought to desire the greater gifts. So we are told to decide to follow the command of God to desire something that currently is not our desire.

        Compatibilistic freedom does not explain why God would choose A+B over A’+B. You contend that He did so because He wants man to be compatibilistically free. But men could still be compatibilistically free in a world where A’+B obtains. He could have decreed that Israel compatibilistic-freely chose NOT to sin in the wilderness (because THAT was their strongest desire in that situation) (A’) AND that we would compatibilistical-freely choose to NOT sin (B) after seeing Israel’s example of NOT sinning in the wilderness (A’) because THAT was our strongest desire in that situation.

        A’+B is better than A+B because it has less sin in it–it aligns with God’s prescriptive will better.

        So, even assuming compatibilistic freedom, there is no explanation for why God would choose the inferior A+B over the superior A’+B.

        The contradiction remains.

      3. Good insights Bill. The Compatibilist and Determinist are twin brothers with different names. The question they don’t like to face is how Adam (or Lucifer) went from having a nature with its strongest desire being obedience and submission to a moment where that strongest desire was replaced by a new strongest desire to be disobedient and rebellious. They want to sneak in contra-causal free will for those moments and yet still say those changes in their wills was eternally immutably predestined in the will of God! And then they wish to proclaim there is no contradiction!

        It’s amazing how loyalty to an unbiblical position seems to always lead to the profession of clear contradiction with God’s Word… not ever called “contradiction”… but always easy to identify with the nicer sounding terms like “compatibilism”, “antinomy”, “mystery”, “anthropomorphism”, “analogy”, etc.

      4. brianwagner writes, “The Compatibilist and Determinist are twin brothers with different names.”

        Did you mean “the same person” with different names?? If not, would not twin brothers naturally have different names, so what would your point be?

        Then, “The question they don’t like to face is how Adam (or Lucifer)…”

        Oh, Brian. We all face that question, and none of us has the answer. Of course, no one likes to face that question because their is no answer given to us.

        Then, ‘They want to sneak in contra-causal free will for those moments and yet still say those changes in their wills was eternally immutably predestined in the will of God! And then they wish to proclaim there is no contradiction!”

        So, what is the contradiction??? Can you refresh our memory?

      5. Bill Matthews writes, “#1: I am fine with your re-statement.”

        Great. We seem to agree that the issue is not whether God has two wills – He has one will – but how God expresses His will and how we come to know His will.

        Then, “Why would God ever express His will in two different ways (given absolute, meticulous sovereignty and compatibilistic human freedom)?”

        God expresses His will differently apparently because circumstances allow for it. In the one case, God expresses His will directly through His commandments to tell people how He wants them to behave.- but then God expresses His will by basically saying, you choose whether you want to behave this way (whether you want to obey me). Thus. we have Joshua telling the Jews, “therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve:” (Joshua 24) Thus, we see God’s will for the people – “fear the LORD and serve Him” – and then – “if it is disagreeable in your sight.” We see God’s will expressed in two different ways: (1) that people serve Him: and (2) that He has given people freedom to choose what they will do.

        We also see that God only allows people to do that which fits into His plan – God has incorporated the free decisions of people into His plan. For example, God accepted Herod’s decision to kill James (Acts 12) while rejecting Herod’s decision to kill Peter. It was God’s will that Herod kill James but not God’s will that Herod kill Peter (God had other plans for Peter.). As Herod considered what he would do, it was God’s will that Herod adhere to the commandment – Do not murder – but do so freely.

        God expresses His will in different ways as a means of communicating to His people (His elect) a knowledge of His will. We can understand what God is doing by what God reveals to us. Most of all, we are to understand that God has everything under control and no matter what happens, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose…” (Romans 8)

        Then, “#2: I think your re-statement is pretty near identical to my original statement.” and “ and “#3: I am fine with your re-statement.”

        That’s great. But then, you say, “I still contend that there is an internal contradiction. And it all hinges on the nature of human freedom: libertarian or compatibilistic.” I do not see a contradiction in these statements. I did not see you identifying a contradiction in anything you then wrote.

        Then, “As long as man is not coerced by an OUTSIDE force to act against his strongest desire, then he is said to be “free”. I reject this definition of freedom. What is described above I call “instinct”…humans ALSO have reasoning ability and a moral sense.”

        That’s somewhat extreme in my view. Under the Calvinist system, I think we can say that people act by instinct modified by a reasoning ability and a moral sense. People act in their self-interest and will control their desires when it is in their self-interest to do so. So, generally people do not act without thinking – although we probably both recognize that people don’t always think through their decisions. To say that people are compelled to act according to their instinct (like a dog) is not the idea conveyed by Calvinism (or compatibilism). To force that onto compatibilism is wrong.

        Then, “Further, I think the Bible shows that there is a human “faculty of choice” ABOVE our desires/instincts.”

        No problem, so long as we recognize that God is changing our desires to new ones that are above our old ones. So Paul instructs, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12) That transformation incorporates 1 Corinthians 12, “desire the greater gifts.” God has given His elect a desire for Christ, a desire to “seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.” Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 12 directs us in how to do that. Our desires are being reworked by the Scriptures.

        Then, “Compatibilistic freedom does not explain why God would choose A+B over A’+B.”

        OK, but we can apply the compatibilist concept to God and say that God is free to express His desires (His will) any way He wants and is never coerced to do anything other than His will. However, that does not explain what God chooses to do. All we know is what God has revealed to us in the Scriptures.

        Then, ‘So, even assuming compatibilistic freedom, there is no explanation for why God would choose the inferior A+B over the superior A’+B. The contradiction remains.”

        We are not told why God choose what he does – other than that Gos seeks to glorify Himself. We do know that God has given people a compatibist freedom to act on their desires and do so without coercion. We also know that God decision to choose A+B over the A’+B reflects His perfect wisdom and was done after the counsel of His will. Thus, A+B must be superior to A’+B. In the end, God does not reveal why He has done things this way.

        You claim a contradiction. I don’t see one. Earlier, you said that the contradiction , “hinges on the nature of human freedom: libertarian or compatibilistic.” You then discussed compatilistic freedom but said nothing about libertarian freedom – what it is and how it relates to the contradiction you see. It seems that you left out half of your argument – the critical half.

      6. I wanted to make something more clear than I did in my previous post. In A’, Israel’s strongest desire was to NOT sin in the wilderness because God decreed that that would be their greatest desire. (The same is true in A: Israel’s strongest desire was TO sin in the wilderness because God decreed that that would be their strongest desire.)

      7. Bill Matthews writes, “In A’, Israel’s strongest desire was to NOT sin in the wilderness because God decreed that that would be their greatest desire. (The same is true in A: Israel’s strongest desire was TO sin in the wilderness because God decreed that that would be their strongest desire.)

        By His decree, God would be more involved and interacting with Israel in world A’ to affect a desire not to sin while not being as involved in A. The more God is involved in the life of a person, the more the person will obey God and the less he will sin. God’s decree in world A was that Israel (and people generally) would inherit a corrupted nature from Adam so that Paul describes people as being “in the flesh.” Had God created world A’, Satan would not have been free to enter the garden or God would have become more involved in helping first Eve to resist Satan’s temptation and then Adam’s decision to eat the fruit.

      8. RHUTCHIN,

        After agreeing, for the sake of argument, to re-state my primary question as “Why would God ever express His will in two different ways (given absolute, meticulous sovereignty and compatibilistic human freedom)?”, you answered “God expresses His will differently apparently because circumstances allow for it.”

        This seems to be a circular answer. God (being absolutely and meticulously sovereign) as per the assumptions of the question being addressed) determines the circumstances that you say explain why His one will is expressed in two different ways. So then I’ll just ask “Why did God decree the circumstances that allow His will to be expressed in two different ways?”

        You write, “That’s somewhat extreme in my view. Under the Calvinist system, I think we can say that people act by instinct modified by a reasoning ability and a moral sense. People act in their self-interest and will control their desires when it is in their self-interest to do so. … To say that people are compelled to act according to their instinct (like a dog) is not the idea conveyed by Calvinism (or compatibilism). To force that onto compatibilism is wrong.”

        Fair enough. I concede that the Calvinist/Reformed system can accommodate the idea that human freedom incorporates reason and morality while canine freedom does not. You said that people can “control their desires when it is in their self-interest to do so” is a bit of a non-sequitur because self-interest is a desire. If self-interest controls desires, it is only because it is a stronger desire than those desires it controls. Under your system, men’s actions are still determined by their strongest desire.

        But the problem with compatibilistic freedom is:

        (1a) A man cannot affect his strongest desire
        or
        (1b) If a man can affect his strongest desire, his decision to (attempt to) do so is the result of his preceding strongest desire

        (2) A man’s strongest desire determines what a man decides to (attempt to) do (or not do). A man cannot decide to (attempt to) act (or not act) against what his strongest desire is.

        (3) A man’s original strongest desire is determined by his genetics and preceding experiences–none of which he can affect.

        (4) A man’s genetics and preceding experiences are determined by God via His Decretal Will.

        All of this is to say that, under compatibilistic freedom, desires deterministically cause the decision to (attempt to) act (or not act)).

        What if I were to develop an AI robot and its operating system. I program its operating system such that it always attempts to act in line with its strongest desire. I then program its strongest desire to be to strike my neighbor in the face the next time it sees him. Would the robot or I be morally responsible for the assault? I say that I would be morally responsible. Reformed Theology maintains that the robot would be responsible.

        The robot is akin to Reformed Theology’s “second causes” which holds the “second cause” morally responsible for the action and not the first cause. Now if the robot could decide to act against its strongest desires, I could see holding the robot morally responsible. But if it could not, only the maker of the robot and its strongest desire is morally culpable. It’s the same thing as a boy picking up a stick and poking his sister in the eye with it. When confronted by their mother, the boy says he didn’t poke his sister in the eye, the stick did. Reformed Theologians would agree with the boy.

        You write, “We are not told why God choose what he does – other than that Gos seeks to glorify Himself….You claim a contradiction. I don’t see one.”

        Consider this scenario to see the contradiction: (This scenario assumes three of Reformed Theology’s tenets (1) God is absolutely and meticulously sovereign, (2) God has decreed a world that does not align with His prescriptive will, (3) human freedom is compatibilistic in nature.)

        World M contains Event A (which involves a sin and is therefore not within the prescriptive will of God).

        World N contains Event A’ (which is identical to Event A but does NOT involve a sin and is therefore within the prescriptive will of God).

        Event Z encompasses all events subsequent to Event A in World M and Event Z’ encompasses all events subsequent to Event A’ in World N.

        Because He is absolutely and meticulously sovereign, God can bring it about (by determining initial conditions, cause/effect laws, and people’s individual strongest desires (by determining the preceding conditions that give rise to the strongest desires as per the discussion above) that Event Z = Event Z’.

        Since Event Z and Event Z’ include the amount of glory directed to God (given that Z can be made to equal Z’ as above), World M and World N would bring equal glory to God.

        So World M and World N would be identical except for the difference in Event A vs. Event A’.

        Because God is good, He would choose World N over World M because it is more in-line with his moral/prescriptive will (it contains less sin, rebellion, etc.) and is otherwise identical with World M including the amount of glory He receives.

        God did not do so.

      9. Bill Matthews writes, “So then I’ll just ask “Why did God decree the circumstances that allow His will to be expressed in two different ways?””

        This issue is not unique to Calvinism – as all believers face it. Let’s use an example.
        1. God declares His will, Thou shalt not murder and then allows people to murder and this is also His will. For example, God watches as Cain murders Able and does nothing when He could have prevented that murder. Or, we could use David ordering the death of Uriah.

        The only answer we have is that God wanted to do it that way (He is sovereign) and that decision reflects His perfect wisdom. God could easily prevent all sin as He will do for believers in heaven. God has chosen not to do so on this earth.

        More to the point: What does this have to do your claim of a contradiction within Calvinist Theology? We have been God’s decredal and prescriptive will but I don’t see these involved in the contradiction claim.

        Then, ” If self-interest controls desires, it is only because it is a stronger desire than those desires it controls. Under your system, men’s actions are still determined by their strongest desire.’

        I agree. Self-interest is a desire and is among, if not, the strongest desire. At the same time it acts in conjunction with other desires – a desire for money may lead one to rob a bank but the prospects of getting caught may result in other avenues being pursued with one having to reason which supports better one’s self-interest.

        Then, “But the problem with compatibilistic freedom is:
        (1a) A man cannot affect his strongest desire
        or
        (1b) If a man can affect his strongest desire, his decision to (attempt to) do so is the result of his preceding strongest desire.”

        No man can affect his strongest desire. The unbeliever is slave to sin and cannot do other than sin. The believer has been given a new nature by virtue of being born again and is now indwelt by the Holy Spirit plus. Plus, he is in the process of transforming his mind through the Scriptures. In this manner, God has changed his desires, and is continuing to change those desires, so the believer’s strongest desire has changed to one of love for God. Compatibilistic freedom – where one chooses according to his strongest desire – is still operative. What is the problem that you see here?

        Then, “(3) A man’s original strongest desire is determined by his genetics and preceding experiences–none of which he can affect.
        (4) A man’s genetics and preceding experiences are determined by God via His Decretal Will.”

        By genetics, you mean that a person inherits a depraved nature from Adam. This was determined by God who is now enforcing His judgment on Adam – “…in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.”

        Then, “All of this is to say that, under compatibilistic freedom, desires deterministically cause the decision to (attempt to) act (or not act)).”

        I agree. That is what Jonathan Edwards basically said in his paper on free will. People act consistent with their desires.

        Then, “What if I were to develop an AI robot and its operating system….I say that I would be morally responsible. Reformed Theology maintains that the robot would be responsible.”

        Do you mean to compare an AI robot to Adam? Adam was not programmed to eat the fruit, yet he did. He did this as circumstances around him changed and he was confronted with making a decision (to eat the fruit) that he knew was wrong. He made a deliberate decision to eat the fruit. An AI robot would not have eaten the fruit because changing circumstances would not have changed his programming or the rule of that programming over the robot’s actions. Robots only act as their programming allows – they don’t think about anything.

        Then, “The robot is akin to Reformed Theology’s “second causes” which holds the “second cause” morally responsible for the action and not the first cause. ”

        Absolutely not. An AI robot is not a human. Humans are made in the image of God with the ability to think, reason, and make decisions consistent with their desires. Robots don’t think or reason or make decisions and certainly do not have desires. They do not have life or consciousness.

        Then, “Since Event Z and Event Z’ include the amount of glory directed to God (given that Z can be made to equal Z’ as above), World M and World N would bring equal glory to God.”

        World M is the world in which we now live. World N is heaven. So then you say, “Because God is good, He would choose World N over World M because it is more in-line with his moral/prescriptive will (it contains less sin, rebellion, etc.) and is otherwise identical with World M including the amount of glory He receives. God did not do so.”

        So???? You left us hanging. What is your point? Where is the contradiction and what does it have to do with Calvinism? Basically, you describe two worlds – one where sin reigns and one where sin does not reign – one that we now experience and one that we will experience. What was your point in describing our present reality and out future reality??

      10. I’ve tried to state and re-state my position in a couple of different ways. I feel like I haven’t done a very good job of it though. (It’s frustrating when you can’t get the words you write on paper to perfectly communicate the ideas in your head!) I’ll try one more time and try to be less precise—which ironically might make it more clear.

        To reiterate: The three tenets of Reformed Theology that I contend are internally contradictory are:

        1. God has two non-identical wills: decretive and prescriptive. (The existence of a prescriptive will includes the tenet that God is good in nature).
        2. God is absolutely and meticulously sovereign (defined as controlling reality, not just theoretically able to do so).
        3. Humanity’s free will is compatibilistic in nature.

        Compatibilistic Freedom is deterministic. The outputs (i.e., decisions to attempt to act or not act) are “baked into” the inputs over which a man ultimately has no control. (But God does have meticulous control over them.)

        God is good in His very being. Therefore, His moral (prescriptive) will is logically prior to His decree to create a specific world. Since God is good by nature, one would expect the world He decreed to align with His moral will (i.e., there would be no variance between His moral/prescriptive will and His decretal will) UNLESS a sin-filled world is required to achieve a greater good. Otherwise, the allowed sin would be gratuitous—which one would not expect from a good God.

        A “greater good” could be (a) allowing one sin to produce obedience or a refined character in others, (b) the inherent good of creatures expressing compatibilistic freedom, (c) creatures giving God maximum glory.

        Because God is absolutely and meticulously sovereign, He can design the workings of a world (e.g., natural laws) and the workings and content of human desire (which determine decisions to attempt to act or not act) such that a world without sin achieves the same amount of good as a world with sin in it because nothing is impossible with God and He controls everything. In other words, a sinless world could achieve effects (a), (b), and (c) just as well as a sinful world because of God’s sovereignty. This means that there would be no “greater good” achieved by a world with sin it over a world with no sin it.

        But the existence of a “greater good” that could only be brought about by a sinful world was the condition we identified that could explain why God would decree a world that did not align with His moral/prescriptive will.

        Reformed theology asserts absolute and meticulous sovereignty + compatibilistic freedom + God’s goodness. But these tenets ineluctably lead to a sinless world — one where God’s decretal will and prescriptive will DO align. Yet Reformed Theology also asserts that God’s decretal will and His prescriptive will DO NOT align.

        This is why I contend that those three tenets of Reformed theology are internally contradictory/inconsistent.

        P.S. I don’t think it is in me to present this fairly complicated idea any more clearly. Hopefully I’ll not be asked to re-state this argument all over again. But if someone wants to argue against a certain point in the argument, I’m all for it. But I’d like to first have the impression that that person at least understands my argument (even if he does not agree with it).

      11. Bill Matthews writes, “The three tenets of Reformed Theology that I contend are internally contradictory are:
        1. God has two non-identical wills: decretive and prescriptive. (The existence of a prescriptive will includes the tenet that God is good in nature).
        2. God is absolutely and meticulously sovereign (defined as controlling reality, not just theoretically able to do so).
        3. Humanity’s free will is compatibilistic in nature.”

        You start here and then you reduce it to this:
        “Reformed theology asserts :
        + absolute and meticulous sovereignty
        + compatibilistic freedom
        + God’s goodness.”

        Since sovereignty and compatibilism are stated in both of your lists, the meat of your comment deals with the relationship between God’s decretive and prescriptive will and God’s goodness. Not surprising that most of your comments dealt with this.

        Let’s look at a couple of your comments (this is somewhat minutia but I think helps us to focus on the real issue here)..

        !. “Since God is good by nature, one would expect the world He decreed to align with His moral will .”

        This we find to be the case. God declares the world He created to be “very good.” Neither Adam nor Eve has any inclination to sin and so far as we know, would never have sinned absent the involvement of Satan. Your real issue is to explain why God gave Satan the freedom to enter the garden to destroy the “very good” world and why God watched as Satan successfully pursued that goal and did nothing to stop it. This issue is not unique to Calvinism as non-Calvinists face it also. No one, as far as I know, has ventured an explanation. Many suggest that the events of the garden were a test for Adam, and through him, all of humanity. However, there is nothing unique to Calvinism here. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists recognize that God is good and both recognize that God created a world that started as good and ended not good.

        2. “Because God is absolutely and meticulously sovereign, He can design…the workings and content of human desire…such that a world without sin achieves the same amount of good as a world with sin in it because nothing is impossible with God and He controls everything.”

        Everyone can agree with this, however, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists agree that God did not. Cals and non-Cals agree that God created man in His image imparting to him a freedom of self-determination whereby man could make decisions contrary to God’s will. They disagree on the nature of this freedom and the extent to which a person’s desires determine a person’s decisions. Nonetheless, Cals and non-cals seem to agree that Adam’s sin had a real impact on his nature such that Adam was a much different person after he sinned than before. Both agree that God made no effort to prevent this happening.

        Since both Cals and non-Cals agree that God is sovereign (differing on how this relates to His will) and that man has freedom of will (differing only in whether it is libertarian or compatibilistic) as well as God’s goodness, your claim of a contradiction in Reformed Theology applies equally to non-Reformed Theology. Whether it is actually a contradiction or just a problem/mystery without an answer seems to be the point of debate here. The bottom line is that we are dealing with a problem common to christian Theology and not unique to reformed or non-reformed Theologies.

        My claim is that there is no real difference between Calvinist/Reformed Theology and non-Calvinist/non-Reformed Theology in the three basic tenets you identified – God’s sovereignty; man’s freedom; and God’s goodness – and I don’t see a difference necessitated by the argument that you have laid out. While you have claimed that this is peculiar to Calvinism, I don’t see that being the case. So, readers may want to weigh in on the validity of our claims.

        I will take up the issue of a contradiction in my next comment.

      12. RHUTCHIN,

        I asserted “Since God is good by nature, one would expect the world He decreed to align with His moral will.”

        You responded, “This we find to be the case.”

        No, this is absolutely NOT what Reformed theologians claim is the case. Reformed theology (as well as you in earlier posts) makes a clear distinction between “how the world IS” (God’s decretal will) vs. “how the world SHOULD be” (God’s prescriptive will). They do NOT align!

        That you confuse this simple and previously-agreed-upon point by only looking at the state of God’s creation immediately after creation vs. the creation’s ENTIRE history suggests we might not be able to make any progress in this discussion. God decreed creation’s entire history not just the part up until Adam sinned. That is obvious in my construal of Tenet #1.

        Also, God created the angels including Satan. They are obviously part of this world since they play such large roles in it. So God decreed all of human AND angelic/satanic history. Because His decree covered the fall and nature of Satan as well as the part he played in Adam’s sin, you cannot say that God’s decree was for a sinless “very good” world .

        You write, “However, there is nothing unique to Calvinism here. Both Calvinists and non-Calvinists recognize that God is good and both recognize that God created a world that started as good and ended not good.”

        Yes, both sides can agree with that. But that is NOT the crux of the dilemma that causes the three tenets of Reformed theology I laid out to be internally contradictory.
        The crux of the matter is that God decreed a world that “ended not good” which is contrary to His prescriptive will and Reformed theology has no explanation for why this is so (given God’s absolute and meticulous sovereignty + compatibilistic/deterministic human freedom).

        You write, “Cals and non-Cals agree that God created man in His image imparting to him a freedom of self-determination whereby man could make decisions contrary to God’s will.”

        Absolutely no. Reformed theology does NOT agree in the “self-determination” of man. It asserts that man is a slave to his strongest desire and that he has no control over his strongest desire. Man always decides to (attempt to) act or not act in accordance with his strongest desire. His strongest desire is the result of preceding conditions over which the man has no control. So a man’s decisions are “baked into” preceding conditions which are baked into preceding conditions which are baked into preceding conditions, etc. This is all deterministic. Every thing has been baked in since the beginning (even before the foundations of the earth).

        Instead of “self-determination” you should say that God grants mankind “desire-determination”—that our desires determine our actions. That perversely reduces man down to his desires. Desires does NOT equal “self”. Components of human nature other than desire come into play when a man makes a decision. Reformed theology only gives credence to the desires and ignores other aspects of man that can override desires when it comes to making decisions.

        You write, “They disagree on the nature of this freedom and the extent to which a person’s desires determine a person’s decisions….Since both Cals and non-Cals agree that God is sovereign (differing on how this relates to His will) and that man has freedom of will (differing only in whether it is libertarian or compatibilistic) as well as God’s goodness, your claim of a contradiction in Reformed Theology applies equally to non-Reformed Theology….My claim is that there is no real difference between Calvinist/Reformed Theology and non-Calvinist/non-Reformed Theology in the three basic tenets you identified – God’s sovereignty; man’s freedom; and God’s goodness”

        I think you GREATLY GREATLY under-estimate the significance of the disagreement over the nature of human freedom and how it relates to God’s sovereignty. On it, the whole world depends. On one side of the disagreement lies doctrinal contradictions and on the other doctrinal harmony.

        You write, “I don’t see a difference necessitated by the argument that you have laid out.”

        It seems then you do not understand my argument. One can understand an argument without agreeing with it. I am not expecting you to agree with my argument, but I was hoping you could come to understand it. I think the main problem seems to be a misunderstanding of what determinism entails.

        If a world is wholly deterministic (and ours is IF human freedom is compatibilistic), then EVERYTHING in that world (both good and bad) is ultimately laid at the feet of the originator of that world. Because God’s absolute and meticulous sovereignty entails that He can achieve anything (including maximizing His glory) without needing to resort to the existence of sin, God becomes morally responsible for the gratuitous sin in our world. God becomes the doer of sin and all of our hope is overthrown.

      13. Bill,
        A short note to let you know that others are watching your words here. It has become more difficult to “like” a post now (before you could do it from in in-coming email), but I am sure that many are benefiting. We are enjoying your logic. And it will be find-able for others so hang in there.

      14. Bill Matthews writes, “No, this is absolutely NOT what Reformed theologians claim is the case. Reformed theology (as well as you in earlier posts) makes a clear distinction between “how the world IS” (God’s decretal will) vs. “how the world SHOULD be” (God’s prescriptive will). They do NOT align!”

        That’s not the issue here. Calvinists recognize that the world before Adam sinned was different from the world after Adam sinned. In the world before Adam sinned God’s decretal will aligned with His prescriptive will. After Adam sinned, they diverged.

        Then, ‘That you confuse this simple and previously-agreed-upon point by only looking at the state of God’s creation immediately after creation vs. the creation’s ENTIRE history suggests we might not be able to make any progress in this discussion.”

        There is no confusion here. God did decree the entire history of creation from Gen to Rev. Among His decrees was that which granted Adam freedom to make choices and that those choices would prevail. Adam made a choice to eat the fruit and that choice had specific impacts on creation recognized by both Cals and non-Cals.

        Then, “you cannot say that God’s decree was for a sinless “very good” world .”

        God did decree a sinless world and this is the world God created. God described the world He created as “very good.” Thus, God did decree a perfect sinless world else God could not have made that statement. God also granted (by decree) Satan freedom to enter that world and wreck havoc. Everything was known to God and nothing could happen without God’s decree that it would happen.

        I don’t see any reason to disagree on these points – that the world before Adam sinned was different from the world after Adam sinned.

      15. Bill,
        Yesterday I told you that others were listening to you and to hang in there.

        I forgot to mention that it likely will make no difference. No amount of logic or biblical references (en masse!) have made a difference.

        Take, for example, this most recent statement…. “In the world before Adam sinned God’s decretal will aligned with His prescriptive will. After Adam sinned, they diverged.”

        Unbelievable!

        So it appears that they are now saying that Adam is the one who caused God’s world to change. How “man-centered” is that?! For the folks who have a very strict, narrow understanding of God’s sovereignty, that sure does give a lot of credit to man!!

        Hmmm…. unless of course…. it was God’s decretal will that Adam diverge God’s two wills?? Well then I guess they are still aligned!!

        This just never ends. The logical knots they tie themselves into!

      16. FOH writes, “it appears that they are now saying that Adam is the one who caused God’s world to change.”

        That’s exactly what Calvinism says – “…just as through one man (i.e., Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men,…”

      17. Rhutchin writes:

        ‘That’s exactly what Calvinism says – “…just as through one man (i.e., Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men,…”’

        And leaves out the rest of your comment:

        ‘ How “man-centered” is that?! For the folks who have a very strict, narrow understanding of God’s sovereignty, that sure does give a lot of credit to man!!

        Hmmm…. unless of course…. it was God’s decretal will that Adam diverge God’s two wills?? Well then I guess they are still aligned!!

        This just never ends. The logical knots they tie themselves into!’

        So, once again, we have a sovereign God who designed, ordered and ordained whatsoever would ever come to pass in his universe before a single person was ever born – and then ol’ sneaky Adam slipped in a little sin while he wasn’t looking! Oh wait, just kidding. Actually, God created and ordained Satan to slip in and persuade Adam into the whole sin thing – because God really, really wanted all that evil to occur so he could save the world and get some of that glory stuff! But wait, then we are back to blaming Adam for the curse of a sin nature, even though God slipped him a Mickey with that Satan stuff in the garden. That God, he sure is a kidder; running the whole scam like a mofia don, but blaming the poor guys who do the shooting, and letting them take the fall.

        Of course, what this verse actually tells us is how sin and death became a part of a once perfect and sinless creation: through the very first man using that God-given freedom of choice to rebel against God’s express will and do his own thing. We are told that at this point, the first ever ‘sin’ occurred, and the forewarned death became a (temporarily) inescapable reality. What we are not told (because Calvinism hadn’t made it up yet) is that there is such a thing as an inherent sin nature, or a now inescapable inability to hear and follow God, which would make it sorta silly to talk about Enoch, Noah and others who listened to (walked with) God. Ah, but silly never bothered a Calvinist. One only has to make cogent arguments, not try to make them all consistent.

      18. Thanks TS00 for coming to my rescue!

        Sometimes I can’t follow all that curvy logic.

        Imagine your kid saying, “I know you told me not to do that Dad, but secretly you wanted me to, right?” Oh, I guess they say it like this, “I know that your prescriptive will was for me not to do that, but —-since it happened— we know that your decretal will was that I do it.”

        That works right?

        Try this….. “I know you told me not to do it Dad, but I am just a secondary cause of it happening.”

        That’s better right?

      19. TS00 writes, “And leaves out the rest of your comment:
        ‘ How “man-centered” is that?! For the folks who have a very strict, narrow understanding of God’s sovereignty, that sure does give a lot of credit to man!!”

        Of course, it is man-centered. It centers on Adam. FOH said, “So it appears that they are now saying that Adam is the one who caused God’s world to change. How “man-centered” is that?! Yes, exactly, Calvinism says that Adam is the one who caused God’s world to change – and that is man-centered. It shows that Calvinists understanding of sovereignty is not that narrow.

        Then, “it was God’s decretal will that Adam diverge God’s two wills?? Well then I guess they are still aligned!!”

        The alignment between God’s decretal and prescriptive wills ended when Adam sinned. As you say, “Of course, what this verse actually tells us is how sin and death became a part of a once perfect and sinless creation: ” The “once perfect and sinless creation,” was one where God’s decretal and prescriptive wills were aligned. That God’s decretal will was that “Adam diverge God’s two wills” does not align the two wills as God’s prescriptive will is syill perfect obedience.

        Then, “through the very first man using that God-given freedom of choice to rebel against God’s express will and do his own thing.”

        Yes, Calvinism agrees with you on this point. God’s express will is the “prescriptive will” to which Bill Matthews refers.

        Then, “We are told that at this point, the first ever ‘sin’ occurred, and the forewarned death became a (temporarily) inescapable reality. ”

        Yes, this was God’s decretal will.

        Then, “What we are not told (because Calvinism hadn’t made it up yet) is that there is such a thing as an inherent sin nature, or a now inescapable inability to hear and follow God, which would make it sorta silly to talk about Enoch, Noah and others who listened to (walked with) God. ”

        Calvinism does address this. It says that Enoch, Noah, and others could not have exhibited faith unless God gave them that faith – no one is born with faith; the only source of faith is God.

      20. Bill Matthews writes, “But that is NOT the crux of the dilemma that causes the three tenets of Reformed theology I laid out to be internally contradictory.”

        That’s fine. My point is that your complaint extends equally to the non-Calvinists who have the same problem you allege.

        Then, “The crux of the matter is that God decreed a world that “ended not good” which is contrary to His prescriptive will and Reformed theology has no explanation for why this is so”

        I agree. No one has that explanation because God does not give us His reason for the actions He took. However, we are assured that God “works all things after the counsel of His will” so that everything God does reflects His perfect wisdom. We say, with the 24 elders, ““Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.”

        Then, “Absolutely no. Reformed theology does NOT agree in the “self-determination” of man. It asserts that man is a slave to his strongest desire and that he has no control over his strongest desire.”

        Calvinism says that man is a slave to himself (his sin nature) and not to external forces. A person’s desires are part of his character – those desires help to define who the person is and what makes him different from other people. Those desires arise from a sin nature with which he was born and are shaped by his experiences as he grows. You seem to be attributing a person’s desires to some outside force but they are internal to the person and generated from his sin nature. A person is self-determining as he is not being coerced to act as he does. Certainly preceding conditions – e.g., a person’s real life experiences – help to shape the desires that determine a person’s actions. The beginning point is his birth and the sin nature with which he is born. That nature is a direct effect of Adam’s sin.

        Then, “Desires does NOT equal “self”. Components of human nature other than desire come into play when a man makes a decision. Reformed theology only gives credence to the desires and ignores other aspects of man that can override desires when it comes to making decisions.”

        This is wrong. Calvinism recognizes the influence of multiple factors that serve to exaggerate or mollify a person’s desires. The Calvinist conclusion is that the action a person takes under the circumstances that exist reflects his strongest desire under those circumstances – a person’s desires are prideful/selfish and he acts in his self-interest. There is no difference between self-determination and desire-determination. Both take into account the multiple influences on a person in making decisions.

      21. Bill Matthews writes, “I think you GREATLY GREATLY under-estimate the significance of the disagreement over the nature of human freedom and how it relates to God’s sovereignty. On it, the whole world depends. On one side of the disagreement lies doctrinal contradictions and on the other doctrinal harmony.”

        I never saw it as that extreme. Based on what Dr. Flowers writes, the major issues that divide Cals from non-Cals are God’s foreknowledge.(that Dr. Flowers is not willing to give up) and Total Depravity (that he wants to give up but I don’t think he has yet to develop an argument to do so). You seem to think that there are issues between Ca;s and non-Cals related to your three points. If you can expand on what you see as creating a great divide between Cals and non-Cals, that would be interesting to see.

      22. Bill Matthews writes, ” I think the main problem seems to be a misunderstanding of what determinism entails.”

        Or a disagreement between us as to what it entails. Identifying which of us misunderstands “determinism” will be interesting.

        Then, “EVERYTHING in that world (both good and bad) is ultimately laid at the feet of the originator of that world.”

        Depends on what you mean. Do you mean that God, because He determines everything, must cause everything or do you allow God to work through secondary causes – i.e., through self-determining people.

        Then, “Because God’s absolute and meticulous sovereignty entails that He can achieve anything (including maximizing His glory) without needing to resort to the existence of sin,”

        I agree. However, we observe the world in which we live and we see that God created a world in which there is sin. That is not an debatable point. It is what we have to work with.

        Then, “God becomes morally responsible for the gratuitous sin in our world. God becomes the doer of sin and all of our hope is overthrown.”

        Even you have to accept that the world in which we live is comprised of people who sin. The Scriptures absolve God of any moral responsibility for such sin describing the entry of sin into the world through Adam. I don’t see your point here. Calvinist Theology explains the condition of the world and the presence of sin. Arminian Theology agrees with Calvinist Theology and then introduces prevenient grace to diverge from Calvinism (I don’t think it works). I think other non-Cals also go along with the Calvinist view with the exception of those that disagree on Total Depravity. So,where are you coming from?

  26. Hi Bill,

    Good job too. You have done a good job of exposing the contradiction of Calvinism, and even within a “two wills” model it doesn’t have to be as you have shown.

    I kind of liken it to a cube.

    The Non-Calvinist can have a cube but the cube is hollow. The word freedom can be placed in the cube and the freedom is evidenced by the space around the word where it is free to move.

    However the Calvinist has a cube. The word freedom is also in their cube, but it is a solid cube with the word freedom concreted in the middle. The Calvinist then points to their cube and says “see we have freedom in ours as well”. But the problem is, blind Freddy can see that it is not true freedom. But the Calvinist insists that it is.

  27. FROMOVERHERE wrote, “A short note to let you know that others are watching your words here. … I am sure that many are benefiting. We are enjoying your logic. And it will be find-able for others so hang in there.”

    Thank you for the encouragement. It means a lot to me.

    And also, “Take, for example, this most recent statement…. “In the world before Adam sinned God’s decretal will aligned with His prescriptive will. After Adam sinned, they diverged.””

    I was shocked at this argument from RHUTCHIN as well. I will respond to it (again) in my next post.

  28. RHUTCHIN,

    You wrote, “Calvinists recognize that the world before Adam sinned was different from the world after Adam sinned. In the world before Adam sinned God’s decretal will aligned with His prescriptive will. After Adam sinned, they diverged.”

    God’s Prescriptive Will is timeless. It is part of His good nature. His Decretal Will existed IN TOTALITY (it covered all of history including angelic and human history) prior to creation (logically prior to if not temporally prior to). Nothing that subsequently occurred in history could change God’s Decretal Will. So, immediately prior to creation, before Adam existed or sinned, God’s Prescriptive Will did NOT align with His Decretal Will. Reformed Theology has no explanation for this (e.g., that our world contains sin) given their assertions that God’s sovereignty=actual control over every event and that mankind’s freedom is compatibilistic/deterministic.

    If you cannot agree with the construction above, I think your own personal system of belief significantly departs from Reformed Theology and should go by another name.

    My argument is that three central tenets of Reformed Theology are internally contradictory. Your perspective seems to differ from Reformed Theology on the meaning of God’s Decretal and Prescriptive Wills (as well as on what freedom entails). So perhaps your system of belief does not have internal contradictions. Regardless, Reformed Theology does. That was, and is, my argument.

    You wrote, “God did decree a sinless world and this is the world God created.”

    Again, this might be true in YOUR system of belief, but this is NOT true in Reformed Theology. God’s decree covered the entire angelic and human history. So God did NOT decree a sinless world. You previously agreed that God’s Decretal Will controls how the world IS and God’s Prescriptive Will describes how the world SHOULD be. Well, this world does have sin in it so that was God’s decree.

    I almost feel like we shouldn’t continue this discussion until we straighten this out. I am interested in discussing Reformed Theology not, with all due respect, your personal system of belief. I fear that we will continue to talk past one another until we agree to discuss the same thing.

    You wrote, “My point is that your complaint extends equally to the non-Calvinists who have the same problem you allege….No one has that explanation because God does not give us His reason for the actions He took.”

    Not true. As I asserted in one of my first posts in this thread, Libertarian Freedom resolves the internal contradiction within the three tenets of Reformed Theology that we have been discussing because it is not deterministic. Of course whether or not Libertarian Freedom solves the contradiction or not, it is still true that three central tenets of Reformed Theology are internally contradictory.

    You write, “Calvinism recognizes the influence of multiple factors that serve to exaggerate or mollify a person’s desires. The Calvinist conclusion is that the action a person takes under the circumstances that exist reflects his strongest desire under those circumstances – a person’s desires are prideful/selfish and he acts in his self-interest. There is no difference between self-determination and desire-determination. Both take into account the multiple influences on a person in making decisions.”

    I disagree. Reformed Theology may recognize influences on decision-making other than desire, but these other influences NEVER prevail over the strongest desires. For simplicity, let’s look at three parts of human nature (our soul) which goes into a decision to (attempt to) act or not act: desires, rationality, and morality. We may desire to act in a certain way, but reason (e.g., wisdom) may speak against that action. Or moral contemplation may speak against that action. Reformed Theology asserts that, regardless of the counter-influence of reason or moral contemplation, man’s decision ALWAYS aligns with his strongest desire. So Reformed Theology might recognize the influence of things other than desires, but desires ALWAYS wins out. This is why I used the term “desire-determination” instead of “self-determination”.

    You said that I seemed to consider desires to be an “outside force” (external to the “true self” of a person). I can see how you would think that, but it is not the case. I consider desires to be part of the self. But I do not consider it to be the total self or even the most powerful part of the self. I believe that reasoning and moral contemplation are also part of the self (soul). (They are part of the Imago Dei.) Desires, reasoning, and morality all interact with each other inside the self when in comes to making a decision to (attempt to) act or not act. I maintain that sometimes reason and moral contemplation can cause a person to deny his strongest desire. Sometimes desire wins out, sometimes reasoning, and sometimes morality. It seems this is a fuller account of “self-determination” since “self” includes desires, reasoning, and morality (plus other faculties of the soul).

    Further, I do not believe a valid counter to my argument about desire-determination vs. self-determination is to say that whatever was decided is BY DEFINITION that person’s strongest desire. Say a man’s strongest desire was to (attempt to) do Action A, but his reasoning argued that deciding to do Action A was not wise or reasonable and his moral contemplation indicated that Action A was wrong. Say the man’s reasoning and moral contemplation won the “internal debate” and the man decided to NOT do Action A. It is not acceptable to then define NOT doing Action A as that man’s strongest desire since that is what the man decided. Doing so would be to base one’s argument on a tautology. Asserting that “man always decides to (attempt to) act or not act in accord with his strongest desire” (a tenet of Reformed Theology) would become the same thing as saying “man always decides to (attempt to) act or not act as he decides.” The argument becomes meaningless.

    1. Well put.

      You are astute in pointing out that Reformed Theology is inherently contradictory and seeks to hide its internal contradictions in clever euphemisms and wordy explanations.

      Rhutchin is one who ceaselessly attempts to blur the lines of what Reformed Theology officially asserts (according to its own doctors of theology) or else he holds to some other theology and simply thinks it is the orthodox Reformed position.

      1. Bill and TS00,

        Agreed. You will find this true not only of RH, but almost all newly minted YRRs that discover this blog and start posting will say “Oh you just don’t get Reformed theology!”

        VanTil, Pink, Boettner (and Calvin) “get” Reformed theology…. but people just dont realize what they are saying when they say “Oh, yeah, I used to be a generic evangelical, but now I am Reformed!”

        You point out what Reformed theology teaches ….. guess what you hear? “You just dont understand Reformed theology!” of “You are setting up a straw man!”

        Right.

      2. Most reasonable persons will even listen to such an accusation, and consider the correction to their ‘error’ the speaker suggests. But what you find with Reformed Theology is, as the original post suggests, a never-ending chasing of clouds, a Theology that simply cannot be pinned down and a definition that remains ever just out of reach. Conveniently.

    2. Bill Matthews writes, “immediately prior to creation, before Adam existed or sinned, God’s Prescriptive Will did NOT align with His Decretal Will.”

      Prior to Adam’s sin, God’s prescriptive (or preceptive) will is revealed in His law. Prior to Adam’s sin, there was one law – Do not eat the fruit. Adam was obeying that law up to the point where he ate the fruit. That, to me, is alignment between God’s prescriptive and decretal will. I do not understand how you say it was not.

      Then, “Reformed Theology has no explanation for this (e.g., that our world contains sin) given their assertions that God’s sovereignty=actual control over every event and that mankind’s freedom is compatibilistic/deterministic.”

      Reformed Theology recognizes that we live in a world that contains sin, that God created this world, and that God decreed the sin that exists. The Scriptures offer no explanation for God’s purposes in creating such a world, so no theology has an explanation for it.

      Your statement, “immediately prior to creation, before Adam existed or sinned, God’s Prescriptive Will did NOT align with His Decretal Will.” covers all of human history and we both understand that God gave people freedom to disobey Him. However, at this point, we are just discussing the period of time between the creation and Adam’s sin. Adam obeyed God’s prescriptive will and this was aligned with God’s decretal will. I don’t understand your objection to this.

    3. Bill Matthews writes, “Your perspective seems to differ from Reformed Theology on the meaning of God’s Decretal and Prescriptive Wills (as well as on what freedom entails). ”

      I’ll go with RC Sproul on this. On God’s will, Sproul writes: “Though God’s sovereign will (your decretal will) is often hidden from us until after it comes to pass, there is one aspect of His will that is plain to us—His preceptive will. Here God reveals His will through His holy law. For example, it is the will of God that we do not steal;…We have the power or ability to thwart the preceptive will of God, though never the right to do so. …It may be God’s sovereign or hidden (or decretal) will that we be “permitted” to sin, as he brings His sovereign will to pass even through and by means of the sinful acts of people.”

      As to freedom, Reformed Theology holds that man is free so long as he can pursue his desires free of coercion.

      Is that your understanding so that we can put this behind us?

      1. Bill,
        This Sproul quote (which summarizes and apparently “fixes” — make palatable—the Reformed position) is exactly the thing that makes it so ridiculous!

        God tells us not to cheat on our wife, but when we look back on 2 years of cheating we say that must have been His divine will!! So “Just relax Honey, we all have something to learn from God from my 2 years of multiple woman cheating—- that’s how He works and teaches us.”

        Basically that leave us with any sin we can/do commit is God’s secret/divine/hidden will.

        Also—- notice how they slip in “permitted” —– just too hard for Sproul to come out and say God decreed / willed/ planned/ desired/ ordained that adultery.

    4. Bill Matthews writes, “Again, this might be true in YOUR system of belief, but this is NOT true in Reformed Theology.”

      OK let me revise what I wrote and say, “God did decree to create a sinless world and this is the world God created.” Of course, the original sinless world was corrupted by Adam’s sin.

      I agree when you say, ” Well, this world does have sin in it so that was God’s decree.” I disagree when you say, “God’s decree covered the entire angelic and human history. So God did NOT decree a sinless world.” This involves a non sequitur – that God’s decrees cover all of history does not prevent an individual decree to create a sinless world. The world God created in Genesis 1 was a sinless world and remained so until Adam sinned.

      Is this how you understand Reformed Theology? If not, what do you understand Reformed Theology to say on this point?

      (I am sending several messages to address key points and nail down specific points of agreement or disagreement on our views of Reformed Theology to resolve your claim, ” I am interested in discussing Reformed Theology not, with all due respect, your personal system of belief.” I am convinced that my views are in line with Reformed Theology – at least as explained by RC Sproul.

    5. Bill Matthews writes, “I disagree. Reformed Theology may recognize influences on decision-making other than desire, but these other influences NEVER prevail over the strongest desires.”

      In his “Freedom of the Will,” Jonathan Edwards writes, “…the Will (without any metaphysical refining) is, That by which the mind chooses any thing. The faculty of the will, is that power, or principle of mind, by which it is capable of choosing: an act of the will is the same as an act of choosing or choice. If any think it is a more perfect definition of the will, to say, that it is that by which the soul either chooses or refuses, I am content with it; ” Then, “A man never, in any instance, wills any thing contrary to his desires, or desires any thing contrary to his will….It is sufficient to my present purpose to say, It is that motive, which, as it stands in view of the mind, is the strongest, that determines the will….By motive I mean the whole of that which moves, excites, or invites the mind to volition,…Many particular things may concur, and unite their strength, to induce the mind; and when it is so, all together are as one complex motive. And when I speak of the strongest motive, I have respect to the strength of the whole that operates to induce a particular act of volition, whether that be the strength of one thing alone, or of many together.”

      All the influences acting on a person create a motive to act and this motive is the person’s desire. Edwards goes on to say “I have rather chosen to express myself thus, “that the Will always is as the greatest apparent good,” or “as what appears most agreeable, to say “that the will is determined by the greatest apparent good,” or “by what seems most agreeable;” because an appearing most agreeable to the mind, and the mind’s preferring, seem scarcely distinct.”

      So, when you say, “…these other influences NEVER prevail over the strongest desires,” you are half right – they never prevail but they are incorporated into fashioning the person’s desires and thereby taken into account. However, no influences move a person to act against what he perceives to be his good or his self interest.

      Then, “Reformed Theology asserts that, regardless of the counter-influence of reason or moral contemplation, man’s decision ALWAYS aligns with his strongest desire. So Reformed Theology might recognize the influence of things other than desires, but desires ALWAYS wins out. This is why I used the term “desire-determination” instead of “self-determination”.”

      This is off. Reformed Theology says that reason or moral contemplation affect the person’s desires by strengthening some and weakening others. In the end, the strongest desire prevails. The person pursue his self-interest or what he perceives as good for him – his overriding desire – and the manner in which he does this incorporates reason and moral contemplation. Thus, while you say, “Sometimes desire wins out, sometimes reasoning, and sometimes morality” the reformed says “desire (motive) incorporating reason and morality always wins out.”

      Then, “Say a man’s strongest desire was to (attempt to) do Action A, but his reasoning argued that deciding to do Action A was not wise or reasonable and his moral contemplation indicated that Action A was wrong. Say the man’s reasoning and moral contemplation won the “internal debate” and the man decided to NOT do Action A. ”

      In other words, the strongest desire was tempered by reason (a man bent on robbing the bank changed his mind on seeing it surrounded by cops) or moral contemplation (the Jews attending the preaching of John the Baptist repented and stopped robbing banks). Desires are flexible and reflect the realities of life and life experiences so that some are stronger or weaker depending on circumstances.

      Then, “Asserting that “man always decides to (attempt to) act or not act in accord with his strongest desire” (a tenet of Reformed Theology) would become the same thing as saying “man always decides to (attempt to) act or not act as he decides.” The argument becomes meaningless.’

      However, a person’s decision is a reflection of his desires. Jesus said, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs from thistles, are they?” To “know” someone is to know their desires and you know a person’s desires by the way he acts and the choices he makes. A person’s decisions are not his desires but are a reflection of, and reveal, his desires.

      1. RHUTCHIN,

        Somehow, I completely missed your last several responses to my previous post. I apologize. I was not intentionally ignoring you. I will reply to your posts as I am able today and tomorrow.

  29. Bill,

    If you can get a Calvinist to explain how he teaches that God has determined/ decreed/ planned/ willed/ ordained every act (good or bad) from the beginning of time….. and yet is not the author of sin, you will have made history.

    So far all we get from them is God has determined/ decreed/ planned/ willed/ ordained every act, yet freely man has committed all sin (and in fact can ONLY sin). Even sinless Adam could only sin? Or could he only not-sin?

    We have been around the A = not-A block many times and there are few that will even bother responding to the circular non-logic.

    But wait….. there’s more….

    Somehow (not from Scripture) the Calvinist knows there is a “decretal will” and a “prescriptive will” (I missed that part in the word). Somehow (not from Scripture) the Calvinist knows that these two wills were aligned before Adam. Somehow (not from Scripture) the Calvinist elevates Adam to be the one who caused God’s two wills to diverge.

    It appears that they are saying that God could not keep His wills together cuz free Adam made a free choice that God decreed but did not prescribe. Or did God both decree and prescribe Adam’s choice?

    We know they say that “dead-men” can only sin… but Adam wasn’t dead. ((If their theory was right, perfect Adam should have been able to only not-sin)). Did free, perfect Adam choose to do something God did not want? Can’t have that (cuz all that happens is what God wants). If he in fact did what God wanted then that covers both His wills doesnt it? I confuse, I’m not an expert on His multiple wills.

    It just gets downright confusing!

    1. Your problem, my friend, is you forgot to add in a large dollop of mystery. It’s sort of like salt – the essential ingredient to making all stews taste just right! Otherwise, you simply have a bunch of unrelated vegetables swirling around in a hot broth. But the mystery – ah – that makes you forget that your stew is simply made up of carrots, potatoes, beef and peas! It all comes together in perfect harmony, and the chef gets all the glory! But if you try and pull something out of the stew, you end up ruining the whole creation and end up with just a soggy carrot or pea.

    2. FOH writes, “Somehow (not from Scripture) the Calvinist knows there is a “decretal will” and a “prescriptive will” (I missed that part in the word).”

      God’s prescriptive will is found in His laws (you can find it in books like Leviticus and Deuteronomy). God’s decretal will is displayed in history. You can read any part of the Scriptures and discover this.

  30. Bill,
    Thanks for your good thoughts.

    Please be aware that Calvinists will regularly borrow non-Calvinist terms and phrases.

    “I know that you told me not to do that, but —-since it happened— we both know that you let me make a fool of myself when you could have stopped me.”

    This is an Arminian statement 100%. This happens all the time.

    Any non-Calvinist will tell you that he believes that the counsel of God’s will (Eph 1:11) was to create a world where He says what He wants but man does not have to do it. This is NOT Calvinism….. no matter how many times they borrow it defending themselves. In Calvinism man ALWAYS does what God’s divine will has decreed.

    That is exactly the point. Piper calls himself a 7-point Calvinist, yet writes a book call “Don’t Waste Your Life” and fills the pages with ideas how WE choose our future/ good deeds/ to advance the Gospel (or not). According to that Arminian book so much depends —future events depend—- on our actions.

    Even though I could list hundreds of quotes from that book that would be non-Calvinist, “it’s all good” cuz he calls himself a Calvinist.

    On another string I quote many passages from John Bloom (Piper’s assistant) and his book “Where is Your Faith?” The book is filled with Arminian ideas about how everyone needs to have more faith and do more for the gospel. You can find that here:

    https://soteriology101.com/2017/08/27/summarize-traditionalism/

    The reason that dialoging with Calvinists is like “catching clouds” is cuz they just say opposite things repeatedly.

    1. Rhutchin writes:
      “I know that you told me not to do that, but —-since it happened— we both know that you let me make a fool of myself when you could have stopped me.”

      This is not simply really bad theology, it leads to, and has led to, great harm. I know many a Calvinist who have based their lives on just this premise, walling themselves off from all valuable discretion and personal responsibility that might have made the difference between wise choices and folly.

      For example – this is, shall we say, historical fiction – a man is considering quitting his corporate job, starting his own business, moving his family and many other great changes. His wife is not merely unenthusiastic, she makes it quite clear she believes that this would be a huge mistake, and she explains why she absolutely opposes it. However, having been recently programmed by his pastor to believe that God has made him the Lord and Master of his home, the man insists on making the decision, without his wife’s agreement, asking her chillingly, ‘Are you going to honor your God-given authority, or continue down a road of rebellion?’

      When, as the wife warned, the new business fails, the new home is in foreclosure and their life is one huge mess, do you think the man will own up to his gross mistake, humbly take responsibility and beg his wife and family’s forgiveness for royally screwing up their lives?

      No siree, he simply whips out his handy-dandy Reformed ‘God’s will’ card, and sighs in resignation over the cross God has called him to bear. ‘As this was obviously God’s will’ he sighs with humble resignation, ‘he was not going to complain (and neither must his wife and family!) but bear it graciously’.

      This, my friends, is what the world calls utter bullsh*t, and they are correct. The wife could not be blamed for walking out the door and never looking back, as all of the promises made to love, honor and cherish her had been completely broken. This man is a complete fool, and claiming God ‘allowed’ him to pursue his folly in no way casts the blame upon God. Like all men, he was given many means of escape from his folly, including a wife whom he once loved, respected and sought to make joint decisions with, but he chucked them all and embraced the Reformed ‘How to do whatever you want in life and blame God for all the problems’ theology.

      I know many who have done exactly this. To their own peril – and their family’s suffering – they ignore the Romans 1 warning that ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth’. They have been brainwashed into believing that this speaks only of homosexuals, and other ‘pagans’, and completely deny the ungodliness of minimizing, ignoring and devaluing one half of the population in their self-serving desire to have their own way all the time. They crush their wives, destroy their marriages then seek to manipulate the abused family with ‘God hates divorce!’ This desire to have his own way is the primary lust that burns in the heart of man, and this heinous theology of ‘whatever I choose automatically becomes God’s will’ is just the ticket for self indulgence and every wickedness under the sun. There is literally nothing off limits, as whatever one does, is obviously ‘God’s will’.

      What a grand delusion, to tell yourself that all of your ignorance, folly, selfishness and lack of discretion is really God’s fault! These fools walk around with their heads held high, spouting off their doctrine to convince the world how smart and pious they are, while their wives cry nightly into their pillows. Many of us were fooled by distorted scripture twisting for a time, but now we know better. We know better.

      1. TS00 writes, “For example – this is, shall we say, historical fiction – a man is considering quitting his corporate job,…”

        Whether one is Calvinist or non-Calvinist still allows one to make bad decisions.

      2. Rhutchin writes:
        “Whether one is Calvinist or non-Calvinist still allows one to make bad decisions.”

        True. But only Calvinism provides the convenient fiction that comforts those who make those bad choices that, ‘It is God’s ‘will’, as he only allows what he has determined (duh!) to happen. I may have meant it for evil, but God determined it for good, so all’s good.’

        Tell me, good Calvinist, was your ‘bad decision’ determined by God in eternity past to happen without fail? Mine was not. In fact, God not only desired that I make a better decision than I chose, he provided me with the ability and tools necessary to do so. But I chose to resist. My bad decision was most certainly known by him, but, like those really bad time travel movies, because God foresees what has not yet come into existence, there was still an opportunity – in time as we know it – for the bad to be prevented. (If that’s Open Theism, then good for them!)

        Yeah, it always seems kinda silly when finite, mortal men pretend to have the power to effect the future; but God, who exists outside of the constraints of time, actually has the ability to effect events, while still allowing for man’s genuine, free choices – even while foreknowing what the choices will be. Marty McFly might never really go back to the Future and prevent harm, but God can and does. Rather than using his omniscient, omnipotent power to control and secretly bring about his every desire (which, without question, must include evil if such ‘comes to pass’), God actually employs it for our good, to urge men to avoid evil. God makes the amazing, gracious choice to intercede, to help us to see though deception, to urge us to consider others’ well-being over our own and to warn us of very real danger. He sent his own Son to be an example, to teach us how to overcome the evil one. But we choose whether or not we believe in this supernatural manifestation of God, accept this intervention as for our good and receive the leading of God’s Spirit that was made available by Jesus. It is not limited to a select few, but is available to all who will believe in this ‘gift’ and put there trust therein.

        However, the Calvinist leaves the poor, suffering sinner with a false perception of life as offering no real hope. Que sera sera, what God has ordained, will be. And with that, the deceiver, manipulator and oppressor can go his merry way, dismissing the cries and pleas of his victims along the way with a merciless, ‘It is God’s will.’ No concern, no guilt, no need to ask forgiveness; after all, you were simply doing God’s perfect will, ordained in eternity past. If those you harmed were as righteous as you, they would accept [your] evil from God’s hand, just as you do.

        Ah, but we must not put it so bluntly. Calvinists do not like to face what they teach. When all is exposed, in order to explain how his ignorance, carelessness or foolishness can be blamed on God, the Calvinist rushes to his toolkit for his handy dandy ‘Compatibilism’. Ah, of course, God is responsible for ‘whatsoever comes to pass’, ordains all things irresistibly, and yet man is held responsible for choosing what he was irresistibly ordained to desire. [Insert the ever applicable (Calvinist) Palmer caveat: “He [the Calvinist] realizes that what he advocates is ridiculous … The Calvinist freely admits that his position is illogical, ridiculous, nonsensical, and foolish.” However, “this secret matter belongs to the Lord our God, and we should leave it there. We ought not to probe into that secret counsel of God.”]

        And there you have it: God gets all the glory for the good, and man gets all the blame for the bad. Calvinism, the greatest tool for justifying ignorance, laziness, foolishness and wickedness ever created!

      3. TS00 writes, “Tell me, good Calvinist, was your ‘bad decision’ determined by God in eternity past to happen without fail? Mine was not.”

        LOL!!! In another message, you expressed problems with God being omniscient and now you express problems with God being omnipotent. God could easily prevent all people making bad decisions but He determined long ago that He would not. He watches you make your bad decisions and while God could jump in and help you make good decisions, He decided that He would not. It appears to me that you don’t like to think about God being aware of every move you make and every though you think and how often you leave Him out of your life.

      4. TS00,
        Dont bother with a response!

        He cannot possibly have children of his own.

        Many times I could have stepped in and physically stopped one of my sons from making an unwise choice, but didnt. That does not mean that I WANTED him to make a bad choice. And how silly that sounds (if I was powerful enough) to say that I ordained/ decreed he make that bad choice.

        But TS00, you have explained this (with the 4 choice list) many times, and very articulately.

        It just never ends. Logic has no place in Calvinism.

      5. FOH writes, “Many times I could have stepped in and physically stopped one of my sons from making an unwise choice, but didnt. That does not mean that I WANTED him to make a bad choice.”

        Surely you jest. If you could have stopped your son from making a bad decision and you did not do so, then you wanted him to make that bad decision. Who are you trying to kid?

      6. Wow. I’m glad Rhutchin was not my father. No, parents do not have the right to enforce their choices upon their children, even when small, and the reason we understand this is because we recognize that the perfect and almighty God grants us this very freedom. This is one of the reasons that the false determinism of Calvinism is so harmful to relationships. As parents, we seek to instill character, wisdom, knowledge and good habits in our children, but most of all, they must choose whether or not to submit to the loving direction of us as well as the leading of the Spirit of God. Minus that, enforced ‘good behavior’ is simply a matter of fear, and will pass as our control over them passes.

        Most of the children we saw raised in our Calvinist church have abandoned Calvinism, and those who remain have nonetheless modified their beliefs until they are no longer genuinely Calvinist. They say things like, ‘I don’t really believe that God chooses who is and isn’t saved’, or ‘I don’t think God ordains evil’ yet naively consider themselves still ‘Reformed’. As FOH so frequently suggests, very few, even of those who consider themselves Reformed actually live as if they believe it – most don’t properly understand what it teaches.

        I am so thankful for finding a gem of a little book written by the grandfather of Elizabeth Elliott when we were young parents, which explained the importance of not seeking to enforce your will upon your child, but of respecting the individual spirit with which God endowed them. God made each person a unique soul, with the freedom to make choices, even to their own harm. This explains the existence of evil for non-Calvinists. Calvinists are left with making God the source of evil, or trying to assert a nonsensical, ‘God determined all things, but man ‘freely chose’ to do what God irresistibly ordained, so he’s to blame for ‘desiring’ and (irresistibly) ‘choosing’ evil.’

      7. TS00,
        That reply about children was excellent. It is no mystery to me why God refers to Himself as our Father and then lets us experience that father-son, father-daughter relationship here.

    2. FOH writes, “This is an Arminian statement 100%. This happens all the time.”

      Of course, it does. The Arminians disagreed with the Calvinists on some issues but agreed on others. For example, they agree on God’s foreknowledge of the future, Total Depravity, and God’s sovereignty. It is not unusual for Calvinist statements and Arminian statements to agree with each other. The big difference between the two is that Arminians wanted man to have the final say on his salvation and Calvinists said that God had the final say on who is saved. That difference then affected other positions. Outside this, the Cals and Arms pretty much agreed on issues of salvation.

      Then, “Any non-Calvinist will tell you that he believes that the counsel of God’s will (Eph 1:11) was to create a world where He says what He wants but man does not have to do it. This is NOT Calvinism…..”

      The Calvinist adds to the above that each and every person chooses not to obey God. Otherwise, they agree – both say that God gave man freedom to disobey Him.

      Then, ‘Even though I could list hundreds of quotes from that book that would be non-Calvinist, “it’s all good” cuz he calls himself a Calvinist.”

      That’s because the Arms agree with the Cals on many things. Because of this, it is often hard to tell a Calvinist preacher from an Arminian preacher. Most of the Scriptures is not an issue between them.

      Then, “The reason that dialoging with Calvinists is like “catching clouds” is cuz they just say opposite things repeatedly.”

      Oh, FOH. You treat them as if they are mortal enemies. They actually get along well. The only ones who really seem to get exercised over the Calvinists are the Open Theists and Open Futurist types.

  31. Here are my thoughts on the idea that man can only do evil….only disobey.

    A Calvinist will say, “that each and every person chooses not to obey God. ….. God gave man freedom to disobey Him.”

    The intention here is Total Depravity. NOT just man cannot save himself…. but literally fallen man can ONLY make a choice to disobey. Man can never obey, or choose a good thing, or answer God’s call. This is stated over and over by Calvinists on this blog. It must be maintained to uphold Total Depravity.

    Now…. right away the Bible contradicts this (surprise!). Isn’t it great how God debunks Calvinism by Genesis 4!!!….

    Fallen Abel OBEYS God and brings the right sacrifice.

    Fallen Cain is told by God, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (4:7)

    God is telling him that he (Cain… fallen Cain) lacks nothing —- needs no special faith—- to do what is right. God even comes personally and tells him to do it.

    What a mockery Calvinism makes of this passage. They impose on the text that Abel got something special (never stated, never implied…in fact he is lauded in Hebrews 11 for his personal faith). Worse, they impose on the text that Cain is told by God to obey but (purposely) DOES NOT give him what he needs to obey. What a tricky, deceptive ruler that makes.

    I have posted this concept many times and many ways, and it never gets a response.

  32. I tried to read the whole thread….really I did. And perhaps it was put forth, but in case it wasn’t, please allow me to do so now:

    If Theistic Determinism is, in fact, true, why are those in that camp trying so desperately to convince or correct those of us who do not believe it? Would it not logically be because God has not determined us to believe it? Why would to argue with that which God has clearly ordained (according to your own worldview)?

    1. Welcome Mike! Good question. Why do they preach hard determinism but live as if their actions make a difference? How do they know when they are following God’s decree that predestined their flesh to try to change us or when they are following God’s decree that predestined their spirit to try to change us? 😂

      1. It doesn’t matter. The beauty of Calvinism is that you get to do whatever you want, then say ‘The devil, er, God, made me do it!’ All is well with your soul, because you know whatever choice you make, it was obviously God’s will. (I used to go bonkers trying to explain to my spouse that just because we made a particular decision, say to buy a certain house, does not mean that it was ‘God’s will for our lives’. We could have chosen another house, and just as easily said it was God’s will for our lives. It is a dreadful delusion, but they find it very comforting.)

      2. I do think, TS00, the psych benefit of a che sara sara worldview is part of its allure… they think it gives a hakuna matata life… but when they do feel real conviction for their personal sin every once in awhile it usually sends them to double-down and mollify those harsh feelings by saying – “Well many really smart men believe is all decreed for God’s glory and really brings Him pleasure in the long run! ” It’s very sad.

      3. brianwagner writes, “when they do feel real conviction for their personal sin every once in awhile it usually sends them to double-down and mollify those harsh feelings by saying…”

        LOL! You can write some of the most amusing stuff – you seem to have a need to denigrate Calvinists for reasons that I don’t understand and you have yet to explain. In reality, Calvinists react to their sin like any other Christian agreeing with John, “this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;… If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness….if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” Then, saying with Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

      4. I’m glad you are happy in your spirit if not in your mind that God did not eternally predestine you to do those sins because He was pleased to do so. 😉

      5. brianwagner writes, “I’m glad you are happy in your spirit if not in your mind that God did not eternally predestine you to do those sins because He was pleased to do so.”

        Actually, I am not happy that God still allows me to sin. I would prefer that He rewire my mind and preserve me sinless, but that does not appear to be His purpose even though He could do so if He wanted. So, does it frustrate you that God watches you sin and does nothing to impede your sinful ventures. Of course, God has given us more than enough warning and instruction, so that if we really wanted to shed our sin, we could – I guess neither of us really wants to.

      6. Actually, Roger, I have seen God impede by sinful ventures in answer to my prayers. I’m not frustrated that God watches me sin and doesn’t intervene. I’m ashamed for I know it doesn’t please Him, for He never willed it. Only what He wills pleases Him.

      7. TS00 writes, ‘I used to go bonkers trying to explain to my spouse that just because we made a particular decision, say to buy a certain house, does not mean that it was ‘God’s will for our lives’.”

        I’ll venture to say that you did not consider such things as the house you live in to be important to God and that your choice of a house to buy was not made with any intent to enhance your service to God – living close to your church so that you could be active in its outreach efforts, for example. You seem to make fun of your wide because she makes God the central focus of her life while you don’t see that as being important

      8. Rhutchin writes:
        “I’ll venture to say that you did not consider such things as the house you live in to be important to God and that your choice of a house to buy was not made with any intent to enhance your service to God – living close to your church so that you could be active in its outreach efforts, for example. You seem to make fun of your wide because she makes God the central focus of her life while you don’t see that as being important.”

        Ah, you can venture to make such suppositions because you know so much about me. You know, no doubt, of the many months we spent visiting churches before we even looked at houses, and the countless hours of research and prayer that I put into that. No doubt you know exactly with how many tears, for how many years, I have loved, served and sought the will of my Lord and Savior, in a heartfelt desire to do what is best for my family. No doubt you know whom, in our marriage, would more gladly give up home, job, money and all security to serve others. No doubt you know how for years our entire family served in our church, in eldership, music, finances, cleaning the church weekly, ministering to the needs of its members and pretty much performing whatever tasks no one else wanted to do.

        I do not intend to make fun of my spouse or anyone else; I am sadly aware of the power that mind control has over people, as faulty concepts are spread through churches and narcissistic leaders. It is not just Jim Bakker, Mark Driscoll or Bill Hybels; every single church in which a mere man is idolized, and his words mindlessly accepted as ‘truth’, becomes a ‘high place’ that promotes worship of something other than God. I have seen false teaching destroy marriages, divide children from parents, and lead many to reject God altogether. I choose to reject wolves in shepherd’s clothing, false teaching, manipulative authoritarianism and all that so often masquerades as ‘Church’ for my longtime faith in and love for God. But you, of course, know all this.

        I have learned, the hard way, that when a person is brainwashed into believing that he, or some authority, has ‘the truth’ all figured out that the door to one’s mind and heart becomes shut to all further understanding. No inconvenient facts, study of scripture or appeal from the Spirit will transgress, unless and until the firmly closed door that creates mindless ideologues is opened. This requires renouncing the arrogance of knowing it all, the surety of being the sole ‘true’ church, and the hypocrisy of viewing yourself as having removed all specks from your eye so that you are qualified to go after everyone else’ logs.

        All that, I am sure you know, along with the trauma and destruction I have seen Calvinism wreak upon countless naïve followers’ lives, when they were persuaded to follow the traditions of men rather than seek the promised wisdom of the Spirit.

        But none of this would bother a Calvinist, for all the sin, abuse and oppression I have witnessed – the homes and lives damaged – all was predetermined by God and irresistibly ordained through hidden, secondary means to bring him glory. It’s so simple, isn’t it? If it happened, it was God’s will.

      9. TS00 writes, “Ah, you can venture to…”

        Then I am confused by your statement, “I used to go bonkers trying to explain to my spouse that just because we made a particular decision, say to buy a certain house, does not mean that it was ‘God’s will for our lives’.”

      10. Mike…so true ‘dat and welcome to you!

        Notice, at the same moment you were saying…. “why do they try if determinism is true” (on another thread) a staunch determinist said this…

        “Certainly the one who obeys Christ consistently and faithfully will fare better than that one who does not.”

        Yippee…. what we do matters! We can change the course of events! The future is not set —- from the mouth of a fatalist-determinist-Calvinist.

        Obey Christ, “fare better” dont obey Christ….. not as good! It’s up to you!

      11. FOH writes, “what we do matters! We can change the course of events! The future is not set ”

        Actually, the future is set – and our actions are part of the process God has incorporated into His determination of the future. Our reliance upon God and His promises knowing that God is using us to accomplish His purposes, as He had determined, is the source of much comfort to many people.

      12. Rhutchin writes:
        “Our reliance upon God and His promises knowing that God is using us to accomplish His purposes, as He had determined, is the source of much comfort to many people.”

        Yes indeed, the Calvinist husband can look at the wife he oppressed with his patriarchal authoritarianism and take comfort that it was not he who was abusing her, but God accomplishing his purposes as he had determined. The Calvinist father can look at the child he molested, and take comfort that it was not he who was abusing him, but God accomplishing his purposes as he had determined. The Calvinist pastor can look at the many people who he has confused, hurt and oppressed in his tyrannical beliefs that he ‘speaks for God’, and take comfort that it was not he who was abusing them, but God accomplishing his purposes as he had determined.

        Such a comforting mythology. Except for its victims.

      13. brianwagner to mikesatty writes, “Why do they preach hard determinism but live as if their actions make a difference?”

        As stated before, one preaches of God’s promises as hard determinism. Thus, when God says, through James, to ask for wisdom, we know that God has determined to give wisdom to those who ask. So, the action by a person to ask for wisdom makes a difference – people can go about their lives and never ask God for wisdom and never receive wisdom.

        Then, “How do they know when they are following God’s decree that predestined their flesh to try to change us or when they are following God’s decree that predestined their spirit to try to change us?”

        Strange question. When does God ever say that he decrees our flesh or our spirit to change a person – he doesn’t to the hard determinist. It is God through His Spirit who changes people. Jesus, in John 6, ““It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing;” Paul, in Romans 8, “if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.” By God’s decree, a person is given life – as John 3, to be born of the Spirit is to be born again.

    2. mikesatty writes, “If Theistic Determinism is, in fact, true, why are those in that camp trying so desperately to convince or correct those of us who do not believe it?”

      Correct misconceptions, yes; convince, Not really. The issue seems to have come down to whether one believes that God knows the future perfectly.

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