The Unwanted Child?

by Dr. Leighton Flowers

<our video response to Dr. White’s critique can be found below>

As my regular listeners may be aware, my wife is a marriage and family therapist who works with people struggling with deep trauma and relationship issues. She has told me a number of times that those who struggle with abandonment issues can be especially devastated by the claims of Calvinism.

Now, I understand how a Calvinist reading this post might take that as playing on the emotion of my readers, but I can assure you that is not my intention here. This is not meant to be accusatory or overly dramatic, just a fact of the matter. This is a real struggle for many who are faced with the claims of Calvinistic theology in light of their own upbringing, so please hear me out.

For those like myself who were raised by very loving parents, the terrifying fear of being unloved or unwanted by those who should love and want you the most is unfathomable. I cannot begin to understand the feeling of being rejected by those who are supposed to be there for me. I have never felt that kind of emotional devastation and do not even pretend to understand how that kind of pain can affect one’s relationships with others throughout their life.

I can imagine, however, how the unique claims of Calvinistic theology might negatively impact someone who already struggles with fear of abandonment and rejection. If my own mom and dad did not want me, why would my God? And if God is the kind of God who does not love and want many people, maybe He doesn’t really want me either? Regardless of where you stand soteriologically, that is a valid fear that impacts thousands of people that has to be addressed one way or another by therapists, pastors or friends in the real world.

Peg Streep, a psychologist, wrote an article titled, “The Unwanted Child: Feeling a Unique Kind of Hurt,” in which she retells the story of Karen, a woman now in her fifties struggling with deep emotional pain due to feeling unwanted by her parents:

 “I knew from early childhood on that my parents got married because of me. I was also the reason my mother had to drop out of college which effectively wrecked her dream of becoming a lawyer like her father.  And my dad had to take a job to support us instead of following his dream to become a writer. Mind you, they went on to have two other children five years after I was born. Presumably she could have gone to college when I went to kindergarten instead of having more kids, but that honestly didn’t occur me until I was in my twenties and making choices for myself. I was blamed for her life pretty much and she repaid me by ignoring me except for taking the time to heap blame and criticism on me and loving my brother and sister. They’d been chosen to be born; I hadn’t. My own children are treated differently by my parents than the children of my siblings.. It’s apparently an inescapable legacy.”

Even if being unwanted or unplanned doesn’t become part of family lore as it did in Karen’s case, the unwanted child often reports that she knew that she was somehow different and being treated differently, even at a young age:

“When my brother was born, I was four and I remember being absolutely floored by how my mom was with him—singing, cuddling him, cooing to him. She rarely touched me and what she did for me, she did in the most perfunctory way. I thought it was something I was doing, of course, and I worked so hard at trying to please her. Well, guess what? It didn’t work. My brother was her favorite, her darling. Are you surprised that Cinderella was my favorite story? My father was largely emotionally absent too—hiding behind his newspaper—so I had no support or validation at all growing up. When I was thirty, I finally worked up the courage to ask my mother why she loved my brother more and without blinking, she looked straight at me and said, ‘I never wanted a girl. I only wanted a son.’ Most people don’t believe my story, by the way, but it happens to be true.”

Now, imagine Karen sitting in a pew at a Calvinistic led church hearing a sermon about how God has chosen to love and provide for some people, but not all. Whether right or wrong, where does her mind immediately go?

God, just like my mother, loves my brother but not me.

Can you understand the devastation this might cause to her relationship with God?

Even if she confides in her Calvinistic pastor by telling him about her fear and he is somehow able to convinced her that she is one the favored ones (i.e. “the elect of God”), her heart cannot help but ache for the unwanted “reprobates” rejected by the God who picked her over them. She knows what it feels like to be one of the unwanted children and cannot help grow angry with God for doing to them what her own mother did to her.

Again, regardless of where you stand theologically, this is a real struggle that has to be answered practically in real world situations of life. How would you answer someone like Karen who has grown distant and angry with God because she had become convinced He is the kind of God who chooses to love some people before they are even born and reject all others?  Is the best response to quote Romans 9 (out of context) by asking, “Who are you to talk back to God?” I cannot imagine anyone would think that is what Karen needs to hear in her pain.

I believe we have to tell Karen, and all those like her, that God is not like her own self-centered parents. I believe she must be introduced to God’s unconditional love for every man, woman, boy and girl. She needs to hear about His relentless pursuit of all the lost. She must learn that our God is one who’d rather die Himself than to see someone perish. She needs to hear about a God of love and provision for all His creation! She needs to know that there may be bad mothers and fathers in this world who do not want their own children, but God is good and no child is born unwanted by their Maker, no not one!

Help me spread that truth!


Added 1/17/20
Dr. James White posted a Dividing Line broadcast critiquing this article and here is our reply:

143 thoughts on “The Unwanted Child?

  1. Wonderful article – and very heart-felt.

    As one becomes more familiar with Calvinism – one starts to understand it is more than a simple theology.
    It requires a certain type of psychological conditioning to embrace a belief system that is so very radical.

    That’s why Dr. Eric Fromm – Ph.D Social Psychologist – called Calvinism a “Theology of Dread” and wrote about its psychological effects.
    And that is why John Calvin – demands/instructs his disciples on how to think – and not to ask questions – etc.

  2. This is precisely why I was so repulsed by the teachings of Calvinism. When I was a teen I ended up dabbling in the occult, first with horoscopes, then with tarot cards, crystals and full on pagan rituals by the time I’d got to university. As can happen when you open those doors, I started to be attacked by an unclean spirit who would influence my thoughts and convince me that God had rejected me and that he didn’t want me. I was so oppressed by this spirit that I attempted to bring myself to the point of death to force it out. After nearly dying and seeing what that would mean for my family, I turned to God in desparation and asked Him to save me. Next thing, my mum bumps into the village vicar (pastor) and I end up meeting them and becoming a Christian. I was delivered of the evil spirit and have been following Jesus ever since. But then I heard of Calvinism…and my view of God was rocked to its core. Could it be that God actually didn’t want some people? If I had thought that back then then I might not have become a Christian at all, the lies of the spirit would have been confirmed and I would still be demonically oppressed or even dead. Luckily my research lead me to podcasts like yours and other non-Calvinistic views. When I hear the Calvinist interpretation of election, that God actually doesn’t want some people, I hear the same lie that the evil spirit told me. Note: I’m not telling this story to try and guilt any Calvinists, it’s just my own experience.

    1. Hello Annabel and welcome – and thank you for your testimony.
      I think its fair to say – one will never see a Calvinist casting out a demon or helping a person to be set free from demonic influences.
      Every dark spirit knows they have to seduce
      And there is no such thing as seducing a being who is designed to function like a robot (as is the case in Calvinism).
      If nothing is UP TO YOU – (as is the case in Calvinism) then there is nothing to seduce.

      Thank you for your testimony!
      Blessings

    2. Annabel, Welcome and thank you for your sharing your story. I’m glad to hear that you didn’t simply accept what Calvinists told you, but that you dug deeper for Truth. That’s a sign of spiritual maturity. God bless you as you study more and may He use your testimony in powerful ways! 🙂

    3. Annabel thank you for this post it really meant a lot to hear your honesty I’m sure that was a painful road☹ I’m so glad you know Jesus’ love can be trusted!!! & Joe I’m really very sorry for your loss😔 I too know this loss, because I’m a parent who lost a child😔 & it hurt more than most people can comprehend. I gave birth to this child who lived inside me for 9 months, & he was one of the loves of my life!!! But I can tell you unequivocally there is no doubt God is still recognizably good and though He allowed this choice in my sons life (you see my son took his own life NOTHING good in that) and my young adult son was an intelligent young man who struggled for several reasons. But one reason was on one hand he felt he had lost his salvation and on the other side that he was not chosen to begin with ugg.. he even designed a t- shirt shortly before he took his life. On one side was a face of a robot and on the other side written; “”Big Lie”” Ultimately if one follows this systematic there is no other road it can lead to, but that we are either robotic in nature or puppets in a plan with a false pretense that we kind of move our own strings.., But determinism is just what it means;

      the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will. Some philosophers have taken determinism to imply that individual human beings have no free will and cannot be held morally responsible for their actions.

      but that is absolutely not the God we serve of course He isn’t surprised yet He is much bigger than a God who literally plays both sides of the chess board and ultimately needs to assure His own victory. He is victorious, because He has an amazing plan and it is sufficient to offer salvation to all who will recieve it. We are (response able), so not born dead corps like unable to respond unless you don’t trust His given means are sufficient & extra effort (ie.irresistible) on God’s part is required to ensure victory.. Nope don’t see it in Scripture.

      1. My goodness, Reggie, I am so sorry for your loss, and for the hopelessness and discouragement your son felt. But praise God that He is nothing like the Calvinist god, but He is a God who truly loves all people, wants all to be saved, and has provided the means to salvation for us all. I trust that your son is resting by Jesus’s side right now. God bless!

      2. Thank you Heather and I absolutley agree He is nothing like their warped view.. And I do have such hope in my heart for that as well! & I loved hearing that God bless you!

      3. I am so sorry for your loss, Reggie. It’s makes me incredibly sad that false, destructive theology negatively influenced your son. Our good, gracious and loving God knows his and all of our hearts. Strength and peace to you and yours.

      4. Thank you TSOO I appreciate this!!! I do have much solace knowing we don’t serve a God with a hidden agenda that contradicts Scripture & I trust He truly is a good good Father and by His grace we can have certainty.. Not a shifting sand hope, but a solid foundation knowing this systematic isn’t a representation of who He is… I stumbled onto this site shortly after my son died. I knew it was a gift from God, because prior to soteriology I felt alone and even my husband got tired of me standing up against calvinism, because it too is in my family☹ and the day I recieved the call about my son I was actually talking to my calvinist brother in law & I was standing up in truth & love against calvinism he, then accidentally I’m sure miss quoted Scripture he put “mind” second in loving God I told him I believe mind is never second for a reason when loving God…. and then the phone rang. Again thank you and everyone who stands up on this site to show the many inconsistencies and double sided thought process you have to have to not see the contradictions.

      5. Thanks Reggie for sharing.
        Your loss is great and we are so sorry that you went through this. Like you said, you are so thankful that the true God of scripture is nothing like what Calvinism portrays. Thanks for the courage to share your loss and the events that led up to it.

  3. That is so much a compeling argument in favor of good sense. I was translating you in october in Quebec, when you said “imagine being lost and that nobody care to find you” … i cryied, and I was moved inside.

  4. This is so true to form what Calvinism leads to. Either you are smug and proud that you are the ONE who is chosen over your brothers and sisters or you are devastated that God created you for Damnation and never loved you or ever intended to love you.

    Is it possible that those who created this Calvinistic God were themselves rejected in their families and so they created a God and a Theology to help compensate for the rejection that they felt?

    Another thing I have noticed that this theology lends itself to is: Giving cover for persons to treat others in this same way, since their God treats most people in a non-loving way then it is ok for those who follow the Calvinist god to treat people like their god treats them. Rejecting them, and doing them harm because that is what their god does.

    Leighton has brought to light a very important truth in this man made theology. This God that is created after the image of disfunctional parents. The Calvinist god is fashioned after the image of a disfunctional, unloving, partial parent. I am so glad the God of scripture does not resemble the god of Calvin. PTL

      1. Hello Jason,
        The comment you are responding to is not a reference or observation of Calvinist teaching – but rather of observed behavioral patterns
        To confuse the two – is to not be able to discern between what one claims about himself – vs what one manifests about himself.

      2. Jason is it possible you don’t actually understand Calvinism?
        I have read and listened to Piper, JMac, Grudem, RC Sproul, I have gone to T4G and TGC and I have sat under Calvinist preachers. I have a good understanding of what is overtly taught and what is smuggled in under the cover of terms like “Mystery and Tension”. “Mystery, tension or paradox” are some of the terms that are used to open people’s mind up to untruths. Every time you hear or even use that term, ask yourself if there is something untrue in the vicinity. I have found about 80% of the time there is an untrue statement that is being covered over.
        Even Piper himself has said those who are Calvinist have a greater capacity to accept “Mystery”… why do you need to have a great capacity to accept “Mystery” well mystery is one of the things used to smuggle in unbiblical concepts. When an unbiblical concept is accompanied by the word “Mystery” many naive christians aren’t discerning enough to see what is happening. They simply incorporate the untruth into their thinking and say “Oh well this is just a mystery”. Well it may not be a mystery it may well be an Untruth.
        Maybe you are not as Calvinist as you think or maybe you have accepted some untrue things as true because those things were taught to you as “Mystery”. Please engage with BR.D – he is very wise and you could learn a lot from him.

  5. I wonder how people who were abused as children felt when our Calvinist pastor said “Everything in your life was ordained by God, even childhood abuse (included in a long list of God-ordained evils) for your good, for His glory, and because He knew what you needed to go through to humble you.” I wonder how many souls he crushed that day, how many people lost faith. That sermon was the beginning of the end for me with that church!

    1. Correction:. I should say “God-ordained” evils, in quotes. That’s what he called them, but they should not be attributed to God. Just because God allows bad things doesn’t mean He pre-planned or caused them (as “ordains” means in Calvinism).

    2. The babies – while they were being thrown into the fire of Moloch – had a very special and wonderful Calvinist comfort.
      The comfort of knowing that Calvin’s god was expressing his love for them in a very special way – as he does for all of his creatures.
      And most of all – they had that very special comfort in knowing their torment in the fire was giving him glory.

      1. The provisionalist god really wanted to stop the babies from being thrown into the fire, but he couldn’t

      2. Just because a father doesn’t want his son to burn his hand on a hot stove doesn’t mean he is unable to stop him.
        Love for his son whom he wants to grow up into maturity is what stops him. :-]

    3. I Wonder how they would feel If the Pastor told them, God really didn’t want this terrible Event to take place? Why did it happen then? Was God powerless to stop it? Is God incompetent?

      1. Matt, I do not know if you are sincere, or just being facetious, but it is true that we all must face the really difficult reality of evil. ‘Why?’ I cry out so often. At best, I can only wonder if the ability to love freely, and have an eternal relationship with God, necessitates him allowing us the freedom to make even really awful choices. I do look forward to some day understanding the necessity of God allowing the existence of evil.

        I will tell you what I do not believe, and you could never convince me:

        That rape, murder, child abuse, sexual abuse, oppression and spiritual abuse are God’s ideas, dreamed up, ordained and irresistibly brought to pass by him in order to torment mankind and ‘give him glory’ as he reveals his ‘mighty power’ in judging and condemning those he determined to do the very evil things he later condemns.

      2. Matt
        I Wonder how they would feel If the Pastor told them, God really didn’t want this terrible Event to take place? Why did it happen then? Was God powerless to stop it? Is God incompetent?

        Br.d
        Why would a pastor tells someone something he does not believe is true?

        But now we’ve opened up a can of worms:

        Why do Calvinist pastors refrain from telling the WHOLE truth?

        Why don’t they tell their congregations what they know to be true:
        – That god designs the vast majority of the human populations specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire for his good pleasure.

        – That god DESIGNS the vast majority of Calvinists within Calvinist churches as “CHAFF”. Because god has held salvation out to them as -quote “savor of greater condemnation”. That he has deceived them with a false salvation and they will spend their whole lives having thousands of divinely inspired false perceptions – living as Christians when they are not. And that the majority of them are in fact TOTALLY DEPRAVED living in a state of total deception. And that he will eventually – quote “strike them with greater blindness”.

        – That all of the promises in scripture represent the ENUNCIATED will of god – and not his SECRET will – which may in fact be the exact opposite. And they have no way of knowing or trusting that any of the promises in scripture apply themselves.

        Why do Calvinist pastors tell people that god “allows” sins and evils – when what he means is AUTHORS. Deceiving people into believing sins and evils are “merely permitted” when he knows by using that language he is telling people what he internally knows are falsehoods.

      3. Br.d “”Why do Calvinist pastors refrain from telling the WHOLE truth?””

        Because deep down they must know it’s the polar opposite of “”the good news”” at least it sure looks like it to me🤔

      4. It is always amazing to see the false dilemma either God author’s the evil OR God is powerless. Which one do you pick? As if those are the only two options. Matt you need to see there are much better alternatives than either of the ones you present.

      5. Graceadict says “It is always amazing to see the false dilemma either God author’s the evil OR God is powerless. Which one do you pick? As if those are the only two options. Matt you need to see there are much better alternatives than either of the ones you present.”

        Isn’t it funny how Calvinists try to accuse non-Calvinists of calling God powerless, incompetent, etc. … when THEY are the ones who have decided that if God doesn’t cause everything that happens (even sin and unbelief) then it must be because He is powerless, incompetent, etc. We never said it; they did. Yet they put it on us to try to shame us into agreeing with them. Twisted.

      6. Well said Heather
        The thing that makes it all so ironic is how when the subject turns to sins and evils all of the positions they accuse others of holding to are the very positions they will revert right back to.

        I don’t know how the human mind can be so easily conditioned to point a finger of accusation at someone for something – then revert to that very thing – and then be totally oblivious to one’s own double-mindedness.

        But its so common with them – one can’t help but anticipate it.

  6. One does not even have to have had a traumatic childhood, or have felt unloved for the concept of an unloving – or partial – God to traumatize them. But it is true that Calvinism is especially triggering to those who have had unhealthy relationships.

    Every single human being longs to be loved and accepted just as they are. It is this need that leads so many into destructive relationships, as they seek desperately to feel loved. It is my goal as well to assure anyone I can influence that God is nothing like Calvinism depicts. No one could possibly do more than he has done to reach out to mankind, show them the truth about sin and its deadly lies and provide all that they need to be rescued and redeemed. His glorious promise is to someday transform us completely into the selfless, loving image of his Son, who held nothing back in order to rescue us.

    Such love! Such patience! Such mercy! How it aches my heart to hear men accuse the One who has done so much of having partial, limited and downright stingy love. All for his own narcissistic purposes. How utterly false such destructive assertions are. May each one reading this know without the slightest doubt that God loves you with an everlasting love, and has spared nothing to show it to you and woo you to himself. Never doubt his genuine goodness, his limitless love and his deep desire to bestow endless life and blessings upon you and every single human being who ever has or will exist!

  7. Dear Christians, don’t forget the Calvinist answer to this, the non-elect reprobate are haters of God, totally depraved, they will never want God anyway, do not desire God’s love, do not want God to love them, and will gladly burn in hell for ever than love and serve God! Oh, and we were all just like that until God changed us without any choice, desire, will or faith on our part!
    Even though God says preach the Gospel to ever creature and those who believe will be saved! Why would God declare such things if those that here are unable to believe?
    I have ministered to individuals who have been rejected by biological parents, or spouses, or brothers/sisters, or friends and even churches, can you imagine?! I am so glad I can tell them God loves them and desires to save them, heal their hurts and bring them home to be with Him forever!!! Hallelujah!! By Calvinism, I cannot look an individual in the eye and tell them “GOD LOVES YOU! “ Oh how sad.
    Keep up the good work

    1. Hello Brent and welcome

      Brent
      Why would God declare such things if those that here are unable to believe?

      br.d
      Yes – that is a key point
      And especially when one realizes that Calvin’s god DESIGNS people to be the way they are and does not allow anything to be UP TO the creature.

      So why create a creature with a DESIGN for the express purpose of condemning?.

      The Calvinist’s HIDDEN answer is – the vast majority of people are DESIGNED as vessels of wrath
      And their primary purpose of existence is eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.

  8. Very good article and very relevant in many peoples lives!
    My father left my mother and all 5 of his kids without even a care or so it seemed. He immediately remarried his secretary and had two other kids soon after. He even stopped paying my mom child support 6 months after the divorce. Then he moved back to California where it was difficult for her to contes. I only bring this up, because though it’s not in the forefront of my mind nor do I remember it ever being there I do remember wondering was there something wrong with us… I’m sure this impacted my self worth at some level… My father is sadly no longer alive, but I did try to foster a relationship with him, and he always reciprocated. But it wasn’t that way with the majority of my siblings which is very sad to me. Especially my brother, because he would have loved a relationship or to just know he was loved by his dad…I remember once when I was out to dinner with my dad and his girlfriend after his second divorce the girlfriend brought up how proud my dad was of all 6 of his daughters..🤔 Hmm I was flattered at first, but then realized she didn’t include my brother, so I asked what about my brother?? She said “What you have a brother?”☹ My brother wasn’t the son my father had hoped for, so apparently he didn’t even acknowledge him.. I never told my brother this story. It’s a part of my father that though I’ve forgiven it’s still hard to fathom such rejection from a “parent” The God I serve is nothing like this He is a loving just Father who gave His Son up for all and there is no fear in that perfect love!

    This statement below hits home to me;

    (( her heart cannot help but ache for the unwanted “reprobates” rejected by the God who picked her over them. She knows what it feels like to be one of the unwanted children and cannot help grow angry with God for doing to them what her own mother did to her.))

    I was able to forgive my father and though I want to blame him at times still for my brother’s life I realize his love was completley nothing like our God’s perfect love… and at some level I have empathy for my dad, because I know his father’s love wasn’t perfect & seemed earned through your success in sports.. And calvinism actually indicates God’s love is not only particular, but merited by some irresistible means… So yes I’ll help spread the word, because this isn’t what I’m reading in Scripture🌻

  9. A year and a half ago my dear 4-1/2 yr old daughter Alice died after 9 months of battling a brain stem tumor. I can only give you my perspective but at the end of the day the sovereign decree of God whose plans (that for me are really painful, a little like for Job) are bigger than I can grasp brought far more comfort than the notion of a God who was scrambling to try to salvage a tragedy for something useful. God does not do evil, but if he does not in some sense control it then what kind of God is He? So in my darkest hours I actually found a stronger emotional (not to mention exegetical) argument in God’s sovereignty than outside it. Granted, it took some time and tears and wrestling to get there, but it’s a rock I can’t imagine abandoning.

    1. Joe – very sorry for your loss!
      However I have so say I don’t know any God who has to scramble to do anything.
      The fact that he doesn’t have to design people to function like robots (as it is in Calvinism) reveals a more glorious sovereignty for me.
      And also (unlike Calvinism) his intentions for me can be known – and therefore trusted.
      Because it is humanly impossible to know a SECRET will.
      And it is humanly impossible to trust what one cannot know.
      So I don’t have to have a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that he has designed me (or anyone in my family) – specifically for a lake of fire.

      Blessings to you and yours!

      1. Thanks. We miss her dreadfully and look forward to a happy reunion.

        Calvinism doesn’t believe in robots. That’s a common misconception though. Materialistic determinism might.

        Calvinism doesn’t believe anyone will be banging on the doors of heaven begging for grace, mercy, and the love of God but turned aside because they’re not on the list. If you read Calvin you’ll find the opposite to be true. Likewise it doesn’t believe God-haters will be forcibly dragged into heaven against their will and have a miserable time of it.

        God’s intentions for us can be known in a general sense – they are “good,” but specifically, like “Alice died for this precise reason” (and there are reasons), these are things that may wait for eternity to be understood. Job, never did find out why his ten kids died, though he said “the Lord takes away.” I’m not sure until you’ve gone through the process and wrestled with God’s purposes anyone can appreciate the value of really believing a tragedy isn’t senseless or without design.

      2. Joe
        Thanks. We miss her dreadfully and look forward to a happy reunion.

        br.d
        Yes – what a wonderful God we have!

        Joe
        Calvinism doesn’t believe in robots. That’s a common misconception though. Materialistic determinism might.

        br.d
        Well – this is what is called a SEMANTIC distinction – and not a LOGICAL one.
        In other words – Calvinism doesn’t choose to acknowledge what LOGICALLY is the case.

        I would agree – that in Calvinism it doesn’t LOGICALLY follow that humans are robots ONTOLOGICALLY.
        I was careful to say – in Calvinism creatures are designed to FUNCTION robotically.

        Now that is a LOGICAL consequence of Theological Determinism which entails “compatibilist” freedom
        This is the freedom to be and do only what is determined by an external mind
        And all Christian academia acknowledges – a consequence of Theological Determinism is that absolutely nothing is UP TO US.

        Joe
        Calvinism doesn’t believe anyone will be banging on the doors of heaven begging for grace, mercy, and the love of God but turned aside because they’re not on the list. If you read Calvin you’ll find the opposite to be true. Likewise it doesn’t believe God-haters will be forcibly dragged into heaven against their will and have a miserable time of it.

        br.d
        Correct.
        In Calvinism the vast majority of the human race (What Calvin understood as the “MANY”) are specifically designed for eternal torment in the lake of fire – for his good pleasure. And the only reason a person would bang on any door is because a THEOS immutably decreed they do that. And the person has no say in the matter of what they will be or do – since all functionality is determined *FOR* the creature – at the foundation of the world.

        And yes – on the “no force” argument.
        A computer/robot is not “forced” to follow its program.
        It simply cannot do otherwise.
        That is what is called “compatibilist” freedom.
        Which is what biological creatures have in Calvinism.

        Joe
        God’s intentions for us can be known in a general sense – they are “good,”

        br.d
        Actually in Calvinism that is false – unless you have figured out a way to know the SECRET will?

        And in Calvinism you don’t really know what “good” means – as it pertains to you or any member of your family.
        “Good” could mean you are to end up on a lake of fire.

        As John Piper says concerning his sons – he doesn’t know if they were created for the lake of fire or not.
        But even if they were created for the lake of fire – that would be “good” because the divine will is always “good”.

        You see – In Calvinism “good” and “evil” exist in undifferentiated form because it incorporates “Good-Evil” dualism.
        That dualism is an constituent of ancient Gnosticism and NeoPlatonism – which Augustine embraced.

        In the system of “Good-Evil” dualism – “good” and “evil” are co-equal, co-necessary, and co-complimentary

        As Jonathon Edwards states – evil is necessary for good:
        -quote
        the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect both because the parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the other do, and also the glory of his goodness, love and holiness would be faint without them [Evils]; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.”

        Joe
        but specifically, like “Alice died for this precise reason” (and there are reasons), these are things that may wait for eternity to be understood. Job, never did find out why his ten kids died, though he said “the Lord takes away.” I’m not sure until you’ve gone through the process and wrestled with God’s purposes anyone can appreciate the value of really believing a tragedy isn’t senseless or without design.

        br.d
        Thank you Joe – a wonderful and heart-felt sentiment!
        And yes I agree.

    2. Joe, I too am very sorry for your loss. That kind of pain has got to be one of the worst. But if I may point out, it’s a common misconception about anti/non-Calvinists that we deny God’s sovereignty. We do not deny God’s sovereignty. (We deny the Calvinist definition of sovereignty.) Like Brdmod said, we don’t believe God is scrambling around to do anything. This is like one of the many false dilemmas that Calvinists present: “Either God controls everything or He controls nothing.” “Either God is sovereign or we are sovereign.” “Either God carefully preplans/controls all things or else what we do catches Him off guard and He has to run around in a panic figuring out how to work our choices into His plans.”

      These are meant to trap people into the Calvinist paradigm. But the problem, from the very beginning, is that the options they present are not the only two options. They do not accurately reflect the way things are biblically. And Calvinism’s view of sovereignty is incorrect. Sovereignty has to do with the position of authority someone holds, being above all. NOT with how they exercise their authority. But Calvinists start with the presupposition (among others) that a “sovereign” God HAS TO preplan/control/cause all things … or else He’s not sovereign. It’s telling God how God has to act in order to be their kind of sovereign God.

      But God is much bigger than that and cannot be put into a box like that. God is still sovereign. He is still above all. But He exercises His sovereignty in a different way – He has chosen to allow men and Satan to affects things, to make decisions, to work with Him in His plans or to rebel against Him and pay the price for rebelling. But nothing happens without Him knowing about it, and He knows which choices we’ll make and how to work our choices into His plans. (But just because He knows which choices we’ll make, doesn’t mean He caused us to make those choices.)

      I like the way Dr. Tony Evans says it, that nothing happens unless God either directly caused it or knowingly allowed it. So there are things that He does cause. (But He does not cause evil, sin, or unbelief. He allows evil, sin, and unbelief, and He works our choices into His plans, but He doesn’t cause us to be evil, to sin, or to not believe. But He might put us in situations that will cause us to act out the evil that’s in our hearts, so that He can expose it and deal with it. But He didn’t put that evil there to begin with. He’s just exposing what’s in our hearts.)

      But then there are things that He simply allows – letting us make choices, letting us cause consequences He never wanted/planned for us (even allowing Adam and Eve’s sin to mess up nature, our bodies, etc.). And He knows the choices we’ll make and how to use it for His plans and how to redeem it all. Nothing catches Him by surprise or causes Him to scramble around in a panic. Everything has to go through Him first.

      And so if He allows something to happen, it’s because He knows how He can use it and work it into His plans. And I think that’s something we can take comfort in – that nothing escapes His attention, that He knew it would happen, that He hurts with us when we hurt, and that He promises to work all things, even our tragedies, for good for those who love Him and that He will someday do away with all sin, evil, death. and tragedy.

      This is just my 2 cents about all this. I am sorry for your loss and I’m glad that this tragedy didn’t destroy your faith. God bless you!

  10. If you ever hear a Calvinist say “in a sense”, you know all kinds of non sense is about to follow.

    Example: God loves everyone, in a sense, but designed most folks for eternal torment, which they cannot avoid because of how He designed them.

    That is “a sense” of love I can do without. A God who says “I love you” and then ensures that the worst things happen to you, for His Glory.

    1. Excellent wisdom Carl!

      Yes – Calvinist language actually serves as the **RED-FLAG** that something is wrong.

      Calvinist language if full of shell-games, and equivocations on specific terms.
      Its full of various forms of subtle double-speak, designed to appear like normal language.

      Calvinism practices what is called INSIDER LANGUAGE
      The Calvinist uses certain terms which have INSIDER meaning to the Calvinist
      Those terms have a different COMMON meaning.

      So if you are not familiar with their INSIDER meanings – you’re bound to be mislead.
      And Calvinists are quite happy for you to be mislead.

      Also most Calvinists are not TRUE Calvinists.
      The outside of the box is labeled “Calvinism”
      But when look inside you discover Non-Calvinism where Calvinism should be

  11. I am a Christian and not a Calvinist, so I can not comment on Calvinism.
    I was born to an alcoholic Catholic and a strict Nazi Christian, have often been abused, mistreated and suffered many, many psychological scares which I still carry in me today at the age of 57. From a young age my escape from often violent family dramas was a local church and I felt, even as a 10 year old, the comfort of God directly, I had no relationship to any other believer nor the pastor himself. During my confirmation (around 14 years old) I stopped Sunday school and started to attend the local ‘adult’ church. Somehow I knew that humans are unreliable, tend to be evil and also ignorant or blind to the grace of God clearly shown to all of us and just upgraded myself..
    When I was strong, old and independent enough I escaped my tears by leaving my family (parents and several sisters) to find myself, an ‘unwanted child by humans’ but a ‘blessed Child by God’. God not only showed me that I am more than worthy but also gave me a healthy wife and child. Because of the ‘touch of the Holy Spirit’ I became the only Western student in a Chinese seminary after I asked the Lord if I would be ‘good enough’ He agreed and I studied so well that the principal asked me ‘how do you do this?’ ‘I don’t know, He is the Lord!’ I answered. I became a part time missionary, helped, saved and healed many, many people not by myself but through the grace of God. My greatest accomplishment as an ‘abandoned’ human child was to serve homeless and low income families in a church happily and fruitfully for 2 1/2 years. Until I got fired because ‘I taught coworkers in the name of the Lord in the church!’. My negative experiences as an abused child helped me to grow and see clearly, helped me to understand hunger, loneliness and the unfulfilled needs for love. I found freedom in Christ by serving others and forgave all people hurting me on my way.
    My Christian motivation is and was based on God alone; never for any humans, any church organisation or any church or social position. That’s why I don’t know and are not interested in Catholic or Christian ‘clubs’ aiming to ‘explain God’ by elevating themselves. I not only found my own peace and inner strength by spreading the words of the Gospels teaching, helping and comforting others. And I still have the scars on my heart…

  12. It’s unbelievable just how much misrepresentation can occur on one page about Calvinism. Reading through the comments so far I’ve found not one comment that represented Calvinism accurately or with fairness. If this level of unethical, dishonest misrepresentation is what the non-Calvinist side is all about, then no thanks.

    1. Hello Jason and welcome.
      You are free to detail what are for you misrepresentations.
      Perhaps it will be the case – they really aren’t misrepresentations after all.
      We consistently observe Calvinists who have their own customized versions of what is Calvinism for them.
      Sometimes without realizing their customized versions equate to various denials of ESSENTIAL Calvinism.

      1. There would be no point in engaging in conversation because conversation would not actually occur, rather back and forth banter and/or insult as I have clearly seen when people discuss this topic or even debate. It is my hope that I would one day come across someone who is not a Calvinist at least represent Calvinism for what it teaches but sadly I have yet to find that, even on this site. I won’t plague your comment section with my opinions of who is right and who is wrong but will leave you to the Lord praying that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you the truth of what the Bible teaches on this matter rather than you coming to half true conclusions twisted to draw in an emotional audience. If you have come to Christ as Lord and Savior and trust in Him alone for salvation then I call you a brother/sister. I just wish the animosity would cease between those who are and those who aren’t Calvinist in their beliefs.

      2. Jason says ; If you have come to Christ as Lord and Savior and trust in Him alone for salvation then I call you a brother/sister. I just wish the animosity would cease between those who are and those who aren’t Calvinist in their beliefs.

        Indeed I have trusted Him and I agree animosity isn’t great, but we are talking about the doctrine of salvation ie. Soteriology & it does matter to every man, woman, boy and girl doesn’t it? Funny, listening to Leighton and watching his respect/care for his brothers & sisters in Christ have been an example to me. So I urge you don’t get your version from a couple of blogs… Some people on here have been hurt by this systematic, but ultimately that isn’t the issue truth is!!! So whether you believe the well articulated points refuting calvinism in the articles on this site or not, that is your opinion. I too pray for calvinists, that they will be lead out of this systematic that in my opinion focuses on a position not on a person.. The Only One worthy of our focus!! Blessings and more often than not you’ll find cordiality here..

      3. Ok,
        As you wish – but that does leave it as I’ve stated.
        Firstly – the way a person embraces the teachings of a belief system can entail a certain degree of DOUBLE-THINK.

        Take for example the classic (and true) story of the Solipsist believer who wonders why there aren’t more Solipsists in the world.
        Or take the (true story) of the person who while sipping on a martini boasts about how devout he is to his religion – which strictly forbids him to drink alcohol.

        Just think about how observably self-contradicting such examples become,
        People can easily have perceptions of themselves and their beliefs which do not line up with reality.

        And we find Calvinists just as human in this regard as anyone else
        They have come to embrace an *EXPRESSION* of Calvinism they can live with.
        But we find that expression invariably denies certain elements of ESSENTIAL Calvinism.
        So with that – its quite understandable for a Calvinist to read posts here and perceive Calvinism as misrepresented.

        Oh – there can be instances of misrepresentation occasionally by someone who is unfamiliar or speaks out of emotions.
        But the probability of that being the case on a consistent basis – especially from those who have come out of Calvinism, having been Calvinists most of their lives, or those who have engaged with Calvinism for years – is unlikely.

        Thanks anyway Jason.
        And best to you!

    2. Welcome Jason,
      I think BR.D is correct when he says that often folks call them selves Calvinists but they don’t actually understand the foundational tenants of Calvinism. They have their own calvinism which actually denies some key foundational tenants of Consistent Calvinism but accepts some of the more benign aspects of Calvinism. You may be one who carries the label but actually does not hold to the core of Calvinism. Such as:
      1. Sovereignty requires God to meticulously determine every single event good and evil other wise God cannot be trusted and none of His promises can be counted on.
      2. God Does NOT love most people, he created them FOR reprobation. God only loves a few select people. This is proven by the fact that Jesus died on the cross FOR only a few not for ALL. He purposefully excluded the vast majority from His Love.
      3. Moral evil is brought about by God for His Glory. It is NOT simply permitted to exist it is by God’s decree and ordination FOR His Glory.

      These are just 3 Foundational tenants that Consistent Calvinism holds to, if you find yourself not holding to these then you might be less Calvinist than you thought you were.

      BR.D is a great guy to interact with…if you have any questions or objections he can really help. I trust you will take advantage of his wisdom and experience. Blessings GA

  13. GRACEADICT:
    I suppose I am a consistent Calvinist based on the three points you listed as I believe and hold to all three.

    1. REGGIE:
      Out of all the Calvinists I have met over the years I have not come across one who holds to a system over the person of Jesus Christ. Perhaps that is the encounters you have had with a few but that would not be the majority of them.

      1. Jason I’m not trying to be argumentative I’m assuming with the capitals in using my name you might be offended with my statement, but in saying you agree with everyone of GraceAdict’s points especially #2. “God Does NOT love most people, he created them FOR reprobation. God only loves a few select people. This is proven by the fact that Jesus died on the cross FOR only a few not for ALL. He purposefully excluded the vast majority from His Love.”

        I stand here and say His love is NOT LIMITED sorry I agree to Absolutley disagree!!! My focus isn’t on limited atonement…

    2. Hi Jason,
      If you are a consistent Calvinist as you claim –
      Jason: “I suppose I am a consistent Calvinist based on the three points you listed as I believe and hold to all three.”

      GA: I can respect that a WHOLE LOT more than those who try to hide the “hard truth” of what they believe. I have a LOT more respect for someone who is Consistent and not trying to soften what some consider the ugly side of Calvinism. I disagree with you but RESPECT you for being clear and consistent. You are being intellectually honest with the implications and outworkings of your system. Thanks for that.
      There a few other Calvinist on this site that are also clear and consistent and clearly embracing the not so flattering aspects of Consistent Calvinism. I disagree with them but I do RESPECT their honesty.

      1. REGGIE:
        I was only capitalizing your name to differentiate to whom I was leaving my comment for. With that said, I think you’re approaching this from the wrong angle. You stated as from GRACEADICT’s list that God created some for reprobation and I can see how you think I agree with that because I said I did. But let me elaborate to clear up the ambiguity that GRACEADICT used in his wording of the statement. Calvinists do not believe that God created some people specifically for reprobation and others not. No, they operate under the truthful statement from the apostle Paul in Ephesians 1. Verses 1-3 is where all of mankind is naturally due to the fall and verse 4 and on is where God according to His will and divine purpose is where He chooses some (not because of us or what we do but because He is merciful and gracious).

        Ephesians 2:1-4 NASB
        [1] And you were a dead in your trespasses and sins, [2] in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. [3] Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. [4] But God…

        Non-Calvinist approach Calvinist with the wrong intentions. God is under no obligation to save anyone, this is what it means to be Creator and free. We are sinners and if He wanted to pour out His wrath on all of us He would be perfectly just in doing so but thank God and praise His name He doesn’t do that, He chose some (innumerable amount) before the foundation of the world in order to demonstrate His love, mercy and grace toward. I hope that clears some of this up for you.

      2. Jason writes:
        “Non-Calvinist approach Calvinist with the wrong intentions.”

        That of course is a matter of opinion, but I would agree that their intentions are far different from those of Calvinists. In a nutshell, the need, thus intention, for Calvinists is to defend the obvious to all ugliness, cruelty and injustice of their caricature of God.

        The intention of the non-Calvinist, particularly the many who were formerly Calvinistic to some degree, is to declare and prove that the ugly, cruel, unjust caricature of God presented by Calvinism is false.

        Thus, the Calvinist’s thinking goes along the line of:

        “God is under no obligation to save anyone, this is what it means to be Creator and free.”

        This is a strawman, as non-Calvinists do not claim that God is under any obligation to do ANYTHING. We do, however, believe fully that WE are under the obligation to present him accurately to a lost and needy world. Happily, scripture, and life experience, gives us every reason to believe that God is actually good, loving, gracious, kind, non-partial, non-arbitrary and entirely trustworthy – unto all alike.

        God desires that none perish (his words, not mine) because of who he is, not due to some obligation to anyone. His only ‘obligation’ is to be true to what he himself has said and promised to do, because he is unfailingly trustworthy. God not only loves all men, God IS love, again, his words, not mine. God desires to save all men due to this love, not any imposed obligation.

        This is the greatest tragedy for which I deeply pity Calvinists: they simply do not know or understand the depth and breadth of God’s love. Oh, they are quick to claim it for themselves, but they deny the countless scriptures that declare God’s love for all men, his earnest, not fake, desire that none perish, but all turn from wickedness and dwell with him in eternal peace and righteousness.

        The Calvinist thinks his ace in the hole is the claim that:
        “We are sinners and if He wanted to pour out His wrath on all of us He would be perfectly just in doing so”

        Of course, thus far, non-Calvinists agree. While some are universalists, most non-Calvinists understand scripture to teach some form – debatably as to exactly what and for how long – of just punishment of those who do not turn from their sin and accept the freely offered atonement provided by Jesus.

        The great divide occurs, of course, is Calvinism’s singular assertion that God himself not only cursed men with unavoidable sinfulness (Total Depravity, inherent sin nature) but arbitrarily decided to provide a remedy (the antidote for his curse) for a select few. Only and irresistibly. Most non-Calvinists would reject the latter part of this statement, and many of us the former as well.

        We believe that scripture, rightly interpreted, does not declare that all men are born guilty of sin, or that God cursed men deliberately with an inability to seek or to do good. Rather, all men eventually succumb to the seductive allures of the flesh, and the deceptions of Satan, and choose to sin, thus becoming sinners. Sinners desperately in need of a Savior, who, thanks be to God, has been provided in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

        We also would reject your distorted gospel which claims that:

        “He chose some (innumerable amount) before the foundation of the world in order to demonstrate His love, mercy and grace toward. I hope that clears some of this up for you.”

        So close, but the ‘some’ gives you away. God’s love, mercy and grace have been freely offered to all men, without distinction and without exception. All day long he holds out his arms to stiffnecked, rebellious sinners who think they don’t need what he is offering. And he will never force anyone to irresistibly, without any choice, receive the gift of salvation.

        So, no, it is not that we need a little ‘clearing up’ on what Calvinism asserts. We know exactly what it states as far as the extent of the atonement, and we utterly reject it as a complete contradiction to and distortion of the true gospel, declared by the angels to be ‘good news which shall be unto all people’.

        For just one moment, try and step outside of you commitment to Calvinism and think objectively. Do you honestly believe that Calvi-god’s offer of love, mercy and grace to ‘some’ is good news for those to whom he allegedly withholds his love, mercy and grace? What kind of news is it for those who were born cursed by God to be a sinner, through no choice of their own – it is irresistible – and to who he has withheld the readily available antidote which only he can provide? As for me, I can’t think of any worse news in the world.

        That, my friend, is what separates the non-Calvinist from the Calvinist. We declare that the good news of the gospel is truly what scripture declares it to be, good news unto all people. It only becomes bad news to those who reject it, ignore it and trample upon God’s priceless gift as if it was worthless.

      3. Good thoughts, TS00 writes
        “The intention of the non-Calvinist, particularly the many who were formerly Calvinistic to some degree, is to declare and prove that the ugly, cruel, unjust caricature of God presented by Calvinism is false.”

        GA: What we find shocking is how God’s character is impugned through this systematic, many times by well meaning people but impugned none-the-less. Especially His moral character.

        One example: Under Calvinism God irresistibly and irreconcilably hates man first. God rejects the vast majority from eternity past, even before they are born (Rom.9 is twisted to support this). God first hates man and as a result of God being the first hater, the rejected man can do nothing but also hate God in return, there is no other option afforded this group of rejected ones. Man hates God because HE first hated him, if you are in this unlucky group – they will say “who are you to question God, He is Sovereign and He can do as He pleases?”. (At this point many Calvinist, will deflect and do their best to soften these ugly realities.)

        Yes, there are a few that God shows partiality towards, those He irresistibly loves and they can do nothing but have Faith and Love Him back. Why? because HIS love is irresistible. His LOVE is forced on the Few (the term they use is: “Effectually Given”, which means you have no option but to accept it). Just as the Many by God’s decree can do nothing but Hate God, so the Few can do nothing BUT respond in Love and Faith to Him, that is the doctrine of “God’s Irresistibleness” . This doctrine is taught both explicitly and implicity, many times under different labels but it is always there. Sometimes in the forefront and other times lurking in the background, through implications and assumptions made by the speaker.

        Man hates God because God in eternity past hated and rejected him first, before man was created or had done anything good or bad. God hated you the “elect for reprobation” for His own Glory and pleasure, you were irresisitibly created this way on purpose by God. God needs this group of people to exist, and He needs them to be far more in number than the Loved ones, so as to show His Power and hatred of evil in His Judgment of them in Hell- For His Glory.

        Without the vast majority being irresistibly and irreconcilably created for damnation and Judgment God’s glory would not be properly revealed, therefore, God needs this number to be much greater than the saved. That is why He “elected most for damnation and only the few for salvation”. The systematic often tries to cover this up but it is always there implicitly or explicitly.
        The Systematic will often try and soften this ugly truth but at the end of the day we still come back to: The vast majority are ” Irresistibly and Sovereignly Elect for Reprobation” before they were created or had done anything good or bad. Remember: God did this simply for His glory and pleasure and God needs it to be that way – so who are you oh man to question Calvinism?” This is the explicit and implicit teaching of Calvinism. We as non-Calvinists find that the Calvinist teaching of “God’s Irresistibleness” in this area impugns God’s Moral character and we feel we must say NO! God is NOT like that.
        “For God so Loved the World” and “God is love” does not comport with the Calvinist Systematic of a God who first Hates man, and designs him for reprobation so that man has no bona fide option but to hate God in return.

        Calvinism as a systematic is very clever at hiding these ugly truths when it is necessary to do so. The spin and evasions are very creative.

      4. I agree He is under no obligation to save us, and it does clear it up… we simply disagree!!! His choice to save us was also given to us to except Him or reject Him & it was not taken away after the fall. [( Yes we are separated I agree, but not dead like a corpse so as to be unable to respond to His clear revelations])

        And Jason I simply don’t agree with this statement either
        “Non-Calvinist approach Calvinist with the wrong intentions.” I could say that in my life too about a calvinist…

        And I agree with TSOO you make it clear with (some below))
        “He chose some (innumerable amount) before the foundation of the world in order to demonstrate His love, mercy and grace toward.”

        To me faith matters no matter how small it is!! And my faith is in Jesus and the good news He brought to the world. 🗝

        In Him we can stand blessing

      5. It always amuses me when I hear the “under no obligation to save” argument.
        Because it begs the question “save from what?”

        In Calvinism the reprobate are *FIXED* at the foundation of the world – at the point in which they are conceived within the divine mind.
        As the divine potter – he SPECIFICALLY DESIGNS them for eternal torment in a lake of fire.

        The reprobate are determined by nothing more than his **SECRET** council.

        As John Piper says:
        -quote
        “The divine decision to hate Esau was made *BEFORE THEY WERE BORN*
        *BEFORE THEY HAD DONE ANYTHING*
        Whether GOOD OR EVIL”

        So how is Calvin’s god going to save someone from what he DESIGNS them to be?

        Save them from his choice of those he conceives specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire?

        CONCLUSION:
        He is under no obligation to save them from his will!

        To say he is saving them from anything but his own will – is DOUBLE-SPEAK.

        And isn’t it interesting – that is exactly what we’ve learned to expect :-]

      6. Exaccitacally! Under Calvinism, God saves (some) people from himself. The rest, he leaves to face that which he has eternally destined them to face. In other words, it makes a complete mockery of salvation.

      7. This is too simplistic though. When BrD says God “SPECIFICALLY DESIGNS them for eternal torment in a lake of fire” no evangelical believes innocent people are punished in hell. Calvinists do not, so far as I know, believe God creates the sin in a person. The doctrine of original sin is really important and the church has upheld it against Pelagianism (people are born without a penchant for sinning) for centuries. It’s how one can understand God’s hatred for Esau (in comparison to his attitude toward Jacob) even before he does anything good or bad. Esau was (like Jacob), sinful by nature even before he was sinful by deed. God, for his own purposes, chose to rescue Jacob from his sinful nature (and subsequent deeds) but not Esau. Presumably Esau is still sinful by nature and still sinning. I don’t see how that’s a mockery of salvation.

      8. Joe
        This is too simplistic though.

        br.d
        Yes – so now we’re going to get into Calvinism’s convoluted pretzel of DOUBLE-SPEAK :-]

        Joe
        When BrD says God “SPECIFICALLY DESIGNS them for eternal torment in a lake of fire” no evangelical believes innocent people are punished in hell.

        br.d
        What is a red-herring argument designed to do? :-]

        So back to the point:
        The only professing Christian whose doctrine stipulates souls are SPECIALLY DESIGNED for eternal torment in the lake of fire is Calvinism.

        So how can one be “innocent” of being and doing – what one is DESIGNED to infallibly be and do?

        Joe
        Calvinists do not, so far as I know, believe God creates the sin in a person.

        br.d
        Well certainly nothing can come to pass without Calvin’s god AUTHORING it.
        And there is no such thing as “mere” permission in Calvinism.

        But yes – Calvinists today do try to find 1001 SEMANTIC ways of obfuscating that aspect of the doctrine.
        And that was the point.

        Suffice to say – Calvin’s god SPECIFICALLY DESIGNS what people will be/do down to every neurological impulse that will ever appear in the creatures brain. And he SPECIFICALLY AUTHORS the sins he predestined them to infallibly commit.

        So avoiding the words “creates sin” simply serves as an example of how Calvinism hides behind subtle language tricks.

        Joe
        The doctrine of original sin is really important and the church has upheld it against Pelagianism (people are born without a penchant for sinning) for centuries. It’s how one can understand God’s hatred for Esau (in comparison to his attitude toward Jacob) even before he does anything good or bad. Esau was (like Jacob), sinful by nature even before he was sinful by deed. God, for his own purposes, chose to rescue Jacob from his sinful nature (and subsequent deeds) but not Esau. Presumably Esau is still sinful by nature and still sinning. I don’t see how that’s a mockery of salvation.

        br.d
        A professing Christian must ask himself if it is intellectually honest to point his finger at an EFFECT while attempting to hide its CAUSE.

        Calvinism is predicated on “Universal Divine **CAUSAL** Determinism”
        Where everything that comes to pass is the EFFECT
        Specifically and decidedly CAUSED by the divine will.
        And there is no such thing as salvation from the divine will.

        So I suspect that is what the term “mockery” was in reference to “salvation”.

      9. Saying something is too simplistic does not necessarily entail “double-speak.” Dr. Flowers, for example, gives extended and nuanced discussion to these matters from a non-Calvinistic approach as well. They’re not easily understood.

        This line of thinking is helpful for me: God created all angels perfect. Yet some sinned, and not because of a pre-existent defect, and not because it was God’s desire that they sin. The sinful angels are eternally damned. The non-sinning, elect angels (1Tim 5:21) remain in the joy of the presence of God. Similarly God created the first man without sin. But all fell in Adam and are sinners by nature, and are, by nature, under the wrath of God. There have been no perfect men since, including Jacob and Esau, Jesus excepted, of course.

        To give you a little flavor of how Calvinists understand sin in a person, here’s Anthony Hoekema: “Neither can we say that God was the cause of the falling into sin of our first parents. How could God cause them to do what was contrary to his will? The very thought goes counter to everything the Bible teaches us about God.” “Created in God’s Image” p.131 Now one could say Hoekema clearly can’t believe that – but it’s not fair to make that accusation without at least trying to understand his position, which is shared by other Reformed thinkers, from Spurgeon to John Murray.

      10. Joe
        Saying something is too simplistic does not necessarily entail “double-speak.” Dr. Flowers, for example, gives extended and nuanced discussion to these matters from a non-Calvinistic approach as well. They’re not easily understood.

        br.d
        Perhaps – but we do know Calvinists learn how to point 10 fingers in 20 directions when it comes to the issue of sin and evil. :-]

        I can provide close to a dozen quotes from books on Calvinism – in regard to its well-earned reputation for DOUBLE-SPEAK.

        Joe
        This line of thinking is helpful for me: God created all angels perfect. Yet some sinned, and not because of a pre-existent defect, and not because it was God’s desire that they sin.

        br.d
        Hmmmm – I’m not sure you can make those statements as accurate representations
        Firstly – to call a creature “perfect” is problematic at best.
        And I don’t even think an Arminian would ascribe that term to humans or angels – because it reflects divinity.

        The scripture does not state Adam as “perfect” – but rather uses the term “good”.
        But we must remember – in Calvinism “Good” and “Evil” are undifferentiated.

        And again – Calvinism is predicated on “Universal Divine ***CAUSAL*** Determinism”.
        Determinism comes with 3 LOGICAL consequences
        1) Nothing is UP TO US (i.e. the creature)
        As all things are SOLELY determined by the THEOS
        This leaves nothing left over for the creature to determine.

        2) The THEOS does not make any Alternative Possibility (outside of what is infallibly determined) available to the creature

        3) The THEOS does not permit the creature to be/do otherwise than what is infallibly determined.

        So in Calvinism – consequently with Angels falling – and with Adam falling
        1) None of it was UP TO angels or UP TO Adam – (all being determined *FOR* them before they were born)
        2) Not given any alternative possibility
        3) Not permitted to be/do otherwise

        Joe
        The sinful angels are eternally damned. The non-sinning, elect angels (1Tim 5:21) remain in the joy of the presence of God.

        br.d
        Correct – but we know in Calvinism that is by DESIGN.
        That was the original point.

        Joe
        Similarly God created the first man without sin.

        But all fell in Adam and are sinners by nature, and are, by nature, under the wrath of God.

        br.d
        Correct – but in Calvinism the state of nature at any time is pre-determined at the foundation of the world to infallibly be what it will be.

        Joe
        There have been no perfect men since, including Jacob and Esau, Jesus excepted, of course.

        br.d
        See answer above – calling men “perfect” is problematic.

        Joe
        To give you a little flavor of how Calvinists understand sin in a person, here’s Anthony Hoekema: “Neither can we say that God was the cause of the falling into sin of our first parents.

        br.d
        Good and thank you – as that provides another example of Calvinism’s DOUBLE-SPEAK language.
        Again – Calvinism is predicated on “Universal Divine **CAUSAL** Determinism.

        John Calvin
        -quote
        “The the will of God is the *CAUSE* of all things”

        Anthony Hoekema
        How could God cause them to do what was contrary to his will? ….etc

        br.d
        Thank you – this is an excellent example of dishonest language.
        Everyone here knows – in Calvinism there are two wills – the ENUNCIATED will – and the SECRET will.

        1) The ENUNCIATED will is a NON-EFFECTUAL will (i.e. it is Non-Causal)
        2) The SECRET will is the EFFECTUAL will (i.e. it is CAUSAL)
        3) The ENUNCIATED will can be in direct opposition to the SECRET will :
        4) When the ENUNCIATED will is in direct opposition to the SECRET will it functions as a FALSE REPRESENTATION of the SECRET will.
        5) The creature is never permitted to disobey the SECRET will
        6) When the ENUNCIATED will is in direct opposition to the SECRET will the creature is never permitted to obey the ENUNCIATED will

        So this serves well as an example of the original point.
        That Calvinism has a well earned reputation of DOUBLE-SPEAK :-]

        When is it intellectually honest for a professing Christian to strategically avoid telling the *WHOLE* truth?

      11. I don’t think you’re understanding what I’m saying, and that’s unfortunate or we could have a productive conversation. It’s kind of like a Tower of Babel moment – I’m saying one thing and by what you’re saying it’s obvious you’re hearing another. I don’t know how to correct that.

        Let me try a final tack, and if you’re willing, play along because I really want to understand where the non-Calvinist comes down on this so I can beneficially interact with them on this subject, because it really does matter.

        Question: What is God doing in the moment when a child is being abused?

      12. Joe
        I don’t think you’re understanding what I’m saying, and that’s unfortunate or we could have a productive conversation. It’s kind of like a Tower of Babel moment – I’m saying one thing and by what you’re saying it’s obvious you’re hearing another. I don’t know how to correct that.

        br.d
        Actually Joe – I understand completely!
        Remember my original point included the business of Calvinism’s DOUBLE-SPEAK.
        And that of course is all about what one is “saying”

        Let me give you a quote from Dr. William D. Lutz on DOUBLE-SPEAK
        -quote
        “Doublespeak is not a matter of subjects and verbs agreeing.
        Its a matter of words and facts agreeing.
        Basic to doublespeak is incongruity, the incongruity between what is said, and left unsaid, and what really is.
        It’s the incongruity between the word and the referent, between “seen” and “be”, between the essential function of language (communication) and what doublespeak does (mislead, circumvent, obfuscate).”

        Joe
        Let me try a final tack, and if you’re willing, play along because I really want to understand where the non-Calvinist comes down on this so I can beneficially interact with them on this subject, because it really does matter.

        Question: What is God doing in the moment when a child is being abused?

        br.d
        In Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism)
        1) No aspect of the event – including the nature of the creatures – was ever UP TO the creatures
        2) He did not provide any alternative possibility to the creatures
        3) He did not permit the creatures be/do otherwise.

        He watched what he conceived at the foundation of the world – to infallibility come to pass at the specified place and time.

      13. Joe
        I’m not asking you to answer my question from a Calvinist’s perspective, I’m asking you to answer from your own.

        br.d
        AH! Sorry – that was not clear

        Ok, in a Non-Deterministic world – (i.e. the non-Calvinist view) the 3 LOGICAL consequences recognized with Theological Determinism would not be in effect.

        In this case – the THEOS is not the sole “Determiner” of the event.

        So – as it pertains to the creature doing the abuse:
        1) The THEOS would grant the determination to be/do or not to be/do – UP TO the creature
        2) The THEOS would grant alternative possibilities to the creature
        3) The THEOS would grand to the creature the ability to be/do otherwise.

        In such case the THEOS – having divine omniscience – would both foreknow the events prior to when they occur – and also observe the events at the point in time in which they occur.

      14. No worries. Let me say this back in my own words and make sure I’m understanding you correctly:

        God, knowing all things, has always known the man is going to rape the little girl, has given the man the ability to choose to do so or not. Even though God cannot be surprised when it happens, and when it happens, God just observes without intervention.

      15. Joe
        No worries. Let me say this back in my own words and make sure I’m understanding you correctly:

        God, knowing all things,
        1) has always known the man is going to rape the little girl
        2) has given the man the ability to choose to do so or not.
        3) Even though God cannot be surprised when it happens, and when it happens
        4) God just observes without intervention.

        br.d
        On (1) the answer would be no – because that would represent a Determinist view.
        So let me answer that one last

        2) Yes – he grants to the man the ability to be the “Determiner” of whether or not he will commit the abuse
        3) No – he is not surprised by what comes to pass
        4) Yes – he can observe without intervention

        However on (1) the Non-Determinist Christian would say it in SUBJUNCTIVE form
        – If the man chooses to rape the girl – then the THEOS will have perfect foreknowledge of that.
        – If the man chooses not to rape the girl – then the THEOS will perfect foreknowledge of that

        However the Non-Determinist does not rule out divine determinism completely.
        The THEOS – as the creator – is free to be the sole “Determiner” of whatever he wishes
        But in the event he is the sole “Determiner” of [X] the 3 LOGICAL consequences as stated earlier are in effect.

      16. Cool, I appreciate the nuanced view. I feel like I’m understanding where you’re coming from.

        What does the non-Determinist tell the little girl when she asks in regards to #4 “Why did God just watch and not stop the man from raping me?”

        Graceadict, I love that text, and it’s a worthwhile reminder that God only (but severely) punishes all actual sin, but I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at so you’ll have to help me understand, sorry.

      17. Joe
        Cool, I appreciate the nuanced view. I feel like I’m understanding where you’re coming from.

        br.d
        my pleasure! Thanks Joe

        Joe
        What does the non-Determinist tell the little girl when she asks in regards to #4 “Why did God just watch and not stop the man from raping me?”

        br.d
        Here I am reminded of the command of Jesus
        “let you communications be Yea-Yea or Nay-Nay – for anything else comes of evil”

        Firstly – she would have to have a certain degree of maturity – or some degree of faith – to even ask that question.

        He is not put in a position of being tempted to disobey Jesus’ command in order to make his theology appear more benevolent than it is.
        By saying for example: “I don’t know why god allowed that to happen”
        Which for him is equivocal “Yea/Nay” language inferring a form of divine permission his theology holds as a falsehood.

        Secondly:
        If the girl is mature enough to ask – then he can communicate to her that she is granted the same liberty – to sin or not to sin – that the man who raped her is granted. In the event that she similarly sins – she is similarly granted that liberty. And Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is available to her for forgiveness of her sins – just as it is for the man who raped her. If she is mature enough to ask that question one would assume she is mature enough to recognize how such liberty comes as part of divine love.

        The outcome would then be an emphasis on redemptive love that can be communicated with intellectual honesty..
        And as such more readily understood.

      18. I like that approach. Speaking the truth is always the best!

        It seems that an answer like “I don’t know why…” presupposes at least the possibility of an answer, even if we don’t or can’t know what the “why” will be. But the existence of any kind of “why” seems to presuppose a purpose behind the event – there is a “why”.

        How does a non-Determinist understand any sort of Divine purpose (or “why”) in evil? Or is there none (and hence no “why”)?

      19. Fascinating article and thank you for sending along. Much to ponder. Still, it only critiques a deterministic view of meaning, or shows meaning say, from a perpetrator’s point of view – his evil has meaning for himself because he decided to perpetrate it.

        I’m asking a different question that I don’t see addressed: Is there any meaning in evil for those who have been the victims of evil? Does the rapists evil have any meaning for the little girl, or did God have any purpose in allowing it to happen? How does the non-Determinist understand God’s relation to the victims of other people’s evil?

      20. Joe
        I’m asking a different question that I don’t see addressed: Is there any meaning in evil for those who have been the victims of evil? Does the rapists evil have any meaning for the little girl, or did God have any purpose in allowing it to happen? How does the non-Determinist understand God’s relation to the victims of other people’s evil?

        br.d
        Well since determinism in its theological form is learned by teaching – (as in the Calvinist religion) and (as in the Muslim religion).
        Or in its not-Theist form (as in Atheist determinism) then its understanding of freedom is not the common understanding held by all societies of the world. The common understanding of freedom in all societies is Libertarian in nature.

        So if you watch a Christian movie for example which addresses that question – you’re going to get the common Non-Calvinist answer.

        I for example grew up in a home with a father who pinned down his 8 year old son (my older brother) on the floor and beat him.
        I watched my father give him a blood clot on the back of his skull hitting him with a cast iron skillet.
        When he was 18 the doctor told him if the clot ever moved he would die instantly

        I have no had such intense physical abuse to my person as he experienced – but enough various forms of other abuse as a child and later in my life to know what abuse is. Those experiences were part and parcel of what the Lord used to bring me to himself

        I did have words of comfort to share with my brother.
        And he did go on the be with the Lord – as that blood clot did eventually move and he died.
        By the things I’ve suffered – I know the Lord loves me with an intense love.

        I can’t say that everyone would accept that answer – but if a soul is asking that question – then I would say the Lord is using all of it for good – and to bring souls to Himself.

      21. Wow. Thank you for sharing, that’s quite a story. I hope when I say “beauty from ashes” it doesn’t diminish the darkness of the ashes and only magnifies the beauty.

      22. Well thank you Joe!
        But if there is any beauty it is only a reflection of the wonderful beauty of Jesus!

      23. I am so sorry, br.d. I too rejoice that in spite of the abuse I witnessed as a child, or perhaps because of it, I was driven to put my faith in something other than untrustworthy men. I came to have sympathy with much of what led to my father’s abusive behavior to me and my siblings, but only the loving presence of God carried me through the more difficult days. I honestly cannot imagine where I would have ended up had I not believed in a loving, merciful, well-meaning heavenly father who was nothing like the many abusive adults and even other children who I encountered in my childhood.

        I tell you truly, and nothing could persuade me otherwise that these evils I experienced and witnessed were not at the decree and pleasure of God, and this sure knowledge gave me hope and strength to hang on, and even eventually to become one to stand up to bullies, on the playground and elsewhere.

        Thanks be to God, I was not brought up in a home where Calvinism was taught, in which I would have been led to believe that this evil was all part of his predetermined plan, and, perhaps because I was not one of his few favored ones. Instead, in spite of the many struggles we faced, my mother took her huge flock, alone, to a little country church where I heard the good news that God loved me, and all men, and desired that all men turn from wickedness and do what is right. It was this that has given me the hope, courage and strength to face the ups and downs of life. This is what I desire for all, and few things grieve me more than the horrific Calvinist caricature of God that would truly have made an atheist out of me had I fully embraced it.

        Instead, I listened, learned, absorbed and wrestled with the things I heard. For a time, I was influenced more than I realized. Like an adolescent who insists he can watch, unaffected, horrific and violent movies, I let myself become too comfortable in a world that became my beloved community. This made it painful when God finally confronted me and forced me to choose what I was going to believe about him. He will only allow us to ride the fence for so long. 😉

        I could not embrace a God who deliberately creates men to suffer and perish, when he could just as easily have granted them the same grace allegedly granted to only a select few. Once I realized that compatibilism was a feint, pure doublespeak, I could no longer kid myself that I could ‘tolerate’ Calvinism, even if not fully embrace it.

        There is no easy answer for anyone grappling with the horror that evil is. But I can think of nothing worse than believing it all arose from the mind of God, dreamed up and irresistibly decreed at the will and pleasure of God, long before evildoers even came into existence. I can put it no better than King James I put it (yes, THAT King James):

        “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.”

      24. Thank you so very much TS00!

        You know – I actually think even though the Calvinist boasts about having a superior doctrine – I really wonder if most of that is simply a religious mask – like a suit one wears to church. I think they probably internalize evil the same exact way you and I do.

        If that were not the case – why does John Calvin refer to the decree as bringing him to a state of horror.

        You’ve heard that Charles Spurgeon said something like – “an Arminian will be a Calvinist when he gets to heaven”

        Well I actually think the exact opposite is at work with them when it comes to how they live.
        Especially when some kind of injustice or evil happens to them personally

        At those times – I think they actually internalize those experiences with Arminian thought patterns rather than Calvinist thought patterns.

        And their minds are so thoroughly conditioned to instantaneously flip back and forth between those two contradicting worlds – they’re not even cognizant their minds are doing.

      25. Br.d and TSOO I respect you both not only as brothers in Christ, but your honesty and your true understanding of this doctrine. I’m very sorry for events in your life and it pains me to think of such harm to anyone much less a child/older person actually any helpless creature!!! But to believe this brings God glory is grotesque to imagine… God’s Word is a guide for us and shows us that we all need a Savior not just a sprinkled few.
        Yes this is so parallel to what the “great” theatrical physicist Stephen Hawking thought, because he was a determinist;
        Br.d
        “for example – at a symposium when asked about determinism – stated he believes in it.
        But has decided he must go about his daily life *AS-IF* it were false.
        Determinists understand that mind-set is needed in order to retain a sense of normalcy.”

        Again thank you both for your posts and the intellect and heart behind them.

      26. Reggie – thank you very much!
        You are very appreciated!!
        I appreciate so much of what you write – and its easy to see the Christ-likeness.
        Again – my thanks!

      27. Joe, you are asking a question that many, thoughtful, tender-heard people struggle with. Why did God create a world with freedom, knowing that this freedom could and would be used to perpetuate evil? I will admit to you that I frequently go to God in tears, and even anger, at the evils in this world. I fuss and fume, and struggle with great sorrow. God sees and knows my heart, and he does not rebuke me for bringing my raw, honest emotions to him. I also believe that his heart hurts even more than mine at the evil men do.

        The best, and certainly clumsy, answer I can come up with is that true love cannot exist apart from genuine freedom to choose. I do believe that many times, thanks to a sensitive, obedient child of God being in the midst of a situation, evil can be and sometimes is prevented. But, unfortunately, such people are not in the midst of many of the circumstances that exist on this earth. But I will admit that I do not find this completely satisfactory. Couldn’t God arrange for something, somehow, to cause a distraction or intervention to prevent most, if not all, evil? I do not shy away from admitting to God that I have these questions, and that they trouble me greatly. I do not sense his anger when I come to him, and I believe that he is pleased with our distress over evil doings.

        At the end of such prayers, it looks much like many of David’s psalms. I come crying, asking ‘Why?’ ‘How long?’ and other fervent cries of hopelessness and distress, yet in the midst of talking to God, and being reminded of who He is and all that He has done for us, my faith is renewed and strengthened. Such things are beyond my understanding, but I believe in the goodness of God, as well as his wisdom, mercy and trustworthiness. I believe that someday I will be shown the reasons for the many things I now have no answers to.

        But this exercise in faith is a far, far cry from the determinist’s quandary, which is that God did not merely permit, but that he himself dreamed up, ordained and brought irresistibly to pass the awful events that grieve a godly man’s heart. Were this the answer I came to, I would want nothing more to do with such a monstrous, cruel and narcissistic god, who cares for nothing more than his own power and glory.

        I do not fear making such a statement, for I haven’t the slightest doubt that this is not who God is, nor how he deals with the creation he has authored. In actual fact, it was the challenge by a prominent Calvinist, of ‘But what if it is true?’ that led me to give Calvinism the 12+ year trial that I did. I am overjoyed to tell any who care to listen that God walked me out of that quagmire, and restored my faith that he is the good, loving, kind, merciful to all father that I had trusted my entire life, until this season of questioning briefly disturbed my faith journey.

        In the long run, I feel I am more knowledgeable, confident and able to discuss difficult issues for facing them openly, honestly and with only the best of intentions of allowing God to guide and lead me into greater understanding. My most offered prayer has always been Psalm 25:4-5:

        “Show me Your ways, O Lord;
        Teach me Your paths.
        Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
        For You are the God of my salvation;
        On You I wait all the day.”

        May this ever be the prayer of my heart.

      28. Thank you for this thoughtful response TS00. These are difficult questions, and emotionally laden. But they’re worth pursuing.
        Not only can God sometimes prevent evil, the Bible is very clear that he directly does at times. And it’s also clear that sometimes He doesn’t. Hebrews 11:32-35 speaks of the former case, and v.36-38 of the latter. We need not think of His allowing evil in one case and preventing it in another to be arbitrary. Certainly God moves with more purpose than that! It’s hard to imagine a situation in which God does (or doesn’t) do anything that is meaningless.

        Question for you, and I honestly don’t know the answer, since it’s more of an emotional question than a textual or logical one: Do you think a victim of terrible evil, as we’ve been discussing, ultimately finds greater comfort in “God designed a purpose in this evil for your good so that one day you will say what the abuser meant for evil God meant for good” or “God’s love for your abuser cannot exist apart from his genuine freedom, so your abuse is really the result God’s love for him, which is the same as his love for you”? No doubt there’s a third option I’m not considering, so I’m not trying to force you to pick between two potentially unsavory answers. I’m just really trying to understand the non-Determinist approach to these matters.

      29. Joe
        Not only can God sometimes prevent evil…..

        br.d
        We must remember to be logically consistent with the doctrine of determinism.

        1) Any event which is *REALLY* going to come to pass – is the direct consequence of an immutable decree

        2) Any event immutably decreed cannot be altered or prevented – at pain of falsifying the divine decree.

        3) It Logically follows – the only events that can be prevented – are events which are not immutably decreed to come to pass.

        4) Events which are not immutably decreed to come to pass – were never *REALLY* going to come to pass anyway.

        Therefore in Theological Determinism it is a LOGICAL impossibility to prevent an event that is *REALLY going to come to pass.

        However – it is possible to create a deterministic *SIMULATION* of divine prevention.

        And this is exactly the case in any world that is 100% deterministic.

        For example, it is a LOGICAL impossibility for a computer to create *REAL* random numbers.
        But the computer can create a deterministic *SIMULATION* of random numbers

        Any increase in the need for that SIMULATION to appear REALISTIC requires a proportionate increase in the complexity in the computer’s program.

        So when a Calvinist says that divine prevention is -quote “built into the divine decree” .
        What he is describing – without realizing it – is a computer program.
        A deterministic *SIMULATION* of divine prevention.

      30. Forgive me br.d, but I’m not interested very much in discussing the beliefs of the determinists. What I really want to understand is what non-Determinists believe. How does a non-Determinist explain God’s action/inaction in the face of evil?

      31. Sure enough
        I guess I took advantage of the opportunity to post some relevant information on the subject of divine prevention in a deterministic world.

        Have you not gotten the answers you were looking for from my and TS00s posts?

        It seems to me the answers to that question are going to be exhibited in pretty much all of your social interactions with people who are not determinists. Which would be pretty much the preponderance of everyone you come in contact with.

        Except Calvinist brethren perhaps
        But even with Calvinists – its my observation there is a significant degree of Non-deterministic thinking as well
        Calvinists tend to be Determinist in their theology – but go about their daily lives *AS-IF* determinism is often false.
        And that behavior pattern is consistent with Athiest determinism as well.

        Steven Hawking for example – at a symposium when asked about determinism – stated he believes in it.
        But has decided he must go about his daily life *AS-IF* it were false.
        Determinists understand that mind-set is needed in order to retain a sense of normalcy.

        And John Calvin gave actually enunciated that as instructions to his disciples.

        So it would seem the answers to that question are pretty much exhibited as the norm in our social interactions.

      32. I’m still looking for a positive statement regarding God’s relationship to evil from a non-Deterministic point of view. Let me try to distill what I’m hearing and you can help me fine tune it:

        When a child is raped, God knew it was going to happen but didn’t want it to happen. We can tell the victim that God loves her and wishes it didn’t happen but couldn’t stop the free-will choice of her rapist. If she says “what kind of God can’t stop something like this from happening?” we would say “Actually, God could have, he just didn’t want to.” And if she says “How could a loving God let this happen to me?” we would say, “God cannot love your rapist without giving him free will…” and this is where I get stuck.

      33. Not sure how you get stuck and I’m sure if you’re sincere then you’ll go to God in reverence and inquire of Him sorry I know they are more than qualified to address this issue, but from what I’ve read they have🤔 (without real love) to make a choice then…. you get the picture!
        The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” James writes more extensively on the power of our words than any of the other biblical authors… I sure get his point!! not that I’ve mastered it nor ever will, but hopefully those closest to me see the Scriptures are taking root far more readily than the philosophies of men or my own desires… anyway sorry to throw my 2 cents in I’ll bow out because I didn’t mean to but in… I guess I was determined too 😂 no really that’s funny😁

      34. Ha! I can appreciate that joke 🙂 and thanks for the reply.

        Reggie let me say what you said back to you in my own words just to make sure I understand you correctly:

        We can’t know the relationship between God and evil. It is a mystery. We can bring our “why?” questions to God, however, and he can reveal those answers to us.

        Am I close?

      35. Hi Joe let me say first I’m not a apologist nor have I been to seminar, so let me give you two resources to ponder. The first pastor I sat under when I first came to Christ at the time nee was a youth pastor& worship leader… his complete theological view we differ a bit & in truth & love we’ve dialogued about it. He is a professor of (I believe apologetics) at Denver seminary.

        Check out “The Problem of God and Evil | Mark 10:17-18” from Mission Hills Church on Vimeo.

        The video is available for your viewing pleasure at

        2nd is just someone I respect and it’s only 4 min or so long…

        Watch “How Can a Good God Allow Evil? Does Life Have Meaning? – Dr. Ravi Zacharias” on YouTube
        https://youtu.be/it7mhQ8fEq0

        Anyway your questions are not uncommon
        Blessings

      36. Thank you Reggie. I’ll check those out.

        But still, if you don’t mind, did I summarize your view correctly? My summary was:

        “We can’t know the relationship between God and evil. It is a mystery. We can bring our “why?” questions to God, however, and he can reveal those answers to us.”

        Is this what you were saying, or at least something you’d agree with?

      37. Did you read the article here ‘ “A more meaningful world?”
        Dr. Platinga in that article does make some statements that I think approach your interest.

        You know now that you ask that question – it makes me wonder what positive answer a Calvinist pastor gives to his congregation – when he instructs them in Calvinism’s doctrine of the “Wheat and Chaff” – in which the vast majority of them are assumed to be DESIGNED for the lake of fire. And they have been predestined to be divinely deceived with a false sense of election.

        Would the positive answer you are looking for – be similar to what that pastor would give?

      38. I read the article when you sent it along, and parts of it twice. I was intrigued to find no positive statement from a non-Determinists point of view regarding my questions, only a defense of what they do not believe.

        Once again you’re referencing the Calvinist’s position, which I’m not interested in. I have no interest in what a non-Determinist does not believe, because that much has been made clear already. I’m trying to discover what he does believe. So I’ve tried to express that positive non-Deterministic belief several times and asked for interaction with it.

        I’ll repost this again, and let me know if this is on the right path:

        When a child is raped, God knew it was going to happen but didn’t want it to happen. We can tell the victim that God loves her and wishes it didn’t happen but couldn’t stop the free-will choice of her rapist. If she says “what kind of God can’t stop something like this from happening?” we would say “Actually, God could have, he just didn’t want to.” And if she says “How could a loving God let this happen to me?” we would say, “God cannot love your rapist without giving him free will…” and this is where I get stuck.

        Help me where I’m stuck.

      39. hmmmm….. perhaps you be specific about what is the sticking point?

        I’m trying to understand how one wouldn’t be just as stuck – telling the little girl that god did it because his goodness needed that specific evil in order for his glory to shine forth. (As would be the Edwardian answer).

        Or that he needed the evil of it glorify himself.
        Or that when god specifically causes a man to rape a little girl – that is evil -but it is good because god made it happen. (As would be the R.C. Sproul answer).

        I guess I can’t see how those answers wouldn’t be less likely to get someone stuck?

        Is it possible – that the answer that wouldn’t get you stuck is one that you embrace in Calvinism?

      40. You’re still telling me what the Calvinists believe. We know how they get unstuck. How does a non-Determinist answer this:

        If my child was being raped, and I had the ability to stop it, but was unwilling to impinge on the free-will of the rapist even for the sake of my child, is that okay? How do I tell my child “I love you” when I let it happen? I say that’s monstrous.

        If a child is being raped, God has the ability to stop it, but doesn’t. Is that okay? How do you tell the child “God really loves you” when he let it happen? How is this not monstrous also?

      41. Joe
        You’re still telling me what the Calvinists believe. We know how they get unstuck. How does a non-Determinist answer this:

        br.d
        Do they really get unstuck?
        What answer is it that unsticks them?

      42. Like this, and please help me fill in the missing pieces or correct the non-Determinist answers I’ve misfired on. I really don’t care about the Calvinist ones or if I have those wrong at this point, we can talk about that later:

        If my child was being raped, and I had the ability to stop it, but was unwilling to impinge on the free-will of the rapist even for the sake of my child, is that okay?
        Calvinist answer: no, that’s not okay. A father has a moral responsibility to restrain the desires of the rapist and protect his child.
        non-Determinist answer: no, that’s not okay. A father has a moral responsibility to restrain the desires of the rapist and protect his child.

        How do I tell my child “I love you” when I let it happen?
        Calvinist answer: you don’t love your child if you just let it happen.
        non-Determinist answer: you don’t love your child if you just let it happen.

        If a child is being raped, God has the ability to stop it, but doesn’t. Is that okay?
        Calvinist answer: Rape is a great evil and God will justly punish it. It’s never “okay”
        non-Determinist answer: Rape is a great evil and God will justly punish it. It’s never “okay”

        How do you tell the child “God really loves you” when he let it happen?
        Calvinist answer: God doesn’t owe us an explanation for his purposes, but your pain is not meaningless, it is part of God’s wise plan and we can trust that ultimately His plan is for our good.
        non-Determinist answer: ?

        When I say calvinists aren’t “stuck” I don’t mean anyone else has to like their answers. I only mean they have one for this particular really hard question. What is the non-Determinist answer?

      43. You actually present the non-Calvinist answer as if it applied to Calvinism. It does not. Your god is not merely bringing something ‘meaningful’ from evil, he himself dreamed all evil acts up and assured that they would, irresistibly, occur. You are perhaps kidding yourself, if you think that you can ignore the reality that, under Calvinism, God does not merely bring good out of evil – as scripture and the non-Calvinist asserts – he planned it, determined that it would come to pass, and irrevocably decreed that it must be so. If all things arise from his predetermined will, let’s give credit where credit is due, shall we?

        In my opinion, were God actually a determinist, there would be no evil, period. Had God not granted men genuine freedom, there would be so sin, evil or suffering in all of creation, or anything apart from utter goodness and perfection. You find comfort in believing that your image of god planned and brought into being evil for some ‘meaningful’ purpose. I take comfort in knowing that the evil men have perpetrated never even entered God’s mind. He neither ordained it nor desired it, and has clearly warned that it will be duly punished in time.

        You, of course, are stuck with the absurdity of your god punishing that which he ‘meaningfully’ ordained and brought to pass. Tell me how that works for you. Your god is not only the source of all evil, he is terribly unjust in holding helpless creatures responsible for what he irresistibly decreed them to do. And you find this comforting. I find it appalling, reprehensible and, thankfully, utterly untrue.

      44. TS00,

        I am befuddled. I am not and have defended the Calvinist point of view. I have not, so far as I know, made any of my personal beliefs known, though beliefs have been ascribed to me multiple times.

        I have asked what the non-Determinist believes, and repeatedly the reply has been something along the lines of “the Determinist God is terrible for reasons X,Y, and Z,” and I have not and will not dispute those reasons. I am looking for information – to be taught.

        Once again, what does the non-Determinist tell a child rape victim who asks what God was doing while she was being raped? This is a real question, asked by real rape victims, and non-Determinists owe her an answer.

      45. Joe
        It appears there is a burden here – to provide you with an answer that meets a criteria which you’ve set
        That criteria – which you’ve described as obtaining a possible answer that gets you “unstuck”.

        And you’ve indicated you don’t want to hear the determinist answer – but the IN-determinist answer.
        But you didn’t indicate
        1) whether or not the determinist meets your criteria
        2) If the determinist does meet your criteria – what specific answer gets you “unstuck”

        So for me (1 -2) above represent unknowns which should be clarified up front.

        Having those unknowns at play – gives me the sense chasing an invisible rabbit.
        Thanks

      46. Good question br.d.

        Here are my criteria for getting “unstuck.” The answer to the dilemma does not need to be a good answer, a tasteful answer, or a logically coherent answer. It just needs to be a straightforward, honest answer. By “unstuck” I simply mean move beyond “there is no answer,” or “whatever the answer is, it’s not that.”

        Here is my question:
        How do you tell a raped child “God really loves you” when he let it happen?

        br.d: you didn’t indicate
        1) whether or not the determinist meets your criteria
        2) If the determinist does meet your criteria – what specific answer gets you “unstuck”

        me: That’s fair. I will do so.
        1) Yes. The determinist has an answer to the dilemma.

        2) The determinist answer is: “God ordained it.” Call it bad, tasteless, wrong, detestable, unthinkable, double-talk, or anything else, I offer no protest. I’m only suggesting it is a straightforward answer. They have heard the question, offered an answer, and are left trying to grapple with the ugly logical results. Maybe they qualify, distinguish, obfuscate, and on and on. Whatever, that’s their problem. At the end of the day, they do not abandon their answer, “God ordained it.” This is how they get “unstuck.”

        I believe the non-Determinist has an answer, but one has not been offered, so I don’t know what it is.

        I am not interested in the determinist answer. They have offered one. We might hate it, but at least we know what it is.

        The non-Determinist answer is: ?

      47. Joe
        1) Yes. The determinist has an answer to the dilemma.

        br.d
        But you didn’t indicate whether or not that answer gets you “unstuck”?

      48. Joe
        Correct, I did not. I said the answer gets the determinists “unstuck.”

        br.d
        Right – but that is not the criteria you’ve set.
        The criteria you’ve setting is that of getting you “unstuck”

        Does that answer “god ordained it” (which you indicated is the determinist’s answer) meet your criteria and get you “unstuck”?

      49. br.d: Right – but that is not the criteria you’ve set.
        The criteria you’ve setting is that of getting you “unstuck”

        me: If I was clumsy with setting forth the criteria, I apologize. I am not speaking of being personally “stuck” or “unstuck,” I’m talking about being stuck in a difficult question without an answer. So my difficult question is:

        How do you tell a raped child “God really loves you” when he let it happen?

        My criteria for getting “unstuck”: It just needs to be a straightforward, honest answer.

        Determinists get “unstuck,” they answer the difficult question, “God ordained it.”

        non-Determinists answer this difficult question: ?

        br.d:Does that answer “god ordained it” (which you indicated is the determinist’s answer) meet your criteria and get you “unstuck”?

        me: I want to know what others think, not propose or defend what I think. And I don’t want to know what non-Determinists think about Determinists. I don’t really care about that. I don’t want to know what Determinists think about non-Determinists. I don’t care about that either. I want to know:

        How does a non-Determinist tell a raped child “God really loves you” when he let it happen?

        Or, let me say it this way: if I called in to the fictional “ask a non-Determinist anything” radio show, what would the answer to these question be:

        My four year old girl was just brutally raped. How can I believe God loves her when he let that happen? Couldn’t he have stopped it? And if he loves her, why didn’t he?

        The answer(s) is/are: ?

      50. br.d: Right – but that is not the criteria you’ve set.
        The criteria you’ve setting is that of getting you “unstuck”

        Joe
        If I was clumsy with setting forth the criteria, I apologize.
        1) I am not speaking of being personally “stuck” or “unstuck,”
        2) I’m talking about being stuck in a difficult question without an answer.

        br.d
        Forgive me – but I need to unpackage that:
        Statements (1) and (2) appear to be contradicting each other.

        In statement (1) you are not personally “stuck”
        In statement (2) you are personally “stuck” without an answer.

        Can you clarify which one is the case?

      51. I can see how you could conclude that, and again my apologies.

        Because #1 is true, #2 should probably read,

        I’m talking about *the condition of a person in general, not me specifically* being stuck in a difficult question without an answer.

        That clarified,

        if I called in to the fictional “ask a non-Determinist anything” radio show, what would the answer to these questions be:

        My four year old girl was just brutally raped. How can I believe God loves her when he let that happen? Couldn’t he have stopped it? And if he loves her, why didn’t he?

        The answer(s) is/are: ?

      52. Joe
        I’m talking about *the condition of a person in general, not me specifically* being stuck in a difficult question without an answer.

        br.d
        Ok – so lets change the criteria you’ve set as the following:
        Person_X is stuck without an answer.

        The answer “god ordained it” is the answer which you’ve stated as the determinist’s answer.

        Does that answer meet the criteria of getting Person_X unstuck?

      53. The questioner is not the one stuck, the answerer is stuck until he offers an answer. This is why I say I am not the one stuck. I am asking questions, not answering them. I am seeking answers.

        So when I ask the Determinist my question that has no easy answer, he is stuck with the question until he answers it. He answers, “God ordained it, that’s why when little girls are raped he does nothing.” He is unstuck, he has answered the question. I’m not judging the answer, I’m just asking what it is.

        When I ask the non-Determinist my question, he is stuck with the question until he answers it. He answers, “God didn’t want it to happen, so when little girls are raped and he does nothing, (stuck)”

        A non-Determinist fills in the (stuck) part with his answer, and he is unstuck.

        Does that make sense?

      54. Joe
        The questioner is not the one stuck, the answer-er is stuck until he offers an answer.

        br.
        Ok – my sense about chasing something invisible (unknown) was probably correct.

        So lets again restate the criteria you’ve set:

        An answer-er is stuck without providing an answer

        The determinist’s answer you’ve stated as “god ordains it”

        Does this answer meet your criteria of getting the answer-er “unstuck”?

      55. My criteria has been and is: An answer. The answer (whatever it is) is the unsticking.

        That clarified,

        if I called in to the fictional “ask a non-Determinist anything” radio show, what would the answer to these questions be:

        My four year old girl was just brutally raped. How can I believe God loves her when he let that happen? Couldn’t he have stopped it? And if he loves her, why didn’t he?

        Your perception is correct, I truly am chasing (“seeking” would be my word) something invisible and unknown: the non-Determinist answer to this question. It remains invisible and unknown in this conversation. Please make it visible and known.

        The answer(s) is/are: ?

      56. Joe
        My criteria has been and is: An answer. The answer (whatever it is) is the unsticking.

        br.d
        Oh – well in that case:
        The answer “god ordains it” – (out of possible answers) – is an answer that the non-determinist can honestly give as well.

        IN-determinism in no way entails the rejection that all things which come to pass are “ordained” .
        So the IN-determinist can easily provide that answer as well.

        But I would hope the IN-determinist would go beyond that – because that answer really doesn’t tell the *WHOLE* truth.

        For the determinist – It obfuscates the fact that every aspect of the little girls rape was totally conceived in the mind of the THEOS – who used both the man and the girl as instruments
        He uses the both of them as instruments to carry out an evil which he conceived.

        1) He uses supernatural powers to make humans do his bidding.
        2) He did not permit any aspect of the rape to be UP TO either the girl or the man
        3) He did not permit either of them any alternative possibilities.
        4) He did not permit either of them the ability to be/do otherwise

        So the for the IN-determinist – that event was “ordained”
        But with the rejection of (1-4) above

        So since an answer is what meets your criteria – I would say your criteria is met.

      57. so let me restate where we are:

        Why didn’t God stop the rape of a little girl?

        The answer for the determinist is:
        God ordained it. That is, it was his idea in the first place, and he caused the man to rape and the child to be raped. Their wills play no part.

        The answer for the in-determinist is:
        God ordained it. That is, God never in any way wanted it to happen, but God can both love the little girl and not intervene in her rape.

        These both meet the criteria; it’s an answer.

      58. Joe
        The answer for the in-determinist is:
        God ordained it. That is, God never in any way wanted it to happen, but God can both love the little girl and not intervene in her rape.

        br.d
        Yes – for me that would be close
        I would add that an aspect of divine love is liberty.
        And for me divine love engenders both truth and liberty

        So part of divine love is to grant to his creatures the liberty to choose life or death.
        If a man makes the choice for a girl – that she will love him – is it really the girl who is choosing to love him – or is he using her to love himself?

        So for me the IN-determinst answer emphasizes the expression of divine love over the expression of divine power.

        The determinist puts his emphasis on divine sovereignty
        The IN-determinist puts his emphasis on divine love

      59. Cool, thank you. I shall accept the answer and deem the non/in-determinist unstuck, ha!

        Fascinating conversation, I’ve learned much. Appreciate all the interaction.

      60. Wonderful!
        Thank you Joe – its been nice interacting with you.
        I think on a number of levels – we are kindred spirits! :-]

      61. When I say I’m asking for a “positive” answer, what I mean is “When bad things happen, non-Determinists believe that God is…” It’s a statement of belief.
        A negative answer is “When bad things happen, non-Determinists believe that God is not…” This is a statement of denial, a statement of what is not believed.

        Sorry if I didn’t make that clear.

      62. So, you affirm that even to ‘allow’ evil to happen, apart from approval or desire is monstrous. How then do you categorize the very originating and causing of evil that is necessary under Calvinistic determinism? Is that not more ‘monstrous’ by tenfold?

        If we acknowledge that evil is evil, and no right minded person desires or approves of its perpetuation, thus perceives it as ‘monstrous’, then, pray tell, how does one describe a God who not merely permits the evil intentions of others apart from his will, but who deliberately, willingly, irresistibly chooses to include it in his creation?

        The question, it seems to me, is do we acknowledge that God has determined that ‘permitting’ evil is a necessary evil, for a time, or must we grant that God himself introduces, nay, necessitates such evil? It is my assertion, and I have been perfectly honest about it, that God even allowing evil is a bitter pill to swallow. I chafe at this constantly. If, however, God, himself, is the creator, determiner and cause of such evil, I say to you, I would denounce and reject without hesitation such a god. I would not choose to spend eternity with such a being, anymore than I would willingly live with a pedophile or murderer.

        We are confronted with the undeniable existence of evil. I have made it clear that I find all evil extremely distasteful, and beyond my personal, limited comprehension. But what is beyond the pale, beyond any ability to imagine, is that God himself brings evil into existence from his own determinations and decrees, for some ‘greater good’. I say to you that this ‘greater good’ fallacy is one of the most wicked tools of Satan to deceive and manipulate well meaning men.

        If you truly claim to not see any distinction between originating and permitting evil, I doubt your wisdom. If you can truly embrace a god who desires and causes evil by his own self-caused determinations, I question your very heart.

      63. TS00,

        There’s a lot here, and I’ll do the best I can, but again, I’m really not interested in defending Determinism, but in discovering how non-Determinism understands the questions I’ve posed.

        TS00: “you affirm that even to ‘allow’ evil to happen, apart from approval or desire is monstrous.”
        me: It could be monstrous to allow evil to happen, yes. Not in all circumstances (God’s allowing Joseph’s mistreatment was later discovered to be “meant for good,” and the devil’s slaughtering of Job’s children happened by God’s express permission), but sometimes of course it is (it would be a great evil for God to allow one of his children to unjustly suffer hell, so we can be sure he will not let it happen).

        TS00: How then do you categorize the very originating and causing of evil that is necessary under Calvinistic determinism? Is that not more ‘monstrous’ by tenfold?
        me: I’m really not interested in defending Determinism, but in discovering how non-Determinism understands the questions I’ve posed.

        TS00: If we acknowledge that evil is evil, and no right minded person desires or approves of its perpetuation
        me: I do not accept this premise when applied to God (1 Kings 22:19-23). I’m really not interested in defending Determinism, but in discovering how non-Determinism understands the questions I’ve posed.

        TS00: pray tell, how does one describe a God who not merely permits the evil intentions of others apart from his will, but who deliberately, willingly, irresistibly chooses to include it in his creation?
        me: I’m really not interested in defending Determinism, but in discovering how non-Determinism understands the questions I’ve posed.

        TS00: do we acknowledge that God has determined that ‘permitting’ evil is a necessary evil, for a time, or must we grant that God himself introduces, nay, necessitates such evil?
        me: nothing is “necessary” to God, including creating the universe.

        TS00: It is my assertion, and I have been perfectly honest about it, that God even allowing evil is a bitter pill to swallow. I chafe at this constantly.
        me: I appreciate this. It is a bitter pill. I miss my daughter dreadfully. Her little voice reciting Ps. 23 still brings tears to my eyes and I’d give anything to hear her say it again.

        TS00: If, however, God, himself, is the creator, determiner and cause of such evil, I say to you, I would denounce and reject without hesitation such a god. I would not choose to spend eternity with such a being, anymore than I would willingly live with a pedophile or murderer.
        me: I’m really not interested in defending Determinism, but in discovering how non-Determinism understands the questions I’ve posed.

        TS00: If you truly claim to not see any distinction between originating and permitting evil, I doubt your wisdom.
        me: I’ve not claimed anything in this conversation, and have certainly not denied this distinction. Of course there is one. My question is, and has been, not that of God originating rape, but permitting it.

        TS00: If you can truly embrace a god who desires and causes evil by his own self-caused determinations, I question your very heart.
        me: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 2:13). I believe this verse with all my heart.

        Finally, I’m really not interested in defending Determinism, but in discovering how non-Determinism understands the questions I’ve posed.

      64. Joe writes (repeatedly):
        “I’m not interested in defending determinism.”

        I do not blame you. It is indefensible.

        God allowing men to do that which he does not desire, that which never even entered into his mind . . . well, I’ll leave you to argue that with God. But don’t think you can get away with blaming him, or asserting ‘Who resists his will?’ which was the last resort of the Jews in Paul’s dissertation of Romans. All evildoers resist God’s will, and must either repent or pay the price.

      65. TS00,

        You write: God allowing men to do that which he does not desire, that which never even entered into his mind . . . well, I’ll leave you to argue that with God.

        me: Perhaps you have answered my question, which is more or less about God allowing that which he does not desire, and if so, thank you.

        Is the non-Determinist answer for the rape victim, “I’ll leave you to argue that with God”?

      66. I do feel you are just playing ‘Gotcha’. I think I have answered you very clearly that the question is not, ‘Why did you create the world you created?’ (Which is one in which men have genuine freedom and use that freedom to do evil). Rather, the question for the one who seeks God is, ‘What would you have me to do?’

        Again, the evil in this world is rampant and non-specific. It does not stop with the rape victim, but encompasses those born with birth defects, those living in war-torn countries, and those who live in other dire circumstances. We, and that is all, who suffer the futility of evil in this world have the choice to either question and/or blame God, or to seek his will for us and our lives.

        I doubt that I am the only one who comes to God with many ‘Why’s’. And I doubt that I am alone in walking away from those sessions with greater hope, peace and courage to face another day. You still refuse to acknowledge the very real difference between asking ‘Why did you DO this to me?’ versus asking ‘Why do you allow such evil to happen?’

        Yes, I believe that there is a purpose behind God’s choosing to grant men freedom to choose, and even allowing that freedom to be expressed in choosing to do great evil. I believe that many victims of evil can and have come to an acceptance of this difficult truth.

        Again, this is a far cry from being forced to accept that God himself dreamed up and saw to it that this evil was carried out. Why do you ignore this? What more can a person say? I believe you are simply trying to suggest, and I say falsely, that the non-Calvinist faces the exact same dilemma as the Calvinist regarding evil.

        I would say that while we face the same dilemma of the existence of evil, we have far different explanations as to the reason for the existence of evil. One answer allows for the belief in a good, loving and trustworthy God, while the other does not. One answer leaves hope for a day in which evil will be brought to an end and the evildoer brought to justice, while the other leaves the master evildoer in charge of the universe.

      67. TS00,

        Thank you for continuing the conversation. It is most helpful, and I hope not too frustrating for you.

        TS00: You still refuse to acknowledge the very real difference between asking ‘Why did you DO this to me?’ versus asking ‘Why do you allow such evil to happen?’

        me: Of course there’s a very real difference. I heartily acknowledge it. I am not now nor have I been asking the Determinist question “why did you do?” I am asking the non-Determinist question, “why did you allow?”

        What is the non-Determinist answer to “Why God, did you allow a four-year-old girl to be brutally raped and did not stop it?”

      68. I will assume you don’t want me to recapitulate all that I have said. In short, it is the same answer to really the perpetual, unfathomable questions :

        “Why did ______ happen?”

        Or, “Why did you make the world the way you did?”

        Or, “Why weren’t you there when I needed you?”

        In a nutshell, we must choose either to trust in the goodness and wisdom of God, or to not trust him. His Word tells us that he neither desires or inspires evil, and will someday bring an end to all wickedness, call all evildoers to account and – in a manner I cannot even imagine – lead to a world in which men will freely, voluntarily, ceaselessly choose God’s good and perfect ways. We either believe in this promise, and that the glories in store for us will far exceed our greatest sufferings, or we do not. It is our choice.

        This encapsulates not merely the individual acts of evil that we ourselves witness or experience, but the entire spread of history, including the wars, murders, torture, genocide and oppression that have repeatedly occurred, whether we, personally, were affected or even alive. I would encourage anyone looking for reassurance to read through the psalms, as David often wrestled with the ‘Why’ questions. ‘Why was his love and faithfulness to Saul returned by hatred and a desire to kill?’, and many other heart cries are recorded for us.

        Lest you think that I cannot grapple with your very question, I will share that my nephew was repeatedly sexually abused by his own grandfather, a retired minister, before it was discovered. This is a horrifying and difficult question that my sister and I have cried and prayed through many a time, and still do. It rocked her safe, comfortable, church-centered world in a way that only those who have been there can understand. And yet she, and I, have come through, or are coming through, with greater faith in God, if less naive trust in individual men.

        There are no simplistic answers that, standing alone, would satisfy such devastating crimes. I still wish, and you can bet my sister does, that we could have known, could have done just one thing differently that would have protected her little boy from this evil.

        It is only in clinging to the promises of comfort, healing and restoration in God’s Word that we can hope to deal with the greater and the lesser evils we all confront in this world. I cannot imagine where my sister would be today if her answer had led her to suppose that this horrific crime against her son and treachery by her father-in-law was inspired and ordained by God himself. There are some in her family, supposing just that, who have rejected God in utter disgust, mocking her for her continuing faith. This situation was only one of many factors that delivered me from the Calvinist world in which I had found a home.

        When a dear friend was battling the cancer that took her life, she looked to me as one who refused to ignore reality, when all around her encouraged her to ‘never give up hope’, i.e, never talk about death. Not that I encouraged despair, but, having confronted a serious life-challenging event myself, was not timid about discussing the reality of death. I have lost a beloved sister and other good friends to this destructive foe. Surely we who put our trust in God must seek to show those who are lost why we can confront death with courage and grace, looking to our real hope, our real treasure and the many promises of God that far transcend this temporary mortal life.

        I don’t want to play the ‘my experiences are worse than yours’ game. As I said before, I interact with people whose situations seem beyond human endurance. These people rely on the comfort, assurance and power of God to endure, finding comfort in small victories and hope in the tiniest rays of light.

        Frankly, I do not believe we are fully capable of understanding God’s reasons or his ways. I do hope and suspect that we will have such answers unfolded to us when we are perfected and able to view the whole picture from God’s perspective.

      69. Thank you. God truly is gracious, even in what I sometimes simply call “the stuff.” Suffering does stink. Glory will be grand.

        Can’t wait.

        joe

      70. JOE writes: How do you tell the child “God really loves you” when he let it happen?
        Calvinist answer: God doesn’t owe us an explanation for his purposes, but your pain is not meaningless, it is part of God’s wise plan and we can trust that ultimately His plan is for our good

        JOE:How do you tell the child “God really loves you” when he LET it happen?

        GA: Your question uses the word LET… which implies God is not actively ordaining, or irresistibly bringing every moral evil to pass for His own glory. You smuggle in a non-deterministic understanding of how the world works to ask your question but your worldview cannot honestly support that question. Consistent Calvinist Theology does not allow for that except of course in debates, where the person knows his systematic must be hidden behind words that do not communicate the true nature of his belief and worldview. Where the intent is to soften or even hide the harsh realities of ones worldview

        This is much like the atheist asking: How could there be a good God since there is so much moral evil in the world? The atheist smuggles in a Theistic worldview reality -the existence of moral evil – to even ask his question and try to prove the non-existence of God. When in reality his own worldview denies that real “moral evil” exists. If God did not exist then moral evil would not exist. He asks a question his own worldview does not even let him ask…so he must smuggle in a theistic assumption – the existence of true moral evil to try and prove the non-existence of God… it is absurd.
        Your question is much the same, you smuggle in non-deterministic assumptions to play this game. What is more you do not answer the real question that your worldview generates.

        The question stated honestly from a Calvinist Worldview is: How do you tell a child “God really loves you” when God, who irresistibly brings about every single action, designed this rape and abuse specifically for you for His own glory? When He could have just as easily brought about a completely different act, a good and kind act, that would have glorified Him just as much, but He chose to abuse you instead? That is the real question that must be answered from a Calvinistic Worldview.

        The non-determinist does not have to answer that question because the ugly parts of that question do not even exist in our worldview. The Calvinist tries to play gotch ya but he doesn’t ever answer the question his worldview generates and ONLY his worldview generates. He sidesteps questions in his worldview and only answers an easier question that doesn’t even exist in his worldview.

        The determinist feels good about his answer but it does not come even close to dealing with the weighty issues his worldview creates.
        He only answers an easier question NOT framed by his own worldview. The existence of “let it happen” is non-existent in a deterministic worldview.
        Joe you conveniently toggle between Determinism and Non-determinism even in your statements and questions. You may not be doing this on purpose but this is a common tactic by Calvinist to evade the weight of their worldview. And to avoid actually answering the real questions that uniquely arise from their deterministic worldview alone. For example: Why did God cause the rape of child? This question is only valid to ask of a determinist, a non-determinist doesn’t have that as an issue within their worldview.

        The two worldviews are light years apart. So the question that must be asked of each worldview is often very different because the foundation of each worldview is totally different. Determinism vs Non-Determinism.
        Just think about it:
        *Determinism = God is the sole cause of evil for His glory, even though He may irresistibly author it through secondary means.
        *Non-Determinism = God is light in Him is no darkness at all. God Sovereignly gave man power to choose. Evil arises from man using this freedom and not from God’s irresistible decree.

        AWTozer “The eternal decree of God decided not which choice 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.”

      71. Hi GraceAdict,

        If I misrepresented the Calvinist position by the word “let,” I apologize. It’s not been my intention to misrepresent any position, but let the proponents speak for themselves, and I hope you can see that. I’m not interested in defending determinism. I’ll try again, using your corrections.

        How do you tell a raped child “God really loves you” when he let it happen?

        Calvinist Answer: God didn’t “let” it happen. God irresistibly brings about every single action, [and] designed this rape and abuse specifically for you for His own glory. He could have just as easily brought about a completely different act, a good and kind act, that would have glorified Him just as much, but He chose to abuse you instead.

        You suggest “The non-determinist does not have to answer that question because the ugly parts of that question do not even exist in our worldview,” so is it fair to say:
        non-Determinist Answer: We do not have to answer that question because the ugly parts of that question do not even exist in our worldview.

        Is that correct?

      72. Hi Joe
        What I was attempting to point out is that when asking a determinist a question the question must not ignore the foundational assumptions and problems of it’s worldview other wise it is too easy to skate around the harshness of the deterministic worldview. Most Calvinist just skate around by redefining terms, answering different questions, false dichotomies and appealing to mystery.

        A non-determinists answer to your question- How do you tell a raped child “God really loves you” when he let it happen? – can start with:

        1. Laying the foundation of what a Non-deterministic world means. The Worldview must first be established. Tozer begins to do that by saying: “The eternal decree of God decided not which choice 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.” If that is still unclear watch this short video by Dr. Flowers
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFNCXEsPcF4

        2. Then make clear that God authentically hates ALL evil, He is NOT the author of evil. God is light in Him is no darkness at all. Evil comes from a source other than God. James1:13-16 puts it this way: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.” — The non-determinist would make it very clear that God is not the author of evil and this rape did not come from God. He is NOT the cause of evil. Evil comes from disobeying God and going against God’s moral nature. Evil is that which opposes God’s Moral nature and it rejects God’s good decrees. God authentically hates evil and does not bring it about on the one hand to hate it on the other hand. Here is a taste of what God hates:
        Pro 6:16  These six Jehovah hates; yea, seven are hateful to his soul: 
        Pro 6:17  a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 
        Pro 6:18  a heart that plots wicked plans, feet hurrying to run to evil, 
        Pro 6:19  a false witness who speaks lies, and he who causes fighting among brothers. 
        I would say to the victum what was done to you is 100% hated by God…it is evil and you are right to see it as evil.

        3rd I would make it clear how BIG and Powerful and Loving God is. He is capable beyond our wildest imaginations of being able to bring AUTHENTIC good out of authentic ashes. He can take what MAN did and meant for EVIL and turn the outcome of that event into something GOOD, the outcome can be Good and Wonderful because God is able to do that. That does not mean the evil events were at all good or designed by God BUT God’s power and wisdom is such that he can bring good through any event. His wisdom is so high, his power is matchless and his love is so extravagant and He delights to: “Work all things together for good to those who love him.” Rom. 8 — I have seen many such cases. One for example where a person was caught up in drugs and prostitution (none of which was God’s will for them) later they got saved and God uses those bad experiences in a good way to help others, this person is helping others in a way others cannot. That is the ability of God to take ashes and build something beautiful from the ashes. Our God is Powerful, Loving, Merciful and Wise…He delights to REDEEM that which was destroyed by the destroyer. That is God’s Mission of Redemption.

        NOTE: The Calvinist option is to impugn God’s moral nature, attributing to God the evil and think that somehow brings a lasting answer. Maybe in the short term to see God as the author of a terrible rape can bring some short term comfort but in the long run it casts an ever darker shadow on face of the Holy, Loving and Good God of the Bible. His moral nature is at best dubious it is not Holy because ALL the evil that exists comes from Him.

        The question that will remain for the Calvinist is: What is the next rape that God is planning for me so that God can get more glory? What is the next abuse that God has planned for my child? I have always said the biggest problem with Determinism is that it Blasphemes God’s moral character. His Love, His Holiness and His Mercy cannot be counted on if Determinism is true. In Determinism God is just as much EVIL as He is GOOD. Just look at All the evil HE irresistibly brings about under Determinism

        I see in Scripture something very different:
        I see a truly authentically Holy, Loving, Merciful God who authentically hates evil BUT delights to Redeem creation back to Himself.

      73. Thanks GraceAdict, that’s a really thoughtful reply, and I appreciate the careful gracious way you worked through it. I also appreciate Tozer, and neglected to mention that when you referred to him before. And the biblical references are great.

        Let me try to plug in what you’ve said to my questions, tell me if I’m representing you right:

        if I called in to the fictional “ask a non-Determinist anything” radio show, what would the answer to these question be:

        My four year old girl was just brutally raped. How can I believe God loves her when he let that happen?
        Evil is hateful to God. He despises it. Yet he lets his creatures (like your daughters rapist), do evil, and when they do, they hurt others terribly. The Bible clearly tells us God loves us, and while he lets some terrible things happen to us, we should not forget all the good things he does, either.

        Couldn’t he have stopped it?
        Yes, God is able to stop anything. He is more powerful than any evil person. But God does not do everything he could do.

        And if he loves her, why didn’t he?
        We cannot know for sure. But we can know that he is powerful enough to bring good out of tragedies even as horrific as child rape.

        Is that a fair representation?

      74. I should mention that the norm in my social interactions is that most people live life as if God exercised no control over the course of life, but when a significant tragedy strikes,

        1) they are angry with God for letting it happen – Like the mother of a two-year old I recently did a funeral for.

        2) try to say “it’s better for the victim this way” – This happens often surrounding death – ‘they’re in a better place,’ so God is *almost* thanked for letting it happen. This doesn’t really apply to surviving victims of great evil.

        3) try to comfort themselves by saying “God must have a reason” These last two are how the family of the aforementioned mother comforted her, and that’s pretty typical. But this feels a little deterministic, because God having a reason is essentially saying “God let the evil happen because he designed greater good to come out of it.” It does offer significant comfort, and I detect a little of that in the tragic yet beautiful stories both you and TS00 shared.

        So I’m looking for that positive, biblical statement of what a non-Deterministic God is actually thinking/feeling/doing when evil happens.

      75. Hmmm…. I think you perhaps haven’t read the article “A more meaningful world” here – where Dr. Plantinga does address some of those questions.

        But I wonder if you take a position of automatically assuming divine benevolence in the divine will?
        Such that evil events have a reason that you would ascribe as a “positive” reason.

        If so – I can’t see how that doesn’t constitute and act of mental denial.

        Especially considering how frank and open John Calvin is about declaring the vast majority of creatures are created specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire for his good pleasure.

        Add to that – the fact that in Calvinism – good and evil are undifferentiated – such that divine evil is good.
        And I think for the Calvinist to be looking for something positive is to be in denial and perhaps would incorporate some form of thought-blocking.

      76. I’ve read it. Three times now. I can point out some typographical and grammatical errors if you’d like. Still, I don’t see a framework to help me understand what I’ve asked. Maybe you can point me to it.

        So again, and I’m not trying to be obnoxious, I really want to know:

        When a child is raped, God knew it was going to happen but didn’t want it to happen. We can tell the victim that God loves her and wishes it didn’t happen but couldn’t stop the free-will choice of her rapist. If she says “what kind of God can’t stop something like this from happening?” we would say “Actually, God could have, he just didn’t want to.” And if she says “How could a loving God let this happen to me?” we would say, “God cannot love your rapist without giving him free will…” and this is where I get stuck.

      77. Joe,
        I am trying to respond to you as if your questions are sincere. It becomes difficult when you make statements such as you made to br.d:

        “Forgive me br.d, but I’m not interested very much in discussing the beliefs of the determinists. What I really want to understand is what non-Determinists believe. How does a non-Determinist explain God’s action/inaction in the face of evil?”

        However politely worded, this appears to say, IMO, I am not genuinely interested in seeking greater understanding, but in cornering you into one of my finely laid Calvinist traps. And believe me, we have seen many. 😉

        In reality, genuine seekers of truth do not wall themselves off from considering and comparing alternative possibilities. It is neither healthy nor productive to compartmentalize and deceive oneself into believing that one can ignore the challenges and contradictions of one’s own beliefs by focusing on the perceived challenges and contradictions of another’s.

        I believe scripture teaches, among many valuable lessons, the value of stories, or word pictures. One can make a truth statement, but it is not always easy for the listener to be sure they are properly interpreting it. It is in the narratives, stories and word pictures that a teacher puts meat on the skeletal truth statements that otherwise can be easily misunderstood, or even, sadly, deliberately distorted.

        One seeking after truth is something like a dealer in rare art or antiquities. It is not enough to simply become an expert on the characteristics of the valuable masterpieces. It is also essential to understand the characteristics of well-crafted imitations, for those are the real danger to those seeking to buy or sell valuable antiquities. Seen alone, the imitation may, initially, fool even the expert. It is only after very careful examination, and comparison with a known genuine masterpiece, that the subtle shortcomings of the imitation can be detected.

        Your comment seeks to compartmentalize the answers to the same difficult question of evil afforded by the two different gospels, one being non-Calvinist and the other being Calvinist; to, in effect, keep the masterpiece and the alleged masterpiece in separate rooms where they cannot be carefully compared.

        We will of course disagree, but IMO, the true gospel of Christ, as set forth in the New Testament is the non-Calvinistic good news for all men. The Calvinist gospel is, again IMO, the most cleverly, carefully crafted imitation ever created. Which is why I, and others like me, who have already invested years and countless hours studying and living under Calvinism now seek to set forth for others the often nearly indistinguishable (deliberately made so by its crafters) characteristics between the first glance appearance of Calvinism vs. non-Calvinism.

        The Calvinist pastor I sat under for over a decade was very, very subtle. Except for a very few incident which I recall distinctly, a non-Calvinist could have agreed with nearly everything he spoke from the pulpit. Many other former Calvinists, including some here, can affirm the same experience. This is because the Calvinist employs the same scripture, and the same vocabulary as non-Calvinists – but, without acknowledging it, uses an entirely different dictionary.

        All that background to get back to your question directed to me:

        “Question for you, and I honestly don’t know the answer, since it’s more of an emotional question than a textual or logical one: Do you think a victim of terrible evil, as we’ve been discussing, ultimately finds greater comfort in “God designed a purpose in this evil for your good so that one day you will say what the abuser meant for evil God meant for good” or “God’s love for your abuser cannot exist apart from his genuine freedom, so your abuse is really the result God’s love for him, which is the same as his love for you”? No doubt there’s a third option I’m not considering, so I’m not trying to force you to pick between two potentially unsavory answers. I’m just really trying to understand the non-Determinist approach to these matters.”

        I would affirm that I am choosing door number 3. The error I detect in your false dichotomy, which is actually begging the question, is in seeking the ‘meaningfulness’ or ‘purpose’ in evil. It is only the determinist, who views evil as being created, decreed and brought to pass by his god that must seek the ‘meaningfulness’ or ‘purpose’ of evil events, such as rape, murder or child abuse. The non-determinist must simply grasp and accept the reason for the existence of evil.

        The determinist is forced to seek a reasonable justification in the evil his deity has, without any legitimate doubt, perpetuated. Calvinistic or theological determinism demands that God determines whatsoever comes to pass. Alas, however they might try by mere assertion, the defenders of this system cannot wave away the undeniable fact that ‘whatsoever’ must include the evil as well as the good. This creates and unenviable task for the Calvinist, which is to justify God’s creation of evil.

        I am involved with many survivors of domestic and spiritual abuse, and their stories are tragic, horrific and heartbreaking. It is traumatizing even to hear of, let alone to have been the victim of such abuse. I will tell you this, I rarely hear any victim assert the good ‘purpose’ or ‘meaningful’ intention of God in ordaining such evil to happen to them. It is only those who have embraced Calvinistic determinism who feel compelled to give lip service to accepting the God-sent ‘meaningfulness’ of their traumatic experiences. Most who think this way end up rejecting God altogether.

        Those who reject Calvinistic determinism instead seek comfort in the promise of God as found in Romans 8: 18-32, and elsewhere:

        “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of [f]corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

        Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession [g]for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

        And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

        What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

        I would contend that this passage, and verse 28 in particular, is severely misunderstood by many Calvinists, who try to read into it that God caused evil in order to bring good. Whereas the non-Calvinist sees in it that the futility to which creation has been subjected – that being, IMO, sin, suffering and death – has only been allowed because God intends, in the long run, to bring good out of those awful things, wrought upon all of creation by the freely chosen rebellion of men against, and allowed by, God. A futility which God subjected the creation to – allowed them to experience – not for harm, but out of a good, loving, hopeful plan to let men experience the consequences of their rebellion and, to those whose hearts are pure, be delivered from such for ever and ever.

        We must accept that in God’s good and perfect estimation – which is without fault – allowing men to have the freedom to choose is worth even the great cost that their bad choices have inflicted upon man, beast and earth. Our great hope, even surety to those who believe, is that God can and will bring good OUT OF even the worst of evil, for those who love him and desire, first and foremost, his will to be done. For we also know that his will, first and foremost, is to redeem sinners and to bring all who are willing into the glorious righteous likeness of himself, as manifested in Jesus.

        When this becomes our hope and goal, then we are enabled to endure the short-term sufferings of this life in exchange for the marvelous glories promised to us in eternity. No, I would never tell the traumatized victim of gross evil that God ordained and deliberately brought to pass such evil SO THAT he could bring good out of it. Rather, God endures, for a short time, the wickedness of men – all of which is contrary to his desire and will – in order to bring those who freely embrace truth and righteousness, i.e., the full will of God, into a new, eternal, glorified state in a new heavens and earth in which evil will be freely, voluntarily rejected as the horror that it genuinely is.

        This is a far cry from a meticulously controlling despot bringing to pass evil in order to ‘teach people a lesson’ or even ‘get himself glory’. No, God’s desire and will is only and always good, only and always out of love, and always seeking the redemption of each and every man, woman and child. A redemption from a heart of love which forbids compulsion and control, as true love can never be coerced or made irresistible. A choice, by God, to allow freely chosen evil which is contrary to all that he desires, to be done for a limited time.

        This limited time in which the will of God is not done on earth as it is in heaven (i.e., evil exists) will be brought to an end, and those who, in imitation of Christ, were willing to patiently endure suffering, will, like Christ be brought to glorification and everlasting life, in which there is no more evil, sorrow, suffering or death. Thanks be to God.

      78. Thank you TS00 for this thoughtful, well articulated reply, and a positive statement of some difficult things.

        Let me take two conclusions you reached and comment on them:

        “a good, loving, hopeful plan to let men experience the consequences of their rebellion”
        I would ask: what of little girls experiencing the consequences of men’s rebellion?

        If I plug our scenario into your words, I get: “allowing men (rapists) to have the freedom to choose (to rape little girls) is worth even the great cost that their bad choices have inflicted upon man, beast and earth”

        Is that right? I’m not trying to stick anyone in a corner, I’m trying to learn the positive articulation of a non-Determinists response to really hard questions, because they’re real questions.

      79. Hi Joe…I am going to assume that you are genuine in your search. Dr Flowers has a short video that incorporates C.S. Lewis’ answer, you might be interested in that. Assuming you are really searching for an answer.

      80. I think you might be better at answer Joe’s question that I seem to be TS00

        I have a suspicion he has a very specific answer in mind that he thinks is provided by Calvinism

        But which requires a mental process of of denial and perhaps thought-blocking
        In order to only see something “positive” in Calvinism – one’s mind has to block out its component of divine evil.

      81. That second paragraph was super clumsy, sorry. Please allow me to try again:

        It seems that an answer like “I don’t know why…” presupposes there is a “why,” even if we don’t or can’t know what it “why” could possibly be. But how does a non-Determinist avoid any divine fore-ordained purpose to an evil event without making it seem entirely meaningless? Is it fair to say God arbitrarily allows some terrible things to happen but prevents others, as in, for instance, the death of Job’s children and the protection of baby Moses.

      82. This reminds me of:
        1Sa 3:11  Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 
        1Sa 3:12  On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 
        1Sa 3:13  And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 

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