Chris Date’s Self-Defeating Doctrine of Transcendence

In Dr. Flowers broadcast, embedded above at the 9:00min mark, Chris Date addresses some of the objections against Calvinism. I’m hopeful that dialogue with Chris Date’s ideas and answers will prove fruitful because Date is particularly consistent in his Calvinism, cordial in his demeanor, and accurate in his representation of Non-Calvinism.

However, Chris Date has a doctrine of God’s transcendence that not only does not allow him to address our actual criticism but leads him into a self-defeating worldview. Let me show you what I mean by this: I will be transcribing his paraphrase of our objection, comment on it, and then transcribing his answer, which I think completely misses the point of the objection.

The Objection Stated

I think the most common objections that I hear to Calvinism is the notion that in our view humans are something like puppets or robots, or something like that, that we don’t have any meaningful freedom or moral responsibility if God foreordains all that takes place in time or even if He just predestines who is going to believe.

Chris Date

This is pretty good! I would add the caveat that I don’t need the analogies of puppets or robots to object to God foreordaining all that takes place in time as removing human freedom and moral responsibility. I can have any number of analogies or ways of speaking about it; as long as it ends in human beings being unable to do otherwise my objection has teeth.

The Objection Answered

There are a couple of things I think that worth noting: First, when non-Calvinists compare human beings to puppets or robots in our view, they are, first of all, using analogies that flatten out the reality of things. And here is what I mean by that: in our view, God isn’t on the same plane as us, he’s not in the same stream of time, he’s not just one in a long chain of causes and effects.

He transcends us, the relationship I’ve often compared God and creation to is to an author and his novel. You know, the entire story inside an authors novel is right there in the hands of the author, it’s not like the author is in the timeline of the story. The author has written the story and the author is not in some sort of cause-and-effect type chain; causing the characters in the story to do what they do, he’s…foreordaining…if you will, that the characters in the story do exactly that they do but if you were to ask that character “why did you do this or that?” they’re going to tell you, “because I wanted to, that was what I wanted to do, that was the decision that I thought was the best given all the factors involved”.

They wouldn’t say “I felt this inexplicable pull that caused me to do this or that” that’s not the relationship between God and creation. So, I think the problem with the [robot and puppet] analogies is that it takes this reality in which God is transcendent, human beings are imminent, and these objections flatten that relationship, and make God just another actor in time.

Chris Date

Let’s see if I can summarize this answer in a way Chris Date would agree with. He makes 3 points:

  1. God is on a different plane of existence than humanity and is, therefore, not restricted to cause-and-effect
  2. On Calvinism, human beings are like not robots or puppets, but they are like characters in a story and God is the author that foreordains (writes) their every thought and deed
  3. Human beings’ perception that their choices are real means that the analogy of a robot or a puppet is inaccurate

Did Chris Date Address the Objection?

Let’s look at the objection again and I think you’ll see he did not address it. Here is the objection as Chris Date himself stated it:

Human beings do not have meaningful freedom or moral responsibility if God foreordains all that takes in place in time

Objection to Calvinism

Do Chris Date’s three replies address this objection? I don’t see how. If these next three statements are true, then Chris Date’s answer is a series of red herrings.

I can see God as transcendent and, at the same time, the foreordination of all things removes meaningful freedom and moral responsibility.

Human beings can be like characters in a story, with God as their author, and the foreordination of all things removes meaningful freedom and moral responsibility.

Human beings can perceive their choices are real, ie. they wanted to do what they did, and still the foreordination of all things removes meaningful freedom and more responsibility.

So, Chris Date’s three answers point at something else that does not address the objection as he stated it; that’s a red herring.

Moral Intuition

I’m going to take a crack out sussing out Chris Date’s doctrine of God’s transcendence that informs his defense of Calvinism. In so doing, I hope to lay a foundation for productive dialogue moving forward because it seems to me, so far, Dr. Flowers and Chris Date are like two ships passing in the night; simply missing each other. So here it goes:

In the broadcast, from 19:39 to 22:04 Dr. Flowers, using Chris’s author analogy, explains well the criticism that the person with a magic pen irresistibly writing what the other person will do is obviously and intuitively the one morally responsible for what his character does. I encourage you to listen to the full two-and-a-half minutes.

The presumption behind this criticism, of course, is that objective moral values exist and are intuited from God. That is, since we are made in the Image of God, God gave us the intuition of objective moral values so that we would know and be able to discern right from wrong so we are without excuse for doing what is wrong (Rom 1). These objective moral values give us natural revelation that God is just and good. From our own moral experience of simply knowing, deep in our bones, intuitively, that certain things like thievery, rape, and murder are wrong we can know that God must exist, must have given us these intuitions, and His character must take that shape as well; otherwise, where did we get these ideas?

Now, Chris Date explicitly admits that God ultimately decrees the evil desires of men but, when asked if this makes God, therefore, morally responsible for the evil then says, “I don’t see any teeth in the objection”. Chris’ defense of God on this point has the unintended, and devastating, consequence of removing all rational basis for knowing and trusting in God’s good character. But let’s walk through Date’s thought and demonstrate this.

Why doesn’t he see the teeth of this objection?

God and Transcendence

Short answer? God is transcendent. Here is the long answer:

We can say, “Well gosh God caused the desire and so He’s at fault” or “the person can be excused because God is the ultimate cause of that desire” and I just do not think that is true

Chris Date

So he admits the criticism is accurate, he admits that God is ultimately causing the desire but God is not at fault because…

Going back to my analogy if an antagonist, a serial killer in a book, is tried in a trial, no one is going to say, “Oh, that person should get off the hook because the author made them do it” <laughs>, right?

Chris Date

This gave me a moment’s pause and I made a scoffing noise with my mouth as a I listened because…that’s exactly what I would say. That the serial killer is not culpable precisely because the author made him do it. But then I listened to his answer two-to-three more times and I realized…he means no one still in the novel would consider the serial killer innocent. None of the characters who still don’t realize they’re characters in a novel would consider the serial killer innocent.

You see, our criticisms of what an author (God) would have an antagonist (evil person) do have no bearing, no teeth, no ground to stand on because we’re still characters. God is still so other, so above, so transcendent, as transcendent as an author over his characters, that our qualms about God’s behavior, our questions like “Is God culpable for the evil He ordains?” are nonsensical. We might as well be asking “Is a farfignoogen a hephalump?”.

That’s why I keep referring to this transcendent relationship between God and creation because I think it nullifies a lot of these objections.

<example of Joseph’s brothers and “the evil you meant for me God meant it for good” and he makes an argument about the verb structure>…and here we have one example among many, I would argue, where it is both the human beings who intend evil and God who intends that evil…

So #1, we have to wrestle with the fact that God does foreordain evil desires in this way, but #2 I would say, often, what determines whether an act is righteous or not is the motives behind the act…both the humans and God are devising, designing, intending whatever this evil calamity that befalls Joseph.

But what is the difference? Well the text says that God’s intentions behind it were good. If we were to say that if a human being were to cause someone’s desires to be this or that there is going to sinful selfish intentions wrapped up in that. But if it’s God who’s doing it then the motives may indeed be pure and don’t, in any way, make God culpable.

Chris Date

Let’s put away for a moment the dubious claim that the moral value of an act is determined by the motives behind the act. That does not seem obviously true to me but, instead, let’s look at the real crux of Chris’s argument. Which is this: Unlike human beings, God can plan, intend, and design evil things in a morally pure way.

You may be shouting at your screen “That’s impossible!” but follow Chris Date’s thought further. He would agree with you that is impossible for human beings, but God is transcendent and so all things are possible with God, including intending evil things in a morally pure way. Including fore-ordaining all things without causing all things, ie. being outside the chain of cause effect we humans are bound to. God is transcendent. God can square that circle. Therefore, human beings’ criticisms of what He intends are fundamentally invalid.

Put another way, God is so other, so above, so transcendent that we cannot fathom His moral world. Could the characters in a novel fathom the moral world of the author?

What, Then, Does “God’s Goodness” Mean?

Fascinatingly, Chris Date goes on to say something utterly self-defeating

I’m a big believer that a big reason why God foreordains evil is that so we can emulate aspects of God’s character that we could not emulate if it hadn’t been for reality of evil and sin. If hadn’t been for the reality of evil and sin, no one could show mercy, nobody could show grace, or forgiveness.

Chris Date 30:00

This conclusion seems inescapable to me: Chris Date’s doctrine of transcendence removes any rational or moral basis for knowing what God’s character is. He emphasizes and re-emphasizes the utter otherness of God. God can do what seems morally impossible to us, God doesn’t play by our objective moral standards, God is outside of cause-and-effect, our moral intuitions have no basis in reality when contemplating the transcendent God of the universe; just as the character in a story cannot comprehend nor reach its author. But yet, now, when Chris wants to justify the reason God intends evil, all of a sudden I can emulate this God? I can know His character and even copy it? I can behave like this God?

What does God’s goodness mean when God is a Being who’s morality I cannot comprehend?

Any consideration of the goodness of God at once threatens us with the following dilemma.
On the one hand, if God is wiser than we His judgment must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil.
On the other hand, if God’s moral judgment differs from ours so that our ‘black’ may be His ‘white,’ we can mean nothing by calling Him good; for to say ‘God is good,’ while asserting that His goodness is wholly other than ours, is really only to say ‘God is we know not what.’ And an utterly unknown quality in God cannot give us moral grounds for loving or obeying Him.

“The Problem of Pain”, C.S. Lewis

Lewis’ argument is poignant and powerful here. His description of the problem, “On the one hand, if God is wiser than we His judgment must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in His eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil” seems to me exactly what Chris Date is claiming about God, that He can design evil in moral purity, something we cannot do, and that which seems evil to us. And so when Chris says that he can emulate God’s goodness, it would be more accurate and rational for Chris to say he can emulate He-Knows-Not-What.

I would be interested to hear Chris Date flesh out these presuppositions, specifically how God’s transcendence renders God outside of the rules of objective moral values.

Why does Chris Date think non-Calvinist criticisms are made invalid simply by stating that God is transcendent?

What IS God’s character and how do you know? If He can cause evil with a good motive because He’s transcendent…if God’s transcendence renders Him outside of our notions of objective moral values, what do evil and good mean in the transcendent realm and, more importantly, how could you possibly know?

102 thoughts on “Chris Date’s Self-Defeating Doctrine of Transcendence

  1. I’m not sure I buy your reductio ad absurdum.

    (1) Don’t we all agree that nobody can do otherwise than that which God foresees, in the same way that nobody can have done otherwise than what they have done? (I have never “done otherwise” and don’t know how I would even attempt to “do otherwise.”) Then, don’t we agree that God can intervene or abide as it suits him to foster or preclude certain events and decisions? Foreordination pops out of these like toast from a toaster. It doesn’t even matter what free will means here.

    (2) Don’t we all agree that we are called to emulate the character of God shown by revelation — e.g., grace and mercy and wisdom — but that we are so awful at predicting the entire consequences of our decisions, making certain actions immoral for us (because they’re above our paygrade — reckless, essentially) but not for God (because, knowing everything, it’s not reckless for him)? Isn’t this where Job takes us? Please Google “Stanrock Angelic Ladder” for an illustrated article of how this framework is crucial for moral discussion.

    I am not a Calvinist, but I do have a strong view of sovereignty, and this article’s criticism seems to come up short.

    1. Hey Stan, welcome!
      1) No, we don’t all agree on that, so the rest of your critique doesn’t really follow
      2) Yes, we are all called to emulate God’s good character but Chris Date, by arguing that God’s morality is different than ours such that He can plan evil events in a morally pure way, removes any rational basis for know what God’s good character is. That’s my criticism. Please let me know how I can make that criticism more clear.

      1. Eric,

        [1] I wrote, “Don’t we all agree that nobody can do otherwise than that which God foresees?” You replied, “No, we don’t all agree on that, so the rest of your critique doesn’t really follow.” To be clear, does this mean that you believe that someone can do otherwise than that which God foresees?

        [2] That seems to be a non sequitur, so perhaps the clarity would be to explain why you think that follows. [A] God, as a “Hare’s Archangel” per the article I referenced earlier, is morally permitted to do severe actions knowing the good that will result, whereas those same severe actions would be morally prohibited to us because of our deficiencies of intellect, knowledge, foresight, etc. [B] In these “A” situations, we’d notice a “do as I say, not as I do” dynamic, although it wouldn’t be hypocritical (because those deficiencies make the difference). This is analogous to when we use this phrase in non-hypocritical ways as parents. For example, my child’s deficiencies mean she is forbidden to use the power drill. Then she notices me use it. This may feel unfair to her, but it is not hypocritical. [C] God is not limited to expressing his character via example. He can also tell us. For example, if we notice the wicked die as a result of sin, we might assume that God’s character is equally pleased with the wicked dying vs. repenting instead. But then God can say, “Actually, I’d rather them repent — as surely as I live, I’d rather they repent.” This revelation both tells us about God’s character and reveals that the deaths of the wicked were a kind of lamentable acquiescence, in theory serving some grander interest or plan.

        Given A+B+C, it does not follow that God’s ability to foreplan such events knowing the great good that will come from them would mean we have no rational basis to know what God’s good character.

      2. Stan,

        1). “To be clear, does this mean that you believe that someone can do otherwise than that which God foresees?”

        No, it means that someone could do otherwise, and then God would foresee that otherwise thing they did. In your original comment, you did not simply affirm God’s foreknowledge, you also affirmed the inability of the agent to do otherwise. That’s what I was rejecting.

        2). “Given A+B+C, it does not follow that God’s ability to foreplan such events knowing the great good that will come from them would mean we have no rational basis to know what God’s good character.”

        This isn’t the criticism and it not the argument Chris Date made either. So you have neither Chris Date’s original argument correct nor my criticism of that argument correct. Chris did not say God “foreplans” events, but “designs/devises/plans evil in a morally pure way”. Do you see the difference?

        So it isn’t a “My parents have a privilege that I don’t and that seems unfair thing”, it’s more like a “My parent’s operate by a different sort of rational and moral laws that I cannot comprehend” so that if someone where to ask me “What are your parents like?” it would be like trying to describe the color red to a blind man.

        I’m perfectly comfortable with saying that God foreplans events without designing and planning man’s evil desires in those events. This seems utterly reasonable to me, and I have good explanations why, but Reformed-type thinkers have a hard time distinguishing between “plan” and “meticulous control”.

        I hope this helps.

      3. Stan says: “nobody can do otherwise than that which God foresees”

        “Foresees” is hugely different than a Calvinist’s “fore-ordains,” which is “God preplans everything and causes everything, and nothing different could have happened because we can do nothing to affect what happens.”

        Stan says: “It doesn’t even matter what free will means here.”

        So is there a difference between God causing us to kill someone and then punishing us for it … and us choosing (on our own) to kill someone and being punished for it? Is there a difference between God preventing us from believing in Him and then sending us to hell for not believing in Him … and us choosing (on our own) to reject Him even though we could have chosen to believe in Him, leading to an eternity in hell by our own choice? Do you see any significant difference between these contrasting ideas? Or does the difference “not matter”? Those who can see the difference will also understand why “free will” really does matter. Because without it, God is not truly just or trustworthy or good.

        And I have a very strong view of sovereignty too, but I have chosen to base my view on how God has chosen to reveal Himself in the Word, how He exercises His sovereignty as seen all throughout the Bible – by being “in control” of all things without necessarily controlling all things, by giving mankind the right to make choices within boundaries and then working our self-made choices into His plans, by deciding when to step in and when to sit back and let things happen, etc.

        But Calvinists, in my opinion, define sovereignty incorrectly, as “preplans, causes, and controls all things.” And then they box God into their definition, using it to define who He is and how He has to be/act, in order to be the kind of “sovereign” God they think He is, even though it flies in the face of so many biblical examples where God has chosen to act otherwise. Instead of basing their definition of sovereign on the way God has revealed Himself in the Word, they first determine their definition of sovereign and then reinterpret who God is and how He must be/act to fit their definition. And, oh, the damage it does to God’s character, the Gospel, the Word, and people’s faith!

      4. Kevin, you can say all you want that you are not meaning to be disrespectful, like when someone says “with all due respect” right before hand, but you are, objectively disrespectful. Apparently, you cannot argue without being disrespectful. I don’t want your sympathy, I don’t want false niceties, and I don’t want you to stop criticizing me. But I want you to stop making it about me and focus on what it is I’m saying, make an actual argument.

        Somehow, in your mountains of text, you didn’t make a single argument. All you did was suggest I’m a coward and then accuse me of believing in Open Theism or Deism, and then demand I do what you want me to do (a positive affirmation). So you impugn my character, put words in my mouth, and then change the subject, without ever making an actual counter-argument to my article. This is what you’re doing and no, saying “Blessings” afterward doesn’t change or soften that.

        So no, Kevin, this may come as a shock to you but I’m not beholden to your standards of debate or argument. Don’t take me seriously, that’s fine, you’re free to dismiss me and think me irrelevant. You’re probably right. You’re free to respond to or criticize, or ignore, who you want. See how that works? But it’s not rational argument to demand I debate the person I wrote an article about or that I solve the philosophical Problem of Evil before I criticism Calvinism. Those are special pleading made-up standards you are employing in order to criticize an article that apparently rubbed you the wrong way.

        Respond to the actual argument I made or don’t. That’s up to you.

      5. Heather, thank you for your kind words. This is an interesting point!

        “(Which is why it’s funny that you jump all over Kemp for his views and how he shares his views … when, according to Calvinism, he cannot, I say again, CANNOT DO OTHERWISE!!)”

        Yea, on the one hand, Kevin says I couldn’t do otherwise but then chastises me as if I should know better and do better. But how could I possibly?

      6. Eric, you wrote,

        “No, it means that someone could do otherwise, and then God would foresee that otherwise thing they did. In your original comment, you did not simply affirm God’s foreknowledge, you also affirmed the inability of the agent to do otherwise. That’s what I was rejecting.”

        “Otherwise” requires a referent — there’s X, and otherwise is not-X.

        Let’s say you’ll make exactly 26 decisions in your life. God foresees them all and labels them A through Z. Surely we agree that you can’t do not-A, since it’s a given that you’ll do A. Therefore you can’t do otherwise than what God foresees. However, this isn’t a big deal. Who cares that I can’t do otherwise than what God foresees? A closed future is not the horror show people think it is. An “I can do otherwise” definition of freedom doesn’t appear to make sense.

        Now, B may be similar in some qualitative respects to not-A. Perhaps your first decision is to walk north and your second decision is to walk south. This is a “qualitative otherwise” that is not a properly numerical otherwise (they have different timestamps and self-states). I can order a tuna sandwich today, regret it, and order otherwise tomorrow, but this is a sense of “doing otherwise” perfectly compatible with determinism.

        (I concede the 2nd half of our discussion, and it was likely improper for me to make a steelman alteration of Chris’s position without being super familiar with it.)

      7. Stan,

        I’m gonna throw something WILD out here, and see if merits curiosity. It seems to me, that Calvinists and reformers in general love to disuss God forseeing things, and that is a sure bet that whatever he sees, it will come to pass.

        Swell. But that’s not how I see it at all. But them Calvi dudes, and them reformer Catholics never entertains the idea that there could be MULTIPLE events being forseen for a SINGLE matter.

        In the computer programing days of old, we called that and if/then statement.

        My example would be that weird looking alien dude with the flap cap on Men in Black 3. Now, I don’t know if movies is a sin in your religion or not, unless it’s THE TEN COMANDMENTS, but, I think there are tons of IF/THEN statements based on our own behavior, and that God has NOT made a definite decision on WHICH of those POSSIBLITIES is set in stone.

        Well? What do you think? Or has God already conclude WHAT you will think? You don’t have a mind of your own? Or are you controlled…remotely?

        Ed Chapman

      8. Stan,

        My example of Men in Black 3:

        “Agent J:
        How’s is it going?

        Griffin:
        Going? How’s it going? Well, that depends. For me personally, it’s good, things are good. Unless, of course, we’re in the possible future where the muscle boy near the door gets into an argument with his girlfriend, which causes her to storm away and bump into the guy carrying the stuffed mushroom, who then dumps the tray onto those sailors on leave and a shoving match breaks out and they crash into the coffee table here. In which case, I gotta move my plate like right now.

        [J watches as everything Griffin says happens]”

        “Griffin:
        Or, if it’s the possible future, in which the pastrami sandwich I’m eating causes me gastric distress. But thankfully your friend, sir, will offer some of the antacids he carries in his right pocket. So I’ll be good, I’ll be good. Except in the case of the possible future where I have to leave in two and a half minutes, just before he has a chance to offer me the antacids. So, on the whole, I’d have to say, not good. I’m not good.

        [J gives Griffin a confused look]:”

        “Griffin:
        But that depends.

        My conclusion: The future has several possibilities, all of which God knows. But ONE of those possibilities, we choose for ourselves, and God knows the outcome of all of the possibilities, including the ones we didn’t choose.

        But I think that the words Sovereignty is getting confused with PROPHESY, somehow equating both words.

        Ed Chapman

      9. Stan
        Surely we agree that you can’t do not-A, since it’s a given that you’ll do A.

        br.d
        Hi Stan – I think the wording of this would normally be framed a little differently

        He can do A
        Or he can to NOT-A
        But he can’t do both A and NOT-A because these are mutually exclusive.

        And as Dr. Alvin Plantinga would say:
        If he did A then god would foreknow that without having to determine it in advance
        And if he did NOT A then god would foreknow that without having to determine that in advance.

        Stan
        this is a sense of “doing otherwise” perfectly compatible with determinism.

        br.d
        Peter Van Inwagen addresses this form of “do otherwise”
        Its called a hidden subjunctive in determinism.
        And the two forms of “do otherwise” are not the same thing

        In Theological Determinism:
        1) If the THEOS determines you turn left – then he has determined you to “do otherwise” than turn other than left.
        2) If the THEOS determines you turn right – then he as determined you to “do otherwise” than turn other than right.

        But notice the “do otherwise” in this case is UP TO the THEOS rather than the creature
        The THEOS in regard to a decree – had the ability to “do otherwise” by decreeing you turn left or right
        And this form of “do otherwise” is compatible with Libertarian freedom – in that the THEOS’ choice is not determined for him by external factors outside of his control. So the THEOS has “Libertarian” freedom – rather than “Compatibilist” freedom.

        But “do otherwise” for the creature is different
        The creature cannot “do otherwise” than what is infallibly decreed – at pain of falsifying the infallible decree.

        And this is why it is internationally acknowledged – that determinism inherently rules out the ability to “do otherwise” than what one *WOULD* do. Because in determinism – what one *WOULD* do is NOT UP to the creature – but rather determined by factors outside of the creature’s control.

      10. Stan, thanks for the dialogue.

        “Let’s say you’ll make exactly 26 decisions in your life. God foresees them all and labels them A through Z. Surely we agree that you can’t do not-A, since it’s a given that you’ll do A.”

        No, we cannot agree on that.

        “Therefore you can’t do otherwise than what God foresees.”

        Since your premise is not valid, your conclusion does not follow.

        “A closed future is not the horror show people think it is. An “I can do otherwise” definition of freedom doesn’t appear to make sense.”

        I don’t know what you mean by “closed future” but you haven’t shown libertarian/contra-causal freedom to be irrational. You’ve just asserted truth claims within your premises you assume to be true but have not shown your rational work to prove their truthfulness. What you did do, which God knows, does not speak to your ability to do otherwise. It’s simply not rational to assume because I did A, therefore, I could not have done not-A. That’s simply a presupposition you have that you are requesting a special pleading for; the special pleading being that you don’t want this presupposition examined. Sorry, I have to examine it. It’s simply not axiomatically true that because I did A, therefore, I could not have done not-A; you’re going to have to provide an argument for it.

        “(I concede the 2nd half of our discussion, and it was likely improper for me to make a steelman alteration of Chris’s position without being super familiar with it.)”

        Thank you. Most wouldn’t do that, I appreciate it.

    2. Does God’s foreknowledge *cause* what you will choose to do, or does God’s foreknowledge *observe* what you will choose to do? Recall from different examples in the Bible where people accessed God’s knowledge of potential future events. Take, for instance, David’s use of the ephod, where he asked God whether the people of the town would turn him over to Saul. God answered that they would, so David fled. So, did God’s knowledge *cause* what was in the people’s hearts or just reveal it? As a result, David chose to flee instead of staying. God knows all possibilities from every conceivable scenario. Does His knowledge cause all scenarios? That’s a ludicrous argument but determinists have to make it anyway, because they are trying to protect determinism.

      1. Richard,

        I’m a Christian deterministic compatibilist, but I am not a Calvinist — I think many Calvinists do a poor job of both understanding and expressing compatibilism.

        Ontologically, God is the universal cause of all things. No bit of creation is ex nihilo. As Irenaeus wrote, “The will and the energy of God is the effective and foreseeing cause of every time and place and age, and of every nature.” And Irenaeus upheld free will as much as any of the other patristics.

        Where some Calvinists err is by saying that this total ontological causality necessarily implies total teleological causality. This has them say bizarre things like, “God decreed that I lie to my boss” and “God decreed the hidden nooks within every wad of pumice.”

        My taxonomy is:

        God’s causation = The universal sense in which God made everything and upholds everything. Nothing happens and sticks without God deliberately letting it happen and stick. This is a strict corollary of his classical attributes of total power and present-omniscience. (That is, we could hypothetically say God knows zilch about the future, and this corollary would remain.) The outplaying of creation is deterministic, but only a subset of that outplaying is specially predetermined.

        God’s authorship = The things that God went out of his way to specially predetermine, or intervened to make the case. The term “decree,” I argue, should be limited to these.

        But how can this be possible? Again, it would seem impossible that only a subset of a deterministic system is specially predetermined. This comes from the error I mentioned before: “Total ontological causality necessarily implies total teleological causality.” Not only many Calvinists are guilty of this; ALL Christians were guilty of this error until very recently, with the discovery of chaos theory.

        Chaos theory shows that in deterministic systems with elegant/simple rules governing how pieces/parts move, if there is internal interaction and other kinds of nonlinear movement, the interference acts as a kind of entropy against purposes and design. Imagine a huge oil pipeline, a hundred miles long, filled with marbles. You can micromanage the positions of the starting state, but unless you perform a miracle (or pause the system, muck with it, etc.) and violate the physical rules that govern the system’s movement, you CANNOT micromanage the precise position of every marble at every timeslice. The elegant ruleset acts like handcuffs against having your way constantly. Now you can CHOOSE to intervene as you please, but the more you choose NOT to, the more you ALLOW the system to “teleologically drift.” You may have grand designs that will play out through the foreknown positions of a few of those marbles, but there’s no way to micromanage it all (without getting “inelegant”).

        This is the “guillotine” between total ontological causality and total teleological causality. By using chaos — a thing we observe all around us — God can let creation “teleologically drift” even under determinism. It is not necessary to posit contracausal creaturely wills to achieve this drift.

        Once we appreciate that bug-fix, we Christian determinists can go back to talking like Arminians. And that’s great, because although the Bible does speak monergistically sometimes (“God fashions a man for honor or dishonor”; Romans 9:21), it most often speaks synergistically (“Fashion yourself for honor instead of dishonor”; 2 Timothy 2:20-22).

        But it also enables Arminians to treat deterministic processes of nature as “teleologically adrift” as well. The craters of the moon were formed deterministically; that doesn’t mean they were specially predetermined.

      2. Hi Stan,
        From some of your comments it appears that you allow for what Calvinists call “mere” permission.
        This would be a form of permission that is NON-CAUSAL.

        In such case the THEOS is not the determiner of [X] – but “merely” permits another being to be the determiner of [X].

        That would not be a consistent form of Theological Determinism – because it would require instances in which the THEOS is not the actual determiner.

        What one has in that case is pretty much what the average Christian believes. That god EXCLUSIVELY determines some things – like the moment of your conception – and those things are thus not UP TO you. But he leaves other things undetermined – like what you will have for breakfast – and *OPEN* to you. Thereby leaving that determination UP TO you.

        In Calvinism – the THEOS cannot have epistemic “certainty” of whether [A] or [NOT A] will come to pass – without being the determiner of one or the other. And it is a LOGICAL impossibility for an event to be determined as both [A] and [NOT A] at the same time – as one mutually excludes the other.

        So the THEOS can determine [A] come to pass.
        Or he can determine [NOT A] come to pass
        But he can’t determine two things that mutually exclude each other.

        And if he “merely” permits someone else to be the determiner of [A] or [NOT A] then he is leaving that undetermined and *OPEN* for another being to be the determiner. And on Calvinism – he then cannot have epistemic “certainty” of which one will be determined.

        This is why Calvinists (who are TRUE to the doctrine) reject “mere” permission.

        But actually the vast majority of Calvinists find this is a pill that is way to hard to swallow.
        So consequently Calvinist appeals to “permission” often take the form of some kind of DOUBLE-SPEAK..

      3. Hi Stan,

        You stated:
        “And that’s great, because although the Bible does speak monergistically sometimes (“God fashions a man for honor or dishonor” Romans 9:21), it most often speaks synergistically (“Fashion yourself for honor instead of dishonor” 2 Timothy 2:20-22).”

        I would suggest that we not assume Rom.9:21 to be monergistic. The emphasis in Rom.9 is on vindicating God’s sovereign right as the Creator to do as He wills. As God, He has the right or power of the potter over the clay. But, Paul does not deal with how God exercises that power in Rom 9, in terms of whether God just arbitrarily does what He feels like, or of whether He looks to something on man’s part. Is it all just arbitrary as the Calvinists seem to read into it? Or, does God place some conditions on men? And so, because Rom.9 does not deal with those questions, I would be hesitant to assume that it is monergistic as the Calvinist seems to think. But I believe passages like Jeremiah 18:1-12; and 2 Tim. 2:20-21, support a synergistic viewpoint.

      4. Br.D.,

        In my taxonomy above, I am maintaining universal ontological causation. However, I am slicing off teleological causation as a special subset of causation in general. I pull this off using deterministic chaos, which has the function of wrecking teleological information. In this way it serves as a kind of “math trick” that a completely sovereign deity can use to let his creation drift, so that genuine “others” can emerge, with whom to foster genuine loving relationships.

        I do not call this drift non-causal; this is because I’m juggling two senses of causation and don’t want them to be mixed up. Permissive drift is non-causal in the teleological sense (because chaotic inference naturally dismantles incoming forms and spawns new ones), but it is still causal in the ontological sense.

        I reject the idea of ex nihilo thoughts and choices, and also reject the idea that meaningful senses of volition, origination, and responsibility require the idea of ex nihilo thoughts and choices. I affirm the following: My choices are strict functions of who I am at the moment of decision; who I am at the moment of decision is a strict function of prior causes, most of which are ‘myself, a second ago’; when you rewind my life, my identity unravels, eventually into a non-agent, since my present agency developed over time; the qualitative identity of my selfhood has fuzzy boundaries, but it “spans” across a number of timeslices, not just the latest timeslice that finally decided; in this “temporal span” sense, and only in this sense, are my choices self-caused.

      5. Thanks for explaining that Stan.
        Is there a particular source or school of thought which your taxonomy is derived from?
        Or is it something you’ve worked out yourself?

  2. “….I think some Calvinists’ views of God are similar to some Muslims’ views of God. The common element is nominalism/voluntarism–the belief that God has no eternal, unchanging moral character that governs his actions but that God is absolutely free to do whatever he decides to do unfettered by any moral character. The result of that, of course, is the possibility (!) that God could change his mind and decide NOT to keep his promises. Such a God is, IMHO, cannot be trusted but only feared……..

    Yes, most Calvinists deny, when pushed, that their view of God is voluntarist (i.e., that God has no eternal, unchanging moral character that governs his will). However, whenever I ask how God is loving and just in foreordaining some portion of human beings created in his own image and likeness and allegedly loved (in some sense) by him to eternal hell and consigns them there when he could save them (because salvation is unconditional except for the conditions God himself provides) they always fall back on “God is God and can do with creatures whatever pleases him.” That removes God’s character from anything knowable as moral, and implies nominalism/voluntarism.”

    – Roger Olson

  3. Chris Date wants cause & effect whenever it suits him and to reject it whenever it doesn’t. For instance, Calvinists want cause & effect to explain divine omniscience, such that Calvinists ground the basis for divine omniscience in divine determinism, i.e. cause & effect, that is, God knows it because He decreed it. But, then Calvinists want to reject cause & effect when considering divine determinism in a world with evil. When people contradict themselves in such basis constructs, they are no longer worth listening to.

  4. It’s a very cogent argument. To which I’ll add the inescapable conclusion to Chris’ reasoning. “There is no evil.” Under Calvinism, there is NO EVIL. It has been rendered meaningless. We have a very clear picture of what a world governed by such concepts wouuld look like. Ever met a radical Islamic jihandist who will kill millions for Allah? Welcome to the philosophical world Calvinism produces.

    1. Hello BELIEVER and welcome

      Good insight in connecting the dots between the two systems.
      Both have Theological Determinism as their foundational corner-stone.

      One may also notice a component called the “sacred lie” in one system
      And if one knows the underlying doctrine and can scrutinize language – one will observe something similar in the other.

  5. Wonderful Eric!

    Calvinists are just hilarious on this issue!

    Firstly:
    When the Calvinist seeks to explain the mechanics of any particular aspect of his system, he invariably appeals to human analogies. But then when his system of TRUE-ONE-MINUTE-FALSE-THE-NEXT doctrines – becomes a little too apparent, all of a sudden human analogies are not allowed. This is simply changing the rules during the game. When the Calvinist gets up to bat, he gets endless swings – but you only get 3.

    Secondly:
    The Calvinist argument to “not FLATTEN OUT the reality of things” is just an IMAGINARY escape route from the same exact reality a Calvinist relies on for everything else in his life.

    Jesus teaches – Let your communication be YEA or NAY (TRUE or FALSE) for anything else comes of evil.

    The doctrine clearly stipulates that Calvin’s god infallibly decrees “Whatsoever comes to pass” – which obviously includes a Calvinist’s perception of reality. So if a Calvinist has the perception of being a “Vessel of Honor” when the Divine Potter has infallibly decreed the opposite – then it LOGICALLY FOLLOWS – Calvin’s god has given that Calvinist a FALSE perception of reality.

    And if Calvin’s god decrees a Calvinist do [X] – and that Calvinist’s perception is that he is “free” to “Do Otherwise” – then Calvin’s god has determined that brain with yet another FALSE perception of reality.

    Thirdly:
    On the AUTHOR OF A NOVEL escape clause.
    How is this not a human analogy?

    Three obvious problems:
    1) For an OMNIPOTENT being, actions such as human sins and evils are not necessary for the sake of the story or its outcome. Sins and evils as a MEANS TO AN END are only necessary, if options for achieving those ENDS are limited. And an OMNIPOTENT being has no such limitations.

    2) The human novelist is not culpable for the actions of his imagined characters – precisely because those characters DO NOT EXIST AS REAL.

    3) If a human with total control over another human (such as a parent over a young child) were to CAUSE that child to commit a crime, then the parent would not only be morally culpable, but culpable at minimum as an accessory to the crime.

    Fourthly:
    Christ Date
    -quote
    “the person can be excused because God is the ultimate cause of that desire” and I just do not think that is true”

    And how many human desires decreed at the foundation of the world to infallibly come to pass are UP TO humans?
    And how many of Christ Date’s thoughts – decreed at the foundation of the world to infallibly come to pass – are UP TO Chris Date?

    BOTTOM LINE:
    The Calvinist has an interesting belief system which he gallantly seeks to defend – and at the same time constantly seeks to escape!

    I’d say one could not write a more interesting novel! :-]

  6. Excellent post and comments. Calvinists really only have two possibilities :
    1) Admit that God is evil (is the sole author, cause etc. of evil)
    2) Assert that evil is not evil when God causes it

    Very few would admit the first, so the Calvinist is left performing mental, philosophical and moral gymnastics trying to invent a scenario under which any being – human or divine – can desire, ordain, cause or do evil without being evil.

    Note the only logical and consistent explanation for the existence of evil, without asserting that God desires evil to exist (God is evil), is that he chose to create genuinely free beings, necessitating the possibility, but not necessity, of evil. This is what the majority of believers through the ages have interpreted life and scripture to present.

    This option alone makes sense of scriptures constant declarations that God neither ordained, desired or even thought of the evil actions of mankind.

    The novel metaphor fails, as the characters in a novel are not real, make no choices, can speak or do nothing that is not entirely scripted, and are, indeed, solely the puppets/robots of their creator that Chris Date hopes to prove men are not.

    1. How do Calvinists explain God’s sorrow and regret at the state of man in Gen 6, seeing that it was all supposed to give Him pleasure?

      “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”

      “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD”.

      Seems only one found favor in His eyes.

      1. Yep. I’m not very smart, but even I would be smart enough – were I the omniscient deity – to not make a people who I had determined to do only evil, if that was not what I wanted. And then need to wipe out nearly all living beings that I had just gone to all the trouble to create . . . This is the reality that would not let me go, and convinced me that Calvinistic determinism cannot be aligned with scripture.

      2. TSOO, You are right, passages like this just confirm how nonsensical their whole system is. And I gather that they don’t like this passage either, because it exposes everything they uphold as a lie. Let me tell you, you are plenty smart, but this stuff is never about smarts, its about about truth and integrity. Keep it up.

  7. Aidan:
    If you google what Calvinists say to your question about sorrow and regret, you will find that almost all of them start their explanation with something like, “This passages doesnt really mean what it appears to mean…..”

    Ironically…when I follow along with their idea, I do not find that they ever get to what it DOES mean. They only go on and on with “…because we know that God is not…..cannot….. etc” imposing their understanding/ definition of God on the text.

    1. FOH, isn’t that very convenient, because they certainly can’t say it was for calvi-god’s good pleasure he destroyed them.

  8. Well done, Eric. It sounds to me like Chris is just using a lot of convoluted, rambling “reasoning” to sound like he isn’t saying “Human beings do not have meaningful freedom or moral responsibility if God foreordains all that takes place in time,” when he really is saying it, with a lot more words. It’s a “Hey, look over here” approach to distract us. After all, if he denies that it’s what he’s really saying, then it must be true, right? And it also sounds to me like Chris is just trying another way of saying, “You can’t understand it anyway, so just accept what I’m telling you.”

    Also, I wonder what Chris would say if God went a step further and decided to come down here Himself and actively engage in evil. Would His “transcendence” still be an excuse then? How about the idea that He can cause evil with good motives? Would that still hold up then, if God went around raping and murdering and stealing?

    Of course, Calvinists might say, “Well, that’s impossible for God to do. He’d never actively engage in evil because He is good.” But look at Calvi-god’s handiwork: causing evil for good, causing child abuse because it glorifies him, causing people to reject him so he can send them to hell so that he can show off his justice against sin and his special love for the elect, etc. Why couldn’t a god like that also actively engage in evil, “for good” and “for his glory”? Is he so “transcendent” that Calvinists would still defend and worship a god like that? How far does Calvi-god have to go into evil before they will they wake up and see what kind of god he really is!

  9. Heather writes: “Why couldn’t a god like that also actively engage in evil, “for good” and “for his glory”?”

    ——My Response——
    So … Heather is obviously charging God as evil when God decided for Himself not to intervene during the temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden. My goodness…

    1. JT
      God decided for Himself not to intervene during the temptation of Eve

      br.d
      How is it not DOUBLE-MINDED to think an INFALLIBLE decree can be “intervened”?

      In a 100% pre-determined world – the only LOGICAL way “intervention” can occur is by building it into the pre-determined script.

      Computers – because they are 100% pre-determined – do this all the time.
      Its called a pre-programmed *SIMULATION*

      CONCLUSION:
      The only “divine intervention” that exists in Calvinism – is a pre-programmed SIMULATION of “divine intervention”

    2. JT: “Heather is obviously charging God as evil when God decided for Himself not to intervene during the temptation of Eve in the garden of Eden. My goodness…”

      Pathetic, desperate accusation, which shouldn’t even be addressed. But, no, I am not charging God of evil. I am charging “god” – small g – of evil (Calvi-god) because he decided not just to NOT INTERVENE but to actually PREPLAN and CAUSE sin. And actually, what I am asking is “Would a Calvinist be okay with their god actively engaging in evil, which is a half-step away from him preplanning and causing evil through men?” (This is why I try to use the small g or the name Calvi-god, so that it doesn’t get mixed up with the God of the Bible. Two totally different things. Except to Calvinists.)

  10. My Response :

    A God who is both determinist and compatibilist is always acting within the cadence of Scriptures. This is the God whom I believe. You call Him as small letter g and yours is what?.. maybe its the god of the LDS i guess. Your idea is just like the JW, they say that Jesus Christ is a small God. This distinguishes your god from the God of Calvinists which we recognized as the over all Supreme creator of heaven and earth: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, – the God of Jacob, Moses and Abraham. He is not accountable to anyone else. God according to you is the author of sin. I’m sure Heather’s idea did not originate from the Calvinists side. It comes out from Heather’s heart just like satan where sin originated from his heart. Sin was not a creation of God. You keep on telling that desperate accusation to the Calvinists here, but no one will believe on you.

    1. jteleosala
      A God who is both determinist and compatibilist is always acting within the cadence of Scriptures. This is the God whom I believe.

      br.d
      JT – Ravi Zacharias laments that Christians say unintelligent things because they don’t stop to think before they speak.

      Compatiblism is defined as a form of “freedom” that is “compatible” with all things being determined by antecedent factors outside of one’s control.

      If Calvin’s god is a “compatiblist” then he is not “sovereign” in the Calvinist sense.
      Compatiblist “freedom” is a severely limited form of freedom

      Calvin’s god would ONLY be “free” to be/do what antecedent factors outside of his control have determined.
      Somehow I don’t think that is what you REALLY meant when you made this last statement.

      jteleosala
      You call Him as small letter g and yours is what?..

      br.d
      So this tells us that man can create an image of what he thinks a god is.
      And yes as you say – the JWs, the Calvinists, and the non-Calvinists each have an image of what they think their god is

      jteleosala
      God according to you is the author of sin. I’m sure ‘this] idea did not originate from the Calvinists side.

      br.d
      JT – have you never read the declarations of John Calvin?

      John Calvin
      -quote
      ” It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that god otiosely permits them [sins and evils], when scripture shows Him not only willing but the *AUTHOR* of them. (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God pg 176)

      John Calvin
      -quote
      “I have already shown clearly enough that god is the *AUTHOR* of all those things ”

      jteleosala
      You keep on telling that desperate accusation to the Calvinists here, but no one will believe on you.

      br.d
      This just affirms how DOUBLE-MINDED Calvinists are about what they believe.
      How much weight should one put in a DOUBLE-MINDED belief system?

      1. Or perhaps simply ignorant, which is why we post here, right? To open the eyes of those who have been deceived and manipulated, to urge the unthinking to give thought to inconsistencies or logical fallacies which they have been sold as ‘scriptural truths’.

        I am truly hopeful for those like jtel who have been simply brainwashed and programmed to accept and regurgitate the Calvinist script. God can break through those lies, if a person is open and willing to think, ponder and study that which he has perhaps simply ‘adopted’ or bought as a bill of goods.

        Keep preaching the truth of who our good, gracious, merciful, just, patient, kind and loving God is. It is those who believe this truth, and not a set of religious doctrines, who become children of God.

    2. To Jtleosala: “May the Lord be our judge and decide between us.” (1 Samuel 24:15)

      I have nothing more to say to you or about your blatantly misleading, misrepresenting accusations.

    3. JT,

      You had said:
      “Your idea is just like the JW, they say that Jesus Christ is a small God.”

      My response:

      Well, that’s no different than saying that there is ONLY ONE GOD, yet claiming that Jesus is a SEPARATE person than his Father, and that the Holy Spirit is yet another separate entity, yet, ONE God.

      You people have been selling that one for about 1800 years, not from Jesus, but from some Catholic dude that wears a dress and a dunce cap.

    4. JT,

      You had said:
      “Sin was not a creation of God. You keep on telling that desperate accusation to the Calvinists here, but no one will believe on you.”

      My question to you would be…who is the ONLY ONE who can DEFINE what sin is? God, right? WELL? God is indeed the author of sin.

      what he is NOT the author of is:

      1 Corinthians 14:33
      For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

      But wait a minute: If no one can do but what God decreed, then he’s also the god of confusion, too. Right?

      Ed Chapman

  11. Agreed he is missing the point of the objection and this is well stated;

    “”if God’s transcendence renders Him outside of our notions of objective moral values, what do evil and good mean in the transcendent realm and, more importantly, how could you possibly know?””

    Sorry but Chris Date makes no sense to me… what’s the difference between being a character in a book with your every thought, word, action written out before the foundation of the world & then yeah you have the privilege of living it out… Verses being a puppet or a preprogrammed robot? (I’m soooo grateful He didn’t create me to be Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer☹ A book has an author and he’s claiming God is both good and the author of evil too and then says we can’t understand His ways hmm what!!!

    “”” I’m a big believer that a big reason why God foreordains evil is that so we can emulate aspects of God’s character that we could not emulate if it hadn’t been for reality of evil and sin. If hadn’t been for the reality of evil and sin, no one could show mercy, nobody could show grace, or forgiveness.

    Chris Date 30:00″””

    The dualism is clear thanks for continually pointing out the clear picture!

  12. Agree with you, Reggie!

    And about Chris’s point: “I’m a big believer that a big reason why God foreordains evil is that so we can emulate aspects of God’s character that we could not emulate if it hadn’t been for reality of evil and sin. If hadn’t been for the reality of evil and sin, no one could show mercy, nobody could show grace, or forgiveness.”

    So Calvinists will say that God (their Calvi-god) causes evil just so people could emulate how He reacts to evil, acting like this is a great reason, while ignoring all the problems that come with saying that God causes evil in the first place!?!

    Should Calvinists then also emulate Calvi-god’s characteristics of punishing others for the things HE causes, and tricking people into thinking they’re going to heaven when they’re not (evanescent grace), and deceiving them by constantly saying one thing but meaning another, by pretending to extend mercy and grace and forgiveness to everyone when he’s really not, by causing them to do the things he commands them not to do (sin, reject him) while preventing them from doing the things he commands them to do (seek him and believe)?

    I fear the Calvinist who truly seeks to emulate their twisted, deceptive Calvi-god! A god who gets “glory” by causing evil, sin, unbelief and causing people to go to hell!

    1. Heather I never heard this term evanescent grace before nor have I ever looked into it. What a crazy idea and term how could anyone stand on a solid foundation wondering if they are actually saved or maybe temporarily they get to think they are’ and that is suppose to be Good news Nah that is Bad news!!! I have seen quotes on here from John Calvin that state something like that, but I guess I glossed over the term. I really appreciate your knowledge behind this fixed/methodical & unyielding systematic. Seems some are set in complete confidence this TULIP is not only true but rather superceds the gospel🤔 Reminds me of some passages but here is one of them;

      1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV — So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

    1. Hey Br.d,

      It’s all gone very quiet in your neck of the woods? Ireland has been ordered by the government to go into a near complete lockdown for the next two weeks. The streets are almost empty with only essential work being allowed to open for business. Anyone over 70 is being told to completely cocoon. The rest of us are being told to stay at home and isolate from others as much as possible. The government is trying to get ahead of the curve here by driving this thing out of the community and back into people’s homes, where it hopefully can be managed better. That seems to be the general idea, at least as far as I can tell. The death toll has been rising, but it is still relatively low here. There’s an old saying here which seems apt, “a stitch in time saves nine.” Hopefully, that will prove to be the case with these new measures in place! On top of that, the policy is to test, test, and test, just like South Korea I suppose.
      I see that the U.S. has the highest number of cases in the world right now. If there was ever a time for people to pull together, its right now. I believe it will take the efforts of all of the States, fighting together, to stop the spread of this thing. At home I thank God for our government, and for all our nurses and health workers who have put themselves on the frontline in harms way. They have their own families to protect, yet many of them are volunteers – it is truly a wonderful and incredible thing to behold.

      Keep a thought for them, but especially for the families who have suffered terrible loss due to this virus. Look after one another out there!

      1. Good thoughts Aidan – and thank you!
        Yes – this particular strain appears to be highly transferable, primarily by traveling in the air or on people’s hands.
        It essentially attacks the respiratory system and inflammation causes it to fail

        This to shall pass I’m sure, but yes, it will take a lot of people with it.
        Our thoughts an prayers go out to the world, and especially those who look to Jesus as their light and light.

        Blessings to you and yours!
        br.d

      2. Thanks Br.d. Keep posting any thoughts you might have, especially the funny ones – like yesterday!

  13. Wow! What a great discussion. I needed to find this today!

    Under the title MORAL INTUITION it’s quoted: “The presumption behind this criticism, of course, is that objective moral values exist and are intuited from God. That is, since we are made in the Image of God, God gave us the intuition of objective moral values so that we would know and be able to discern right from wrong so we are without excuse for doing what is wrong (Rom 1).”

    My (probably limited) understanding is: humans learned what was right and wrong after eating the forbidden fruit from “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”, not being created in God’s image. If this isn’t the case, the tree was not aptly named, the story false, and none of this matters.

    In fewer words: I only see evidence mankind was created without moral intuition.

    Thanks for taking the time!
    Jesse

    1. Hey Jesse, thanks for the question. I have never thought of the name of the tree in a literal sense before, it’s an interesting thought. It seems to me that taking the name of the tree to mean eating of it literally infuses mankind with moral intuition leads you to say that when Eve believed the serpet and ate the fruit and then Adam listened to his wife and ate the fruit of the single tree God said they could not eat of that they didn’t know it was wrong. It leads to the inescapable conclusion that they couldn’t know disobeying God’s single commandment in the garden was wrong until after they disobeyed God’s commandment. This seems an untenable position to me. What do you think?

      1. Eric,

        Here is what I think…The commandment to not eat of the tree is irrelevant. Completely irrelevant.

        The CONSEQUENCE from eating of that tree of KNOWLEDGE of good and evil is that they got knowledge of good and evil, and based on that knowledge, they finally figured out that they were naked, and tried to cover themselves up, because they were ashamed of being naked.

        In other words, they got knowledge of what sin is, and as Romans 7:7-9 and Romans 3:20 and the KJV of 1 John 3:4 indicate, sin is the transgression of the law, and the law is the knowledge of sin.

        Adam and Eve got that knowledge from a tree, NOT FROM GOD, but from a tree.

        In short, it was Satan that wanted them to KNOW WHAT SIN IS, not God. God wanted them to be ignorant, for as long as they were ignorant, they are innocent.

        Hence, children CANNOT go to hell, due to ignorance.

        And we read in Acts, I do believe, that ignorance is “winked” at (KVJ).

        In short, that’s my take, and I’m sticking to it!!

        Ed Chapman

      2. Hey Ed, thanks for the response! This is the part of your view that I would like to push back on: “Adam and Eve got that knowledge from a tree, NOT FROM GOD, but from a tree.”

        So, God didn’t design what would happen to human nature IF humanity chose to disobey? As in, the consequence of disobedience wasn’t “from God”? That doesn’t seem tenable to me. When I eat a nourishing apple the good nutrients it gives my body are, in a sense, from God since He designed it would be that way. Also, when I eat a Twinkie, the bad nutrients, and the effects it has on my body are also, in a sense, from God as He designed my body to be that way. Do you see what I mean?

      3. Eric,

        I’m sticking to my story, Eric, with full force.

        And I would not use the word “design”. I would use the word “weakness”, in that God made us weak. He knew that we would give into temptation by free will, all because we are weak.

        The tree of life was in the garden as well, and they never ate of that tree.

      4. Ed, OK, then my criticism stands. Adam and Eve did not know disobeying God’s commandment was wrong when they ate of the fruit. I cannot fathom how that is a rational or biblical position to hold to.

      5. Eric,

        God already told Adam what the consequences for disobeying was gonna be…you shall surely die. It was NO SURPRISE to him. That was the judgment passed to him. But that death is not physical death, but a spiritual one.

        He did get punished for disobeying. He died a spiritual death as a consequence, just like you would GROUND your child for playing with matches.

        Ed Chapman

      6. This might be a duplicate response, cuz after I submitted my comment, I don’t see it.

        In any case, God already warned Adam of the consequence of his disobedience beforehand, which was if he disobeyed, he shall surely die. Well, he did die…THAT DAY. A spiritual death, and it has nothing to do with natural death, because Adam was gonna die anyway, based on 1 Cor 15:42-43.

        Judgment was passed to him BASED ON God already warning him of the consequences of disobedience. Spiritual death (separation from God)

        Ed Chapman

      7. Eric,

        I will challenge your push back with the following:

        Genesis 3:5
        5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

        7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked;

        11 And he (GOD) said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?

      8. Eric,

        It does answer it. I’m surprised that you are not looking at:
        “Who told you that you were naked?”

        Did Satan? No. Did God? No. The revelation of Good and Evil did, and God didn’t give them that knowledge.

        The CONSEQUENCE of eating of that tree gave them that knowledge, and the ultimate consequence God warned him of beforehand, which is that he would DIE.

        Now, some like you think that means a natural death, stating that the beginning process began. But no. It was spiritual death that God warned him of, not natural death.

        1 Cor 15 42 and 43 tells us he was gonna die a natural death ANYWAY.

        So, to conclude, WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE NAKED? A tree did. Not God, but a tree.

        Ed Chapman

      9. I’m adding the following verse to my Genesis verses:

        22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

        You see, that tree of life had a purpose. Eternal life. God blocked access to that tree with flaming swords, so that they could not obtain eternal life in a fallen state.

        But no one talks about the Tree of Life in the garden, because they think it’s metaphorical, rather than literal.

        Ed Chapman

      10. Eric,

        You had said:

        “He designed my body to be that way. Do you see what I mean? ”

        My response:

        Remember, my last comment I used the word, “weakness”.

        Based on 1 Corinthians 15, in the discussion of the BODY of the resurrection, it is also discussed of the body that we now have. It gives a comparison of the two different bodies.

        1 Cor 15:42-43
        The body that is planted does not last forever. The body that is raised from the dead lasts forever. 43 It is planted without honor. But it is raised in glory. It is planted in weakness. But it is raised in power. 44 It is planted as an earthly body. But it is raised as a spiritual body.

        And if you keep reading, will see that a natural dying WEAK body is what came first with all of us, including Adam and Eve.

        Planted as:
        1. A body that dies (Not as a result of Adam eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but because God “designed” it that way)
        2. Dishonor
        3. WEAKNESS
        4. Earthly Body

        NOTE: People die a natural death because of Adams sin, yes, but why? Because he never ate of the OTHER TREE, the one that God had to block to prevent eternal life in a fallen state. Let’s not forget that if Adam had eaten of that tree in a fallen state, he never would have died at all. Considering that SHOULD force one to revisit Romans 5, and restudy that to come to a completely different conclusion than the one that they have at present.

        But he would have always been spiritually dead (separated from God), had he had eternal life in a fallen state.

        The resurrected body is:
        1. Does not die
        2. Glory
        3. Power
        4. Spiritual Body

        Again, we give into temptation because we are weak.

        Matthew 26:41
        Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

        Why is the flesh weak? Because it was planted like that. Flesh and Blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. But the resurrected body can.

        Ed Chapman

      11. Ed, I agree. But Adam had to have moral intuition to know disobeying God’s commandment was wrong or he is not morally responsible for his choice, right?

      12. Eric,

        Just to be CLEAR, I want to submit this comment.

        You had said:
        “Ed, I agree. But Adam had to have moral intuition to know disobeying God’s commandment was wrong or he is not morally responsible for his choice, right? ”

        My response:

        Intuition has NOTHING to do with it at all. Why? Because he was TOLD what his punishment would be if he disobeyed. So, Adam ALREADY KNEW that it was wrong. Why? Because God told him face to face to not do it, and if he did do it, what his punishment would be.

        Now, where does INTUITION come into play here? It doesn’t. Why? Because it was SPOKEN to him already, before he did wrong.

        So I don’t know why you are bringing this back on me, thinking that I am telling you that Adam didn’t already know that it was wrong. HE KNEW. It was spoken to him. Intuition has nothing to do with it.

        Ed Chapman

      13. Ed, so your position, stated a different way by substituting the term “moral intuition” for its definition, is this: Adam did not have the moral capability to tell right from wrong but knew eating of the tree was wrong because God told him it was”. Is that right?

      14. Ed, so The Fall gave humanity an ability it did not have before, to intuitively know right from wrong without needing to be explicitly told, is that right?

      15. Eric, it is told. I’m not understanding how or why you can’t see it. You MUST, but you are not, concentrate on, “WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE NAKED?”

        That is a start. Then there is more.

        Much more.

        Romans 7:7, where Paul states the he had NOT known sin but by the law. For he had not known lust had the commandment not said THOU SHALT NOT COVET.

        Romans 3:20
        For by the law is the knowledge of sin.

        1 john 3:4
        Sin is the transgression of the law.

        The law of Moses spells out what sin is. It’s in written form.

        Adam got that supernaturally, by a tree.

        So i don’t know how or why you even bring up intuitively stuff, because it’s by the law that you find out what sin is.

        By your logic, sin is open to interpretation.

        Who told you that you were naked.

        Lastly, the additional genesis reference that i added separately indicates God saying that man HAS BECOME as us, TO KNOW GOOD and evil.

        How did you miss THAT?

        Everyone goes thru the same thing that Adam does. In Deuteronomy (I’m at work so i can’t look, but do a word search for Good Evil for deuteronomy), you will see that children do not have knowledge of sin, and here is the kicker, which i know you still automatically reject, those who have NO KNOWLEDGE of good and evil get to go to the promised land.

        Every time i hear your side debate with Calvinists, and the subject of children going to hell, or not going to hell, and the reasons for not, i shake my head.

        Children are not lost. They don’t need a savior. The savior never left them to begin with.

        We all die a spiritual death. We were not born dead. Each of us has a spiritual death date, and when is that?

        Romans 7 tells you. The day you GET KNOWLEDGE OF SIN.

        WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE NAKED.

        Until you have interest in researching that out, you will only know what your seminary wants you to know, and let me say, they got a lot wrong.

        Reggie is correct in his comment, and i just dove tailed, interjecting my agreement, and tho explain.

        Take it or leave it. I defend it. Full force.

        Respectfully,

        Ed Chapman

      16. Eric,

        Romans 5:13.

        Before the law, sin was in the world, BUT SIN IS NOT NOT NOT NOT IMPUTED where there is no law.

        Romans:415, or 16. The law works wrath, where no law is, there is NO NO NO transgression.

        Abraham didn’t have the law.

        Why?

      17. Any time God makes a command, there is law. The Law of Moses is not the only law. When God gave the command (law) ‘Thou shalt not eat . . .’, the opportunity for sin arose. Upon this opportunity, Satan seduced man into sinning.

        Catholicism calls that which precedes and outlasts the Mosaic Law ‘Natural Law’. This unfading Law of God, which the Law of Moses set out in greater delineation, (along with the sacrificial system unique to Israel) remains in effect to this day. Thus, although the sacrificial and ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law were done away with, the Ten Commandments are often viewed as aspects of God’s Natural Law, or what Presbyterians refer to as the Moral Law.

        Many would affirm that when God commanded the sun, moon, stars, sea, animals, etc. to do certain things, that became a part of his unchanging Natural Law. Having no free will, the lesser creatures do not disobey this Natural Law, and cannot sin.

        Had God not made any commands (Law) neither Adam nor following humans could possibly have sinned. Where there is no Law, there is no sin. It is simply one interpretation, which I would challenge, that asserts this applies only to the Mosaic Law. It is confusing, as the message of the New Covenant was that the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Law) had come to an end. But this was not the overturning of all law and the granting to humans of complete moral license. The Natural Law of God – which Jesus explained sums up the (Mosaic) Law and the Prophets – never expires.

      18. TS00,

        The old covenant is the law that I’m discussing, and Romans 3:20 is discussing.

        But, keep in mind the exact words of “The righteousness of God without the law”.

        The key word is righteousness.

        You don’t get righteousness in the law.

        The righteousness of God without the law.

        I’ve never been catholic.

      19. Eric,

        I’m going to test YOUR intuitive theory.

        Leviticus 18:6
        None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord.

        I do believe that is a polite way of saying that you can’t have sex with a near relative, right, like saying that Adam KNEW Eve?

        Leviticus 18:9
        The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.

        Leviticus 18:11
        The nakedness of thy father’s wife’s daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

        Leviticus 20:17
        And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.

        Deuteronomy 27:22
        Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.

        And now…ABRAHAM:

        Genesis 20:12
        And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

        —————————————-

        And God gave BROTHER/SISTER a promised son, and never informed Abraham of the sin. NOT A PEEP!

        So much for intuition!!

        Ed Chapman

      20. Eric,

        You had said:
        “Ed, so The Fall gave humanity an ability it did not have before, to intuitively know right from wrong without needing to be explicitly told, is that right? ”

        My response:
        I am re-responding to that comment, cuz I read it too fast for PROPER comprehension, but the premise of my previous responses to this comment STILL STANDS.

        But to answer this particular question POINT BLANK (forgive the caps, it’s only for empasis), the short answer of your question is:

        No, it did not give HUMANITY any INTUITION to know right from wrong. Just ADAM AND EVE. And it’s not Right from Wrong, as you keep indicating, it’s good and evil.

        For everyone else, Romans 3:20, Romans 7:7, 1 John 3:4 (KJV), Romans 5:13, Romans 4:15, OTHERWISE, Abraham would have known NOT TO SLEEP WITH YOUR SISTER.

        Based on that, did the Pharaoh from Moses time frame go to hell? You’d probably say YES, huh? I wouldn’t.

        I’m sure that Adam and Eve passed this supernatural knowledge, which you call INTUITION, down from generation to generation, UP TO A POINT, then it probably got skewed, and forgotten over time.

        Cuz I can surely tell you that Abraham had no clue about sleeping with his sister.

        NO CLUE.

        Now, if you want to reference Romans 2:14-16, key word is BY NATURE, not by intuition, not by osmosis.

        Romans 2:14-16 King James Version (KJV)

        14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

        15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

        16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

      21. Eric,

        Here is the Deuteronomy reference that I was discussing:

        Deuteronomy 1:39
        Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

        Notice, if you will, the words, “NO KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL”.

        In Judaism, WHEN do children finally get that knowledge? And how? Something about a bar mitzvah, and bat mitzvah when they are INTRODUCED to the Torah. What age is it for males? What age is it for females? Until that time, the parents are responsible for their children’s sins. According to the Jews, that is. It’s a celebration not only for the child, but for the parents, as well.

        Ed Chapman

      22. Eric

        Acts 17:30
        30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at

        What is the context of the word, “this”?

        Would you like to amend your conclusions regarding Romans 1 to only the Jews, seeing how the context of Acts 17:30 is about Gentiles?

        I make this comment because you lump all of humanity in Romans 1, instead of seeing that it is the Jews only that were given this knowledge. Otherwise, why would those in Acts 17:30 be “ignorant”?

        But more importantly, God winked at the ignorance of the Gentiles (Acts 17:30), but holds the Jews accountable (Romans 1)

        Ed Chapman

      23. Eric,

        I am curious, WHERE did the teaching that Romans 1 is about all of humanity? That is the origin of the major malfunction within the reformed world, thinking that all mankind is being discussed in Romans 1, when it is a CLEAR discussion of the Jews only, NOT including the Gentiles.

        The following is a main verse that reformers think that they have the insight that it’s about humanity as a whole:

        20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

        Thinking that the word “they” is everyone?

        How about let’s break down Romans 1 for a minute?

        It kinda begins in verse 18

        18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

        The WRATH of God…

        Romans 4:15
        15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

        Oh, and, WHO held the truth (last part of Romans 1:18)? Jews only.

        Verse 19
        19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.

        You take that the word “them” is all of humanity? I take it to mean JEWS ONLY.

        VERSE 20…I tell ya what, we will come back to that…

        Verse 21
        21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

        Are you really going to tell me that THEY included Gentiles, too? It plainly states that they KNEW God. Are you REALLY going to tell me that Gentiles KNEW God?

        I’m skipping verses 22-27, but you can read them if you wish…

        28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

        Key word is RETAIN and KNOWLEDGE. Still discussing Jews here. Where do you see Gentiles?

        skipping verses 29-31 but you can read them if you wish…

        32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

        ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT GENTILES KNOW THE JUDGMENT OF GOD?

        Now…VERSE 20

        20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

        First of all, it is discussing INVISIBLE things. INVISIBLE. I think that the word INVISIBLE is being sorely missed. And there is a caveat that it is ALREADY “UNDERSTOOD”…understood by the things that are made.

        Colossians 1:16
        For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

        If this was common KNOWLEDGE for all of humanity, INFUSED BY OSMOSIS, why was it necessary for this to be said in Colossians 1:16?

        ***************2 Corinthians 4:18
        While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

        INVISIBLE THINGS ARE ETERNAL. Let me say that again. Invisible things are ETERNAL.

        And YOU are going to conclude that EVERY HUMAN BEING is infused with that knowledge?

        It’s ONLY the Jews that were with that knowledge, for THEY (JEWS) are without excuse.

        For let’s look at the Gentiles, which many in modern Christianity call, PAGANS.

        Acts 17:18-30
        18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.

        19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?

        20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.

        21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

        22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.

        23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.

        24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

        25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

        26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

        27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

        28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

        29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

        30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

        So…WHY would Paul have to EXPLAIN all this to them IF THEY ALREADY KNEW (NOT IGNORANT) AND ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE?

        And more importantly, WHY would God, then, EXCUSE IT, since they are WITHOUT EXCUSE?

        Your education in Romans 1, which is PREVALENT in your seminaries, beginning HUNDREDS of years, well into Catholicism, is the MAJOR MALFUNCTION of all this talk about predestination and elect stuff that just goes off the charts on BOTH SIDES of the Calvinist vs. Non-Calvinist debates.

        The Jews are without excuse…EVERYONE ELSE, God WINKS at the ignorance. And you guys all, on both sides, pride yourselves in exegesis?

        Get Romans 1 right, guys.

        Ed Chapman

      24. Eric,

        Oh, I almost forgot…

        1 Corinthians 15:56 King James Version (KJV)

        56 …the strength of sin is the law.

        Without the law (knowledge of sin), sin has NO STRENGTH at all.

        Romans 7:8
        8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

        Sin came alive once you got KNOWLEDGE of it. Until you knew it, SIN WAS DEAD.

        So how can sin be dead in YOUR theology, since you think that mankind has some kind of INFUSED knowledge of good and evil?

        Romans 5:13, 4:15.

        (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

        Now, let’s look at the DEATH that we all get in Romans 5. Is it SPIRITUAL DEATH? Or is is NATURAL DEATH?

        NATURAL DEATH.

        We all die a natural death, but we all don’t die a spiritual death. Spiritual death ONLY comes about once you get KNOWLEDGE of sin. That does NOT mean that you have never sinned. It only means that you aren’t CHARGED (IMPUTED) with the sin until you get that knowledge of good and evil. That knowledge is not infused into us. If it was, Moses wasted a lot of ink.

        Did Abraham receive JUDGMENT for sleeping with his sister? Was he given MERCY? NO. He was never charged for the sin to begin with. You can only be given mercy if the sin is IMPUTED first. He had no knowledge of good and evil. NOTHING WAS INFUSED in him. He was already a God follower when he declared openly that his wife is is sister. He had no shame about it, either.

        Ed Chapman

      25. Hello Ed,

        These statements you’ve made on this link I’d like to respond to though I’m not qualified;
        “””Hence, children CANNOT go to hell, due to ignorance”””

        Who said they could on this site? 
        The Age of Accountability – SOTERIOLOGY 101
        https://soteriology101.com/2018/06/21/the-age-of-accountability/

        And another good resource…….

        Defending the Age of Accountability – SOTERIOLOGY 101
        https://soteriology101.com/2017/05/09/defending-the-age-of-accountability/

        Then you say;
        “”Adam and Eve got that knowledge from a tree, NOT FROM GOD, but from a tree””. And another “I’m sticking to my story, Eric, with full force.””

        Ok Ed I know I’m not in this discussion, but I do often try to read everyone’s insights to these issues, but mainly I’m here, because I see calvinism as a problem and that is mildly stating it. Though I’ve never believed this understanding (calvinism) of Scripture it’s clearly entrenched in many areas within the church today from my limited dealings.  So I’m sorry to even say anything about this, because it’s your dialogue with Eric & I’m Not qualified, but your thoughts about Adam and Eve to me are off….. I couldn’t find this before I posted, but I remember you saying they weren’t aware (not exact word) So to believe that they were “unaware” (for lack of a better word) they should not eat of the tree makes No sense…. God is still Good today, but satan is still a lier and a deceiver, & was in the garden trying to make them (now us) doubt this!!!. He disputed the honesty of God’s motives from the Very beginning, telling Adam & Eve that God was holding out on them keeping them from the forbidden fruit… Why because He didn’t want them to be like Him no because honestly as we should all recognize we will NEVER be God He alone is Worthy of that title. And even though we will never be completley like Him because He alone is the Creator, of course eventually all those who are in Him will be transformed. And yes they became aware of good and evil, but you think the tree alone gave this knowledge…. They knew better (not to eat as do we ie our conscious) and we (the world) are created in His image, and isn’t this the beauty of the cross???  we all fall short of His perfect standard and by His grace alone we now have a way; 

        John 14:6 NASB — Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

        Again I’m only hear because I was so bothered by the claims of casual divine determinism aka calvinism, and I do appreciate your insights on that subject. But for you to stick to your story in your belief and claiming that sarcastic is your middle name… These are the reasons I decided to say something from an outsider’s point of view whether it matters or not… reading those statements from you seem a little prideful & unyielding… Trust me I can be as well, but hopefully over time and much renewing of our minds that’ll look more and more diminished as apposed to prevalent.. again probably not qualified to respond, but those are my thoughts. 

        Blessings 

      26. Reggie,

        Hello.

        I’d like to address the last first. I never ever said that Adam and Eve were NOT AWARE they should not eat of the tree. As a matter of fact, I clarified that they were told and were indeed aware.

        What I did say, is that they had NO KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL until they ate of that tree. HUGE difference. HUGE.

        If you tell your child to OBEY YOUR COMMAND to not play with matches, they are aware that they are not to play with matches, or they will be grounded for a month.

        But you never told them of the consequences of playing with the matches, in that they might get burnt.

        Adam knew not to eat, and he knew that they would die if they did. But what they didn’t know, is that they would get knowledge of good and evil.

        So the commandment to not eat is NOT the story. The story is about getting knowledge of good and evil if they did eat.

        WHO TOLD YOU THAT YOU WERE NAKED is not something that God told them, otherwise God would not be asking. God never infused that knowledge in them.

        So to conclude this, I never said anything related that Adam didn’t already know that it was wrong to disobey God regarding eating of that tree. He knew, NOT BY OSMOSIS, but by REASONING, not by a gut feeling.

        Now, if you are implying that God wanted Adam to know good and evil, then I would differ. God wanted Adam to be as IGNORANT of sin as possible, which is WHY God made a commandment to not eat of it.

        But most reformers only concentrate on the commandment, not the consequence of the knowledge that they would get from that tree, which is why they don’t take the title of that tree as literal. Eric does not consider the title of that tree to mean anything in the literal sense.

        I hope that explains that part.

        Next…

        I’ve read the posts in SOT101 that you provide. But it STILL does not answer the question, it leaves it up for others to decide for themselves, i.e., some believe this, some believe that, while others believe such and such. That doesn’t answer the question.

        Furthermore, if it is taught on one hand, that humanity has the infused knowledge of, “right and wrong”, including that EVERYONE is without excuse, and then we read about AoA from the same blog…seems kinda contradictory to me. How about you?

        We have many denominations BAPTIZING CHILDREN, and babies. They are doing that while preaching AoA. What good does that do?

        Then end result…the baby got wet. That’s all it produced.

        NO ONE is dead in their trespasses and sins, UNTIL they get knowledge of good and evil. Abraham, he was NEVER dead in his trespasses and sins, because he had NO KNOWLEDGE of good and evil. Remember, he was married to his sister. A sin that he had no knowledge of. And as a result, he was never charged with that sin.

        The law (knowledge of sin) is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. IF that isn’t true, then HOW will we ever know what sin is if we introduce people to Jesus using John 1:1, and EXPECT THEM to repent of their sins?

        They have no clue what sins are, because no one introduced them properly BY THE LAW to inform them what sin is.

        Repent, repent. From what? Your sins! What sins? You know what your sins are, no one needs to tell you, because you already know!

        Is that how its works? That’s what Eric is implying, that everyone already knows “right from wrong”, without being told. IS THAT TRUE?

        Not from what I read.

        Thou Shalt Not Covet is ONE of the TEN commandments, and Paul didn’t have that knowledge until he was introduced to the law. So if anyone states that the Ten Commandments is INFUSED in everyone, so that everyone is WITHOUT EXCUSE, I would beg to differ, and I have.

        NO ONE is lost until they get knowledge of good and evil. NO ONE. It just so happens that AoA is within JUDAISM, because that is when their parents INTRODUCE them to the TORAH…a book that NO OTHER RACE/RELIGION had but them.

        So where does that leave the Gentiles? NO KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL (Romans 2:14-16), NOT DEAD IN THEIR TRESPASSES AND SINS.

        Reformers have a hard time distinguishing the DIFFERENCE between Jew and Gentile, all due to ONE VERSE that states that there is NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE.

        I think it also states that there is no difference between male and female, too, but reformers are quick to tell us all that there is a HUGE difference between male and female. I wish that they would heed that same regarding Jew and Gentile.

        Jews were given knowledge that Gentiles were not. And for that, Gentiles are indeed with excuse.

        Ed Chapman

      27. Ed
        Thank you for your response you are clearly passionate about this and maybe I’m off, but it seems your implying we are born without sin if I’m wrong, then sorry I will again state clearly I’m not an expert… & here I agree where you say,;

        “God wanted Adam to be as IGNORANT of sin as possible, which is WHY God made a commandment to not eat of it.”

        So yes I agree we are to think on what is lovely and pure etc..

        But I do believe we are born with a moral compass (conscience) you can even see it in the interactions of children when they hid offenses they know are wrong,.. This doesn’t mean I think infants who die are in hell… I don’t think they are at an age whatever that is maybe 12 when Jesus went to the temple without His parents permission🤔
        Luke 2:42 NASB — And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast;

        or before the age of 20 like those who died in the wilderness…

        Numbers 32:11 NASB — ‘None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully,

        This certainly is not to say that a young child brought up knowing the love of Jesus couldn’t except Him and of course infant baptism isn’t an option there is no choice in that from the infant.

        Of course non of what I’ve swipe text here even matters if I misunderstood you & your not arguing that we are born without sin and if you are saying this I simply disagree and I’m not the one to debate it.

        Enjoy this day

      28. Reggie,

        Romans 7:7
        I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

        Romans 3:20
        For by the law is the knowledge of sin

        Based on those two references, where is this moral compass you speak of?

        Yes, we are born without sin. I do not believe in “original sin”. Why? Because of that tree being literal, not figurative. And also Romans 5 is not discussing spiritual death, but physical death. The ONLY thing passed from Adam was NATURAL DEATH. NOT a sinful nature.

        Otherwise, why Romans 2:14?

        Now, since sin can only be based on the law of Moses *(Romans 3:20, 7:7), what sin is a child capable of, to begin with, and since there is no knowledge given a child, then what sin can be CHARGED or “imputed”?

        This is just an example, but maybe a child’s FIRST SIN is at age 7…just for an example. Let’s say that he stole a candy bar.

        That child will NOT BE CHARGED with the sin of stealing. Why? NO KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL.

        You have to have knowledge first. That knowledge is an major prerequisite before being CHARGED.

        NATURE..Romans 2:14 speaks of NATURE.

        Romans 2:14
        For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

        1 Corinthians 11:14
        Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

        NATURE.

        Yet, Romans 7:7, LUST…There was NO MORAL COMPASS that Paul knew about, regarding LUST.

        Ed Chapman

      29. Ed you say,

        “Yes, we are born without sin. I do not believe in “original sin””

        Ok so yes we disagree!!!! to me this would make the sinless life of Jesus our Savior less impactful and unnecessary hence He alone is sinless!!! The Gospel actually has power as does the Name that is above every other name…

        I trust His birth His life and His death actually changed everything when He rose… the Only sinless sacrifice for all those who will recieve it in faith… aren’t the Jewish people still trying to produce a perfect red heifer? Jesus alone was the perfect sinless sacrifice period. No one is born sinless… and a sinful nature doesn’t mean a corpse unable to respond to His clear revelations even within His Creation it speaks of His Greatness!!!!

        Romans 1:20 NASB — For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

        Again we simply disagree period

      30. Question Ed are we to assume you think if a child as in your illustration at age 7 were brought up perfectly they could remain sinless? Is that a possibility in your belief of no orginal sin stance? So it seems to me this is a possibility without original sin passed on after the fall in Genesis 3.. oh by the way the 7 year old would be held accountable by their parents, because there are consequences for their inappropriate behavior ie sin.. and again I’ve never said seven or 12 is a magic age for accountability… if you know anything about the development of the brain it’s not fully functioning of higher level cognition until much later…
        I’m not a debater but I see clear flaws in this assumption of being born sinless even the earth has been decaying since the fall EVERYTHING was effected by Adam’s original sin..

        Romans 8:20 -22 NASB — For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

        Again I enjoy your posts refuting calvinism but we don’t agree on this it imo makes Jesus life death and resurrection much less impactful if not necessary.. Of course I trust your position doesn’t lead to that end..

        Thanks for your honesty I just don’t see what you see

      31. Reggie,

        You mention Romans 1 as evidence. The Jews only were taught that knowledge in Romans 1. Not the gentiles. Read Acts 17:30. These dudes were ignorant of what romans 1 indicated, and God gave them a pass by excusing their ignorance.

        Explain that!!

        With all due respect, of course.

        Ed Chapman

      32. Reggie,

        Just to clarify, i never once implied that anyone is not a sinner.

        For all have sinned.

        I’m indicating that sin is not imputed to anyone without first having knowledge of the sin. And the only means by that knowledge is the law.

        Besides Romans 3:20 and Romans 7:7, we have Romans 5:13 and 4:15.

        What is being missed is that Abraham didn’t have the law to inform him of sin, and since he didn’t have the law, what sin could be imputed to him?

        Was abraham a sinner? For all have sinned. But what sin was he charged with?

        Romans chapter 4 please, especially verse 15.

        Romans 5:13 please.

        There is no such thing as original sin. We all die a natural death. We do sin, but my point is when is sin imputed, aka charged against you.

        At the point that you have knowledge of good and evil is the point that you spiritually die. Until then, innocent, no matter what sin is committed. Romans 4 and 5, and 7.

        Ed Chapman

      33. Reggie,

        Before i forget…

        Abraham’s bosom. No one could get to heaven until jesus died on the cross. In the mean time, all them ignorant sinners went to be with abraham. Jesus died for all them ignorant sinners, too. You know, the ones who’ve never heard.

        Much of christendom has the whole planet in hell, except a few thousand southern baptists, of course, all because they haven’t heard. Well isn’t that special?

      34. Eric,

        To put a final summary on what I am implying, God told Adam,

        “DON’T FIND OUT WHAT SIN IS, OR YOU WILL BE SEPARATED FROM ME. REMAIN IGNORANT OF ALL MORAL “INTUITIONS”, AND YOU WILL REMAIN INNOCENT AND PRESENT WITH ME. BECAUSE ONCE YOU FIND OUT WHAT SIN IS, THEN YOU WILL HAVE TO OBEY THE MORAL INTUITION.”

        But Satan comes along and states, “GET KNOWLEDGE, STOP BEING SO IGNORANT, EDUCATE YOURSELF”

        Ed Chapman

      35. Eric,

        My example of the commandment to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil can be equated to a parent “commanding”, if you will, that a child not play with matches.

        It’s not the commandment that is important. It’s the consequences of playing with matches that is important. The parent does not want the child to get hurt, burn, or die.

        And if the child does get hurt by disobeying, you will rush that child to the hospital, and all the parent is going to worry about is the child’s well being, not about the “commandment”.

        That’s the same with the commandment to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The consequence was getting knowledge of good and evil.

        The death…not the physical death. He was gonna die anyway a physical death, all because he never ate of the tree of life. The death that they got was spiritual, but God temporarily made a way by sacrificing an animal to resume the relationship…until the next sin.

        Ed Chapman

    2. Hi Jesse and welcome

      On the human ability to know right from wrong – think about how that would be effected if Calvinism is true.
      Here you have a world in which all human perceptions are determined by an external mind.

      John Calvin
      -quote
      Whatever conceptions are formed in our minds was directed by the secret INSPIRATION of god.(Institutes)

      -quote
      Men may not even agitate anything in their deliberations but what He inspires (A Defense of the secret providence of god – PDF version pg 190)

      Since in Calvinism you are not in control of your perceptions – how are you going know if those perceptions are right or wrong?

      1. God placed a prohibition on the tree- a simple command to follow or not follow. Eve chose to place the serpent’s words over God’s.

        https://biblehub.com/genesis/3-5.htm
        For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

        I take my position from what God tells us in Genesis 3:22. (It wasn’t my idea.)

        https://biblehub.com/genesis/3-22.htm
        And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.

        Seems straightforward since both the serpent and God say the same things regarding the consequences of eating from this tree, therefore, I’d posit: while created in the image of God, we were not given all of God’s attributes at the time of creation, but will once we enter into His new kingdom.

        https://biblehub.com/revelation/2-7.htm
        He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

        For the record, I strongly lean toward the Corporate View of Election.

      2. Hi Jesse,
        It looks like you posted this to me – and I’m wondering if you meant to post to someone else.

    3. Jesse, Jesse, Jesse!!!!!

      You had said:
      “My (probably limited) understanding is: humans learned what was right and wrong after eating the forbidden fruit from “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”, not being created in God’s image. If this isn’t the case, the tree was not aptly named, the story false, and none of this matters.”

      My response:

      I’ve been saying that for a VERY long time here, regarding the tree. NO ONE on either side wants to even touch that topic with a ten foot pole.

      I don’t believe in “Original Sin”, SOLELY due to that reason alone. THANK YOU for posting that comment, regarding the tree, and the reason for the NAME of that Tree.

      Funny, too, that neither side ever discusses the OTHER tree in the garden, either. What was it’s name?

    4. Based on my last comment, as well as Jesse’s, the article states:

      “The presumption behind this criticism, of course, is that objective moral values exist and are intuited from God. That is, since we are made in the Image of God, God gave us the intuition of objective moral values so that we would know and be able to discern right from wrong so we are without excuse for doing what is wrong (Rom 1). ”

      My response:

      Obviously that is not my take of Romans 1, either. I had this discussion with rhutich some weeks ago regarding Romans 1, in that the discussion of Romans 1 is about the Jews only, for it is the Jews only who are WITHOUT excuse, and why? Because they had the law of Moses only. Gentiles were NOT THAT SMART to know anything about God, and therefore, ARE with excuse. The Jews are without excuse.

      Remember, Ignorance is “winked at” in the book of Acts (KJV). Jews were not ignorant.

      Ed Chapman

    5. And again…

      “From our own moral experience of simply knowing, deep in our bones, intuitively, that certain things like thievery, rape, and murder are wrong we can know that God must exist, must have given us these intuitions, and His character must take that shape as well; otherwise, where did we get these ideas?”

      My response:

      Romans 7:7 answers the last question from the above quote:

      Romans 7:7
      …I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

      Ed Chapman

      1. Ed

        My follow-up comment was misplaced.

        God placed a prohibition on the tree- a simple command to follow or not follow. Eve chose to place the serpent’s words over God’s.

        https://biblehub.com/genesis/3-5.htm
        For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

        I take my position from what GOD tells us in Genesis 3:22. (It wasn’t my idea.)

        https://biblehub.com/genesis/3-22.htm
        And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.

        Seems straightforward since both the serpent and God say the same things regarding the consequences of eating from this tree, therefore, I’d posit: while created in the image of God, we were not given all of God’s attributes at the time of creation, but will once we enter into His new kingdom.

        https://biblehub.com/revelation/2-7.htm
        He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

        For the record, I am not a member of the Calvinist cult and I strongly lean toward the Corporate View of Election.

      2. Jesse,

        Hey! My comment was also misplaced. It was meant for Eric. In any case, I agree with you completely, until, of course, you stated that you lean toward the corporate view of election. If you know Philip from this blog, he and I are in agreement that the title of election is exclusive to the Jews only, not the Gentiles, and not the church as corporate.

        Ed Chapman

  14. I do agree only the Jews were elected. No question there. The Corporate view (the way I understand it) isn’t directly comparable to Open, Simple, Middle, or Augustinian. God has this bride He’s bringing to Heaven- you can either be part of it or not: your choice. Regarding predestination, what I truly believe is:

    God is only truly omnipotent if:
    He created an infinite number of multiverses complete with every choice people living and/or never created (through the choice of another) are allowed to exist. (God literally created everything possible.)

    God is only truly omniscient if:
    He knows the final outcomes of all of the choices. (God literally knows everything.)

    God is only truly sovereign if:
    Everything works out according to His plan regardless of the infinite combinations of choices. (Imagine being able to construct a plan so perfect, that if everything went wrong, your plan would still work out in the end.) An infinite number of choices requires an infinite number of contingencies. This is a plan only a TRUE God could manage; anything less wouldn’t magnify His authority.

    These three attributes clearly define the scope of what God is. The Calvinist God is a simpleton in comparison- only capable of managing one instance of an infinite number of possible histories.

    1. Hey Jesse,

      I really like your explanation.

      My take on that is yes, God has a plan, but we have a free will choice to reject that plan.

      I think that prophesy is getting mixed up with the thought that the sovereignty of God concept of the reformers, whether they be Calvinists or not, is somehow equated with all mankind.

      In my view, prophecy is about jesus, not mankind. It is told thru mankind, but it’s not about mankind. So it’s not about us at all.

      When Peter discusses private interpretation, that’s what it means, that prophesy… prophesy is not about us. It’s only about jesus.

      Many think that Peter said that the interpretation of scripture isn’t to be privately interpreted.

      I got news for those folks. Peter never did say that.

      Lastly, i have a completely different take on ephesians 1:4 that what these reformers teach.

      Ephesians 1:4 is about the “to be”, not about the individual being chosen.

      No one was chosen to be saved. Christians, as a whole were chosen to be… the words to the right of to be.

      Ed Chapman

Leave a Reply