A Case for Human Autonomy (Free Will)

Over the years in discussing this topic I have been accused of things such as, “worshipping the idol of human autonomy” and “making free will into a god.” But, have those who bring this kind of harsh accusation really unpacked the meaning of these terms, or sought to understand my intentions? I suspect not.

Websters defines “autonomous” simply as “undertaken or carried on without outside control.” The term “autonomous” describes things that function separately or independently. For instance, once you move out of your parents’ house, and get your own job, you will be an autonomous member of the family. This adjective autonomous is often used of countries, regions, or groups that have the right to govern themselves. Autonomous is from Greek autonomos “independent,” from autos “self” plus nomos “law.” <link>

Some wrongly assume that my use of this term is meant to suggest that mankind’s existence, sustenance and natural abilities are independent of God altogether. This is absurd, of course. Paul asked his readers, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), which strongly implies that all our abilities, including the ability to make choices, is given to us by a good and gracious God.

We can affirm that “God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him,” (Ps. 115:3) while still holding on to the equally valid truth that, “the highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind” (Ps. 115:16). This means it pleases God to give man a certain level of “autonomy” or “separateness.”  This is a biblical view of divine sovereignty and human autonomy.  As A.W. Tozer rightly explains:

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

Some Calvinists have wrongly concluded that the Traditionalist seeks to downplay the sovereignty of God and highlight the autonomy of man, when in reality we seek to maintain the right biblical understanding of man’s autonomy so as to better highlight the Sovereignty, Love and Holiness of our God.

I have already unpacked the attribute of God’s Sovereignty HERE and God’s Love HERE, so I would now like to turn our attention to the attribute of God’s Holiness.

If you notice that the Tozer quote above is from his book, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”  Tozer’s intentions, like that of the Traditionalist, is in defense of God’s Holiness, not an attempt to undermine other equally important attributes of our good God.

I suspect that Tozer, like myself, would wholeheartedly agree with John Piper’s teaching on God’s Holiness here:

“Every effort to define the holiness of God ultimately winds up by saying: God is holy means God is God. Let me illustrate. The root meaning of holy is probably to cut or separate. A holy thing is cut off from and separated from common (we would say secular) use. Earthly things and persons are holy as they are distinct from the world and devoted to God. So the Bible speaks of holy ground (Exodus 3:5), holy assemblies (Exodus 12:16), holy sabbaths (Exodus 16:23), a holy nation (Exodus 19:6); holy garments (Exodus 28:2), a holy city (Nehemiah 11:1), holy promises (Psalm 105:42), holy men (2 Peter 1:21) and women (1 Peter 3:5), holy scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15), holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8), a holy kiss (Romans 16:16), and a holy faith (Jude 20). Almost anything can become holy if it is separated from the common and devoted to God.

But notice what happens when this definition is applied to God himself. From what can you separate God to make him holy? The very god-ness of God means that he is separate from all that is not God. There is an infinite qualitative difference between Creator and creature. God is one of a kind. Sui generis. In a class by himself. In that sense he is utterly holy. But then you have said no more than that he is God.” – John Piper (emphasis added) <link>

Notice the common term used to describe God’s Holiness and man’s autonomy? The word “separate” is referenced in both definitions. This is significant.

Some Calvinists fail to see that the Traditionalists defense of man’s separateness (autonomy) is actually in defense of God’s Holiness, or as Piper put it, God’s separateness “from all that is not God.” But, in a world of divine meticulous control of all things, what is left to be considered “separate” in any meaningful sense of the word?

One would think that sinful intentions would be included in “all that is not God,” yet many Calvinistic scholars affirm that man’s sinful intentions are unchangeably predetermined or brought about by God so as to glorify Himself (see HERE).

We must understand that John Piper, while holding to the same definition of Holiness as Tozer (or Traditionalists), comes to a very different conclusion about the nature of our thrice Holy God.

Continuing with the quote above, Piper concludes:

“If the holiness of a man derives from being separated from the world and devoted to God, to whom is God devoted so as to derive his holiness? To no one but himself. <link>”

Piper fails to relate his understanding of God’s Holiness (separateness) to the nature of morally accountable creatures (as autonomously separate), but instead uses this attribute to emphasize his Calvinistic view of God’s self-seeking nature. Piper is arguing that God is all about Himself because there is no “higher reality than God to which He must conform in order to be holy.” In other words, God is all about God because there is nothing more Holy than God. But, what does this even mean unless you establish that which God has separated Himself from in the meticulously determined world of Piper’s Calvinism? How can one celebrate God being about God unless you separate that which is not about God from that which is about God? What exactly can be deemed as “separated” in a worldview where absolutely everything is brought about by God for God? Holiness loses its meaning in a deterministic worldview because nothing can be described in any significant way as being “separate” from God and His will.

It is senseless to speak of God’s Holiness (as separateness) unless there is something outside of God from which to separate. God cannot be separated from Himself or His own choices. And if you insist on the one hand that God is unchangeably determining all creature’s sinful inclinations so as to glorify Himself, then how can you on the other hand claim that God is wholly separate from those same sinful, yet self-glorifying means?  You might as well be claiming A is not A (God is separate but not separate).

Listen, either God is implicated in moral evil or He is not. He is either Holy or He is not. He is either separate (an affirmation of both Divine Holiness and human autonomy) or He is not (a denial of both Divine Holiness and human autonomy). Do not allow the Calvinists to have their cake and eat it too on this point.

John Piper takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that “God is all about Himself.” Whereas, Tozer takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that while God would be perfectly just to be all about Himself and His own glorification, He graciously chooses to glorify undeserving creatures who have separated themselves from Him through autonomously sinful choices, in order that they may in turn give glory to God in all things.

Traditionalists, like myself, simply believe that Tozer is right and Piper is wrong.

243 thoughts on “A Case for Human Autonomy (Free Will)

  1. “John Piper takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that “God is all about Himself.” Whereas, Tozer takes the attribute of Holiness to teach that while God would be perfectly just to be all about Himself and His own glorification, He graciously chooses to glorify undeserving creatures who have separated themselves from Him through autonomously sinful choices.

    Traditionalists, like myself, simply believe that Tozer is right and Piper is wrong.”

    How do you reconcile this with the whole of the OT where God saves Israel not for their sake but for the sake of His name? (1 Samuel 12:22; Jeremiah 14:7; Ezekiel 36:22, 32; Psalm 23:3, Psalm 79:9, Ezekiel 20:44, Isaiah 48:9,11) and most notably under the New Covenant (Matthew 19:29; Romans 1:5; 1 John 2:12), as well as our command to do absolutely everything to the glory of God (1Corinthians 10:31)?

    I believe your thought would be better served to end as such, “He graciously chooses to glorify undeserving creatures who have separated themselves from Him through autonomously sinful choices, in order that they may in turn give glory to God in all things.”

      1. One might ask in this case whether “glory” is defined differently between Tozer and Piper.

        When Jesus teaches “Be ye Holy as your heavenly Father is Holy” – in my mind that is a reflection of God’s design for mankind to glorify Himself. But how is that reflection manifested? Does God command man to throw newborn babies into the fire of Molech for His glory?

        What kind of “glory” is reflected by a THEOS who RENDERS-CERTAIN new-born babies are thrown into the fire belly of a false deity?

        Jonathan Edwards – provides the answer that Piper would also espouse:
        -quote:
        “Unless sin….had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.”

        Here we have a doctrine consistent with Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism
        The principle that all things exist as inseparable and contradictory opposites.
        Co-equal in status and necessity.
        A derivative of it today it is called “Yin-Yang”

        That is why the ancient Gnostic/NeoPlatonist believers would call evil “beautiful”.

        And here Edwards clearly enunciates “evil” and “good” as both -quote “parts” of divine glory.

        This – i think – is the difference between “glory” as defined by Tozer vs Piper.
        In Tozer’s understanding of divine glory – there is a differentiating line between good and evil.

        In the Gnostic-NeoPlatonist-Augustinian-Calvinist system – good and evil are UNDIFFERENTIATED.
        They exist as co-equal – and co-necessary – parts of divine glory.

        That is a definition of “glory” which Tozer would absolutely reject.

  2. Wonderful article!!

    I find it totally ironic how Calvinists will point the finger at others and call them heretics – for affirming that the general narrative of scripture, is in fact IN-deterministic.

    What is so ironic:
    After railing and calling people pejorative names – they will then turn right around and do their very best to MASQUERADE the very attributes of IN-determinism they rail against.

    They instinctively need in their lives – those attributes which are obliterated – being mutually excluded by determinism.

    At some point, it should be obvious – Calvinists have a love-hate relationship with their own belief system.

    On the one hand – they love to proudly wear Theological Determinism as a wide phylactery.
    And then ironically – spend the rest of their time – in desperate attempts at trying to escape from its grip

    Over the centuries – they’ve built a highly crafted library of double-speak talking-points designed to MASQUERADE the very attributres of creaturely freedom Theological Determinism doesn’t allow them to have.

    As the famous philosopher Dr. William James puts it:
    -quote:
    “They make a PRETENSE of restoring the caged bird to liberty with one hand, while with the other they anxiously tie a string to its leg to make sure it can’t get beyond determinism’s grasp.”

    In Theological Determinism – the creature is *ONLY* free to be and do *ONLY* what the THEOS (at the foundation of the world) RENDERS-CERTAIN. Nothing more! Nothing less!

    Consequently Calvinists have absolutely nothing to boast about.
    Their language is to totally saturated with deceptive misleading double-speak – no discerning Christian would want to be in their shoes.

    Blessings!
    Thank you so very much Dr. Flowers for your wonderful ministry!
    And thank you for your Christ-like character!!

  3. When my kids approached adulthood, I can say that I “wanted” to give them more and more autonomy. Sometimes they did things with that freedom that was not what I “wanted.”

    A policeman can scold you for “allowing” your son to go out and do unlawful things. But he cannot hold you responsible for them.

    Your son can say, “Dad, you allowed me to go out and even gave me the keys and money, so you “wanted” me to do this unlawful thing.” But that does not make it true. This is the Traditionalist idea…. to make man in His image, and to make man someone that can love God and commune with God, God has (sovereignly) chosen to allow man to do things He (God) does not want.

    On can force the nuance here by saying that because God allowed it, He “wanted” it, but that does not make it true.

    Even in Piper’s several posted sermons about evil being God’s will he says the word “allow” many times. He (non-Calvinistically, and inconsistently) is talking about the will of God in a non-deterministic, “allowing” sort of way. He is most definitely trying to have his cake and eat it too.

    Somehow he extrapolates from that: Since God “allowed” it, He “decreed” it while not really wanting it (therefore we have his 2, 3, 4 wills of God). I think he tries to soften this idea with the word “allow” but it does not work. It just makes him a fence-rider.

    Kind of like saying:

    “God didn’t really want the Holocaust, but He allowed it, so therefore He (immutably) wanted it.” or

    “God didn’t really command the Holocaust, but He allowed it, so therefore He (immutably) willed it.” or

    “It was not God’s will of command to have the Holocaust, but —-since it happened — it was His will of decree (before time, immutably).”

    But the Confessions say it more clearly!! They, and Calvin say that God specifically wanted/ decreed/ will/ desired ALL that happens to happen.

    No matter how you slice it, true Calvinism and Reformed confessional theology teaches that God did not “allow” the Holocaust… He immutably, before time, decreed (and “took His pleasure in”) the Holocaust “for His glory.”

    The same can be said for all heinous sins.

    Calvinists need to stop dancing around this with the 3 or 4 wills of God (found nowhere in the Bible) and the fence-riding “God allowed it” speech.

    Calvinists, this is what your theology teaches. Just own it!

  4. Thanks Leighton. The takeaway here for me was this:

    “But, in a world of divine meticulous control of all things, what is left to be considered “separate” in any meaningful sense of the word?”

    In what way is our Holy God “separate” from the awful sins of His creatures if He is in fact is the origin of these things?

    Christ “took these sins upon Himself” and that means something!!!

    But If God is indeed the origin of all actions, He was never separated to the point that Christ needed to take them.

  5. “What we maintain is, that when men act perversely, they do so (according to the testimony of the Scripture) by the ordaining purpose of God.”

    John Calvin, “A Defense of the Secret Providence of God” in Calvin’s Calvinism, tr. Henry Cole, pp 241-2

    I agree. OWN IT.

    1. Jeff Danleoni
      They do so ……by the ORDAINING PURPOSE of God.”

      This in fact is an excellent example of the deceptive, misleading, obfuscating nature of Calvinist language on this subject.

      Here the phrase ORDAINING PURPOSE is use equivocally.

      As a representation of Calvin’s doctrine – this phrase is designed to hide more than it reveals.

      There is a stark difference between an ORDAINING PURPOSE – which is a vague reference to divine oversight.
      And the act of RENDERING-CERTAIN in every part – every neurological impulse – every creature will ever have.

      The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – a Peer Reviewed Resource agrees:
      in its article on Theological Determinism it sights the same problem with the language of Calvinist Paul Helm.

      -quote:
      “Paul Helm, another staunch theological determinist of the Calvinist variety, simply says that God’s providence: “extended to all that He has created” (The Providence of God, p. 39).

      The problem with such characterizations is that they are subject to multiple interpretations, some of whom would be affirmed by theological indeterminists.

      For instance, a theological indeterminist might say that God’s providence extends to all events, or that even undetermined events are controlled or decreed by God in the sense that God foresees them and allows them to occur and realizes His purposes through them.”
      -end quote

      it is much more honest for a Calvinist to state “What we maintain is, that when men act perversely because Calvin’s god at the foundation of the world – FIRST CONCEIVES and then RENDERS-CERTAIN every perverse thought.”

      Then they would be left trying to explain how that is -quote (according to the testimony of the Scripture)

  6. Jeff,
    Just wondering….

    You agree and you own it (you agree with Calvin), or you agree that they should just man-up and own it (and stop trying to explain around it and have their cake and eat it too)?

    1. “Man-up and own it”. I am so tired of hearing Calvinists trying to speak out of both sides of their mouths like really bad ventriloquists, meanwhile the audience is supposed to be too polite not to clap. Calvinists will jump up and down screaming how God has decreed all things and reprobates are created just to be destroyed for God’s glory. Remember, there are no “stray molecules” or God just couldn’t be sovereign according to their God in a box theology. But then the subject invariably turns to sin and suddenly God only “permits” you to sin. God decrees ALL things, but somehow your desire to sin is now only “permitted” but not ordained. You cannot have serious rational conversations with people so indoctrinated into cognitive dissonance that they refuse to THINK about the utter absurdity of claiming God decrees whatsoever comes to pass but somehow sin is man’s responsibility. Or, let’s go preach the gospel to people who we think are totally depraved corpse-like dead people who are completely unable to respond or be persuaded by the message we preach. But Calvinists like speaking to walls expecting that the walls will speak back to them, I guess. Here, I’ll spend my time evangelizing people who could be non-elect and therefore impossible to be regenerated by God to believe the message of the gospel, or maybe they are unregenerated elect and God has to first make them regenerate in order to believe the message of the gospel. Either way, nothing I am preaching can have any effect upon them. Pure cognitive dissonance.

      1. So on another site someone commented about “the differences between reformed, old Calvinist, neoCalvinist, and new Calvinist as they are not all the same and do not all teach the same thing. Also there are some excellent sites that show the considerable differences between mild Calvinism, moderate Calvinism, Calvinism, and hyperCalvinism. It gets admittedly confusing.

        Also might want to pop over to the web site The Reformed Arminian.

        Reformed can be plain reformed, Calvinist, Lutheran, or yes, classic Reformed Arminian, which is different from Wesleyan Arminian.

        Today’s new Calvinist will argue they are the only Reformed, but they are not. One can hold all five solas (be Reformed) and think the TULIP is but a stinkweed by another name.”

        I have read a little Barth, Newbigin, Torrance, etc., and I realize that there are many ‘streams’ of so-called Reformed Theology. My question for those here is can these be considered legitimate? And if so, are the things discussed here simply the rejection of a small, extreme faction within Reformed Theology/Calvinism? It seems to me impossible to tear predestination away from Reformed Theology, which necessitates a limited atonement and meticulous divine determinism, and yet some claim to do so. Just wondering what others think.

      2. Wonderful post Jeff!
        I totally agree.

        Calvinism has created a “private interpretation” of the word “permit” as it relates to Calvin’s god.

        They know when making public facing statements – “permit” is going to be interpreted as the opposite of what they actually hold.
        They strategically craft such statements where recipients are guaranteed to to be deceived by them.

        Jesus without fail – speaks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
        This fact alone – differentiates Calvinism from Christianity.

  7. FOH
    It seems to me impossible to tear predestination away from Reformed Theology, which necessitates a limited atonement and meticulous divine determinism, and yet some claim to do so. Just wondering what others think.

    br.d
    Its clear to me FOH that these phrases “doctrines of grace”, “limited atonement” and, “unconditional election” for example – are simply dishonest advertising language.

    In Calvinism *EVERYTHING* is “limited” – not just atonement.
    Everything is “limited” by virtue of the fact that at the foundation of the world – everything is RENDERED-CERTAIN.

    In Calvinism *EVERYTHING* is “unconditional” not just election.
    All sin – all evil – every neurological impulse – absolutely EVERYTHING that comes to pass – does so “unconditionally”.

    Personally I don’t think that belief-system falls under the rubric of “Reformed” as much as it does “Gnostic/NeoPlatonism”

    Martin Luther – was most certainly one of the primary leaders of the “Reformed” and he eventually wrote:
    -quote:
    “In the beginning I devoured Augustine, but when the door of Paul swung open, and I knew what justification by faith really was, then it was out with him.’

  8. Great post again, Leighton! The determinist needs to unlock their thinking about their “limited” God and wonder why they can’t bring themselves to believe that God was able to create a person who has and can exercise freewill, an exercise that is even contrary to God’s ultimate desire and sufficient provision that they don’t. This is how Scripture clearly reads that He has made the creation of man. And even if they can’t bring themselves to believe it’s possible… shouldn’t they recall that Jesus said that with God all things are possible? 😉

    1. I can think of two reasons, and there are doubtless others.
      1) The desire to believe in Eternal Security requires one to assert that once God ‘saves’ you, nothing can ever disqualify you. This only makes genuine sense if God is in complete control, as he alone can be trusted to not ‘mess up’.
      2) The desire for power and control. Those who built christendom were attempting to build the kingdom of God on earth, ruled by them. This is only possible if there is a built-in need for ecclesiastical rulers, such as granting access to God via the sacraments or interpreting The Law of God.

      The long array of sacramentalist dissenters, with the most well known being the Anabaptists, denied the need or authority of the so-called ruling, ecclesiastical hierarchy. They desired to follow their own consciences and to be led by the Spirit, rather than by men. They were willing to allow disagreement over the interpretation of scripture and to grant all the grace to grow in wisdom and maturity under the tutelage of the Spirit of God. This is the real root of the hierarchical Religion, which is often missed in the evangelical world that has mostly abandoned the authoritarian model of Religion based on dictated orthodoxy and controlling rules (threat of excommunication). Thus, they do not recognize it as it once again rears its ugly head under guise of restoring the sacraments and ‘discipline’, most often in the hands of modern Calvinists.

      1. I totally agree with your 2nd point. A better evaluation of Christian history is needed. I recommend to my students and to every pastor to read Verduin’s – The Reformers and Their Stepchildren.

      2. One of my favorite books. Offers a much needed perspective, not presented by modern Calvinists, on how we got where we are today.

      3. I strongly encourage any who are seeking an excellent, well-documented view of the Reformation – from a Reformed minister, btw, – to read this book. There is no need to simply take, unchecked, the opinion of biased moderns, when one has access to scholarly research like this by one with no axe to grind. I consider it a life changing book, which gave me the confidence that I was on the right track in my journey out of Calvinism.

  9. 1. God, the Creator of the universe is the only one who possess absolute autonomy of freedom.

    2. The will of man in the Bible is Limited, not absolute. (the concept here that I present is not compatible with the dictionary meaning. The antagonist will not call it freedom because it is not autonomous of it’s own.

    Others are saying that man possess absolute free will but how can this be true when God has the power to override it and also the fact that man’s will is the best friend of the sinful nature that is present in man that causes sin to overflow in this world.?

    Those claimants of LFW cannot explain why unbelievers with free will goes to hell besides the fact that their sins according to them has been paid already by the blood of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, the same sinners respond to the call and are saved because they are God’s elect from the foundation of the world as I have explained. They are the legitimate beneficiaries of Christ’s death on the cross of Calvary.

  10. Can someone explain Peter’s sermon in Acts from the traditionalist point of view? Does he not clearly assign blame for the death of Christ to the Jewish authorities, the crowd and the Romans? Does he not also say that it all happened according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God? Any help in working through these questions is much appreciated!

    1. I reading “Bondage of the Will,” I have discovered a fatal flaw in Calvinism’s thinking about free will. When it comes to understanding contingency statements (“if you will,” “if you choose,” “if you turn”) Calvinism says that God is telling man to do something that He knows they can’t b/c they are slaves to sin.

      And specifically in Deut 30:11-19 where is says not only commands them to “choose you this day” but also “that you may do it,” Here’s what they can and cannot do. They can’t keep the law even though commanded to do so. Calvin even says that they can “endeavor” to obey the law. But we all know we can’t.

      And, of course, this passage is cross-referenced to Ro 10:8-13 where Paul says, “If you will confess… for with the heart man believes unto salvation.” He’s is telling them to freely choose salvation through confession + belief = repentance to God “calling on the name of the Lord.”

      What they can do (and we can do of our own free will) is change their attitude (their heart) against sin and towards God. This is called “repentance” and it is of the heart, not of the mind as Calvinists would have it (saying that repentance is a change of the mind or change of behavior).

      And do you know why they don’t know this? B/c they do not know the difference between heart and mind, soul and spirit, belief and faith, etc. In their nature of man theology, there is only spirit and body. So granted, if that were the case, man would be in bondage to sin until God did something to them heart to allow them to “see.”

      1. Interesting point Robert.

        God put that kind of statement in the Bible thousands of times (“if you will,” “if you choose,” “if you turn”). For Calvinism to just wave a wand and say these phrases “don’t mean anything” cuz God knows they can’t do it…. is just folly.

        Imagine for a second that all followers of God (Abel, Noah, Abraham and the Israelites, then believers) believed Calvinism. Imagine, everyone of them had the same “Yeah He says it but He doesn’t mean it” attitude that Calvin did.

        How will the next generation ever take God seriously? Why would we take Him at His word?

        Imagine, the people around Noah hear the story of Cain and say ….. “Yeah, God told Cain to obey, but He didn’t mean it….. so He must not mean it now.”

        And on and on. Each new generation has all of those “He doesn’t mean it” statements to build on.

        No wonder the world thinks God’s word is foolishness! Some believers tell them that God doesn’t even mean most of what He says!

    2. Mike, I know this is 6 months too late, but I (not speaking for other Traditionalists in general) would say that God didn’t cause the Jews and Romans, etc. to be who they were going to be. He didn’t cause them to despise Jesus and the message He brought. But He did know who they would be, what they would believe, and how they would react. And in His foreknowledge, He worked their character and their choices into His plans for Jesus to die for us.

      It’s like God using the Assyrians to punish Israel, but then turning around and punishing the Assyrians for being wicked. I used to think it sounded like God caused the Assyrians to be wicked and then He punished them for being wicked. (This is a Calvinist view of God.) But I now see it as God never caused them to be the kind of people they were (wicked), but He knew they were wicked people and He simply “let them loose” on Israel, to punish them and to cause them to repent. But then, since God never caused the Assyrians to be wicked, He could punish them for the wicked people they chose to be.

      It’s a bit like an undercover sting by police. They know that to get to the Big Bad Boss, they need to get the cooperation of the Crummy Little Toady who can lead them to him. And so they go undercover, and get the Toady to help lead them to the Boss. They cops didn’t cause the Toady to be a criminal or to do illegal things, they just used his nature/decisions for their plans. And then, in the end, the cops can arrest the Toady and the Boss. This helps me understand how God can use wicked people and work their wickedness into His plans, without causing them to be wicked.

  11. CALVINISM DETERMINISM – NO WORK – NO FORCE

    Determinism is the thesis that every action/event is caused by an antecedent action/event.
    Logic dictates, there must be some “Transmission” mechanism which transfers the force of the antecedent to the consequent.

    rhutchin
    May 10, 2018 at 6:14 am

    “As Plantinga defines it [contra-causal] – ‘no antecedent conditions and/or causal laws determine that one will perform the action, or that he won’t.’ Thus, there is nothing PUSHING a person to make a decision, so no decision will be made. Therefore, no POWER.”

    br.d
    Here its clear, the Calvinist intuits PUSHING and POWER (i.e., a transference of force) as realities in determinism.

    Power is expressed as the outcome of force applied over time (work).
    So, the Calvinist – (intuitively) acknowledges that in the Calvinist model of determinism there must be some transference of force from the antecedent to the consequent.

    But since he finds the reality of this unpalatable – he simply chooses to MAKE-BELIEVE this work (transference of force) of the antecedent to the consequent – occurs without work – and therefore without force.

    So he ends up with:
    WORK = NO WORK
    FORCE = NO FORCE

    Which by the way – (as we see above) is what he believes is the case without determinism.

    CONCLUSION:
    Double-think.

  12. Leighton, unfortunately, most people have overlooked the most crucial factor, namely that God created the angles and mankind (Adam & Eve) with sinful natures. Let me explain:

    Though God declared that everything was very good, at least initially, things were not perfect. Since they had the motivation to sin from the onset, it follows that they were somewhat evil, since they would not have had the desire to sin if they were completely good.

    Some Christians will argue that it was the snake that tempted the first humans, and that is what attracted them to sin, but that is simply not the case. They would have already had to have had the desire to sin in the first place, and all the snake could have accomplished was to manifest that desire even further.

    An example will further elaborate. Suppose a heterosexual man sees an attractive woman and therefore experiences sexual desires. Though it is correct that the woman triggered that desire, it is only because that man already had sexual desires for women (since he’s straight) and all the woman did was increase the desire.

    If he was 100% gay, he could have no feelings for the woman.
    In the same sense if God made the first couple completely good, the snake would have had no effect on them. They would had to have been somewhat evil from design in order to be tempted. We know no one completely good can be tempted, since it says in the Bible that God cannot be tempted.

    Though God and his initial creation all had free-will (the ability to make choices based upon one’s nature without being forced) God was 100% good while his creation wasn’t, though it is true that they were mostly good, since bondage to sin only occurred after the fall of mankind.

    My point is, God deliberately made his creation semi-evil (by primary cause) when he could have made them as good as him, and it still would have been a free choice since they would have been acting on their nature.

    Why didn’t he do this? As the Calvinists say, he needed sin to come into the world so he could send people to hell in order to manifest his attribute of anger.

    So either way, God is at least somewhat active in evil since he was the primary cause of mankind’s faulty nature, and allowed the serpent to tempt them without intervening and preventing sin from entering into the universe.

    1. Hello Edouard and welcome!

      Thank you for your post – you did a good job of thinking it through.

      Although the Calvinist as a Theological Determinist (if he were not double-minded) would say that God did not “allow” the serpent to tempt. But rather he CAUSED the serpent to temp.

      Or in William Lane Craig’s terminology – he “made” the serpent tempt – “made” Adam and Eve eat the fruit – and “made” all human thoughts and choices.

      But yes you are correct – it is a matter of false attribution to attribute to the creature that which Calvin’s god in fact actually does.

      But we see this is where the Calvinist is double-minded.

    1. Ok I think this one is even worse than the last one.

      He starts out by claiming “Ok we have a video by Dr. Flowers in which he defines the word “Autonomy” and uses it for himself”

      But then he shows slices of Dr. Flowers – and no where does Dr. Flowers actually do what he is claiming.

      This reminds me of someone who doctors a video in order to make it look damaging to someone.
      Where in this video does Dr. Flowers actually state what this fellow claims he is stating?

      Secondly – where does he get his definition of “Autonomous” as “a law unto itself”.

      In the Greek society if a man claimed to be a “law unto himself” that man would be put to death by the city government in which he lived.
      So the Greeks did not use that word “Autonomous” to mean what this fellow is insisting it means.

      New World Encyclopedia
      -quote
      The ancient Greeks used the word “autonomy” to refer to the independent self-governance of city-states

      He does at least show Dr. Flowers indicating that the word “Autonomous” is a term that everyone seems to have their own usage for.
      And I certainly agree with that!

      Look at it this way.
      What Christian in their right mind would insist that a person can be 100% autonomous from god?

      However the majority view in Christianity is – that people are designed to function with a certain degree of functional independence.
      But we do have Christians that look at Calvinism and – can’t help but see a theology that turns people into functional robots.

      I suspect this fellow is going to argue that Calvinism doesn’t turn people into functional robots.
      Well if that is the case then – what degree of functional independence do people have?

  13. Video author’s reply to BRD

    “Quick response to the Blogger defending Dr. Flowers’ falsehoods.

    Blogger writes: “He starts out by claiming “Ok we have a video by Dr. Flowers in which he defines the word “Autonomy” and uses it for himself. But then he shows slices of Dr. Flowers – and no where does Dr. Flowers actually do what he is claiming.”

    Apparently, the blogger doesn’t pay attention to what Dr. Flowers is saying (which is a good thing, since Dr. Flowers repeatedly demonstrates that when he uses words like “autonomy,” he doesn’t know what he’s talking about).
    Not only this, but Flowers will often go to dictionaries for his definitions, which are not reliable sources when attempting to define abstract concepts, and also thinks a thesaurus gives definitions of terms (of course, a thesaurus does no such thing; rather, it gives synonyms and antonyms of words…NOT definitions).

    The whole point of the video is that Leighton doesn’t bother to look up the proper definitions of the terms he uses.
    Political autonomy is clearly NOT what we’re talking about here.

    Blogger writes: “Secondly – where does he get his definition of “Autonomous” as “a law unto itself”.

    Blogger apparently doesn’t want to understand the proper definitions of the words used in the discussion.
    The word “autonomy” CAN be used in the political sense; but, again, clearly that is NOT what we’re talking about. We’re talking about Theological issues, here; not political ones.
    Autonomy LITERALLY means: “self law”; or, “a law unto oneself”. That is the etymology of the word!
    It’s not my fault if Blogger is too lazy to do some simple homework before posting comments about issues of which he is apparently ignorant.
    Auto (Gk.) = “self”
    Nomos (Gk.) = “law”. (cf. the book of Deuteronomy. Deutero = Second. Nomos = Law. The book of Deuteronomy means: the second rendering of the law).
    The word “autonomy” is a conjunction of two Greek words, and means: to be a law unto oneself. Anyone trying to dispute this fact is demonstrating sheer ignorance.

    The, Blogger cites the “New World Encyclopedia,” which gives, once again, a POLITICAL USAGE OF THE TERM. And, once again, this is NOT what we’re talking about. We’re talking about Theological issues, here…not political ones (does this person no understand the difference? I’m seriously beginning to doubt).

    And then his frank admission: “Look at it this way. What Christian in their right mind would insist that a person can be 100% autonomous from god?”

    Leighton Flower claims that human wills are autonomous from God…that’s the whole point of my video!

    Blogger is apparently too blinded by his traditions to see that.

    Fact: Dr. Flowers doesn’t know what he’s talking about with respect to “autonomy”; he goes to modern dictionaries (which are no help here) to try to define his terms (at least the Noah Webster used to include the etymologies of words when he first wrote his Dictionary of modern English; Leighton doesn’t even attempt to do this); and, Flowers actually thinks a Thesaurus can provide definitions…the man is a sheer ignoramus, and should not be teaching anyone; rather, he needs to be taught himself.

    Next, Blogger (once again committing the logical fallacy of ‘argument from popularity’) writes:
    “However the majority view in Christianity is – that people are designed to function with a certain degree of functional independence. But we do have Christians that look at Calvinism and – can’t help but see a theology that turns people into functional robots.”

    Arguments from “majority” opinion are NOT valid! Again, Logical Fallacies 101 could help Blogger in understanding that.

    And, notice the Blogger doesn’t even attempt to explain or define what he means by “functional independence”?
    In fact, according to Scripture: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN INDEPENDENT CREATURE!
    God ALONE possess INDEPENDENCE!
    Once again, the synergist claiming for himself attributes that belong only to God (this is a form of IDOLATRY)

    So, not only does God ALONE possess “autonomy” (He alone is “a law unto Himself”…no creatures EVER were), but also claiming some sort of “independence” for the creature; when, in fact, it is God alone who possesses independence.

    See, this is what happens when man-made philosophies get in the way of doing Biblically-derived Systematic Theology. And Blogger is a slave to man-made philosophies, this much is becoming very apparent.

    btw, I don’t want to address the issue of “Calvinists making man into robots” discussion in too much depth here. I’ll just say that the Bible calls man LESS THAN “robots”… when the Bible makes the comparison between God and man, the Bible says man is like “clay” in the hands of God (cf. Rom. 9:21; Is. 64:8; Jer. 18:6).
    Obviously, robots require all kinds of sophistication in their creation: Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering…just to name a few.
    “Clay,” on the other hand, is pretty simple in comparison to robots.

    So, even in their mockery of God’s doctrine (as found in Reformed Theology) the synergist is still exalting himself above that which the Bible attributes to mankind.
    Interesting stuff, to be sure.

    Hope this is edifying.
    If I wasn’t clear enough about anything in this post, let me know, I can try to explain better (to the best of my lowly abilities, anyway).

    Soli Deo Gloria

    1. THEN
      “Quick response to the Blogger defending Dr. Flowers’ falsehoods.

      br.d
      More EX-CATHEDRA speak :-]

      THEN
      Blogger writes: “He starts out by claiming “Ok we have a video by Dr. Flowers in which he defines the word “Autonomy” and uses it for himself. But then he shows slices of Dr. Flowers – and no where does Dr. Flowers actually do what he is claiming.”

      Apparently, the blogger doesn’t pay attention to what Dr. Flowers is saying (which is a good thing, since Dr. Flowers repeatedly demonstrates that when he uses words like “autonomy,” he doesn’t know what he’s talking about).

      br.d
      That is because this fellow sliced out of Dr. Flower’s video the statements which this fellow quoted.
      That is why I had to go looking for Dr. Flower’s video myself to actually see what Dr. Flowers said.

      THEN
      Not only this, but Flowers will often go to dictionaries for his definitions, which are not reliable sources when attempting to define abstract concepts, and also thinks a thesaurus gives definitions of terms (of course, a thesaurus does no such thing; rather, it gives synonyms and antonyms of words…NOT definitions).

      br.d
      I think this argument over-states Dr. Flower’s use of dictionaries. When I watched his video – I did not see him arguing that the definition of “autonomy” that he was going to assume was found in those dictionary references. It was my impression that he was making a point that dictionaries etc can be used as a reference to get a sense of how people define terms.

      And I noticed how this fellow went right directly into EX-CATHEDRA mode when Dr. Flowers pulled up a thesaurus. I think Dr. Flowers is smart enough to know the difference between a thesaurus and a dictionary. And again he was using this as a way of showing the senses in which people look at different terms.

      THEN
      The whole point of the video is that Leighton doesn’t bother to look up the proper definitions of the terms he uses.
      Political autonomy is clearly NOT what we’re talking about here.

      br.d
      Actually if this fellow bothered to discover Dr. Flower’s point – he would perhaps have come away with a different conclusion.
      It was my understanding that Dr. Flowers was in fact focusing how that would would have been used to describe “separate” localities of government within the Greek society.

      THEN
      Blogger writes: “Secondly – where does he get his definition of “Autonomous” as “a law unto itself”.
      Blogger apparently doesn’t want to understand the proper definitions of the words used in the discussion.
      The word “autonomy” CAN be used in the political sense; but, again, clearly that is NOT what we’re talking about. We’re talking about Theological issues, here; not political ones.
      Autonomy LITERALLY means: “self law” or, “a law unto oneself”. That is the etymology of the word!

      br.d
      Now we simply get more EX-CATHEDRA speak

      And this of course doesn’t answer the question does it?
      Where did this fellow get his definition of the term “Autonomy” from – where he comes up with “a law unto itself”.

      THEN
      It’s not my fault if Blogger is too lazy to do some simple homework before posting comments about issues of which he is apparently ignorant.
      Auto (Gk.) = “self”
      Nomos (Gk.) = “law”. (cf. the book of Deuteronomy. Deutero = Second. Nomos = Law. The book of Deuteronomy means: the second rendering of the law).
      The word “autonomy” is a conjunction of two Greek words, and means: to be a law unto oneself. Anyone trying to dispute this fact is demonstrating sheer ignorance.

      br.d
      Not only are we operating in EX-CATHEDRA speak – we are operating in insults.
      How am I not surprised?

      I know the word “Autonomy” is a Greek compound from “Auto” = self and “Nomos” = law.
      And I provided a reference as to how that term was used by the Greek society.

      That’s why I asked where is the reference to this fellows definition.

      THEN
      The, Blogger cites the “New World Encyclopedia,” which gives, once again, a POLITICAL USAGE OF THE TERM. And, once again, this is NOT what we’re talking about.

      br.d
      Yes – that is not what this fellow is talking about.
      But it is not considered honest for me to appoint myself the judge and jury of everyone else – and put my words into the mouths of others.

      THEN
      We’re talking about Theological issues, here…not political ones (does this person no understand the difference? I’m seriously beginning to doubt).

      br.d
      Well – that is a silly argument based on the premise that one cannot use a word in the sense it is used from one context to another.

      THEN
      And then his frank admission: “Look at it this way. What Christian in their right mind would insist that a person can be 100% autonomous from god?”

      br.d
      That was meant to question the plausibility that a reasonable person like Dr. Flowers would go off into the irrational.

      THEN
      Leighton Flower claims that human wills are autonomous from God…that’s the whole point of my video!

      br.d
      The problem here again – is that this becomes superimposing one’s own thinking onto another person.
      This is often called a “straw-man” argument.
      And I noticed Dr. Flowers spent the first 5 or so minutes on this video addressing this behavior pattern.

      THEN
      Blogger is apparently too blinded by his traditions to see that.

      br.d
      I think it is providence that this Calvinist likes to season his language with insults
      It provides an honest look inside the general milieu of Calvinist thought patterns.
      So it does serve a divine purpose.

      1. BRD,

        I want to mention quickly that I did tell this individual that I had some doubts about Calvinims and it was conversing with you. I actually started thinking that maybe I was wrong. But I should have known that you would be well able to interact with him

        I do want to mention what you call personal insults. I will mention to him about the “lazy comment”

        I do not think saying “you are blinded by tradition” is an insult as I am sure you would believe the same of Calvnists.

        Although I admit he could have not used the word “lazy” and said it in a different way.

        I know he was referring directly to you. But you have spoke of Calvinist with a broad brush with what could be considered insults.

        The Video Author I think believes you are not actually admitting that Dr. Flowers is talking about human autonomy as is mentioned in Flower’s article above and in the video we all are referring to.

        This is what Flowers writes above.

        “This means it pleases God to give man a certain level of “autonomy” or “separateness.” This is a biblical view of divine sovereignty and human autonomy. As A.W. Tozer rightly explains:

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

      2. Thanks Kevin,
        I would invite you to ready any question and answer article at Dr. William Lane Craig’s “Reasonable Faith” web-site.
        Or perhaps if you are reviewing a youtube video where he is being challenged as another example.
        Then contrast his manner of communication with this fellow’s manner.
        I think you will recognize the difference
        And then you’ll understand my perspective – when I notice this fellows language as seasoned with insults.

        Your last statement on Dr. Flowers – brings me to ask you:

        – Now that you have a statement from Dr. Flowers – in which he equates “autonomy” with “separateness”

        – Now that you have the quoted statements from John Piper on how he argues that Holiness is a process of God “separating” himself from things that are unholy – such as sin.

        – Now that you understand Dr. Flower’s question
        “How can one say that God is “separating” his self from the very sins he is determinatively bringing about for the express purpose of using those sins to glorify his self”?

        What do you think about Dr. Flower’s question – Is it a reasonable question to ask?

        Is there in fact any true separation – and if so – what do you think it is?

      3. BTW Kevin – this dialog with this fellow and his insulting language reminded me of a story Dr. Fee told in one of his lectures.

        Dr. Fee had been participating for a number of years in a few peer reviewed publications where scholars write articles which appear in each monthly publication – and other scholars get to submit articles in response.

        There was a young fellow who just graduated with degrees sufficient for him to now belong to this group. And there happened to be a certain article written by a scholar having to do with archeological evidence that if ever found would prove his position on something having to do with an ancient Greek city.

        The reason this was of interest to the scholars is because it would illuminate certain statements Paul made in his epistles concerning the culture in that city and how it would have reflected their understanding of Paul’s statements.

        Well – after one of these articles was distributed – this young scholar wrote a rebuttal article – and he used language that the other scholars considered haughty and insulting. And this is considered sophomoric behavior – and a sign of a disqualifying lack of scholarship.

        So another article came out in response to the young scholar – and he followed that again with more of the same.
        This went back and forth for a while – until this young scholar asserted that if he was ever proven wrong by archeological discovery – that he would literally eat his hat.

        Well you can just guess what happened sometime after that! :-]

        But I’ll never forget what Dr. Fee stated next.
        When the publications arrived in the mail at the scholars homes – and they looked and saw it was an article submitted by that young scholar – they would throw the publication into the trash without bothering to read it.

        With the unfortunate results that this young fellows reputation and carrier as a scholar ended up going down the drain.

  14. The only beneficial Biblical references were in the quotes from other men of the faith. Do you have any biblical evidence for the autonomous free will of man?

    I would appreciate your articles more if they were 100% Scripture and 0% LF. Let God be true and every man a liar. If I am to be persuaded of an autonomous freedom of man, God’s word must convince me, not the thoughts and words of a mere man.

    1. Hello Bryce and welcome.

      You haven’t defined what you mean by “autonomous”
      If what you mean – is complete independence from the divine will – then there would be no Biblical evidence for that.

      But lets pose your question back to yourself in the reverse.
      Can you show a scripture which EXPLICITLY states that 100% of Whatsoever comes to pass concerning man’s will – was determined before man was created – leaving ZERO% left over UP TO man to determine?

      Calvinism would be at least a little bit viable – if you could find one scripture to affirm that.

      Additionally, the Calvinist must conclude he is totally absent the ability to discern TRUE from FALSE on any matter.

      Follow the logic:
      If your every PERCEPTION of everything you consider – is determined by an external mind (in your case Calvin’s god).
      And that external mind decrees you to have FALSE PERCEPTIONS – which you most certainly do – if you acknowledge you are human.
      Then it LOGICALLY follows – in Calvinism you have divinely decreed FALSE PERCEPTIONS which you are divinely decreed to perceive as TRUE.

      And thus as a Calvinist you must acknowledge – you have no ability to discern TRUE from FALSE concerning anything.
      Your opinion on any matter is NON-EXISTENT
      Because your every opinion was determined FOR YOU – before you were created.

      100% of your mind’s perceptions determined by an external mind – leaves ZERO% left over for you to determine.
      Whatever you perceive as TRUE – was determined FOR YOU by an external mind.
      Whatever you perceive as FALSE – was determined FOR YOU by an external mind.

      Therefore – when it comes to discerning TRUE from FALSE – NOTHING is granted for you to determine.

      That is what you are left with – if you completely remove all forms of Libertarian Freedom
      And replace it with 100% subjection to an external mind.
      You function as a puppet.

      1. BRDMOD

        You asked Bryce: “Can you show a scripture which EXPLICITLY states that 100% of Whatsoever comes to pass concerning man’s will – was determined before man was created – leaving ZERO% left over UP TO man to determine?”

        Isn’t that a bit of a false dichotomy? I mean, when God created the world he already knew exactly what would happen and what every man would do. So in that sense, God determined everything that would happen when he chose to create. If he had not created, none of it would have happened. But that doesn’t deny that within the creation man is part of the determining process. It simply denies that man is not the ULTIMATE determiner. It is this “God or man” mentality that I find problematic. It seems like a pretty obvious false dilemma.

        You seem to continue with this fallacy in the next line of questioning when you ask:

        //”If your every PERCEPTION of everything you consider – is determined by an external mind (in your case Calvin’s god).
        And that external mind decrees you to have FALSE PERCEPTIONS – which you most certainly do – if you acknowledge you are human.
        Then it LOGICALLY follows – in Calvinism you have divinely decreed FALSE PERCEPTIONS which you are divinely decreed to perceive as TRUE.”//

        Well, yes. If God doesn’t give me Truth, where else would I get it from? God is Truth. So if he doesn’t give it to me where would I get it? If God doesn’t get it to me wouldn’t I by necessity have “false perceptions”? Again, I don’t see the tension here. It seems like a false dichotomy. Either I must be able to produce Truth myself or I can’t possess Truth just isn’t very persuasive. Meanwhile, the idea “God/Truth must give me Truth for me to have Truth” seems almost tautological.

        But you continue:

        //”And thus as a Calvinist you must acknowledge – you have no ability to discern TRUE from FALSE concerning anything.
        Your opinion on any matter is NON-EXISTENT
        Because your every opinion was determined FOR YOU – before you were created.”//

        I don’t see how this follows at all. Calvinists must simply acknowledge that we are dependent on God for Truth. For Pete’s sake, Jesus himself says we will receive the Holy Spirit (i.e. God) and He would lead us into all Truth. My opinion is not non-existent either way… but we agree that it only matters if it is informed by God’s Truth. God’s determining of it seems irrelevant.

        Finally, you conclude:

        //”100% of your mind’s perceptions determined by an external mind – leaves ZERO% left over for you to determine.
        Whatever you perceive as TRUE – was determined FOR YOU by an external mind.
        Whatever you perceive as FALSE – was determined FOR YOU by an external mind.”//

        Again, this seems like a massive false dilemma. It is like saying “if God gave you 100% of your BEING then that leaves 0% for you.” Well, if God gave me 100% of my BEING then that just means he created 100% of ME, not that there is 0% of me.

        God doesn’t compete with his creation, he CREATES his creation, and he COMPLETES his creation. If 100% of the things in my head are from God (i.e. the Truth) then it simply means that I have 0% non-God. In other words, there is nothing false in my head. On the other hand, if God doesn’t put anything in my head, then there is NO TRUTH in my head. The whole problem with the wicked is that it does not appear that God is in their thinking… the fear of God is not before their eyes (Romans 3:18) and they have suppressed the knowledge of God (Romans 1:18). Hope that helps.

      2. Brenton:
        BRDMOD – You asked Bryce: “Can you show a scripture which EXPLICITLY states that 100% of Whatsoever comes to pass concerning man’s will – was determined before man was created – leaving ZERO% left over UP TO man to determine?”

        Isn’t that a bit of a false dichotomy?

        br.d
        No its the Calvinist model – classified as UNIVERSAL DIVINE CAUSAL DETERMINISM
        Take special note of the term UNIVERSAL here.
        Notice that in Calvinism we don’t have PARTIAL or PARTICULAR determinism – where the THEOS determines SOME things and MERELY PERMITS the creature to determine SOME

        In Calvinism – the concept of MERE PERMISSION is totally rejected.
        But we find that Calvinists are DOUBLE-MINDED about this.

        They want to assert that MERE PERMISSION does not exist – and yet does exist – at the same time.

        Brenton:
        I mean, when God created the world he already knew exactly what would happen and what every man would do. So in that sense, God determined everything that would happen when he chose to create.

        br.d
        Yes – Calvinism maintains a specific model concerning divine knowledge.
        In Calvinism – the only way Calvin’s god can know that [X] will come to pass – is for him to DETERMINE that [X] will come to pass.
        And as I noted above – according to the Calvinist model – 100% of whatsoever comes to pass – is determined.
        Not 99%
        Not 75%
        Not 25%

        Therefore in Calvinism – Calvin’s god leaves ZERO% left over for man to determine – concerning any matter.

        Brenton:
        If he had not created, none of it would have happened. But that doesn’t deny that within the creation man is part of the determining process. It simply denies that man is not the ULTIMATE determiner. It is this “God or man” mentality that I find problematic. It seems like a pretty obvious false dilemma.

        br.d
        We either acknowledge the logic of Mathematics – or we punt to some kind of mystery.
        If 100% of [X] is already determined – before you are created
        Mathematically – that leaves ZERO% left over for you to determine.

        And that should answer your further question – concerning human perceptions.
        In Calvinism – every perception which will comes to pass within a Calvinists brain – WAS 100% pre-determined by an external mind.

        Now a FALSE perception – by definition – is a perception which the person does not know is FALSE.
        And in Calvinism all FALSE perceptions which come to pass – are infallibly decreed to come to pass

        So on this model – within the Calvinist mind – we have two subsets of perceptions.
        1) TRUE perceptions – which the external mind (i.e. Calvin’s god) infallibly decreed the Calvinist to perceive as TRUE
        2) FALSE perceptions – which the external mind (i.e. Calvin’s god) infallibly decreed the Calvinist to perceive as TRUE

        Now since the Calvinist mind is infallibly decreed to perceive all perceptions as TRUE – then it LOGICALLY follows – the Calvinist is not granted the ability to differentiate a TRUE perception from a FALSE perception.

        And that would be confirmed also by the fact that Calvin’s god would have to MERELY PERMIT the Calvinist – the ability to determine TRUE from FALSE. And that is ruled out – by the fact that MERE PERMISSION does not exist in Calvinism.

        ON THE FALSE DICHOTOMY QUESTION:
        A false dichotomy occurs when a statement falsely claims an “either/or” situation, when in fact there is at least one additional logically valid option.

        Calvinism’s model of determinism is absolute and UNIVERSAL in scope.
        100% of whatsoever comes to pass – is determined at the foundation of the world – before humans are created.

        LOGIC dictates that we accept that as TRUE or FALSE.
        And in Calvinism there is no additional LOGICALLY valid option.

        The way the Calvinist learns to live with this model of determinism – is by being ILLOGICAL
        In other words – DOUBLE-THINK

        Blessings!

      3. Brenton:
        Here are a few additional things to consider on this matter:

        Peter Van Inwagen’s – CONSEQUENCE ARGUMENT
        ———————————————————-
        If Universal Divine Causal Determinism is true then:
        1) Our every thought, choice, desire, and action, are the consequences of divine decrees which occurred at the foundation of the world – having been determined at a point in which we do not yet exist.

        2) Additionally those thoughts, choices, desires, and actions, are framed within the boundaries of nature, which exist at the time in which they are actualized in our lives.

        3) But then it is not UP TO US what immutable decrees were established at the foundation of the world before we were born.

        4) And neither is it UP TO US what attributes of nature – including our own – exist at any time.

        5) Therefore, the consequences of these things are not UP TO US

        Calvniste Gregory Koukl
        -quote:
        The problem with determinism, is that without freedom, rationality would have no room to operate. Arguments would not matter, since no one would be able to base beliefs on adequate reasons. One could never judge between a good idea and a bad one. One would only hold beliefs because he has been predetermined to do so. Although it is theoretically possible that determinism is true…..no one could ever know if it – if it were. Everyone of our thoughts dispositions and opinions would have been decided for us by factors completely out of our control. Therefore in practice, arguments for determinism are self defeating.”

        William Lane Craig:
        -quote
        There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so. One has not in fact been able to WEIGH THE ARGUMENTS pro and con and freely make up one’s mind on that basis.

        The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was DETERMINED BY CAUSAL FACTORS OUTSIDE OF HIMSELF to believe and the other not to believe.

        When you come to realize that your decision to believe in determinism was itself determined and that even your present realization of that fact right now is likewise determined, a sort of vertigo sets in, for everything that you think, even this very thought itself, is outside your control.

        Determinism could be true; but it cannot be rationally affirmed, since its affirmation undermines the rationality of its affirmation.

      4. Thank you for the reply, I think you are misunderstanding me, and Calvinists, at a basic level. I think an analogy might help. Suppose God, instead of creating this world ex nihilo, had decided simply to create a glass of lemonade. To create this glass of lemonade he creates all of the materials:

        (a) a glass
        (b) lemons
        (c) sugar
        (d) water

        Then God mixes the lemons, sugar, and water into the glass and we then ask the question: “What determined the sweetness of the lemonade?”

        Suppose I answered: “God, since he created all of the ingredients, in their exact proportions, and put them together in the glass. God 100% determined the sweetness of the lemonade.”

        Suppose you answered: “NO… it was the sugar and the lemons. If God determined the sweetness of the lemonade 100% then that means the the lemonade determined nothing… 0%. The sweetness of the lemonade is caused 70% by the sugar and 30% by the lemons.”

        Do you see the problem? Do you see the false dilemma? Both of our answers can be true. Mine is certainly true. If God did in fact make the lemonade ex nihilo, then he absolutely is the determiner of the sweetness of the lemonade 100%. He determined how much sugar vs. lemons were in the lemonade. However, if IN FACT, the sugar does contribute 70% of the sweetness and the lemons 30% then yours would be true as well. God’s DETERMINATION OVER the glass of lemonade world leads to the secondary DETERMINATION WITHIN the lemonade.

        My answer deals with ULTIMATE causality/determination. Your answer deals with PROXIMATE or CONTINGENT or SECONDARY causality. Pitting those two answers against each other is a false dilemma. Hopefully, this helps you see my point.

        If we can agree on that, then we can discuss why William Craig’s critique of determinism falls for a similar sort of fallacy. But let’s start there.

      5. Hey Brenton,

        Thanks for that. I see where you are going, but nah, that doesnt work really.

        Lemonade has no spirit, soul, brain, and is not created in the image of God.

        Genesis 1:27 created in the image of God.

        Gen 1:28, told to be frutiful and rule (given dominion) (Lemonade is not ruling anything and makes no “ruler decisions.”)

        Then mankind is given green stuff for food…. (man is special in God’s eyes).

        2:15 man has to work and take care of it (does he make choices in that tending? Indeed!)

        2:16-17 God: “Eat what you want…but not from here…. are you listening man?” If you do eat of it you will die (that already states a choice He is giving man—-what He wants and what He does not want).

        2:19 Even the Calvinist ESV says, “…every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man TO SEE what he would call them.” ((NOT “to tell man what to name them. TO SEE….))

        2:20 Man gave names to animals….. how? Some kind of linguistic formation of what the animals represented to him. But still …Imagine that!!! Yahweh creators saying…. I did all this…now you do some. Man is a lot more autonomous and special than Calvinists make him.

        We have not even left the first two chapters of the Bible and God is interacting with man in a relationship, where all is not decided, named, forced.

        Not to mention in chapter 3 Eve explains to the devil what the rules are (what God wants) and then chooses the opposite (what God does not want).

        And so did Adam….

        And then they realized they were naked and made choices of what to do about it.

        Do you believe any of that Brenton? Were they –IN ANY WAY — acting on their own… or were they just sweetened lemonade?

      6. Brenton
        Thank you for the reply, I think you are misunderstanding me, and Calvinists, at a basic level.

        br.d
        I very much doubt it.
        But I do understand that the way Calvinists deal with their model of determinism is with DOUBLE-THINK and SEMANTIC tricks.
        So lets see where you go from here.

        Brenton
        I think an analogy might help. Suppose God….decided simply to create a glass of lemonade with certain materials – etc
        …God mixes them…..etc
        “What determined the sweetness of the lemonade?”

        I answered: “God, since he created….etc

        You answered: “NO… it was the sugar and the lemons. …etc

        br.d
        Where you are going here – as with before – you are seeking in some way to deny the UNIVERSAL scope of determinism in Calvinism. Also – what we have here is an equivocal use of the term “determine”.

        Equivocation defined:
        In LOGIC, equivocation is an informal fallacy when a term is appealed to – where that term takes on multiple senses within the argument – resulting in that term leading to a false conclusion.

        Glass, Lemon Juice, sugar, etc- are all natural objects.
        Nature – does not “determine” in the same sense that Calvin’s god does.

        Additionally, since Calvin’s god determines 100% of whatsoever comes to pass – you still have the Mathematical problem to deal with.
        The way you are choosing to deal with it as this point is by appealing to SUBTLE SEMANTICS
        By equivocating on the term “determine”.

        Brenton:
        Do you see the problem? Do you see the false dilemma?

        br.d
        No – what I see is a common evasion tactic :-]

        Brenton:
        Both of our answers can be true.

        br.d
        Correct – but only if we equivocate on the term “determine”
        Because LOGIC does not allow us to apply the term “determine” in the same sense – in both cases.
        So the analogy fails

        Brenton
        God’s DETERMINATION OVER the glass of lemonade world leads to the secondary DETERMINATION WITHIN the lemonade.

        br.d
        Here we have the appeal to Secondary events within the causal model of determinism.

        And here we are still left with the original problem:
        Was the secondary event not itself determine by Calvin’s god?
        This is where most Calvinists move into DOUBLE-THINK.
        They want to say – yes for “good” events and “no” for evil events.
        But this is emotional thinking – and not LOGICAL thinking.

        Remeber – determinism in Calvinism is UNIVERSAL in scope
        Not only is every Primary event 100% determined before creation
        But also every Secondary event is also 100% determined before creation.

        Your still trying to escape the math! :-]
        Except this time your trying to escape it by the strategy of misleading SEMANTICS

        Brenton
        My answer deals with ULTIMATE causality/determination. Your answer deals with PROXIMATE or CONTINGENT or SECONDARY causality. Pitting those two answers against each other is a false dilemma. Hopefully, this helps you see my point.

        br.d
        Here we have another SEMANTIC MANEUVER appealing to the term “ULTIMATE”.

        We must remember that in the model of determinism – all events occur within a causal chain.
        So every Secondary event is itself causally determined by a preceding antecedent event.
        In Calvinism – we simply follow that causal chain back to its ORIGIN.

        So when the Calvinist uses the term “ULTIMATE” in regard to causation – he is using it as replacement term for the word “ORIGIN”
        He doesn’t want to use the term “ORIGIN” because of its moral implications.
        So he equivocates by replacing the term “ORIGIN” with the term “ULTIMATE” – because it provides EMOTIONAL distance.
        But this is just another way of trying to evade the LOGICAL consequences of Calvinistic determinism

        Brenton
        If we can agree on that, then we can discuss why William Craig’s critique of determinism falls for a similar sort of fallacy. But let’s start there.

        br.d
        I think I’ve clearly shown here how your initial premise – that I misunderstand Calvinism – is false.
        I not only thoroughly understand Calvinist theology
        I also know thoroughly understand Calvinist Psychology :-]

        Blessings!

      7. Br.D

        There is something we can agree on here. YES, we mean different things when we are talking about God determining things and Man determining things. God DETERMINES EVERYTHING… i.e. the UNIVERSE in which ALL THINGS take place. Man DETERMINES whatever it is he determines WITHIN the UNIVERSE. That is why we talk about an ETERNAL decree against our TEMPORAL actions. We are specifically talking about how God causes/determines all things IN ONE SENSE and man determines things IN A DIFFERENT SENSE. God’s determining and Man’s determining are NOT UNIVOCAL concepts.

        The whole problem you seem to have is that you DO NOT equivocate on what you mean by determine when discussing God and man. That is why it is a false dichotomy. That is why you don’t understand what Calvinists mean.

        Let’s put it another way. God determines things UNIVERSALLY like an author who writes his story. The whole UNIVERSE, the whole STORY, is determined by the Author. But we don’t say JRR Tolkien defeated Sauron. Or Herman Melville hunted Moby Dick. Or Arthur Conan Doyle captured Professor Moriarty. The determination of the AUTHOR is different from the SECONDARY determination of the CHARACTER. They are not in CONFLICT. They are in CONCERT. Indeed, the character DEPENDS on the author.

        So yes, I think you have hit the point. Calvinists ARE EQUIVOCATING because EQUIVOCATING is appropriate.

      8. I know this is for BRD and he can handle himself!

        And I have work to do…but I just cant pass this up!!

        “…. the whole STORY, is determined by the Author. But we don’t say JRR Tolkien defeated Sauron. Or Herman Melville hunted Moby Dick. Or Arthur Conan Doyle captured Professor Moriarty. The determination of the AUTHOR is different from the SECONDARY determination of the CHARACTER.”

        I am not sure …but you may be just pulling our leg right?

        You cant really believe that the animate man (“created in God’s image”) is the same as the inanimate figure in a novel?

        If you do, then you really do think we are robots, cuz I assure you Captain Ahab is a robot in the fullest sense!!

        If you said historian Will Durant determined that Napolean would attack Russia …we would all see that this makes NO sense. Your illustration using fiction misses by a mile!

        You are NOT saying a fiction novel is determined (puppet-like) by the author. You are saying beings “created in God’s image” (who are told to make choices) are making no choices at all….just as Captain Ahab made none.

      9. Brenton
        There is something we can agree on here. YES, we mean different things when we are talking about God determining things and Man determining things. God DETERMINES EVERYTHING… i.e. the UNIVERSE in which ALL THINGS take place.

        br.d
        Now you’re talking!
        100% of whatsoever comes to pass!
        Not 99%
        Not 75%
        Not 25%

        Brenton
        Man DETERMINES whatever it is he determines WITHIN the UNIVERSE.

        br.d
        Does he really!
        Or are we using subtle SEMANTICS to make something APPEAR as something that it isn’t.

        Please detail (per Calvinism) exactly what percentage of what man determines – was itself not 100% determined FOR MAN before man was created.

        Please detail (per Calvinism) what percentage of what you determine was itself not determined before you were created.
        And what percentage which Calvin’s god determined before you were created – did Calvinist god leave UP TO YOU?

        You’re still trying to escape the math
        Trying to escape it through rhetorical tactics.

        Brenton
        That is why we talk about an ETERNAL decree against our TEMPORAL actions. We are specifically talking about how God causes/determines all things IN ONE SENSE and man determines things IN A DIFFERENT SENSE. God’s determining and Man’s determining are NOT UNIVOCAL concepts.

        br.d
        Here you are totally referring to Calvinist SEMANTICS.
        Relying on SEMANTICS as a strategy to escape the consequences of something deemed distasteful.
        Like a girl consistently beaten by her boyfriend – and develops rhetorical strategies to keep from acknowledging it.
        This is part of the Calvinist Psychology.

        Brenton
        The whole problem you seem to have is that you DO NOT equivocate on what you mean by determine when discussing God and man.

        br.d
        That’s because I don’t have any emotional need to rely on Calvinist DOUBLE-THINK.
        Equivocation is a LOGICAL fallacy.
        In Calvinism – man is NOT the determiner of anything.
        100% of whatsoever comes to pass is UP TO Calvin’s god to determine.
        ZERO% of whatsoever comes to pass is UP TO man to determine.

        Brenton
        That is why it is a false dichotomy. That is why you don’t understand what Calvinists mean.

        br.d
        You have now fallen into wishful thinking in your continued appeal to a false dichotomy.
        As if repeating the words “false dichotomy” over and over – is magically going to make it come TRUE.

        You see I understand Calvinist SEMANTIC tactics all to well!
        These are simply strategies to be able to live with an unlivable belief system.

        And that’s what I meant when I said – I thoroughly understand Calvinist Psychology.
        Calvinism requires DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS

        Jesus commands – Let your yea be yea – and your nay be nay – for anything else comes of evil
        And the Calvinist is forced to disobey Jesus’ command – in order to keep Calvinism as his master

        Brenton
        Let’s put it another way. God determines things UNIVERSALLY like an author who writes his story. The whole UNIVERSE, the whole STORY, is determined by the Author. But we don’t say JRR Tolkien defeated Sauron. Or Herman Melville hunted Moby Dick. Or Arthur Conan Doyle captured Professor Moriarty. The determination of the AUTHOR is different from the SECONDARY determination of the CHARACTER. They are not in CONFLICT. They are in CONCERT. Indeed, the character DEPENDS on the author.

        br.d
        The the “Author of a novel” argument is a totally common appeal with Calvinists.
        But it always fails.

        The subjects of a novel are not real – they are fictional – they don’t exist as real human beings.
        They are not necessary for the sake of the novel.

        And this highlights another characteristic of Calvinism
        Calvinism is full of RHETORICAL strategies – designed to make things which do not exist APPEAR *AS-IF* they do.
        And make things that do exist APPEAR to be something other than what they are.

        Brenton
        So yes, I think you have hit the point. Calvinists ARE EQUIVOCATING because EQUIVOCATING is appropriate.

        br.d
        But is it “appropriate” to comply with LOGIC – or to comply with EMOTIONS?

        I do sincerely thank you for acknowledging the equivocation.
        I’m happy for that honesty.

        But that also reveals that Calvinism and LOGIC don’t go together.
        And I understand that aspect of Calvinist Psychology – and why Calvinism is so heavily reliant upon subtle SEMANTICS designed to escape the LOGICAL consequences of their belief system.

        Calvinists have a LOVE-HATE relationship with determinism.

        For a little humor see: CALVINISM – AND THE BEAR IN THE WOODS
        https://soteriology101.com/2019/04/15/rebuttal-of-john-pipers-articlea-beginners-guide-to-free-will%ef%bb%bf/#comment-35955

      10. FROMOVERHERE – I am not interested in tilting at windmills. I gave a simple analogy to show how there are 2 kinds of determination, one ultimate, one proximate. It is a relatively simple concept and if we cannot have an honest discussion about that then I don’t want to continue to discussion. Yes, humans are different from lemonade and we can discuss those differences, and whether they are relevant to our discussion, if we can at least agree on some basic concepts. Again, I am just trying to answer questions so you can see where I am coming from. I don’t sense any desire to want to understand my view. No harm, no foul. Let’s just move on.

      11. Fromoverhere:

        With respect to your question about my author/character analogy. Obviously, a novelist is a human and his characters are “human creatures”. No, we are not “mere characters” in that sense. The analogy must be traded up an infinite degree because God is infinitely more impressive a Creator and we are infinitely more interesting a creature. But what the analogy reflects is that God is on a different level of BEING as Creator than we are as creature. Just as Authors outclass their Characters and their Characters DEPEND entirely on them, Man is outclassed by God and entirely DEPENDS on God for everything.

      12. Indeed the God of the Bible, come as the servant Jesus Christ to free us from sin, is AWESOME!!

        But in your effort to lift Him up, you make man lower (more irrelevant, robotic, impersonal) than God Himself does.

        God gives people choices all thoughout the Bible (David 3 choices as a result of his sin) (“as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”) …and He say hundreds of times (not a wobbly once or twice) “if you had done this I would have done this” “If only you had listened…” “I told you to do this, but you did this.” “What you have done did not even enter my mind…”

        Yes God outclasses man and man will never catch up! But…God…in His sovereignty… decided to create in such a way that man interacts with Him….bearing the consequences on good or bad decisions made.

        For some people that “lessens” God…but for others of us….. that is exactly what we see in the Bible and it comforts us!

      13. Fromoverhere:

        I don’t have a problem with the “robot” analogy. In fact, I think it is probably kinder than the “lump of clay” analogy Paul/God uses. I think it tends to be effective in many Christian circles as a detractor of Calvinism is because people tend to think of “robots” as sub-human. But this kind of begs the question doesn’t it? It assumes that robots necessarily have something we don’t and what it tends to assume is that what robots lack that humans don’t is “libertarian free will”. But again, that begs the question. It assumes that this is what “robots” don’t have and what “we do have”.

        I would submit that what differs between us and robots is not libertarian free will is (a) God as our direct Creator and (b) our God given duty/obligation to bear God’s image. In other words, what makes us better than robots is that we are not a “human creation” we are God’s creation and it is God that has given us significance, not other humans. Humans give their creatures significance. Robots do what people tell them to do. The are significant, or not, because of the roles and jobs we give to them. Likewise, we are significant… a significant piece of dirt… because God has given us significance.

        Be careful about assuming human “dignity” or “significance” apart from God. There is a reason John the Baptist responded to the Pharisees by saying:

        “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.”

        God can make the rocks… or the robots… his image bearers. He can make a people who is not people HIS people. Of course, as you say, he gives people choices WITHIN Creation (not the Eternal choices which are all His, but WITHIN creation). He also tells them the consequences for those choices both before and after we make them. Those are ALL statements of fact and truth. If we sin, we will die. Doesn’t mean we can keep from sinning. If we do good, we will live. It doesn’t mean we can do good. They are statements of fact. Statements of TRUTH. God uses these statements of truth to teach His people. We read about them in the Bible… we hear about the examples of the OT Israelites who fell in the wilderness and are an EXAMPLE to us. All of this is how God teaches his people, instructs them, through these statements of FACT of Truth. As we sin, we learn more about ourselves and how much we need God. As we do good, we learn more about the goodness of God at work in us.

        The GOOD NEWS is that we will “catch up” in a sense. The Gospel News is that THROUGH THIS PROCESS of sanctification, God is conforming us to Christ. We will be like Christ.

      14. Brenton:

        The “lump of clay” analogy of course comes from Jeremiah 18.7 “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. ”

        This is where God talks about Israel and the nations and how He can change His mind (of course another impossibility for Calvinists…even though He says it pretty clearly here! Go listen how they torture that text!).

        “….detractor of Calvinism is because people tend to think of “robots” as sub-human.”

        What? What are you talking about?  Robots ARE sub-human.  Mankind is created in the image of God.  NOTHING else in the world has that title. 

        Woah…. I think you make way too much out of the “man is insignificant idea.” 

        “He can make a people who is not people HIS people.”

        Yes, people who are not His people can become that by faith….like Rahab and Ruth.  Those are simple stories (understood by children even) that show “not chosen” people becoming “chosen people” by simple faith (no mention of some special dose of faith given).  Simple stories…no one has to be taught TULIP “but Ruth needed a special irresistible dose to believe.”  

        Below is where you outrun Scripture again.  You guys just make up this idea:

        “Of course, as you say, he gives people choices WITHIN Creation (not the Eternal choices which are all His, but WITHIN creation).”  Says the Bible, nowhere. 

        Good News!  The Gospel is Good News!

        “If we sin, we will die. Doesn’t mean we can keep from sinning. If we do good, we will live. It doesn’t mean we can do good.”You are not describing Good News.  Just making up your own definitions. You are just describing the Qadr of Islam…fatalism.  Already all decided.  

        “They are statements of fact. Statements of TRUTH. God uses these statements of truth to teach His people.”

        Again…. He uses things to teach us? That sounds so “man-centered”…like He is using stuff to teach us…as if we have a choice…. but He ordained everything, right? Do we have a choice to learn what He is teaching us or not?  

        “We read about them in the Bible… we hear about the examples of the OT Israelites who fell in the wilderness and are an EXAMPLE to us. All of this is how God teaches his people, instructs them, through these statements of FACT of Truth. As we sin, we learn more about ourselves and how much we need God. As we do good, we learn more about the goodness of God at work in us.”

        Welcome to Arminianism!!   All this time I thought you were a determinist!?

      15. Br.D

        I will only say this, I am not playing “word games”. I am using my words very carefully and trying to be helpful. Even if you don’t agree with me you can at least gain some insight into the way I, and most Calvinists, think.

        First, equivocation in the use of terms is a fallacy when done in the context of a syllogism or an argument. For example, if I said:

        Since only man [human] is rational,
        and no woman is a man [male],
        therefore, no woman is rational.

        Clearly, in the syllogism, the term “man” is used in two different senses. That is a fallacy.

        However, acknowledging “equivocal” meanings in terms… and their “analogical” meanings as well, is incredibly important. In fact, this is why Leighton – and most good teachers – use “analogies”. Here is an example of a perfectly fine use of equivocal language:

        My children are good because they do their homework, do their chores, don’t fight with each other, and are respectful to adults.

        My dog is good because he doesn’t pee in the house.

        When I tell my children they have been bad, I probably don’t mean that they peed in the house. Clearly, “good” in this sense takes on an equivocal meaning when modified by the subject “dog” or “my children”. There are different standards of good for the two subjects. “Good” is an equivocal term.

        Likewise, when I talk about God’s causation/determination in eternity, what I am primarily referring to is that God created everything and he gets the world he wanted. This is the world he intended to create, this is the story he intended to tell. It is an ETERNAL causation/determination.

        When I speak of human causation/determination, I am primarily referring to the fact that we do what we want to do within creation. It isn’t necessarily God acting TEMPORALLY within creation.

        This is an entirely legitimate equivocation of the term “determination” that is modified by the ETERNAL nature of the determination or the TEMPORAL nature of it. Again, you don’t have to agree with it, but it certainly isn’t a fallacy.

      16. Brenton
        I will only say this, I am not playing “word games”. I am using my words very carefully and trying to be helpful. Even if you don’t agree with me you can at least gain some insight into the way I, and most Calvinists, think.

        br.d
        After I’ve shown you multiple times – that I thoroughly understand Calvinist theology and Calvinist Psychology – by showing that you’ve been masquerading SEMANTIC arguments as logical arguments. And you still want to insist that I don’t understand how most Calvinists think! What a hoot!

        This reminds me of the definition of insanity
        Attempting the same strategy over and over again – expecting a different outcome.

        Brenton
        First, equivocation in the use of terms is a fallacy when done in the context of a syllogism or an argument,…etc
        That is a fallacy

        br.d
        FALSE
        I gave you the definition of Equivocation.
        And in dialog with Calvinists – I learned long ago that equivocation is strategically designed to lead one to a FALSE conclusion – by using terms that are strategically misleading.

        As a Calvinist – you accept using misleading language as a “appropriate” practice.
        But what is “appropriate” for the Calvinist is not “appropriate” for an honest and forthright person.

        You have been taught it is not sinful to mislead people with deceptive terms – as long as it serves a purpose deemed good.
        In some cultures – this practice is called the “HOLY LIE”.

        Calvinists practice – what is classically called “Altruistic Dishonesty”

        Dr. Bella Depaulo Social Scientist, in her book: The Hows and Whys of Lies
        -quote:
        “Altruistic dishonesty occurs when a person is working to protect a ‘target’. A high percentage of people who rationalize the use of dishonest language, experience some sub-level degree of discomfort, but which is effectively outweighed by rationalizations. And they generally do not regard their lies as lies. And this is especially true with people who are working to protect a ‘target’.”

        These are called “other-oriented” or “altruistic” dishonesties. Protecting the ‘target’ allows them to perceive themselves as honest rather than dishonest. For the sake of protecting the ‘target,’ a high percentage report they would have felt worse if they had been honest, because honesty would have revealed things about the “target” they do not want people to see.”

        In your case – the target you are “supposedly” protecting is a THEOS – who somehow needs humans to protect him.

        Brenton:
        When I talk about God’s causation/determination in eternity, what I am primarily referring to is that God created everything and he gets the world he wanted. .

        br.d
        The problem here is that you are doing what you’ve been taught to do
        You’ve been taught to use word games – to paint FALSE pictures.
        To make aspects of Calvinism deemed distasteful APPEAR to be something they are not.

        Like most Calvinists – you have been taught to paint word pictures that deceptively portray MERE PERMISSION which does not really exist in Calvinism.

        Dr. Bella Depaulo Social Scientist, in her book: The Hows and Whys of Lies – describes your practice very well.
        It is called “Altruistic Dishonesty”
        It is Dishonesty for the sake of protecting a target.

        Brenton:
        This is the world he intended to create, this is the story he intended to tell. It is an ETERNAL causation/determination

        br.d
        Here is another SEMANTIC strategy
        Here you are using the term “INTENDED” – as yet another word that presents DISTANCE between what Calvin’s god does..
        The world he “INTENDED” to create – the story he “INTENDED” to tell.

        You have been taught to use this language – supposedly – to protect a THEOS – or to protect a “so called” Gospel.
        But that is a lie.
        The TRUTH is – Calvinism’s deceptive language is designed to protect Calvinism

        Brenton
        When I speak of human causation/determination, I am primarily referring to the fact that we do what we want to do within creation. It isn’t necessarily God acting TEMPORALLY within creation.

        br.d
        So how many times do I have to tell you – I’m not going to fall for that deceptive strategy.

        Brenton
        This is an entirely legitimate equivocation of the term “determination” that is modified by the ETERNAL nature of the determination or the TEMPORAL nature of it. Again, you don’t have to agree with it, but it certainly isn’t a fallacy.

        br.d
        Its only “legitimate” for you as a Calvinist – because you have been taught that being deceptive is not sinning – if it serves a “legitimate” purpose.

      17. The next question is:
        How low are you willing to go – to make Calvinism APPEAR as something it isn’t?
        How deceptive are you willing to be?

        I would suggest you read: 2 Corinthians 11:14
        And think about how that applies to Calvinism’s language practices.

        Perhaps follow that up with 2 Corinthians 11:3

        Blessings!

      18. Brian, you said: “You’ve asked good questions about Adam’s choice to sin until you said “What ’caused’ his choice”. There is no “What” causing his choice. Adam caused his choice by his use of his good free will to trust in the wrong thing and not to keep trusting God.”

        I definitely agree that Adam caused the choice. But what was it about Adam that caused him to make this evil choice? You say he had the “potential for evil”. What “actualized that potential”? For example, someone might choose to get a divorce beCAUSE they have lust in their heart for another woman. It is this LUST in their heart that causes their choice. Or as the Scriptures say in John 12:42-43:

        “… many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”

        In this verse, many of the Pharisees believed that Jesus is the Messiah. But they do not confess it BECAUSE of their lust/desire for the glory that comes from man. There is something about THEM that causes their choice. Do you agree with that? Again, it is not coercion. It is just something TRUE ABOUT THEM that causes the choice.

        You ask: “What do you think of all the Scriptures that show God making determinations after creation and the fact there is not one verse that teaches everything was eternally immutably predestined before creation to work out only one way?”

        I would say three things here:

        First, the vast majority of Christians have agreed that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of how things will ACTUALLY turn out (omniscience). We can debate whether that is because he created it that way or simply because he knows, but the destiny of the world is set. In fact… and i have heard Leighton say this… God exists outside of time and he is already at the end. From God’s standpoint, all is finished. Now, we don’t have to believe this idea simply because virtually all Christians have held it, but it is certainly worth noting.

        Second, I do think there are Scriptures that teach this. There are scriptures that teach God’s immutability and if God is immutable then he cannot “learn new things” from his creation. I would also argue that Ecclesiastes 3 teaches the immutability of what God has done explicitly. I also think that the fact that God knows the end from the beginning is a clear teaching that God knows everything that will happen and he has known it from the beginning.

        Third, when it comes to language that would seem to indicate that God is changing his mind or that God is repenting, I would contend that Christians have always taken this language in the same sense as other “observer” language in the Bible. For example, from the position of the “observer” the sun rises and the sun sets. But of course, it is the earth spinning that makes it “appear” as if the sun rises and the sun sets. The sun remains where it is and it is the earth that is moving in relation. Likewise, when God changes his mind or changes course, it is not God who has moved, it is US who have moved in relation to God. Frank Turek (a non-Calvinist) does a really good job explaining this kind of language and there is actually a great Youtube Video if you google “Turek does God change his mind”. It is only about 4 minutes long but it is a great watch.

        Hope that helps and I appreciate the engagement.

      19. This post was posted to me – but it was addressed to Brian.

        However I’ll take the opportunity to chime in.

        Brenton:
        I definitely agree that Adam caused the choice.

        br.d
        That would be a FALSE REPRESENTATION of the Calvinist position!

        1) Adam is a fallible being

        2) According to Calvinism’s model of determinism – and Adam’s choice occurred “infallibly”

        3) Nature does not have the power or ability to “bring forth”, “engender”, “create” or “Cause” anything that is “infallible”.

        4) Therefore in Calvinism – Adam is NOT the cause of anything that comes to pass – including choices which came to pass within his brain.

        All of those choices were CAUSALLY DETERMINED FOR ADAM by Calvin’s god – at a point in which Adam did not exist – and Adam had absolutely no say in the matter.

        Additionally in Calvinism – all human neurological impulses which come to pass – do so infallibly
        And it is a LOGICAL impossibility for a natural being to resist any neurological movement established to occur “infallibly”

        Therefore in Calvinism:
        1) Calvin’s god MADE Adam’s choice for him.

        2) Any event which Calvin’s god is not going to infallibly decree come to pass – is not going to exist.
        And anything which does not have any existence – is not available to Adam (i.e. natural man).

        Therefore – in Calvinism – Calvin’s god did not make available to Adam any alternative possibility.
        Calvin’s god did not permit Adam to choose otherwise

        As Peter Van Inwagen succinctly states it:
        -quote
        “Determinism may now be defined: it is the thesis that there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.”

        Calvin’s god provided only one physically possible future for Adam.

        As John Calvin states it in his Institutes:
        -quote
        “[The] wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.”

        “The hand of god rules the interior affections
        [they can do nothing] unless he worked in their hearts to MAKE THEM WILL before they acted.”

        “Men can deliberately do nothing unless He inspire it”

      20. Apologies, Br.D. Yes, I definitely intended that for Brian. I honestly have little desire to engage with you. Nothing against you personally but anytime a discussion devolves into calling someone a liar then it stops becoming a healthy discussion for either of us. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. I will not respond to you but feel free to post whatever you want.

      21. No apologies necessary Brenton
        I totally understand.
        But thank you anyway.

        Just love that subject
        And it gave me an opportunity to provide some TRUTH TELLING concerning Calvinism. :-]

      22. Brenton, you did not confirm if you believe in inerrancy. But I see you believe in accommodation to man’s perspective as if God could not clearly give His perspective the way determinists are now able to give it for Him. Immutability, like every other attribute must be defined by Scripture and not be neo-platonist definitions that have been called orthodox for far too long. Maybe this will help.

        Ps 90, 2 Sequential Reality

        There are two definitions for “time”. One is connected only to creation… it is the measurement of matter in motion. The other is connected to reality which is from God’s nature.

        Reality consists of sequential events… befores and afters going backwards infinitely and forwards infinitely. “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2)… “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). There were events of communication, relationship, and decision making in the Godhead before creation of space and matter… right?

        The premise that reality is both sequential and non-sequential for God at the same “time” is a logical contradiction borrowed into Christianity from neo-platonism. The Scripture gives no other “competing” reality for God’s presence, than the sequential one, and a competing reality would be contradictory to the word “reality” anyway.

        His foreknowledge is dynamic therefore, each time He makes a decision His knowing goes from “will happen” to “has happened”. It is not static. His understanding is infinite (Ps 147:5). He knows all the possibilities that still exist to decide upon, to cause one or permit another, and He knows all things that are already determined by Him that limit those possibilities.

        ***********
        Some like the illustration of God as in a blimp watching the full parade below. But for a sight from a blimp to watch a parade, the full parade has to exist. The future does not exist as a completed entity to watch, either as a place to see or as a finished story in God’s mind.

        Reality is only sequential, and comes from God’s eternal nature – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2), “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). Relationship and communication in the Godhead existed before creation and were sequential (with befores and afters).

        The underlying important issue is – Does God’s mind reflect univocally the sequential reality of His Word, or have scholars discovered in their philosophical reasoning that God hid from Scripture His perspective of a non-sequential reality? This philosophical reasoning would be a perspective that also makes man’s normal perspective in Scripture actually faulty, for Scripture reveals the future as not yet existing, but in these scholars’ “reality” it is already existing as completed (forever). But God’s reality as revealed in Scripture is the only true one.

      23. Brian – Whether or not immutability is defined in a neo-platonic way or not, we agree that it must be defined in a Biblical way. Sometimes, platonic, aristotelian, or neo-platonic ideas are useful in understanding categories but we agree that they do not control. It is James that writes that in God that is no shadow due to change. It was Balaam inspired by the Holy Spirit that said of God: “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

        Yes, I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and so we must contend with what the Bible teaches and I would listen to Frank Turek’s very orthodox explanation on the matter. He does a great job. Again, it is a very short video.

      24. Brenton, I wouldn’t lean on the false prophet Balaam for my theology. He doesn’t even use the formula – “Thus says the LORD.” But even so, he is just affirming that God does not lie like man does. As for James 1, 17
        NKJV…with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
        παρ᾽ ᾧ οὐκ ἔνι παραλλαγὴ ἢ τροπῆς ἀποσκίασμα
        with whom [there] is not a change or a shadow from [His] turning.

        James is saying God is the Father of Lights (creator of sun, moon, and stars), but does not cause changes like they do in their phases and with the shadows they often cause. His judgments (vss 15-16) and blessings (vss 18) are true and consistent. The preposition “with” points away from an immutability of being and towards an immutability/consistency of activity.

        Nicholas Wolterstorff asks concerning this passage –
        “Is the writer James here affirming God’s ontological immutability? I think that the most we can say is that though it’s possible he’s doing that, it’s not likely. It’s likely that what he’s saying is that God is unchangeable in that God is never the source of evil, only and always of good – which falls far short of affirming ontological immutability.”[1]
        [1] Wolterstorff, Nicholas, God & Time: Four Views (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2001), p. 192f.

      25. Brenton,

        Balaam? He is talking about lying there anyway.

        I watched the Turek video. The old anthropomorphism idea…. Sure, when He says “Are the Lord’s arms to short?” we know He is not saying he has arms…BUT He IS saying something!

        If you take Turek’s idea…every passage about God changing His mind —tells us NOTHING! The old vague “we are the ones changing not Him”. What? That makes no sense. The passage then means nothing.

        Besides, I sent you a passage yesterday that you did not respond to.

        Brenton, If God were trying to tell us that He interacts with mankind and can change His mind, how would He tell us? ((Just go with me here and allow yourself to think “the impossible” is possible.))

        How would He say it? How would you say it to someone?

        Jer 18: 6 “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. 7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

        “I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,” (not conditional— He’s just gonna do it).

        But….
        “….repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.”

        “Relent” …. “I had planned” (“I had planned”? “I had planned”? Really? Why would a sovereign God —immutable in the way you are saying— ever say “had planned”? He also says “If you had…I would have” Right there many times in the Bible!

        But wait…there’s more….

        9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

        “Reconsider”?

        “the good I had intended to do for it.” (“Intended to do?!!). C’mon, man!

        If God were gonna tell us this kind of idea He would chose a plain and simple way just like this!

        But nooooo, Turek comes along and say “we change as we read the story…”

        What?

        You see, that is how I came out of Calvinism. I started reading the Bible through every year. I got SO TIRED, every day of saying…. this doesnt make sense (apply Calvinist filter lens). Just start reading though the Bible and we will go line by line through it. You would see how many times you have to say “well that passage cant mean that….cuz we know XYZ….”

      26. FOH: I am a little confused about what you are saying with respect to Balam. in Chapter 22 the Angel of the Lord says to Balam:

        35 And the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only the word that I tell you.” So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.

        In Chapter 23, Balam does exactly that. Balak keeps trying to get Balam to curse Israel but Balam just says what God tells him to say. These are divinely inspired words. They are echoed again in 1 Samuel 15:29. Similar thoughts are expressed in Malachi 3:6 as those expressed in James 1:17. I would also add that Ecclesiastes 3 seems to me to clearly teach that all that God has done cannot be changed. Solomon writes:

        “14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.”

        These sentiments are echoed in the Psalms in places like Psalm 33 where the psalmist makes clear that God’s counsel (i.e. his decisions) stand forever.

        But the additional problem rests in the Christian commitment (held by virtually all orthodox Christians… like Turek) that God is perfect. Christians understand that TRUE PERFECTION cannot be “added too” or “taken from” and so God cannot change. If God were to change, it implies an “imperfection” in either the previous state or the succeeding state.

        So that leads me to your question. It is a very good question. You ask: “If God were trying to tell us that He interacts with mankind and can change His mind, how would He tell us?”

        Well first, God certainly interacts with mankind. The Bible itself, heck… Creation itself, is proof that God interacts with mankind. God creates man and teaches man by revealing things to Him. That is interaction.

        It is the second part that is problematic, i.e. “can change his mind”. Whatever we make of that phrase, we cannot take it to mean that God changes, that his “counsel does NOT stand forever”, or that something can be added to what he has done in eternity. Or as James puts it, we cannot take it to mean that there is a “shadow due to change” in God. In other words, we can’t take Moses interaction with him to be that God had this “bad idea” to destroy Israel but it was Moses who taught God “a better way”.

        Fortunately, I don’t think we have to do that at all. Take a look at Balam’s words in Numbers 23, or 1 Samuel 15:29. The information about God is proceeded by the phrase “God is not a man”. In other words, THIS IS NOT AN ANTHROPOMORPHISM. This is talking about God as GOD, God in his BEING, God in his UNCHANGING/UNCHANGEABLE counsel. The same thing is true of James 1:17. James describes God as the “father of lights” the one who gives “all Good” things and describes him as “unchanging” because HE IS PERFECT in DEITY. This is not an anthropomorphism.

        On the other hand, we certainly EXPERIENCE GOD (i.e. subjectively) as if he does change his mind.,,. changes his mind about us. But this is OUR experience of the unchanging eternal God. So in the passage you cite, as God REVEALS Himself to us and as our knowledge of Him, and our POSITION TO HIM, changes we perceive change. As God INTERACTS with his creation (in Moses, through the Prophets to Israel, in Christ), we PERCEIVE change in TIME, but God’s ETERNAL COUNSEL stands forever.

        CS Lewis expresses this very well in Prince Caspian when Lucy meets Aslan in the forest:

        “Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”
        The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.
        “‘Welcome, child,” he said.
        “AsIan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
        “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
        “Not because you are?”
        “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

        As WE GROW in Christ, God becomes ever BIGGER in OUR MINDS. HE becomes more BEAUTIFUL as he reveals more of himself to us. But he is NEVER CHANGING. We are changing.

        So what can we learn from passages like Moses’ “changing God’s mind”? We learn… Moses learned… that God is a gracious God. Did God suddenly become gracious? No. He had always been gracious. But for Moses, God’s graciousness was REVEALED to him (and to US) and as God reveals his ETERNAL graciousness to us… he grows bigger in our mind and we PRAISE GOD that he is UNCHANGING.

        I hope that helps at least understand where I am coming from.

      27. Thanks for taking the time Brenton.

        Those TWO passages (there are two in the Bible), that state that God is not like a whimsical man (and does not lie) have been dealt with at length on this site, many sites, and many books.  The other passages are vague and poetic “his decisions stand forever.”  “What God does endures forever.”

        They are as vague as the Calvinist go-to passages “he knows the end from the beginning.”

        But Brenton …. you understand what you are doing, right?

        You take those two easily-understood-in-context verses and you FILTER hundreds (literally hundreds) of clear passages where God says:

        I would have….If you had…
        What you did not even enter my mind …
        If they repent, I will relent…
        I called but you would not come
        I expect fruit but got bitter grapes
        God regretted (repented) that He made man, chose Saul, etc
        If they do not follow, I will withdraw my hand.

        I could go on with the many formulas (even in the NT “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  “O Jerusalem Jerusalem… but you would not”   etc etc).

        But Brenton…there are hundreds…… lots…. lots and lots of passages like this….. and God is saying something in all of them.  What is He saying?  What do Calvinist say that He is saying?

        In every case, their exegesis (or eisegesis) starts with…. “We know this passage (these hundreds of passages) does not mean what God says here…because ((apply Aristotelian filter))….” 

        Nah….. not necessary.

        God can be great any way He wants to be great.  Jesus proved that.  He was great by being a servant and lowly.  Why Calvinists want to foist onto God the must-control everything, everything-that-happens-is-what-He-wants idea ….I just dont get.

        If what you say is true, then MacArthur is right….all evil (Holocaust, child sacrifice, sex trafficing, infant molestation and torture) come from God —for His glory!

        I would then say if you believe that, you have a monster on your hands…. and simply because (“Ecclesiastes 3 seems to me to clearly teach” —that alone is a mouthful!), you prefer a couple of passages (taken out of context) to the hundreds of statements by the Lord.

        You say, “God interacts with man.”  Teaches him….  really?  Does man have any choice what to learn and what not to learn?  Can man NOT refuse to learn what God is diligently, lovingly trying to teach him?  I realize that you want to mix a lot of non-deterministic language in there, but resist that temptation and just answer in a determinist way.   

        You say, “That is interaction.”    Exactly!!  That is the point!  That is interaction with a personal human being….not a pre-stated set of responses.  We constantly say God wants to have a “personal relationship with us.”  A deterministic (everything decided for you) position does not allow for a “personal relationship” …without laying all kinds of compatibilism, double-meaning, layered two-and-three-wills mumbo jumbo on it.  

        Can man do anything that God does not want? (As in, “Please dont do that Brenton, that is against God’s will.”)

        Does God always get what He wants?

        Is everything that happens exactly what God wants?

        Just spend a moment and think about those questions.  I would love to hear your answers. 

        More response on this in a second post.

      28. FOH: Two things and then a question for you to consider:

        First, you act as if my position on these texts is a “Calvinist” thing. It isn’t. It is a Classical Theism thing. This is the position of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the historic Protestant Church, etc…. All have held to at least some form of divine simplicity and immutability and would take these verses the same way I do. That is why I used Frank Turek (non-Calvinist). But you could also go look at David Bentley Hart or Norman Geisler or a host of other non-Calvinist theologians that agree. It isn’t an exclusively “Calvinistic” doctrine. It is the historic Christian doctrine and holding it doesn’t necessarily mean you come to Calvinistic conclusions.

        Second, let me respond to your questions:

        (1) Can man do anything that God does not want? Yes.

        (2) Does God always get what he wants? Yes.

        (3) Is everything that happens exactly what God wants? Yes.

        I know you are going to claim there is a contradiction here. There isn’t. This is the normal way people learn. When I teach my son to play baseball, I tell him “swing the bat this way” or “catch like this” or “get down on the ball when it is a grounder”. I tell him and I show him. He tries, and he fails, over and over and over again. In one sense, I don’t want him to fail. In another sense, I do want him to fail so that I can correct him. He will be RIGHT when he CONFORMS to what I tell him and what I show him. He will frequently do what I tell him not to do, and not do what I tell him to do, but in doing so… he is doing exactly what I want him to do (i.e. learning to play baseball). So yes, he doesn’t do what I want him to do IN SOME SENSE, yes I am getting what I want, and yes it happens exactly as I want it to happen (i.e. the way all people learn stuff… trial and error… experience). The same is true of God’s will and us. Yes, we disobey God’s commands. Yes, God is getting what he wants. Yes, everything is happening exactly the way God wants it to happen. We are learning (a) we are NOT GOD, (b) HE IS GOD, and (c) that listening to Him is our only HOPE.

        I already know the objection: “Well, if God really determines everything then why doesn’t he just give us this information. Why this ‘process’?”

        All I can say is that this is the way God chose to do it. He chose to create a people for himself through THIS METHOD (i.e. creating us so that we fail, and teaching us through trial and error, and revealing things to us over time… conforming us into the image of Christ OVER TIME). Why “this method”? I don’t know exactly. I don’t know why he created man from “dirt” and not “water” or “tree bark” or “air”… or why he didn’t just poof us into existence from nothing. I don’t know why he gave us 2 legs, 2 eyes, 2 ears, and 2 arms. I don’t know why he made us to poo and pee. I don’t know why the man has to contribute 100,000,000 “seed” to the one “egg” to make 1 person. I don’t know why he made bacon taste so good and then prohibited Israel from eating it. I don’t know why he doesn’t PERFECT his people the moment they place their trust in Him. But God determined all of those things. He determined which one of those 100,000,000 seeds would reach that egg to create Me and You. This is his world and he determined that it would work THIS WAY… sovereignly.

        I do not think that this will be satisfying to you and I understand that. I am just trying to be helpful since it seems that you are truly seeking to understand my opinion on these things.

        ———

        Now here is a question I have for you:

        Suppose God created 2 worlds, World A and World B. When God created World A and World B he knew everything that would happen in those worlds.

        In World A he made men with “free will”.

        In World B he determined everything that would happen.

        Suppose in World A and World B, the EXACT same things happen. In other words, all events that happen in World A happen exactly like they do in World B. You and look the exact same in World A and World B. You and I feel the exact same in World A and World B… we experience the world the same in World A and World B. We make the same choices in World A and World B.

        An outside observer is looking at these two worlds and doesn’t know which one is World A or World B. How would they tell the difference?

        Or suppose we are someone inside World A or World B and we don’t know which one we are in… how would WE tell the difference?

        I am trying to understand what exactly it means to be free on your view.

      29. Brenton,
        I realize that your positions are classical….but post-mill/ a-mill people claim that too, to the pre-mill theologians’ chagrin.  So do infant baptizers….. so nah… no big deal there. 

        (1) Can man do anything that God does not want? Yes.

        (2) Does God always get what he wants? Yes.

        (3) Is everything that happens exactly what God wants? Yes.

        Your baseball example did not help to clear this up at all.

        Take question 3.  In my pastoral role (and overseas missionary 30+ years) I have counseled Christian men with problems with porn and infidelity. If they asked me question #3, I would say “no”.  

        You would say yes?

        How strange that counseling session would be!  I guarantee you it would not help to say “IN SOME SENSE” God wanted/ ordained/ decreed/ willed you to cheat on your wife.  ((A loud “Phew…. I’m glad to hear that” would follow!)).  

        Your baseball example does not work cuz your son’s “failing” is not an offense to God. But in this infidelity situation it is. 

        Surely the Lord could teach us that we are not God and He is, other than by decreeing that these young men cheat on their wives?

        “(c) that listening to Him is our only HOPE.” 

        Our only hope for what?  To do better?  To learn?  But if we dont do better, He decreed that too, right?”

        All I can say is that this is the way God chose to do it.”

        No you cant. You can’t say that.  I mean, sure, you say that fallacious, contradictory, make-God-a-monster statement all you want (free will after all!) but that does not make it true! What you mean is that you have been taught that the Bible supports this idea, and you adhere to it.

        All those “from dirt” “2 eyes, two ears” are all mysteries to me too…. but they do not contradict His perfect nature, like your statements do.

        Just cuz you want to define “sovereign” the deterministic way does not make it true (we have no earthly or biblical examples of any sovereign always getting his way).

        If your version is true, will I not in fact do whatever has been determined for me?  I mean, I “feel” like I am choosing to believe in free will…but you say that it is really God who is making me (decreed me to) believe in something that is not true (which would be the same for all the differences within the Church, as well as those who believe in Islam, etc).

        I missed the point in the World A and B thing, sorry. 

      30. Hey FOH – would it be ok for you – if I asked you to put Brenton’s name before the parts of this dialog that are his?

        Its not totally clear which statements are his and which are yours some times.

        Thanks
        br.d

      31. FOH:

        You say: “Take question 3. In my pastoral role (and overseas missionary 30+ years) I have counseled Christian men with problems with porn and infidelity. If they asked me question #3, I would say “no”.
        You would say yes? How strange that counseling session would be! I guarantee you it would not help to say “IN SOME SENSE” God wanted/ ordained/ decreed/ willed you to cheat on your wife. ((A loud “Phew…. I’m glad to hear that” would follow!)).”

        I say in counseling sessions, to both the husband and wife, that their sin part of God’s plan to humble them. In fact, I often explain to them how God has humbled me in a similar way. When I have done counseling in the past I am sometimes faced with one spouse who feels terrible about themselves, and another who feels self-righteous. It is necessary in those moments to point them also to their sin. Not to blame them for their spouse’s sin. But to show them that they too need. God uses our sin to show us that we have a NEED. As Paul says in Galatians 3:

        “21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”

        The purpose of God showing us our sin was so that we might KNOW OUR NEED and KNOW THAT God is our only hope for salvation. This is also what Paul explains in Romans 3:

        “For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

        Paul’s long introduction to Romans shows that EVERYONE is under sin. As he explains here, God did this… made us this way… to show us that HE ALONE is JUST and JUSTIFIER. We CANNOT justify ourselves. Our sins play a crucial role in TEACHING US THAT TRUTH. So yes, I teach people that in counseling sessions.

        You say: “If your version is true, will I not in fact do whatever has been determined for me? I mean, I “feel” like I am choosing to believe in free will…but you say that it is really God who is making me (decreed me to) believe in something that is not true (which would be the same for all the differences within the Church, as well as those who believe in Islam, etc).”

        Yes, you will do whatever has been determined for you. Again, as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 6:10:

        “Whatever exists was named long ago, and what happens to a man is foreknown; but he cannot contend with one stronger than he.”

        What you and I are was decided by God long ago. Or as Paul says in a positive sense “by the grace of God I am what I am”. I think this idea is captured in James when he warns his readers not to prognosticate about what the future holds for them. He tells them:

        “13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.””

        James is under no delusion that whatever we do or don’t do is God’s will. God has established what will happen.

        Yes, if God has not specifically given the Truth in the Holy Spirit, then you and I will not have the Truth. You and I will believe some version of the lie… whether that is Islam, Mormonism, Open Theism, Modalism, or Hinduism. There is just no getting around that. That is why Jesus tells his disciples the great news that he is sending the Holy Spirit who will lead them into all Truth (John 16:13). We DEPEND on God for Truth. Isaiah 11:2 describes as follows:

        “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
        the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
        the Spirit of counsel and might,
        the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”

        We desperately need the Spirit or else we do not have the Truth, we have no wisdom, no understanding, no counsel, no power to do good, no knowledge, and the fear of the Lord is not before us.

      32. Brenton
        I tell them that their sin is part of God’s plan to humble them.

        br.d
        Thus we have:

        1) Calvin’s god – at the foundation of the world – decrees that husband [A] and wife [B] will commit sin [X] at time [T].

        2) An infallible decree DOES NOT PERMIT them to escape sin [X] at time [T] at pain of falsifying an infallible decree.

        3) Since they are powerless to falsify an infallible decree NO ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITY is made available to them.

        In Calvinist vernacular – they are RENDERED-CERTAIN to commit sin [X] at time [T]

        So in this event decreed to infallibly come to pass – Calvin’s god is making them commit sin [X] at time [T] – in order to humble them.

        In other words
        To let them know they have NO SAY and NO CONTROL over anything that comes to pass – whether internal or external to their being.

      33. Now the question is – will it come to pass that they have the emotion of humility?

        Well – in order for that to come to pass – Calvin’s god would have had to decree it to come to pass.

        So to sum up.
        1) Calvin’s god infallibly decrees their every sin – and then infallibly decrees whatever emotion he wants them to experience – after he makes them commit the sin.

        But we have a problem here:
        Who are we mere mortals – to predict what emotion Calvin’s god wants to make them experience?

        Calvin’s god is certainly not obligated to make them experience humility.
        He is the biggest gorilla in the jungle!
        He is the controller of every movement of every molecule in the universe – and no one tells him what he is to do.

        So he could make them experience any emotion he wants them to have.

        I think its pretty presumptuous of anyone to tell this husband and wife that Calvin’s god made them sin in order to make them experience the emotion of humility!

        That would be like trying to predict what Calvin’s god does and why he does it.

        Its ok for someone to GUESS why Calvin’s god makes people do things.
        But I think going beyond GUESSING leans to close to presumptuousness.

      34. Br.d:

        You say: “Calvin’s god is certainly not obligated to make them experience humility. He is the biggest gorilla in the jungle! He is the controller of every movement of every molecule in the universe – and no one tells him what he is to do.”

        Are you saying that God is obligated to do things for you or me? Are you telling me that someone can tell God what he is to do?

      35. Brenton
        You say: “Calvin’s god is certainly not obligated to make them experience humility. He is the biggest gorilla in the jungle! He is the controller of every movement of every molecule in the universe – and no one tells him what he is to do.”

        Are you saying that God is obligated to do things for you or me? Are you telling me that someone can tell God what he is to do?

        br.d
        Thank you for affirming my point! :-]

        Its presumptuous of a mere mortal – to tell people what/why Calvin’s god makes people do and feel.

        But you can tell them that you GUESS the reason why.
        I don’t see how GUESSING is presumptuous.

      36. BTW:
        Its just as possible that he made the sin – as a way of showing them that he designed them for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure

        Who are you oh man – to rob the Calvin’s god of his good pleasure!

      37. Br.d: You didn’t answer my question. But you write:

        “It is just as possible that he made the sin – as a way of showing them that he designed them for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.”

        I think is probably important… just so you don’t hack at strawmen all night… that you know that I believe there are only two ultimate destinations. Either (a) eternal life and the blessings of God forever or (b) the loss of life and the loss of God’s blessings forever. Only God is worthy of (a). Everything else is by nature worthing of (b). The only way you or I could ever receive (a) is if God indwells us and perfects us. If God does not indwell us… i.e. he makes us to fall short of the glory of God (i.e. sin)… then we will receive (b) and we will approve of God’s judgment.

        We are not in control of either of those two outcomes just like we are not in control of the fact that we were born or that we exist. It is pure GOSPEL (i.e. Good News) if the world just so happens to work out that we get this incredible grace of God’s blessings forever. I find that most Christians nowadays assume that it MUST work out that way. So I will ask you again, is God obligated to us in any way?

      38. Brenton
        Br.d: You didn’t answer my question.

        br.d
        Sure I did
        By thanking you for affirming my point

        Brenton
        But you write:
        “It is just as possible that he made the sin – as a way of showing them that he designed them for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.”

        I think is probably important… just so you don’t hack at strawmen all night… that you know that I believe there are only two ultimate destinations. …etc

        br.d
        Well – if that is supposed to be a representation of Calvinist doctrine – then there certainly is a consistent propensity to make representations designed to hide the WHOLE TRUTH about it.

        A TRUTHFUL Calvinist knows that good and evil destinations for the human population is by divine design.

        At the foundation of the world – before any man/woman is created – Calvin’s god makes decisions about who he will create – what their destination will be. As John Calvin puts it – he determines what each person’s “LOT” in life will be.

        John Calvin
        -quote
        “Some are PREORDAINED for eternal life, others are PREORDAINED to eternal damnation. Accordingly as EACH HAS BEEN CREATED FOR THESE ENDS we say he has been predestined to life or death.” (Institutes)

        Now since Calvin’s god designs the vast majority of humans – specifically for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for his good pleasure – then you have a Mathematical probability. When you tell people that Calvin’s god made them sin – you can tell them that he MAY have made them sin – for benevolent reasons.

        But you can easily tell them that the probability is – that he made them sin – as a sign that he designed them specifically for eternal torment in the lake of fire – fore his good pleasure.

        They can take comfort in knowing that while they are in eternal torment in the lake of fire – Calvin’s god did what was right! :-}

        Brenton
        We are not in control of either of those two outcomes just like we are not in control of the fact that we were born or that we exist.

        br.d
        Well – don’t stop there!
        As a Calvinist you know that you should acknowledge that people have NO SAY in the matter of whatsoever comes to pass – because whatsoever comes to pass – was 100% determined before people are created.

        Brenton
        It is pure GOSPEL (i.e. Good News) if the world just so happens to work out that we get this incredible grace of God’s blessings forever. I find that most Christians nowadays assume that it MUST work out that way. So I will ask you again, is God obligated to us in any way?

        br.d
        On your question about obligation – the God of scripture has no obligation to anything – other than the obligation he himself puts upon himself towards his creatures.

        But please be advised – when I speak of the God of scripture – I am not talking about Calvin’s god.

        BTW:
        Where is this straw-man you mentioned???

      39. Brenton
        It is pure GOSPEL (i.e. Good News) if the world JUST SO HAPPENS to work out that we get this incredible grace of God’s blessings forever.

        br.d
        Just so happens???

        As a representation of Calvinism – how is that statement anything close to honest?
        In Calvinism NOTHING “just happens” to work out.

        Every microsecond of whatsoever comes to pass – is meticulously conceived and meticulously decreed to infallibly occur.
        And absolutely NOTHING outside of what is infallibly decreed is permitted.

        So as a representation of Calvinism – how does that statement come even close to honesty?

        I’m beginning to wonder if the God of scripture (unbeknownst to you) is using you to show how Calvinists are taught to think and speak dishonestly.

      40. Brdmod: My point by that statement was not to deny that everything that happens is determined. But from our perspective, we wouldn’t know what the final determination will be UNLESS God tells us. If the Gospel is true… and of course I believe that it is… and God has truly saved me, and you, and all of the other blokes on here. Then it is pure grace and an amazing grace at that. We have no right to expect that it would turn out that way.

      41. Brenton
        My point by that statement was not to deny that everything that happens is determined. But from our perspective, we wouldn’t know what the final determination will be UNLESS God tells us. If the Gospel is true… and of course I believe that it is… and God has truly saved me, and you, and all of the other blokes on here. Then it is pure grace and an amazing grace at that. We have no right to expect that it would turn out that way.

        br.d
        Amazing grace does not exist in Calvinism
        100% meticulous – micro-second by micro-second pre-determination – is what exists in Calvinism.

        Amazing grace occurs when a benevolent and self sacrificing God MERELY PERMITS man to have his own way – and then forgives and steps in to pay the price of man’s redemption – after man’s way leads him into utter slavery.

        No such thing occurs in Calvinism – because Calvin’s god does not MERELY PERMIT anything – but rather predestines everything to infallibly come to pass.

        Brenton – you described things in Calvinism occurring – using the phrase “JUST HAPPENS”
        And I’m sorry to report – that is one of many FALSE REPRESENTATIONS you have made concerning Calvinism.

      42. Brenton – I will describe your language patterns to you – from the perspective of a customer to whom you are trying to sell a used car.

        Your language pattern follows the model of a car salesman who presents a contract to a customer asking him to sign it.
        A contract in which you have carefully omitted all of the language containing provisos and fine-print.

        You know full well – if your customer is presented with the WHOLE TRUTH along with the rest of the language in your contract – he’s likely to refuse to buy the product you are selling.

        That is why – in your language – you talk about man’s actions which determine things
        And craft your statements carefully omitting the fine-print – that Calvin’s god is actually the one who determines 100% of what man’s actions will be – before he creates man.

        Removing the fine print language from a contract you want someone to sign is dishonest!
        And if a salesman did that to you – you would not hesitate to recognize it as dishonest.

        Now there are multitudes of used car salesmen in this world – who justify communicating the way you do.
        They justify it for pragmatic reasons – they want to get people to by the product they are selling.
        But that does not remove the fact that – like you – their language is dishonest.

        Remember – Dr. Bella Depaulo’s description of ALTRUISTIC DISHONESTY
        -quote
        “People who rationalize the use of dishonest language, experience some sub-level degree of discomfort, but which is effectively outweighed by rationalizations. And they generally do not regard their lies as lies.

        Its fine for you to drink the cool-aid.
        But when you craft statements that carefully omit the “fine print” you have learned to justifying dishonesty.
        Its just that simple.

        One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

      43. BrdMod

        Again, I don’t think anyone who really understand’s anything about theology and philosophy would take anything you said in that post seriously. Most philosophical and theological systems explicitly admit to a 2 tiered nature to reality (e.g. Heaven/Eternal/Spiritual/Ideal/Forma/Noumenal vs. Earth/Temporal/Flesh/Real/Substantial/Phenomenal). In discussing reality in those terms, and delineating different causalities between them, I am simply using the language that Christians have used for thousands of years. In fact, I am using the language that the Bible uses. Our entire hope is that one day God’s WILL be done on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN. HEAVEN, the IDEAL, the ETERNAL, where things are PERFECT and where everyone DOES EXACTLY WHAT GOD COMMANDS… one day God will bring HEAVEN DOWN and EARTH will be the same way. One day, God will be ALL IN ALL (1 Corinthians 15:28)

        That is why it disturbs me when read posts like this on Soteriology101 that seem to praise “autonomy” from God, “separation” from God, “independence” from God. Nothing could be worse than those things. Nothing could be more evil than those things.

        Now, God… who is ETERNAL,SPIRITUAL, PERFECT, and IN HEAVEN has decreed when and how he will interact in his creation (i.e. EARTH) which is TEMPORAL, WORLDY/FLESHY, IMPERFECT/EVIL. Where he does interact with this world then GOOD occurs and we see him. Where he doesn’t, when EVIL occurs and we see “non-God”. God determines/decrees when and where and how he interacts with this world. By God’s decree everything that occurs, good and evil, occurs. One day, when God brings Heaven down then there will be no more evil. Until then, he has come down FROM HEAVEN in his Son… who did EVERYTHING PERFECTLY. He has also come down in his HOLY SPIRIT, and indwells us. One day, when God brings down Heaven… anything on this EARTH that is not of God will pass away. Even our bodies, fallen as they are, will be destroyed… and we will receive NEW BODIES that are glorified. Again, all of this is DETERMINED by God’s sovereign decision when to act and when not to act.

        So when I talk about God’s action in ETERNITY/HEAVEN determining everything, but that our actions TEMPORALLY/EARTH having a different sort of causality. There is nothing dishonest about it. I am just acknowledging and applying what I wrote above.

        Now, your “altruistic dishonestly quote” is interesting. I think you will commit it the moment you walk away from this computer… or at least sometime today. For all the talk of LFW, nobody applies that to their everyday life. You will come on here and in every discussion claim that there is no “cause” for your choices and that they are your “free will”. You will make all kinds of “philosophical claims” in these discussions.

        But then, when your friends or wife asks you why you engage in these discussions you will tell them without thinking “beCAUSE x”…. e.g. “beCAUSE that guy was so wrong I just had to say something”, “beCAUSE I like messing with Calvinists”, “beCAUASE that is not what Scripture says”. You will over and over again give a CAUSE (because means “by cause”) for your choice. When someone asks you why you didn’t wear a mask you will say “beCAUSE the government is dumb” or “beCAUSE I forgot it at home” or “beCAUSE I have antibodies”. When someone asks you why you ate Mexican food instead of French food, you will say “beCAUSE it tastes better”, “beCAUSE it is cheaper”, beCAUSE it was closer”. You won’t be able to keep up the facade of LFW for 10 seconds in REALITY. All of your choices have a CAUSE. All of them are DETERMINED. The only way you could have made a different choice is if something had been DIFFERENT about you, (e.g. you didn’t like messing with Calvinists, you didn’t think Provisionism was true, you didn’t like Mexican food, you thought mask wearing was very important, etc….).

        But you will come on here and defend it until you are blue in the face beCAUSE you think it is the ONLY way you can be justly held responsible for your sin. There has to be some difference IN YOU… that separates YOU… from all those wicked sinners who are going to Hell. So you will defend it philosophically here and then abandon it the moment someone asks you “Why did you do that?”

      44. Brenton
        Again, I don’t think anyone who really understand’s anything about theology and philosophy would take anything you said in that post seriously. Most philosophical and theological systems explicitly admit to a 2 tiered nature to reality (e.g. Heaven/Eternal/Spiritual/Ideal/Forma/Noumenal vs. Earth/Temporal/Flesh/Real/Substantial/Phenomenal).

        br.d
        Please provide a quote (not your own words) from a NON-CALVINIST Christian.
        We will then examine whether or not this far fetched claim is actually true.

        Brenton
        In fact, I am using the language that the Bible uses.

        br.d
        Please provide a verse which EXPLICITLY states that man’s every thought/choice/action are predetermined at the foundation of the world.

        Otherwise – this assertion is just one more FALSE REPRESENTATION.

        Brenton
        1 Corinthians 15:28

        br.d
        FIRSTLY
        1 Corinthians 15:28 says “WHEN all things are subjected to him – then (i.e. at that time) the son will…..etc
        The term “WHEN” here infers a future point – and thus irradiates any notion of Calvinist Determinism.
        Sorry you are reading something into that verse that isn’t there.

        SECONDLY:
        You are assuming that “Subjected” ὑποταγῇ is a reference to UNIVERSAL DIVINE CAUSAL DETERMINISM.
        Sorry you are reading something into that word that isn’t EXPLICITLY stated.

        Brenton
        That is why it disturbs me when read posts like this on Soteriology101 that seem to praise “autonomy” from God, “separation” from God, “independence” from God. Nothing could be worse than those things. Nothing could be more evil than those things.

        br.d
        If you can’t provide a quote – then we have yet another straw-man.

        Brenton
        Now, God… who is ETERNAL,SPIRITUAL, PERFECT, and IN HEAVEN has decreed……etc

        br.d
        You keep repeating all of that DOUBLE-MINDED cool-aid
        I suppose with the hopes that if you repeat it enough times – someone here will be foolish enough to believe it.
        Or perhaps you repeat it in order to make yourself believe it?

        Brenton
        For all the talk of LFW, nobody applies that to their everyday life.

        br.d
        Actually you do every time you make a decision – assuming multiple options are available for you to choose from!
        That is necessary part of the definition of LFW.
        Even a divine being cannot predestine you to go forward and reverse at the same time.
        A predestined event thus can only LOGICALLY resolve to one physically possible “Rendered-Certain” future.

        And every time you assume you have the power to determine a TRUE perception from a FALSE perception – you operate on the ASSUMPTION of LFW.

        And you do that constantly throughout your day – or else you wouldn’t be able to live in a state of mental normalcy.
        And that is why you deny your own theology – every time you assume you have the LIBERTY to determine TRUE from FALSE.

        Brenton
        You will come on here and in every discussion claim that there is no “cause” for your choices and that they are your “free will”. You will make all kinds of “philosophical claims” in these discussions.

        br.d
        EXCUSE ME!
        Please provide a quote where I said – (in or out of Calvinism) – there is no “cause” for a person’s choices.
        You won’t find one.
        Another sign of dishonesty?

        Brenton
        You won’t be able to keep up the facade of LFW for 10 seconds in REALITY.

        br.d
        Well – remember your stated “reality” is that you are a fictional character in a fictional novel, and your fictional actions determines what happens. Somehow I don’t consider that definition of REALITY to be altogether stable. :-]

        BTW:
        LFW does not deny the laws of causation.
        That would be TOTALLY IRRATIONAL! :-]
        So here we have one more straw-man.

        Brenton
        All of your choices have a CAUSE. All of them are DETERMINED. The only way you could have made a different choice is if something had been DIFFERENT about you, (e.g. you didn’t like messing with Calvinists, you didn’t think Provisionism was true, you didn’t like Mexican food, you thought mask wearing was very important, etc….).

        br.d
        Are you appealing to Theological Determinism or Natural Determinism (of the Atheist kind)?
        Your language here does not differentiate between the two.

        Brenton
        But you will come on here and defend it until you are blue in the face beCAUSE you think it is the ONLY way you can be justly held responsible for your sin.

        br.d
        As compared to the belief – in which an external mind controls your ever neurological impulse
        And you are justly held responsible for impulses decreed to occur infallibly in your brain – and actions an external mind makes you commit. And you think that is a superior – Orthodox and Biblical view.

        What a whoot! :-]

        BTW:
        Can you provide a quote from me on the topic of moral responsibility at SOT101?
        I doubt it!
        Just one more straw-man?

        Brenton
        So you will defend it philosophically here and then abandon it the moment someone asks you “Why did you do that?”

        br.d
        Provide a quote from me that proves that.
        Or we’ll chalk that up to yet another straw-man.

        BTW:
        The fact that you don’t see your fictional character – in a fictional novel – making fictional determinations – and your “so called” 2 levels of reality – as HUMAN PHILOSOPHY – is very interesting in deed.

        In any case – you still have your dishonest statements in which you strategically omit the WHOLE TRUTH to people when you communicate – because you inwardly know – if you told them the WHOLE TRUTH – they wouldn’t buy what you are selling

        And that puts you in a better position? :-]

      45. I would aver that there is a distinction between determination – choices being irresistibly determined by an outside power or force – and influence. Having the freedom to make choices does not demand that no factors influence one’s choices; merely that none irresistibly dictate them.

        Bill may prefer Mexican food to all other, but if he is taking his daughter – who despises Mexican food – out for her birthday, his love for tamales will not compel Bill to choose Pedro’s for dinner. Yet, in another version of this scenario, if many people are eating out together, there will be many influencing factors that will lead to the choice of restaurants. You would surely recognize that the real difference between determinists and those who affirm free will is that the former believe that the choice is set in stone, determined by God eons before these people were even born, whereas the latter believe the choice is up to the individuals involved. Should new factors arise, such as the party being joined by someone with allergies or food intolerances, the decision may be altered multiple times.

        The consistent determinist must cling to the claim that God alone determined which restaurant was going to be chosen, and arranged all factors so that this is what indeed takes place. Indeed, he ’caused’ Jill’s hatred of cilantro and Joe’s gluten allergy, because he wanted them to go to a Chinese joint. The free will individual will allege that, in the larger picture, God is not governed by a narcissistic need to control every aspect of every moment of our lives. That does not mean that God does not care about us, watch over us or that he will not answer our prayers. Indeed, he will often intervene in unseen ways in particular events in our lives.

        Perhaps Bill, and others have prayed faithfully for a beloved family member who struggle with alcohol. Perhaps that individual himself is praying constantly for strength to overcome his addiction. It is possible that God will orchestrate things in just such a way, without controlling or compelling anyone, that a choice is made for a restaurant that does not serve alcohol. But I would quickly add that such orchestration does not demand violating men’s free will, but merely using his knowledge and foreknowledge to provide the opportunity for choices that will indeed correlate with our genuine and spoken wishes that he deliver us from temptation.

        For example, one commenter on this site frequently cites the story of Joseph being sold into slavery as an example of God controlling all things. This individual would allege that God ordained the hatred of Joseph’s brothers in order to bring about the ‘greater good’ of later saving their families from starvation. I, on the other hand, would allege that God foresaw the murderous hatred of Joseph’s brothers, and, without compelling or controlling anyone’s individual will, introduced factors into the story that prevented what otherwise would have been the murder of Joseph and the end of Israel. God did not desire either the murder or enslavement of Joseph, but he intervened to provide an alternative to cold-blooded murder that would not only save Joseph, but even the guilty brothers. This did not require God reaching into these men and despotically redirecting their wills; it only required the knowledge that they were greedy as well as murderous, and would jump at the option put before them to profit from their crime.

        Few believers would deny that God intervenes in our affairs, simply that he meticulously dictates and controls our every thought, word and deed. This is why we pray, knowing that God can, and often will, intervene to prevent evil we cannot foresee, or to bring about good that we otherwise would fail to accomplish. But this does not require meticulous control over individuals, or dictating to them what choices to make. As FOH pointed out earlier, there are countless examples in scripture of God declaring ‘If you would have . . . I would have . . .’, or ‘If you will turn from your wickedness, I will . . .’ and so on.

        No one is denying God’s wisdom, knowledge, power or willingness to intervene in the affairs of men, and bring about good, in spite of and even in and through, the disobedience and stiff-necked wickedness of many. No one is denying that God has a plan that will, in the long run, lead to the complete end of wickedness and evil, and restore all of creation to its original intended state. But one version insists that all was preplanned to go exactly as it has, while the other asserts that God neither desired or brought to pass the wickedness which has afflicted the history of the world. Rather, he foresaw it, patiently endured it and gloriously worked in and through it and will, someday soon, establish his kingdom on earth where sin, evil and death will be no more.

        But no man will participate in this ‘new world order’ against his own free will. None will have been dragged into it by a secret, irresistible, supernatural work that was neither desired or sought after. Instead, only those who responded to the call of God, who acknowledged their wickedness and need for forgiveness, who turn from it and put their trust in the One, True God will enter into his eternal kingdom of life and blessing. The evil will be allowed to refuse God’s gracious gift of redemption and life everlasting, not because God did not desire or choose to save them, but because he allowed them to make a free choice, and they chose destruction.

        One explanation for why our history entails centuries of war, murder, abuse and oppression insists that it is because these are the ‘means’ by which God achieves glory for himself, thus he desired, ordained and brought to pass all such evil for a greater good. This is Calvinistic determinism.

        The alternative alleges that God created men with free wills, granting the ability for them to resist his will and bring upon themselves much suffering and destruction. This version asserts that God clearly states that he does not desire this wickedness, and would never, ever want, let alone compel such things to take place. This does not cut God out of the picture, or turn him into a helpless onlooker who hopes things will somehow turn out okay in the end.

        It acknowledges that God controls many, many factors within his creation, that requires no manipulation of men’s wills or moral choices. God can and does intervene to bring good out of even the most wicked intentions of rebellious men. He will also woo the meek, chasten the irresponsible, challenge the timid and provide a means of escape from temptation to all who put their trust in Him and call upon his aid. All without revoking the freedom to choose which he alone could grant any created being.

        All of this he does without irresistibly controlling men via unseen strings. Some, like Saul and Sampson, make really bad choices that God did not desire for them to make, and led to the loss of blessings they once enjoyed. Others, like another Saul, respond to the call of God’s voice, and turn from their wicked ways to do his will. Did God have foreknowledge of both the good and bad choices that would be made in each instance? I would say ‘yes’. But foreknowledge is altogether different from meticulous, irresistible string-pulling. God blinded Saul and challenged him, but he did not unilaterally ‘regenerate’ him against his will and change him from persecutor to believer. Saul had a choice to make, and it was his own free choice to believe and respond to the message he heard.

        Neither I, or any here, can convince you to adopt our viewpoint over your own, but we are attempting to point out where you appear to not grasp the difference between the two.

      46. TS00
        You would surely recognize that the real difference between determinists and those who affirm free will is that the former believe that the choice is set in stone, determined by God eons before these people were even born, whereas the latter believe the choice is up to the individuals involved.

        br.d
        Yes – that would be true – for a determinist who has a respect for RATIONAL reasoning – and has a fear for the consequences of being IRRATIONAL.

        But such a discipline to RATIONAL THINKING is not the case with the average Calvinist.

        Calvin himself understood the dilemma which determinism inflicts upon a person’s mind.
        And he instructed his disciples to
        -quote
        “Go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part”

        And if you examine most Calvinists – (those who take determinism seriously) – you will find this is exactly their mode of thinking.

        Both JT and RH – here at SOT101 were constantly making statements that reflect Calvin’s *AS-IF* thinking pattern.

        They are taught to hold as the SACRED TRUTH that all things are determined in every part.
        But go about their lives – thinking and communicating *AS-IF* that SACRED TRUTH is FALSE.

        That is Calvinism’s pattern of DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS.

        Brenton’s language – where he appeals to “2 levels of reality” is unique.
        I have never heard a Calvinist use such a statements.

        I certainly don’t see John Piper for example – telling his non-reformed audience – Calvinists embrace -quote “2 levels of reality”.

      47. It is just one more clever attempt to avoid the unpalatable reality that most Calvinists do not want to face. Who would? Who could live, face even one day, believing that nothing they think, say or do really, ultimately has any significance? The meaningless of life would be unbearable. So they tell themselves, and their acolytes, ‘Both A and not-A are actually equally true.’ Ah, what a relief. One can believe the religious authorities, and continue to receive approval and communion, and one can face life as if it was actually worth living, since one is not really just a puppet on a string or an actor reciting the script handed to him.

        I get it. I know you do too. And, frankly, it wouldn’t even matter, this illogical, inconsistent thinking, if it did not do so much actual damage. Damage which I have seen with my own two eyes, and heard from others with my own two ears.

        Because try as they might to corral and control everyone’s thinking, they cannot. Eventually, most people will be forced to confront the cognitive dissonance they try to ignore. They will only for so long be able to just ‘trust’ their authorities. Because their own God-given reason will not leave them alone. It will tell them that what they are trusting in does not make sense. God cannot preordain whatsoever comes to pass, and insist that man is responsible for God-ordained sin. God cannot both be the sole cause of whatsoever comes to pass, and man have anything worthwhile to contribute to life.

        And if they read their bibles, they will eventually no longer be able to deny that the whole thing makes no sense if Calvinism is true. If God is so darned controlling, why didn’t he just make a controlled world where everyone did what was right? Or, if for some reason he needs evil to show how good he is (which I would deny) then why would that ‘goodness’ not lead him to save everyone, instead of a select few who were just as deserving or undeserving as all the rest? And why does he keep warning, pleading, bargaining, challenging and treating people as if they can choose, think, change, grow, learn, or in any way be or do other than what he himself inescapably, without fail caused them to be or do? Why does he act, throughout every single book of the bible, like people have a choice to make, if there are, truly, no choices but only predetermined events?

        To tell the truth, most Calvinists do not really believe, or hear from the words of their favorite pastors and teachers, the less palatable, finer points of Calvinist theology. Most Calvinists do not believe that God only loves a select few, supernaturally regenerates them without their desire or permission and in essence, compels them, unasked, to become his children. But it is not honestly taught that this is what Calvinism demands.

        Most Calvinists do not believe that God would cheerfully ordain rape, incest, child abuse and genocide. But it is not honestly taught that this is what Calvinism demands.

        Most Calvinists do not really believe that nothing they can ever do will improve their chances of living a happy, productive and meaningful life, because they cannot divert one step from what God has preordained for them, good or bad. But it is not honestly taught that this is what Calvinism demands.

        Most Calvinists do not believe that God created millions of men and women with absolutely no intention of delivering them from sin and death, but deliberately, inescapably created them for nothing but destruction. But it is not honestly taught that this is what Calvinism demands.

        So, when these inescapable conclusions begin to badger them, either through logic, the Spirit of God or through interaction with others, something has to happen. They have to find some way to deal with the terrible, monstrous implications of their theology or, what so many of us had to do, walk away from church, family, friends and learn how to reconstruct the entire fabric of their lives. That is not an easy thing to do. It’s far easier to compartmentalize and vigorously cling to illogical and unsupportable truth claims than overturn your whole world.

        This is what we see so many desperately doing here, when confronted with legitimate issues concerning the lack of logic and consistency of their beliefs. We see the same responses, just phrased in some slightly different packaging. But no matter what shade of lipstick they apply, that ol’ pig smells just the same.

      48. Not having lived through that – I can see I had no real comprehension of just how much devastation can occur in a Calvinist’s life when he starts to discover how much fiction he swallowed.

      49. TS00 said

        “Who could live, face even one day, believing that nothing they think, say or do really, ultimately has any significance?”

        That reminds me of my many posts on these pages about Piper’s books and conference.

        One book is called “Don’t Waste Your Life” . Now if that is not a determinist oxymoron I do not know one. AS-IF we could waste our lives! Everything those slothful kids he is writing to are doing is exactly what God decreed. And who is Piper to say they can or cannot “waste” it in the way God has ordained.

        Another is the “Let the Nations Be Glad” and also the missions conferences. They are packed full of “strategies” on how to do evangelism “more effectively”. What can that possibly mean “more effectively”?? As if our better strategies bring a better result!!! How man-centered!! How taking-the-credit can you get! What…are they “helping God do His job?”

        If they want to borrow all our non-deteminist, non-Calvinist terminology, I want to just invite them to be consistent and join us!

        “But, FOH,” they say. “Paul was always using strategies, reasoning with people…convincing people, ‘all things to all men to win some….’ right?” Right!! Cuz he wasnt a Calvinist. He knew he had to work hard and “buffet his body” and that what he did makes a difference in the world.

        He never gave us the impression —-not one time—- that the script was written and what we do makes no difference.

      50. FOH
        He never gave us the impression —-not one time—- that the script was written and what we do makes no difference.

        br.d
        You mean the great Apostle Paul – who went up into the 3rd heaven – and saw things that no man is permitted to tell – doesn’t teach us anywhere – the sacred doctrine of 2 realities?

        I’M SHOCKED! 😳

      51. Good to have you back TS00 and great (long) comment!

        TS00
        “I would aver that there is a distinction between determination – choices being irresistibly determined by an outside power or force – and influence.”

        FOH
        Your example of Saul/Paul is good. There are tons more.

        Jonah:
        Go to Nineveh
        Not going!
        Into the fish— he dies (God raises up someone else)…..
        But nope… Jonah calls out and God delivers him
        Jonah delivers the message: “Forty more days and Nineveh WILL BE overthrown.”
        They repent
        God changes His mind: 3:10 “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” ((Side note here. Two choices: (a) the threat was real and God relented —as it say, (b) the “threat” was a bluff, deception…. lie, that He never intended to do. Not a lot of wiggle room here.))

        Jonah never HAD to go at all (unless God MADE him say no, and MADE him repent, and MADE him be mad later that he did go)

        One can easily see a personal God’s interaction with personal-man in many places in that book—- but one cannot see determinism in it at all. Not one tiny trace.

        As with most stories, parables in the Bible it is virtually a long proof-text AGAINST determinism.

        But our friend Brenton would surely start his response with, “Whatever Jonah teaches us, we know that it does not teach us that ….” ((That is the part where you fill in just about exactly what the book seems to say.))

        As for me…. as I read through the Bible over and over, I got so tired of starting my exegesis every day with that phrase.

      52. FOH
        As for me…. as I read through the Bible over and over, I got so tired of starting my exegesis every day with that phrase.

        br.d
        Nice post FOH.
        I think I understand what you mean here by “that phrase”.

        Do you mean – you got tired of reading one narrative after another in scripture that affirmed the opposite of determinism.

        And each time – you had to stop and tell yourself – that scripture can’t possibly mean what it appears to be saying – because Calvinism teaches us otherwise?

      53. br.d
        Yes…sorry I was not clear.

        I said above that our friend Brenton would start the explication of Jonah…

        “Whatever Jonah teaches us, we know that it does not teach us that ….” ((That is the part where you fill in just about exactly what the book seems to say.))

        Then when I said I got tired of saying that every day … I meant…. saying “Whatever this passage is saying it is NOT saying …..” ((Then fill in exactly what it is saying)) “…cuz we know that cant be true from our position.” ((As I showed yesterday that position is based on single verses pulled out of context—like the Isaiah 45 example.))

      54. Understood!
        I think from another post you made – where you started to explain how you were in the missionary field and you weren’t surrounded by those continued influences – it was then (without the Calvinistic influences) that you started to see that verses may be actually saying something different than you had been taught to see.

        So I can understand how Calvinists who are constantly exposed to a Calvinist influences continually reinforcing and re-shaping their minds to conform to determinism – would a lot less free to think for themselves.

        I’ll bet every time you hear a Calvinist – you thank the Lord for having made that provision in your life and setting you free from that!

      55. I recall from my days in camp hearing things that totally contradicted scads of scripture (like, God never changes his mind) and just thinking my poor, young pastor had a lot to learn. I mean, who am I to not be forbearing and give others the same grace I so need? I didn’t realize he was forced to his faulty conclusions due to his systematic.

        I remained willing to just overlook what I viewed as a lot of faulty, immature thinking, until the day it was announced, ‘When I speak from the pulpit, I speak for God.’ Course, I got all upset, but my spouse assured me this young whippersnapper didn’t really mean what it sounded like. Only years later did I learn that the elder family who immediately left had confronted him, to find that he meant exactly what it sounded like – to disagree with his interpretation of scripture was to be in rebellion against God. Could have saved myself a few years and heartaches if I had confronted him too. ;(

      56. Now I’ve had a few experiences like that myself!

        When a pastor says “thou shalt not lay a hand on god’s anointed” – and what he means is “thou shalt obey my every word” – you know you’re probably not going to get out of there without getting your T-shirt bloody! :-]

        It wasn’t until I went through a few of those “bloody” experiences and got some maturity under my belt – that I realized – yes King Saul was God’s anointed. But he was also a ministry of death who was tormented by demonic spirits.

        Those men who escaped out of Saul’s authority – would eventually be called David’s mighty men by scripture.

        And thousands of other Israelite men who didn’t rebel against Saul – blindly followed him onto a battle field where they were promptly slaughtered.

      57. Thanks for your kind words. How would Brenton explain the tower of Babel incident?

        “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-9)

        Let’s see, the people are making plans apart from God. He has to ‘come down’ to see what they are up to. (No pun intended.) Then he is concerned about them making future plans, presumably meaning ones which he would not approve, otherwise why would he want to prevent them? So, in order to prevent men from doing things he does not want, he has to confuse their language and scatter them over the face of the whole earth. (That’s why we don’t all live in a Mediterranean paradise!)

        For the life of me I cannot see a spec of determinism in this story, just like nearly every other story in the bible. Were determinism true, we would basically have one verse of scripture:

        “God said; and it was so.”

        That is all we would need to know.

      58. Wonderful post!
        So true!
        Looking inside the Calvinist mind as he’s trying to make that story portray determinism – one would be like watching a pin-ball machine! :-]

      59. TS00 said

        “How would Brenton explain the tower of Babel incident? ”

        FOH
        Yeah and thousands more (the garden, Cain and Abel, Noah and on and on)  Here’s an idea from Exodus 13…  with me in brackets. 

        Exodus 13: 8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year. [so that they would remember what He did!!!]11 “After the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites …..14 “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  [So that they would remember what He did!!!

        They had responsibility to do those acts and to remember.  Often they didnt do it—-but He wanted them to!  

        He delivered them.
        He gave them a way to remember that and stay faithful.
        They did not do the remembrance or stay loyal…. but He wanted them to

        ((Calvinist alternative: He lied that He wanted them to stay loyal, and ordained that they not do it, so he could then send prophets to scold them, and then punish them.))  Yum!!]

      60. TS00

        Speaking of the Tower of Babel, and speaking of Exodus 13…. here’s another passage that they cannot exegete. (Actually we could just move paragraph by paragraph through the Bible like this…. but I’ll submit this one).

        Exodus 13: 17 “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.”

        What?

        This is Calvin’s determinist God?

        God did not lead them out of Egypt a certain way, cuz, as He puts it “IF they face war….they MIGHT….”

        So….Yahweh puts in His Eternal word that He is saying “IF” and “they MIGHT.”

        Yes….. I know…. the Calvinist reponse starts with …. “Whatever this passage is teaching us, it is not teaching us that God said ‘IF’ and ‘MIGHT.'”

        Would it not have been just as easy for Eternal God to put in His Eternal Word

        “Going this way will cause them to see the Philistines, and that will surely cause them to want to return to Egypt, so I will lead them this way”??

        But He goes out of His way to put it the way we have it (even in the Calvinist ESV).

        Why does He confuse and mislead us so often if all of this an already-written script?

      61. Actually, even your attempt to cut them some slack is too generous. Why would anything of the like be in scripture at all, if God determines what people will do or not do? It makes zero sense. If God wanted to send them one way, that’s the way he would send them, and that would be that. Why would a God who determines everything have to consider what people ‘might’ do? I mean, it just plain makes no sense, any way you look at it.

        That’s what I mean when I say the whole bible would make no sense were determinism true. Unless one thinks it’s God’s fairy tales, written to frighten people into doing what he . . . wait, under determinism people always do what he wants.

        I get that Calvinists truly want to redefine determinism to mean mere permission. But it simply does not work under the TULIP system. Totally depraved, dead men who are irresistibly saved or condemned cannot just up and decide to obey or not obey God. Nope, doesn’t work with totally depraved, dead to God, cannot even hear or respond people. But then, that’s what we are getting at – none of TULIP jives with the narratives of scripture. Poor Calvinists. If only we would let them alone, so they could have it both ways.

      62. br.d
        It is all in the YRR’s ability to make determinism on-again-off-again. Some things are determined (bad stuff so we will learn), then presto we have learning-capacity back again. They will never apply determinism all the way.

        Still waiting for Brenton to respond on that idea (and about 50 others).

      63. FOH:

        You write: “Br.d – It is all in the YRR’s ability to make determinism on-again-off-again. Some things are determined (bad stuff so we will learn), then presto we have learning-capacity back again. They will never apply determinism all the way. Still waiting for Brenton to respond on that idea (and about 50 others).”

        I don’t understand why “determinism” and “learning-capacity” are incompatible in your mind. God has determined that we will learn some things through trial and error, experience. He has determined both the means and the ends of all things. For example, God has determined that we will breath. He has also determined that we will have lungs and that there will be oxygen in the atmosphere by which we draw breath. He has determined that we will learn. He has also determined that we will go through the experiences by which we will learn.

        What am I missing? Also, what are some of the 50 concepts that have I not addressed? It is entirely possible that I have missed some things. There have been a lot of exchanges and I often miss things that have been said. Apologies.

      64. Brenton,

        Yeah, sorry, saying “50” is my way of saying “a lot”. You have not answered on a few but others multiple times (Jeremiah 18).

        Now your post with my comments in brackets in the test:

        Brenton:
        I don’t understand why “determinism” and “learning-capacity” are incompatible in your mind. God has determined that we will learn some things through trial and error, experience [See, here you are fudging already. He has not “determined that we learn some things.” Technically He has determined ALL that we will think, feel, learn, and do. That would be being consitent. But dont worry, we get this a LOT here.] He has determined both the means and the ends of all things. For example, God has determined that we will breath. He has also determined that we will have lungs and that there will be oxygen in the atmosphere by which we draw breath. He has determined that we will learn [Irrelevant with the lunges, etc. Dont see the point.] He has also determined that we will go through the experiences by which we will learn [Fudging again. Determined experiences for us …. put us through things….sure…. “so that” we can learn— or not learn. Are you saying we can learn….kind of “if our hearts are toward him”? That puts it back on our hearts again. You used this on-again-off-again in several of the posts. It’s tricky to say consitent. I know. I was there. It’s no fun at all. We wanna think we have a little something….the tinniest thing to do with our sanctification…..but RESIST that thought!!! You have nothing to do with anything!]

        FOH
        You mentioned kids. Do you have a feeling (or have you heard teaching) that the more we spend time with them, invest, listen the better it is for them? Voila! No time with kids = bad for kids. More time = better. What you do makes a difference. It’s not all set.

        Help them with their homework? Of course you do! Cuz it’s better for them. ((Dont give me “The Bible tells us to love them,” cuz you DO love them and that cant be measured by homework—- but their success in the world later can be!))

        Calvinists arent good at the guitar, or piano, or preaching just “by God’s grace.” I wish!! I have sunk thousands of hours at the guitar and the more I put, the more I improve. Many hours into my messages…. and when someone thanks me I say “Glory to Christ,” but I dont say, “It was all grace…granted to be before the foundation of the world.” That is just false humility. God let’s us work hard on things and make a difference. When it is done there was some part of us in it.

        Oh yeah… that reminds me of “one of 50 things” you never responded on… Paul says he “is all things to all men to win some,” he “persuades” men, “he proves it to men,” he reasons with men (surely dead men cannot reason), he “convinces” men.

        And he nevers says all the Calvinist mumbo jumbo “I’m a secondary cause and God does it all.” Nah….. What we do makes a difference.

        I know you believe that what you do makes a difference with your wife and kids. That alone should allow you to see that God has given man dominion, asked him to rule….. and make a difference.

      65. FOH:

        You said: “Calvinists arent good at the guitar, or piano, or preaching just “by God’s grace.” I wish!! I have sunk thousands of hours at the guitar and the more I put, the more I improve. Many hours into my messages…. and when someone thanks me I say “Glory to Christ,” but I dont say, “It was all grace…granted to be before the foundation of the world.” That is just false humility. God let’s us work hard on things and make a difference. When it is done there was some part of us in it.”

        I am not sure what the disconnect is here. I read your critiques and it is this paragraph that stuck out to me the most. Yes, in order to get better at practicing the guitar, you must practice. Absolutely. Why? Because God DETERMINED that practicing is generally the MEANS by which people get BETTER at things. I mean, God can give us a supernatural ability to to know the guitar. He has certainly given some people more natural talent. But in general, God has DETERMINED that improvement comes through practice.

        So, if you have a desire to get BETTER at the guitar it is ultimately because God DETERMINED that you will have that desire.

        If you learn that practicing will help you get better it is ultimately because God DETERMINED that you learned this fact.

        If you have the diligence to practice, it is because God ultimately DETERMINED that you would have that diligence.

        If you get better because you practice diligently it is because God ultimately DETERMINED that you would get better by the MEANS of practice.

        God has DETERMINED reality as we know and how it works. So yes, if Calvinists become good at the guitar, or at preaching, it is because God has determined that we will get better by HIS GRACE. Specifically, with preaching, if we do it well, it is because the Spirit is at work within us. The Spirit in the PREACHED WORD is the powerful MEANS OF GOD to save sinners. But everything in that process has been DETERMINED by GOD to accomplish HIS PURPOSES.

        Next you say: “Oh yeah… that reminds me of “one of 50 things” you never responded on… Paul says he “is all things to all men to win some,” he “persuades” men, “he proves it to men,” he reasons with men (surely dead men cannot reason), he “convinces” men.”

        Yes, Paul persuades men. I seek to persuade men to. Why? Because God has DETERMINED that persuasion is generally the means by which people are converted. He can do it other ways. He can appear to men on the road to Damascus. But generally, persuasion is the means he has DETERMINED to use.

        Why did Paul work so hard to persuade men? Ultimately, it is because God gave him the desire to work that hard. How did God give him that desire? God gave Paul an incredible heavenly vision and DETERMINED that Paul would desire to be obedient to that heavenly vision. Paul himself gives the credit to God when he says:

        “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

        Who worked harder than all the rest? Paul did. What did he work hard doing? Trying to persuade men. Why did he try to persuade men? Because God DETERMINED that persuasion is the means to convert men. Why did Paul work so hard? Because God was at work in him and DETERMINED that Paul would do it. So the ultimate credit goes to God.

        I am a determinist through and through. God has DETERMINED the nature of reality and how it works. Including how men breath, learn, grow, and convert sinners.

      66. Brenton:

        I thought you were a determinist in the Reformed sense, but I see here you aren’t.

        Brenton:
        “But in general, God has DETERMINED that improvement comes through practice.”  

        FOH
        Of course He put the laws of nature and physics in place…but that is not determinism!

        Wait… I might have to take that back about you…….

        Brenton:”….if you have a desire to get BETTER at the guitar it is ultimately because God DETERMINED that you will have that desire….”

        FOH
        So what you mean is when the blind man called out …

        When the centurion came to see Christ….

        When the woman with the blood issue reached out to touch Him…..

        They were all MADE to do that?

        Not only does that kinda ruin the story….. 

        And not only does the Scripture never say that…

        But the Scripture even says the opposite sometimes.

        “A faith like this I have not FOUND in all Israel…” 

        “Who touched me?  “your faith has healed you.” 

        Let’s look at that story and see if it even sounds remotely close to what you are talking about. 

        Mark 5: 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.”

        No mention of the Father or Christ setting this up (man, why is your idea so hard to find? —– you can write it out real well…but not using scripture…just sweet prose).

        The text only says she “heard” “came” “thought to herself” ((Three Gospels recorded this and it would have been a great time for the Scripture to put something Calvinistic in there!!  But nope.))

        Then Jesus says “Who touched me?”  We can argue whether or not He actually knew ….But He did say that question out loud to the crowd and certainly that would NOT give the impression that He had micro-managed this encounter since before time!  Once again, He is giving the impression of something you say is not true.
         
        Even His disciples are not budding determinists!  They would have said, “Lord, c’mon, are you kidding us…you set this up before time!”  But instead they took Him at His word that He wanted to know who touched Him. Christ “gave the impression” to His disciples that He did not know.
         
        No matter what you say about what Christ knew or didn’t know, He does NOT sound like he determined this before time. 

        Then she falls at His feet and tells the story and He says “Your faith has healed you.”

        Calvinists all start their eisegesis of this passage with… “Well we know Jesus didnt mean this.”  Then they go on and give random reasons but they never say what He DID mean.  Same ol’ Calvinist stuff…. “doesnt mean what it says, cuz we know better and, if you think a certain thing….. that is only the way we see it ‘from our perspective.'”   

        Nah…. tons of passages about people having faith….the whole 11th chapter of Hebrews!  

        Brenton
        “If you learn that practicing will help you get better it is ultimately because God DETERMINED that you learned this fact.

        If you have the diligence to practice, it is because God ultimately DETERMINED that you would have that diligence.

        If you get better because you practice diligently it is because God ultimately DETERMINED that you would get better by the MEANS of practice.”

        FOH:
        Says the Bible never!  

        Just men, repeated by other men.  Aristotle, Augustine, Calvin, Brenton…..

        Let’s substitute some words in your formula here….

        If you raped that 3 year-old-girl it is ultimately because God DETERMINED that you rape her.

        If you tortured God’s defensless chosen people slowly in camps, it is because God ultimately DETERMINED that you torture them.

        If you killed the prophets and sacrificed babies to idols, it is because God ultimately DETERMINED that you would sacrifice babies to idols.

        If you escort women into clinics where a doctor can burn to death, by saline, her 7-month unborn child it is because God ultimately DETERMINED that you would help burn those babies to death.

        So eloquent your formula. 

        You have a monster on your hands. 

      67. If Brenton’s smart kids catch on to his theology, he might have more monsters on his hands.

        “Why aren’t you practicing the piano?”
        “Because God didn’t give me the desire to.”

        “Why aren’t you doing the dishes, like I asked?”
        “I guess God didn’t ordain me to, or I obviously would have.”

        “Why did you hit your sister?”
        “I guess God wanted to teach her a lesson.”

        Calvinism is dangerous with smart kids.

      68. TS00 – Ha. Well, they could try that.

        But then when they ask: “Why am I getting a spanking.”
        They would hear back: “I guess God wanted you to get one.”

        That is the God determined way to get your kids to do their chores.

      69. Brenton
        But then when they ask: “Why am I getting a spanking.”
        They would hear back: “I guess God wanted you to get one.”

        That is the God determined way to get your kids to do their chores.

        br.d
        Calvin’s god infallibly decrees whatsoever comes to pass
        In this case that kids infallibly do something wrong
        And in this case that their Calvinist father infallibly give them a spanking
        And that Calvinist father “GUESSES” that is what Calvin’s god wanted?

        At first – I thought that might be due to a lobotomy.
        But then I realized
        its just Calvinist mind conditioning! 😀

      70. Why did Calvin’s god infallibly decree that John Calvin have Michael Servetus burned alive?
        Because Calvin’s god wanted to keep John Calvin humble.

        Now that is a CALVINIST answer! 😆

      71. But wait…. there’s more.

        TS00 you said ..
        “Why did you hit your sister?”
        “I guess God wanted to teach her a lesson.”

        Calvinism is dangerous with smart kids.”

        FOH
        Then the son gets older and starts using porn.

        Dad: No, son, no, that is not right.
        Son: But it is what I desire.
        D: You must resist that desire
        S: God has not given me the desire to resist that desire
        D: Pray to God to give you the desire to resist that desire.
        S: God has not given me the desire to pray to God to give me the desire to resist that desire.

        (Time. Consistent theological reflection)

        D: Oh well son, it looks like God has given you that desire so that you will be one of the reprobates that He needs.
        S: Okay, thanks Dad. Does this mean I can go back to my porn?
        D: Well, sure son, cuz that must be what God has ordained…but just know that I told you that it is not good.
        S: Sure Dad, got it. Call me when dinner is ready. If I desire to come, I will (You aren’t gonna spank a 19-year-old are you? Cuz I dont desire to let you!)

        TS00…. Think of how many times we are taught in messages, “Do not let yourself fall into sin and then say, ‘The devil made me do it!'”

        Calvinists just cut out the middle man…. when told that they have sinned they simply say “The Lord made me do it!” Boom! Not much you can say back to that!!

      72. FOH, seeing my growing up children begin to struggle with grown-up sins was one of the tools God used to push me out the door. (And no, I do not believe God ordained my children’s sin in order to deliver me from Calvinism. The fact that God uses even that which is wicked – taking that which is evil and bringing good from it – is one of the amazing and marvelous abilities of God that determinism distorts and misapplies.)

        How anyone can consistently apply determinism and yet instruct children in the ways of righteousness is beyond me. Children are smart, and they see the inconsistencies. If God ordained all things, why sweat a little pornography, pre-marital sex or over-drinking? I have known more than one believer who nearly lost hope, assuming that God’s refusal to ‘deliver them’ from evil desires proved that they were not elect. Thankfully, they chose to give up Calvinism, rather than their faith.

        I wanted my children to have the ability to put on the armor of God and to fight life’s battles with the sword of the Spirit, something that is nearly impossible with a determinist mindset. What, are you going to fight what God determined you to do, be and experience? It simply makes no sense. If God ordained all the desires and struggles you encounter, then all you can do is accept them, for better or worse. How could you possibly escape them, or ‘choose’ something other than the sin and failure God predetermined for you?

        I think one of the chief deceptions Satan uses to keep Calvinists confused is the distorting of God’s ability to use all things – even the wicked intentions and actions of men – and bring good therefrom, in those who put their trust in Him. But I could not put my trust in Him were I to believe that he did not merely bring about the greatest good in all the world from wicked men who set out to murder the Son of God, but that He himself instigated these most wicked desires and actions. No, God did not predetermine that men murder his Son in order to accomplish such good – he determined to bring good out of the evil he knew these men would do.

        I would never have been able to explain to my children my failings, and theirs, without the firm belief that our every wicked desires have not been instilled by God, but are the handiwork of his and our greatest foe. A foe that, under Calvinism, becomes just another character God made up and wrote into his ‘story’ to ‘teach’ or ‘humble’ or accomplish some other desired end. Hey, it’s his story; if he wants to make it a slasher, that’s his choice.

        Imagine believing such nonsense. One would then have to logically conclude that Satan’s fall, like Adam’s, was not only decreed by God but necessary to accomplish his plan. That’s right, I could write off my own sin, doggone it, ’cause I was cursed with an inability to do anything but sin before I was ever born. And if my sin brings God glory, hey, why fight it? (I know, Paul addressed this, but it’s baaaack, with Luther, Calvin, et al.)

        Too bad Calvin’s God, with all that ‘control’ he employs, didn’t simply create beings who would love one another and live in perfect harmony. Too bad Calvin’s God, with all that willingness to curse and uncurse, did not choose to curse no one, but instead cast upon all the spell of an inability to do evil. Now that’s a determinism I would consider embracing. I mean, I would give him glory without all the wars, murder, rape and child abuse.

        This sort of deep confusion is exactly what leads many people into atheism. Without the ability to compartmentalize, to embrace the lack of logic and ignore inconsistencies, the non-indoctrinated quickly arrive at the conclusion that there can be no greater monster than the God of Calvin. I’ve quoted it many a time, but this is a good place for the King James 1 quote on Calvinism:

        “This doctrine is so horrible, that I am persuaded, if there were a council of unclean assembled spirits assembled in hell, and their prince the devil were to put the question either to all of them in general, or to each in particular, to learn their opinion about the most likely means of stirring up the hatred of men against God their Maker; nothing could be invented by them that would be more efficacious for this purpose, or that could put a greater affront upon God’s love for mankind, than that detestable formulary, by which the far greater part of the human race are condemned to hell for no other reason, than the mere will of God, without any regard to sin; the necessity of sinning, as well as that of being damned, being fastened on them by that great nail of the decree before-mentioned.”

        Contrary to what so many Calvinists will throw at ya, the former Calvinists I know did not have a problem ’embracing scripture’ or being able to deal with ‘God’s ways’. When confronted with the reality of what they were embracing, the utter fatalism and hopelessness that, despite all denials it inevitably entails, the very Spirit of Truth within them assured them that such things were not true.

        He who has done so much to offer all men hope and life, meets us at that moment of despair and assures us that hope is real. The words of scripture, untwisted, pierce the lies and assure us God indeed so loved the world that he sent his Son to die, that we might live. This alone is the good news that every lost soul needs to hear. I, for one, will not offer them another gospel, a gospel of hopelessness which declares, “If you’re lucky, you just might find yourself one of those undeserving chaps that were chosen for life. If not, well, suck it up, buttercup, and be assured that your hopelessness and destruction will bring God glory.” Never have figured out how any could call that ‘good news’, unless they simply do not love others as they love themselves.

      73. FOH:

        You say: “Of course He put the laws of nature and physics in place…but that is not determinism!”

        Of course it is. That is why most “materialists” (i.e. those who deny supernatural things but claim that the universe works on the physical laws of nature) are determinists. They think everything is cause and effect (i.e. deterministic). They think we are just the product of “physical processes”. I think we are the product of God. We are his creatures. Yes, God set up the laws of nature and it is how he generally governs nature. It is absolutely deterministic (i.e. cause and effect).

        You say: “Let’s look at that story and see if it even sounds remotely close to what you are talking about. Mark 5: 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him… etc…”

        Again, there is nothing in the story that is “indeterministic”. But you seem to think that my view requires Jesus to be omniscient. It doesn’t. Jesus, in his humanity, wasn’t omnipotent (he could only do what he saw his Father doing), omnipresent (he was in a physical body that was located in Judea), or omniscient (he only knew what he learned from the Father… for example he didn’t know who touched his cloak in Mark 5 or the time and the hour when Jerusalem would be destroyed). It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jesus wouldn’t know who touched his cloak, or that he slept, or that he ate, or that he had to go to the bathroom. He was human. But God (i.e. the Divine) knew.

        But think of another story. Think of Jesus healing the man born blind where he says: “Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.'” (John 9:3) The Father clearly communicates to Jesus that this person had been born blind… lived his whole life blind… so that he could be healed by Christ at this moment. So even if Mark 5 doesn’t say that explicitly in the text, it is obvious that the woman healed that day was healed EXACTLY as God planned it. It was part of God’s plan so that it could be written about by Mark and read even today. Heck, if God hadn’t planned that then what would you use to criticize me 😉 ?

        You say: “If you tortured God’s defensless chosen people slowly in camps, it is because God ultimately DETERMINED that you torture them.”

        Before you gave the above examples and several other grisly examples. You claimed that the Bible never say that God determines the means by which things happen. Well that is simply not true. Let’s look at some examples:

        In Job, God has a hedge of protection around Job. The ULTIMATE reason Job suffers is because God removes that hedge and tells Satan to test him. The ULTIMATE reason for Job’s suffering is God. God could have stopped it, he didn’t, he AUTHORIZED the test.

        In Habakkuk, God is calling down the Chaldeans to conquer Israel. It is God who is bringing this evil and bitter nation to commit atrocities against Israel and drive the into captivity.

        In Deuteronomy 28, God gives the “Curses for Disobedience”… i.e. the consequences for breaking his law and he says things like:

        (1) The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly

        (2) The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you

        (3) The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies.

        (4) And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you.

        (5) You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it.

        (6) Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless.

        (7) If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God, then the Lord will bring on YOU AND YOUR OFFSPRING extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting.

        Go read it, it is brutal. But who is doing all of this in that passage? Is it autonomous man? Is it libertarian free creatures doing what God doesn’t want them to do? No. It is God. By the way, he ends up doing all of this to Israel over time. They don’t keep the Law… they can’t… and God brings all of these calamities on them.

        But we also come to the New Testament and find similar things. God is not promising fun. In Acts 9:16, Jesus tells Ananias that he will show Paul “how much he must suffer from my name.” In Philippians 1:29, Paul tells the Philippians that it has been granted to them not only to BELIEVE (important in itself) but also to SUFFER for God. We are told that we must suffer with Him [Jesus]. Peter talks about it being God’s will that we suffer for doing good.

        So in summary, it is impossible to escape the fact that God has the ULTIMATE and determinative say IN ALL THINGS both Good and Evil. As he says in Isaiah 45: “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.” Or in Lamentations 3:38: “Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High?” Yes, they do. And we must have a robust enough theology to understand what God is doing.

        Trust me, I know the theology you are believing is much easier to sell. But… I don’t think it is true. The hope for Christians is NOT that they will escape terrible persecution, suffering, and tribulation. No, it is God’s will that we go through ALL of those things. Our hope is in the words of Jesus:

        “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

        We trust God that no matter what HE puts us through, whether it is our own sin… the effects of our own sin… or the sin of others. He will work it all together for good.

      74. Brenton,

        Again…. all this is covered at length in other comment pages.
         
        Hear this please:

        If you were really “looking for how we talk about this” or better yet “Being introspective as to whether the Reformed theology that you have been taught is correct” you would look at those pages and consider the alternative interpretations to the few verses that Calvinism holds as necessary.

        I suspect you are not here so much to learn as you are to stir the pot.  That is unfortunate. 

        You have heard my story:  believer via non-Calvinist door, Bible school and Calvinism-taught, swallowed, taught then to others, long reflection and Bible reading…. exit from Calvinism.

        Going into Calvinism was not easy (Yuk!  Who wants a God who purposely chooses 99% of humanity for torture?  But, hey, “it’s what the Bible teaches.”) 

        Coming out was not easy (Who wants to be one of those “heretics” that says that we have any part to do with anything…that is so “man-centered”!)

        But coming out of Calvinism was necessary for me—- and an incredible blessing for my family.  ((And you would add that it was even determined by God that I do it, curiously enough.))

        Now I will try to cover at least on point in your post…

        Brenton:
        “Of course it is. That is why most “materialists” (i.e. those who deny supernatural things but claim that the universe works on the physical laws of nature) are determinists. They think everything is cause and effect (i.e. deterministic). They think we are just the product of “physical processes”. I think we are the product of God. We are his creatures. Yes, God set up the laws of nature and it is how he generally governs nature. It is absolutely deterministic (i.e. cause and effect).”

        FOH
        So you are just a material determinist with a divine twist?  Same fatalism as they have, but with God pulling the strings not nature.  Man, that has to be a comfort to you!  You have to do nothing!  Not even feel sorrow for your sin!  Cuz if you dont feel that sorrow …. “you have not been granted repentance.”  Rock n roll…. you go with that!

        BTW, the determinism that you are describing is Qadr in Islam.  It is predestination exactly as you have described it…. only Allah is in charge over there.  So… I guess I agree that all three (materialistic-determinism, Calvinistic-determinsm, Qadr) come from the same source.

        And another BTW… the “most of the church has believed this all along” is a rather vacuous point.  That was indeed the statement made when most reformers were burned at the stake…. and then the statement made by reformers when reformers started to throw people in the river.  So the “get back in line” slogan just does not cut it here.
          
        More of your post in my next post (and now I realize why you are not responding to some of my ideas: sometimes I have to take your long post and cut them into 3 pieces.  For some reason you do not respond to some of the pieces.  No big).  

      75. Brenton,

        Point taken about Christ in His humanity!  However, you did not address what the whole story talks about here: the woman hearing, coming, reaching out…..  almost as if the Bible is trying to tell us “Listen!” “Come!”  Reach out! (“Seek first the kingdom” “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you!”). 

        You got too distracted on the “Jesus did not know” part and did not deal with the “why does Scripture talks incessantly like it is our job to listen, come, and respond” part…. (i.e. “Come unto me ALL who labor.”  “When the Son of Man is lifted us He will draw all men to Himself”‘ “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”) 

        Your interpretation of Hebrews 11:6 would be

        …. And without the faith that God gives a very few, it is impossible to please God, because the ones He makes come to Him will believe that He exists and that He rewards those that He makes seek Him??

        Brenton:
        “The Father clearly communicates to Jesus that this person had been born blind… lived his whole life blind… so that he could be healed by Christ at this moment. So even if Mark 5 doesn’t say that explicitly in the text, it is obvious….”

        FOH
        Nah… not obvious.  That is just you reading into it.

        Really?  God making that man blind so that Jesus can heal him at that time, is a proof-text that God micro-decrees all evil in the world? How silly. 

        Of course God can have someone be blind so that Christ can perform a miracle. That is what He said … but that is ALL He said. 

        Brenton, you are being very naive here.  Christ saying “this man was born blind so I could heal him” is no more a proof-text for determinism than the fashion in which Christ healed him is a proof-text for methods of healing. He spits and makes mud and plasters his eyes.  Does He do that every time?  No!  

        Really …that is some kind of eisegesis to take that statement from Christ about him being born blind, and super-impose it on all of the other narratives, healings, teachings.  Gross error, Grasshopper!

        Calvinists always come on here claiming that if God causes one thing, He must cause everything.  Nah…. S’not necessary.   

        Before I go too much further…. I will say now that I presented 4 statements using your formula.  Instead of owning those statements (which you should cheerfully do, to be consistent), you DEFLECT to some of the gruesome passages in the Bible (that dont relate).

        Now, in my next post I will deal with those passages (as you do NOT deal with mine), but before I do I want to make sure that the record shows that you have NOT owned those statements but rather deflected to situations in the Bible that do not match your formula.

        Calvinist always do this.  Well, almost all of them…. I mean Vincent Cheung is pretty consistent…all evil, all the time, by God for His glory…. and proud of it!

        But wannabees like you just deflect to some other situation.  Just own it Brenton.  Go apply your formula to my statements and say that you love those doctrines!

        I will try to finish your post (3rd of 3) in my next post.

      76. And does the text necessarily teach that God ‘determined’ this man to be born blind in order to give Him glory? I’m gonna admit I don’t buy that for one second. Could it not be teaching that God allowed this man who was born blind (perhaps due to some nutritional deficiency of his mother, or some toxic exposure while he was in the womb?) to be in the right place at the right time so that Jesus could not only heal him, but also bring God glory as being the One who heals, rather than the one who curses?

        So many of our interpretations just might be off the mark; the sooner we recognize that, and open our minds to re-examination of all that we think we know, the further we will go in our journey of grasping more of God’s Truth. This has been my commitment to Truth my entire life, and the constant prayer of my heart that God would lead me into better understanding, however painful I find the journey. Letting go of long held beliefs, and walking away from communities of like-minded believers is not easy or fun; but oftentimes necessary.

      77. Brenton,

        This is the 3rd of 3 for your long post.

        Brenton says
        “Before you gave the above examples and several other grisly examples. You claimed that the Bible never say that God determines the means by which things happen.”

        FOH
        Did I say that?  Or is that just a straw man by you?  Please show me where I said that….

        Brenton:
        “In Job, ….. God could have stopped it, he didn’t, he AUTHORIZED the test.”

        FOH
        Agreed.  God allows things.  Aint the same as God decrees things…. but guys like you can’t seem to see the difference (despite br.d demonstrating it in Calvin’s own words.) 

        How many times does Calvin have to tell you, you cannot say “God allows things”?!  You cannot use “God could have stopped it” as an argument cuz why is He gonna “stop” something that He has already decreed before time (the book is already written, remember?) 

        Brenton says..
        “In Habakkuk, God is calling down the Chaldeans to conquer Israel. It is God who is bringing this evil and bitter nation to commit atrocities against Israel and drive the into captivity.”

        FOH
        What?  Are we doing this again!!?   God bringing judgement on some people at some time (as He tells us He is doing) does not carry over that all nations, kings, killers, rapists are doing at all time exactly what He decreed. That is extrapolating far too much from any one situation.   

        You mentioned spanking your children.  Does that mean you “hit” them? In a sense, yes.  One of your sons comes along and hits the other causing tears.  You say, “You cant do that!”  And he answers, “Well you hit him!”  Not all judgement or discipline is the same.  Not all “hitting” is the same.

        God hands out judgement in the Bible (and He tells us about it) and it is usually preceded by long, laborious warnings (which, in itself, automatically rebuts determinism cuz He is warning them not to do it…giving them a choice.”).  To equate the warned-about judgement in the Bible to the repeated rape of a three year old is not only bad hermeneutic, it is shameful.

        Brenton:
        “In Deuteronomy 28, God gives the “Curses for Disobedience”… i.e. the consequences for breaking his law and he says things like…”

        FOH
        Do you take me for a dolt?  It is these very OT passages that got me OUT of Calvinism.  Even in your lead sentence you said, “the consequences for breaking his law…” That alone should make you stop and think. “Breaking the law….keeping the law…. cheating on my taxes….not cheating on my taxes…”  Choices.  Options.
          
        That is the point of this whole discussion Brenton!  You can’t even hear that?  He punishes them because He gave them a choice to obey or disobey.  That time they chose to disobey (but sometimes they obeyed!).  ((Side point: Your whole premise is build on the idea that man cannot obey, but the Bible is full of men and women obeying.))

        And yes, of course God metes out judgement in painful ways. No one here will deny that!

        A hangman pulls the lever on the hanging device after the judge and jury have decided guilty.  That does not mean that same man can then go out the next day and grab a man and hang him.  Nor does that mean that if a bunch of guys go hang someone, everyone in the town will say “Oh, it must have been that hangman. He’s the only one who hangs.” 

        Are you kidding me!?  I gave you four realities that fit your forumula very well, and instead of owning them, you send me to passages in the OT where God clearly warns people and calls them to repentance but then eventually judges them.  That is disconnect.  That is deflection. 

        Brenton:
        “But we also come to the New Testament and find similar things….”

        FOH
        This is totally irrelevant!!  No one says that God does not cause pain and suffering (so does the justified hangman)!  We are simply saying that He does not cause ALL pain and suffering.  Please quit using these ridiculous equivocations!  Ananias tells Paul that he will suffer and that means that God ordains/ wills/ decrees the repeated rape of a 3 year-old girl —- for His glory.  I cannot follow anything you are saying Brenton!  The logical leaps are just too far and vague. 

        The state is allowed the right (and even the duty) to put some men, for crimes committed, behind bars. Agreed?  Then you jump “to all men put in all cages at all times” is what the state has ordered.  It simply is not logical…. and certainly not biblical.

        It does, however, fit Aristotean logic …and I guess it’s true that you can grab a verse from here and there and scaffold a child-rape theology (I know, I did), but it is bad interpretation and very unnecessary.  You make God into something He never says about Himself.   

        Brenton:
        “So in summary, it is impossible to escape the fact that God has the ULTIMATE and determinative say IN ALL THINGS both Good and Evil. As he says in Isaiah 45: “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.” Or in Lamentations 3:38: “Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High?” Yes, they do. And we must have a robust enough theology to understand what God is doing.”

        FOH
        Wait. Is this you admiting to child-rape theology-lite?  Sounds like you wanna say it…. but just can’t quite (but you did get the word “robust” in there!)  Yeah, that is “robust” alright.

        ——–Robust Theology————

        Here’s the Good News world…. The Bible teaches (vaguely but if you look in the right places we show you, and if you interpret the verses the way we tell you…) …the Bible teaches that you have nothing to do with anything.  The book is written and your script is thousands of years old.  Even if you refuse to read the lines, your refusal is part of the real script.
          
        You were pronounced guilty before Adam did anything, and chosen or not chosen before time.  Even if you are a chosen one, what you do is scripted too.  Though you are dead to sin, you will sin (God decrees that).  When you sin— even major sins as adultery— dont worry because that was the script too.  Just repent of that and move on.  You cant or wont repent?  Well that is part of the script too.  You have not been granted repentance. So, “sin boldly,” knowing that all is planned.  

        Believers of our theolgy can go out on the sidewalk on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00-11:00 when they do abortions at your local Planned Parenthood, and offer help to those women, and still rest assured that every one that refuses them and goes and kills her child does not do that of her own will. It is indeed the Lord Almighty that takes great pleasure in those gruesome deaths.  Indeed, we offer our help to these women with words such as, “We can help you.  We can help you in your pain and finance and with that child …but please dont do this!  But if you must, go with the assurance that it is God Almighty that takes pleasure in you killing that child.  Our people can say this because we have a “robust” theology. ” 

        Never mind that the Bible appears to contradict this philosophy/theology in thousands of places…. we know our robust theology is the true and only interpretation.

        ———— end Robust Theology——–

        That is robust alright….and repugnant. 

        Brenton says
        “Trust me, I know the theology you are believing is much easier to sell. But… I don’t think it is true. The hope for Christians is NOT that they will escape terrible persecution, suffering, and tribulation. No, it is God’s will that we go through ALL of those things.”

        FOH
        What are you talking about?  You are talking about Christians escaping persecution?  I am not sure we are even having the same conversation.   

        Of course Christians will face persecution!  I lived over 30 years on the mission field and saw national believers face much persecution.  That is part of the call of Christ.

        But really…… with the 4 statement formula in front of you, you deflect to OT judgement passages, a “robust” theology, and Christians facing persecution?  Those things are unrelated, but somehow in your mind you connect them….. so that you dont have to come right out, like Vincent Cheung, and say that all the evil in the world was immutably created by God Almighty (the one who tells us not to do those thing) for His glory, and what we do about any of it is irrelevant.   

        I am significantly disappointed. 

      78. Brenton,

        I think I need to make a 4th post on your long post, then maybe take a break for a while.  br.d is here and TS00 has jumped in.

        Brenton
        “So in summary, it is impossible to escape the fact that God has the ULTIMATE and determinative say IN ALL THINGS both Good and Evil. As he says in Isaiah 45: “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.” Or in Lamentations 3:38: “Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High?” Yes, they do. And we must have a robust enough theology to understand what God is doing.”

        FOH
        1. “We must have a robust theology …to understand.”  You are talking about LFW again. You see, you just cannot stop yourself. You should be saying, “Only those who ‘are given’ such a theology will ‘be given’ the understanding of what God is doing.”  You keep contradicting yourself and acting like you have some choice or something to do with it!

        2. You realize that you are making an earth-shattering statement right?  You are claiming that all child-molestation, sex-trafficing, abortion, etc is from the hand of God for His good pleasure.  And to make this claim you slice a verse from Isaiah 45. 

        In God’s poetic calling of Cyrus in Isaiah 45, where He says He will “level mountains” and “the heavens will rain down righteousness,” He also says that He creates well being and He creates calamity.  Do I believe that?  Of course! 

        But you keep reading into the text that He wants to establish a doctrine that He creates ALL well being and ALL calamity.  But He does not say that.  He could easily say that, but does not. 

        3. Lamentations, same thing.  Of course both adversity and good can come from the “mouth” of God.  We all believe that!  He is not our doorman.  He is not our servant-in-waiting.  He does what He wants within the parameters He has created.  That includes both good and “calamity” when He wants to.

        But again…. no one in a simple reading of this text would say it means that ALL good and ALL calamity come from him.

        Again…. this is a HUGE doctrine.  I mean huge!  This is not a discussion of what color to paint the nursery.  This is a all-evil-all-the-time-
        comes-from-God discussion. And you want to balance that massive doctrinal structure on a few verses that dont really say it?

        Shall we provide you with hundreds of verses that simply say the opposite?

        Will you choose (free choice!) to interpret the hundreds (in all forms of biblical literature) through a filter made of these kinds of verses?
        Really? 

        I am afraid that you have brought a man-made interpretation of what God “must be like” to the text (“Sovereign over everything or sovereign over nothing.” “Controls everything or controls nothing” “Dead men dont make choices” and on and on) .  You have been taught deeply in this position. You would not have found all this stuff on your own.

        That’s fine…. we all learn from others.  We just need to step back from time to time and see if the Scriptures are really saying this thing that all these books say.  

      79. Brenton said

        “Yes, Paul persuades men. I seek to persuade men to. Why? Because God has DETERMINED that persuasion is generally the means by which people are converted.”

        FOH
        You so missed the point here!

        How do you persuade a “dead man”? You are using fancy, sweet-sounding words here (and trying to honor God, which is great)… but you are contradicting yourself… again.

        They are dead.

        Six feet under.

        They cannot hear the gospel or respond or use gospel-reasoning while dead…. a Calvinist must.

        Remember the Calvinist seminary professor that takes his students to a graveyard and tells them to “preach at those headstones”?

        Brenton would say, “I preach at those headstones. I persuade those corpses. I convince those cold cadavers. I reason with those remains.” ((See how silly that sounds?))

        Then, these corpses get “regenerated” and they can hear the gospel…. a Calvinist must.

        But by this time, they are part of the “irresistibly elected” (I mean they were that before the foundations….but, whatever).

        They cannot resist. They need no reasoning! They need no persuading! If Paul were a Calvinist why would he even use such language and deceive us ….repeatedly? His writing makes us think that “dead men” can reason…. that people can “be convinced” and that we have ANY thing to do with the process (when their whole point is that we do not).

        I certainly believe in persuading men! Paul said it! I reason with men!! But not with dead men. Neither do you. No one would reason with a dead man. You can say you try to persuade men (and I hope you do!) but by saying that you are agreeing that they indeed can be persuaded (by you).

        According to Calvin’s Ordo Salutis when they are regenerated (thus capable of hearing the Gospel, using reason) they are saved almost instantly. So…. when does the reasoning come in? I mean at what point?

        And of course I gave you the story of the married couple taking 5 years to be persuaded. When did she get regenerated?

        I dont mind you being a Calvinist— really! I just dislike it when Calvinists act like Arminians….claiming all the while “I see no disconnect here.”

      80. When every neurological impulse which comes to pass within the brain – occurs infallibly at the exact microsecond.
        With an external divine mind manufacturing a constant stream of neurological impulses.
        Every impulse firing – one after the other – each one at its exact infallibly decreed micro-second

        Why would Calvin’s god – bother to present a MASQUERADE of people having their own thoughts and choices?
        Why would Calvin’s god – bother to present a MASQUERADE of people needing to be persuaded?

        Why the SUPER-ELABORATE MICRO-CHOREOGRAPHED PUPPET SHOW?

        Why MASQUERADE human functionality – making it APPEAR to be something it isn’t?

        Why create a DIVINELY DESIGNED VIRTUAL REALITY?

      81. yes understood.
        Dr. Jerry Walls – calls Calvinists “Pharaohs Magicians”
        They make determinism appear one minute – and disappear the next.
        They make Calvin’s god’s role in events appear one minute and suddenly disappear the next

      82. Br.d – How so? Can you give an example of how we do that? Obviously, I think even the smallest detail is determined by God so maybe if you can help me understand how you get there.

      83. Brenton
        Br.d – How so? Can you give an example of how we do that? Obviously, I think even the smallest detail is determined by God so maybe if you can help me understand how you get there.

        br.d
        Take a look at your previous posts where you assert “man determines things within his universe”.
        Where was Calvin’s god determining every detail of man’s determinations in that statement?

        You were using language designed to infer that Calvin’s god determines SOME things and MERELY PERMITS man to determine SOME things. Which in Calvinist is FALSE.

        So in that narrative Calvin’s god’s determinative role in every detail of man’s slightest impulse suddenly disappeared.
        Hence Calvin’s god’s role in events becomes like the magical rabbit – whom the Calvinist makes disappear at will.

      84. Br.d:

        You write: “Take a look at your previous posts where you assert “man determines things within his universe”. Where was Calvin’s god determining every detail of man’s determinations in that statement?”

        Again, I don’t understand the disconnect. God is determining things in ETERNITY, like an author writes a story. Man determines things in time, like a character in a book. It isn’t hard to see the difference between the two levels of reality. We say “Ahab hunted the white whale.” We don’t say “Melville hunted the white whale.” We say “Sherlock caught Moriarty”. We don’t say, “Doyle caught Moriarty”.

        Now, you MIGHT NOT THINK that God exists on a higher plane of reality than we do. You MIGHT NOT THINK that God transcends his creation. But Calvinists do… in fact, most Christians throughout history have held this view. So we are not being “tricky”, or “deceptive”, or “inconsistent”, or “turning it on and off” or whatever else you want to call it. We actually think these two LEVELS of reality exist… Heaven and Earth, Eternal and Temporal… and so we talk in those terms consistently. So to recap:

        God, IN ETERNITY, has created the entire Universe and the STORY of the Universe. He has, IN ETERNITY, DETERMINED all that will take place in time.

        We, IN TIME, live out that STORY and our actions DETERMINE what the outcome because that is how God DETERMINED it would work IN THE STORY. God’s determination has NOT disappeared. It has established that WITHIN THE STORY, it is our actions that determine what happens.

        Again, you MIGHT NOT THINK that there are these 2 levels of reality. But we do and we are being ENTIRELY consistent in how we apply the language and it is not very difficult to understand what we are saying. Again, as CS Lewis said… where is Shakespeare in Hamlet? He is on every page… in one sense, omnipresent as its writer. But he is not on any page in another sense, he is not a character. We see the relationship between God and man in a similar way.

      85. Brenton
        You write: “Take a look at your previous posts where you assert “man determines things within his universe”. Where was Calvin’s god determining every detail of man’s determinations in that statement?”

        Again, I don’t understand the disconnect. God is determining things in ETERNITY, like an author writes a story. Man determines things in time, like a character in a book.

        br.d
        Lying by omission is when a person leaves out critical information or presents a false representation – in order to hide the truth from others. “I don’t LIE – I just tell HALF TRUTHS – and strategically omit the WHOLE TRUTH.”

        In Calvinism’s case – the TRUTH is – man is not the REAL determiner of anything!
        Calvin’s god is.

        You don’t understand the disconnect – because you have been taught to embrace and speak Calvinism’s dishonest language by rote memory. And you’ve emotionally embraced its justifications and therefore don’t have the capacity to recognize it as dishonest.
        A compromised conscious.

        Brenton
        It isn’t hard to see the difference between the two levels of reality. We say “Ahab hunted the white whale.” We don’t say “Melville hunted the white whale.” We say “Sherlock caught Moriarty”. We don’t say, “Doyle caught Moriarty”.

        br.d
        And you aren’t able to discern that what you call “reality” is actually fiction.
        Perhaps indoctrinated by Calvinism’s dishonest talking-points such that you can’t tell the difference?

        Brenton
        Now, you MIGHT NOT THINK that God exists on a higher plane of reality than we do.

        br.d
        And you might not think that the earth orbits the sun! :-]

        Brendon
        You MIGHT NOT THINK that God transcends his creation.

        br.d
        And you might not think that (1 + 1 = 2) :-]

        Brenton
        But Calvinists do…

        br.d
        And you seriously think I’m childish enough to not see through that drivel?
        Calvinists must come across a lot of silly women to lead astray.

        Brenton
        in fact, most Christians throughout history have held this view.

        br.d
        Yawn!!!

        Brenton
        So we are not being “tricky”, or “deceptive”, or “inconsistent”, or “turning it on and off” or whatever else you want to call it. We actually think these two LEVELS of reality exist… Heaven and Earth, Eternal and Temporal… and so we talk in those terms consistently. So to recap:

        br.d
        And I have a bridge in Florida I can sell you at a great price! :-]

        Calvinists are “tricky”, and “deceptive”, and that is what that is “consistent” about them.
        And yes they are in fact taught to “turn it on and off”
        And as I’ve said multiple times before – I thoroughly understand all of that as part of Calvinist psychology.
        Calvinist language is designed to HIDE more than it reveals.

        Its called ALTRUISTIC DISHONESTY

        Brenton
        God, IN ETERNITY, has created the entire Universe and the STORY of the Universe. He has, IN ETERNITY, DETERMINED all that will take place in time.

        br.d
        And I invite you to tell the WHOLE TRUTH!
        That Calvin’s god – meticulously determines 100% if whatsoever comes to pass.
        Leaving ZERO% of whatsoever comes to pass for any creature to determine.

        In Calvinism – man determines NOTHING because everything is already determined before man is created.
        But Calvinism has taught you that you can’t speak the WHOLE TRUTH.

        Question:
        Why use deceptive language to try to paint a dishonest picture of man having any SAY IN THE MATTER of anything.

        Answer:
        Because Calvinism needs to wear a dishonest mask in order to present a FALSE appearance of benevolence.

        Brenton
        We, IN TIME, live out that STORY and our actions DETERMINE what the outcome because that is how God DETERMINED it would work IN THE STORY.

        br.d
        TOTALLY FALSE!
        When everything has already been predetermined before you were created – you have no say in determining anything.
        You have simply been taught to recite dishonest talking-points.

        Brenton
        God’s determination has NOT disappeared. It has established that WITHIN THE STORY, it is our actions that determine what happens.

        br.d
        FALSE!
        In Calvinism 100% of whatsoever comes to pass is determined SOLELY by Calvin’s god – prior to the existence of created beings.
        He does not share his determinative power with anyone.

        In a previous post I asked how low you would be willing to go – to make Calvinism APPEAR as something it isn’t
        How deceptive you would be willing to be.
        You are now showing it.

        Brenton
        Again, you MIGHT NOT THINK that there are these 2 levels of reality.

        br.d
        Correct!
        Its all cool-aid designed to make Calvinism APPEAR to be something it isn’t.
        Read 2 Corinthians 11:14

        Brenton
        But we do

        br.d
        And that is why the dishonest language tactics.

        Brenton
        And we are being ENTIRELY consistent in how we apply the language

        br.d
        That is called indoctrination!. :-]

        Brenton
        and it is not very difficult to understand what we are saying.

        br.d
        And see through it! :-]

        Brenton
        Again, as CS Lewis said… where is Shakespeare in Hamlet? He is on every page… in one sense, omnipresent as its writer. But he is not on any page in another sense, he is not a character. We see the relationship between God and man in a similar way.

        br.d
        Its a good thing SOT101 readers are savvy enough to know that know CS Lewis rejected Calvinism! :-]

      86. C.S. Lewis
        -quote
        “The doctrine of Total Depravity — when the consequence is drawn that, since we are totally depraved, our idea of God is worth simply nothing — may thus turn Christianity into a form of devil-worship.” (The problem with pain)

      87. This is the sort of faulty thinking that turns so many Calvinists into loveless, arrogant, narcissistic control freaks. I deeply pity anyone who has such an image of God. They have been deeply deceived.

      88. I totally agree TS00!
        Calvin’s god is a “Good-Evil” deity – having evolved through Augustine’s adaptation of Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism.

        Like the god Pan and Zeus – are dualistic – appearing in two forms – Calvin’s god is benevolent one minute – and malevolent the next
        He designs some for good – and others for evil.

      89. TS00,

        Yes, As you and I would both know having come out of Calvinist churches and having loved ones still in them.

        Your post made me think of something. I came to Christ thinking I had weighed the evidence and made a choice. Later (while learning Greek and Hebrew) I was taught by Pink and Professors that no, I was in fact actually buried 6 feet under ground while I was doing all that non-seeking.

        Amazingly, I was sucked into Calvinism like John MacArthur (where I attended) even though neither of us started our walk with Christ that way. At the time —we were told— it was either strict Calvinism or (take your pick) “word of faith” “ultra-pentecostalism” “open theism” . There was no middle ground (Calvinism’s like that).

        I road the wave for a while, married a Reformed girl at a Refromed church and was sent out as a missionary by them.

        We started having kids, and I only had time to read the Bible (no internet then) not all my theo books.

        Good call! The Bible did NOT support deterministic Calvinism and I left.

        But what your post made me think of was this idea:

        Once someone like me has “finally” reached a “proper” understanding of “The Gospel” (The Gospel spelled T-U-L-I-P) and “the Doctrines of Grace” —-why does God let him stray away from it? I mean….. I’m “there” right?

        Of course we would teach that LFW allows me to personally read the Bible and understand God in a different light.

        But determinist-Calvinism would say that God ordained me to take the journey into Calvinism and then the journey out of it ….. and then to spend my time trying to help others get out.

        It is all so confusing why God would decree me to do all this…. but I guess their answer is that when you are just a character in a book, you dont ask…. you brain numbingly follow.

      90. What?

        You responded with those counseling comments?

        You have a church-member young man in front of you who cheated with his wife’s sister and other women. With his wife sitting right beside him, he asks you, “Is everything that happens exactly what God wants to happen?”

        And you would say yes?

      91. FOH: You say: “You have a church-member young man in front of you who cheated with his wife’s sister and other women. With his wife sitting right beside him, he asks you, “Is everything that happens exactly what God wants to happen?””

        Come on, if he asked that question I would probably ask him why he is asking me. What does he want to know. I would tell him to focus more on what he needs to do to repent and believe the Gospel. I would tell him that God commands him to repent and to do what he needs to serve his wife.

        But I would also tell him the truth that God is either using this to humble him or judge him. If he repents then he has been humbled by God, granted repentance, and should thank God that he has been humbled. If he does not, then he has been judged and hardened.

        But in the past, I am usually sitting with individuals who have been crushed by their sin and its consequences. In that context, I tell them that God has humbled them. Their SINFUL CONDUCT was the OUTWORKING of their pride and unbelief. God exposed it. It is a grace that OUGHT to drive them to the cross. If God does not grant them repentance then God has judged them already.

      92. Brenton
        But in the past, I am usually sitting with individuals who have been crushed by their sin and its consequences. In that context, I tell them that God has humbled them. Their SINFUL CONDUCT was the OUTWORKING of their pride and unbelief. God exposed it

        br.d
        Personally – I wouldn’t call telling them that – an act of intellectual honesty.

        Making people falsely believe that they were the sole cause of something – which in fact was actually caused by someone else – whose infallible decree didn’t give them any alternative possibility – amounts to telling people deceptive half truths!

        Do we tell the truth – the whole truth – and nothing but the truth?
        How can we live with a clear conscious otherwise!

      93. Absolute fail on your “counsel the adulterer” post. Really. Just tell him that it was all planned by God. Maybe he can move forward “If he is granted repentance” and maybe not. That is not up to him either.

        But at least be consistent Brenton. All you recently-minted reformed guys do not really take into accoun all that your “God-decreed, child-sacrificing kings” theology implies.

      94. FOH:

        You wrote: “Absolute fail on your ‘counsel the adulterer’ post. Really. Just tell him that it was all planned by God. Maybe he can move forward “if he is granted repentance” and maybe not. That is not up to him either.”

        Look. I can tell you are getting frustrated. That is not my intent.

        Again, I find that when I explain these concepts to people in person they are usually very edified and understanding. It leads to good conversations and they grow in their understanding of their dependence on God. In fact, the person who counseled me and my wife offered similar advice and I personally found that it was encouraging to both of us. Whether it was a “fail or not” isn’t dependent on whether it was effective, it depends on whether or not it was “true” advice or not. As I have searched the Scriptures I have found it to be accurate. There are things my wife and I ought to do… whether we can do them successfully or not depends on God. We trust Him… and I give him the glory for that as well.

        Regardless, I understand that in conversations like this on the internet, the tendency when we get tired with the conversation is to start insulting. I have tried to avoid that. I am actually interested in hearing how you will answer some of these questions. I am also interested in sharing my views on some of the fair questions you have asked. I am not here to carry a brief for my own infallibility. I regularly listen to opposing views because I know that there are always things to learn. At the same time, I think there are things I know that are helpful to others.

      95. Brenton:

        Ironically I said to myself several times….if only were face to face…it would be better.  Agreed on that.  

        Face to face is better and I have had that privilege for 2 spouses (so far) of my kids.  Since we are sent out to the field by a Reformed church, our kids have had the chance to meet-marry Reformed youngins. 

        They come in the house tilting Reformed, but I willingly discuss it with them. I let them slowly come to the realization that they are claiming that God is the author (for His good pleasure) of all the evil stuff that He tells us NOT to do, and they moved along to other biblical possibilities (like I did years before).

        I have been comforted by the fact that I have, what I feel is a good hermeneutic, and I dont have to “justify God’s evil” all the time.  Personal too… Christ is more present to me.  I dont feel like an actor in a novel that is already written (not just my feelings involved but I think it matches more closely the biblical story).

      96. The second part of my response deals with this phrase:

        “Whatever we make of that phrase, we cannot take it to mean….”

        This is where you show that you are coming to the Scriptures with the answers.  Yes, I know you list a couple verses that appear to back you up.  But again, a different understanding (interpretation) of your few verses allows for me to relax and not have to do linguistic gymnastics for the hundreds of verses (in every type/genre of writing in the Bible: history, narrative, epistle, etc) that contradict your position.

        So…. I bet… every time we see one and talk about it, you will start with “well this certainly cant mean…..” and then quote the exact words of the verse.  Oh no, we cannot have the Bible mean what it says…we need a special interpretation/ teaching —or better yet a special class of people to explain it to us (which is what Calvin taught).
          
        So…here you go….
        “In other words, we can’t take Moses interaction with him ….”  (Looks like you are doing it already!)

        [What interaction?  The one Moses LFW “freely” had with God?  Or the one Moses was pre-scripted for?  You mean the clear interaction that is simple to see and understand in context….that one?  Are you then “adding to the Bible” or simply saying that the common man cannot read the words of God and understand them —without help from the “doctors of the law”? ]

        1 Samuel 15: 27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”  

        In this context, Samuel is saying to Saul that God is not lying, kidding, and will not change His decision on this matter.  It is not Samuel giving eternal doctrine on the nature of God and His immutability!

        Kind of funny that determinists choose this passage as one of the two go-to passages, since in the very verse before Samuel says this:
        26 But Samuel said to him, “I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!”  

        The Lord chose Saul and anointed him, but now changes that plan and rejects him — because of what Saul does.  That is just plain and simple —- and right there in the same passage!

        Here (and many other places in Scripture) He certainly appears to be reacting to man’s decisions!   Ironic that it is in the very passage.

        So, nah…. no real problem with those 2 go-to verses.  In context they make sense.  If you pull them out of context (classical Calvinist techique) to make a doctrine out of them…you could do that all over the place!

        We could talk all day about these kinds of passages found everywhere….

        Hosea 8:4: “They [Israel] set up kings without My [God’s] consent; they choose princes without My approval.” (How can this verse be true if God directed their steps, causing them to choose the kings and princes they did?)

        Isaiah 30:1: “‘Woe to the obstinate children,’ declares the Lord, ‘to those who carry out plans that are not mine …’” (How is it possible for them to have plans that didn’t come from the Lord or to fail to carry out plans He wanted them to carry out if He determines every step they take?)

        Acts 14:16: “In the past, [God] let all nations go their own way.” (How can they “go their own way” if every way is God’s way? If God directs all paths?)

        Jeremiah 19:3-5: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says …’For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods … They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal – something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind.’” (Once again, how could this verse be true if God directed their steps, causing them to sacrifice their sons?)

        But …. I bet if you go to Calvinist commentaries….they will either sound like non-determinists (want their cake and eat it too), or they will start with, “this passage does not mean what it says…cuz ….we…”

        Oh…. and as for Samuel and Saul, let’s talk about 1 Samuel 13:13-14. 

        In this passage, God says that if only Saul had obeyed Him, then “He would have” established Saul’s kingdom.   Why would God—- in your determinist decrees-every-step definition put in His eternal word (easy to read and understand) that He “would have” acted differently if Saul had acted differently? 

        Saul disobeyed, so God pulled out of the deal. 

        Brenton, here are your choices: If God directed Saul’s steps, causing him to disobey, then how can God claim that He had another plan in mind if Saul had obeyed? 

        If God’s plan all along was to cause Saul to disobey and put him to death, then God is tricking us when He says He would have established Saul’s kingdom if Saul had obeyed. Because if God always plans everything that happens and always carries out His plans, then there can be no alternative plan that didn’t happen, an alternative plan that hinged on man’s cooperation and obedience.

        Third choice:  let the Bible speak for itself!

        Okay….gonna have to do a third post on this.

      97. I have a question about your interpretation of 1 Samuel 15:27. You say:

        //1 Samuel 15: 27 As Samuel turned to leave, Saul caught hold of the hem of his robe, and it tore. 28 Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to one of your neighbors—to one better than you. 29 He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind.”

        In this context, Samuel is saying to Saul that God is not lying, kidding, and will not change His decision on this matter. It is not Samuel giving eternal doctrine on the nature of God and His immutability!”//

        Is your position here that God can lie and change his mind… just not on this matter?

      98. Brenton,

        “Is your position here that God can lie and change his mind… just not on this matter?”

        You crack me up!

        I am not the one saying God can lie….you are! You claim that he told Moses he was gonna wipe out Israel (wink wink) not meaning it…so Moses and us readers could learn that He is gracious.

        Surely you must know by now that I think the Scripture teaches that God changes His plans…..

      99. FOH: You say: “I am not the one saying God can lie….you are! You claim that he told Moses he was gonna wipe out Israel (wink wink) not meaning it…so Moses and us readers could learn that He is gracious.”

        Ok, this is a great point and something we can use to discuss our different views. Are you saying that God really didn’t know how Moses was going to respond and really didn’t know that he would relent when he said these words? Are you saying that God was actually going to destroy Israel and that David wouldn’t have been born, no Solomon, and that Jesus would have come through the line of Moses? The scepter would have passed from Judah? That God would have gone back on his promises to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16?

        Or is it possible… at all… that God KNEW exactly how Moses would respond when he said what he said… and that God never REALLY intended to destroy Israel but CERTAINLY INTENDED for Moses to fulfill THE ROLE OF MEDIATOR between GOD AND HIS PEOPLE because this would BECOME A PICTURE of CHRIST’S ROLE AS MEDIATOR FOR ALL TIME. In other words, God said what he said to Moses and it CAUSED MOSES to respond the way he responded and this CAUSED GOD to do what he did. But it was ALWAYS part of God’s eternal plan to FORESHADOW the GOSPEL OF JESUS in the OLD TESTAMENT. Or are you telling me that this is impossible… that God really did intend to destroy Israel… BUT FORTUNATELY because of Moses’ free will decision we now have a great picture of the Gospel on the OT.

        I suspect that one of the major differences between our two views is that when I read Scripture I conclude that this is the story God intended to write. In other words, God did not cause the Bible to be written as simply a “faithful retelling of history from God’s perspective”…. but that the Bible is God making history and telling THE STORY that gives meaning to the entire world. It is ACTUALLY HIS WORD, HIS STORY, not just God telling us what happened accurately and infallibly.

        Maybe you agree with that or not. But

      100. Brenton

        Brenton: “Ok, this is a great point and something we can use to discuss our different views. Are you saying that God really didn’t know how Moses was going to respond and really didn’t know that he would relent when he said these words?”

        Absolutely irrelevant for my point here.  In both Deut 9 and Ex 32 God says things.  He will wipe them out and make Moses a great nation.

        All your long musings about God’s story etc have nothing to do with this. Did He know, did He not know….irrelevant.

        My point is this.  Many, many times he says things that are easily taken as changing His mind, relenting, repenting.  Why?  You keep skirting the issue.
         
        Is He allowed to lie and use deception to teach us how gracious He is?  Why does He need to do that?

        Why do you ask such silly gotcha questions about the line of Judah.  God already started over once with Noah, and He could easily do what He wants here and maintain His plan and integrity…but again not the point.

        The point is simply that in the many cases that I could easily find, you say (according to your position) that God has no intention of doing any of the things He says —out loud, His voice— He will do.  You conveniently paint over it with some “that’s how we see it” and let Him off the hook.  He has the right to deceive the reader (or Moses)…. make us think He is gonna do it (lie) to make some other point (that is never spelled out for us).

        Surely Moses thought He was serious! He answered like He was serious.

        If He has no intention of doing those things….and delivers many of them with a “Thus saith the Lord, I will…”  then humanly speaking that is called deception.

        I may or may not take time with the rest of this post—- because I want to keep this to the point.

      101. FOH: You ask:

        Hosea 8:4: “They [Israel] set up kings without My [God’s] consent; they choose princes without My approval.” (How can this verse be true if God directed their steps, causing them to choose the kings and princes they did?)

        God determined that Israel would not seek his approval or consent when they went to set up kings. I honestly don’t get what is hard about that. It is the truth.

        Of course Israel’s disobedience is part of God’s plan. He could have stopped it if he wished. He could have changed history. Daniel 2:21 says very clearly:

        21He changes the times and seasons; He REMOVES KINGS AND ESTABLISHES THEM. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.

        Hosea is not saying that the kings of Israel were not part of God’s plan. In fact, their poor rulers were part of God’s judgment on them (Isaiah 3:4). God picked their kings. God chose their rulers. God raised up Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar… Egypt and Babylon did not consult with him either. So clearly, God intended these kings to rule over Israel. The problem is NOT in what HAPPENED… that was all part of God’s plan. The problem is in the HEARTS of ISRAEL. They did not have God in their thinking when they raised up kings… but they did what God planned for them to do and He also put their kings on the throne.

      102. Brenton,

        I dont know if I have the time or strength.  The reason Brian only goes about 3-4 letters with someone is cuz we get a new YRR on here every couple months and go through all the same stuff.  Have a look at the other comment pages (lots of good ideas on there). 

        But here goes a brief answer since what you thought I said about Hosea was not accurate.

        Brenton: “God determined that Israel would not seek his approval or consent when they went to set up kings. I honestly don’t get what is hard about that. It is the truth.”

        FOH: What?  Let me see if I can see if “the truth” is so dogmatic and clear (you sound like the young YRR Troy that came for a couple days with “the truth!!” Phewie, he let us have it!!)

        Okay, you are saying that God decreed that Israel NOT seek His approval, right?  So they had no say in the matter there—- just going along with the plan.

        Then Hosea comes along with the pain of his unfaithful wife (and Jeremiah with his 40 years) and they make it “sound like” Israel “should not have done something” or “should have done” something else.  But according to you…so far so good they are just doing what is decreed.

        Then…Hosea says “They [Israel] set up kings without My [God’s] consent.”  ((To which a 5 year old would say…. What? He decreed that they do all that, right?)).  The point being that imposing determinism on the text makes Hosea’s words ring hollow.  Look ridiculous. 

        —–Scenario from FOH—–

        Prophets of God “You did this and this….

        “FOH: “Well of course they did Prophet; ask Brenton, that is exactly what they were decreed to do!”

        5-year-old: “Well then why is Hosea scolding them? That sounds stupid.”

        Calvinist: “Yeah, well too bad kid cuz that is the way we have decided that God did it!  He decrees you to do stuff so He can scold you.”

        FOH: “Hey kid, talk to me over by the pool and I’ll tell you another version….not so stupid.” 

        —–End scenario———

        If getting scolded for being the “chosen people,” who were then immutably decreed to commit multiple child-sacrifice offenses is not enough… there’s more. 

        Hosea says…. “they choose princes without My approval,” but in what way are they “choosing” anything at all?  If there is no such thing as choosing something that God did not decree, then why is Hosea deceiving the reader by saying that they had a choice!? [choose — choice, same root, get it?]   

        Hosea cannot possibly be a Calvinist… or else he would say something like, “They chose (…nope…. sorry….) they anointed bad kings like God planned for them to do….”

        Great.  All fixed.  I would be fine if Hosea had said:

        They anointed bad kings like God decreed them to do.  That is what a determinist text should say.  But the text reads (to the intended simple reader with no theology books) like (a) they had a choice and (b) they did something that God did NOT want them to do. 

        But Brenton says, nope, they did not have a choice and they did exactly what God wanted them to do.  I think you need to take that up with Hosea.  Doesn’t sound like he’s saying that.

        Brenton: “Of course Israel’s disobedience is part of God’s plan. He could have stopped it if he wished. He could have changed history.”

        FOH: Hummmm…. He could have stopped it is not the same as He immutable decreed it before time.

        FOH: Hummmm….. “He could have changed history.”  You best get back to the Purtitan Reformed Library on that.  The rule on that is no changing anything since it was all decreed before time.  You are starting to sound like a non-determinist.  Good!

        Brenton: “Daniel 2:21 says very clearly: 21He changes the times and seasons; He REMOVES KINGS AND ESTABLISHES THEM. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”

        FOH: First off, as far as the “very clearly” thing goes….. best hold off on that.  I slip and say it sometimes too, so my bad…. but one man’s clear is not always another’s.

        What did Daniel say?  1. changes times and seasons (check), 2. removes kings and establishes them (check) and 3. give wisdom (check).

        I see no determinism in there….and certainly not “very clearly”. Does He remove kings and establish them?  Yes!  All of them (or just the ones He needs for a plan)?  Doesnt say.  Is everything they do after that exactly puppet-directed by Him?  Not a hint of that in that text (or any text!).

        In fact we have hundreds of times more verses in the Bible with the text directly saying “XYZ king did NOT do what God wanted” than we have saying these kind of vague things you are saying. 

        Brenton, you can choose to superimpose a doctrine or theology on a text if you want….. but look closely at them and see is they say it as “very clearly” as you think…… And then when I show you hundreds that say something “very clearly” dont let yourself say —- “Where’s my Reformed filter?”  Just go with the clear passage.  I could send you hundreds (start with Jer 18).  

        Brenton:  “The problem is NOT in what HAPPENED… that was all part of God’s plan. The problem is in the HEARTS of ISRAEL.”

        This is something that I just do not understand.  How young intelligent YRRs can get sucked into this Aristotelian stuff.  I mean it makes no sense.  You want to start and stop determinism at your whim. 

        God determines bad things so you will learn… no…sorry… so that you “might” learn (some of us do, some dont).

        Then…it sounds like you have a choice (learning, applying right?).  Did the determinism stop?

        Your heart needs to learn….and if it does, praise God (that’s what He wants)! ….and if it doesn’t, praise God (cuz that’s what He wants too)!

        All the prophets tell them to obey.  They don’t obey (cuz God doesnt really, wink wink want them to).  The prophet scolds them for not obeying…. with a “Thus sayeth the Lord…. why did not you not obey me?”  

        How silly. 

        Over and over the Lord says, 
        “If you come back to me I will….”  
        “Because you would not listen to me I am…..”
        “If only you had….”
          
        Many of those hundreds of passages are direct statements from the Lord (not a vague saying in Ecclesiastes). They are all rendered useless noise with this “God decreed all their child sacrifice” theology of yours.

        Stop the press!  I just looked up Isaiah 3:4 cuz you implied that it would help me understand that child-sacrificing kings were really God’s pleasure.  

        Is 3:4  “I will make mere youths their officials;
            children will rule over them.”  

        Man, really?  You are gonna lay hundreds of years of child-sacrificing kings at God’s doorstep based on verses like this? 

        Truly you have a monster on your hands…doing heinous evil for thousands of years…the very evil He tells us not to do.

      103. FOH: I appreciate the long response but I don’t have any problem explaining this concept to my children. I read to them books, they love it, and we talk about the character in the books. They ask me: “Why did Aslan scratch Aravis on the back.” I explain to them why this happened in the story and they get it. AT THE SAME TIME, they also understand that everything in the STORY has already been determined by CS Lewis who wrote the book. They quite easily understand: (a) that the characters do things in the book because of facts and motivations WITHIN the story and (b) that CS Lewis had a DIFFERENT SORT OF PURPOSE in determining what the characters in the book do. My children have no problem with this concept.

        So when I say, God is telling the story he wants to tell in Human history… and then explain to them that we still do what we do, good or bad, based on our motivations WITHIN human history, they get it. They don’t have any problem with that concept or think it is stupid. In fact, I have used that analogy with dozens of people and they all get it. Sure, there are some questions… and we discuss how the analogy doesn’t quite fit everywhere… but they have no problem seeing how the CREATOR OF EVERYTHING has a DIFFERENT SORT OF DETERMINATION, a TRANSCENDENT DETERMINATION and PURPOSE, than his creatures.

      104. I have no comment on the “read the story” post. It is irrelevant and inefeective.

        You simply make us characters in God’s video and supress all understanding of a personal relationship.

        Aslan and CS Lewis did not have a personal relationship.

      105. FOH:

        You wrote: “I have no comment on the “read the story” post. It is irrelevant and inefeective. You simply make us characters in God’s video and supress all understanding of a personal relationship. Aslan and CS Lewis did not have a personal relationship.”

        The purpose of analogies is to take something we know and show the similarity to something else we are trying to explain. When we use analogies to try to explain something about God we have take what we know (in this case human authors and their characters) and size them up accordingly. So God “owns the cattle on a thousand hills”… is an analogy that invites us to imagine God as the owner of everything. So no, it doesn’t “simply make us characters in God’s video” any more than the Biblical analogy of “clay” and “potter” make us actual dirt or God actually a human potter. They simply show the relative relationship between the parties, God and man.

        The Author analogy is not irrelevant and again, when I explain this to most people in person, they immediately see the applicability of the analogy.

        Authors are sovereign over the plot of their story and its characters.
        God is sovereign over the course of the world (Providence) and his creatures.

        Characters first exist in the mind of the author.
        God’s creatures first exist in the mind of God. In him we live and move and have our being.

        Characters only have what their authors give to them.
        God’s creatures only have what God gives to us.

        Authors exist on a higher plane of reality (in reality) than their characters (in the mind/fantasy).
        God exists on a higher plane of reality (in eternity) than his creatures (in time).

        Authors often love, fell an affection for, their characters.
        God loves and feels and affection for his creatures.

        Again, I don’t think it is as easy to dismiss as you might like to think. God is of course infinitely greater than any human author, human “creator”, in that sense. But the analogy is certainly useful in understanding some aspects of our relationship with God.

      106. Brenton:
        “So God “owns the cattle on a thousand hills”… is an analogy that invites us to imagine God as the owner of everything. So no, it doesn’t “simply make us characters in God’s video” any more than the Biblical analogy of “clay” and “potter” make us actual dirt or God actually a human potter. They simply show the relative relationship between the parties, God and man.”

        FOH
        Fine: beast is biblical example, we learn “God owns all the beasts” (but of course man raises them slaughters them and eats them…so not owner in that sense. Man was given dominion over them). So…that breaks down cuz “God owns everything” but we own some too. ….So…does that mean He doesnt own everything. To a certain degree, yes, and I think when He gave dominion He made that clear.

        Fine: potter/ clay is biblical example. When the potter is done the vessel is usable. Might not even be the potter that uses it….and certainly he does not micro-manage all the use of it. So it is useful in the “Make me what you want me to be Lord” sense…. but (a) you have ALREADY used LFW to say that to him and (b) after He makes the vessels it gets used and the potter …but not even by the potter. That one breaks down on determinism too.

        Not fine: author/ inanimate novel character is not biblical example. Captain Ahab on the page cannot respond. He is not personal.

        Sure the clay cannot respond, but there is no “implied humanity” in the clay idea. There is implied impersonal humanity in the novel idea.

        I understand your position that the novel —- every dust particle — is already written…every thought and action, but you are very inconsistent in the use of that.

        Because you think what you do makes a difference…. but it doesnt…. it cant if the novel is already written.

        I just dont think it is found in the Bible or works in the world.

      107. FOH:

        You write: “Fine: beast is biblical example, we learn “God owns all the beasts” (but of course man raises them slaughters them and eats them…so not owner in that sense. Man was given dominion over them). So…that breaks down cuz “God owns everything” but we own some too. ….So…does that mean He doesnt own everything. To a certain degree, yes, and I think when He gave dominion He made that clear.”

        I am not sure I understand you. Are you saying that because God gave us dominion he “gave up” his dominion? Our dominion is only as stewards. We are his servants. He still owns everything. As Deuteronomy 10:14 says: “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.”

        Or Psalm 24:1 says: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,”… which is also quoted in 1 Corinthians 10:26.

        Or as God says in Job 41:11: “Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Everything under heaven is mine.”

        No, we don’t “own anything” for ourselves. We are stewards for God. Our dominion is the dominion of servants only until we have been conformed into the image of Christ. Then it will be as a son.

        Next you say: “Fine: potter/ clay is biblical example. When the potter is done the vessel is usable. Might not even be the potter that uses it….and certainly he does not micro-manage all the use of it. So it is useful in the “Make me what you want me to be Lord” sense…. but (a) you have ALREADY used LFW to say that to him and (b) after He makes the vessels it gets used and the potter …but not even by the potter. That one breaks down on determinism too.”

        I am not sure what point you are trying to make with this one, or how “(a) you have ALREADY used LFW to say that to him” applies to the analogy. Clearly, if there is such a thing as LFW then it doesn’t exist in pots. In fact, pots don’t have a will at all. Also, in the Biblical analogy God is creating these pots for HIS purposes. He is going to use them for His purposes.

        Finally you write: “Not fine: author/ inanimate novel character is not biblical example. Captain Ahab on the page cannot respond. He is not personal. Sure the clay cannot respond, but there is no “implied humanity” in the clay idea. There is implied impersonal humanity in the novel idea. I understand your position that the novel —- every dust particle — is already written…every thought and action, but you are very inconsistent in the use of that. Because you think what you do makes a difference…. but it doesnt…. it cant if the novel is already written.”

        “Captain Ahab on the page” responds in the story the way Melville determines that he will respond in the context of the story Melville is writing. Obviously, when we respond, we don’t respond in God’s reality (i.e. in Heaven). When we respond we respond in OUR REALITY (i.e. the story God has written). We are characters in OUR REALITY that fulfill God’s purposes. We are HIS workmanship.

        I think I do apply this consistently. Yes, what I do makes a difference in the story because God DETERMINES that it will make a difference. What I do has meaning because God DETERMINES that it will have meaning. Just like Melville DETERMINES that Ahab’s obsession makes a difference in Moby Dick, or Ishmael’s desire to go to see makes a difference in the outcome, or Moby Dick’s location makes a difference to the outcome. So too, what I do in this world makes a difference in the outcome of the world BECAUSE GOD DETERMINES that it will.

        Now, does it make a difference to God? No. God doesn’t need us. It obviously makes a difference to us as characters. But one thing I like about the author analogy is that there are actually 3 ways to relate to a story (a) author, (b) character, and (c) reader/observer. We mostly interact with stories as readers. The author creates the story and knows everything in it. He stands in relation to the story like God does to his creation. The characters just do what they do in the story. They are not even aware there is a story. I think most people are in this boat. They have no understanding of the GRAND NARRATIVE that God is weaving all around them. The reader is in a medium role between the character and the author. We see things, many things, from the author’s perspective, but we experience the story unfold in time as we read, wondering… how will it all turn out. I think the spiritually awakened person is someone who has gone from a mere character in the story to a reader. God has opened their eyes that there is a story and that it is a story about Christ. He has told us that it is a good story… a story that ends in joy… and asks us to trust him as we watch it unfold. The exciting thing is that we get to participate in this great story God is telling. I think that is exciting.

      108. In one respect you are right that the author/character story is irrelevant. On the other hand, it explains a lot that this gentleman views God like the author of a novel, completely in control of his creatures’ every thought, word and deed. There is nothing any character in any book can say or do that was not determined and controlled by the author.

        Never can a character in a book respond to his controller: “No, I won’t do that!” Never can a character in a novel divert from the predetermined plan and role of the author. Because, for the author of a book, the characters are mere literary devices. They are created, manipulated and entirely controlled to only serve the purpose of the author. They have no other purpose. They have no real existence. They do not, in reality, matter, apart from serving the purpose of the author, to tell his story. In the end, the author can dispose of the character however he wishes, and lose no sleep over it.

        How tragic that the Calvinist views God like this. Even more tragic is that he views himself as nothing more than a device, a tool to accomplish the goal of his ‘author’ to win praise and acclaim for himself. He can be fabricated, manipulated and controlled with no ill effect, for his only purpose is to bring glory to his creator. He does not matter. He does not exist. He does not breathe and move and have being.

        How sad that the Calvinist delights in this ‘humble’ view of man. How I weep over it; over his lack of awareness of how precious and loved he is by his Creator, so much so that he would be willing to suffer greatly and die the most ignoble of deaths. How sad that the Calvinist has been deceived into believing his false humility uplifts and pleases God, when, in reality, God is grieved that his abundant and clearly demonstrated love is unrecognized and diminished.

        The real God, who carefully crafted man with amazing God-like abilities to think, reason and create on his own did not create a lifeless ‘character’ who required every thought, word and deed to be predetermined and brought to pass. In what way could anyone suggest that life as we know it suggests such a fallacy? Which of God’s ‘created beings’ ever unfailingly performed his every wish? Adam? Cain? Moses? Jonah? Saul? David? Abraham? Paul?

        Or does not real life, and the stories presented to us in scripture, indicate that men are real beings (not totally controlled characters in a story), with the power of thought and choice? Did not these men lie, kill, run away and, like every other man and woman described, disobey or fail to live up completely to God’s desires and will for them? Does scripture suggest that God controls every thought word and deed – which must include sin and evil deeds – or that his will is accomplished in spite of man’s resistance and disobedience? Did God design and ordain rape, murder, child abuse and all other evil acts, or has he declared that his will shall be accomplished in spite of, and, miraculously, even in and through the rebellious wickedness of men who resist God’s will?

        Is God’s will done each and every day, with every harsh word, stolen good, severe beating, torture and murder that takes place, or will God’s will someday be done on earth as it is now in heaven, when all such evil will be put to an end?

        It is not difficult to see how committed the Calvinist is to defending his systematic. He will distort, distract, doubletalk and contradict himself endlessly, denying what even a child would easily understand. You know the drill. We have all been through it countless times. “God didn’t really mean what he said”, which sounds alarmingly like “Hath God really said . . .?”

        But, but God can’t change his mind . . . because my theology says God can’t change his mind. Even if scripture states outright that he will and he has. Hezekiah, Saul, Moses, etc. But, but man can’t do anything other than what God ordains . . . because my theology says God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Even if scripture states outright that God did not desire such and such, nor did it even enter his mind for men to do such things. Even if Jesus himself teaches us to pray that God’s will might be done . . . which would be kind of a silly thing to pray if it was already always done.

        It is painfully clear that loyalty to a systematic trumps an honest reading and grappling with not one or two, not just countless, but every single narrative presented throughout scripture. The small number of go-to verses used by Calvinists to support their rejection of the rest of scripture can all too easily be shown to have very plausible other interpretations.

        But how can anyone honestly deny that, from start to finish, the story of the bible tells of rebellious, thankless, stiff-necked men who refused to do what God desired and commanded, and were often punished for their refusal to turn from their stubborn wickedness? How do determinists explain Adam’s disobedience, Cain’s murder, only 8 being spared from the flood, the original Israelites never reaching the ‘promised’ land, Abraham bargaining with God, Hezekiah begging for and receiving longer life, Saul losing his kingdom, and on and on? How can anyone honestly suggest that such rebellion, warning and punishment makes sense under an alleged determinist scenario in which God ordains every thought, word and deed of every individual? Do they not see how this makes God at war with himself, a deceiver and then cruel enough to punish the helpless dupes he created to do the dirty work he ordained to be done?

        It is so sad that we see this again and again; the same arguments, the same twisting of verses, the same ignoring and dodging of inexplicable inconsistencies. And to what end? To triumphantly assert that salvation is not available to all, but reserved for a limited few? And to fail miserably to convince anyone outside their echo chamber that this is loving, just and in any way consistent with the entire message of scripture of a God who is love, who desires that none perish and who so loved the world he made that he sent his Son to redeem all who would heed his message.

        But some cannot hear . . . because God did not want them to. Some refuse to come . . . because God did not desire to save them in the same exact manner he saved other undeserving sinners. The inescapable conclusion of Calvinism is that men only perish because God wishes them to. The declaration of scripture is that God loves all men, desires none to perish, and that whosoever will come may receive forgiveness and life everlasting.

        May each and every confused Calvinist someday see through the mist and come to know the love of God which is truly good news unto all people, for it is abundant and freely offered to all alike, without limit or partiality.

      109. TSOO – I read through your longer post. I thought this paragraph was the most interesting:

        “The real God, who carefully crafted man with amazing God-like abilities to think, reason and create on his own did not create a lifeless ‘character’ who required every thought, word and deed to be predetermined and brought to pass. In what way could anyone suggest that life as we know it suggests such a fallacy? Which of God’s ‘created beings’ ever unfailingly performed his every wish? Adam? Cain? Moses? Jonah? Saul? David? Abraham? Paul?”

        It is interesting because I agree that God has done an amazing work in carefully crafting man. We are clearly the height of God’s creation. Yet, the Bible reminds us constantly that “we are but grass” (Psalm 103:15, James 1:10, 1 Peter 1:24, etc…). Solomon reminds us that in Ecclesiastes 3:18-19:

        “I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity.”

        John the Baptist reminds the Pharisees in Matthew 3:9: ” And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” Man is certainly an impressive creature. But he is a creature and he has only the value God gives to him… no more, no less.

        You ask: “Which of God’s ‘created beings’ ever unfailingly performed his every wish?” We may quibble over the word “created” here but the answer to the question is the same one given in every 5 year old Sunday School class: Jesus. We should be like Jesus. It was Jesus who said:

        “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38)

        “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34)

        “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” (John 5:19)

        “I can do nothing by Myself; I judge only as I hear. And My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30)

        Jesus came to do everything the Father “wishes” men would do. He was God’s perfect image bearer. He is what we should be. But instead we go our own way. And as Paul says: “Together we have become worthless.”

        So yes, we are God’s creatures. He is a MASTER Creator and he has made us wonderfully and beautifully and we are at the top of his creation. But we are also sinners and have become unprofitable servants. Only Christ was profitable. God intends for us to understand that so that we know that he and he alone is Just and Justifier.

      110. Brenton,

        “On the other hand, we certainly EXPERIENCE GOD (i.e. subjectively) as if he does change his mind.,,. changes his mind about us.   ….”

        Yeah, this is the mumbo jumbo, escape hatch to not take God at what He says.  

        Skipping the CS Lewis part (he was a non-Calvinist, with a high regard for human freedom).

        “…grow in Christ…..But he is NEVER CHANGING. We are changing.
        So what can we learn from passages like Moses’ “changing God’s mind”? We learn… Moses learned… that God is a gracious God.”

        What? Are you kidding me?  Really? 

        So God “pretends” that He is gonna destroy Israel (making strong statements!) and “pretends” to allow Moses to interact with him about another idea…. so that those of us who are “growing in Christ” can learn that He is gracious?

        What I would learn by your explanation is that He is phony, “pretending” to do a bunch of stuff He has no intention of doing… always making claims to trick us and manipulate us.

        Of course He could have said, “I have every right to destroy those people, but I am a gracious God…”  Now that would teach us about Him being gracious!!  

        But no…. (determinists say) He chose to be duplicitous (making false statements) to show us how gracious He was.  

        King Saul (after not killing the Amalekites) could have easily said, “I thought it was just one of those over-the-top, duplicitous statements  …. and that God would want me to be gracious.”   No one would ever know when God is talking for real or doing a duplicitous sleight of hand “to teach”. 

        Ask yourself what Moses learned?

        He learned that God is gracious, true.  But certainly not before he learned that he can talk to God and even bargain with God (Like Abraham did with 50-40-30 count for Sodom, and Hezekiah did, reminding God what he had done).

        Think of the many, many times the Lord starts with, “I have heard your prayers and I will…” Are you saying He was also saying, “Wink, wink, I was never gonna do it anyway!” or “Wink, wink, I was gonna deliver you anyway…. dont go thinking that I am reacting to your prayers.”

        I mean it is just silly to have to take every one of those passages and say “God did not intend to destroy Nineveh, He was only being duplicitous to get us to understand something.”

        Of course that makes an absolute mockery of clearly understandable passages from the Potter like this one:

        Jer 18:7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.  

        I might not have more time for this… especially if you are gonna propose that God never intended to destroy Hezekiah, Nineveh, Israel…but only lied to the people —to teach some other point that He could have easily told us. 

      111. FOH: See I don’t see how you can read the Bible at all unless you make some distinctions that you don’t seem willing to make. God says he raises up kings. Jesus says to Pilate that he has no authority unless given from above. Paul says that all authority is from God… talking about the evil Romans no less. You say that Hosea 8:4 PROVES that God does not raise up kings and that men have all kinds of authority that is not given them from above. I honestly don’t understand how you can read the Bible that way.

      112. Woah…. I did not say that about Hosea. You missed the point entirely.

        I will handle that one later.

      113. Brian, I thought this was a very interesting point: “For this Calvinist regeneration seems to me kinda like a drug that had been before willfully refused by the woman that a man offered it to, along with his proposal of marriage to her… but then he slips it into her drink without her knowing and she immediately accepts his next proposal of marriage.”

        How about this instead: “For the Calvinist regeneration is like a woman who has been told that she has been betrothed to someone she has never met. She already has someone she likes and wants to marry. She is angry and hostile. But then someone who has met the bride groom begins to tell her about him. She reads letters from her bride groom and they are wonderful. The bride groom appears and she sees him, she comes to know him, and she becomes absolutely enraptured by him. She has been changed by the wonderfulness of her betrothed and she can imagine nothing else but to love him forever.”

        That is how I view regeneration. How does God change us? He shows himself to us. As John says in 1 John 3:

        See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

        It is the vision of God in JESUS that changes us. A drug is a poor analogy. I love the way CS Lewis puts it in The Weight of Glory:

        “Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modem philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth.”

        The Gospel, well explained, and honestly delivered IS THAT SPELL. It is the Power of God for salvation. It is the strongest spell possible to break our enchantment of worldliness.

      114. Brenton, you have ignored that there is no step by step in regeneration. In reformed theology it is a death to life, hard heart to soft heart, hatred to love, unbelief to belief moment. Your illustration does not include a hatred for the man that she is told she is already betrothed to, nor does it include the moment of regeneration before she reads the first letter. My illustration is exactly in line with how reformed regeneration is taught. Show me where it’s not. I actually have nothing more to share. Thanks for the conversation. Take the last word in our thread between us. I am sure we will meet again. 😉 All the best.

      115. I have so frequently found that a non-Calvinist can detail Calvinist concepts in much more TRUTHFUL ways than the Calvinist will allow himself to do.

        And when one does describe Calvinist concepts in a much more TRUTHFUL way than the Calvinist will – the typical Calvinist response is to claim Calvinism is miss-understood!

        Yea – right!
        And I have a bridge in Florida that is on special close-out sale – just for today only! :-]

      116. Brian – Regeneration in reformed theology is formally that “point” where a person passes from death to life. It does not mean that it is not a process. In the analogy I gave, the woman initially loves someone else. She does not love her betrothed. When she reads the first letter she does not love her betrothed. When she hears story about him she does not love her betrothed. But at some point… who knows exactly when… her affects for her betrothed have passed from antipathy to love. Maybe it is the moment she lays eyes on him. Maybe it happened when she read one of her letters. Nonetheless, there is a time, a point, where she is no longer in love with her former love interest… she now belongs to the Bride Groom. Why? BeCAUSE of his Love for her and his attractiveness. They will be married become ONE FLESH. There will be NO SEPARATION.

        I will make this my final point. There is undoubtedly separation between God and man, autonomy and independence are another matter, but “separation” certainly. What I don’t understand is any doctrine that calls this separation “good” in any sense. It seems to me to be the very fountainhead of all evil. To be separated from God is the worst possible thing. We are to be UNITED with him. We ought to desire total DEPENDENCE (not independence) in him. We ought to DO ALL THAT HE HAS COMMANDED, not be autonomous. If “free will” is separation, autonomy, and independence from God then I don’t want any part in it for either you or me.

        God bless.

      117. Cute story.

        Brian is too nice to pick it apart so allow me….

        “For the Calvinist regeneration is like a woman who has been told that she has been betrothed to someone she has never met. 
        [She is dead, right?  How is someone telling her anything? Never mind; let’s move on.]

        She already has someone she likes and wants to marry. 
        [She is making choices?  Is that LFW?  Or are her choices decreed before time?  If the man that she “already likes” was set up by the bridegroom before time, well…. kind of coercive there.]

        She is angry and hostile. But then someone who has met the bride groom begins to tell her about him. 
        [Wait a minute…. that person is gonna get some of the credit, right?  Does he “persuade” her? “Convince” her? “Reason with” her? Or is she just irresistibly-made to do it?  Sounds like she has a choice…. but is being slowly pulled in by reason.]

        She reads letters from her bride groom and they are wonderful. 
        [Are those very same letters available to other women?  Any woman would be as equally enraptured reading the letters?   Or just the ones with the potion? If it is any woman—then “whosoever will “—and “come to me ALL who labor” CAN come to the groom too! (I mean “beautiful” are the letters, right?).   If it is just her (the one with the potion)…well you are just back to coercion again.]
         
        Calvinist crack me up!  What do you think “irresistible” means!?

        You cant choose Christ unless He regenerates you first.

        Once you are regenerated you cannot NOT choose Him.   It just dont get plainer than that!

        Brenton, most of us here understand Calvinism.  Occasionally we get a Calvinist who comes along and says “You bet He coerces!  I’m glad He does.” That’s eating the cake.  That’s embracing Calvinism. 

        Then others come along (you) and want their cake and eat it too.  

        Just embrace it Brenton!  He coerces!  100% of the time!  You do not do any of the thinking and decision-making that you attribute to the bride in that sweet story!

      118. Hey I would love to get a crack at this story!
        Here is my version. :-]

        First:
        She is one of 100 totally depraved sheep.
        All 100 of these sheep are made totally depraved by infallible decree – as their “LOT” in life.

        Second
        The most powerful hypnotist in the universe also infallibly decreed that she would stop being totally depraved.
        And instead be infallibly regenerated
        And then infallibly experience love feelings for him.

        Conclusion:
        Her choice was never UP TO HER because it was made FOR HER at the foundation of the world.
        She was never at any point – permitted to be/do otherwise than what was infallibly decreed – at pain of falsifying an infallible decree.

        The other 99 totally depraved sheep – were all cast into the lake of fire – to service his good pleasure – because that is what he designed them for.

    2. Hi Bryce! 1Cor 7, 37

      1. A libertarian freewill decision is made by a libertarian free will.
      2. If a libertarian freewill decision is defined as made “having no necessity” by one who “has power over his own will” and the Scripture gives one example of such a decision existing, then a libertarian free will exists to make that libertarian freewill decision.
      3. The Scripture gives such an example in 1Cor 7:37.
      4. Therefore libertarian free will exists.

      1 Corinthians 7:37 NKJV — Nevertheless he who stands steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but has power over his own will, and has so determined in his heart that he will….

      I would like to see sound reasoning for rejecting the freewill definition clearly given in 1Cor 7:37.

      The key phrase is – μὴ ἔχων ἀνάγκην ἐξουσίαν δὲ ἔχει περὶ τοῦ ἰδίου θελήματος – “not having necessity but authority he has over the individual desire”. How that is not seen as a very clear and appropriate definition of LFW being defined by Paul as the foundation for the decision making of this circumstance is beyond me.

      I can only see theological prejudice as the reason for rejecting Paul’s confirmation that a LFW decision can be made in this circumstance. And if in this circumstance, then that LFW truly exists for other circumstances is a reasonable inference.

      1. Brian, I think you are taking 1 Corinthians 7:37 out of context pretty severely here. The “necessity” in question here is clearly defined by the preceding verses. Paul is talking about marriage and verse 36 talks about a person who has a strong passion for his “betrothed wife” and feels like marrying her is the right thing to do. Paul says that he is free to marry her. It is not a sin. It is in the next verse where Paul says:

        “But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well.”

        Paul is just saying that if that person (a) doesn’t feel like he is doing anything wrong by the girl (i.e. no cultural/moral necessity) and (b) has his sexual passions/desires under control (i.e. no spiritual/moral necessity) then it is better for him not to marry so he can serve God since service to God is best. I don’t see how this negates determinism at all. In fact, it presupposes a system where people’s choice is DETERMINED by what they see as good or the best choice. Paul here is giving instruction about what is the best choice so that those who want to serve God can CHOOSE to do it. But this doesn’t seem like a passage that supports libertarian contra-causal free will at all.

      2. Thank you Brenton for your thoughtful reply. The wording is clear to me. Paul was clearly saying there was no necessity for a decision one way or the other. This person in this context has authority over his own will. That is clear. There is no compulsion/necessity over his will inwardly or outwardly for one decision over the other.

        You are free to believe differently. There is no compulsion over your will. Others can look at your explanation and mine and also freely decide which fits the context and grammar the best.

      3. Brian, we agree that there is no compulsion over the person’s choice to marry or not to marry. But again, I don’t see what that has to do with libertarian free will. Paul is simply making a statement here that when it comes to marriage there are 2 good options: (1) Marry the girl if you feel it is the right thing to do by her or her family, or if you think it is the right thing to do because you love her, or (2) don’t marry the girl and serve God. As Paul says in verse 38, one is good and the other is even better. But both are good options. You are certainly not arguing that Paul is claiming by what he says in verse 37 that the person is “free to do what is NOT GOOD”.

        You say I am free to believe otherwise. Free from what? Free from reason? Free from what I believe to be true? Free from the law? Free from goodness? Free from God? Free from reality? Whenever a person says “you are free to do x”, it is always important to clarify what you are free from.

      4. Brenton… Freedom of choice between two or more good options is a great example of what LFW is. Thanks for agreeing.

      5. Brian and Brenton,

        Freedom of choice between a good and bad option –with the person choosing the wrong, sinful thing– is an example of how determinism wants to say “God ordained it” while at the same time saying that man is responsible for choosing it.

        A second dilema in Reformed theology is that sometimes unredeemed men make good choices (which they should not be able to do since they are “God-haters” “doing iniquity all the time.”

        A third dilema for determinists is that sometimes redeemed men make bad choices. They are “dead” to sin, “buried with Christ,” yet they still sin. They have the “mind of Christ” the Holy Spirit, yet they still choose to sin. No… for Calvinists… they are dead to sin, have the mind of Christ, have the Holy Spirit, and God still ordains (decrees, wills, desires) them to do acts that are displeasing to God.

      6. Well said FOH!

        A 4th dilemma for reformed believers is how they perceive 1st Corinthians 10:13
        “He shall make a way of escape – so that the believer does not have to sin”

        For the Calvinist this “way of escape” exists only in two options:
        1) It was infallibly decreed that the Calvinist would not sin.
        2) It was infallibly decreed that the Calvinist have a FALSE PERCEPTION that he could have escaped the sin.

        Option 1:
        The Calvinist committing that sin – was never going to come to pass.
        So if the Calvinists’ PERCEPTION is that he was going to commit that sin – then that would be a FALSE PERCEPTION.
        And that FALSE PERCEPTION would have had to have been infallibly decreed to come to pass within his mind.

        Option 2:
        The Calvinist committing that sin was infallibly decreed to come to pass.
        There is no LOGICAL possibility for that Calvinist to “escape” what is infallibly decreed.
        So if that Calvinist’s PERCEPTION is that he could have “escaped” it – then that would be a FALSE PERCEPTION.
        And that FALSE PERCEPTION would have had to have been infallibly decreed to come to pass within his mind.

        If for example – event [X] was infallibly decreed.
        And event [X] is that a certain Calvinist pastor will sexually seduce another man’s wife tomorrow at 8PM Pacific time.
        Then [X] is “rendered-certain” to come to pass
        And it is a LOGICAL impossibility for that Calvinist pastor to “escape” event [X].

        So the Calvinist must conclude – that any PERCEPTION he has of “escaping” infallibly decreed events – are FALSE PERCEPTIONS.
        And every FALSE PERCEPTION which comes to pass – had to be infallibly decreed.

        When we see just how many such FALSE PERCEPTIONS exist on a moment-by-moment basis with in the Calvinist’s life.
        We must conclude that Calvin’s god infallibly decrees for Calvinists to live an existence of CONTINUAL FALSE PERCEPTIONS.

      7. Brian, you said: “Brenton… Freedom of choice between two or more good options is a great example of what LFW is. Thanks for agreeing.”

        If you are claiming that LFW is only the ability to DO WHAT YOU WANT between two good choices, then nobody would argue that we don’t have “LFW”. I don’t know why that is anything other than just a “will”. Anybody with a “will” can do what they want. But LFW advocates typically argue that it is much more than that.

      8. LFW, Brenton, is to choose between wants and not be constrained by one want over another to only one decision. Adam was not forced by anything in his good nature to want to disobey. His will was free to choose between wants. He chose poorly.

      9. Wow Brian, you always things so well and succinctly!

        @Brenton…I think you are in good hands with Brian and BRD. I am gonna have to sign off of this with a few last comments.

        I appreciate that you love the Word of God. You do sound very Arminian in your approach. You are in good company: Piper teaches all the time (God “allows” this or that) like an Arminian but theologizes like a determinist (yes…the Hollacaust was for God’s good pleasure—right on his website).

        Please read the Bible and listen to it without preconceived ideas of what God “must” be like (dont let Aristotle sneak in there!).

        Christ: “When I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself.” Amen! Let’s go tell that Good News!

      10. The funny thing about Calvinists and LFW – is that it must exist for the THEOS.
        Or else we conclude that the Calvinist THEOS’s choices and decisions are themselves totally determined by factors outside of his control.

        The Calvinist simply can’t bring himself to call that LFW
        Because doing so brings him to dangerously close to having to acknowledge LFW exists.

        And if LFW is part of the THEOS’ image and likeness

        And what man will dare give commands to God?
        Dictating to him – that he will under no circumstance – endow man with that same image and likeness?
        John Calvin of course! :-]

      11. Fromoverhere:

        I see no tension between God’s determining everything and human responsibility. God has SET THE STANDARD for eternal life and we are RESPONSIBLE for meeting it whether or not we can or not. In this case, the standard is perfection. Only what is perfectly good and holy will receive eternal life. If we want eternal life with God, we must meet the standard. It is clear that we cannot. We respond to that standard with sin and evil. In fact, it seems to me that this was clearly God’s design so that HE COULD SHOW US that He and He alone is JUST and JUSTIFIER (See Romans 3:21-26). Responsibility has to do with the STANDARD God set, not our ability to meet the standard.

        All men make “good choices” sometimes. For example, many Muslim’s are generous people and many Atheists care for their children. But “good choices” must be made for “good reasons”. Jesus tells us that the two great commandments are (a) love God with all of our heart soul and mind and (b) love neighbor as yourself. If you DO NOT do (a) but do (b) then even your “good works” are filthy rags. You are doing “good things” for “bad reasons”. We serve men because we love God. If you serve men because you are a humanist then that is not really a good thing. Nevertheless, God is at work even in the evil motivations of men. It is God who brings them to their “good choices” by using their “ungodly motivations”. That is why we can thank God when we see the wicked do good. God is bringing about a good result through their evil intentions.

        Your third dilemma is easier to answer. The Christian has the Spirit of God. Because he has the Spirit of God he wants to do good, he wants to serve God, but he also has a “body of death” (see Romans 7) that is at war with his Spirit. His Spirit has been given life. But his body is still a body of death and must die. This is all still part of God’s plan to humble us to the point where we rely only on Him. It is at the Resurrection that we will receive our glorified body to go with the Spirit that God has given to us. In other words, our bodies will return to the state they were in the Garden of Eden at the resurrection… and we will have something Adam and Eve never had… the Spirit of God leading us into all Truth so that we cannot fall for the lies of Satan. No temptation (coming from a body of death), no lies (coming from the spirit that is in the world), and you will have perfected and glorified Christians who do God’s will continuously.

      12. Sorry Brenton,
        We have seen these presuppositions (not biblically based; ramblings about how two exact opposites can be true) presented by young YRR guys before.

        What typically happens:

        1. They come in thinking that they just need to get a few things off monergism.com and straighten us out.
        2. They interact a few times and we tell them that all of what they say is dealt with in the near-one-hundred posts of Sot 101 (and the thousands of comments thereafter).
        3. They realize that some of us were Calvinists before they were born (you were born in the 80’s or later) and that we came out of it by reading the Bible (putting out Pink, Boettner, and Sproul books down)…. and will not be easily persuade (as they have been) with the use of the 30 gotcha verse (the only ones coming close to supporting Calvinism).

        4. Then they realize that we are all “heretics” and they slam the door on the way out!

        I may answer you —- or recommend that, if you are really searching, you read the plethora of great posts here. But I know one thing, you wont be around long if you are not really open to any of this.

        But stay around or leave…. humm… I guess the choice is yours! Lots of choices are!

      13. Okay.  Here you go….

        “I see no tension between God’s determining everything and human responsibility.”

        Of course you dont!  You have been taught Calvinism.  I guarantee you that when you came to Christ you THOUGHT you were making that decision for Him.  It was not till later when you were taught Calvinism that you realized that you had no choice whatsoever in the matter.

        “All men make “good choices” sometimes. For example, many Muslim’s are generous people and many Atheists care for their children. But “good choices” must be made for “good reasons”. ”
          
        I’m smiling here cuz you are just making stuff up as you go….

        “We serve men because we love God. If you serve men because you are a humanist then that is not really a good thing.” 

        Again that’s Brenton 1:1. Lots of people are called good in the Bible (Zechariah and Elizabeth, Cornelius, God-fearing Gentiles…on and on).

        Below is where you really learn the tricksy Calvinsit double-talk:

        “Nevertheless, God is at work even in the evil motivations of men. It is God who brings them to their ‘good choices’ by using their ‘ungodly motivations’. That is why we can thank God when we see the wicked do good. God is bringing about a good result through their evil intentions.”

        What “evil intentions”?  They only have whatever intentions God gave them, right?  You are using classic Arminianism:   

        “God is at work even in the evil motivations of men.”  

        Spoken as if man can have some action or motivation apart from what God ordained before time.  You want it both ways but I think you cant even hear yourself. 

        “….but he also has a “body of death” (see Romans 7) that is at war with his Spirit.”  

        Again that’s an Arminian use of the word “dead”.  Calvinists use it in phrases like “Dead men don’t make choices…”  (the old buried 6 feet under illustration).  So Calvinists say “dead means incapable” (except what about Luke 15 where the “dead” son came back to his senses) …. but …just not all the time….

        “This is all still part of God’s plan to humble us to the point where we rely only on Him….

        “Really?  God does stuff to bring us to the point where we rely on Him”??  I thought He decreed it all?  Why doesnt He just “make” us rely on HIm since He has ordained everything that comes to pass anyway? 

        Why does He need to do stuff to get us to rely on Him? 

        That sounds pretty “man-centered”… almost as if we have a choice to rely on Him fully or not??

        So He ordained that we NOT rely on Him, so that he could do stuff to bring us to rely on Him? 

        Ya got a lot ‘splainin’ to do young man!

      14. BRDMOD – Let’s be clear, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul does not say: “You could have no sinned IN THE PAST.” He is warning about FUTURE testing/temptation. He is saying that in the FUTURE there will be testing and temptation. Paul is encouraging Christians about their FUTURE.

        He has just given an example of Israel and their idolatry and immorality and how it lead to the destruction of MOST of God’s Old Covenant people. God’s demands in Old Covenant Israel were to much for them to bear. They could not keep the covenant. They were constantly lured away by idols. Paul actually explains why Israel fell. Was it because of LFW? No, God had a purpose in the fall of Israel and Paul tells us what it is in verse 6: “Now these things took place AS EXAMPLES FOR US, that we might not desire evil as they did.” So God CAUSED and USED the fall/idolatry of Old Covenant Israel to TEACH his New Covenant people. It was a warning of what happens to when you desire and do evil SO THAT WE MIGHT NOT desire and do evil.

        That is why the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is so important. The New Covenant believe is not in the same boat as OC Israel. We are not “examples”. He says GOD IS FAITHFUL and WILL NOT LET us be tempted beyond our ability. This of course doesn’t mean we will never sin… but we will NEVER be destroyed like so many in OC Israel. Ours is a better covenant in every way. God will always provide a way of escape for every test, even the last test of death, and it is the resurrection.

      15. Brenton,

        What are you talking about?  I have never heard anyone teach that about 1 Cor 10:13. But I’ll leave that for someone else….

        But what about the preceding verse?

        10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! Is this about the OC too?  Or is Paul saying that we need to “be careful” and that we can “fall” .  Both of those are clearly our responsibility in context, right?  

        Be careful …or dont be careful…

        Fall … or not fall.

        Where is the determinism in any of this? 

        God provides “a way that we can endure it” …. (so take it!).

        Then he says “flee from idolatry!”  All of these are good choices …that we can make or not make. 

        Determinism is irrelevant in all these passages.

      16. Brenton
        BRDMOD – Let’s be clear, in 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul does not say: “You could have not sinned IN THE PAST.” He is warning about FUTURE testing/temptation. He is saying that in the FUTURE there will be testing and temptation. Paul is encouraging Christians about their FUTURE.

        br.d
        So “was” there a “way of escape” (PAST TENSE) for the Calvinist or not?
        Obviously the Calvinist answer – if he chooses to speak the truth – is “NO”.

        So in Calvinism there was “NO” escape for a PAST event infallibly decreed to come to pass
        And “NO” “escape” from a FUTURE event infallibly decreed to come to pass.

        In Calvinism – no event can come to pass without Calvin’s god decreeing it to come to pass

        So for the Calvinist – the two options still stand
        Option 1:
        Calvin’s god infallibly decreed a Calvinist commit a sin:
        There is no escape from an infallible decree
        And thus no escape from that sin.

        And to your point
        In such case the Calvinist knows (a posteriori) that in the event he committed the sin – there was no escape.

        In such case – if the Calvinist’s PERCEPTION is that there was (PAST TENSE) an escape – then that would be a FALSE PERCEPTION
        And that FALSE PERCEPTION would have to been infallibly decreed to come to pass within his mind.

        Option 2:
        Calvin’s god does not infallibly decree a Calvinist commit a sin
        In this case – the sin was never going to come to pass – and Calvin’s god knows it.

        So if the Calvinist’s PERCEPTION is that he was going to commit the sin – then that would be a FALSE PERCEPTION
        Calvin’s god knows he never decreed the event – and without that decree – it never had any possibility of coming to pass.
        And the Calvinist’s FALSE PERCEPTION would again have to been infallibly decreed to come to pass within his mind.

      17. HOW “A WAY OF ESCAPE FROM SIN” IS A SEMANTIC ILLUSION IN CALVINISM

        Calvinist:
        I’m so encouraged right now!

        Non-Calvinist:
        Why – what happened?

        Calvinist:
        Today I escaped committing a horribly hideous and detestable sin!

        Non-Calvinist:
        Well that is something – but as a Calvinist – what makes you believe that sin was actually going to come to pass?

        Calvinist:
        I had the most powerful temptation to commit that sin!

        Non-Calvinist:
        Ok so then – lets review what that means for you as a Calvinist:

        1) What did actually come to pass – was that you experienced having a powerful temptation.

        2) According to the Calvinist system – that temptation would have had to have happened infallibly – by infallible decree

        3) And there is no way that you – as a fallible creature – can resist that which is infallibly decreed

        4) Which means Calvin’s god made that temptation IRRESISTIBLE to you

        5) But the actual event of committing that horribly hideous and detestable sin – did not come to pass.

        6) As a Calvinist you know that an event has no existence without it being infallibly decreed into existence by Calvin’s god.

        7) Since that sin did not actually come to pass – you can conclude (A POSTERIORI) that it was NOT infallibly decreed to come to pass.

        8) And whatever event is not infallibly decreed – has no existence.

        9) And it is a LOGICAL impossibility to escape from something that doesn’t exist.

        Calvinist:
        Yes – but that’s not what we say.
        We say that that sin was going to come to pass – even though the truth is the opposite

        Non-Calvinist
        Yes I know – because you want to believe that Calvinism coincides with scripture – even thought the truth is the opposite. :-]

      18. Fromoverhere – I have honestly never read a single article on mongergism.com. I have not posted about two opposites being true. I have read many of Leighton’s articles and watched many of his videos. Do not feel obligated to discuss anything with me. I appreciate your feedback.

      19. My mistake (about monergism.com) and my humble apologies! Sincerly.

        Secondly, I understood you to be defending determinism.

        Determinism is at best defended by MacArthur’s “compatibalism” where two opposites are true. That is what I thought I heard you say.

        Again, if you are saying that man has a real choice that God has not in any way ordained/decreed/decided then I stand corrected on that issue also!

      20. Fromoverhere: Again, I don’t sense any desire to discuss this reasonably. I see no reason to continue the discussion with you. I am not making anything up. I am just trying to explain my view. Good luck.

      21. Are you saying that you have a view that is not standard determinist Calvinism? You keep saying we “dont understand Calvinism”.

        We do! Some of us are Seminary trained former Calvinists. You are only seeing my push-back as not wanting to understand you! I do! (if you are a Calvinist I mean; but if you are a Rushdoony Reconstructionist or something else then I missed that).

        Sorry if I have been to quick to jump on you about positions that I no longer think really hold biblically.

      22. Fromoverhere: I know you either don’t understand how we view the compatibility of determinism and responsibility, or if you do understand it you don’t agree with it.

        But on your point, there is nothing more comforting to me than the knowledge that 1 Corinthians 10:13 is not about “possibilities” but about the REALITY that God is faithful, he will not let me be tempted/tested beyond my ability, he WILL provide a way of escape, and I WILL endure since I am part of his New Covenant community. I will not fall into destruction like Israel of Old. Nothing is more comforting than to know that God is in absolute control of that and will ENSURE that it is brought about. In terms of 1 Corinthians 10:12, part of the way God keeps us safe and able to ENDURE through testing is the admonitions to keep watchful. When those commands are deep in our heart, i.e. when God’s word is deep in our heart, we will find the way of escape. God’s word inside us DETERMINES our success or failure in faithfulness.

      23. Okay….. I see your point here…

        “But on your point, there is nothing more comforting to me than the knowledge that 1 Corinthians 10:13 is not about “possibilities” but about the REALITY that God is faithful, he will not let me be tempted/tested beyond my ability, he WILL provide a way of escape, and I WILL endure since I am part of his New Covenant community.”

        But …not really.

        In the sense you mean, Paul would be’ should be saying God HAS provided a way of escape. I mean, in Calvinism the cross and all that it implied is all past tense (done deal before time). Why do you keep talking about is as if it is future?

        He WILL “provide a way of escape”? It is you who is insisting on this as if it is not accomplished.

        If it was procured and accomplished before time, then Paul should say “He HAS provided…”

        What am I a missing?

      24. Fromoverhere: This is not a made up concept so don’t accuse me of it ;-). In fact, I just heard a Frank Turek clip (a non-Calvinist who I really like by the way) who was explaining to a young interrogator how the Bible is written primarily from an ‘observer’ (i.e. human perspective). Occasionally, the Biblical writers will adopt an eternal/divine perspective but it is mostly written for observers. For example, the Bible talks in terms of sunsets or sunrises (even though it is really the earth that is moving in relation to the sun) because it appears from our perspective that the sun is moving. Or, when God changes his mind based on Moses plea, it is really our position changing with respect to God’s judgment not God changing with respect to man… this was actually the point Frank Turek made and it was brilliant.

        When Paul is talking about pastoral things, things meant to comfort believers who are looking down the barrel of (a) sinful temptations or (b) upcoming persecution or (c) death and disease… we should expect him to talk about things FROM THEIR OBSERVER PERSPECTIVE not from God’s ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE. God certainly has DETERMINED what will happen and is actively WORKING ALL THINGS together for Good and according to his plan. But for the Christian, these TESTS are future and they need to know that God WILL in the future (not God HAS in the past) provide them with a way of escape and to be watchful.

        Paul’s outlook in this passage is pastoral and he is writing them, not a theological treatise on God’s sovereignty here, but a practical encouragement in light of the inevitable future tests they will face.

      25. Brenton:
        I did not exactly understand that long-ish post about Frank Turek.

        But I think I do understand the position. Something like this.  The Bible does not mean what it says (if it does not fit our ideas/ presuppositions).

        This is the part that threw me:
        “…when God changes his mind based on Moses plea, it is really our position changing with respect to God’s judgment not God changing with respect to man… this was actually the point Frank Turek made and it was brilliant. ”

        “My position” changed?  How?  I didnt have a position to change.  I just see what God says.  Like here.  

        Isaiah 38:1 “In those days Hezekiah became sick and was near death. Isaiah the man of God, the son of Amoz, came to him and said, “The Lord says, ‘Make those of your house ready, for you will die and not live.’” 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “O Lord, I ask you from my heart to remember now how I have walked with You in truth and with a whole heart. I have done what is good in Your eyes.” And Hezekiah cried with a bitter cry. 4 Then the Word of the Lord came to Isaiah, saying, 5 “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘The Lord, the God of your father David, says, “I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. See, I will add fifteen years to your life.”

        What is my position to change here?

        What is the Bible teaching us here?

        The LORD (the word for Yahweh) says…. you will die…

        Hezekiah prays (says a bunch of good stuff about himself).

        The LORD says…you will live 15 more years.  Ooops…no, He says more than that… He says “I have heard your prayers.” 

        Go have a look at how determinists wipe away all sense of this passage.  When they are done…it means nothing.  Actually, worse.  It means you never know when the Bible is really speaking.  Ironically…. when I read Calvinists interpreting passages like this I see that they almost always start with this kind of thing: “Welllll…it doesnt really mean what it says….” [Then they tell us what it means, wink wink.]

      26. Brian, why in your mind did Adam choose poorly? What “accounts” for his choice? In other words, what “caused” his choice? If he had a “good nature” why didn’t he make a “good choice”?

        God has a “good nature”, can he make “bad choices”?]

        I think you are getting at the essence of what I don’t understand about your definition of LFW. I would say if I make an evil choice it is because “I am evil” in some way. In other words, my “choice” says something about me, about my nature.

        Classically, to say “I made an evil choice” is equivalent to saying “my nature made an evil choice”. My nature, i.e. my essence, is what “I AM”. How can a “good nature” make an “evil choice”. Now, I know you will say “because it is free” or something like that. But what does that mean? That I am not bound by my nature? But again, if “I” am not “bound by what I am” then what does it really mean that “I” made a choice? Is God bound by his “good nature” or can he do evil things?

        I have a lot of questions about this so I would appreciate it if you would be specific.

      27. See Brenton… You’ve stacked the deck. You’ve asked good questions about Adam’s choice to sin until you said ”what ’caused’ his choice”. There was no “what” causing his choice. Adam caused his choice by his use of his good free will to trust in the wrong thing and not to keep trusting God.

        All trust is based on evaluating available information and yet deciding because of an unknown. Adam decided to listen to his wife and follow her example, but he fully knew he was disobeying. Perhaps you could say he deceived himself. But it was his free choice made by a will not coerced or inclined only to good or to evil. Free!

        Yes, it was a different freedom in potential than God’s. God has no potential for evil. And it was not evil for God to create man with that free potential because He did it with the purpose of creating the opportunity for the creation of covenant love, as I discussed before.

        What do you think of all the Scriptures that show God making determinations after creation and the fact there is not one verse that teaches everything was eternally immutably predestined before creation to work out only one way?

        I’m assuming you believe in inerrancy. Let me know if you don’t. Thanks.

      28. BRDMOD – As a Calvinist, I certainly believe that God has a free will. He has a will that can do no evil and that is determined solely by his GOOD/PERFECT nature. I would submit that our wills are also controlled by our nature, but our nature isn’t perfect or good. As a result, we are not free. We are set free by God when we receive the Holy Spirit and Truth (See John 8:31-38)

      29. Brenton
        As a Calvinist, I certainly believe that God has a free will.

        br.d
        Thank you for making my point – that as a Calvinist – you are not willing to call that LFW :-]

        Brenton
        He has a will that can do no evil and that is determined solely by his GOOD/PERFECT nature.

        br.d
        AH!
        But what determines his nature?
        External factors outside of his control?

        Brenton
        I would submit that our wills are also controlled by our nature

        br.d
        So that provides evidence of a willingness to speak a HALF TRUTH.
        But why can’t the Calvinist speak the WHOLE TRUTH?

        That in Calvinism – the state of nature – at any instance in time – is 100% predetermined before nature is created – by Calvin’s god.

        Therefore man’s nature – an any instance in time – is 100% totally predetermined – by an external mind – and therefor outside of man’s control

        In Calvinism – 100% of man’s nature is exclusively UP TO Calvin’s god – to determine – before man is created.
        And that leaves ZERO% of man’s nature – left over UP TO man – to determine.

        Brenton
        but our nature isn’t perfect or good.

        br.d
        No problem there!

        Brenton
        As a result, we are not free.

        br.d
        That is another HALF TRUTH REPRESENTATION of the Calvinist model of determinism.
        Why can’t the Calvinist speak the WHOLE TRUTH?

        In Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) man is ONLY free – to be/do what Calvin’s god determines man be/do an any instance in time. Man is 100% determined by an external mind – and NOT free to be/do otherwise.

        Libertarian Freedom can be defined as:
        1) The ability to make a choice among multiple options
        2) Where those options exist as LOGICALLY available from which to choose
        3) That choice NOT being made for you by an external mind – or by factors outside of your control

        In Calvinism – as well as other Christian theologies – the THEOS has the ability described in (1-3) above.
        Therefore he has Libertarian Freedom

        But in Calvinism – Calvin’s god does not grant this freedom to natural beings which he creates.

        Therefore in Calvinism – Adam (i.e. man) does not have multiple options from which to choose – when he makes choices.

        But what do Calvinists PERCEIVE in their daily lives:
        1) Calvinists have the FALSE PERCEPTION of being the determine of their choices.
        2) Calvinists have the FALSE PERCEPTION of having multiple options from which to choose when they make choices.

        But those PERCEPTIONS are divinely decreed FALSE PERCEPTIONS – planted into the Calvinist’s mind – by Calvin’s god as part of his deterministic model.

  15. I am genuinely confused by this article. Is Leighton actually arguing that “separation” or “autonomy” or “independence” from God in this sense is a “good thing”?

    1. Brenton, if God created free will to be exercised independently to express/create/respond in covenant trust and love… how can that not be a good thing?

      1. Brian, there are a lot of words being used interchangeably here. I asked about “separation”, “autonomy”, and “independence”… specifically with reference to God. Each of those words have different meanings. You reply with “free will to be exercised independently”. Independently from what? Reality? God? I am not sure what that means. Before I can tell you whether it is a good thing or not, I think I have to know what you are talking about specifically.

        I agree that people are separated from God. Again, separation from God is never described by the Bible as a “good thing”, at least not for the person separated. The terrible news for the sinner is that at the last judgment their “separation” from God is made permanent. In fact, the great news of the Gospel is that “nothing can separate us from the Love of God” (Romans 8:38). We are made holy. Indwelt by the Holy Spirit. God dwells with his people. We are “in Christ”. God is at work “in us”. We are “in the vine”. So I think we can say definitively to be “separated” or “separate” from God is NOT good for us. It seems you are claiming that “libertarian free will” (i.e. we have different definitions of free will) is a kind of “separation” from God that is a good thing. Since God IS Good, how can SEPARATION from him in our will be “good”.

        On thing to keep in mind, I do agree that every time we sin we are acting out of our separation from God. It is not a good thing. It is not how I think the Bible describes freedom.

      2. Brenton… A separation, permission if you wish, that God creates for us to exercise our will for the purpose that I asked you about, but which you ignored to answer, is definitely a good thing.

        I also think you are equivocating on the meaning of the word “separation”. We are certainly separate from aspects of God’s nature, but we are not separate from other aspects, shared with us in His image given to us… and by His Spirit’s presence in those of us who are believers.

      3. Brian – I didn’t ignore your answer. But I am not sure I understand that part either in the context of “separation” from God. Love and “trust/faith” also seem to come UNION with Christ. For example, Paul tells us in Romans 5:5 that “…God’s love has been POURED INTO OUR HEARTS through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” John tells us “Beloved, let us love one another, because LOVE COMES FROM GOD. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7). Faith and faithfulness also is a gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit, alongside love, as is stated numerous times in the NT.

        I see nothing in these concepts that would indicate that “separateness” from God makes us able to love him or that expresses/creates/responds in covenant trust and love. Perhaps we are missing each other here. That is not to say I don’t understand what I think you are trying to say or that I have not heard it expressed equally as well from the likes of CS Lewis no doubt… and I have massive respect and admiration for Lewis. I would call myself a Lewisist before I would call myself a Calvinist. But I just don’t see this concept that “love requires libertarian free will” in Scripture. God is love and all True love requires is God to give it.

        I also have a problem with the idea that the “image of God” is a defined set of “attributes” or “abilities” that we have. For example, it has sometimes been said that our ability to think, reason, and use our intellect is part of the “image of God”. But Satan and demons can do those things and I see no indication they are image bearers. No, I think the only thing implicit in the idea of “image bearers” is the DUTY to look like God. As image bearers, the word should see God through us, we are his representatives. So, image bearing is an “office” a “duty” in FORM. In substance it is lived out by doing GOOD. The one who does GOOD is an image bearer of God. Christ, is God’s perfect image (Colossians 1:15).

      4. Brenton, do you recognize that Jesus confirmed faith being expressed by the shallow and thorny soils before the new birth? Did they do that of their free will and was it good they did? How about when Jesus said the heathen show agape love to each other? Where did their ability to do that come from and is it a good thing?

        I will maintain the view that God gives to each at birth His image and the ability and freedom to express those good qualities. They don’t sufficiently merit salvation, but God does require they be freely expressed when He graciously offers the opportunity to seek Him and His mercy.

        And praise His name that He offers that opportunity to all.

      5. Brian, in the parable of the sower, the seed that falls on the rocky soil fails for a reason. It fails because “it has no root” (Luke 8:13) and like the ones on the path, who fail because Satan takes it away, fail to follow God beCAUSE (not contra-causal) of very specific reasons that DETERMINE the outcome. Again, I don’t see how this supports libertarian free will. In fact, it seems deterministic. If a person does not have a “root” then they will not believe the Word. If Satan snatches away the Word then the person will not believe.

        “Heathens” can and do show love, even agape love, for one another. No one denies that or denies that it is often “good” in some sense. But if that agape love is not founded out of a love for God first, it is ultimately sinful. Suppose I am a Humanist and I give myself to be burned for “humanist” principles (e.g. I die in a war to destroy Christianity which I believe to be bad for humanity), is that not sinful even though I have given a “selfless” love to my “god”… i.e. humanity. Or suppose I feed the poor and preach “humanism” instead of Christianity. It is “good” that the poor are fed (and they can rightly thank God for the food they receive), but ,my goal, my motivation, is evil. Agape love not founded out of the 1st and Great Commandment is still ultimately evil.

        Two questions for you:

        (1) I am still not sure you have defined what you are “free from”. When you say you are “free”, are you “free” from reality?

        (2) Can you define what you think the “image of God” is in your view? If it includes libertarian free will, does God have this kind of will?

      6. Brenton… Thanks for affirming there is some kind of “good” in the Word’s influence and the response of faith in the two soils. That good fails to result in salvation because of the things needing to be done in repentance and further faith. But even Satan knew the hard heart could believe and be saved if the Word stayed (Luke 8:12).

        The free will doesn’t have to be free from anything… just free “to” make a choice between two or more options without coercion from within or without. Free “from” coercion… or as Paul said “without necessity, having power over his own will”.

        God does have LFW and exercises it all the time. Of course everyone’s will is limited by their nature. God cannot will to lie and I can’t will to fly. But the freedom to choose between available options exists.

      7. Brian,
        So much to say here…but I have a busy day… AND we have said it over and over in the other comment sections of these posts!

        Calvinsts insist that man is “too dead” and is a God-hater and always does evil. Brenton adds a new twist saying that they can do good, but just with evil intentions. Again, we see that nowhere in Scripture. But…whatever.

        I have spent a lot of time writing out scenarios of, for example, a young couple who comes to a Bible study. They continue to come to a seeker Bible study (Alpha, Discovery Study, etc) and read the Bible at home. Years go by and they are faithful, checking it out all along the way. After 5 years (even starting to attend church) the wife believes. The husband is not hostile but decides not to believe, and never comes to faith.

        What were they doing all those years? Seeking. MacArthur insists —with an out-of-context interpretation of Roms 3:10-11 — that they cant seek. But Jesus told the multitude on the hill to seek first the kingdom. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God rewards those who seek Him. Sounds like man can and should seek God.

        Even though the husband does not come to Christ, he certainly was not a God-hater, only doing evil all the time. He was seeking. He wasnt “dead”.

        Let’s let Christ unpack the parable for us… with in [brackets] in the text.

        Luke 8:12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away [The Calvinists dont explain why the devil is necessary if the person is dead] the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved [Sounds like they COULD have believed!] . 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy [They do not sound “too dead” to me!!] [They “hear” and “have joy”. Not the definition of someone who is “too dead.”] when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, [They do what? They “believe” for a while. That is not dead!!] but in the time of testing they fall away [A person does not fall away from something he was “too dead” to even understand]. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature [“do not mature”?? That sounds like they started something…but we know in Calvinism it is all-or-nothing….. so there is no “did not mature”]. 15 But the seed on good soil [Ah, finally the good soil!!] stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. [Notice that it does not talk about the seed or the sower here….just the soil. What does it day? What does Christ Himself say? They have a noble and good heart…they retain it…. they persevere.]

        Again.

        The Calvinists dont explain why the devil is necessary if the person is dead.
        Sounds like they COULD have believed!
        They do not sound “too dead” to me!!
        They “hear” and “have joy”. Not the definition of someone who is “too dead.”
        They do what? They “believe” for a while. That is not dead!!
        A person does not fall away from something he was “too dead” to even understand.
        “…do not mature”?? Sounds like they started something…but we know in Calvinism it is all-or-nothing….. so there is no “did not mature”.
        Ah, finally the good soil!!
        Notice that it does not talk about the seed or the sower here….just the soil. What does it day? What does Christ Himself say? They have a noble and good heart…they retain it…. they persevere. (He does not say they are God-haters but made to believe.)

        Good News! Dont let the cares of this world snatch it away from you! Listen to Christ! Dont let the Devil take it! Listen to Christ! Mature in faith…dont fall away! Listen to Christ!

      8. Excellent – FOH! Who would listen to Jesus parable and explanation and come away thinking… “I guess some just aren’t predestined to be good soil”? Rather the Jews would recall the plea of God through their OT prophets to break up the hard soil, and pull up the weeds – making themselves good soil to receive this seed’s influence… wouldn’t they?

        (Jer 4:3-4 NKJV) For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, And take away the foreskins of your hearts….”

      9. Of course they till up that soil like the OT says.

        He who has ears to hear…listen!

        ((Which is the Bible’s way of saying…listen up!))

        ((Not the Bible’s way of saying….only a few of you have been given ears to hear, and of course you have no chose but to listen…. so, well… never mind.))

      10. Brian, of course there is Good in the Word (i.e. the Gospel). The Gospel is the POWER of God to save. In addition, there is frequently something “good” in the soil. The question is: “How did the soil become “good soil”? Is it simply “naturally good” soil or is it “tilled” by God to prepare it for the Gospel? But before we get too far, can we agree that the parable is intended illustrate how their are “different KINDS of people” (i.e. different soils) that respond differently to the Gospel (i.e. the seed) beCAUSE of the condition of the soil? Again, this seems “causative” to me. There is something “about the person” (i.e. their condition) that determines the work of the “seed” (i.e. the Gospel). Will you agree with that?

        You say: “The free will doesn’t have to be free from anything… just free “to” make a choice between two or more options without coercion from within or without. Free “from” coercion… or as Paul said “without necessity, having power over his own will.”

        Ok, this response is a bit confusing but I think I get what you are trying to say. First, you say that the will “doesn’t have to be free FROM anything”. But then you say it has to be “free ‘to’ make a choice between two or more options without coercion from within or without”. You then say that a person’s choice must be “free ‘FROM’ coercion”. Your first and last sentence appear to contradict. Regardless, it seems clear you are saying that a person’s choice must be “un-coerced” for it to be “free”. I don’t really disagree with that. Although I would simply argue that this is what we call a “will”, I don’t see why we need call it a “free will” or a “libertarian free will”.

        In other words, I think we can agree that if a person doesn’t want to rob a bank, but if a group of criminals kidnaps his family threatens to hurt them unless he helps them rob a bank, then to some extent he was not “free” from coercion and we would excuse his will. They made him do something he did not want to do.

        I don’t think any Calvinist claims that God “coerces” anyone or that anyone is “coerced” into believing. We believe that people “do what they want to do”. Isn’t that what Paul is describing in 1 Corinthians 7? When it comes to marriage (whether to marry or not to marry), do what you WANT to do, do what seems BEST to you. Would you agree that this is what Paul is saying?

        Next you say: “God does have LFW and exercises it all the time. Of course everyone’s will is limited by their nature. God cannot will to lie and I can’t will to fly. But the freedom to choose between available options exists.”

        Ok, so let us say here that we profoundly agree that everyone’s will is limited by their nature. Let’s keep it up! We also profoundly agree that God cannot do evil because his NATURE is perfect. God always makes the perfect, the best, choice. He can do no other, it is his nature. Do you agree with that? It would seem to me that what makes God FREE, in the ultimate sense, is that he CAN and DOES always choose what is BEST. I hope you would agree that God is not “coerced” by his nature to do good, right? He does it because he wants too… because HE IS GOOD.

        In light of that, it seems odd to me that anyone would claim that a will that COULD CHOOSE TO DO EVIL is something that is part of our “image bearing” capacity. It is nothing like God. In fact, our entire problem seems to be that we need a will that can only do what is Good… like God… like Jesus. It was Jesus who said:

        John 6:38 – For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.

        John 5:19 – So Jesus replied, “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does.

        John 5:30 – I can do nothing by Myself; I judge only as I hear. And My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

        In other words, Jesus… the TRUE AND GOOD IMAGE BEARER (Colossians 1:15)… had a will like God’s. A perfect will. He could only do good. He could only do what he saw his Father doing. He could do no evil. It seems to me that this is the kind of will we want.

        It also seems to me that we will receive this kind of will when God fully and finally conforms us into the image of Christ. What GOOD NEWS! When we receive our glorified body, we will have a PERFECTED human nature like Christ and will only want to do what is good. Not because we are coerced, but because we are GOOD. God has made us Good like Him.

        But that leaves us with the problem of fallen human nature. It is not perfect, it is not good, it is evil. We are by NATURE children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). We are not coerced. Until God saves us, we do what we want to do, but being constrained by our NATURE we want to do things that bring upon God’s wrath.

        Again, my point here is just to be clearly understood and to understand. If there are things you think I am missing about your view. I look forward to hearing about them.

      11. Brenton – the reformed view of regeneration before faith, which I am guessing you espouse, that God makes the soil good first before the seed is planted, is just not biblical, and is also a form of coercion, though I think you will probably not admit to it.

        Light then Faith then Life!

        Jhn 1:9, 12 NKJV – That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world…. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

        Jhn 12:36 NKJV – “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

        Jhn 20:31 NKJV – but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

        1 Corinthians 4:15 NKJV — For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

        Gal 3:26 NKJV – For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

        1Pe 1:23, 25 NKJV – having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, … Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

        Reformed theology posits a fake “regeneration” that makes no-one immediately a child of God, nor does it immediately give everlasting life! What kind of birth does not make one a child or give life? Very sad… besides being a clear rejection and ignoring of clear Scripture teaching.

        For this Calvinist regeneration seems to me kinda like a drug that had been before willfully refused by the woman that a man offered it to, along with his proposal of marriage to her… but then he slips it into her drink without her knowing and she immediately accepts his next proposal of marriage.

        Now does that sound like true love? And how can you call a drugged woman’s “yes” her “personal responsibility”? She was unable to do other because of a change the “drug” made in her? When it was given to her, she was still firmly rejecting the one making the proposal who was slipping her the drug without her understanding.

        I see no personal willing acceptance of that woman… nor do I see love in the one who caused the change in her instantly upon her using that drug.

      12. Brian, you write: “the reformed view of regeneration before faith, which I am guessing you espouse, that God makes the soil good first before the seed is planted, is just not biblical, and is also a form of coercion, through I think you will probably not admit it.”

        Explain that to me. Why is it a form of coercion? Again, if God changes our nature so that it is a PERFECTED human nature (something we all hope will happen in heaven) and as a result, we make good choices, is that coercion?

        What do you make of Ezekiel 36:26-27:

        26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and CAUSE YOU to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

        Or 1 Corinthians 15:10:

        10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

        Or how about the doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration, i.e. the idea that God moved the writers of Scripture to write the exact words he wanted them to write so that (a) they are truly the words of Moses, Isaiah, Matthew, Paul, etc…) but (b) they are also truly the Words of God also. Were they “coerced” to write those words? Help me understand what you mean by “coerced”.

      13. I have not much more to share Brenton. Thanks for the conversation. I gave a good illustration concerning be coerced. And Ezek 36 is to the nation being reclaimed. Individual are commanded to repent and to get a new heart and spirit in 18:30-31, just like I had shown you in Jer 4:3-4.

    2. Brenton,
      Compare the idea that you are quesioning as a “good thing” to this idea:

      In determinism, all that happened is a “good thing”. Period. God willed the Holocaust (“for His good pleasure”) so it was a good thing. In fact every day that we approach anyone about their heinous acts from the previous day, they can simply say:

      “I believe that your determinism declares that what it did [let’s say cheat on his wife] was a good thing.”

      “My participation in child pornograpy was determined by God and ordained for His good pleasure.”

      “Reformed determinism is true; therefore when I beat my children yesterday it was His sovereign will.”

      Now…. Brenton…. let’s continue our talk about what is a “good thing.”

    3. Fromoverhere:

      It is very interesting reading what you wrote. I always appreciate reading how other people process through and understand what other Calvinists say. I acknowledge the scenario you mention about the couple who comes to Bible Study and one chooses to believe and the other chooses not to believe. We can agree that both are SEEKING SOMETHING. But how do you think a Calvinist would unpack that scenario? I find that it is helpful when trying to understand an opposing view to look at it from their perspective and try to explain it the way they would explain it. If you can’t, then you probably understand their view.

      For example, I can honestly say that I don’t really know how I would answer that scenario from a LFW perspective. That is one of the reasons I came on to Soteriology101 and searched “free will” and came across this article. I am very interested to understand how it works on a libertarian free will perspective. So maybe you can give me that perspective as well. Why did the wife choose Christ and why did the husband reject them on the LFW position?

      Appreciate it and no rush. I know you are busy today.

      1. Brenton:

        “But how do you think a Calvinist would unpack that scenario?” 

        Okay, maybe you missed the part about me being a former Calvinist.  I got on the wave in So Cal just like MacArthur did (same place, same time).  He stayed on (and now doubles down —in a recent video— that all evil comes from God, yum!), but I got off.

        A Calvinist would unpack it by saying she was irresistibly called (or maybe she wasnt, cuz Calvin said there are a bunch of “fake elect” in the church).  But the husband was just studying the Bible those 5 years out of evil intentions, cuz he is all-bad, all-the-time, and “dead”.

        But that is not the question really.  You did admit that he was “seeking”.  MacArthur —in a 90 min curious video — that I have linked many times on these pages (I’ve been trying to tell you that all of this has been talked about a ton, on this site, recently)— discusses the parable of the “seeking Father.”  Most of us know it as the Prodigal Son…. but John just skips over the “dead son came to his senses part” and says it is about the “seeking Father” since Roms 3:11 tells us that men (the son) cannot seek.

        Oh well… happy to hear that you are agreeing that the husband is “seeking” (5 years of Bible study seeking something).  That’s a start!

        Let’s put aside that reprobate husband for a minute.  What about the wife?  What was she doing? She did come to Christ.  Was she seeking?

        Calvinist options:

        1. Yes, she was seeking, but only cuz she was regenerated to do so.  ((followed by my question: regenerated when?)).  Took her 5 years to come to Christ AFTER regeneration? That is not the ordo salutis (Calvinists love Latin).  That is too long. Regeneration precedes faith —but immediately. 

        2. No, she was not seeking (cuz she was “too dead”).  Like her husband she was up to evilness, pretending to seek…but then got regenerated …and saved in the short period after 5 years.

        Which is it Brenton?  She was seeking (those 5 years), and it took that long after regeneration… or was she “dead and incapable of seeking” all those 5 years and only regenerated moments before salvation at the end of the 5 years?
         
        Why did the wife choose Christ and not the husband you ask?

        Let’s let the Bible answer us!

        Paul speaks about that when he says “he persuades men”.  What a stupid thing for him to say if Calvinism is true!!  He doesn’t “persuade” anyone!!!  They are dead!  You cannot persuade dead mean…and the irresistibly chosen need no persuading! ((that’s God’s job, right?))

        2 Corinthians 5:11
        Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.  

        Acts 9:22 
        Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.  
        [Who is Paul “proving” it to?  Dead mean?  Irresistibly-drawn men need no proof.]

        1 Cor 9: 19 
        Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.   
        [Paul is going out of his way here to show that what he does makes a difference.]

        Acts 17:2 
        As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures
        [You cannot reason with “dead” men and irresistibly-grace-elect should not need to be reasoned with.  Here again, Paul is claiming that to some degree, his reasoning is making a difference.] 

        Acts 28:23
        When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
        [Paul is “trying to convince them” (even the ESV says this!!).  Again….he is claiming that to some degree his “trying to convince” makes a difference.  NOTICE in all of these…..it does not say anything about an extra work of God.  NO… all these passages talk about Paul (his efforts) and man’s “reason”.  They certainly contradict a couple points of TULIP]

        Acts 28:24 
        Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.  
        [Well, there you go….. the Bible clearly says that the words of Paul were what convinced some.  So I guess you could say that his words had something to do with it, right?]

        Acts 18:4
        And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
        [More persuading!!]

        Acts 19:8
        And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
        [Over and over.  Persuading, convincing, and reasoning with.  You dont do that with dead men.]  

        So…. the wife was “persuaded” (Paul’s word)  but the husband was not (maybe he just did not want to leave a life of sin?  But she was “convinced” –Paul’s word). Now you might answer with the Calvinist convoluted “secondary cause” idea.  Which of course is not from the Word, just another escape hatch to get away from what the Bible says.   Bottom line…Paul does not talk like it is “100% extra-dose-from God toward dead men”. Nope. 

        Paul became all things to all men that he might win some!!  He just would not talk like that if he was trying to tell us Calvinism is true!

  16. According to John 1:13 “We were born again not by the will of flesh and blood , nor by the will of man but by the will of God.”

    Man’s will therefore is not the basis in obtaining salvation. It is the will of God that prevails not of the will of man to accept or to reject the offer. Man’s will cannot easily dismantle a solid doctrine on the atonement of Christ on the cross. Jesus Christ according to Him, He lay down His life to the sheep. [the goats were not included. They will remain as goats as the reprobates designed for damnation, while the elect from the foundation of the world cannot resist the offer and their union with Christ is sustained by the love of Christ God till the end according to Romans 8:35-39]

    1. JT
      According to John 1:13 “We were born again not by the will of flesh and blood , nor by the will of man but by the will of God.”
      Man’s will therefore is not the basis in obtaining salvation….etc

      br.d
      Who in the world ever said man’s will is the “BASIS” for obtaining salvation?

      Even the Calvinist’s sacred creed declares that when a person becomes saved – they do so “FREELY” – making man’s will an integral and understood part of the process.

      Calvinists always resort to manufacturing fiction, when they PRETEND to be RATIONAL.
      It’s all to funny to watch! :-]

  17. There is no such “free will of man.” Man has a will but not free, this is the truth. The “free willist” are just illusionist. Man’s will is not autonomous in itself. God can disregard man’s will therefore it is not free. Man’s will is infected with sin and the best friend of evil so, how can it be called free when it is under the influence of sin and evil. For a man’s will to become free in itself must be totally independent/autonomous that can never be influinced by any inside or outside prime movers.

    There are many in the world who claims that salvation is based on the free will of man. They say that they can even lost the offer by the use of their free will to turn their back from Christ.They can unborn again themelves and then “born again” many times as they will to do so…

    They also say that man can maintain their own salvation by the use of their free will to obey God’s commandments and to make themselves holy. Spo, what’s funny of what I said when its the reality in the world for those who opposes permanent salvation freely offered by God to the elect?

    1. JT
      There is no such “free will of man.” Man has a will but not free, this is the truth.

      br.d
      Now – here we have one Calvinist (JT) who paints one picture
      And another Calvinist (Brenton) who paints another picture.

      Brenton’s statements are carefully crafted to portray the FALSE picture called MERE PERMISSION
      Where Calvin’s god “supposedly” grants man the ability to determine things
      While Breton’s statements are carefully worded to subtly omit the critical caveat – that Calvin’s god determines 100% of what man thinks/says/does – and man has NO SAY in the matter of anything he will think/say/do.

      On the other hand – our second Calvinist -(JT) says there is no such thing as “free will” in man at all.

      So what is the WHOLE TRUTH in Calvinism?
      In Calvinism – we simply have UNIVERSAL DIVINE CAUSAL DETERMINISM
      What man thinks/says/does – is not determined by man – but SOLELY AND EXCLUSIVELYby Calvin’s god
      And man has NO SAY in the matter of absolutely anything.

      And concerning freedom:
      in Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) man is **ONLY** free – to be/do what Calvin’s god’s infallible decrees determine man will be/do. Nothing more – and nothing less IS PERMITTED

      And that is why Calvinism is jokingly called a PUPPET/ROBOT Theology. :-]

      This forces Calvinists to live as as John Calvin instructs:
      -quote
      “Go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part” (by Calvin’s god)

      And this is what we call – Calvinism’s *AS-IF* thinking pattern.
      The Bible simply calls it DOUBLE-MINDED

    2. JT
      There are many in the world who claims that salvation is based on the free will of man

      br.d
      Please provide at least one quote.
      If you can’t do that – then your simply huffing and puffing and blowing Wizard of Oz smoke again. :-]

  18. In the midst of all of this new discussion with Brenton, ironically, today I rec’d in my in box the blog of Roger Olson (who has been a guest on this site).

    He is recommending a new Reformed Systematic Theology book, which is quite surprising in that he is a renowned Arminian scholar!

    Article is here: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2020/07/a-really-good-reformed-systematic-theology/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=BRSS&utm_campaign=Evangelical&utm_content=259

    What I thought was refreshing (and might denote the winds of changing coming in Reformed circles) is this part:

    “In the chapter on creation the authors also discuss providence and do not promote divine determinism or attribute evil to God’s plan, purpose or will. They affirm God’s all-comprehending governance such that nothing at all can happen that is not at least permitted by God, but they do not attribute evil to God’s plan or design or will.”

    Apparently these Reformed (Dutch) scholars (880-page volume endorsed by many) are not insisting on a deterministic, immutably-decreed, all-evil-all-the-time —for God’s glory— hermeneutic.

    1. Good point FOH!

      Yes – Dr. Oliver Crisp – a Reformed author – has recently written a historical review on the early Reformed position on free will of man.
      He reviews the history of Reformed thinking.
      He maintains, that prior to Edwards and puritan Calvinists – Reformed thinkers embraced Libertarian Freedom in man.
      Edwards – says Crisp – was a staunch determinist – and brought about a “sea change” in Calvinist thinking.

      Richard Muller in his recent book “Divine Will and Human Choice in Early Modern Reformed” states that from his interpretation of their writings – the Reformed Orthodox were not compatibilists in their view of freedom but held to the indeterminate freedom.

      As you can imagine – all of the staunch determinists in the Calvinist camp are going to contend that no such thing ever existed within Reformed history.

    1. br.d
      That meme saying the person was “predestined by God before the foundations of the world to misunderstand Calvinism” comes close.

      But for me I was predestined to be led to Christ by non-Calvinists, then get into Calvinism (unintentionally hurting feelings as I promoted it), and then predestined to leave it.

      Now I am predestined to actively try to help others move out of it. One would think once you get it (and finally get it) there would be no reason to move from there!

      1. Hello nurluhouse and welcome

        I thank the Lord Jesus – that he delivered you from the double-minded grip of Calvinism!
        There are others here – including Dr. Flowers of course – who were drawn deeply into it – and whom – like you – the Lord was able to deliver their minds from its trance.

        So you are in good company here. Personally, I had been in the Lord for over 30 years before I bumped into a Calvinist pastor who tried to persuade me into it. Fortunately for me, I kept sensing he wasn’t being honest with me, and I kept sensing there was something pharisaic and irrational about it.
        I was not familiar enough with Theological Determinism to recognize – that was its underlying foundational core.

        Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. Jerry Walls were the ministries who initially connected all the dots for me. So I thank the Lord that I kept sensing something was wrong with it – took my time examining it – long enough to escape getting lured into it.

        So its wonderful to meet a fellow believer with a mind not ensnared by Calvinism!

        But I don’t understand your last question – when you say “no reason to move from there”.

        Thanks
        br.d

  19. Br.d
    “But I don’t understand your last question – when you say “no reason to move from there”.”

    Perhaps because you are predestined not to move from there.

    It seems this person has moved from Calvinism but not from Determinism!

    Very funny meme by the way.☺

    1. AH!
      I hadn’t thought of that – since without determinism Calvinism would be an average form of protestantism. :-]

      1. But truly free🙃

        I too got the sense that he was being sarcastic and trying to sound clever. But I’m glad TS00 said it first😉 with a question mark.

      2. I think what NH meant is … why does God move a person on from Calvinism?

        I mean if (according to Calvinists) Calvinism is “the Gospel”…and a person fully grasps it, and even brings others into that space, how/ why does that person then move out of Calvinism (according to determinists)?

        In other words: God determines before time to save a person (in a non-Calvinist setting), then move him into Calvinism (done! arrived!) and then determined to move them out of Calvinism to become a voice against Calvinism.

        But it is the same qustion that Calvinist (and one-point Baptists) have to ask themselves about salvation in general.

        What about those Calvinist preachers (think Josh Harris) who —after 25 years of ministry— say they are no longer Christians. Sure, humanly people can come up with all kinds of statements “Never was a believer” ‘He will come back to the Lord…” etc. But the point for determinists is…. (using the above format) ….

        In other words: God determines before time to save a person (in a non-Calvinist setting), then move him into Calvinism (done! arrived!) and then determined to move them out of Calvinism…..to being a non-believer… to become a voice against Christ.

        So, before time He planned to “make it look like” that person was a believer for 25 years only to then have him finish his life as the true reprobate that he was destined to be?

        Phew! That makes me dizzy just hearing it!

      3. Yes – they have to dream up really IRRATIONAL answers – to answer those questions.

        Dr. Flowers has a youtube video – a Q&A with R.C. Sproul and a few other Calvinists where they are asked why Christians reject Calvinism.

        They give 50 “miss the target” answers – making you wonder why Calvinism’s sacred infallible decrees have suddenly disappeared from the picture – and none of them make even a peep about Calvin’s god’s determining 100% of whatsoever comes to pass.

        I suppose they don’t want to give that answer because it would raise the next logical question:
        Why would Calvin’s god design a person to be a professing Christian who rejects the “so called” Gospel?

        John Calvin himself would give the honest determinist answer without blinking. He would simply say – Calvin’s god specifically deceived those believers into believing they were saved in order to magnify their torments in the lake of fire.

        But of course – then the next question the curious Calvinist would ask is
        “How do I know if that is not what Calvin’s god designed me for?”

        If he deceives believers into believing they are saved for the express purpose of magnifying their torment in the lake of fire – and those believers have no idea that is what he designed them for – because he purposefully deceives them – then how can I know I’m not one of those people – predestined for the lake of fire?

        I think it becomes pretty obvious why Sproul and others don’t want to lead Calvinists down that road of questions.

        So they simply evade giving TRUE-TELLING answers.

        And that is why Calvinist language is so highly characterized by DECEPTIVE HALF TRUTHS

        The pleasure that Calvin’s god derives from predestining evil – is just too horrible for the average Calvinist to acknowledge.

      4. It seems to me that the Calvinist, if cornered, would be forced to allege that God deliberately deceives and torments some with a false experience, and that non-Calvinists are not truly elect. Few will come right out and say so, but this seems to be the only logical deterministic explanation for ex-Calvinists.

        The most difficult thing about being in a Calvinist church for my elderly mother was how critical and condemning the pastor was of all christians outside of the Reformed fold. She was willing to let him believe what he believed, but could not find an explanation for the scorn and vitriol that was poured on all non-Reformed ‘evangelicals’. But, as you often point out, these guys rarely want to admit the really ugly stuff; they try to keep it locked away until no ‘outsiders’ are around. They’ll hem and haw, doubletalk, euphemize, distract and deflect, all in an attempt to not own what Calvinism cannot escape.

      5. Hey TS00,
        I wanted to get your take on a question.
        In your last post, you mentioned how Calvinists must be seeing “non-evangelicals”.
        It seems to me that Calvinism started way before certain Christians started taking on the label “Evangelical”.
        And it seems to me the Calvinists assumed that label based on their interest in infiltrating various non-Calvinistic groups – like the SBC.

        Personally I don’t think its legitimate for Calvinists to call themselves “Evangelicals”.
        I think they should simply call themselves “Reformed Protestants” or simply “Calvinists”.
        What do you think about that?

      6. The Calvinist camp I was in for over decade definitely did not consider themselves Evangelicals. If I said they condemned non-Evangelicals, then I misspoke. My Calvinist pastor was very scornful of Evangelicals, as visiting family members quickly discovered. It would be my guess that ‘Evangelical’ is the new ‘Arminian’, the bogey man heretic who refuses to ‘submit to scripture’. In reality, he refuses to submit to the Calvinist interpretation of scripture, but that is not usually acknowledged as a legitimate option.

      7. Thanks!
        I think I did a typo in my question.
        I have heard different Calvinists calling themselves “Evangelicals”
        And I guess not all Calvinists do.

        BTW:
        Your comments about the vitriol you observed – what we would perhaps call “Pharisee-ism”.
        There is a scripture that states “they were held in bondage all their life-long through fear”.

        I think vitriol or anger (especially exhibited with men) is quite often a masked representation.
        And what is really going on underneath that emotion is actually fear.

        So this Calvinist pastor who was so vitriolic towards non-Calvinists – could (subconsciously) be responding to the internal emotion of fear – masked over by male anger. Perhaps the fact that non-Calvinist Christians challenge his Calvinism.

        And we know Calvinists (as Brenton and RH show us) have to embrace irrational forms of reality.

        In Brenton’s 2 levels of reality – he has one reality in which Calvin’s god determines 100% of whatsoever comes to pass – obviously leaving 0% left over for anyone else to determine. And Calvin’s god holds that reality to be TRUE. So in that reality we have the proposition 100 -100=0 is a TRUE proposition. While in Brenton’s 2nd reality: 100 – 100 does not equal zero. So Brenton ends up with 2 realities – one in which the divine mind knows 100 – 100 = 0 is TRUE, and his reality in which that same proposition is FALSE.

        So in Brenton’s 2 levels of reality thinking – he ends up with thousands of propositions that Calvin’s god holds as TRUE – as propositions he himself holds as FALSE.

        So with that – one can see the Calvinist has to live in a world of make-believe – in order to maintain a state of mental normalcy.

        It would make life easier for the Calvinist if he could always shelter himself in his own little irrational bubble world – and never be challenged by anyone outside of his mental bubble. But that’s not very realistic for any Calvinist to assume. And those people who challenge the Calvinists irrational bubble world the most – tend to be Evangelical Christians.

        So I can see why that pastor behalves the way he does.

  20. Brenton:

    It looks to me like you might be done?

    You came into this converstation on July 21, 2020 and left on the 26th, using words in your post saying “Nothing could be worse than those things. Nothing could be more evil than those things.”

    Does that mean you have finally decided that we are just promoting evil ideas and it is not worth it?

    I ask cuz there was such a flurry of communication and then a sudden stop.

    1. FOH,
      I think I might have been a little to harsh for Brenton – when I told him that his language patterns of representing things that are FALSE as if they are TRUE – (justified in his mind by his 2 realities theory). Perhaps I was a little to harsh.

      I’m afraid I might have insulted him sufficient to make him leave.
      Sorry!

  21. At the moment I am watching a live Webinar put on by the Crescent Project. The guest is Mohamed Faridi who is sharing how he came to Christ from Islam.

    He prefaced to the audience that, “In Islam, everything is pre-determined. Absolutely down to the finest detail, Allah has planned what you will do and think.”

    Hummm…. that sounds familiar.

    Just now he said the person that witnessed to him said, “You have to invite Him.” Faridi says back to his friend … “That is not like Islam where Allah has forced every decision!?” Friend, “No…. God’s way is that you have to invite Him.”

    I wonder if Calvinists would say the former Muslim in this webinar is preaching a false gospel?

  22. Helloooooo

    Brenton. Are you all gone now? We were just getting started.

    However I did say above on …JULY 22, 2020 AT 3:26 PM…. that YRRs dont stay around long… but I guess he didnt slam the door on the way out!

  23. My in-box just received the blog post of a Calvinist.  In his post on evangelism he quotes Charles Spurgeon:

    “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” Charles Spurgeon  

    This shows the total disconnect and inconsistency of Calvinists and the “prince of preachers.”   Remember in ALL the cases below he is referring to someone that ends up in Hell (not a living person that “we dont know whether they are chosen or not.”) 

    “…let them leap to Hell over our bodies.”  
    What?  Why are you putting your body in the way of what God really wants? If they are in hell it is because God wants them there.

    “….with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay.”   
    Really?  You are “imploring them” to do something other than what God ordained before time for His good pleasure?  Really?  You “implored” them to do something that neither they nor you had one bit of control over?

    “….in the teeth of our exertions…”  
    I take this to mean you are “trying really hard”?  To do what?  Deliver a good news message to a man condemned from all eternity?  Okay…. you go pal!  You just try a little hard and grit those teeth.  What an absolute Arminian Spurgeon was!!!    

    “….let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”  
    What are you warning them of Spurgeon?  The death they cannot escape?What are you praying for?  That they would accept a Christ that never gave Himself to them?   

    Calvinists want to love people when (according to them) God doesnt.  They want to offer Christ to people when (according to them) God doesnt.  They want to grab the knees of the hell-bent sinner and implore them to come to Christ, telling them it is very much against our wish that they go to hell.  Yet they actually preach that this person (who ends up in hell) goes there, not against God’s wish, but as the perfect, holy, completion of God’s good pleasure. 

    These kinds of poetic illusions demonstrate the flagrant inconsistencies of Calvinists who want to live, talk, and pray like they are Arminians.  They want to live, talk, and pray like what they do matters—can change an outcome.  Yet they insist on determinism.
     
    I ask my determinist friends (let’s say our recent visitor Brenton), “You are a committed Calvinist-determinist.  What difference does it make in how you live your life than how I live mine?”  Answer: none. 

    1. Wonderful post FOH!!!

      FOH
      You’ll throw your body in the way of what God really wants?

      br.d
      How dare you even think of standing in the way of a divine infallible decree?
      Who are you oh Calvinist to (by your actions) judge Calvin’s god for the purpose he designs – for the vast majority of his creatures?

      If Calvin’s god’s design – is to save the one TOTALLY DEPRAVED sheep
      While designing the 99 TOTALLY DEPRAVED sheep – for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure – who are you to judge?

      FOH
      You are “imploring them” to do something other than what God ordained (decreed to infallibly come to pass) before time for His good pleasure? Really? You “implored” them to do something that neither they nor you had one bit of control over?

      br.d
      And Calvinists tell us that we can’t deal with a SOVEREIGN god!
      What a hoot!!

      How many Calvinists does it take to turn a DOUBLE-MINDED light bulb! :-]

      1. For our Calvinist friends, let me put it another way.

        You (a Calvinist) are at the funeral of a loved one who died most definitely denying Christ.

        You turn to your Calvinist friend and say, “All those years I told Uncle Bob that Christ loved him. All those years I told him “Christ died for you.’ All those years I asked my church and home group to pray for him. All those years I ‘threw my body in front of him’ and ‘gritted my teeth while clutching his knees, imploring him’ to come to Christ!!!

        When… as it turns out…. all along God was most glorified by Bob’s refusal. I was actually praying and working against God’s will all that time!”

      2. From what I observe with Calvinists – they have absolutely no tolerance for self introspection like that.
        They will manufacture an endless stream of spider-web explanations
        In order to always APPEAR on the right side of every theological question.

      3. Here is how faithfully the disciples of Sprugeon will follow him.

        You would think that Spurgeon would NEVER say to a big, public crowd of people “Christ died for you!”

        I mean that is absurd right? That is not the “Gospel” to them. The “Gospel” (spelled: TULIP) clearly says that Christ died for a tiny few, the elect.

        Here you go from a pro-Spurgeon web site. http://gracepreacher.blogspot.com/2017/05/was-spurgeon-calvinist.html

        “But what of Spurgeon? Without doubt, he did believe in the doctrine of limited atonement which, properly speaking, does make it impossible to say to a mixed crowd or to a particular unconverted sinner ‘Christ died for you.’ Then too, he did sometimes – in his closing appeals – seem to invite people to Christ on the basis that Christ had died for them. But, let it be said, not very often.”

      4. he did sometimes – in his closing appeals – seem to invite people to Christ on the basis that Christ had died for them. But, let it be said, not very often.”

        br.d
        Well – they can congratulate Spurgeon – because he limited the typical CALVINIST DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS on that issue at least! ;-D

      5. But…let it be said that Spurgeon was inconsitent, even deceptive ….not very often!

        Modern technology and the internet have corrected Spurgeon’s mistakes. That is why it is VERY common on many Calvinist sites for them to say quite adamently –DO NOT preach “Christ died for you” to people.

        Yum!!! Good News!

      6. Yea – but isn’t it interesting – when I acknowledge their own doctrine – by pointing out that Calvin’s god designs the vast majority of people he creates – for the specific purpose – of eternal torment in a lake of fire – oh boy! – watch that Calvinist squirm and try to make the divine decrees magically disappear – explaining it as people WANTING to go there.

        AS-IF in Calvinism – someone other than Calvin’s god is the one who determines what people will WANT.

        Calvinists and their DOUBLE-SPEAK

        Who wants to sign up for that! :-]

      7. In my experience, Calvinists nearly always have a disconnect between the theology they affirm, and the beliefs they actually hold concerning God, salvation and how life should be lived. Most non-Calvinists I have interacted with seem to have similar experiences. It is a coping mechanism that allows them to hold contradictory beliefs, called compartmentalism.

        They wall off their carefully memorized doctrine in one compartment, ready to pull out whenever asked what they believe, but for the most part live from the other compartments of their mind which believe that God is good, loves all, desires to save all and all of the other biblical truths we hold so dear.

        They do not know that they are doing this. When challenged with the inconsistencies, they squirm, deflect, change the subject or do whatever they can to keep their compartmentalized beliefs to come out and see how opposed they are to one another.

        That is why I post on sites like this one. My hope is that those upon whom the Holy Spirit is working, gently encouraging them to think clearly, to open up those compartments to the light and be honest about what lies in each one. Will any be helped, is it wasted time and energy? I do not know, but I am willing to make the effort, because, unlike Spurgeon, with my whole mind and heart I believe that God loves all men, desires all to be saved and patiently seeks to urge all men to listen to his sweet, sincere call to them to come, and drink without money and without cost.

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