The Hunt for a Hyper-Calvinist; Part 1

I have come to think of the defense of Calvinism as mainly the endeavor to equate logical differences with semantic distinctions. In other words, when a Reformed scholar defends Calvinism, the main strategy he uses is to control the language of the debate as if doing so is the same as defending Reformed theology rationally. Most of them are doing this with the sincere belief that discussing the proper way to talk about Reformed theology is the same as discussion the rational/theological merits of Reformed theology.

This is made clear when considering the term “hyper-Calvinism”. If I’m right about my “control the language” strategy, then hyper-Calvinism will be a nebulous term without grounding in the real world. To be clear, my thesis is not “Calvinists are being insincere when they differentiate their beliefs from ‘hyper-Calvinism'”. I’m sure they are. My thesis is that hyper-Calvinism does not exist in the real world; it doesn’t actually exist. Calvinists cannot name a single actual hyper-Calvinist, there is no hyper-Calvinist confession, there are no self-professed hyper-Calvinist scholars, and no one is pastoring a church under the self-proclaimed doctrine of hyper-Calvinism.

During this article series, I will hunt for the elusive hyper-Calvinist through the writings of the most prominent Calvinist scholars on the most trafficked Calvinist websites; Tim Challies, Ligonier with Michael Horton, Got Questions, and the Gospel Coalition with Justin Taylor and then Kevin DeYoung. As I review articles I am looking for a clear definition of hyper-Calvinism as well as asking these questions: Who is a hyper-Calvinist? What person self-identifies as one? Who leads a church which proclaims to be a hyper-Calvinist church? A hyper-Calvinist organization? Who is writing articles under the guise of hyper-Calvinism?

First Up, Tim Challies

Please read the full article over on Challies. I will quote parts of it as we begin our trek into the forest to find the Reformed Sasquatch.

Frankly speaking, a hyper-Calvinist can be any Calvinist to a person who doesn’t understand Calvinism. So today, just briefly, and because the term has come up a few times in recent weeks, I want to narrow in on a more accurate definition of it.

OK, so a hyper-Calvinist does not even need to be a Calvinist. I’m not sure if this is narrowing the definition down, but Tim says we’re going to get to it so let’s not delay him.

While most Calvinists hold to the five points of Calvinism as summarized by the acronym TULIP, there are some who refer to themselves as six or seven-point Calvinists. One person who is known to identify himself as a seven-point Calvinist is John Piper.

A name! John Piper is a seven-point Calvinist! Does that mean he’s a hyper-Calvinist?

Yet even someone who is willing to extend Calvinism beyond the five points is not “hyper.” A seven-point Calvinist is not a hyper-Calvinist.

Bah, OK then. I guess that would have been too easy.

Part of the confusion about this term no doubt arises from the use of the prefix “hyper.” “Hyper” does not refer, as many might think, to enthusiasm or excitement. Rather its basic meaning is along the lines of “excessive or excessively.”…So a hyper-Calvinist is one who goes beyond and over the bounds of what Calvinism teaches (and thus over the bounds of what the Bible teaches). He is excessive in his application of the doctrines.

According to Tim Challies, “hyper-Calvinism” = Excessive application of the doctrines of Calvinism.

This manifests itself in an over-emphasis of one aspect of God’s character at the expense of another. Hyper-Calvinists emphasize God’s sovereignty but de-emphasize God’s love. They tend to set God’s sovereignty at odds with the clear biblical call to human responsibility.

Then Challies references Phil Johnson who has a definition:

A hyper-Calvinist is one who:

1. Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR

2. Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR

3. Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR

4. Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,” OR

5. Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.

So being a hyper-Calvinist is about what you say. No wonder it is so hard to find a real hyper-Calvinist; you have to find someone who is willing to say that God does not love the non-elect in any way.

Probably the most distinguishing characteristic of a Hyper-Calvinist is an unwillingness to evangelize at all, or to evangelize without extending a call to accept and believe the gospel.

OK great! Who does this? You are not going to name a single person or organization, are you?

At the top of his article, Tim Challies said:

Almost any Calvinist who adheres to the doctrines of grace is likely to be considered a hyper-Calvinist by at least someone.

Ironically, almost any Calvinist is likely to be considered a hyper-Calvinist, except by Tim Challies, who apparently does not consider anyone to be a hyper-Calvinist.

Tim Challies Does Not Understand Hyper-Calvinism

Alright, so this article was not helpful in our search for the Reformed Sasquatch. But I think we have learned something: Tim Challies does not seem to understand what is the Provisionist/non-Calvinist criticism of Reformed theology. Johnson and Challies are pretending as if the criticism is not “the logical conclusion of Calvinism is a decrease in evangelistic fervor” and are changing it to “Calvinists don’t evangelize”. The real criticism is that even if every Calvinist is evangelizing every week, Reformed doctrine removes the rational and theological basis for evangelism. Answering with “yea but we do evangelize” does not answer the criticism.

Even worse, Challies stumbles onto the logical conclusion of Reformed theology and does not even realize it. In discussing John Piper’s seven-point Calvinism he says:

Double predestination is widely considered the sixth-point. It is simply the other side to predestination, that just as God sovereignly chooses those whom He will save, in the same way he chooses those whom He will not save.

Right. If which individuals God saves, and who He does not save, is up to Him and Him alone, will this effectual salvation be hindered by any lack of evangelism on our individual parts? Will it be effected by heaps of evangelism on our individual parts? Of course not. It would be perfectly rational and correct for me to subjectively decide “I’m not ever going to evangelize” and I can be fully confident that, if Reformed theology is true, God’s elect will still be saved.

I can hear the Reformed voice-in-my-head saying phrases like “God ordains the ends and the means” and “evangelism is a command”. Even if true, those phrases do not make the previous paragraph irrational or incorrect. “God ordains me to evangelize as a part of His effectual salvation” and “God commands me to evangelize anyway” do not change the facts of the previous paragraph, do they?

Of course I have little confidence that articles like this one will make any real difference. The term hyper-Calvinist is a convenient and baggage-filled one to lob into an argument or discussion. But at least now we know whether or not we truly fit that mold!

The irony of this statement is that it is actually the Calvinist who uses the term hyper-Calvinist as a convenient distraction to lob into an argument or discussion to deny or dismiss the logical and theological conclusions of Calvinism. This is objectively what Tim Challies is doing in this very article. He’s twisting the objections to Calvinism to be about behavior in evangelism as if that behavior popped into existence out of a vacuum and had no antecedent rational stimulus.

Why do some Calvinists, who have yet to be named, excessively apply the doctrines of Reformed theology? Could it be because the Reformed doctrines themselves lead some people to that logical end and those people do not think they are being excessive at all? That’s the question under discussion.

Thanks to Tim Challies, we now know what we are looking for but alas, we are not closer to finding it. Stay tuned, I will keep hunting for the elusive hyper-Calvinist!

99 thoughts on “The Hunt for a Hyper-Calvinist; Part 1

  1. Eric:
    Fantastic! Keep looking!

    Phil Johnson (MacArthur’s mouthpiece) repeats what MacArthur says, basically, Calvinism is true (God only loves the elect; God only offers to the elect, who cannot refuse) and so is non-Calvinism (God loves everyone “in some way”; Christ’s offer is to all).

    Compatibility. That is the way to chase away that illusive hyper-Calvinist! When you manage to find one, we will notify Phil Johnson and he can beat that hyper-Calvinist up with endless Scriptures that say that God loves everyone and that Christ’s offer is for everyone.

    Because, after all. that is what the Scripture teaches!

  2. Eric
    when a Reformed scholar defends Calvinism, the main strategy he uses is to control the language of the debate

    br.d
    WONDERFULLY insightful Eric!!!

    Rice College Philosophy Course:
    Lecture 3: Semantics of Propositional Logic

    Every language has two aspects: Syntax and Semantics.
    While syntax deals with the form/structure of the language, it is semantics that adds meaningto the form.

    The words or expressions of the language are interpreted with respect to some world.
    Semantics is a mapping from the language to that world.

    In the case of propositional logic, the words of the language are the formulas in form.
    And the world in which those formulas are thus interpreted become logical conclusions which reveal truth-value.

    Equivocal language has the effect of introducing confusion – making conceptions amorphous.
    When equivocation is designed into language, making things APPEAR to be what they are not – is in fact the strategy.

    Calvinism is 99% SEMANTICS
    And the reason Calvinism’s language is saturated with equivocation – is because the Calvinist mind has to find a VIRTUAL BRIDGE between two discordant worlds.

  3. CALVINISM – AND THE BEAR IN THE WOODS

    Anyone who has taken courses in critical, logical, or rational thinking, will eventually hear the story about the bear in the woods who loved to debate.

    One day he was challenged by the birds – on the question of what creature in the woods could travel the fastest.
    The birds argued they did because they could fly.

    Now the bear happened to be the subtlest beast in the field. So he couldn’t allow himself to be seen losing a debate.
    And faced with the bird’s argument, knowing logic was not on his side, he needed to concoct a way to win.
    So, putting paw on chin, he began to think about an invention that might work.

    A-HAH! He said to himself.
    He climbed up onto a tall rock and announced he would prove he could fly.
    He jumped off the rock. And while falling waved his paws in the air mimicking the birds.
    There! He said with satisfaction – I can fly also!

    And unfortunately the birds were not savvy enough to see through the ruse.
    You see the bear did not present a logical argument – what he presented was a semantic argument.
    He altered the meaning of the term
    fly so that it applied to waving the arms while falling.
    The birds went away believing they had lost the debate – but the bear had simply tricked them.

    The moral of the story:
    When you’re engaged with a Calvinist – don’t be like the un-savvy birds.
    Scrutinize every term the Calvinist uses.
    More often than not – you will find he doesn’t have logic on his side – and a vast amount of the time he’s simply deploying a semantic trick – in which he equivocates on the meaning of a term or two.

    In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird! :-]

  4. Dude, this is an easy one. Go to YouTube and search for Redbeetle. Or visit your local Primitive Baptist church. Phil Johnson’s definition is clear and rooted in the actual history. Hypers are not hard to find. For historical examples, look no further than John Gill or J.C. Philpot. It is well known that A.W Pink was hyper during periods of his life. Please do some research before writing facetious articles and blasting them out to miseducate the gullible and uninformed. Thanks.

    1. Hello THEOparadox
      I think this actually proves Eric’s point

      Which one of the “Hypers” sighted – officially classify themselves as “Hypers”?
      In fact they all see themselves as precise followers of John Calvin

      Hence William Lane Craig’s recognition that John Calvin was in fact the first Hyper-Calvinist.
      The confusion comes into play when Calvinists use YEA/NAY language

      Explicitly affirm [X] now – only to then presuppose the non-existence of [X] later.
      Explicitly deny [X] now – only to then inferentially appeal to [X] later.

      Cases in point

      John Calvin
      -quote
      “go about your office AS-IF nothing is determined in any part”

      Or how about this one:
      “Mere” permission doesn’t exist – and we don’t know why god “merely” permits evil

      Or how about his one:
      Calvin’s god determines 100% of whatsoever comes to pass – while leaving some percentage left over for man to determine.

      Or how about this one:
      Calvin’s god is the AUTHOR of every human desire AS-IF he isn’t

      So to Eric’s point – its all couched in SEMANTICS

    2. You’re killin’ me TheoP!!

      You dont think Pink and Gill are cited all the time as “good” Calvinists? Of course they are!

      “It is well known that A.W Pink was hyper during periods of his life.”

      Are you saying this was a kind of on-again-off-again, “I can’t decide” thing? Or was it periods of “correctness” and periods of “wrongness”?

      There are nearly 300 articles and books from Pink listed on monergism.com. Is he a bonafide Calvinist….or is he a slam-dunk “hyper” as you say?

      Are you saying this: “Oh, you’re talking about a ‘hyper-Calvinist’ like Pink. That’s not what I am!” ?

      The following phrase of yours is so condescending and arrogant-sounding! But we have come to expect no different….

      “Please do some research before writing facetious articles and blasting them out to miseducate the gullible and uninformed.”

    3. THEO, thanks for the names! I couldn’t find any on the five articles I read yesterday.

      Can you find me an audio recording or article where Pink, Gill or Philpot call themselves hyper-Calvinists? I would very interested to see that.

  5. Thanks Eric. As you point out, “hyper” has always been a nebulous word thrown around by so called “moderate” Calvinists.

    Interesting sentence that caught my eye:
    “Hyper” does not refer, as many might think, to enthusiasm or excitement. Rather its basic meaning is along the lines of “excessive or excessively.”

    I would agree with this, although I apply it a little differently than he would I’m sure. About a year ago we made the decision to leave the church we had been a part of for almost 10 years due to what I would describe as the “hyper” Calvinism of the church. When I use hyper here I’m not referring to the degree of the Calvinist beliefs (they would be classified as a McArthur type moderate Calvinism), but to the frequency to which the Calvinism was taught and the degree to which it was woven into everything they did and said. Something about Calvinism was brought into almost half the sermons. Calvinism was brought into the Sunday School lessons. Calvinism was even brought into a funeral and one of the weddings I attended! It permeated everything. This is what I refer to as hyper Calvinism.
    Even though it was a Calvinist, “reformed” church, we would probably would not have left it had Calvinism not been a constant front and center issue with them. This is what I refer to as hyper based on the excessive frequency that it is taught and talked about and the excessive degree to which is permeates their thinking.

  6. Another, better classification I believe is between a “consistent” Calvinist and “inconsistent” Calvinist. Those who are labeled “hyper” tend to simply be those who are consistent between what they say they believe and what they actually believe. AW Pink is considered to be a “hyper” Calvinist in part because he simply states logically and consistently that God does not love all people, which is exactly what Calvinism teaches if love is kept as a biblical self sacrificing love and the definition of love not changed or distorted. When AW Pink writes that God does not love all people he is simply being consistent (and dare I say openly honest) with what Calvinism teaches. The so called “moderate” Calvinist is extremely inconsistent (I know very well the inconsistencies, as I sat under a moderate Calvinist pastor for 10 years). For example, He says God loves all people but to say this he must re-define what love is and break love into two different kinds of love. The inconsistent Calvinist will insist he can say God loves all people. But when they do they have their fingers crossed and give a “wink wink” to the other Calvinists in the room who really know what they mean. They really mean that God loves all people with a sort of provisional love that provides for their food and shelter and physical needs, but God only loves the elect with a “salvific” love that loves them to the point of dying on the cross for them and regenerating them so their souls can be saved.

    Another: The idea of Single predestination, quote from “moderate” (inconsistent) Calvinist pastor “God doesn’t actively condemn the reprobate to hell, He just “passes over them with His salvation” -huh? that makes what kind of difference? vs. the “hyper” (consistent) Calvinist just comes out with the logical and sensible idea of double predestination, if God saves some, then He obviously doesn’t save others when He could have saved them therefore He actively makes the decision not to save them (ie. condemn them)). We all could go on with many more examples of this of course.

    I really think that the “moderate” (inconsistent) Calvinist dislikes the “hyper” (consistent) Calvinist because the “hyper” Calvinist exposes the ugliness of Calvinism for all to see. The “hyper” comes right out and say the obvious and expose the ugly implications of Calvinism.

    1. Nice point andyb2015

      From my perspective “hyper” Calvinists tent to “so called” when they are too LOGICALLY consistent.

      A “moderate” Calvinist is one who enunciates Calvinism using DOUBLE-SPEAK.

      This is described by Ex-Calvinist Daniel Gracely – in his book “Closer Look at Calvinism
      -quote
      “Calvinist and Non-Calvinist do not share the same meaning of words….. Remember, Calvinism is merely the invoking of associative meaning, not real meaning.

      By ‘not real’ I mean that the meaning is destroyed in the overall thought of the clause or sentence. For, of course, at one level the Calvinist understands the general meaning of words. But he strings them together in such a way that it forms an idea that is false…
      This is what I used to do as a Calvinist. I liken these non-sense statements, or propositions, to the riding of a rocking horse…..

      Thus I would go back and forth in seesaw motion, lest on the one hand I find myself accusing God of insufficient sovereignty, or on the other hand find myself accusing God of authoring sin.

      All the while, there remained an illusion of movement towards truth, when in fact there was no real movement at all. At length I would allow the springs of dialectical tension to rest the rocking horse in the center, and then I would declare as harmonious propositions, which in fact, were totally contradictory to each other.
      Calvinist riders still ride out this scenario.”

  7. My personal definition to identify a “hyper-Calvinist” is – those who call themselves Calvinists and also believe God does not want them to evangelize the lost or to pray for the lost. They believe God only want their consistent living and worship to be a light to draw the elect. Primitive Baptists are a good example of such.

    But “hyper-Calvinist” infection, imo, is sensed in those who point to John 17:9, where Jesus says He is not praying for the world, giving the idea that neither should we. Then there are those “infected” who believe God taught there would be two physical seeds in Gen 3:15, the elect and the seed of Satan. And that infection also may be in those who say that TULIP is the gospel.

    1. Brian,

      I was listening to a podcast just yesterday from Dr. Flowers, and this same thing was mentioned, pretty much word for word on your first paragraph. Yesterday…spooky! Dr. Flowers was interviewing someone a few years back…can’t remember who.

      Ed Chapman

    2. Hey Brian!
      Good to see you!

      Its looks like “Primitive Baptist” is a label which avoids identifying a Calvinist as a Calvinist?
      Interesting that these would be even more “hyper” than the rest
      Since they appear to distance themselves from being called Calvinists. :-]

      1. Good points… so really one needs to ask if the label “Calvinist” should even be used anymore. Those who are baptistic and are deterministic in their view of life and salvation don’t like the term “Calvinist” because he believed in infant baptism. But they certainly hold to the TULIP. Those that use the term “Primitive”, if I remember, do not mean they go back to the apostles, but only as far as the Particular Baptists of the 1600’s.

        So they would need to be asked where their doctrines of determinism existed before that… in what groups in the Dark Ages. From my understanding, they tend not to care too much about that 1500 year period, and just think their forefathers always existed, “hidden in the wilderness” as God’s seed. So the Primitive Baptists are labeled by other Calvinists, even baptistic ones, as “hyper” because of their views against evangelism, mainly.

        But “hypers” do exist, even if they don’t accept the label. Isn’t it fair to call those who believe the church started in Acts 13 or Acts 28 “hyper-Dispensationalists” even though they wouldn’t call themselves that?

      2. Good question Brian!
        I’m not as familiar enough with the details of Dispensationalism to know.

        BTW: I have a friend whom I brought to the Lord many years ago who fell into Calvinism – and who now calls himself “Primitive Baptist” and he is definitly “gung ho” about evangelism.

        I don’t think I would personally identify him as “hyper”

        But that’s because to me “hyper” identifies a Calvinist who puts a greater emphasis on divine sovereignty – and often has no problem with god dropping babies into the fire of Moloch for his good pleasure.

      3. If your friend, Br. D., is “gung ho” about evangelism, then he is not a Primitive Baptist in the denomination meaning of the term. I call myself a Jehovah Witness sometimes, especially when I’m witnessing to a JW. I am a Primitive Baptist, also, because I identify with the first Primitive Baptists, Paul and Peter. ;-p

      4. Great fun!!!!
        That would make me a “Primitive” Christian and a “Primitive” human at the same time! :-]

  8. Kemp seems to think that Calvinists are playing at redefining terms to favour their arguments. But in reality the definitions are legitimate philosophical terms used in the free will debate.

    He asks the question: Who identifies as a hyper-Calvinist? Does the bible mention heretics and false prophets? Are heretics real? Can you find any preachers or groups who identify as heretics and false prophets?

    At the end of the day both Calvinism and Arminianism are primarily philosophical ideas theorizing on predestination and free will. Unfortunately it is not until Greek philosophy that in-depth discussions on these subjects arose and not until much later modern philosophy that terminology was created.

    Neither Tim Challies nor Phil Johnson (or John Piper) are philosophers. Therefore their language is not going to really focus on the specific philosophical issues. But the definitions are very clear. Arminians believe in libertarian free will. Calvinists believe in compatible free will. Hyper-Calvinists believe in hard determinism.

    There is a lot of confusion with these terms but a true understanding of these philosophical ideas can go a long way in helping to stop false accusations. But, again unfortunately, there is disagreement as to the definitions of these terms, especially among non-philosophers but, sadly, also among philosophers.

    This is important to understand because the primary Arminian free will debate has really only been against hard determinism, i.e. hyper-Calvinism! This is simply a fact and can be demonstrated with quotes from many Armininans such as William Lane Craig. Craig has gone on record as saying that there is no difference between Calvinists and hyper-Calvinists.

    Now it needs to be noted that this is not unusual within the philosophical discipline. Many prominent libertarians have disputed the validity of compatiblism while compatiblists have denied libertarian free will. Though today, the majority of non-theistic philosophers are compatiblists, while the majority of theistic philosophers are Molinists and Open Theists.

    So most Arminians have a straw man argument against Calvinists because they do not either accept or understand compatiblism. Calvinists simple dispute the rationality behind libertarian free will—many do not accept that Adam and Eve or even God have libertarian free will.

    He says there is no hyper-Calvinist confession but Challies gives an example of a “real world” hyper-Calvinist confession. Did he miss it? If Kemp’s agenda is so blinding him that he can’t understand what he is reading then I don’t think this series (this being part 1) will be at all informative. Most of this article is just bluster and rhetoric.

    Kemp either doesn’t agree with comptilbism or, more probably, he doesn’t understand it. Read “Excusing Sinners and Blaming God” by Guillaume Bignon if you want to understand what the “real world” rational debate is all about!

    1. Mike, It might be good to limit our understanding of what “hyper-Calvinism” is to those major groups who try to speak for Calvinism or Reformed Theology today, like the websites Theopedia or position papers from major Reformed denominations. What do you think?
      https://www.theopedia.com/hyper-calvinism

    2. Hey Mike,

      “Calvinists believe in compatible free will. Hyper-Calvinists believe in hard determinism.”

      Except that John Hendryx of monergism.com, and the legitimate philosophical categories you reference, admit that compatibility is no less deterministic than hard determinism.

      Chris Date, Sonny Hernandez, and A.W. Pink affirm hard determinism but call themselves simply Calvinists. No Calvinist, so far, that I’ve seen, have had the guts to call them hyper-Calvinists and challenge them on that point. If they would, I would gleefully write an article about how X Calvinists scholar finally had the gravitas to bring an inter-Reformed critique and would fully support and cheer on that debate as it would move the soteriological controversies in a more productive direction.

      I just named three self-proclaimed Calvinists who are hard determinists. Would you like to agree with me they are hard determinists and, therefore, label them hyper-Calvinists? That’s literally all I’m looking for. Are there other hyper-Calvinists out there you can name?

      Re: hyper-Calvinists confession: Tim Challies calling a confession “hyper-Calvinist” does not make it so. Do the “Westminster Assembly of Divines, 1640, &c., and the General Assembly of Baptist Ministers and Messengers, in London, 1689” from which that confession is derived label themselves other than just Reformed? I bet they just think they are rightly applying, instead of “excessively applying”, Reformed doctrine. If we were having a productive debate, instead of just trying to control the language, it would be on Tim Challies to SHOW how the “Gospel Standard” confession is “excessively applying” Reformed doctrine. Slapping a label on them doesn’t do it.

      That’s what I mean when I say the categorical, theological distinction of “hyper-Calvinism” doesn’t exist “in the real world”. No one calls themselves one. But people sure do call themselves Gnostics, or Mormons, or Jehovah Witnesses. But hey, I’ll keep searching.

    3. Hello Mike!
      Wonderful to hear from you again!

      Is it true that “hyper” Calvinists are identified as “Hard Determinists”?
      Because as such we would anticipate seeing declarations from then that genuine free will is an illusion.
      Do you know of any Calvinists who insist that?

      1. That’s a good question br.d, that didn’t seem to be the definition Challies and Johnson gave.

      2. I always get a kick out of individual Calvinists who go around “speaking with authority – not as the scribes and pharisees” on all things divine.

        And when one “authority” totally contradicts the another “authority” make-believe there is no contradiction.

        One “authority” here at SOT101 declares without hesitation that god does not love everybody.
        Another “authority” here at SOT101 declares the opposite

        And in their minds they are both saying the same thing!
        Too funny! :-]

      3. That’s interesting – so they disagree with the Westminster confession which says that people come -quote “most freely”?

      1. Hello Ethan and welcome

        Yes, Dr. Craig is a Molinist.
        Its not clear why you would point that out however.

        But the Molinist does have something in common with the Arminian – they are both systems which hold to Libertarian Freedom.

  9. I believe that the free will debate is based in philosophy. Calvinism or divine compatiblism is derived from scripture, or rather it is subservient to scripture, while Arminisnism and hyper-Calvinism apply a philosophical lens to scripture. This is why a debate purely on scriptural verses is unsuccessful. Calvinism sees both determinism and free will in the scripture and concludes an ancient compatible ideology. Historic Arminisanism and hyper-Calvisim are unable to deal with the “so called” illogic of the two and simply favour some verses and ignore, re-interpret and equivocate on others.

    The historic definition from Theopedia.com is helpful but it is not a philosophical definition and the modern debate coming from today’s Arminians (Catholics, Open Theists, Molinists, Unitarians and the cultists) is based on a philosophical view of free will and predestination. Look at how Calvinists speculation on Adam’s free will before the fall—none of this can be confirmed from scripture. The same is true with regard to the supralapsarin and infralapsarian discussion!

    “Except that John Hendryx of monergism.com, and the legitimate philosophical categories you reference, admit that compatibility is no less deterministic than hard determinism.”

    Yes, many theologians who are NOT well versed in philosophy do not understand the differences between compatiblism or soft determinism and hard determinism but the theological Calvinist philosophers do. See Ronald Nash, John Frame, Paul Helm and, again, read Guillaume Bignon’s book.

    Chris Date is a good Calvinist and makes good biblical arguments but he is not versed in the philosophical literature. Hernandez is a hyper. I don’t know about Pink. But just like some Arminians who would never say that they a Pelagians the same is true about hypers. Your argument is not realistic. There are debates between Presbyterians and Baptists as to who can use the term Reformed. Once a term receives a negative connotation it will not be adopted. That’s why abortionists call themselves pro-choice and planned parenting. Gnotics, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses are not negative epithets. Your inevitable conclusion that because you can’t find someone who will admit to being a hyper that there is no difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism is fallacious!

    1. Mike,

      As an outsider NON-DENOMINATION peeking into this, ALL OF IT sounds like philosophy stuff to me. I’ve never been a Catholic, nor a Baptist, nor a Calvinist, nor a paleg…whoever you spell and pronounce it, nor an artesian, or whatever that word is. But I have yet to find anyone of those ranks that just stick to scripture alone. They are always influenced by SOMEONE ELSE’s thoughts. All of ya. What was that Catholic dudes name that always seems to pop up? Septemberistine, or Augustine, or something like that.

      Does anyone have a mind of their own at all?

      For once, I’d like to find someone who NEVER speaks of dead people’s writings, or thoughts, or insights, because what they think is NOT IMPORTANT.

      We have the book. Consult the living, not the dead. But of those living, don’t base your beliefs on them. So many denominations, EATING THEIR OWN, over some dead person’s opinion.

      All of you people are guilty of consulting the philosophers.

      Just an observation!!

      Ed Chapman

    2. Mike,

      “But just like some Arminians who would never say that they a Pelagians the same is true about hypers.”

      So, the only reason I don’t call myself a Pelagian is because Reformed folks think it’s a bad thing? Could it be, instead, that what Reformed folks generally call “Pelagianism” or “semi-Pelagianism” I don’t actually affirm?

      “Gnotics, Mormons, and Jehovah Witnesses are not negative epithets.”

      Sure they are.

      But the point you’re missing is that it is Reformed scholars who CREATED the negative epithets of “hyper-Calvinism” and “Pelagian”. Phil Johnson is RENOWNED for his work on studying Reformed denominations and scholars he thinks went too far in history and calling them “Hyper-Calvinists”. If I had a nickel for every time an internet Calvinist called me a Pelagian…It’s exactly this labeling I oppose! It’s exactly the silliness, irrationality, and insincerity of this labeling I’m arguing against.

      “Your inevitable conclusion that because you can’t find someone who will admit to being a hyper that there is no difference between Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism is fallacious!”

      That’s not my conclusion. My conclusion is that since no one will name and criticize an actual flesh and blood hyper-Calvinist, and since not a single Reformed scholar self-identifies as a hyper-Calvinist, therefore the term is pure pejorative and used as a scapegoat to red herring away criticism of Reformed theology. It’s used to hinder rational discussion, rather than promote it, as other categories do.

    3. Mike
      I believe that the free will debate is based in philosophy. Calvinism or divine compatiblism is derived from scripture, or rather it is subservient to scripture, while Arminisnism and hyper-Calvinism apply a philosophical lens to scripture.

      br.d
      Its funny that some see it the flip-side around. :-]

      We do know that Calvinism is totally committed to Universal Divine Causal Determinism.
      But you may be surprised to find there are Reformed scholars who would not be so bold as to say that scripture fully assumes Theological Determinism.

      There were ancient Reformed divines – for example who saw two streams within scripture – one logically congruent with determinism and one logically congruent with indeterminism.

      The French Reformed Philosopher Guillaume Bignon, for example will say that he sees strong indicators within scripture, which he personally finds convincing, but I’ve never heard him assert that as irrefutable. However I’ve only seen an interview where he spoke about it.

      Reformed scholar Dr. Oliver Crisp has published a historical review of Reformed thinkers in which he concludes that a stream of them affirmed Libertarian Freedom in various forms.

      So I think your confidence on the matter would not be shared by all Reformed scholarship.

      Mike
      This is why a debate purely on scriptural verses is unsuccessful. Calvinism sees both determinism and free will in the scripture and concludes an ancient compatible ideology. Historic Arminisanism and hyper-Calvisim are unable to deal with the “so called” illogic of the two and simply favour some verses and ignore, re-interpret and equivocate on others.

      br.d
      Well – you may have more contact with Arminian’s they I do on this matter – but from my experience I see them as acknowledging that God does occasionally unilaterally determine human functionality – for example making assyrian warriors go bonkers.
      But they don’t see that a consistent within the general narrative of scripture.

      Mike
      Yes, many theologians who are NOT well versed in philosophy do not understand the differences between compatiblism or soft determinism and hard determinism but the theological Calvinist philosophers do. See Ronald Nash, John Frame, Paul Helm and, again, read Guillaume Bignon’s book.

      br.d
      Hmmm- can you provide a quote from any of these mentioned where they insist that “hyper” Calvinism is “Hard Determinism”?

      Mike
      Chris Date is a good Calvinist and makes good biblical arguments but he is not versed in the philosophical literature. Hernandez is a hyper. I don’t know about Pink.

      br.d
      Mike – if Calvinist [A] asserts that Calvinist [B] is a “hyper” and no-one else does
      And then Calvinist [C] asserts that Calvinist [D] is a “hyper” and no-one else does
      The it looks to me like Eric’s argument is correct.
      Then you have a really problem if Calvinist [B] asserts that he isn’t and Calvinist [A] is.

      And what do you expect the Calvinist who is accused of being a “hyper” to have as a perception of the Calvinist who accuses him of that? He’s probably going to say that that Calvinist is a “Semi-Calvinist”

      I liked your other comments though.

  10. Eric, I understand that you are not going to admit to a Pelagian doctrine that is define by your opponents. But don’t you see that that works both ways!

    So I guess I am missing your point. Calvinists disagree with Pelagian and hyper-Calvinist doctrines. What each other calls themselves is minimally relevant, as far as I can see.

    Okay, so Calvinists call you Pelagain. If you believe what Augustine and others said that Pelagius taught then you have a right to be offended. But once again, it works both ways. When you confuse hard determinism with compaiblism and say that Calvinists make everyone puppets and robots and make God the direct author of evil than as a Calvinist I have a right to be offended.

    But then you will retort with the argument that Calvinists are just inconstant and you are just making a logical conclusion to their deterministic ideas. And again, I can do the same to you.

    I don’t get it. What I hear you saying is that hyper-Calvinism is pejorative and a red herring because no one will accept this negative epithet.

    There are many groups in history that have adopted the negative epithets of their opponents—Anabaptist is one example. But the most obvious one is the term “Christian” which was originally a negative epithet created by the opponents of the followers Jesus!

    1. Hey Mike,

      “So I guess I am missing your point. Calvinists disagree with Pelagian and hyper-Calvinist doctrines. What each other calls themselves is minimally relevant, as far as I can see.”

      Also,

      “I don’t get it. What I hear you saying is that hyper-Calvinism is pejorative and a red herring because no one will accept this negative epithet.”

      Almost.

      My point is layered and I’m coming at it from a side angle that I have not seen addressed, so I’m happy to explain and re-explain. Let me try it differently, here goes:

      There are no Pelagian nor hyper-Calvinist doctrines. Pelagian doctrine does not exist in the same way Mormon doctrine exists. Hyper-Calvinist doctrine does not exist in the same way Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine exists. There are Mormons who call themselves Mormons (LDS, technically I guess) who are espousing what THEY call “Mormon doctrine”. There are no Pelagians/Hyper-Calvinists doing the same. Do you see the logical distinction I’m drawing?

      Now, I acknowledge your belief that some Calvinists take Reformed doctrine and apply it “excessively” (as Tim Challies says). I’m not denying your subjective pejorative against those whom you disagree with. Pejorative is great, it’s fine, it helps dialogue because it clarifies where you stand. I’m asking you to acknowledge the logical difference between your pejorative label on them and the affirmative label they would call themselves. Since no one would call themselves a hyper-Calvinist therefore, in that sense, hyper-Calvinism does not exist “in the real world”.

      You may find that point inconsequential; I do not. I think it speaks well to the irrational usage of the label. It gives evidence to my conclusion that hyper-Calvinism is an intellectual scapegoat.

      Let me repeat: Using “hyper-Calvinism” as a label to distinguish your beliefs in opposition to Reformed folks you disagree with is great and I wish more Reformed folks would do so. This is the red herring: Using “that’s hyper-Calvinism” as a rejoinder to criticism.

      “When you confuse hard determinism with compaiblism and say that Calvinists make everyone puppets and robots and make God the direct author of evil than as a Calvinist I have a right to be offended.

      But then you will retort with the argument that Calvinists are just inconstant and you are just making a logical conclusion to their deterministic ideas. And again, I can do the same to you.”

      I do not find it inconsequential, as you seem to, to differentiate between claiming what Calvinists actually believe and what Calvinist doctrine logically leads to. I’m not offended by the label “Pelagian”. I don’t care about the label, to be honest. I find it inaccurate and intellectually lazy and dismissive. That’s all. I’m certainly on the Pelagian side of the fight between Pelagian vs. Augustine but 1. I find that fight stupid and 2. it has literally nothing to do with the contemporary soteriological controversies. The only reason Reformed folks use it because associating their theological opponents with Pelagius has been a knee-jerk response to anything they disagree with for centuries since Beza coined the term “semi-Pelagianism”.

  11. BR.D
    I need a bit of time to go through all that you have said.

    But I’m just not getting the relevance of this he-said-she-said thesis. If A calls B an ass, B is only an ass if 1. Others call B an ass and 2. B admits to being an ass. If B retaliates and calls A an ass (which is usually what happens) then the term “ass” becomes pejorative? The term “ass” has always been a pejorative. This entire line of thinking is ridiculous!

    1. Yes I agree – the term “hyper” is used as a pejorative.
      And often used in arguments to say: “we are not like that” because that is going to the extreme.

      So lets say a Calvinist takes the doctrine to its full logical conclusions.
      Lets say he declares that all human impulses, choices and desires are determined *FOR* each person at the foundation of the world. And people therefore have absolutely no say in the matter of what their impulses, choices, and desires will be.
      And the human mind is never permitted the liberty of choosing whether any proposition is true or false because all human perceptions of true vs false are exclusively determined by a THEOS at the foundation of the world.

      I suspect Calvinists will call that one “hyper”
      Simply because they would consider that aspect of the doctrine too difficult to sell to a Christian customer-base.
      So they would simply label it as “hyper” in order to make Calvinism appear less deterministic than it really is.

      1. You are correct. Your scenario defines a hyper-Calvinist, as far as I’m concerned. Now if you want to make this out to be some kind of deceptive marketing scam than, as I always say, shine the light on your own system before you accuse others. There’s a lot of marketing going on in the Arminianism!

        Here’s some articles that I think you should read before you just assume that Calvinist doctrine taken to its logical conclusion is just preprogrammed hard determinism.

        Can Calvinist Determinists Trust their Cognitive Faculties?
        http://theologui.blogspot.com/2014/08/can-calvinist-determinists-trust-their.html

        Inerrancy, Is It a Matter of Luck?
        https://theologui.blogspot.com/2014/07/inerrancy-is-it-matter-of-luck.html

        Why this Calvinist doesn’t make much of divine “Sovereignty”
        https://theologui.blogspot.com/2014/07/why-this-calvinist-doesnt-make-much-of.html

      2. BR.D, You are correct. Your scenario defines a hyper-Calvinist, as far as I’m concerned. Now if you want to make this out to be some kind of deceptive marketing scam than, as I always say, shine the light on your own system before you accuse others. There’s a lot of marketing going on in the Arminianism!

        Here’s some articles that I think you should read before you just assume that Calvinist doctrine taken to its logical conclusion is just preprogrammed hard determinism.

        Search these articles from Guillaume Bignon:
        1. Can Calvinist Determinists Trust their Cognitive Faculties?
        2. Inerrancy, Is It a Matter of Luck?
        3. Why this Calvinist doesn’t make much of divine “Sovereignty”

      3. I guess, Mike, I could be called a “hyper-Arminian” 😁. The mainline Arminians don’t accept me because I believe in dynamic omniscience/foreknowledge. Of course Arminius didn’t believe in that either.

        The mainline Calvinists want Calvin’s hard determinism to be labeled “hyper-Calvinsm”. I think Calvin would disagree. He would probably call their compatibilism “hypo-Calvinism”. 😉

        Maybe compatibilists should not call themselves Calvinists like I don’t call myself an Arminian. That false dichotomy labeling needs to be dropped for a more exact theological label of one’s position, I think.

      4. MIke
        You are correct. Your scenario defines a hyper-Calvinist, as far as I’m concerned.

        br.d
        AH!
        But so now we have to confirm if what is being called “hyper” is nothing more than “Logical consistency”
        So lets start with the first article you provided: Can Calvinist determinists trust their cognitive faculties?

        Here is the basic premise of this article:
        -quote
        This issue is not Calvinist determinism it is natural determinism
        What matters for the reliability of the process of knowledge acquisition is where we are going, not how we get there.

        First of all – you may notice that with what I detailed – in no way rules out compatiblist freedom.
        It simply rules out Libertarian freedom.
        Therefore what I detailed is not “Hard Determinism”

        Let me ask you this question:
        In Calvinism – what percentage of “Whatsoever comes to pass” is determined by a THEOS at the foundation of the world pre-creation?
        Is it 100% or not?

  12. You are correct. Your scenario defines a hyper-Calvinist, as far as I’m concerned. Now if you want to make this out to be some kind of deceptive marketing scam than, as I always say, shine the light on your own system before you accuse others. There’s a lot of marketing going on in the Arminianism!

    Here’s some articles that I think you should read before you just assume that Calvinist doctrine taken to its logical conclusion is just preprogrammed hard determinism.

    Can Calvinist Determinists Trust their Cognitive Faculties?
    http://theologui.blogspot.com/2014/08/can-calvinist-determinists-trust-their.html

    Inerrancy, Is It a Matter of Luck?
    https://theologui.blogspot.com/2014/07/inerrancy-is-it-matter-of-luck.html

    Why this Calvinist doesn’t make much of divine “Sovereignty”
    https://theologui.blogspot.com/2014/07/why-this-calvinist-doesnt-make-much-of.html

  13. You’re right, Brian, the labels are confusing. There’s lots of disagreement within the Calvinist camp on particulars. If you believe that the only determinism is hard determinism then hyper is logically consistent. But if you explore the literature you find that there are lots of different kinds of determinism.

    1. Hi Mike,

      On the possibility of there being “Hard Determinism” (which rejects both Libertarian and Compatiblist freedom) in the Calvinist camp
      Do these Calvinists reject the declaration within the Westminster Confession – where people are MADE to come – but they do so MOST FREELY?

      If they reject that statement – then that would at least be an indicator of “Hard Determinism”.

  14. BR.D, I think I understand what you are getting at. Let me just answer your question out right with 100%. But the problem is how you and I will interpret this answer. It is logically consistent to assume God creates a puppet world if the only determinism is hard determinism. On the other hand, if God is the creator and sustainer of existence and there is nothing outside of God then it is logically consistent that God is responsible for all existence.

    Now, you could say, as I think many Arminians assume, that a good God can create independent creatures but is that logically consistent if God is the sustainer of existence? And if God is truly a good God in the Arminian sense is it truly good and loving and sacrificial to create inferior beings? Why dose this God of love not create an equal?

    (I’m still working on responding to your longer post.)

    1. Mike
      I think I understand what you are getting at.
      Let me just answer your question out right with 100%.

      br.d
      Good!
      I see you as a rational thinker Mike.
      And the ability to rationally affirm the truth-value of any proposition is in fact what we are together examining.

      Mike
      But the problem is how you and I will interpret this answer.

      br.d
      And that would be dependent upon our human perception wouldn’t it?

      So we both acknowledge that in Calvinism a THEOS at the foundation of the world determines 100% of your every perception that will exist within your brain – before you are created.

      So that brings us to the next steps in our rational reasoning (assuming Theological Determinism grants us rational reasoning):

      Since 100% of whatsoever comes to pass is determined pre-creation by an external mind
      Then it logically follows – these include all false perceptions which come to pass in your brain – which you perceive as true.

      Now a false perception – by definition – is a perception the person cannot know is false.
      If the person did know it was false – then it would no longer qualify as a false perception.

      Thus in Calvinism every false perception which comes to pass is decreed by an immutable decree to infallibly occur.
      And it is a logical impossibility for you to negate or falsify what is established by infallible decree.

      Therefore in Calvinism – you have a subset of perceptions which are false perceptions – and you have a subset of perceptions which are true perceptions. And both of those subsets – as long as they exist – are established by infallible decree.

      Now lets examine what we have so far:
      You have a subset of false perceptions which you infallibly perceive as true
      You have a subset of true perceptions which you infallibly perceive as true

      Since your false perceptions are infallibly decreed to be perceived as true – then you will not be able to differentiate those from infallibly decreed true perceptions – at pain of falsifying the infallible decree.

      CONCLUSION:
      You have no way of differentiating your false perceptions from your true perceptions
      Hence no ability to rationally affirm true from false on any proposition.

      And BTW:
      Your ability to choose true vs false on any proposition would also constitute a Libertarian function.
      Which is ruled out by Theological Determinism.

      So William Lane Craig is correct.
      And I think Mike – you are savvy enough to go back to that article and identify where the logical fallacies are in it.

      1. BR.D, I follow your logic. It’s a good argument. But I think Guillaume Bignon and Alvin Plantings address this satisfactorily.

        But this is why I don’t like the “characters in a book” analogy that Chris Date uses. The characters have no way of knowing where their thought and ideas are coming from. And of course they are all coming from the Author. It’s like West World or Data from Star Trek, the AI’s have to transcend their makers to achieve person-hood. This is the implication of true libertarian free will.

      2. I follow your logic. It’s a good argument. But I think Guillaume Bignon and Alvin Plantings address this satisfactorily.

        br.d
        I’m not aware of Guillaume Bignon’s response – but suspect it boils down to John Calvin’s instructions
        -quote
        “go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part”

        Now on the appeal to Alvin Plantinga in that article – you should be able to realize the fallacies there.
        1) William Lane Craig’s quote includes both Theological Determinism and Natural Determinism as both are a form of Determinism.
        And the only real difference in the two is who/what the determine is.

        In Theological Determinism – a THEOS is the determiner
        In Natural Determinism – NATURE is the determiner

        Both however have all of the inherent consequences of Determinism

        2) Alvin Plantinga’s statement is misapplied – in that it for him it is not representative of Determinism/Compatiblism
        As a THEIST he affirms Libertarian Functionality – hence Molinism.
        So his argument is applicable to a THEIST who allows for Libertarian Freedom

        And this confirms what I’ve observed with Calvinists everywhere.
        They claim to reject Libertarian freedom – by taking its logical attributes and adding them into Compatibilism.
        The only thing they really reject is the “label”.

        Its like taking a jar of “Ivory dish detergent” and putting a “Dawn Dish Detergent” label over it.

        Which coincides with what Dr. William James states:.
        -quote:
        The Compatibilists strategy relies upon masking the underlying determinism

        Can you summarize Guillaume Bignon’s argument?

  15. br.d :Its funny that some see it the flip-side around. :-]

    Mike: Yeah, of course they would.

    br.d: We do know that Calvinism is totally committed to Universal Divine Causal Determinism.

    Mike: Yeah but the definition of this is not as clear cut as Arminians think it is, as you have pointed out with the differences in views from the Reformers. Theological Determinism is not necessarily modern hard determinism. That is why most Calvinist philosophers do not ascribe to hard determinism but to soft determinism or compatiblism. And once again, Bignon makes this clear in his book. You can also hear him explain it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP2BWwC9M3s

    br.d: Reformed scholar Dr. Oliver Crisp has published a historical review of Reformed thinkers in which he concludes that a stream of them affirmed Libertarian Freedom in various forms.

    Mike: I’ve read Crisp and the key words is “various.”

    br.d: So I think your confidence on the matter would not be shared by all Reformed scholarship.

    Mike: My confidence is just blogger’s bravado! Yeah, maybe some Reformers are more deterministic than others but what I find is that, just like the Westminster Confession, the deterministic language is vague enough to be open to interpretation and is balanced with references to man’s free will.

    br.d: …for example making assyrian warriors go bonkers. But they don’t see that a consistent within the general narrative of scripture.

    Mike: Yeah, that’s an easy out. Any verses that Calvinists use as proof text that Arminians have a hard time equivocating on they say is an exception to the rule. So really there is no verse in the bible that can support Calvinism. The problem is that once you buy into this argument than you have to deal with the arbitrariness of God’s occasional determinism. And this really devalues your Free Will Theodicy and the fact that a God of love would never force himself on anyone.

    br.d: Hmmm- can you provide a quote from any of these mentioned where they insist that “hyper” Calvinism is “Hard Determinism”?

    Mile: Honestly, BR.D, that is tricky because there is a lot of disagreement and different interpretations within the Calvinist camp. Like Kemp some Calvinists believe that hypers don’t really exist. Most theologians define hyper as they stay from the biblical text—they don’t use the philosophical free will terminology.

    For instance, Anderson comes close as he tries to define all the different determinisms but backs off at actually admitting hypers are hard determinist. Randy Alcron says it plainly in “If God is Good.” Here is a link to an article that demonstrates some of the confusion with the philosophical terms. https://reformedreasons.com/2018/01/17/a-calvinistic-theological-determinism-review-of-theodore-zachariades-hard-determinism/

    I could submit some more links but this is already getting too long. “I” think that a Calvinist who says that man does not have free will and secondary means are irrelevant and God is directly creating evil and the world is just a pre-written script and humanity is just going thought the motions is declaring theistic hard determinism!

    It often takes some soul searching before alcoholics admit they are alcoholics!

    1. br.d
      We do know that Calvinism is totally committed to Universal Divine Causal Determinism.

      Mike: Yeah but the definition of this is not as clear cut as Arminians think it is

      br.d
      Personally I don’t see this as an Arminian/Calvinist issue – but rather a Determinism/IN-determinism issue.
      With the question being – is Theological Determinism “Universal” is is predicated in Calvinism.

      I am somewhat familiar with Arminian views but I don’t think they practice mental conformity as intensely as we see in the social structure of Calvinism

      Mike
      , as you have pointed out with the differences in views from the Reformers. Theological Determinism is not necessarily modern hard determinism. That is why most Calvinist philosophers do not ascribe to hard determinism but to soft determinism or compatiblism. And once again, Bignon makes this clear in his book. You can also hear him explain it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rP2BWwC9M3s

      br.d
      Yeah – again – I want to ask if these Calvinists who are classified as “Hard Determinists” reject the text in the Westminster confession that man is -quote MADE to come – but does so MOST FREELY

      If they embrace that part of the confession – then technically they cannot be classified as “Hard Determinists” per the standard definition.

      Mike
      I’ve read Crisp and the key words is “various.”

      br.d
      So doesn’t that indicate that Calvinists – and I think it includes yourself – really want is some form of IN-Determinist determinism?

      br.d: So I think your confidence on the matter would not be shared by all Reformed scholarship.

      Mike:
      What I find is that, just like the Westminster Confession, the deterministic language is vague enough to be open to interpretation and is balanced with references to man’s free will.

      br.d
      BINGO!
      And why the vagueness?
      If not to allow for a kind of YES/NO determinism?

      Mike:
      Any verses that Calvinists use as proof text that Arminians have a hard time equivocating on they say is an exception to the rule.
      So really there is no verse in the bible that can support Calvinism.

      br.d
      I don’t see that as the case at all – and neither did the ancient reformed thinkers who saw two streams within scripture.
      Wouldn’t that fall into the fallacy of false dichotomy?

      Who am I to say that God can’t do what he wishes with his creatures?
      If he wants to make their minds go bonkers – he certainly can.
      But is that conception congruent with the preponderance of scripture?

      MIke
      The problem is that once you buy into this argument than you have to deal with the arbitrariness of God’s occasional determinism. And this really devalues your Free Will Theodicy and the fact that a God of love would never force himself on anyone.

      br.d
      I don’t see how you conclude that – can you provide a logical argument for it?
      I’m sure you are familiar with the “Fine Tuning” of the universe
      I don’t see anything having to be considered arbitrary with that.

      Mile:
      Honestly, BR.D, that is tricky because there is a lot of disagreement and different interpretations within the Calvinist camp. Like Kemp some Calvinists believe that hypers don’t really exist. Most theologians define hyper as they stay from the biblical text—they don’t use the philosophical free will terminology.

      br.d
      And wouldn’t you say that per my theoretical example – which you called that “Hard Determinism”
      In my mind it was all very consistent with Determinism/Compatibilism.

      You sighted the strategic “vagueness” in the WMC which I think is insightful
      So I’m wondering if Calvinist [A] calling Calvinist [B] “hyper” occurs when Calvinist [B] departs from a comfortable level of “vagueness”?

      Mike
      For instance, Anderson comes close as he tries to define all the different determinisms but backs off at actually admitting hypers are hard determinist.

      br.d
      That would be the way I would go if I were him also.

      MIke:
      Randy Alcron says it plainly in “If God is Good.” Here is a link to an article that demonstrates some of the confusion with the philosophical terms. https://reformedreasons.com/2018/01/17/a-calvinistic-theological-determinism-review-of-theodore-zachariades-hard-determinism/

      br.d
      Nice article thanks!
      Here is a quote: Zachariades claims that “Free will in a compatibilist-determinist worldview is only free in name.

      This does sound like Hard Determinism in deed!
      As Dr. William James says exactly the same thing – except for Determinism “simpliciter”
      This is why I say – both Theological Determinism and Natural Determinism carry the same inherent consequences of Determinism.

      Mike
      I think that a Calvinist who says that man does not have free will and secondary means are irrelevant and God is directly creating evil and the world is just a pre-written script and humanity is just going thought the motions is declaring theistic hard determinism!
      It often takes some soul searching before alcoholics admit they are alcoholics!

      br.d
      Well said!
      And I would agree with you.
      And we can see that the preponderance of Calvinists do not reject compatibilistic freedom.

      So I think its that “vagueness” you alluded to before that becomes the issue of just how deterministic Theological Determinism is.
      And I think most Calvinists are not comfortable giving up certain aspects of Libertarian Freedom.

      John Calvin totally rejects what we call “mere” permission – and insists rather that the THEOS is the AUTHOR of every event – good and evil.

      So for Calvin divine permission is CAUSAL – and “permission” equates to “rendered-certain”
      What I constantly see is Calvinists using INFERENTIAL language designed to back-pedal on that

      Ravi Zacharias has a quote that I like about this:
      -quote
      “Any time you deny an absolute, sooner or later you will SMUGGLE one back in.

      Blessings Mike!
      Wonderful to chat with you again.
      May the Lord keep you close.
      UR friend – br.d :-]

  16. BR.D, well, I not sure want to say at this point. I don’t think Bignon misapplied Plantinga. And I think his stream of logic is very consistent and matter-of-fact, and presents real problems for libertarians. You might find it helpful to do more investigation into what he has to say.

    Here is what I often do and have done—I put Calvinism and determinism aside and just assume the truth of LFW. Then I start asking questions about this system that I’ve decided is true. Here are some of them: I ask why simple foreknowledge is not taken seriously by LFW philosophers. Why the majority are Open Theists and Molinists? Why, when I investigate Molinism, I find it deterministic? How can God assure LFW in a sinless world to come and not in the current world? Why is LFW dependent on the freedom to sin by humans but not by God and Jesus? Why do humans naturally assume cause-and-effect, both physical and psychological, for everything except free will?

    If I don’t have consistent and rational answers for all of these then I need to admit that my system is problematic, regardless if I think that no other systems are logical. This forces me to think that perhaps I have some preconceived ideas and that I have not spent enough time exploring the alternatives.

    1. Mike
      well, I not sure want to say at this point. I don’t think Bignon misapplied Plantinga. And I think his stream of logic is very consistent and matter-of-fact, and presents real problems for libertarians. You might find it helpful to do more investigation into what he has to say.

      br.d
      I really don’t think so – Alvin Platinga’s representation of THEISM incorporating Libertarian freedom is internationally known.
      Anyone who reads Plantinga knows he considers Determinism/Compatiblism to be too problematic to adopt.

      AlvinPlantinga
      -quote
      Some philosophers say that causal determinism and freedom are compatible. But if so, then God could have created free creatures who were free, and free to do what is wrong, but nevertheless were causally determined to do only what is right. Thus, he could have created creatures who were free to do what is wrong, while nevertheless preventing them from ever performing any wrong actions-simply by seeing to that they were causally determined to do only what is right. Of course, this contradicts the free will defense.

      So Platinga’s personal statement of THEISM cannot be construed as a representation of Determinism/Compatibilism.

      I’m reading up on Bignon’s book as we speak.
      So far – what I see is that he simply resorts the Jonathon Edwards argument that a person’s actions are determined by internal inclinations. And this of course is exactly what I meant when I referred to Calvin’s argument
      -quote “go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined [by the THEOS] in any part”

      I have come to call this Calvinism’s *AS-IF* thinking pattern.
      It is TRUE that 100% is determined at the foundation of the world
      But we go about our office *AS-IF* it is FALSE.

      Mike
      Here is what I often do and have done—I put Calvinism and determinism aside and just assume the truth of LFW. Then I start asking questions about this system that I’ve decided is true. Here are some of them: I ask why simple foreknowledge is not taken seriously by LFW philosophers. Why the majority are Open Theists and Molinists? Why, when I investigate Molinism, I find it deterministic? How can God assure LFW in a sinless world to come and not in the current world? Why is LFW dependent on the freedom to sin by humans but not by God and Jesus? Why do humans naturally assume cause-and-effect, both physical and psychological, for everything except free will?

      br.d
      You are navigating over all of the historical territory – and again – I see you as a sincere rational thinker.

      Here is how I resolve what you’ve just enunciated.
      1) The scripture does reference instances in which God unilaterally and completely controls human functionality

      2) But the preponderance of scripture actually depicts the opposite – and the language of scripture is not congruent with the idea that 100% of whatsoever comes to pass within the human brain is meticulously pre-scripted by a divine external mind.

      3) The normative experience of human cognition does not include the perception that our every impulse is “rendered-certain” in the past to infallibly occur – and determined by an external mind.

      CONCLUSION:
      Theological Determinism is true up to a point – but should not be taken to the extreme.
      And this is actually the position that the average Calvinist wants to assume.

      However – in order to retain allegiance to a religious society and its systematic – he is forced to develop VIRTUAL bridges between a 100% pre-scripted world – and the world he actually cognitively experiences and reads within scripture.

      Think about this:
      A computer is a 100% pre-determined instrument.
      It is a logical impossibility for it to create REAL random numbers – which are IN-deterministic events.
      A simple program designed to create random numbers may eventually repeat the same subset of numbers.
      And that is not congruent with the human perception of IN-deterministic events.
      So the programmer must enhance his program with more complexity in order to Replicate random numbers sufficient to satisfy human perception.

      The Calvinist has a 100% pre-determined world.
      In order to perceive things in that world – as they would be in an IN-deterministic world – he must create deterministic Replications of them.

      And this is what Calvin is doing when he instructs:
      -quote “go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part”

      When we understand this aspect of Calvinism – it becomes clear why Non-Calvinists find Calvinism confusing.
      The Calvinist mind is trying to create VIRTUAL bridges between two discordant worlds.

      1. br.d
: I really don’t think so…

        MIKE: So because he sees it as a problem all of his philosophical ideas are off limits?

        br.d
: AlvinPlantinga
-quote…

        MIKE: Plantings simply over looks the fact that this is what happens in heaven! And yes it does contradict the free will defense—that is why the free will defense is not available to Calvinists.

        br.d
: So Platinga’s personal statement…

        MIKE: We’ve gone down this path before and I don’t really see the problem. If a person’s actions are not determined by internal inclinations than what?

        br.d: 
You are navigating over all of the historical territory…

        MIKE: I get it, but I think this is an over simplification.

        br.d: 
CONCLUSION…

        MIKE: I think I’ve said something like this before but much of our life is conducted in a realm of ignorance. I think you are correct about computers but of course both Calvinists and Arminians believe that humans are not just carbon based computers. Arminians believe that God gives a mysterious free will that somehow transcends God while still being subject to God. Calvinists believe that God’s decree (creation) mysteriously determines existence while somehow granting free will.

      2. br.d

        I really don’t think so…

        MIKE
        So because he sees it as a problem all of his philosophical ideas are off limits?

        br.d
        No – because the quote provided from Platinga was a quote representing his own personal position on THEISM.
        Which is a rejection of Determinism/Compatibilism.
        So that quote is misapplied.

        MIKE
        Plantings simply over looks the fact that this is what happens in heaven! And yes it does contradict the free will defense—that is why the free will defense is not available to Calvinists.

        br.d
        Thus confirming Platinga’s representation of THEISM doesn’t apply.

        MIKE
        We’ve gone down this path before and I don’t really see the problem. If a person’s actions are not determined by internal inclinations than what?

        br.d
        In Calvinism a person’s actions can be determined by internal inclinations
        But which themselves must be meticulously determined by an external mind.

        And do we find that the only way the Calvinist mind can retain a sense of congruence with his cognitive perceptions of personal agency – is to create a VIRTUAL BRIDGE between a 100% pre-scripted world and an IN-deterministic world he actually wants
        And this fits Calvin’s instructions to “go about one’s life *AS-IF* one’s perceptions are not determined by an external mind?

        MIKE
        I think you are correct about computers but of course both Calvinists and Arminians believe that humans are not just carbon based computers.

        br.d
        Yes – but Calvin’s world is 100% pre-determined – which reduces functionality to 100% pre-determined.

        John Calvin makes numerous statements affirming this:
        -quote
        “Hence they are merely INSTRUMENTS, into which god constantly infuses what energy he sees meet and turns and converts to any purpose at his pleasure.” (Institutes)

        -quote
        “It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the AUTHOR of them. (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God pg. 176)

        So what we see in Theological Determinism is that only the THEOS has Authoring Agency
        And all human/animal functionally is limited to Instrumental Agency

        So for Calvin – when you pray – you are functioning as an Instrument saying a prayer – which an external mind infused with energy into your brain – and turned and converted it to his purpose and pleasure.

        Mike:
        Arminians believe that God gives a mysterious free will that somehow transcends God while still being subject to God.

        br.d
        And doesn’t this turn out to be exactly what Calvinists call “mere” permission.

        And don’t we recognize that 90% of permission language used by Calvinists – is designed to INFER “mere” permission?

        So the very mysterious form of freedom the non-Calvinist conceives – turns out to be the very form of freedom the Calvinist actually wants – and thus claims as compatible with a world in which 100% of his impulses are determined by an external mind.

        Mike
        Calvinists believe that God’s decree (creation) mysteriously determines existence while somehow granting free will.

        br.d
        So if my statement above this one is true – then Calvinists and non-Calvinists have the same approximate conception of freedom in mind.
        They just “label” it differently.

  17. Hard determinism is by definition incompatible with free will. Those who identify as Calvinists and deny free will are “hyper” whether they admin it or not.

    There are Calvinists who define free will in a number of ways but the majority accept a compatible free will. And this is supported by scriptural exegeses and many ANE scholars. Jewish scholar David Winston in his chapter on Free Will in the book “20th Century Jewish Religious Thought” writes this: Biblical monotheism, which tended to subordinate the entire natural world to the sovereign power of YHWH, was ineluctably driven to attribute even the human psychological sphere to the all-determining divine action. “There was no other way of expressing the uncanny, over powering, ‘demonic’ character of the power of sin, than by seeing this too as a work of Yahweh, even if one executed in anger.”

    Compatibilistic free will defines free will as the ability to act according to one’s desire, one’s nature, without force, coercion, or manipulation. Notice that this is also the Euthyphro Dilemma Response—God is good and can not sin because of his nature!

    LFW posits a will that transcends one’s nature. It has to because one’s nature is not self-determining or logically chosen. It is the result of myriad causal events that ultimately have their origin in God—that is if you believe that God is responsible for the creation of man including man’s nature.

    Here is a video of Dr Craig explaining the Euthyphro Dilemma:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBvi_auKkaI

    I find it ironic that those who accept LFW and also use the Euthyphro Response can’t see the inconstancy.

    1. Mike
      Compatibilistic free will defines free will as the ability to act according to one’s desire, one’s nature, without force, coercion, or manipulation.

      br.d
      Yes this is true
      But with the caveat that a THEOS exclusively determines 100% of one’s nature
      And all secondary events are CAUSED by that THEOS
      All of which is established – at a point in which man has no say in the matter.

      Mike
      LFW posits a will that transcends one’s nature.

      br.d
      Actually – I don’t see this as correct.
      Libertarian Freedom can be defined as:
      1) The ability to choose from a range of options
      2) Each of which are logically available to choose
      3) That choice being consistent with one’s nature
      4) That choice not being exclusively determined for you by factors outside of your control.

      This definition is compatible with a Divine Libertarian Freedom enjoyed by a THEOS

      These however, are ruled out by Theological Determinism
      Because there is no such thing as a range of options from which to choose.

      It is a logical impossibility for a THEOS to predestine you to walk to the left and walk to the right at the same time because these two mutually exclude one another.

      And the THEOS cannot leave this UN-determined and OPEN for the creature – at pain of falsifying Universal Divine Causal Determinism.

      In order for the THEOS to have “certainty” of which direction the Calvinist will in fact take, limits the THEOS to reducing all available options down to one single predestined “rendered-certain” future.

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

      1. br.d: Yes this is true
        But with the caveat that a THEOS exclusively determines 100% of one’s nature
        And all secondary events are CAUSED by that THEOS
        All of which is established – at a point in which man has no say in the matter.

        Mike: No. If this was the case then we could postulate that existence could have begun a minute ago and all of our memories are just implanted fabrications. God creates a world with mechanisms that run and produce. God sets up a world of cause-and-effect and chain reactions and second, third and fourth, etc. means and events. And he does all this while still remaining the source of existence and where existence is dependent on God. If this were not true then God’s non-existence or hypothetical death would not affect our existence. Did God create you or did your parents create you? Could God know of your existence before the random chance meeting and copulation of your parents?

        br.d:
        3) That choice being consistent with one’s nature
        4) That choice not being exclusively determined for you by factors outside of your control.

        Mike: Compatiblist free will agrees with all 4 points. But points 3 and 4 are some what vague. What is the nature and how is it formed? Is non-coercive choice dependent on the nature?

        br.d: Because there is no such thing as a range of options from which to choose.

        Mike: How does randomness give you freedom?

        br.d: It is a logical impossibility for a THEOS to predestine you to walk to the left and walk to the right at the same time because these two mutually exclude one another.

        Mike: Ask a Molinist that question.

        br.d: And the THEOS cannot leave this UN-determined and OPEN for the creature – at pain of falsifying Universal Divine Causal Determinism.

        Mike: Yeah, under hard determinism.

        br.d: In order for the THEOS to have “certainty” of which direction the Calvinist will in fact take, limits the THEOS to reducing all available options down to one single predestined “rendered-certain” future.

        Mike: Ask Plantinga, the Molinist, that question.

        In a paper submitted to The Journal of Ethics entitled “How to Think about the Problem of Free Will,” Van Inwagen worries that the concept “free will” may be incoherent. He says “There are seemingly unanswerable arguments that (if they are indeed unanswerable) demonstrate that free will is incompatible with determinism. And there are seemingly unanswerable arguments that … demonstrate that free will is incompatible with indeterminism. But if free will is incompatible both with determinism and indeterminism, the concept ‘free will’ is incoherent, and the thing free will does not exist.”

      2. Mike
        No. If this was the case then we could postulate that existence could have begun a minute ago and all of our memories are just implanted fabrications. God creates a world with mechanisms that run and produce. God sets up a world of cause-and-effect and chain reactions and second, third and fourth, etc. means and events.

        br.d
        I don’t this is a necessary postulation:
        Whether or not we appeal to an “seemingly” infinite chain of events – it is still the case that all events occur infallibly
        Nature does not have the power to make events occur infallibly
        And we have no say in the matter of what occurs infallibly

        Mike
        he does all this while still remaining the source of existence and where existence is dependent on God.

        Br.d
        Mike we both know – there is way more than the source of existence in Causal Determinism!
        If John Calvin heard this statement – wouldn’t he assume it was made by an Arminian?

        Mike
        If this were not true then God’s non-existence or hypothetical death would not affect our existence. Did God create you or did your parents create you? Could God know of your existence before the random chance meeting and copulation of your parents?

        br.d
        I don’t know how a THEIST can appeal to the non-existence of a THEOS.
        But the reference to divine knowledge again affirms my statement – the only way a THEOS can “render-certain” any event is to resolve it down to one single predestined “rendered-certain” option.

        Mike
        Compatiblist free will agrees with all 4 points.

        Br.d
        I don’t think so but we’ll see how you get to this.

        Mike
        But points 3 and 4 are some what vague. What is the nature and how is it formed? Is non-coercive choice dependent on the nature?

        br.d
        Why can’t nature be whatever God originally designed it to be along with the existence of “mere” permission?
        As I’ve said – this is in fact the kind of permission most Calvinists actually want – even though they don’t say so because Calvin rejects it.

        br.d:
        In Theological Determinism there is no such thing as a range of options from which to choose.

        Mike: How does randomness give you freedom?

        br.d
        The same way randomness might effect god’s freedom to choose.

        br.d
        It is a logical impossibility for a THEOS to predestine you to walk to the left and walk to the right at the same time because these two mutually exclude one another.

        Mike
        Ask a Molinist that question.

        br.d
        Exactly!
        Libertarian Freedom

        Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
        Luis de Molina…God’s prevolitional knowledge of all true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. This knowledge is seen by its proponents as the key to understanding the compatibility of divine providence and creaturely (libertarian) freedom

        br.d:
        And the THEOS cannot leave this UN-determined and OPEN for the creature – at pain of falsifying Universal Divine Causal Determinism.

        Mike:
        Yeah, under hard determinism.

        br.d
        So this is always the BIG issue!
        How Universal is Universal Divine Causal Determinism?
        And math tells us that if a THEOS determines 100% of whatsoever comes to pass – this leaves zero percent left over for any other sentient being to determine.

        Otherwise we have “mere” permission – which John Calvin rejects.

        br.d
        In order for the THEOS to have “certainty” of which direction the Calvinist will in fact take, limits the THEOS to reducing all available options down to one single predestined “rendered-certain” future.

        Mike
        Ask Plantinga, the Molinist, that question.

        br.d
        Exactly!
        Libertarian Freedom

        Mike
        In a paper submitted to The Journal of Ethics entitled “How to Think about the Problem of Free Will,” Van Inwagen worries that the concept “free will” may be incoherent. He says “There are seemingly unanswerable arguments that (if they are indeed unanswerable) demonstrate that free will is incompatible with determinism. And there are seemingly unanswerable arguments that … demonstrate that free will is incompatible with indeterminism. But if free will is incompatible both with determinism and indeterminism, the concept ‘free will’ is incoherent, and the thing free will does not exist.”

        br.d
        Yes I love the intellectual honesty of Van Inwagen!

        But alas – after he reviews these things – he compares the problems with determinism vs indeterminism and concludes that determinism simply has to many problems to embrace.

        And I really think John Calvin gives us the clue as to how Calvinists are to resolve it
        -quote
        “go about your office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part”

        But each Calvinist has to determine how he will apply this *AS-IF* thinking pattern.

        For example, on the topic of his election the Calvinist does not go about *AS-IF* it is not determined.
        On the topic of him committing sins he does go about as if it was not determined.

        So I still think the Calvinist is forced to create VIRTUAL BRIDGES between a 100% pre-determined world, and what he is comfortable living with. In order to make determinism APPEAR as indeterministic

        So in my mind we are back to deterministic Replications of indeterministic events.

  18. In other words, when a Reformed scholar defends Calvinism, the main strategy he uses is to control the language of the debate as if doing so is the same as defending Reformed theology rationally.

    Nailed it.

    Focusing on the almond-like smell doesn’t change the fact that it is arsenic.

    One of the reasons it is so frustrating to converse with Calvinists is because there is this continual and obsessive refinement of language at am almost subatomic level that goes beyond even electrons, protons, and neutrons; a belief that if you, as a philistine, can simply get all the nuances just right the theology will suddenly result in an epiphany of acceptance and peace. Pay no attention to the involuntary convulsions your body is experiencing – focus on the smell, young acolyte.

    Just reading “Institutes” out loud to a congregation of those without a strong view either way would probably be enough to drive most away — until they have been suitably anesthetized. And this is likely why it is only done in small groups and studies.

    R.C. Sproul described his “conversion” to Calvinism more as surrender to the pummeling of his professors and their proof texts than as the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The “doctrines of grace” are not easily ingested. Perhaps there is a reason most Christians correctly exhibit an autoimmune response to them?

  19. Mike: Okay,first let’s deal with Calvin. I haven’t checked these quote for context but I trust you.

    “Hence they are merely INSTRUMENTS, into which god constantly infuses what energy he sees meet and turns and converts to any purpose at his pleasure.” Is this referring to before or after the creation of man? Sounds like after so it make little sense. With hard determinism you need not infuse something that is already infused at birth.

    “It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the AUTHOR of them.” Sounds like hard determinism to me. Though Calvin uses “permission” in his commentaries. So he is inconsistent.

    Br.d: So what we see in Theological Determinism is that only the THEOS has Authoring Agency. And all human/animal functionally is limited to Instrumental Agency.

    Mike: What is Instrumental Agency? Do animals have LFW? Are animals determined? It you are eaten by an animal who’s responsible? Is God subject to randomness? Is knowledge and deliberation counter causal? Is a random choice libertarian?

    Br.d: And doesn’t this turn out to be exactly what Calvinists call “mere” permission.

    Mike: Perhaps. So Calvinists and Arminians are closer philosophically than they think. So let’s put LFW and the Divine Decree in the same bag, shake hands, and call it a day!

    Br.d: So if my statement above this one is true – then Calvinists and non-Calvinists have the same approximate conception of freedom in mind. They just “label” it differently.

    Mike: Yes, to a great extent I think this is true. That’s why both Arminians and Calvinists are brothers and sisters in Christ!

    Br.d: Mike we both know – there is way more than the source of existence in Causal Determinism!

    Mike: True. But there is not less. In a real sense the original inventor of the gun is responsible for all deaths by guns.

    Br.d: If John Calvin heard this statement – wouldn’t he assume it was made by an Arminian?

    Mike: Perhaps, but I’m not a Calvinist because of Calvin. There’s a lot of Calvin that I disagree with—as evidenced above. I’m a reformed baptist. Calvin would have had me burned at the stake!

    Br.d: …the only way a THEOS can “render-certain” any event is to resolve it down to one single predestined “rendered-certain” option.

    Mike: As in Molinisim. I don’t think you understood my references to Molinism. LFW in Molinism is a canard. Molinism is just as deterministic as Calvinism. Molinists are Calvinists in denial.

    Br.d: Why can’t nature be whatever God originally designed it to be along with the existence of “mere” permission?

    Mike: It can but if God creates the nature then he is responsible for it and determines it. The mystery, call it mere permission or LFW, is how independence exists while being dependent. This is the plot hole in the robot develops consciousness scenario that is so popular. Give me Captain Kirk deactivating androids with illogic and paradox!

    Br.d: In Theological Determinism there is no such thing as a range of options from which to choose.

    Mike: Perhaps that is the definition of Calvin and other Calvinist but I see that as incompatibilism.

    Br.d: And math tells us that if a THEOS determines 100% of whatsoever comes to pass – this leaves zero percent left over for any other sentient being to determine.

    Mike: That’s incompatibilism.

    Br.d: Otherwise we have “mere” permission – which John Calvin rejects.

    Mike; Calvin is inconsistent with this and with baptism and a bunch of other stuff.

    Br.d: …he compares the problems with determinism vs indeterminism and concludes that determinism simply has to many problems to embrace.

    Mike: What can I say, I think that indeterminism has more problems.

    Br.d: So I still think the Calvinist is forced to create VIRTUAL BRIDGES between a 100% pre-determined world, and what he is comfortable living with. In order to make determinism APPEAR as indeterministic.

    Mike: Okay so hopefully you can see that I am tracking with you and I have agreed with some of your points. But Calvinism’s problems don’t force me to embrace Arminianism because there are just as many problems. The Arminian has to deal with the Time Traveler’s Paradox of God’s foreknowledge. They have to believe that God and Jesus are capable of sin. Just as they believe that in heaven everyone has LFW but can never sin. So it’s one step forward and two steps back!

    1. Mike: Okay,first let’s deal with Calvin. I haven’t checked these quote for context but I trust you.

      “Hence they are merely INSTRUMENTS, into which god constantly infuses what energy he sees meet and turns and converts to any purpose at his pleasure.”

      Mike
      Is this referring to before or after the creation of man?

      br.d
      It couldn’t possibly be referring to man prior to creation.

      Mike
      Sounds like after so it make little sense. With hard determinism you need not infuse something that is already infused at birth.

      br.d
      Again – when we refer to “hard determinism” are we referring to someone who rejects the WMC text where it states men are MADE to come – but do so MOST FREELY Any Calvinist who affirms that is technically not a “hard determinist” according to the standard definition.

      “It is a quite frivolous refuge to say that God otiosely permits them, when Scripture shows Him not only willing but the AUTHOR of them.” Sounds like hard determinism to me.

      Mike
      Though Calvin uses “permission” in his commentaries. So he is inconsistent.

      br.d
      Calvin developed his own personal definition for permission – which was logically consistent with Theological Determinism
      For Calvin the term “permit” simply means “CAUSE”.

      Whatever the THEOS infallibly decrees he permits
      Whatever the THEOS does not infallibly decree does not come to pass – and is therefore not permitted.

      Br.d
      So what we see in Theological Determinism is that only the THEOS has Authoring Agency. And all human/animal functionally is limited to Instrumental Agency.

      Mike:
      What is Instrumental Agency?

      br.d
      it is the agency reduces to Instrumentality without Authorship.

      John Calvin
      -quote
      “men can deliberately do nothing unless he INSPIRE it”. (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God pg. 171–172)
      -quote
      Whatever CONCEPTIONS we form in our minds, they were directed by the secret INSPIRATION of God”. (Institutes)
      -quote
      We infer that God was the AUTHOR of that trial of which Satan and wicked robbers were merely the INSTRUMENTS”. (Institutes)

      Paul Helms
      -quote
      Not only is every atom and molecule, every thought and desire, kept in being by God, but every twist and turn of each
      of these is under the direct control of God
      (The Providence of God pg 22)

      Robert R. McLaughlin
      -quote
      “God merely PROGRAMMED into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions”
      (The Doctrine of Divine Decree)

      MIke
      Do animals have LFW?

      br.d
      Certainly not in Calvinism – and otherwise I wouldn’t know

      Mike
      Are animals determined?

      br.d
      Absolutely yes in Calvinism – and the question is – do humans have any more agency then animals do in Calvinism?
      I personally don’t think they do.
      And Calvinists intuitively sense this also – and it makes them want to somehow have “mere” permission
      But they can’t acknowledge it because Calvin rejects it.

      Mike
      It you are eaten by an animal who’s responsible?

      br.d
      In Calvinism – that would have been infallibly decreed – or it could not have come to pass.
      And James White would add – that if god did not specifically decree it – then it had no purpose.
      Is god responsible for what he decrees?

      Mike
      Is God subject to randomness?

      br.d
      I don’t see how one can say god is “subject” to anything but his own nature
      But he is limited by logical possibility.
      He can’t create square-circles, and married bachelors.
      And he can’t predestine you to walk to the left and to the right at the same time – because these mutually exclude each other.

      Mike
      Is knowledge and deliberation counter causal?

      br.d
      The idea of counter causal is not something I espouse because it infers the irradiation of determinism which I don’t think is reasonable

      Mike
      Is a random choice libertarian?

      br.d
      It could be “libertarian like” in the sense that it is not predetermined
      We don’t know how randomness occurs on the quantum level.

      Mike
      Perhaps. So Calvinists and Arminians are closer philosophically than they think.

      br.d
      With everything I observe I believe this is true!
      And for a few reasons
      1) With our perceptions we are not cognitively aware of an external mind predetermining our thoughts and choices
      2) When we approach multiple options we have the perception that they all exist as real and our choice is not predestined by an external mind
      3) We read narratives in the scripture which imply the agency we experience as normative – even though there are occasions in which god does unilaterally control people’s minds.

      Mike
      So let’s put LFW and the Divine Decree in the same bag, shake hands, and call it a day!

      br.d
      Somehow I don’t think that is going to resolve it :-]
      But take the 4 items i detailed as Libertarian in the last post that you indicated were compatible with determinism.
      I certainly don’t see them as such.

      Br.d:
      So if my statement above this one is true – then Calvinists and non-Calvinists have the same approximate conception of freedom in mind. They just “label” it differently.

      Mike: Yes, to a great extent I think this is true. That’s why both Arminians and Calvinists are brothers and sisters in Christ!

      br.d
      Well – I think you can agree – its not helpful for us to apply labels on the wrong attributes.

      Br.d:
      Mike we both know – there is way more than the source of existence in Causal Determinism!

      Mike:
      True. But there is not less. In a real sense the original inventor of the gun is responsible for all deaths by guns.

      br.d
      That would not be a comprehensive analogy of Theological Determinism – where every secondary event is conceived in the mind of a THEOS and with such precision of control so as to come to pass infallibly in accordance to a meticulous determination

      Take John Calvin’s example of the man lost in the forest who ends up in a den of murderers.
      Lets say he has to walk 1/4 of a mile in the woods.
      How many steps would that be?
      And for every step he could change course in any of 360 different directions
      And yet he ends up precisely where the THEOS want’s him to be so that he can get murdered.

      John Calvin doesn’t attribute Adam’s fall to Adam’s nature.
      -quote
      For it did not take place BY REASON OF NATURE that, by the guilt of one parent, all were cut off from salvation (Institutes)

      Br.d: …the only way a THEOS can “render-certain” any event is to resolve it down to one single predestined “rendered-certain” option.

      Mike: As in Molinisim.
      I don’t think you understood my references to Molinism. LFW in Molinism is a canard.
      Molinism is just as deterministic as Calvinism. Molinists are Calvinists in denial.

      br.d
      But that is not the way Luis de Molina and all Molinists take it.
      I can see how someone who embraces determinism is going to see only the deterministic side of Molinism.
      But all Molinists are in fact Molinists because it allows for “mere” permission which equates to Libertarian Freedom.

      Also in Calvinism divine “certainty” is not the same as MiddleKnowledge.
      MiddleKnowledge is theoretical knowledge – while divine “certainty” is derived as the byproduct of a decree.

      As John Calvin states it
      -quote
      he foresees the things which are to happen, simply because he has decreed that they are so to happen

      That is why Paul Helm’s response is to say that MiddleKnowledge is unnecessary

      Br.d: Why can’t nature be whatever God originally designed it to be along with the existence of “mere” permission?

      Mike: It can but if God creates the nature then he is responsible for it and determines it. The mystery, call it mere permission or LFW, is how independence exists while being dependent. This is the plot hole in the robot develops consciousness scenario that is so popular. Give me Captain Kirk deactivating androids with illogic and paradox!

      br.d
      Don’t you find it interesting that “mere” permission is seen as illogic and/or paradox
      And yet – it is exactly what Calvinists really want?

      Have you noticed that you and I are essentially describing attributes of creaturely freedom that are the same?
      From my perspective those attributes are logically ruled out by Theological Determinism.
      And in your perspective those attributes can only exist within Theological Determinism.

      Br.d:
      And for me In Theological Determinism there is no such thing as a range of options from which to choose.

      Mike:
      Perhaps that is the definition of Calvin and other Calvinist but I see that as incompatibilism.

      br.d
      Well – think of it this way – can you be predestined to exist and not exist at the same time?
      I will assume you will say no – because these mutually exclude one another.

      I personally can’t see how that is any different than you being predestined to walk to the left and walk to the right at the same time.
      Its just not physically possible.

      That’s Peter Van Inwagen says “Determinism is the thesis that for every future event there can be only one single [predestined] physically possible future”

      So in my mind if “mere” permission doesn’t exist – then in Determinism one does not have multiple options from which to choose.
      One’s choice is already predetermined in advance by factors outside of one’s control.

      Br.d:
      And math tells us that if a THEOS determines 100% of whatsoever comes to pass – this leaves zero percent left over for any other sentient being to determine.

      Mike: That’s incompatibilism.

      br.d
      Boy as a Calvinist that sounds so un-Calvinistic to me!

      BTW: I read tonight that Guillaume Bignon in his book argues against the possibly that god allows any event to be UN-determined – thus allowing a person to make his own determination.

      Br.d: Otherwise we have “mere” permission – which John Calvin rejects.

      Mike; Calvin is inconsistent with this and with baptism and a bunch of other stuff.

      br.d
      So what does that make you wonder why he is?

      Mike: What can I say, I think that indeterminism has more problems.

      br.d
      Understandable! :-]

      Br.d: So I still think the Calvinist is forced to create VIRTUAL BRIDGES between a 100% pre-determined world, and what he is comfortable living with. In order to make determinism APPEAR as indeterministic.

      Mike: Okay so hopefully you can see that I am tracking with you and I have agreed with some of your points. But Calvinism’s problems don’t force me to embrace Arminianism because there are just as many problems. The Arminian has to deal with the Time Traveler’s Paradox of God’s foreknowledge. They have to believe that God and Jesus are capable of sin. Just as they believe that in heaven everyone has LFW but can never sin. So it’s one step forward and two steps back!

      br.d
      No problem with that – I totally agree 100% Mike
      Nice chat BTW!!

      You are a good soul! :-]

  20. Of all the commenters I’ve read on SOT101, I think Mike Ranieri has beliefs most similar to mine…he is just better at espousing and explaining those believes. I have really appreciated the gracious dialogue between Mike and Br.d on determinism/indeterminism. I’m going to let them continue that discussion while I focus on the implication of Eric’s “logical conclusion” argument as outlined in the following paragraph from his article:

    “Alright, so this article was not helpful in our search for the Reformed Sasquatch. But I think we have learned something: Tim Challies does not seem to understand what is the Provisionist/non-Calvinist criticism of Reformed theology. Johnson and Challies are pretending as if the criticism is not “the logical conclusion of Calvinism is a decrease in evangelistic fervor” and are changing it to “Calvinists don’t evangelize”. The real criticism is that even if every Calvinist is evangelizing every week, Reformed doctrine removes the rational and theological basis for evangelism. Answering with “yea but we do evangelize” does not answer the criticism.”

    This is my understanding of Eric’s “logical conclusion”: if a person has knowledge of or believes in the certainty of a future outcome or event (i.e., God will save all of His elect people), then that person might/could/would (I’m not sure which of these verbs Eric would choose) have a decreased fervor or zeal to take actions to help that event or outcome come to pass (i.e., evangelize, share the Gospel with the lost). My question would be does this logical conclusion apply only to salvation or does it apply universally. For instance, if I know with certainty that my team is going to win the game on Saturday, then it logically concludes that I might/could/would have a decreased fervor or zeal to practice before the game or play hard during the game.

    Rather than dealing in hypotheticals, let’s look at an example from the Bible. There are a number of examples we could choose (I have used Jesus and His crucifixion in the past) but let’s use one that is fresh on my mind because our pastor preached about it last Sunday. He is preaching through the book of Acts and came to Acts 27. Paul is being taken as a prisoner by ship to Rome. God had previously told Paul through an angel in Acts 23:11 that he would preach the Gospel in Rome so that future event, that outcome, is certain. God tells Paul again through an angel in Acts 27:23-25 that he would make it to Rome and it’s clear from Paul’s response that he believed that outcome was certain. Using Eric’s “logical conclusion” , Paul’s belief that his arrival at Rome was certain might/could/would decrease his fervor to take actions to help that arrival happen. “Logically”, Paul might/could/would have laid down in the ship and said “God’s got this” and done little or nothing to help make it happen. But this is the exact opposite of what happened. Paul advises the crew to shelter in Fair Haven for the winter (v. 10), he helps them throw the tackle overboard (v. 19), he tells them to run the ship aground (v. 26), and he tells them that everyone must stay on the ship to be saved (v. 30). He even gives them the “good news” that God would save them. Why do any of these things or tell them God is going to save them if he already knew for certain that it was going to happen? Because Paul was part of the means that God used to bring it to pass.

    Let’s apply this “logical conclusion” to another area of Soteriology – the Christian’s complete and perfect sanctification in the future. I know not all of the Provisionists/non-Calvinists who post or comment on SOT101 believe in eternal security or OSAS but I know Dr. Flowers and many others believe some variation of it. For the sake of discussion, let’s call them “Eternal Securitists”. “Eternal Securitists” believe with certainty that God will bring them to a place of complete and perfect sanctification when they are glorified and become like Christ. “Logically”, this belief might/could/would decrease their fervor for growing in holiness and progressive sanctification. Let’s rephrase Eric’s argument from the paragraph above as it could relate to eternal security:

    “(Eternal Securitists do) not seem to understand what is the (Non-Eternal Securists) criticism of (the doctrine of Eternal Seucrity). (Eternal Securists) are pretending as if the criticism is not “the logical conclusion of (Eternal Security) is a decrease in (fervor for holiness and sanctification)” and are changing it to “(Eternal Securitists) don’t (strive to grow in holiness and sanctification)”. The real criticism is that even if every (Eternal Securitist) is (growing in holiness and sanctification) every week, (the doctrine of Eternal Security) removes the rational and theological basis for (striving for holiness and sanctification). Answering with “yea but we do (strive for holiness and sanctification)” does not answer the criticism.” (Dr. Flowers and others who believe in eternal security have probably heard a similar argument. I know I have from my Free Will Baptist friends.)

    What if knowledge or belief in a certain outcome or future event actually has the opposite effect than Eric’s logical conclusion? What if believing with certainty that God will save all of His elect people, or that He will keep all of those exercising faith in Christ secure until they are brought to the place of complete and perfect sanctification, actually motivates and encourages people in their evangelism or desire to grow in holiness and sanctification? Isn’t that what we see in the example of Paul in Acts 27? Or the “Calvinists” throughout history who have had a tremendous fervor for evangelism and missions? Or the “Eternal Securists” like Dr. Flowers who I’m sure have a strong desire to grow in holiness and sanctification?

    1. Hello Mark and welcome

      I very much appreciated the kind and thoughtful spirit of your post!

      Here is one question you asked
      What if the belief that god will keep all of those exercising faith in Christ secure until they are brought to the place of complete and perfect sanctification, actually motivates and encourages people in their evangelism or desire to grow in holiness and sanctification?

      br.d
      This would lead us to a certain line of reasoning:
      The idea that something needs to be “kept” is only logically coherent – where there is a possibility that it will fail.

      When [X] has been established as infallibly TRUE – is it possible for [X] to fail being TRUE?
      This would be a self-contradiction.

      Does something infallible need to “persevere” in order to remain infallible?

      In Calvinism a person’s election is either infallibly true or infallibly false.
      The idea that something established as infallibly true needs to be “kept” or needs to “persevere” from being false is therefore a self-contradiction.

      But we can postulate various reasons for evangelism:
      – Possibly the individual – in the face of uncertainty – will use works as a means of producing an internal sense of conciliation.

      – Possibly the individual – in the face of uncertainty – simply chooses to assume his election status.
      And since evangelism is emphasized in scripture – he thinks this is something he should do in order to remain consistent with his assumption.

      – Possibly the individual – in the face of uncertainty – as a benevolent person – hopes the best outcome for all people and so seeks to evangelize.

      So yes – there might be numerous reasons that a Calvinist would evangelize.
      But as you can see – there is a certain form of self-contradiction in the “P” of the TULIP.

      1. Br.D,
        So you believe that Dr. Flowers and others who hold to the Traditional Statement are being logically incoherent? Here is the statement on eternal security that as far I know Dr. Flowers still adheres to:

        “ARTICLE NINE: THE SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER

        We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

        We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy.”

        My argument has nothing to do with determinism. Whether someone believes that a future event or outcome is certain because God determined it or because He promised it is immaterial. The issue is whether knowing or believing that God promises to complete the process of salvation (including no possibility of ever being lost) logically might/could/would decrease their zeal for holiness. I don’t think it does just like I don’t believe that God’s promise (based in His eternal decree) to save all of His elect logically results in a decreased evangelistic fervor.

        I agree with you that there may be lots of reasons why a Calvinist evangelizes and those same reasons can be applied to non-Calvinists. There are also lots of reasons why a “hyper-Calvinist” (or consistent Calvinist as you might describe them) might not evangelize besides their belief in Calvinism – laziness, fear, lack of concern. Again, those same reasons can be applied to non-Calvinists.

        My point was to establish that just as with Paul in Acts 27, the Calvinist, or the ”Eternal Securitist”, knowing with certainty a future event or outcome does not logically result in a decreased fervor to help see the outcome come to pass.

      2. Mark
        So you believe that Dr. Flowers and others who hold to the Traditional Statement are being logically incoherent? Here is the statement on eternal security that as far I know Dr. Flowers still adheres to:

        br.d
        Can you provide the statement I made that asserts Dr. Flowers and company are being logically incoherent?

      3. Mark
        My point was to establish that just as with Paul in Acts 27, the Calvinist, or the ”Eternal Securitist”, knowing with certainty a future event or outcome does not logically result in a decreased fervor to help see the outcome come to pass.

        br.d
        Mark – can you tell me where you find “knowing with certainty a future event” exists within Calvinism?

        John Calvin says the opposite
        -quote
        “Hence as to future time, because all things are hidden from us, each ought to so apply himself to his office AS THOUGH nothing were determined in any part.”(Institutes)

        -quote
        We are NOT bidden to distinguish between reprobate and elect – that is for God alone, not for us, to do
        (Institutes)

        -quote
        We must thus consider both God’s SECRET election and his INNER call.
        For he alone “knows who are his” .(Institutes)

    2. Mark, thanks for the comment!

      “For instance, if I know with certainty that my team is going to win the game on Saturday, then it logically concludes that I might/could/would have a decreased fervor or zeal to practice before the game or play hard during the game.”

      Sure, that sounds fair. And what happens when a team does not play hard? They lose!

      “Paul’s belief that his arrival at Rome was certain might/could/would decrease his fervor to take actions to help that arrival happen. ”

      Maybe, but this section of Acts is a narrative about how Paul desired to go to Rome, an angel confirmed he would go, and then Paul was dragged there as a prisoner. It doesn’t really fit the analogy of a basketball team certain they are going to win before they play. Telling the team “You will go to Milwaukee to play the Bucks” does not say anything about the outcome, especially when the team (Paul) already wanted to win (go to Rome). My criticism is that Reformed theology tends to remove the desire to go to Rome (preach the Gospel) in the first place.

      ““Logically”, this belief might/could/would decrease their fervor for growing in holiness and progressive sanctification.”

      I agree, that’s one of the reasons I reject OSAS.

      “What if knowledge or belief in a certain outcome or future event actually has the opposite effect than Eric’s logical conclusion?”

      But…does it?

      “What if believing with certainty that God will save all of His elect people…actually motivates and encourages people in their evangelism or desire to grow in holiness and sanctification?”

      I’m sure it does for some people, but that doesn’t remove the validity of the logical conclusion that it does the opposite.

      “Isn’t that what we see in the example of Paul in Acts 27?”

      No, because the angel was confirming the desire Paul already had.

      “Or the “Calvinists” throughout history who have had a tremendous fervor for evangelism and missions?”

      What about the historic “hyper-Calvinists” who have gone the opposite direction as Phil Johnson has produced detailed study of? Do those people cease to exist because other Calvinists continued to evangelize?

      I find it interesting that your response was simply trying to do reductio ad absurdum on my logical conclusion and a “what if the opposite is true?” hypothetical exercise without actually trying to show how my logical conclusion is false. I wonder why that is.

      1. Eric,

        Thanks for your response. Prove your logical conclusion and I will attempt to disprove it. As far as I can tell, you have only asserted it and then stated that it can’t be disproven by what people actually do.

        I stated in a comment in response to the “boast in your belief” article that Calvinists logically conclude that a person could boast in their belief if he “cast the deciding vote” or “made the right choice”. The response I received is that no one actually does that so my logical conclusion was wrong. So I guess it is okay to respond to a logical conclusion with what people actually do.

        I’m not sure why it matters that Paul already wanted to go to Rome. That wasn’t even part of my argument. The issue is that once Paul knew for certain that he would make it there it didn’t change his mindset or his actions. Do you think that God’s promise to Paul would not have been fulfilled if he had changed his desire to go to Rome?

        I should not have framed the last paragraph as a hypothetical. I have logically concluded that certainty of a future outcome motivates and encourages people to take actions that help that outcome come to pass. That conclusion is demonstrated, though not proven, by the examples I gave.

        Do you believe that the logical conclusion of the doctrine of Eternal Security is a decreased fervor for holiness? That is what you seem to be saying when you responded that you don’t believe in OSAS but I wanted to make sure.

      2. Mark,

        “Thanks for your response. Prove your logical conclusion and I will attempt to disprove it.”

        Is that the standard that must be reached; that every criticism of Reformed doctrine has to be “proved” before a Calvinist must attempt to argue against it? That doesn’t seem a fair standard to me. We’re evaluating arguments here.

        “The response I received is that no one actually does that so my logical conclusion was wrong. So I guess it is okay to respond to a logical conclusion with what people actually do.”

        That’s not a strong argument against your “boasting” logical conclusion and neither is yours against my “evangelism” logical conclusion. See, I can objectively evaluate arguments made by people I normally agree with…can you?

        “I’m not sure why it matters that Paul already wanted to go to Rome. That wasn’t even part of my argument.”

        Because we’re talking about the moral and theological impetus to evangelize. Paul already had it in spades. That you skipped over the essential part of my argument in your rebuttal is exactly what your rebuttal didn’t work.

        “The issue is that once Paul knew for certain that he would make it there it didn’t change his mindset or his actions.”

        Where have I argued that “every single person who believes in the certainty of any outcome is de-motivated by that certainty?” You’re going to have address what I have actually argued if we’re going to make any progress here. Instead, I have said “If Reformed theology is true, it is would perfectly rational for me decide to never evangelize and know, for certain, that my lack of evangelism will have exactly zero effect on the number of saved people. If Reformed theology is true, God’s elect will be saved regardless of my lack of evangelical effort”. Is this a rational conclusion or not? Notice, I’m not asking if you agree with it. Notice I’m not asking if you live this conclusion out. Notice I’m asking if the conclusion is rational. You have yet to address this argument.

        ” Do you think that God’s promise to Paul would not have been fulfilled if he had changed his desire to go to Rome?”

        Yes. But it wasn’t a promise. The angel of the Lord said “you must”…as in…you must. In no way does this suggest “God will make it happen regardless of your desire or actions”.

        “Do you believe that the logical conclusion of the doctrine of Eternal Security is a decreased fervor for holiness?”

        I apologize, I’m going to be nitpicky about the terminology here. Those who believe in Jesus are eternally secure as being sealed by the Holy Spirit. That’s what I believe. I also believe that Christians can stop believing in Jesus and therefore cease being eternally secure. But that terminology is distinct from Once Saved Always Saved, which I reject. So, does the doctrine of OSAS logically lead to a decreased fervor for holiness? Yes. Does every person who believes in OSAS suffer from a decreased fervor for holiness? Of course not.

      3. How do OSAS adherents address James 5:19-20?

        My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.(NASB)

        If James was talking about a never-saved individual, he used an exceedingly poor choice of words to describe it. Seems, indeed, that James went out of his way to stress that this was someone who needs to be turned back – not turned for the first time.

      4. This is where Calvinism’s *AS-IF* thinking kicks in.
        In Calvinism election is either infallibly/immutably true or infallibly/immutably false

        It is not logically possible for something infallibly/immutably true – to “stray” and become infallibly/immutably false

        In order for the Calvinist brain to create a virtual bridge between his 100% predestined world and this verse – his brain has to rock back and forth between two worlds.

        He treats election *AS-IF* its 100% predestined one minute – and not 100% predestined the next.
        That way he can retain some sense of mental coherence with the verse

      5. mrteebs,

        I was not necessarily trying to get into a debate about eternal security or OSAS. My purpose was to try to understand if Eric consistently applies the same kind of “logical conclusion” argument to other doctrinal issues such as OSAS as he does to Calvinism in his article. Calvinists are not the only Christians who believe in the doctrine of eternal security. If Dr. Flowers still holds to the Traditional Statement of Southern Baptists, he “denies even the possibility of apostasy”.

        Eric says he does not see Calvinists calling out “hyper-Calvinists” and that “consistent Calvinism” is actually “hyper-Calvinism” (these are not direct quotes from Eric but a summary of how I understand his views based on his writings). In the same way, I do not see “”free will theists” or “provisionists” calling out the logical inconsistency of those who hold to LFW but also believe in eternal security or OSAS.

        I never got back around to telling Eric that my real issue is the use of “logical conclusion” arguments in theological discussions. I have done this myself in the past but recently realized that it is not productive. I think we should address what people actually say they believe and how those believes actually impact their lives and actions. Hopefully those beliefs are grounded in the truths of Scripture and supported by sound philosophical and logical argumentation. We can then have open and honest discussions about those biblical truths and the supporting philosophical and logical arguments.

      6. Mark, it’s a fair point. To my knowledge, free will theists do not punt criticism off to a scapegoat group they have developed a label for. Indeed, we developed the label “Provisionism” for the expressed purpose of INCLUDING those that reject OSAS (and so couldn’t hold to the Traditional Statement). In our discussion group, whenever I have seen someone challenged on “doesn’t LFW logically end in the possibility of apostasy?” free will theists answer with “No because of X, Y, Z” not “that’s not us, that’s “. That’s just what I’ve observed.

        Further, even if true, I don’t see the logical end of “You could fall away from the Lord if you don’t remain faithful” as an untenable way to live for free will theism. Christians can believe that and still be productive members of the body of Christ. But, as Phil Johnson admits, Calvinism is destroyed by its members that go the “Hyper” route.

      7. Doesn’t LFW logically end in the possibility of apostasy

        That is a curious statement coming from a Calvinist – as it seems much more consequential – because the doctrine (begins, sustains, and ends) with the possibility of non-election.

  21. Create a caricature that bears little resemblance to the real world or any living person, burn it in effigy, and declare victory for your more “reasonable” position.

    Sorry. We aren’t fooled. Whether by 99% or 99.9999999%, poor theology is still poor theology.

    Thanks for a great post, Eric.

  22. Maybe someone else already said this (I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments), but my own personal definition of a hyper-Calvinist is “A Calvinist who has the guts to admit what Calvinism REALLY believes underneath all the distracting, deceptive layers that non-hyper-Calvinists wrap around Calvinism in order to try to make it sound better, to convince themselves that their theology really is in line with the Bible, and to make their twisted, contradictory beliefs sound more ‘reasonable’ to the trusting, unaware masses.”

    Hyper-Calvinists simply cut through all the nonsense and tell it like it is! In all its wretchedness!

    1. Hi Heather
      I see that as very insightful!
      I think that is true on a number of different levels.

      Firstly that the language of Calvinism is very different that one would normally expect.
      Where things are expressly rejected now – only to later be inferentially appealed to as if they were never rejected.

      Statements that are designed to paint a picture that is the opposite of what the doctrine actually entails

      Years ago I had take a business trip to Saudi Arabia
      I was appointed a Chauffeur during the time I was there – whom I became good friends with.
      One day we were talking about the difference in the culture from what one is used to.
      What we understand and practice in our language can be very different in other cultures
      As an example, he told me a story – about a certain business celebrating a success with a cocktail party
      There was a certain man there who boasted about how extremely religious he was
      And how his religion strictly forbid him to drink any alcohol
      He boasted this without blinking – while sipping on a martini
      He was not joking – he was dead serious!

      I remember that story often when I read Calvinist literature – or Calvinist statements.

      1. br.d

        “There was a certain man there who boasted about how extremely religious he was
        And how his religion strictly forbid him to drink any alcohol
        He boasted this without blinking – while sipping on a martini
        He was not joking – he was dead serious!”

        My response:

        Wow, now this takes me back! As a US Navy sailor, we’ve been to Dubai more times than I can count, and the same thing was told to us. This is back in the early to mid 90’s, long before Dubai was as famous as it is today. That building that looks like a sail with the flickering lights…that wasn’t finished being built when I first arrived there in 1991.

        We’d go out in town, and find the bars. It’s OK, I am not a Baptist, LOL. Well, guess who, besides us was there? The religious Arabs, wearing their religious garb, drinking. It seemed to be contradictory, but I later learned that it wasn’t about not drinking, it was about being drunk in public. But ya, if they were drunk in public, they’d get in very deep trouble, and this had nothing to do with driving at all. Just walking.

        Ed Chapman

  23. Mike: BR.D, I want to thank you for a very interesting and challenging discussion. I have learn a lot from you. My knowledge of Calvin and his writings is not that robust. Honesty, I find Calvin problematic. When he sticks to the biblical text he’s good but when he strays into philosophy it is just speculation and question begging. I guess, as a professed Calvinist, I should be better versed in him—though quoting Arminius never seems to be very important to most Arminains.

    br.d: Again—when we refer to “hard determinism” are we referring to someone who rejects the WMC.

    Mike: Yes but I think your point is that the WMC is inconsistent. You have been arguing that all determinism is incompatible with free will.

    br.d: For Calvin the term “permit” simply means “CAUSE.”

    Mike: I wasn’t aware of that. Reinterpreting common words is not good. But if Calvin is pushing hard determinism then, as you say, he is being consistent. But once again, for me and for most modern Calvinists, we hold to compatiblism and not incompatiblism regardless of what Calvin teaches. Which I know is not that must of a distinction for you as you are pushing the binary—either free will (libertarian) or determinism (hard/incompatible), no middle ground!

    br.d: “What is Instrumental Agency?” It is the agency reduces to Instrumentality without Authorship.

    Mike: I’m still confused. From the quotes I think what is meant is that God acts through his creation—and specifically human beings. The problem is if you are a modern Calvinist who wants to maintain compatiblism—the compatiblism that is evident in the WMC—then you focus in on certain words and phrases like: “inspire,” “secret inspiration,” “kept in being by.” These are all vague enough to allow for interpretation. But then there are other phrases that are more clear like: “merely the instruments” and “merely programmed” that are definitely incompatible. Calvinists are sometimes their own worst enemies!

    br.d: “Do animals have LFW?” Certainly not in Calvinism—and otherwise I wouldn’t know.

    Mike: I think if Arminians are going to be dogmatic about LFW than they should be able to answer hard questions about the entire spectrum—they expect no less from Calvinists.

    br.d: “Are animals determined?” Absolutely yes in Calvinism—and the question is—do humans have any more agency then animals do in Calvinism? I personally don’t think they do. And Calvinists intuitively sense this also—and it makes them want to somehow have “mere” permission. But they can’t acknowledge it because Calvin rejects it.

    Mike: I think you’re right, but I also think you are giving far too much credit to Calvin’s influence. If I quote Arminius on total depravity and prevenient grace and you disagree you will just say that you are not an Arminian. You need to allow me to do the same—even though I may not have a better label than Calvinist.

    br.d: “It you are eaten by an animal who’s responsible? “ In Calvinism—that would have been infallibly decreed…

    Mike: Why I’m asking these animal free will questions is to find out if LFW has a logical, consistent and better explanation than Calvinism. If we do not believe that animals have LFW but neither are they “meet robots” then there must be something more than the binary within the LFW system.

    br.d: And James White would add—that if god did not specifically decree it—then it had no purpose.

    Mike: And he is right. This connects to my question: Is God subject to randomness?

    br.d: I don’t see how one can say god is “subject” to anything but his own nature.

    Mike: I wanted some kind of perspective on randomness within the LFW framework.

    br.d: The idea of counter causal is not something I espouse because it infers the irradiation of determinism which I don’t think is reasonable.

    Mike: I don’t really understand this (it’s probably just me), and I think asking about different forms of causation is legitimate within a dissuasion of free will. I mean, it is all over the philosophical literature.

    br.d: With everything I observe I believe this is true!

    Mike: Well, I’m in 100% agreement on all your points. It is certainly nice that in all this morass of theorizing and disagreement we can agree on the most important ideas!

    br.d: That would not be a comprehensive analogy of Theological Determinism—where every secondary event is conceived in the mind of a THEOS and with such precision of control so as to come to pass infallibly in accordance to a meticulous determination.

    Mike: Well this is where I separate myself from some other Calvinists. For me the divine decree is more mysterious and has to do with God bringing the universe into existence and creating man with a specific nature. Like dominoes secondary, third, fourth, etc. events are enacted by humans and known by God. But the math is not precise. God transcends even mathematics!

    br.d: John Calvin doesn’t attribute Adam’s fall to Adam’s nature.

    Mike: Before the fall Adam’s nature was not infected with sin. But why Adam sinned is a mystery for both systems. I have my own theory but I won’t bore you with it.

    br.d: But all Molinists are in fact Molinists because it allows for “mere” permission which equates to Libertarian Freedom.

    Mike: I’m surprised that you are giving Molinism a pass just because they say they hold to LFW. I’ve read and listened to a lot of Craig on this. Listened to the many debates and read MacGregor’s book. Molina and Molinists spin on LFW is theoretical at best and you should be calling them out on it! Middle knowledge is just a label given to God’s hypothetical reasoning, which no one has ever disputed. Divine certainty is akin to God’s omniscience.

    br.d: …Paul Helm’s response is to say that middle knowledge is unnecessary.

    Mike: I can understand that but I take it as God stating a conditional.

    br.d: Have you noticed that you and I are essentially describing attributes of creaturely freedom that are the same? From my perspective those attributes are logically ruled out by Theological Determinism. And in your perspective those attributes can only exist within Theological Determinism.

    Mike: Yeah, it’s crazy, man!

    br.d: And for me in Theological Determinism there is no such thing as a range of options from which to choose.

    Mike: I could mention Frankfurt cases but I understand that Theological Determinism is incompatibilistic.

    br.d: Well—think of it this way—can you be predestined to exist and not exist at the same time?

    Mike: Isn’t that kind of what Molinism is all about with possible worlds? But I know what you mean.

    br.d: One’s choice is already predetermined in advance by factors outside of one’s control.

    Mike: I get it. Predestination is a puzzler. It’s the Time Traveller’s Paradox. But predestination is in the bible. And most Christians believe in God’s predestination, foreknowledge and omniscience. Can you explain eternity? Let’s face it, all the omni’s are paradoxical.

    br.d: So I still think the Calvinist is forced to create VIRTUAL BRIDGES between a 100% pre-determined world, and what he is comfortable living with. In order to make determinism APPEAR as indeterministic.

    Mike: Yeah, I can see this. But there are other important reasons that theological compatiblism has over LFW.

    There is just no fair and logical way to make sense of Isaiah 10 then to see it as ANE Jewish compatiblism! Even Jewish scholars recognize this. And this is true of all of the deterministic biblical texts. And to say that these are all exceptions to the rule is ingenuous. Also there is not a competent LFW explanation of divine biblical inspiration. To be consistent Arminians can not affirm biblical inerrancy—and that is why many of them don’t. And if you don’t then most biblical interpretive debate is superfluous.

    Also, even though I can understand your hard-line view on determinism (which I see is true of both theistic and secular determinism) I have to wonder why the majority of secular philosophers are compatiblists and why the majority of theistic philosophers are not content to just reject determinism but need to go off into other non-biblical speculative systems, i.e. Molinism and Open Theism. And if the foundation of determinism is so mathematically black and white as you point out then you have to wonder at the voluminous literature from scholars and philosophers on the complexity of determinism and its “so called” various forms. I try to keep up on as much of the philosophical literature on free will as I can and I have to admit that it is often mind boggling.

    Thanks for a great discussion. Be safe!

    1. br.d
      Thank you very much for your kind words Mike!
      I feel the same way about you!
      Very thoughtful and sincere!

      Mike:
      I think your point is that the WMC is inconsistent. You have been arguing that all determinism is incompatible with free will.

      br.d
      I think compatibilist freedom is quite logical based on a certain definition.

      If you put your car into drive and push on the gas you’ve determined your car to move forward.
      It is determined by antecedent factors to move forward – and it has a certain degree of freedom to do so
      It doesn’t have that same degree of freedom to do otherwise.
      Its freedom to move forward is compatible with those factors which determine it to move forward
      So your car has freedom that is compatible with determinism

      Same in Calvinism except a THEOS is the determinative factor
      But we also need to add the fact that a THEOS makes your movement infallible.
      You are a fallible object yes – but the movement is make infallible

      The THEOS makes your movement rendered-certain – and makes your movement infallibly come to pass
      A fallible entity does not have the power to originate or produce or be the source of anything infallible.
      The THEOS is the origin and source of all things that exist as infallible
      Therefore the THEOS is the origin and source of your movement.

      And like the car has freedom to move forward when determined to do so – so don’t you.
      And like car is not free to move forward and backward at the same time – neither are you.
      And now we add the infallibility factor – since the THEOS makes your movement infallible – then you are not free to be/do otherwise at pain of invalidating something that is infallible

      br.d
      For Calvin the term “permit” simply means “CAUSE.”

      Mike:
      I wasn’t aware of that. Reinterpreting common words is not good. But if Calvin is pushing hard determinism then, as you say, he is being consistent.

      br.d
      Again – are we using the standard definition for “hard determinism” here?
      It appears to me that Calvin holds to a compatiblism.
      I don’t see how altering the definition of “permit” would change that.

      Mike
      But once again, for me and for most modern Calvinists, we hold to compatiblism and not incompatiblism regardless of what Calvin teaches. Which I know is not that must of a distinction for you as you are pushing the binary—either free will (libertarian) or determinism (hard/incompatible), no middle ground!

      br.d
      I understand this statement to mean – that most Calvinists are not comfortable with the boldness of many of Calvin’s statements.
      Take for example his interpretation of the wheat and the chaff – where he states that god deceives the vast majority of Calvinists with a false faith/election/salvation. He declares the “secret” church to be -quote “a few grains hidden under a pile of chaff”.

      I know there are Calvinist pastors who refuse to teach that to their congregations.
      Calvin was about 10 times more bold two enunciate the full implications of his doctrine than any current leading Calvinist I know.

      Mike
      I’m still confused. From the quotes I think what is meant is that God acts through his creation—and specifically human beings. The problem is if you are a modern Calvinist who wants to maintain compatiblism—the compatiblism that is evident in the WMC—then you focus in on certain words and phrases like: “inspire,” “secret inspiration,” “kept in being by.” These are all vague enough to allow for interpretation. But then there are other phrases that are more clear like: “merely the instruments” and “merely programmed” that are definitely incompatible. Calvinists are sometimes their own worst enemies!

      br.d
      I understand the burden for the Calvinist as psychological – especially for a sincere thinker like yourself.

      We humans – in our cognitive perceptions – do not have a sense of an external mind controlling our perceptions and choices.
      When we come to a fork in the road – we are not cognizant our choice as already predestined by an external mind.
      We have the sense that all options before us exist as real.

      An Atheist Determinist/Compatiblist however – who wants to be logically consistent – will conclude that having an array of choices open to him is an illusion. Sam Harris for example. He knows he can only physically take one direction. And that direction has already been determined for him by antecedent factors in the remote past – which are outside of his control.

      All Atheist Determinist/Compatiblists acknowledge this is as a psychological burden they must bear.

      How the mind does that – is to build VIRTUAL BRIDGES between a 100% predetermined world – and the world all people hold as normative – with their human cognitive perceptions.

      So all Atheist Determinist/Compatiblist will tell you they must live AS-IF determinism/compatibilism is false.

      And John Calvin instructs his disciples exactly the same
      -quote
      “go about your office AS-IF nothing is determined in any part”

      Mike:
      I think if Arminians are going to be dogmatic about LFW than they should be able to answer hard questions about the entire spectrum—they expect no less from Calvinists.

      br.d
      Yes I agree – although I would say that is true of all who want to reject determinism completely – which I don’t think is reasonable.

      Mike:
      I think you’re right, but I also think you are giving far too much credit to Calvin’s influence. If I quote Arminius on total depravity and prevenient grace and you disagree you will just say that you are not an Arminian. You need to allow me to do the same—even though I may not have a better label than Calvinist.

      br.d
      Agreed – and point very well taken! :-]

      Mike:
      Why I’m asking these animal free will questions is to find out if LFW has a logical, consistent and better explanation than Calvinism. If we do not believe that animals have LFW but neither are they “meet robots” then there must be something more than the binary within the LFW system.

      br.d
      Well – personally I’m happy to agree with Peter Van Inwagen’s conclusions.

      Mike:
      And he [James White] is right. This connects to my question: Is God subject to randomness?
      I wanted some kind of perspective on randomness within the LFW framework.

      br.d
      I agree the issue of randomness is a real issue.
      But I personally can’t understand how god can’t have LFW
      So wouldn’t the randomness question be applicable there as well?

      Mike: I don’t really understand [your not embracing contra-causal] this (it’s probably just me), and I think asking about different forms of causation is legitimate within a dissuasion of free will. I mean, it is all over the philosophical literature.

      br.d
      For me – the definition of contra-causal is that one can do something contrary to what is caused.
      I can’t get my head around how that is logical.
      So I go back to the same position that Peter Van Inwagen takes.

      Mike: Well, I’m in 100% agreement on all your points. It is certainly nice that in all this morass of theorizing and disagreement we can agree on the most important ideas!

      br.d
      So much why I appreciate you Mike!
      God has given you a such a good heart!
      Its easy to see and appreciate.

      Mike: Well this [Meticulous divine determination] is where I separate myself from some other Calvinists. For me the divine decree is more mysterious and has to do with God bringing the universe into existence and creating man with a specific nature. Like dominoes secondary, third, fourth, etc. events are enacted by humans and known by God. But the math is not precise. God transcends even mathematics!

      br.d
      I think as humans – this is our way of finding congruence between a predetermined world and what we experience.

      Mike: Before the fall Adam’s nature was not infected with sin.
      But why Adam sinned is a mystery for both systems. I have my own theory but I won’t bore you with it.

      br.d
      Calvin is very consistent on this – all things are determined pre-creation.
      So for Calvin Theological Determinism is what starts the whole thing – and Adam being the progenitor of human sin really doesn’t change the fact that every human functions as an object which the THEOS moves according to his will.

      Mike: I’m surprised that you are giving Molinism a pass just because they say they hold to LFW.

      br.d
      I’m not sure how I’m giving them a pass – I think they are going to have to grapple with all the acknowledged questions and conundrums that come with LFW.

      Mike
      I’ve read and listened to a lot of Craig on this. Listened to the many debates and read MacGregor’s book. Molina and Molinists spin on LFW is theoretical at best and you should be calling them out on it! Middle knowledge is just a label given to God’s hypothetical reasoning, which no one has ever disputed. Divine certainty is akin to God’s omniscience.

      br.d
      I personally don’t see why god can’t have that kind of knowledge.
      If you have a mouse in your house and you put out a trap for it – do you not have enough hypothetical knowledge to know what the mouse will do? If I as an imperfect creature can have that type of knowledge – then why can’t a perfect being have it?

      br.d:
      Paul Helm’s response is to say that middle knowledge is unnecessary.

      Mike: I can understand that but I take it as God stating a conditional.

      br.d
      I think Helm’s calls it unnecessary – because in his mind God foreknows future events by causing them.
      And since Helm’s can’t fathom God not causing every event – he thinks hypothetical knowledge is unnesessary

      br.d: Have you noticed that you and I are essentially describing attributes of creaturely freedom that are the same? From my perspective those attributes are logically ruled out by Theological Determinism. And in your perspective those attributes can only exist within Theological Determinism.

      Mike: Yeah, it’s crazy, man!

      br.d: And for me in Theological Determinism there is no such thing as a range of options from which to choose.

      Mike: I could mention Frankfurt cases but I understand that Theological Determinism is incompatibilistic.

      br.d
      Isn’t it true that most Christian philosophers today will acknowledge that PAP is a very week argument for LFW – by virtue of Frankfurts cases? I think that is true.

      br.d: Think of it this way—can you be predestined to exist and not exist at the same time?

      Mike: Isn’t that kind of what Molinism is all about with possible worlds? But I know what you mean.

      br.d
      My understanding of possible worlds – is that it is a form of semi-determinism.
      But a Molinist can’t have god doing things that are logically impossible either.

      Mike: I get it. Predestination is a puzzler. It’s the Time Traveller’s Paradox. But predestination is in the bible. And most Christians believe in God’s predestination, foreknowledge and omniscience. Can you explain eternity? Let’s face it, all the omni’s are paradoxical.

      br.d
      This is what some of the ancient Reformed divines concluded.
      And I think they were wise to do so – just as you are.

      Mike:
      But there are other important reasons that theological compatiblism has over LFW.

      There is just no fair and logical way to make sense of Isaiah 10 then to see it as ANE Jewish compatiblism! Even Jewish scholars recognize this. And this is true of all of the deterministic biblical texts. And to say that these are all exceptions to the rule is ingenuous. Also there is not a competent LFW explanation of divine biblical inspiration. To be consistent Arminians can not affirm biblical inerrancy—and that is why many of them don’t. And if you don’t then most biblical interpretive debate is superfluous.

      br.d
      I wonder if this isn’t like what I’ve experienced with cars.
      Years ago I bought a little Volkswagen Beetle – and as I was driving suddenly I noticed how many of them were on the road.
      Up to that point I never noticed.

      I suspect its the same for people reading scriptures and seeing determinism vs indeterminism.
      If I embraced determinism – it would be quite natural for me to see the preponderance of scripture affirming it.

      Mike
      Also, even though I can understand your hard-line view on determinism (which I see is true of both theistic and secular determinism) I have to wonder why the majority of secular philosophers are compatiblists and why the majority of theistic philosophers are not content to just reject determinism but need to go off into other non-biblical speculative systems, i.e. Molinism and Open Theism. And if the foundation of determinism is so mathematically black and white as you point out then you have to wonder at the voluminous literature from scholars and philosophers on the complexity of determinism and its “so called” various forms. I try to keep up on as much of the philosophical literature on free will as I can and I have to admit that it is often mind boggling.

      br.d
      Yes its quite something isn’t it!
      The text books to say that it is one of the longest running controversies in philosophy.

      Mike
      Thanks for a great discussion. Be safe!

      br.d
      You also my friend!
      And thank you again – and my very warm thoughts for you and your family!

  24. I’ll try to keep this short!

    br.d: I understand this statement to mean – that most Calvinists are not comfortable with the boldness of many of Calvin’s statements.

    Mike: Interesting. You are more knowledgeable on Calvin than I am. I’ll have to pull-up-my-boot-straps and study more.

    br.d: I understand the burden for the Calvinist as psychological – especially for a sincere thinker like yourself… So all Atheist Determinist/Compatiblist will tell you they must live AS-IF determinism/compatibilism is false.

    Mike: Yeah, I agree. But is this really only a determinist/compatiblist issue? Without getting into a discussion of agent and event-causal theories (though that may be impossible) don’t libertarians have to ignore most of their antecedent causation in order to “go about your office?” Causation like heredity, culture, age, time frame, peer pressure, trauma etc, etc. And if you want to argue that these are not causal then I have no response.

    br.d
: Well – personally I’m happy to agree with Peter Van Inwagen’s conclusions.

    Mike: Sorry for being slow but what are you specifically referring to. The consequent argument? Just send me a link.

    br.d: I agree the issue of randomness is a real issue. But I personally can’t understand how god can’t have LFW. So wouldn’t the randomness question be applicable there as well?

    Mike: The reason God can’t have LFW is because of the over arching issue of the “ability to do otherwise” (or PAP). The frustrating thing is that while some LFW defenders, like Craig, only define it as non-cocersion, in debate it always comes back to this. And not only this but the ability to sin (or reject God)! If you are only limited to bad choices or only good choices you would not call this libertarian. This is the crux of the entire argument and the reason libertarians can’t explain free will in heaven without the possibility of sin.

    br.d: I personally don’t see why god can’t have that kind of knowledge. If you have a mouse in your house and you put out a trap for it – do you not have enough hypothetical knowledge to know what the mouse will do? If I as an imperfect creature can have that type of knowledge – then why can’t a perfect being have it?

    Mike: Yes, I completely agree (that’s why I disagree with Helm). My point was that I don’t think that God having hypothetical knowledge was controversial and needed a special label.

    The problem with Molinism and why it is deterministic is simple. Before actualizing the real world God knows all choices a person could make. These choices include all the circumstances and events that “determine” (my word) the specific choices. Now regardless of whether the person has LFW or not all choices are possible hypothetically. Now, who creates the circumstances that “inspire” the LFW choices in each hypothetical situation or world? Who decides which choice will be actualized into the real world? And once actualized the entire scenario must play out as foreseen! Is that not deterministic?

    br.d: Isn’t it true that most Christian philosophers today will acknowledge that PAP (Principle of Alternate Possibilities) is a very week argument for LFW – by virtue of Frankfurts cases? I think that is true.

    Mike: Once again, yes but in real world debate it always comes back to that. “Sophie’s Choice” is not libertarian!

    br.d: I suspect its the same for people reading scriptures and seeing determinism vs indeterminism. If I embraced determinism – it would be quite natural for me to see the preponderance of scripture affirming it.

    Mike: I don’t think it is the same thing. If you give Isaiah 10 to someone with no knowledge of the bible and or free will philosophy they are just not going to describe this as anything close to LFW. And this is the same for verses like: Proverbs 16:9, 19:21, 21:11, Isaiah 46:9-10. Trust me I know all the rebuttals and they assume a hard-determinism (robots, puppets) and ignore compatiblism. I mean, it works both ways. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15. You don’t get determinism out of that! The difference is that Arminians have to equivocate on the determinist verses while the Calvinists can accept both.

    I know we’re getting close to the end of this discussion so I just want to reiterate that I appreciate your iron sharpening mine!

    Happy Resurrection Sunday to you and your family.

    1. Mike
      don’t libertarians have to ignore most of their antecedent causation in order to “go about your office?”

      br.d
      Very insightful!
      And yes I totally agree!

      On my references to Peter Van Inwagen – its his conclusion that I find myself comfortable with.
      The conclusion that even though there are logical problems with LFW
      After looking at the pros-&-cons I agree with him that LFW is the better option.
      But that is probably more a reflection of my psychology – just as determinists have theirs.

      I see from your following statement that you don’t see god as having LFW.
      I understand this has been debated for a very long time also.

      I understand that those philosophers whose views are considered as most fully evolved on this issue are Leibniz and Samuel Clarke.
      Apparently they had a long-term correspondence on this topic – and I’m starting to read up on that now.

      On your points concerning Molinism – yes it is definitely very deterministic.
      From my perspective – I think Dr. Jerry Walls has a good article on this topic.
      “Is Molinism just as bad as Calvinism?”

      The controversy is – does Molina’s god predestine who will be saved and who will be damned?
      And do this by producing circumstances which will guarantee that outcome?
      If so – then Molina’s god – just like Calvin’s god – designs the vast majority of his creatures for eternal torment in a lake of fire.
      And with that comes all of the rest of the problems generic to Calvinism.

      William Lane Craig’s response is to appeal to “best possible world” in which Molina’s god seeks to maximize the salvation of as many persons as possible.
      And I would suspect arguments against that are going to be just as perennial.
      So you are insightful to point to it.

      On our difference in how we see scripture – the verses you cited do not show exhaustive determinism to me.
      Especially Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course”
      For me this is not logically possible with Theological Determinism/Compatiblism.

      Here is Paul Helm’s
      -quote
      Not only is every atom and molecule, every thought and desire, kept in being by God, but every twist and turn of each
      of these is under the direct control of God (The Providence of God pg 22)

      Calvinist Robert R. McLaughlin
      -quote
      “God merely *PROGRAMMED* into the divine decrees all our thoughts, motives, decisions and actions”
      (The Doctrine of Divine Decrees)

      I can’t see how this allows room for man to plan his own ways.
      Additionally it would require the THEOS to “merely” permit man to do so – which Calvin firmly rejects.

      I still think your conception of Theological Determinism/Compatibilism allows for “mere” permission.
      And I understand that as a reflection of your psychology
      The same way my psychology wants to have some conception of “mere” permission.
      Except I get it through LFW – while you get it through Determinism/Compatibilism

      We both are trying to reach the same position – coming from different directions. :-]

      Mike
      Happy Resurrection Sunday to you and your family.

      br.d
      Always wonderful Mike!
      My very best to you!

  25. Br.D

    Here’s an article you can download that I think you will find very interesting by a philosopher I really enjoy reading, Jesse Couenhoven. He is the author of a book that I found very helpful, “Predestination: A Guide for the Perplexed.”

    “The Necessities of Perfect Freedom”
    This article is a reflection on Augustine’s suggestion that Christians have significant theological reasons to accept that freedom need not be correlated with having choices. Following his lead, I explore questions about freedom and agency raised by the perfect freedom of the saints in heaven, Jesus’ sinless earthly life and the freedom with which the triune God is eternally blessed.

    https://www.academia.edu/1958080/The_Necessities_of_Perfect_Freedom

    – Mike

    1. That particular article by Jesse Couenhoven is outdated. These works, to mention just two, have already moved the discussion forward. The ball is in Couenhoven’s court. 

      “God’s Freedom, God’s Character” Kevin Timpe in Free Will & Theism: Connections, Contingencies, & Concerns, eds. Kevin Timpe & Daniel Speak (Oxford Press)pp. 277-293. 

      “Paradise and Growing in Virtue” Timothy Pawl & Kevin Timpe in Paradise Understood: New Philosophical Essays About Heaven, eds. T. Ryan Byerly & Eric J. Silverman (Oxford Press)pp. 97-112. 

      It is far from clear to me that God has anything remotely close to “compatibilism”, as catechized by the European reformation. While it is true that God always wills according to his nature; it is likewise the case that, unlike (Westminster divines) compatibilistic conditions (i.e., primary and secondary causes), nothing external to God causes him to act. God has perfect freedom such that, following Kant, is perfectly free without an external coercion, dependence, or needs. I’ll offer here one test case showing that LFW is a more fit with creatio ex nihilo. 

      Let’s grant the orthodox proposition that God is a se. That is, a maximally supreme being that enjoys eternal intra-Trinitarian relationships, thus has no need to extend such relations either because he lacks satisfaction, nor is there any need to instantiate a playground (i.e., creation) via creatorial omnipotence to stave off boredom. God in his eternal state of affairs, is perfectly content with no lacking properties for which he is essentially  perfect. It is logically inconceivable that in any possible world, such a being can increase in goodness, knowledge, and power.

      Nevertheless, it is the case that God instantiated the acto universe. If the doctrine of divine aseity is true, creation cannot improve in any way God’s eternal state of affairs. Since creation cannot in any way improve God’s eternal state of affairs, God willing to create cannot rest on a property that makes his present world better. Now if that’s right, it could have been the case the contingent universe could not exist. If the contingent universe need not exist, then God’s motivation for creating the universe was not in any way necessitated or caused by his nature. If that is correct, God did not need to create. If God did not need to create, nor was his action caused by anything outside of him, it seems that his choice to create was a choice of liberum arbitrium.  

      If the above analysis is correct, it seems to me that God had a choice between two equally ultimate states of affairs. For, to suggest that, compatibilistically, God always wills his “strongest desire” is to suggest that the divine act to create was necessitated. But that threatens his aseity. However, if the Calvinist wants to say that God’s eternal state of affairs cannot be improved, then creation is not in any way necessary for God. Therefore, God had the libertarian freedom to either create or not create. 

      Mike: Is God Subject to randomness? I wanted some kind of perspective on randomness within the LFW framework? 

      John Frame: But if there are no constraints at all to a free action, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that our free movement are uncaused and unexplained. They are events of pure chance or randomness. 

      This is a well-worn outdated argument that John Frame continues to publish. The modal analysis above demonstrates that God is not subject to randomness, even under compatibilistic assumptions. God is neither compelled by his “strongest desire”, and there is no good reason that he had to create. The dilemma for the Calvinist is that he either to affirm God is subject to the luck problem (i.e., “randomness”), or concede that, via the divine model, libertarian choices can be plausibly intelligible between two equal choices, and this blocks the luck problem at such event as creatio ex nihilo. The pressure, then, is on the Calvinist to explain *his* “perspective” on compatibilist randomness. 

      Therefore, it seems to me that God’s choice to create was free in the libertarian sense. 

      Let me briefly mention an additional randomness problem that plagues calvinism. Let’s take for granted a late Augustinian reading of Romans 9. (I call this Jehovah’s Witness exegesis. I’ll clarify in a bit). Before anyone is brought into existence, God chooses both who to save and punish. (Let’s set aside for the moment what “justice” even means here.”) It is in fact the case that image bearer A and B are spiritually identical. On Calvinism, and their reading of Rom. 9, God’s selection of one over the other has nothing to do with the individual. If God’s selection of salvation and reprobation is not based on anything about the individual, and their spiritual status is identical, God’s purpose can be equally achieved with either person A or B. But the Calvinist will say God’s basis for choosing is “according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:5). But this move is to pushe back the problem. For it is still legitimate to ask “What is it about God’s ‘purpose of his will'” that selects A over B? The Calvinist at this juncture can only quote “But who are you, O man, ‘to answer back to God?'” (Rom. ‪9:20‬). Such perfunctory prooftexting is no more compelling, any more than a Jehovah Witness quoting Jesus “is the firstborn of creation” (Col. ‪1:15‬); or “the Father is greater than I” (Jn. ‪10:28‬). Both texts, at surface, seem to teach essential subordination, but upon closer scrutiny, it yields a more viable interpretation. So too with Romans 9.

      It seems clear to me that since A and B are spiritually identical, it follows logically and inescapably that God’s treatment of the elect and non-elect is either arbitrary (i.e., random) and unprincipled. The calvinist cannot provide a contextual relevant reason why God selects A over B without making divine justice unintelligible. All Mike can say, with respect to his salvation, is that he got lucky (to say nothing if he can even logically bridge the epistemic gap between the divine proposition of assurance and his fallible subjective states).  

      Lastly, let me say something about the three blog articles Mike cited. Guillaume Bignon is overrated. For instance, the issue is not “Can Calvinists determinists trust their cognitive faculties”? Rather, the issue is can their “deliberations” be other than what God has determine them to be? If calvinists cannot deliberate from the outside in, how are they cognizant that they are genuinely deliberating in such a way that their powers of reasoning is genuinely had by a self? Their reasoning cannot transcend other than what God has determined them to do. For when the calvinist has made an error in reasoning, he cannot logically think that what has overcome the false belief, could have been overcome at the time when he was in the state of error. For, again, he was in a state of error because, at that time, God determined him to think as he did. Arriving at truth is not in any way ultimately up to the calvinist. If this is God’s providential way of controlling agents, it is not at all clear to me that agents can have true knowledge.

      Therefore, since Bignon grants the argument on naturalism, the same conclusion succeeds on calvinism. Sorting out *distinctions* in determinism is not relevant to the discussion. It’s a red herring. The relevant point is that the agent is exhuastively caused by antecedent factors external to the agent, *regardless* of the causal source (be it platonic, abstract, ex materia, Russellian monism, parapanprotopsychism, divine mind, etc.). 

      I therefore see no randomness issues with LFW, but there is definitely randomness that plagues calvinism at both the philosophical and theological level. What’s needed is some “perspective” on randomness on reformed compatibilism? 

  26. That particular article by Jesse Couenhoven is outdated. These works, to make just two, have already moved the discussion forward. The ball is in Couenhoven’s court.

    “God’s Freedom, God’s Character” Kevin Timpe in Free Will & Theism: Connections, Contingencies, & Concerns, eds. Kevin Timpe & Daniel Speak (Oxford Press)pp. 277-293.

    “Paradise and Growing in Virtue” Timothy Pawl & Kevin Timpe in Paradise Understood: New Philosophical Essays About Heaven, eds. T. Ryan Byerly & Eric J. Silverman (Oxford Press)pp. 97-112.

    It is far from clear to me that God has anything remotely close to “compatibilism”, as catechized by the European reformation. While it is true that God always wills according to his nature; it is likewise the case that, unlike (Westminster divines) compatibilistic conditions (i.e., primary and secondary causes), nothing external to God causes him to act. God has perfect freedom such that, following Kant, is perfectly free without an external coercion, dependence, or needs. I’ll offer here one test case showing that LFW is a more fit with creatio ex nihilo.

    Let’s grant the orthodox proposition that God is a se. That is, a maximally supreme being that enjoys eternal intra-Trinitarian relationships, thus has no need to extend such relations either because he lacks satisfaction, nor is there any need to instantiate a playground (i.e., creation) via creatorial omnipotence to stave off boredom. God in his eternal state of affairs, is perfectly content with no lacking properties for which he is essentially perfect. It is logically inconceivable that in any possible world, such a being can increase in goodness, knowledge, and power.

    Nevertheless, it is the case that God instantiated the acto universe. If the doctrine of divine aseity is true, creation cannot improve in any way God’s eternal state of affairs. Since creation cannot in any way improve God’s eternal state of affairs, God willing to create cannot rest on a property that makes his present world better. Now if that’s right, it could have been the case the contingent universe could not exist. If the contingent universe need not exist, then God’s motivation for creating the universe was not in any way necessitated or caused by his nature. If that is correct, God did not need to create. If God did not need to create, nor was his action caused by anything outside of him, it seems that his choice to create was a choice of liberum arbitrium.

    If the above analysis is correct, it seems to me that God had a choice between two equally ultimate states of affairs. For, to suggest that, compatibilistically, God always wills his “strongest desire” is to suggest that the divine act to create was necessitated. But that threatens his aseity. However, if the Calvinist wants to say that God’s eternal state of affairs cannot be improved, then creation is not in any way necessary for God. Therefore, God had the libertarian freedom to either create or not create.

    Mike: Is God Subject to randomness? I wanted some kind of perspective on randomness within the LFW framework?

    John Frame: But if there are no constraints at all to a free action, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that our free movement are uncaused and unexplained. They are events of pure chance or randomness.

    This is a well-worn outdated argument that John Frame continues to publish. The modal analysis above demonstrates that God is not subject to randomness, even under compatibilistic assumptions. God is neither compelled by his “strongest desire”, and there is no good reason that he had to create. The dilemma for the Calvinist is that he either to affirm God is subject to the luck problem (i.e., “randomness”), or concede that, via the divine model, libertarian choices can be plausibly intelligible between two equal choices, and this blocks the luck problem at such event as creatio ex nihilo. The pressure, then, is on the Calvinist to explain *his* “perspective” on compatibilist randomness.

    Therefore, it seems to me that God’s choice to create was free in the libertarian sense.

    Let me briefly mention an additional randomness problem that plagues calvinism. Let’s take for granted a late Augustinian reading of Romans 9. (I call this Jehovah’s Witness exegesis. I’ll clarify in a bit). Before anyone is brought into existence, God chooses both who to save and punish. (Let’s set aside for the moment what “justice” even means here.”) It is in fact the case that image bearer A and B are spiritually identical. On Calvinism, and their reading of Rom. 9, God’s selection of one over the other has nothing to do with the individual. If God’s selection of salvation and reprobation is not based on anything about the individual, and their spiritual status is identical, God’s purpose can be equally achieved with either person A or B. But the Calvinist will say God’s basis for choosing is “according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:5). But this move is to pushe back the problem. For it is still legitimate to ask “What is it about God’s ‘purpose of his will'” that selects A over B? The Calvinist at this juncture can only quote “But who are you, O man, ‘to answer back to God?'” (Rom. 9:20). Such perfunctory prooftexting is no more compelling, any more than a Jehovah Witness quoting Jesus “is the firstborn of creation” (Col. 1:15); or “the Father is greater than I” (Jn. 10:28). Both texts, at surface, seem to teach essential subordination, but upon closer scrutiny, it yields a more viable interpretation. So too with Romans 9.

    It seems clear to me that since A and B are spiritually identical, it follows logically and inescapably that God’s treatment of the elect and non-elect is either arbitrary (i.e., random) and unprincipled. The calvinist cannot provide a contextual relevant reason why God selects A over B without making divine justice unintelligible. All Mike can say, with respect to his salvation, is that he got lucky (to say nothing if he can even logically bridge the epistemic gap between the divine proposition of assurance and his fallible subjective states).

    Lastly, let me say something about the three blog articles Mike cited. Guillaume Bignon is overrated. For instance, the issue is not “Can Calvinists determinists trust their cognitive faculties”? Rather, the issue is can their “deliberations” be other than what God has determine them to be? If calvinists cannot deliberate from the outside in, how are they cognizant that they are genuinely deliberating in such a way that their powers of reasoning is genuinely had by a self? Their reasoning cannot transcend other than what God has determined them to do. For when the calvinist has made an error in reasoning, he cannot logically think that what has overcome the false belief, could have been overcome at the time when he was in the state of error. For, again, he was in a state of error because, at that time, God determined him to think as he did. Arriving at truth is not in any way ultimately up to the calvinist. If this is God’s providential way of controlling agents, it is not at all clear to me that agents can have true knowledge.

    Therefore, since Bignon grants the argument on naturalism, the same conclusion succeeds on calvinism. Sorting out *distinctions* in determinism is not relevant to the discussion. It’s a red herring. The relevant point is that the agent is exhuastively caused by antecedent factors external to the agent, *regardless* of the causal source (be it platonic, abstract, ex materia, Russellian monism, parapanprotopsychism, divine mind, etc.).

    I therefore see no randomness issues with LFW, but there is definitely randomness that plagues calvinism at both the philosophical and theological level. What’s needed is some “perspective” on randomness on reformed compatibilism?

    1. Hello A.B. and welcome.

      Nice post!

      So far – I agree with your conclusions – which are very well stated.

      And also I don’t believe John Calvin himself would allow the notion that God’s choices are determined by his nature.
      Because he insists on putting the will of god as the ultimate antecedent.
      And it seems to me that he makes the will of god first-cause of all things and thus self determining.
      If that is true – then I would anticipate he would say that god’s nature is either determined by, or compatible with his will.
      And that would exclude compatibilism.

      It seems to me also that the Calvinist forms of “Alternative Possibilities” or “Do Otherwise” since they are predicated on subjunctive conditionals – are not applicable to the creature who is determined – but rather actually serve to prove Libertarian Freedom for God who in this case is the determiner. So if the Calvinist is going to argue that he has “Alternative Possibilities” and “Do Otherwise” by virtue of these subjunctive conditionals – if he wants to apply them to himself as liberties this would be a misapplication.

      What stands out on all of this to me however A.B. is the consistent observation that the Calvinist – underneath all of the verbal rejections of Libertarian Freedom – is actually always trying to smuggle attributes of Libertarian freedom into his system.
      I think he needs to build some kind of virtual bridge between a 100% predetermined world – and the world he experiences with his cognitive perceptions of personal agency – and also with human agency depicted within the language of scripture.

      For example – take Genesis where God brings the animals before Adam to see what he will name them.
      The idea that God predestines the name of each animal into Adam’s brain – and then has Adam ACT OUT the motions of naming them – *AS-IF* God isn’t actually the REAL determiner – is pretty difficult to derive from the language of the text. And yet if we take the doctrine of infallible decrees to its logical conclusion that is the picture we get.

      Personally – I see in Calvin – two types of agency. “Authoring” agency which for Calvin only God has. And “Instrumental” agency which for Calvin is the only form of agency granted to created objects, whether sentient or not. Take for example the two following statements.

      1. If God infallibly decrees, a hammer will hit the left nail, then the hammer will Do-Otherwise than hit the right nail.
      2. If God infallibly decrees, I make the hammer hit the left nail, then I will Do-Otherwise than make the hammer hit the right nail.

      In both cases there is a form of Do-Otherwise at work, but it becomes obvious that it is limited to “Instrumental Agency”. And notice also that with this form of agency, a human has no more power to Do-Otherwise than the hammer does. But is this the form of Do-Otherwise the Calvinist really wants? Notice in the statement: “the hammer will Do-Otherwise”. The Calvinist will want to replace this with: “the hammer can Do-Otherwise”. I believe this is his way of creating a virtual bridge within his mind, to make “Instrumental Agency” replicate/simulate “Authoring Agency”.

      Thanks again for your post

  27. The statement, “This article is a reflection on Augustine’s suggestion that Christians have significant theological reasons to accept that freedom need not be correlated with having choices” makes about as much sense as saying “the suggestion that Christians have significant theological reasons to accept that water need not be correlated with wetness”.

    “Theological” reasons need to follow the same rules of logic as every other type of reasoning. Choices are a basic component of freedom.

    Therefore, freedom and determinism cannot coexist (be “compatible”) without a significant redefinition of either or both of the words.

    1. Carl
      Therefore, freedom and determinism cannot coexist (be “compatible”) without a significant redefinition of either or both of the words.

      br.d
      Nice point Carl!

      Compatibilistic freedom for me is mechanical in nature.
      If I determine my car move forward, by putting it in gear and pressing the gas – my car is going to have a certain degree of freedom to move forward. Its freedom is therefore compatible with its being determined to move forward. And internal moving parts function as secondary means to make it do so. But while it is moving forward, it certainly doesn’t have the same freedom to move up or down, left or right, and backwards.

      So my conception of Calvinist compatibilism is to liken the human brain to a box of cogs and gears each functioning as secondary means.
      But notice there is something quite different in this case than there would be with Natural Determinism. In Natural Determinism there is no THEOS and there is nothing within nature that has the attribute of infallibility.

      In Calvinism, the THEOS makes every movement come to pass infallibly. This serves as a kind of transference principle. The attribute of infallibility of the THEOS is transferred into the movement of the object he moves – thus making that movement come to pass infallibly.

      Since that is the case – there is a sense in which he touches each and every secondary means object within a chain of events – in order to transfer the attribute of infallibility into its movement. And this would coincide with Calvinist Paul Helm’s statement concerning human thoughts – where he says “Every twist and turn of each of these is under the direct control of god”.

      1. Eric, I thinm you are making a mistake when you expect the hyper-calvinists to label themselves hyper; whereas it’s more likely that another calvinist will be the one to label them hyper. For example, many might call the Reforming America guys hyper since Theodor said that God orders kings to commit adultery.

        That said, I agree that what other calvinists want to call “hyper-calvinism” is actually just calvinism taken to its logical conclusion. I think we should be calling it “logical calvinism” or “consistent calvinism.”

      2. Hey Daniel, that’s fair, but to consider hyper-Calvinism as “existing in the real world” I would take either one; either a self-professed hyper-Calvinist or a Calvinist naming another theologian they disagree with as a hyper-Calvinist. But that’s what is so interesting about this topic: Calvinists won’t do that. They will not criticize their own. Phil Johnson won’t even call A.W. Pink a hyper-Calvinist. Tim Challies wouldn’t call John “Whatever-happens-God-does-it” Piper a hyper-Calvinist. James White will watch the Flowers/Pritchett vs. RAM debate and say “both sides behaved reprehensibly” when clearly it was only the RAM guys shouting and calling people heretics. They won’t have a robust internal dialogue about theology or even Christian charity and police their own ranks.

      3. Hello Daniel and welcome

        I also agree with your observation – as does Dr. Jerry Walls and Calvinist Vincent Chung

        Calvinist Vincent Chung
        -quote
        When Reformed Christians are questioned on whether god is the “author of sin,” they are too quick to say, “No, God is not the author of sin. And then they twist and turn and writhe on the floor, trying to give man some power of “self-determination”.

  28. Someone mentioned the primitive baptists and I thought of another church which has been accused.

    The Protestant Reformed Church has been of accused of hyper-Calvinism, which they deny.

    Stating on page 9 of Hyper-Calvinism and the Call of the Gospel, third edition, written by David J Engelsma, professor emeritus of theology, Theological Seminary of the Protestant Reformed Churches. Engelsma writes “In most cases the charge “hyper-Calvinism” is nothing but a deceptive attack on Calvinism itself.”

    The book states on page 117 “denial of the well-meant offer of the gospel is not hyper-Calvinism”.

    And a passage from page 118: “God’s grace is particular; it is for the elect alone.Regarding others who come under the preaching, God hates them, is justly angry with them, and purposes their judgement and condemnation through the preaching of the gospel. Is the Protest Reformed doctrine historic Calvinism?”

    On page 139 “We have now found for the defenders of the well-meant offer of the gospel the original hyper-Calvinist: John Calvin himself.”

    Some interesting food for thought concerning your discussion of hyper-Calvinism. I have Protestant Reformed neighbors, nice people, seriously, consistently, reformed.

  29. I am not hunting for a hyper-Calvinist so much as I am hunting for a “wild” Calvinist. And by “wild” I mean one that is not cultivated – like a wild strawberry, blueberry, or mushroom found in the forest.

    I have not yet encountered a single instance of a person that picked up a Bible*, read it, and – voila – found themselves a 5-point Calvinist. Discovery of the “doctrines of grace” is ALWAYS the result of careful, meticulous cultivation by another Calvinist farmer. The soil is carefully prepared, particular “seeds” are planted (the 15 “game-changer” verses to quote FOH here), and the individual eventually succumbs – sometimes easily, but perhaps more often kicking and screaming if they have been a believer for any period of time and have any fluency in the scriptures. But my point is that I have yet to find a wild one.

    *In contrast, there are many stories of people that picked up the equivalent of a Gideon’s Bible in a hotel room, military barrack, or elsewhere and found salvation – but NEVER Calvinism. It is the most carefully hidden “truth” in the entire Bible. So carefully hidden that it cannot be discovered on its own. It always requires “help” from a Reformed pastor, teacher, website, professor, or friend that provides the secret decoder ring and GPS coordinates.

    1. Steve – check out this Youtube Title: Debate: Is Absolute Predestination Biblical? (with Sonny Hernandez)

      You will notice the Calvinist is asked a number of times to explain the process by which he came to believe.
      When did he pick up his bible and see the Calvinist matrix in it.

      You will notice he is absolutely not going to describe how it happened
      By obfuscating the human Calvinistic influences on him – he works to give the appearance he got it from the bible alone.

      One really comes away with the impression of an play-actor rehearsing a memorized script.

      1. Textbook “cage stage” on full display.

        Step 1: Get introduced to the “doctrines of grace”.
        Step 2: Zealously go about picking fights with those of opposing views. Go to their gyms and taunt them rather than waiting for them to visit your own gym.
        Step 3: wade into the ring supremely over-confident.
        Step 4: try to control the language and refuse to acknowledge that you were trained, insisting instead that you were a natural born fighter with all of your moves originating spontaneously by reading the Bible.
        Step 5: emerge from the ring with two black eyes and a broken nose, steadfastly insisting that you won.
        Step 6: continue to look for fights, perhaps for a few decades.
        Step 7: Commiserate with other like-minded fighters about why your vision is blurry, why your swollen nose doesn’t photograph very well, and why life in the opponent’s ring is so hard and brutal. Remember, there is no life outside the ring. Fighting and studying about fighting is the entirety of the Christian life. Joy, peace, happiness, gentleness, kindness, and love are of much lesser importance that fighting the good fight of defending sovereignty.

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