Fallacies of Style: White vs. Wilson (Part 2)

The following is from Fallacies of Style. The original article titled “White vs. Wilson (Part 2)”. The article is re-blogged in its entirety.

I’ve just finished reading Ken Wilson’s The Foundation of Augustinian-Calvinism. The book is intended to be a more accessible summary of his longer Oxford dissertation, but in my estimation is still academic enough to make “popular” a poor descriptor. Contrary to White’s characterization of it as some sort of baseless rant filled with “simplistic error” and “forms of argumentation [that] are stunning – stunningly bad“, I thought the arguments generally focused and well-defined.

The main take-away from reading the book is that, in James White’s first four podcasts purporting to deal with it, he doesn’t actually address any of the substantive claims in Wilson’s book. And though Leighton Flowers’ response to White is generally OK, his format doesn’t really lend itself to demonstrating just how pathetic White’s analysis (so far) has been. To do that, we need to dig into (some of) the details of Wilson’s thesis, point by point.

1. Ground zero of Wilson’s thesis is his view that earlier Augustine scholars misdated certain portions of the Augustinian corpus, because those portions were revisions Augustine made to his own works. This line of argument is interesting and pretty well developed in Foundation, but White doesn’t mention it at all.

2. If Wilson is correct about the dates/revisions Augustine made, then it becomes clear that Augustine did not develop the deterministic aspects of his theology that Calvin, et. al. latched onto until after he began his battle with the Pelagians in 412 AD. That would mean Augustine did not write anything Calvin or Calvinists could meaningfully appeal to until at least 16 years after reading Romans and Galatians. Again, White does not address this point.

3. Therefore, if Augustine did not, as was previously thought, develop his deterministic views shortly after reading Romans and Galatians, a scholar might reasonably wonder, “What did cause Augustine to change his views?” Wilson argues that the timeline suggests, quite plausibly, that Augustine’s shift was prompted by his battle with the Pelagians and therefore more rhetorical/polemical than textual/exegetical. Once again, White does not attempt a reply.

4. Now, here’s where it gets interesting: Wilson contends that in order to more effectively fight off the Pelagian heresy, Augustine adopted a deterministic interpretation of key passages of Scripture in a way that no prior (known) Christian had before. But neither was Augustine the first to offer said deterministic interpretations; Fortunatus the Manichaean, to take only a single example cited by Wilson, had previously argued that John 14:6 and Ephesians 2:3, 8-9 imply unilateral determinism. Reformed theologians likewise have appealed to deterministic interpretations of these same key passages that were first offered by pagans.

White’s responses on this point are several, but each attempt rests on a laughably bad argument. Against Wilson’s claim that Augustine’s deterministic interpretations of Scripture were previously unknown within Christianity, White protests:

 We don’t have a tremendous amount of the early church’s writings. For many of the earliest fathers what we have is because somebody quotes them, partially, at a later point in time. If we didn’t have Eusebius’s church history, we wouldn’t even know some of these people existed. But the reality is we have only a small portion of the extant literature. And so, one of the first things that caught me, when I first started looking through this, was how many times [Wilson claims] “It was the universal view…” The only fair way of actually saying that is: In the extant literature that we have, that specifically addresses this issue, it seems that the predominant view prior to would be this, and then Augustine changed it. That’s fair. This has no desire to be fair, does not even try to be fair. It is completely imbalanced, horrifically so, just way out there.

-Taken here around the 32:50 mark

First, either White misspoke several times or he hasn’t quite grasped the meaning of the word “extant”; indeed, the extant literature is precisely all we have. Second, Wilson’s claim is this: “Of the eighty-four pre-Augustinian authors studied from 95-430 CE, over fifty authors addressed the topic [of predestination]. All of these early Christian authors championed traditional free choice against pagan and heretical Divine Unilateral Predetermination of Individuals’ Eternal Destinies”. Sounds pretty unanimous to me.

Third, for Wilson’s conclusion to be “completely imbalanced”, we have to imagine it highly probable that there were many early Christian writers before Augustine who interpreted these passages deterministically, but somehow none of these writings survived. Instead, God – through His meticulous determination of every detail in the universe and in perfect accord with His will – chose to preserve for posterity over fifty early Christian writers arguing the exact opposite (and thirty more who on this issue were silent). This, evidently, is what White considers real scholarship; in reality, it’s just another fallacy.

White tries a different tactic in a separate podcast:

There is no single objective Gnostic doctrine of determinism that is, that could ever, logically or rationally be said to be identical to, parental to, ancestor of, the personal self-glorifying decree of the triune God of the Christian scriptures. That’s the assertion that’s being made. That’s why it’s impossible.

-Taken here around 1:04:50 mark

But, as anyone who has read Wilson’s book will know, Wilson never claims there is a “single objective Gnostic doctrine of determinism”. Nor does any part of his argument depend on this bizarre assertion. Wilson invokes the determinism(s) of Gnosticism in contradistinction to the clear anti-determinism of the early church. This fact is rather inconvenient for White, so he once again offers a fallacious argument.

In yet another podcast, White offers the following:

From a historical perspective, to make a long story short, when [Wilson] says that, basically, if you’re reformed and you believe in the sovereign decree of God, well, that came to you through Calvin, through Augustine, through Manichaeism and Gnosticism… [However] both Manichaeism and Gnosticism have such a fundamentally different worldview and different theological foundations that how can you make that – I mean, to make that connection would require a massive – it would require a demonstration that every exegetical insight, every grammatical insight offered by Reformed theologians from Calvin onward was a brainless, simplistic, [in mock robot voice] “I have to say this because I believe Augustine”. And the vast majority of us today became Reformed before we read Calvin… and we did so on the basis of exegesis.

– Taken here around 24:20 mark

White has really outdone himself on this one, so we’ll have to break it down even smaller. First, it won’t surprise any reasonable person to discover that Wilson makes no claims about how White or anyone else became Reformed. Second, Wilson’s actual argument does not “require a demonstration that every exegetical insight, every grammatical insight offered by Reformed theologians from Calvin onward” is based on slavish devotion to Augustine. White is here attempting to move the goalposts.

Third – and this is key, because on this point White also claims “This kind of simplistic, straight-line stuff is absurd” (here, around 1:02:30), as though Wilson were putting forth a kind of conspiracy theory of ideas with Augustine (or maybe Calvin) right in the middle of the crazy wall. The only sensible reply is to encourage people to read Wilson’s book for themselves and remind White that intellectual history (or history of ideas) is a legitimate academic endeavor that is prone to discover truths that upset people.

Consider a totally unrelated parallel: probably one in 10,000 self-professed capitalists and Marxists alike would consider that the better part of Karl Marx’s economic system was spun out of the economic principle of Adam Smith. This conclusion may shock and disturb, and yet the dedicated historian of economic thought who really understands the development of the labor theory of value has to admit that it’s not an absurd claim by any stretch.

Now, none of this is to say that I’m completely persuaded by Wilson. To the contrary, the book raises (in my mind, at least) a number of questions that may in the end lead to real difficulties for Wilson’s conclusions about how to understand Augustine and his contributions. If I get curious enough, I might buy Wilson’s dissertation and write about it.

However, it appears White, for the time being, is content merely to take these sorts of pot shots at Flowers’ interviews of Wilson rather than address the factual claims or arguments in Wilson’s book. If that changes, this series may have a part 3. In the meantime, everyone should go buy Wilson’s book! It’s short and it’s only $10, what more do you want?

181 thoughts on “Fallacies of Style: White vs. Wilson (Part 2)

  1. Well done Eric!

    -quote
    Wilson argues that the timeline suggests, quite plausibly, that Augustine’s shift was prompted by his battle with the Pelagians and therefore more rhetorical/polemical than textual/exegetical.

    This is not only Wilson’s suggestion – but a host of other scholars as well.
    For I have heard this about Augustine many times.

    In fact – its more readily stated as Augustine being stumped by Pelagian arguments.
    And not having any logical answer for them – reverts to Gnostic arguments he previously rejected when coming into Catholicism.

  2. Thanks Eric and good point BRD. I’ve heard and read the same in regard to the timing of when Augustine shifted his position.

    One comment that caught my attention. White said…
    “And the vast majority of us today became Reformed before we read Calvin… and we did so on the basis of exegesis.”

    This is interesting because this would be a first. I’ve yet to meet a Calvinist or read the testimony of a Calvinist who became a Calvinist simply by reading his Bible after he was saved. This is an observation that I believe reinforces the fact that Calvinism is a man derived and man-taught systematic. In every case, they were introduced to Calvinism through a Calvinist friend, read a Calvinist book by a Calvinist author, heard it from a Calvinist pastor, etc. They may not have “read Calvin” directly, but they were introduced to Calvinism by a person in some way, They then make the claim that they came to realize this is what scripture teaches and it was “on the basis of exegesis” but initially the concepts were introduced to them by another person. There may be a Calvinist out there somewhere who actually came up with something like Calvinism himself from scripture with no outside introduction to it from another person, but I’ve not yet met him or read his testimony.

    1. ANDYB2015, You are so right. This was my own experience and the experience of every Calvinist friend I have. I found Wilson’s book compelling as I have always believed Augustine to be the cornerstone of the introduction of fatalistic determinism into otherwise orthodox theology, and that is was based on his prior belief systems.

    2. Andy said…

      This is interesting because this would be a first. I’ve yet to meet a Calvinist or read the testimony of a Calvinist who became a Calvinist simply by reading his Bible after he was saved. This is an observation that I believe reinforces the fact that Calvinism is a man derived and man-taught systematic. In every case, they were introduced to Calvinism through a Calvinist friend, read a Calvinist book by a Calvinist author, heard it from a Calvinist pastor, etc. They may not have “read Calvin” directly, but they were introduced to Calvinism by a person in some way, They then make the claim that they came to realize this is what scripture teaches and it was “on the basis of exegesis” but initially the concepts were introduced to them by another person.

      I have frequently made an identical observation. And in the case of White, I would go further. I think he got so caught up in the moment that he stretched the truth. He could not possibly have held to Reformed theology without it being externally enlightened to him.

      Reformed doctrine cannot be reasonably inferred from scripture unaided. You must first be exposed to it and only then can you see hints of it in scripture and finally zealously impose it everywhere you please by wrangling of words. You could never construct that systematic by simply reading the Bible. You first must make a philosophical pronouncement found nowhere in the Bible, such as “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass” and then force this onto scripture, starting with the “U” in TULIP. “L” “I” and “P” logically follow once you have made this unscriptural demand. “T” is true to the extent that it does not become “Total Inability” but total inability is non-optional under Calvinism because without it, man could innately have the capacity to respond to the gospel, and this cannot be tolerated under the erroneous belief that response is a “work”.

      If nothing else, the systematic is internally logically consistent.

      I find this statement from the Westminster Confession (Ch I, vii) particularly laughable under Reformed theology:

      All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

      1. To add to my previous post, the reason I find this particular section of the Westminster Confession so ironic is that the doctrines of salvation are precisely the parts of the Bible that Reformed theology has made so non-intuitive for the (to use their words) “unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means”. The non-learned under Reformed Theology cannot “attain unto a sufficient understanding of them” because it requires the “unlearned” to invert what they think they are reading and how they think they should respond:

        Unlearned: it appears I need to respond to the Gospel
        Reformed: You can’t. If someone asks you how to be saved, you cannot tell them to “respond”. They are dead. God must quicken them and resurrect them. You cannot even pray to be quickened unless God foreordained that as well. There is nothing you can do. You cannot ask, you cannot pray, you cannot exercise faith. They are all works, and 100% of what happens must be complete initiated by Christ. If you perform so much as 0.00000000001% of the requirements, you have done the entirety yourself and can take credit.

        Unlearned: it appears there is an if-then proposition being extended throughout virtually every page of the Bible. God says that if I do this, then He will respond in a particular way. This includes salvation. He extends grace. I respond by faith. I can chose to be stubborn or I can choose to be obedient. He can justly punish me accordingly.
        Reformed: There is no such thing as a genuine proposition. Everything you do and say is not simply foreknown – it is foreORDAINED. You cannot do otherwise. You must be very careful in how you understand salvation and how you extend it to others. The word “choice” should never be employed because it then becomes salvation by works.

        UnlearnedIt appears that salvation is not just extended to all, it is AVAILABLE to all, based on my plain reading of John 3:16 and 2 Pet 3:9, Acts 13:70, and 1 Tim 2:3-6. Indeed, it would make no sense to extend something to those who could not benefit from it, nor would it make sense to command people to do that which they cannot.
        ReformedYou don’t properly understand. “All” and “any” in 2 Pet 3:9 and “whosoever” and “world” in John 3:16 mean “the elect”. “All” in 1 Tim 2:3-6 and Acts 13:70 likewise means “the elect”.

        UnlearnedIn Acts 17:30 it appears that I am being commanded to repent, and not just me – but all men, everywhere.
        is not just extended to all, it is AVAILABLE to all, based on my plain reading of John 3:16 and 2 Pet 3:9, Acts 13:70, and 1 Tim 2:3-6. Indeed, it would make no sense to extend something to those who could not benefit from it, nor would it make sense to command people to do that which they cannot.
        ReformedYou don’t need to repent to be saved. This is a work. It is by grace alone, through faith alone. Neither of these gifts come from yourself, and one is not a response to the other. Grace is a gift and so is faith. Asking someone to demonstrate faith by an action is a “work” and we are not saved by “works”. You are no more saved by repenting than you are by being baptized.

        UnlearnedIt appears that Joshua’s charge to the people in Joshua 24:15 means that each hearer had the capacity to choose to server the Lord or some other god. If choice to serve God or not was extended in the Old Testament, it must likewise extend into the New Testament. In the New Testament “serving God” must mean obedience to His commands: to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
        ReformedYou cannot choose to follow God. That is a work and you can thus take credit for following, and by extension for your salvation. Be very careful in the words that you use when extending salvation – the word “choice” should be avoided. Nothing you do is a choice in the strict sense of the word. This would tarnish God’s glory and diminish His sovereignty.

        And we are honestly to believe that “a sufficient understanding of them” can be “attained” by the “unlearned?”

        It is reasonably clear from history that Augustine imposed the determinism he obtained elsewhere onto Christianity. He did not get it from the scriptures, he imposed it onto them.

        It reasonably clear that Calvin did the same, and that Calvin’s determinism came from Augustine – not from the scriptures.

        Once you have brought something not taught in the scriptures (determinism) as a non-negotiable into your theology, you then must construct a system that supports it. You begin by appealing to sovereignty and omniscience. You can then do a sleight of hand and conflate foreknowledge with foreordination / predestination. You then redefine sovereignty to buttress your premise that it necessarily means control of every thought, deed, and decision and thus “whatsoever comes to pass”. Again, because all of this is non-negotiable and you have taken the liberty of defining sovereignty in a way that fits the demands of determinism, you must now mold a doctrine of salvation that satisfies this non-negotiable. And this is precisely what Calvin did. But again, none of this – contrary to the Westminster Confession – is “apparent” by “the unlearned” “in a due use of the ordinary means”.

        Indeed, this is one of the most powerful arguments in my mind against Calvinism – it cannot be ascertained by a plain, unaided reading of scripture by the “unlearned”. It is always taught and acquired in some means external to the scriptures. Always. It was true of Augustine, it was true of Calvin, and it is true of those Christians today that hold to Reformed theology.

      2. mrteebs writes, “the doctrines of salvation are precisely the parts of the Bible that Reformed theology has made so non-intuitive for the (to use their words) “unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means”. The non-learned under Reformed Theology cannot “attain unto a sufficient understanding of them” because it requires the “unlearned” to invert what they think they are reading and how they think they should respond:”

        If by “unlearned” you mean unbelievers, then they don’t care – “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” or as Paul says later, “if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”

        If by “unlearned” you mean those who are being saved, then TULIP was developed to present the essentials points of salvation in an easily understandable form.

        T – People are born with corrupt hearts and no faith so that Jesus says, “No one can come to Me…”
        U – God imposes no prior conditions on those who are being saved as Paul says, “God who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
        L – Christ died for God’s elect. Paul describes this, “In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…” and “remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh…you were without Christ…having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
        I – God’s work in you is irresistible – Paul writes of himself, “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”
        P – God preserves His elect as Christ attested, ““All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.”

        It is precisely because these points are so easily understood that they have become so contested.

      3. rhutchin
        If by “unlearned” you mean unbelievers, then they don’t care….

        br.d
        Never expect a Calvinist to tell the WHOLE truth
        Because the horrible decrees will be recognized as horrifying.

        In Calvinism any unbeliever who doesn’t care is simply not permitted to BE/DO otherwise – at pain of falsifying an infallible decree

        T Totally Predestined Nature:
        The state of man’s nature at any instance in time is totally predestined prior to creation, and absolutely nothing about what is infallibly decreed to come to pass – including man’s nature at any instance in time – is ever up to man.

        U Unconditional Destiny by Design:
        Every aspect of man’s design and destiny is in total-abject-absolute unconditional subjection to an external divine and secret will. Nothing about man’s past, present, or future is ever up to man. And nothing about man’s predestined design or destiny is conditioned upon anything having to do with man.

        L Limited Possibilities and Human Illusions
        All human impulses, perceptions, choices, and desires are exclusively predetermined for each human at the foundation of the world. And any perception of multiple options available for a human to choose from, exist only as human illusions. Illusions of non-predestined events which as such never had any possibility of ever coming to pass – at pain of fasifying what was predestined.

        I Irresistible Human Functionality
        All human functionality, including morally significant functionality, is produced by impulses infallibly actualized within the human brain which occur as irresistible.

        P Possibility of Election
        Any human certainty of election in this lifetime is an illusion. Each believer is promised only the possibility of election.

      4. Rhutchin: “It is precisely because these [TULIP] points are so easily understood that they have become so contested.”

        Umm … yeah … sure, rhutchin, whatever you say!

      5. heather writes: “Umm … yeah … sure, rhutchin, whatever you say!”

        If you did not understand them, you would not get upset. Who gets upset over that which they do not understand?

      6. rhutchin
        If you did not understand them, you would not get upset. Who gets upset over that which they do not understand?

        br.d
        If Heather is not upset – this would be rhutchin’s infallibly decreed FALSE perception #16
        Calvin’s god sure does have fun tinkering with Calvinist brains! :-]

      7. The Calvinist knows you think you understand what you thought he said
        And he also knows that you don’t realize what you heard is not what he meant :-]

      8. Rhutchin: “If you did not understand them, you would not get upset. Who gets upset over that which they do not understand?”

        You know what, rhutchin? You’re right. I’ll give you this one. It’s precisely because we understand them – because we understand what Calvinists are REALLY saying under the deceptive biblical-layers they hide it in and because we understand how different it is from what the Bible REALLY teaches – that we get upset about it. So … you’re right! Those who get upset about Calvinism do so because they truly have understanding.

    3. That precisely how all cults spread.
      Just look at the Jews today. One of the confounding things to us is how they don’t see Christ even after their Temple was destroyed.

      Talk to any of them and you’ll hear not a reasoned conclusion from the totality of scripture, but a line of bullcrap that has been passed down for centuries.

      With Calvinism, we really have the same pile of trash being shoveled around until it hits a cold, wanna be intellectual type personality.

      Not everyone understands this dynamic.

      Find the sin a person wants to commit – and that’s exactly where they’ll read the verses wrong.
      Homosexuals will read everything that pertains to it wrong. Cheaters…, divorce, sexual sins, etc

      There’s also things people desire to be true, or things they’re afraid of being true..

      But there’s a next level. Personality type. When Calvinism hits a warm loving type, or a woman, or a puppy, it doesn’t affect them in the least, but when it hits a cold clinical intellectual or wanna be, pedantic, “I’m superior” type it sticks. They all claim, “oh its horrible” but that’s nonsense – This is what they want in some way, shape, or form. It appeals to their clinical personality.

      Just take 2 minutes to listen to a loveless arrogant person like James White and it tells you all you want to know about the type of person that reads Calvinism into scripture and if you’re not off the wall like him when you start accepting it… Just wait… and it will make you in its own image. Thankfully, many abandon it when they witness its affect and its lack of fruit.

      It’s not the gospel, it’s joining a smug superior club that has signed up to a lifetime of *Arguing with everyone to feed their lust for confrontation.

      1. Hello John and welcome.
        You’ve certainly hit on the “human” side of things! :-]
        And I think you are correct in the fact that belief systems are sometimes like designer clothes.
        Certain personalities have a psychological inclination towards certain religious urgencies.
        The Pharisees in Jesus’ day are good examples.

        And John Calvin serves as yet another model for the typical “I’m totally right and everyone else therefore must be wrong” personality type.

        But that temperament is also a derivative of old Catholicism – with popes sending armies into villages that refused to comply.
        Might as well pillage and murder anyone who refuses to be one of us.

        And N.T. Write notes – John Calvin was a Catholic with a small “c”.

      2. John writes, “Just look at the Jews today. One of the confounding things to us is how they don’t see Christ even after their Temple was destroyed. ”

        No different than when John addressed the Jews in John 8, “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do…because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

      3. rhutchin
        No different than when John addressed the Jews in John 8, “Why do you not understand My speech? …..etc

        br.d
        Well of course – for the Calvinist – the CAUSE of every person’s mental state is in infallible decree – before that person was created.
        And what mere mortal can resist an infallible decree?

        So in Calvinism all creaturely impulses which occur within a given brain – come to pass IRRESISTIBLY.

        And for those who label evil as “grace” – that’s how they get IRRESISTIBLE grace. 😉

      4. br.d writes, “– for the Calvinist – the CAUSE of every person’s mental state is in infallible decree – before that person was created.”

        Yes. The decree to create incorporated all the events that were to happen in the future of that creation. How could it not as God enjoys an infinite understanding and He can do nothing without that understanding providing council to His will, in this case, His will to create.

        Then, “And what mere mortal can resist an infallible decree?”

        The key descriptor – mere mortal. No mere mortal can overturn the divine decree. Even the pagan king understood this when he said, “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?””

        Then, “So in Calvinism all creaturely impulses which occur within a given brain – come to pass IRRESISTIBLY.”

        No person can resist his nature – a nature conveyed to him as an inheritance from Adam’s sin. The person born without faith can never do that for which faith is necessary but must yield to a reprobate mind – all understood by God before creation. God need only decree the reprobate mind and take no further action. The reprobate mind is described in Genesis 6, “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” The thoughts of the reprobate heart are only evil continually without God having to provoke the mind to such evil.

      5. br.d
        for the Calvinist – the CAUSE of every person’s mental state is in infallible decree – before that person was created.”

        rhutchin
        Yes. The decree to create incorporated all the events that were to happen in the future of that creation.

        br.d
        Well I think its pretty presumptuous of you to dictate to Calvin’s god what events he will incorporate into what decrees.
        He has a perfect right to make a trillion decrees for a trillion specific events if he wants to.
        Who are you oh man to tell Calvin’s god what he does with his decrees.

        rhutchin
        How could it not as God enjoys an infinite understanding and He can do nothing without that understanding providing council to His will, in this case, His will to create.

        br.d
        This is called a NON-SEQUITUR.
        What one understands and what one decrees are not necessarily the same thing :-]

        Be we know
        You’re simply trying to hide the face of the horrible decrees behind one mask or another.
        In this case – the mask is called “infinite understanding”.

        We’ve seen all of Calvinism’s masquerade tricks! 😉

      6. br.d writes, “Well I think its pretty presumptuous of you to dictate to Calvin’s god what events he will incorporate into what decrees.”

        Let’s go with Ephesians 1 on this, “God works (or decrees) all things after the counsel of His will.” God can divide up His decrees as He see fits.

        Then, “What one understands and what one decrees are not necessarily the same thing :-]”

        Agreed. Understanding provides the basis for the decree.

        Then, “You’re simply trying to hide the face of the horrible decrees behind one mask or another. in this case – the mask is called “infinite understanding”.”

        The horrible decree was God’s decision not to save everyone. God understood what He was doing.

      7. Rhutchin: Agreed. Understanding provides the basis for the decree.

        Exactly! Calvin’s god cannot know the future unless, like humans, he foreordains the future. (He’s dodging refutations to this above, and just repeats ideas already torn down.) You can’t get more anthropomorphic than that! I already said enough above to expose the pagan assumptions behind this implication.

        I guess brd was right. Here’s my plea. No one here should reply to rhutchin unless his contribution moves the ball forward. He recycles his points and thinks they’re valid responses.

        Well, he has yet to touch any of the points I made above on such an anthropomorphic view of divine foreknowledge. But for fun, I’ll put icing on the cake an take his premise that, “Understanding provides the basis for the decree.” This is just another way saying God cannot know the future unless it is *based* on something. The anthropomorphism derived from Ephesians evidences that he is distorting the apostle in Ephesians 1. Again, I already demonstrated why God’s knowledge cannot be discursive as it was denied by Acquinas and Reformed scholastics. So let’s get into this argument as an add-on to what I said previously.

        Call this the common argument (CA). Sustain rhutchin’s presupposition that God cannot have a foundation (i.e., “basis”) of foreknowledge unless he decrees everything. In this way, God knows the future because it is “based” on his decrees.

        The CA demonstrates that not even God can enjoy divine freedom:

        (1) If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
        (2) If God is omniscient, then God knows at t1 what God will do at t2;
        (3) God is omniscient;
        (4) Therefore, God knows at t1 what God will do at t2 (from 1,2)
        (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1,4)

        McCall makes the following assessment: “Richard Swinburne sees this problem clearly, and he simply bites the metaphysical bullet. With characteristic clarity, he concludes that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient (in the traditional sense of omniscience). And since God is a perfectly free person, the conclusion to be drawn is that God can “not have knowledge of his future free actions.” Thus God “will not know in advance what he will do.” Swinburne recognizes that this places a “much larger limit on God’s omniscience that the limit concerned with future human free actions.”

        As you can see, if we consistently take rhutchin’s interpretive conclusions, not even God can have freedom; and if God cannot have divine freedom because of rhutchin’s constraints, then he is far from a perfect being. And if such being is not perfect, then we are no longer talking about God. But in fact this seems right, since the god of Calvinism is not identical to the God of Paulinism.

        Again, it’s an exercise in futility to reply to rhutchin’s regurgitations unless his replies are relevant, substantive, and moves the ball forward. But I suspect he’ll keep these arguments at a distance, and continue to—erroneously—ascribe to Paul if that’s what he is saying in Ephesians 1. If he thinks that’s the case, then he should reply cogently to these objections and defend his assumptions.

      8. AB writes, “Calvin’s god cannot know the future unless, like humans, he foreordains the future.”

        And of course, a sovereign God necessarily ordains all events including the future. All wenned do is give God a present knowledge of all events, which knowledge everyone seems to grant to God. Foe every present event, God is the final arbiter bu virtue of His being sovereign – God either decides that natural events should play out naturally or He decides that natural events should not play out naturally. Calvinism adds that, by His infinite understanding, God can know what immediately proceeds from any present event and that He had this knowledge in eternity past at which point He issued His decree.

        Then, ‘ take his premise that, “Understanding provides the basis for the decree.” This is just another way saying God cannot know the future unless it is *based* on something.”

        Here, God’s works are based on the counsel of His will – thus God’s works are based on “something.” I don’t think even AB would argue that the counsel of God’s will takes place in the absence of His infinite understanding, i.e., that God works all things without the understanding of the future ramifications of His actions.

        Then, “The CA demonstrates that not even God can enjoy divine freedom:
        (1) If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
        (2) If God is omniscient, then God knows at t1 what God will do at t2;
        (3) God is omniscient;
        (4) Therefore, God knows at t1 what God will do at t2 (from 1,2)
        (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1,4)”

        Let’s rephrase this to introduce truth

        (1) If at t1 God decrees at time T1 the future event T2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
        (2) If God is omniscient, then God decreed at t1 what God will do at t2;
        (3) God is omniscient;
        (4) Therefore, God decrees at t1 what God will do at t2 (from 1,2)
        (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1,4)

        As to (5), we can ask, So What? At T1, God was free to decree an event to occur at T2. God exercised His freedom to decree the event at T2. At T2, God then implements that which He decreed at T!. On what basis would God second guess His decision made at T1? There is no basis, God’s decree made at T1 reflection His perfect wisdom so why move to an imperfect position at T2?

        Then, “McCall makes the following assessment: “Richard Swinburne sees…”

        This is a convoluted explanation. It basically argues that God cannot make decisions that affect future events without taking away His freedom to second guess His earlier decisions. Yet, everyone knows that decisions made by God that affect future events do not have to be revisited.

        Then, ‘As you can see, if we consistently take rhutchin’s interpretive conclusions, not even God can have freedom;”

        No, It says that God has freedom when He originally made His decree and need not exercise a future freedom in the future.

        Then, “if God cannot have divine freedom because of rhutchin’s constraints, then he is far from a perfect being.”

        So, if God decrees anything, He becomes an imperfect being. Pure nonsense. Thus, when God decreed Christ to die on the cross, He became an imperfect being. Absolutely nonsensical thinking that comes from a misspecification of the issue.

      9. rhutchin
        So, if God decrees anything, He becomes an imperfect being. Pure nonsense. Thus, when God decreed Christ to die on the cross, He became an imperfect being. Absolutely nonsensical thinking that comes from a misspecification of the issue.

        br.d
        rhutchin – please provide the quote where A.B. stated – if a god decrees anything he becomes an imperfect being.
        Talk about straw-men!!!

        However:
        Since your every perception of TRUE vs FALSE is determined *FOR* you by an external mind
        It is LOGICAL to understand – any ability on your part – to determine a TRUE “sense” from a FALSE “sense” is ruled out.
        It having been determined *FOR* you by an external mind.

        Soooo funny!
        For a Theological Determinist (aka Calvinist) to call something nonsensical is an oxymoron! 😀

      10. br.d: “please provide the quote where A.B. stated – if a god decrees anything he becomes an imperfect being.
        Talk about straw-men!!!”

        AB wrote, “As you can see, if we consistently take rhutchin’s interpretive conclusions, not even God can have freedom; and if God cannot have divine freedom because of rhutchin’s constraints, then he is far from a perfect being. And if such being is not perfect, then we are no longer talking about God. But in fact this seems right, since the god of Calvinism is not identical to the God of Paulinism. “

      11. So in that quote from A.B that you just provided – where does he say – if a god decrees anything he becomes an imperfect being?

        rhutchin are you having a bad hair day again?

      12. br.d writes, “in that quote from A.B that you just provided – where does he say – if a god decrees anything he becomes an imperfect being?”

        AB wrote:
        — if we consistently take rhutchin’s interpretive conclusions,…(My restrictive conclusion is that God decrees everything.)
        — [then] not even God can have freedom; .
        — if God cannot have divine freedom…
        — then he is far from a perfect being.

        For AB to say that God is “far from a perfect being” is to say that God is an imperfect being.

        Further AB wrote, “And if such being is not perfect, then we are no longer talking about God. But in fact this seems right, since the god of Calvinism is not identical to the God of Paulinism.”

        Here, “not perfect” means imperfect.

        AB’s point is that a god who decrees everything loses his freedom and is an imperfect god.

      13. rhutchin
        For AB to say that God is “far from a perfect being” is to say that God is an imperfect being.

        br.d
        But the TRUTH is – A.B. didn’t say (or conclude) what you derived

        You ignored A.B.’s reference to you altogether – in order to create a very *ABSURD* strawman.
        A.B. (so far) has exhibited statements that are much to RATIONAL to ever fall into being so LOGICALLY absurd

        What A.B. stated (in effect) – was that *YOUR VERSION* of a god – resulted in the LOGICAL consequence of making that god an imperfect being. A being that does not have perfect omniscience at any point is not a perfect being. You claimed there are points at which Calvin’s god’s omniscience of [X] is -quote “VOID”.

        So for you – an omniscience of [X] that is “VOID” is also an omniscience that is “perfect”.

        Of course the only way you get there (typical Calvinist thinking) is to have things TRUE and FALSE a the same time! :-]

      14. br,d writes, ‘What A.B. stated (in effect) – was that *YOUR VERSION* of a god – resulted in the LOGICAL consequence of making that god an imperfect being.”

        And my version of God is that He decrees everything as I understand Ephesians 1:11. Only you seem to be confused about the discussion between AB and myself.

      15. rhutchin
        And my version of God is that He decrees everything as I understand Ephesians 1:11. Only you seem to be confused about the discussion between AB and myself.

        br.d
        Typical rhutchin!
        Again conveniently ignore your statements which someone else responds too – and instead cherry-pick whatever you need – to derive an outcome that APPEARS to work for you. And then label someone else’s thinking as “nonsense” . 😀

        Nothing new here – move along – move along!

        And my previous LOGICAL observation still stands:

        Since your every perception of TRUE vs FALSE is determined *FOR* you be an external mind – who decrees you to INFALLIBLY perceive FALSE perceptions – as TRUE.

        It it LOGICALLY follows – any determination on your part – between TRUE vs FALSE is (as Paul Helm’s puts it) ruled out.

        Thus – for a Theological Determinist (aka Calvinist) to label something as “nonsense” is an Oxymoron 😉

      16. rAB “Call this the common argument (CA). Sustain rhutchin’s presupposition that God cannot have a foundation (i.e., “basis”) of foreknowledge unless he decrees everything. In this way, God knows the future because it is “based” on his decrees. ..As you can see, if we consistently take rhutchin’s interpretive conclusions, not even God can have freedom; and if God cannot have divine freedom because of rhutchin’s constraints, then he is far from a perfect being.”
        rhutchin: “So, if God decrees anything, He becomes an imperfect being. Pure nonsense. Thus, when God decreed Christ to die on the cross, He became an imperfect being. Absolutely nonsensical thinking that comes from a misspecification of the issue.”
        br.d: “please provide the quote where A.B. stated – if a god decrees anything he becomes an imperfect being.
        rhutchin: AB wrote, “As you can see, if we consistently take rhutchin’s interpretive conclusions, not even God can have freedom; and if God cannot have divine freedom because of rhutchin’s constraints, then he is far from a perfect being. And if such being is not perfect, then we are no longer talking about God. But in fact this seems right, since the god of Calvinism is not identical to the God of Paulinism. “
        br.d: “So in that quote from A.B that you just provided – where does he say – if a god decrees anything he becomes an imperfect being?”
        rhutchin: “AB’s point is that a god who decrees everything loses his freedom and is an imperfect god.”
        br.d: “What A.B. stated (in effect) – was that *YOUR VERSION* of a god – resulted in the LOGICAL consequence of making that god an imperfect being. ”
        hutchin: “And my version of God is that He decrees everything as I understand Ephesians 1:11. Only you seem to be confused about the discussion between AB and myself.”
        br.d: “Typical rhutchin! Again conveniently ignore your statements which someone else responds too .”

        LOL!!!!

      17. br.d
        So typical!

        Here is the rest of it – which you conveniently omitted:
        ———————————————————————
        A.B
        August 11, 2020 at 11:15 am

        (1) If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
        (2) If God is omniscient, then God knows at t1 what God will do at t2;
        (3) God is omniscient;
        (4) Therefore, God knows at t1 what God will do at t2 (from 1,2)
        (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1,4)

        McCall makes the following assessment:
        “Richard Swinburne sees this problem clearly, and he simply bites the metaphysical bullet. With characteristic clarity, he concludes that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient (in the traditional sense of omniscience). And since God is a perfectly free person, the conclusion to be drawn is that God can “not have knowledge of his future free actions.”

        Thus God “will not know in advance what he will do.”
        Swinburne recognizes that this places a “much larger limit on God’s omniscience that the limit concerned with future human free actions.”
        ———————————————————
        So rhutchin
        Swinburne concedes the LOGICAL deduction which A.B. outlines
        But you can’t allow yourself to concede what Swinebune allows himself to concede.
        So your strategy is to turn it into a strawman :-]

      18. And in any case – since your every perception of reality is controlled by an external mind.
        And since that external mind – decrees your brain – to have FALSE perceptions – perceived as TRUE

        You have no way of – in and of yourself – of determining what “nonsense” is.
        You can speak authoritatively – about what your current perception is
        But you can’t speak with any authority on whether or not your perception is TRUE or FALSE
        Because every one of your perceptions are determined by factors outside of your control

        Did you know – that under hypnosis – a person’s perceptions – are controlled by an external mind (i.e. the hypnotist)?
        If the hypnotist decrees a man under hypnosis – to perceive himself as a woman – that is the perception that man will have.

        In your case – the hypnotist – is a THEOS
        You are so blessed! :-]

      19. br.d writes, “You have no way of – in and of yourself – of determining what “nonsense” is.”

        God created man with a brain giving man the unique capacity to operate independent of God. A person gathers information and has experiences that he processes to create his unique personality. So, we see people with similar backgrounds, even being twins like Jacob and Esau, but having their own personalities and making different decisions in similar situations. Given that God is sovereign, He necessarily is in control of all people but He does not directly cause any particular person to act in any particular way. Thus, we find the Jews stoning Stephen without being influenced or coerced by God to do so.

        It is true that no one has any way– in and of themselves – of determining what “nonsense” is. That is why the Scriptures are important. The Scriptures provide a person with truth and a way to cut through the nonsense perpetrated by Satan and his demons on mankind. Because people are born without faith, they easily fall for the nonsense presented to them by the world so that Paul write to believers, “you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” Then, ‘…we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,…”

      20. br.d
        “You have no way of – in and of yourself – of determining what “nonsense” is.”

        rhutchin
        God created man with a brain giving man the unique capacity to operate independent of God.

        br.d
        AH!
        This is where your mind has been conditioned to hold Theological Determinism as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        On the one hand – 100% of whatsoever comes to pass within your brain – was determined *FOR* you – by an external mind – before you were created.

        On the other hand your mind can hold that same proposition as FALSE – and declare that whatsoever comes to pass within your brain – functions “independent” of Calvin’s god.

        The funny thing with your declaration of “independence” from Calvin’s god – is that Calvinists will come here and read statements just like yours – posted by non-Calvinists – and declare them semi-pelagian heretics who chafe at the divine sovereignty of Calvin’s god.

        While the Calvinist – as we see by this example – can easily speak out of both sides of the mouth – without blinking! :-]

      21. br.d writes, ‘The funny thing with your declaration of “independence” from Calvin’s god – is that Calvinists will come here and read statements just like yours – posted by non-Calvinists – and declare them semi-pelagian heretics who chafe at the divine sovereignty of Calvin’s god.”

        The non-Calvinist asserts man’s autonomy from God. They never describe man as subordinate to, but able to act independent of, God. Maybe some Calvinists will be confused by such language but it is easily explained. The hard part is getting people like br.d to understand these distinctions.

      22. rhutchin
        The non-Calvinist asserts man’s autonomy from God.

        br.d
        Actually – JT – one of our occasional Calvinist visitors did not use the word “autonomous” in reference to semi-Pelagianism.
        He used the word “independent” as a reference to semi-Pelagianism .

        So when a Calvinist declares man is designed to function “independent” of Calvin’s god’s decrees – that is ok.
        But when a non-Calvinist declares man is designed to function “independent” – that is semi-Pelagianism

        rhutchin
        They never describe man as subordinate to…..

        br.d
        rhuthin – how easy it is to manufacture wild and imaginative straw-men! :-]

        rhutchin
        Maybe some Calvinists will be confused by such language but it is easily explained.

        br.d
        Actually – its not confusion at all.
        Calvinism incorporates a practice – that linguists call “INSIDER LANGUAGE”
        And this language incorporates DOUBLE-SPEAK

        Speaking out of one side of the mouth one minute – and the other side at another minute.

        Take these to statements made by you for example:
        – It is TRUE that Calvin’s god’s decree has no beginning or ending
        – But we don’t know when Calvin’s god’s decree began.

        Or take your declaration that the perceptions which come to pass within your brain are “independent” from Calvin’s god
        While at the same time 100% of the perceptions which come to pass in your brain were FIXED in the past by Calvin’s god

        Another wonderful example of DOUBLE-SPEAK! :-]

        A classic example of DOUBLE-SPEAK has to do with the Calvinist declaration that Mere Permission does not exist.
        And yet the Calvinist assumes that Calvin’s god Merely Permits his mind to determine TRUE from FALSE.
        *AS-IF* the Calvinist’s perception of TRUE/FALSE was not determined at the foundation of the world – by an external mind.

        I don’t think Calvinism’s DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS is confusion.
        Calvinism incorporates DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS in order to retain a sense of NORMALCY.

        In order to live out a NORMAL life – they have to go about their office *AS-IF* their doctrine is FALSE.

        DOUBLE-SPEAK is simply a human outward expression of DOUBLE-THINK. :-]

      23. br.d writes, ‘So when a Calvinist declares man is designed to function “independent” of Calvin’s god’s decrees – that is ok.
        But when a non-Calvinist declares man is designed to function “independent” – that is semi-Pelagianism”

        Calvinists say that man is able to function independent of God and the person who functions independent of God can by a described as semi-Pelagian in some instances. In other instances, they might be described as atheists, Pelagians, etc. When a non-Calvinist declares man is designed to function “independent,” there is a likelihood that he has semiPelagian understanding.

      24. rhutchin
        Calvinists say that man is able to function independent of God …..etc

        br.d
        And when they do – they are speaking DOUBLE-SPEAK.
        I never cease to be amused – at the variety of SEMANTIC TRICKS and WORD GAMES Calvinists use.
        Totally reject Mere Permission out of one side of the mouth
        Only to later appeal to it out of the other side.

        There is a very real expertise within Calvinism.
        Just like there is with Bill and Hillary Clinton.
        An expertise in the use of word games.

        rhutchin
        When a non-Calvinist declares man is designed to function “independent,” there is a likelihood that he has semiPelagian understanding.

        br.d
        Thank you – this affirms what I’ve been saying – that Calvinists have their own INSIDER LANGUAGE.
        When a Calvinist says the answer is “I don’t know why Calvin’s god allowed that” – other Calvinists understand what the word “allow” means within Calvinism’s INSIDER LANGUAGE.

        But outsiders don’t – and they are thereby mislead.
        And the Calvinist knows he is misleading them.
        And he justifies allowing OUTSIDERS to be mislead by his language – because doing so is expedient for the sake of promoting the doctrine.

        Subtle talkers will devise shrewd schemes.
        But the Lord with eventually make them trip over their own tongues.

      25. br.d writes, “[AB presented this argument–]
        (1) If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
        (2) If God is omniscient, then God knows at t1 what God will do at t2;
        (3) God is omniscient;
        (4) Therefore, God knows at t1 what God will do at t2 (from 1,2)
        (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1,4)
        br.d then says, “Swinburne concedes the LOGICAL deduction which A.B. outlines But you can’t allow yourself to concede what Swinebune allows himself to concede.”

        So, we have the argument presented–

        (1) If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
        (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1,4)

        LOL!!! What does “not free” even mean in this argument?? So, if br.d decides at 10:00 that he will go to BK for lunch at 12:00, then he is not free with respect to going to BK at 12:00. Of course, br.d is imperfect and he can always revisit his decision made at 10:00 and with new information, change his mind at 12:00. Thus, br.d by virtue of being imperfect is free. But God who is perfect, and whose decisions reflect His perfect wisdom, is not free because He has no reason to change a decision He made earlier. That is hilarious, isn’t it. Swinburne strings statements together that make no sense, because we don’t know what he means by terms like, “perfectly free person” or “omniscient (in the traditional sense.” There is no logic entailed here; we have a jumbled mass of nonsensical thoughts.

      26. rhutchin
        LOL!!! What does “not free” even mean in this argument??

        br.d
        Anyone who knows the literature concerning the LOGICAL consequences of determinism – knows what “not free” means.
        If your car is infallibility decreed to move in reverse at time T – then your car is “not free” to move forward at time T.
        Even Calvin’s god is “not free” to invalidate an infallible decree.

        I totally understand – you can’t allow yourself to know what “not free” means
        Because your mind would have to acknowledge something it doesn’t want to acknowledge.

        rhutchin
        Swinburne strings statements together that make no sense,

        br.d
        AH!
        Here is where the Calvinist mental practice of holding Theological Determinism as both TRUE and FALSE – comes into play.

        Here – you are going about your office *AS-IF* whatsoever perceptions of “make sense” coming to pass within your brain – were not determined *FOR* you – by and external mind.

        Thus you can go about your office *AS-IF* Calvin’s god merely permitted you to determine what “makes sense”
        *AS-IF* Calvin’s god granted you Libertarian functionality to choose TRUE from FALSE on any proposition.

        Calvinism’s DOUBLE-THINK world! :-]

      27. br.d writes, “If your car is fallibility decreed to move in reverse at time T – then your car is “not free” to move forward at time T.”

        LOL!!! So br.d uses the example of a car to explain why God is not free. We can do better than that. Here is the original statement provided by AB.
        “(1) If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
        (2) If God is omniscient, then God knows at t1 what God will do at t2;
        (3) God is omniscient;
        (4) Therefore, God knows at t1 what God will do at t2 (from 1,2)
        (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1,4)
        McCall makes the following assessment:
        “Richard Swinburne sees this problem clearly, and he simply bites the metaphysical bullet. With characteristic clarity, he concludes that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient (in the traditional sense of omniscience). And since God is a perfectly free person, the conclusion to be drawn is that God can “not have knowledge of his future free actions.”

        Let’s use a real life example (not a goofy car example). God decrees the creation of the universe, and as part of this decree, Adam eats the fruit. Because God is the source of the decree and He will enact His decree perfect;y, then, supposedly, God is not free (i.e., it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient).

        God was free to make His decree in the first place and even though God will not change that decree (given that it was a perfectly wise decree) that does not mean that God cannot change His decree (opt foe a less wise decree). God can always undo whatever He does; He is God

        So, again, we ask what does “not free” mean (or why is it true that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient). I don’t think br.d or anyone else really knows.

        Then, ‘Here – you are going about your office *AS-IF* whatsoever perceptions of “make sense” coming to pass within your brain – were not determined *FOR* you – by and external mind. ”

        According to the Scriptures, people are ruled by their nature and it is their nature that is the source of one’s desires, perceptions, thoughts, etc. It is true that God makes people and does not provide them faith, so that they are totally depraved having a nature enslaved to sin. Having made the person, God does not need to exert any further influence on the person in order for the person to react to his environment. God did determine what the person would do by the capabilities He gave to the person, and this is through the nature God gave the person. In a sense, God winds up the person and the person adheres to his nature. Until the person hears the gospel and receives faith, even br.d can predict what the person will do.

      28. br.d
        If your car is infallibility decreed to move in reverse at time T – then your car is “not free” to move forward at time T.

        rhutchin
        LOL!!! So br.d uses the example of a car to explain why God is not free.

        br.d
        What is funny – is that is an example of the LOGICAL consequences of an infallible decree – which appears to have gone over someone’s head. :-]

        rhutchin
        Let’s use a real life example (not a goofy car example).

        br.d
        So Calvin’s god infallibly decreeing you to get into your car – and for your car to move in reverse is not a real life example?
        Who are you – oh man – to declare any infallible decree to be NOT REAL!!!! 😉

        I think what is REALLY “goofy” is Calvinists holding so many things as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time :-]

        rhucthin
        God decrees the creation of the universe, and as part of this decree, Adam eats the fruit.

        br.d
        There you go again dictating to Calvin’s god – what things he will decree within which decrees.
        How presumptuous you are to dictate what things Calvin’s god decrees.

        Calvinist say – Calvin’s god created them in his image
        But it becomes obvious – Calvinists are constantly creating Calvin’s god in their own image :-]

        The truth is – you don’t know any of minute details of any of the minute particulars of any decree

        You only know (according to Calvin’s doctrine) that no event can possibly come to pass without it being decreed
        So no – Calvin’s god did not decree Adam to eat the fruit as “part of the creation of the universe

        What you do know is the following:
        1) Calvin’s god first conceived Adam eating the fruit
        2) Calvin’s god then decreed Adam would eat the fruit as a SETTLED event
        3) Calvin’s god thereby – MADE Adam eat the fruit
        4) Adam was therefore “not free” to NOT eat the fruit – at pain of invalidating an infallible decree
        5) Calvin’s god did not PERMIT Adam any alternative – but to obey the infallible decree
        6) Thus it LOGICALLY follows – no alternative event was made available to Adam

        I’ve detailed this out for you multiple times.
        AH! That’s right – your mind has been conditioned to hold the consequences of the infallible decrees as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        Sorry I forgot that! 😉

        rhutchin
        Because God is the source of the decree and He will enact His decree perfect;y,

        Br.d
        And he will also blink his eye perfectly – which is totally irrelevant.

        rhutchin
        God was free to make His decree in the first place

        Br.d
        Again – rhutchin – you should leave LOGICAL thinking to other people – it doesn’t suit you.

        A.B. is responding to your claim that divine knowledge of [X] equates to divine infallible decree of [X]
        So here Calvin’s god knows at T1 – what he will do at T2
        And for you – that equates to a divine infallible decree of what he will do at T2.

        So now you are arguing that Calvin’s god is “free” to invalidate his own infallible decree

        rhutchin
        and even though God will not change that decree (given that it was a perfectly wise decree) that does not mean that God cannot change His decree

        br.d
        rhutchin – again – you really should leave LOGICAL thinking to others – it’s simply not suited for you.

        In Calvinism – infallible decrees are IMMUTABLE – which by definition means – unchangeable.

        So if Calvin’s god’s knowledge @T1 of what he will do @T2 is INFORMED by an infallible decree of what he will do @T2 – then Calvin’s god is “not free” to invalidate that infallible decree.

        So LOGIC informs us that not even Calvin’s god can make something both IMMUTABLE and MUTABLE at the same time.

        AH – but again I forgot – as a Calvinist your mind has been conditioned to hold IMMUTABLE as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        And that leads us to your DOUBLE-THINK where
        You are to go about your office *AS-IF* whatsoever perceptions of “make sense” coming to pass within your brain – were not determined *FOR* you – by and external mind. ” *AS-IF* Calvin’s god Merely Permitted you to determine what “makes sense”. *AS-IF* Calvin’s god granted you Libertarian Function of choosing TRUE from FALSE.

        rhutchin
        According to the Scriptures, people are ruled by their nature ….etc

        br.d
        And according to Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) 100% of every person’s nature – is determined by Calvin’s god before people exist. And John Calvin instructs his disciple to -quote “go about your office *AS-IF* that is FALSE”.

        Perhaps in your imagination – you were standing next to Calvin’s god at the foundation of the world when he was determining every Nth degree of what would come to pass concerning your nature – determining what desire would come to pass – at each micro-second of your life .

        And in your imagination he let those determinations be UP TO YOU 😉

      29. br.d writes, “In Calvinism – infallible decrees are IMMUTABLE – which by definition means – unchangeable.”

        This does not mean that God cannot change His decree, but that He will not change His decree and this because His decree reflects His perfect wisdom so God has no reason to change His decree and do so freey. So, to say that God is “not free” to change His decree does not mean that God cannot change His decree, but that He will not change His decree. In your car example, the car, unlike God cannot change what it has been decreed to do (and the car, having no will, obviously will not change what it has been decreed to do).

        Then, “In Calvinism – infallible decrees are IMMUTABLE – which by definition means – unchangeable.”

        By this, Calvinists means that nothing that God creates has the power to change God’s decree and although God has the power to change His decree, He will not since His decree reflects His perfect wisdom. You do not distinguish that which God can do from that which God wills to do.

        To the point of this discussion, how does this demonstrate that not even God can enjoy divine freedom – or why is it true that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient.

        God is certainly a perfectly free person who can know what He decrees thereby giving Him an omniscient knowledge of that which He decrees. God is a perfectly free person who is also omniscient. God is perfectly free to decree anything He desires and He knows that which He decrees – He is omniscient. So, when AB promotes the conclusion, “(5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2” it has the very narrow application “with respect to what he does at t2.” So, again we can ask the question, what does “not free” mean? It certainly cannot mean that God does not have the power to change His mind, as He obviously does given that he is God. So, it must mean that God will not change what He does at T2. If God will not change what He does at T2, how does that mean that He is “not free” to change what He does at T2? How does McCall conclude “since God is a perfectly free person, the conclusion to be drawn is that God can “not have knowledge of his future free actions.” Why is this a rationale conclusion? It isn’t?

        Then, “according to Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) 100% of every person’s nature – is determined by Calvin’s god before people exist.”

        Determined by God’s decree that a person incur the punishment for Adam’s sin and be born with a sin nature and without faith thereby preventing a person believing in Christ, among other things. People do this willingly, as Paul describes in Romans 1, “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Obviously, without faith, no other outcome was possible.

      30. br.d
        In Calvinism – infallible decrees are IMMUTABLE – which by definition means – unchangeable.”

        rhutchin
        This does not mean that God cannot change His decree……etc

        br.d
        Thank you for making my point again!
        The Calvinist mind has been conditioned to hold many things as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.
        In this case the decree being IMMUTABLE is in your mind – both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        The reason your brain can’t comprehend what A.B. posted is because it has conformed to Calvinism’s DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS.

        rhutchin
        By this, (i.e. IMMUTABLE decree) Calvinists means that nothing that God creates has the power to change God’s decree and although God has the power to change His decree, He will not since His decree reflects His perfect wisdom. You do not distinguish that which God can do from that which God wills to do.

        br.d
        AH! This is Calvinism’s tactic of playing shell games with words!

        Sorry rhutchin – word IMMUTABLE has a standardized meaning in the English language.
        Fortunately – the Calvinist practice of speaking out of two sides of the mouth is limited to Calvinists. :-]

        rhutchin
        To the point of this discussion, how does this demonstrate that not even God can enjoy divine freedom – or why is it true that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient.

        br.d
        Well – since your mind has been conditioned to breach LOGIC’s law of non-contradiction in so many ways
        In this case – you holding the decree as both IMMUTABLE and MUTABLE at the same time
        There is really no chance of you breaking from that mode of thinking any time soon.
        So since you can’t abide within the boundaries of LOGIC – then your on your own again.

        I think with your mode of thinking – there is nothing further going to come of this conversation.
        You can’t understand Dr. Craig, and Jerry Walls, and neither can you comprehend the syllogism A.B. provided.

        So we must conclude that Calvin’s god – at the foundation of the world – infallibly decreed that your mind not be able to comprehend such things. And instead that you would simply want to travel in endless circles of Calvinist DOUBLE-THINK.

        Not to worry!
        Calvin’s god knows what he’s doing :-]

      31. br.d
        Well I think its pretty presumptuous of you to dictate to Calvin’s god what events he will incorporate into what decrees.”

        rhutchin
        Let’s go with Ephesians 1 on this, “God works (or decrees) all things after the counsel of His will.” God can divide up His decrees as He see fits.

        br.d
        Well – here you’ve added words to the text – which for people who respect scripture is taboo.
        This serves as a good example, that the Calvinist mind is taught to ALTER the words of scripture as he reads them – in order to make the text conform to the doctrine.

        br.d
        Additionally – What one understands and what one decrees are not necessarily the same thing :-]

        rhutchin
        Agreed. Understanding provides the basis for the decree.

        br.d
        Well – I should hope so!

        But that brings us back to where we started – with Calvin’s god decreeing 100% of whatsoever comes to pass concerning every part of every event in your life. Which includes every neurological impulse that will appear in your brain.

        And that obviously includes every FALSE perception of things your mind is infallibly decreed to perceive as TRUE.

        Now a FALSE perception – by definition – is a perception the person (that’s you) does not know is FALSE.

        And since your every FALSE perception is infallibly decreed by an external mind – then that external mind does not permit you to discern your FALSE perceptions from TRUE perceptions.

        Which means – as a Calvinist – you have no ability to determine TRUE from FALSE on any proposition – because your every perception of TRUE vs FALSE is 100% determined by an external mind.

        Additionally: You’re simply trying to hide the face of the horrible decrees behind one mask or another. in this case – the mask is called “infinite understanding”.”

        rhutchin
        The horrible decree was God’s decision not to save everyone. God understood what He was doing.

        br.d
        Well – lets not apply a mask over it by using WHITE-WASHED language.

        Let’s use John Calvin’s words
        -quote
        Some are PRE-ORDAINED to eternal life
        Others to eternal damnation.
        Accordingly AS EACH HAS BEEN CREATED FOR THESE ENDS,
        we [Calvinists] say he has been predestined to life or death.

        In other words – Calvin’s god – at the foundation of the world – makes decisions about what persons he will DESIGN specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.

        And Calvin’s god thus DESIGNS the “MANY” – (i.e. vast majority of humans he creates) specifically for that end.

        Who wouldn’t want to sign up for that! 😛

      32. br.d writes, “But that brings us back to where we started – with Calvin’s god decreeing 100% of whatsoever comes to pass concerning every part of every event in your life. Which includes every neurological impulse that will appear in your brain.”

        Yes. God’s understanding of His creation extends to every neurological impulse that will appear in your brain or every atom in the universe according to Sproul. With that understanding, God could have decreed no action on His part thereby ensuring that natural forces prevail or God could hve decreed direct action to change the outcome that would have been brought about by natural forces.

        Then, “Let’s use John Calvin’s words
        -quote
        Some are PRE-ORDAINED to eternal life
        Others to eternal damnation.
        Accordingly AS EACH HAS BEEN CREATED FOR THESE ENDS,
        we [Calvinists] say he has been predestined to life or death.”

        The horrible decree is “Others to eternal damnation.”

        Then, “In other words – Calvin’s god – at the foundation of the world – makes decisions about what persons he will DESIGN specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.”

        As Paul explains in Romans 9, “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,…”

        Then, “Who wouldn’t want to sign up for that!”

        As Paul also explains in Romans 8, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

      33. br.d
        But that brings us back to where we started – with Calvin’s god decreeing 100% of whatsoever comes to pass concerning every part of every event in your life. Which includes every neurological impulse that will appear in your brain.”

        rhucthin
        Yes. God’s understanding of His creation extends to every neurological impulse that will appear in your brain or every atom in the universe according to Sproul. With that understanding, God could have decreed no action on His part thereby ensuring that natural forces prevail or God could hve decreed direct action to change the outcome that would have been brought about by natural forces.

        br.d
        Just remember – per you latest version
        Calvin’s god’s “understanding” (i.e.omniscience) of every neurological impulse is INFORMED by his decree of what neurological impulse will come to pass .

        As I’ve stated multiple times to you – if Calvin’s god does not “understand” what he decrees – then his elevator doesn’t go to the top floor! :-]

        Now instead of trying to WHITE WASH it – let’s use John Calvin’s words
        -quote
        Some are PRE-ORDAINED to eternal life
        Others to eternal damnation.
        Accordingly AS EACH HAS BEEN CREATED FOR THESE ENDS,
        we [Calvinists] say he has been predestined to life or death.”

        rhutchin
        The horrible decree is “Others to eternal damnation.”

        br.d
        And also that you have no idea – which end Calvin’s god has DESIGNED for you.
        But if you wind up in the lake of fire – you’ll know.

        So: In other words – Calvin’s god – at the foundation of the world – makes decisions about what persons he will DESIGN specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.”

        rhutchin
        As Paul explains in Romans 9, “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,…”

        br.d
        Well – now you have a scripture which affirms that you shouldn’t have to WHITE WASH the language
        Just be a TRUTH-TELLING witness for the belief system

        You can boldly declare Calvin’s god DESIGNS the vast majority of human souls – specifically for eternal torment in the lake of fire
        And you have scriptures to show it.

        Who wouldn’t want to sign up for that! 😛

        rhutchin
        As Paul also explains in Romans 8, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

        br.d
        Take it all the way rhutchin
        Take it all the way!!!

      34. rhutchin
        As Paul explains in Romans 9, “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

        br.d
        Per the Calvinist version – “demonstrate his wrath” for what he himself decreed each creature to be, and “endured with much patience” those attributes he specifically designed each creature to have.

        But we know – the Calvinist needs to hypnotize himself with talking points
        Talking-points that allow him to MAKE BELIEVE the creature is the determiner – rather than Calvin’s god.

        As John Calvin instructs:
        -quote
        Go about your office AS-IF nothing is determined in any part

        rhutchin
        As Paul also explains in Romans 8, “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.”

        br.d
        Right! The puppeteer has “mercy” on the puppets he moves about in his divine puppet show.

        He faithfully obeys John Calvin’s instructions:
        Moving his puppets about AS-IF he determined nothing in any part.

        Funny how Calvin’s god always perfectly obeys Calvin’s instructions! ;-D

      35. br.d writes, “Calvin’s god’s “understanding” (i.e.omniscience) of every neurological impulse is INFORMED by his decree of what neurological impulse will come to pass .”

        This depends on God’s decree to let natural events proceed without interference from Him or to decree to change the outcome of natural events.

        Then, “As I’ve stated multiple times to you – if Calvin’s god does not “understand” what he decrees – then his elevator doesn’t go to the top floor! ”

        God understands His decrees as they are made according to the counsel of His will that is informed by His infinite understanding. So, no problem in God understanding His decrees.

        Then, “Now instead of trying to WHITE WASH it – let’s use John Calvin’s words
        -quote
        Some are PRE-ORDAINED to eternal life
        Others to eternal damnation.
        Accordingly AS EACH HAS BEEN CREATED FOR THESE ENDS,
        we [Calvinists] say he has been predestined to life or death.”

        This by God’s decree. The effect is that knows the identities of the elect and non-elect when He implements His create the universe.

        Then, “And also that you have no idea – which end Calvin’s god has DESIGNED for you.
        But if you wind up in the lake of fire – you’ll know.”

        Anyone can know that God’s decision for them will be no worse than what they would have brought on themselves. While people can have doubts per Matthew 7 and difficult verses in Hebrews, and 1 John, the believer always knows that he can set things right by seeking forgiveness from God per Hebrews 4, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.”

        Then, “So: In other words – Calvin’s god – at the foundation of the world – makes decisions about what persons he will DESIGN specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.””

        God designs all people for eternal torment as all are born in sin. However, as Paul tlls us in Romans 9, “God has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

        Then, ‘Take it all the way rhutchin Take it all the way!!!”

        LOL!!! At least you know better than to deny Scripture.

      36. br.dr
        Calvin’s god’s “understanding” (i.e.omniscience) of every neurological impulse is INFORMED by his decree of what specific impulse will come to pass .

        rhutchin
        This depends on God’s decree to let natural events proceed without interference from Him or to decree to change the outcome of natural events.

        br.d
        What a joke Calvinism’s DOUBLE-MINDED world is! 😛

        Since in Calvinism every event occurs INFALLIBLY
        And since nature does not have the attribute of INFALLIBILITY
        The Calvinist has to MAKE BELIEVE nature can make events occur INFALLIBLY
        He has his very own nice little fantasy world.

        As I’ve stated multiple times to you – if Calvin’s god does not “understand” what he decrees – then his elevator doesn’t go to the top floor! ”

        rhutchin
        God understands His decrees ……etc

        br.d
        Calvinists do love their DOUBLE-SPEAK talking-points don’t they!

        Since – as your talking-points have it – Calvin’s god’s omniscience needs to be -quote INFORMED by his decrees
        Pretty hard to “understand” something – prior to being INFORMED about it :-]

        rhutchin
        This by God’s decree. The effect is that knows the identities of the elect and non-elect when He implements His create the universe.

        br.d
        Sure rhutchin!
        You keep reciting those DOUBLE-SPEAK mantras – some day they’ll come true – in your mind! 😀

        And of course per John Calvin – you have no idea – which end Calvin’s god has DESIGNED for you.
        But if you wind up in the lake of fire – you’ll know.

        rhutchin
        Anyone can know that God’s decision for them will be no worse than what they would have brought on themselves.

        br.d
        Isn’t it wonderful to MAKE BELIEVE you can “bring things upon yourself” in a world where 100% of whatsoever comes to pass concerning you – was determined *FOR* you – by an external mind – before the world was created.

        DOUBLE-SPEAK is as DOUBLE-THINK does! 😀

        rhutchin
        God designs all people for eternal torment as all are born in sin.

        br.d
        Wooops!
        Now you are contradicting John Calvin – who says they are created for -quote “One or the other”.
        But I know – creating god in ones own image – is every Calvinist’s inheritance – from their father.

        rhutchin
        At least you know better than to deny Scripture.

        br.d
        I do get a kick out of the Calvinist fantasy world!
        Years ago – I knew a brother who would say: “Bless their tiny little pointed heads!” :-]

      37. Welcome John. I agree with most of your points, especially those in the beginning. I have experienced however meeting many non-Calvinists who are in their own “smug superior club… *Arguing with everyone to feed their lust for confrontation.” I have to be careful of this push from my flesh.

  3. Thanks Steve. Yes, this was my experience as well. I had already done quite a bit of research into what the early church and early church fathers believed and had come to this conclusion on my own. Wilson’s work has reinforced what I had learned and is a great resource.

  4. I agree the book not only should be purchased at $10 for yourself, but for others in your life who maybe struggling or confused… White’s attacks are embarrassing he acts so superior it is such a crazy site to see… It makes so much sense that a calvinist would be taught by another calvinist… I absolutley remember when I was first introduced to this and it didn’t sit well and I happened to be in a precept Bible study in a church close to my home (not my home church). Anyway we were studying Colossians and it was around Easter I decided to go to one of their services. Then at the end of this service they had a separate area to inquire of the pastor going in one at a time. (It reminded me a bit of Catholicism not that I was ever aloud to talk to the priest in confession) This pastor was not their main pastor & this church was very large & from my understanding not calvinist leaning nor was this something they normally did. The topic of calvinism of course was my question and how I didn’t see it in Scripture and, that I needed assurance of what I was reading. Next sadly the pastor/guy basically told me he didn’t use to either, but he sees it now and that my sister was right, & he now embraces it…. needless to say I didn’t leave that meeting feeling any joy at all!!, because basically he informed me the good news was essentially bad news for most of humanity in my opinion. I’m glad I didn’t just believe him and concede, but of course he was a pastor who was I… but nah he nor any humble or loud calvinist will ever have the final word only the harmony of God’s Word has that authority period. This site is not a one string bango it has great purpose and basically White is criticizing from a distant platform…, in my opinion this gives him a sense of safety.. I think he comes off as a scared smart guy who doesn’t want to talk to an intellectual man who actually is cordial, because there is substance here and he doesn’t like that… that is only my observation…. It is always refreshing to read others journey’s and how others see this systematic doesn’t harmonize so very many passages of Scripture unless you redefine. Thanks

  5. Eric Kemp writes, “That would mean Augustine did not write anything Calvin or Calvinists could meaningfully appeal to until at least 16 years after reading Romans and Galatians. Again, White does not address this point.'”

    White pointed out that the first have of Augustine’s career was spend dealing with the Donetist controversy and the last half of his career dealing with the Palagian controversy. So, Yes, Calvin would draw from Augustine’s dealing with Pelagius. White did address this point, but I don’t think the point is controversial.

    1. Hutch, it’s an interesting point because White wants to say “Augustine just got it from the Bible”. That Augustine didn’t write anything White would agree with until 16 years after reading Romans and Galatians is evidence against this point.

      And, for the record, I didn’t write this article.

  6. Eric Kemp writes, “Against Wilson’s claim that Augustine’s deterministic interpretations of Scripture were previously unknown within Christianity, White protests:

    “We don’t have a tremendous amount of the early church’s writings….”

    -Taken here around the 32:50 mark”

    This appears at the 43 minute mark if anyone wants to listen to that discussion.

  7. From my understanding, this fraud stuff goes back a lot farther than just Augustine/Calvin. I’ve heard stories of fraudulent writings from the Catholics of church fathers, and the invention of church fathers that never even existed in the first place.

    I remember my attempt to debate with a Catholic once. All he wanted to do was talk church fathers, and what THEY established, therefore, what he believes, without question, is what church fathers established.

    Well, I didn’t want to talk church fathers at all. But he would not tell me what he believed independent from church fathers. So, our debate went no where fast.

    My contention has always been that the Catholic church is a fraud of Christianity. Not much can be PROVEN regarding a missing less then 300 years, so they invented a fake history, by claiming “Saint” Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and his writings, which is the contention of whether thy be real or fake.

    So, this goes much deeper than the fraudulent claims of Augustine/Calvin. But it does show the continued lies that those in religious power wish to have OVER their flock.

    Ed Chapman

  8. Do we know where Augustine ultimately obtained his deterministic ideas? It seems he came to the faith with a belief in free will, and then later changed his posture as a result of debates with Pelagians, but does anyone know for sure that the origin was the Manichaens?

    Wikipedia suggests that determinism wasn’t something Augustine brought with him to Christianity, and was instead a Manichaen concept that he employed as a debate strategy with the Pelagians — and then became so enamored with the concept that he retained it.

    Here is the Wikipedia citation (with my emphasis added):

    Augustine taught variants of these five points of Augustinian–Calvinism the last eighteen years of his life. Previously he had taught traditional Christian views defending humanity’s free choice to believe against the deterministic Manichaeans, to which he had belonged for a decade before converting to Christianity. In this pagan group, a non-relational God unilaterally chose the elect for salvation and the non-elect for damnation based upon his own desires. Early church fathers prior to Augustine refuted non-choice predeterminism as being pagan. Out of the fifty early Christian authors who wrote on the debate between free will and determinism, all fifty supported Christian free will against Stoic, Gnostic, and Manichaean determinism and even Augustine taught traditional Christian theology against this determinism for twenty-six years prior to 412 CE. When Augustine started fighting the Pelagians he converted to the Gnostic and Manichaean view and taught that humankind has no free will to believe until God infuses grace, which in turn results in saving faith.

    Please note that I am not suggesting Wikipedia is an authoritative source. I am merely pointing out that there seems to be evidence that determinism was not something Augustine extracted from the scriptures, or a view that he held originally at conversion. It came sometime after his conversion, and he held to it rigorously thereafter.

    If others reading here disagree with the Wikipedia article, they are invited to start a food fight of posting and reposting with their opponents. It is one of the reasons I no longer trust Wikipedia for many things. “He who posts last, wins” is not the same as “He who posts last, is right”.

    There are some lessons in that statement for some of the commenters here as well.

    1. I think the Wikipedia article is pretty much a consensus from my understanding. Although Augustine is also noted within academia as the primary stream through which NeoPlatonism was brought into Western Christianity. Augustine corresponded with various people – some of whom were personal friends. And there is very specific references to the doctrines of Plotinus in Augustine’s writing. One friend by the name of Nebridius, who praises how Augustine’s letters: “speak of Christ, Plato and Plotinus.

      Plotinus is generally regarded as the founder of Neoplatonism. Plotinus regarded himself simply as an expositor and defender of Plato’s philosophical works.

      Augustine derives his idea of divine immutability from Plato – first documented in Plato’s “Republic” dialog.

      Some scholars suspect that Augustine also plagiarized parts of Plato’s Republic – incorporating them into his “City of God”

      It is also suggested by some authors that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Mormons both borrowed various things from Plato to incorporate into their doctrines.

    1. I especially appreciated how concise, to the point, and well stated this page content is

      White Vs. Wilson (Part 3)
      https://fallaciesofstyle.wordpress.com/tag/biblical-greek/

      What it points out to me – is what I observe consistently with Calvinists.

      Logical argumentation is not going to give them what they want – so they divert to SEMANTIC arguments.

      Typically this is done by starting point of creating some ad-hoc definition for some text, or some words or some terms.
      And then working to support that using question begging argumentation.

      This at least gives their position the ability to *APPEAR* rationally based.
      They always want to assume the position of speaking with papal authority.
      And then – when consistent logical fallacies become apparent – they simply try some other means of re-establishing the papal seat.
      But under scrutiny – as Dr. Flowers provides – it becomes obvious – all that papal authority is simply a facade.

      1. Thanks BR.D, I appreciate the encouragement.

        In my experience, a lot of Calvinists are great at laying out their views but not so great at engaging with criticism or defending their views. I think this tends to happen with any theoretical system – theological, political, or philosophical – that relies too much on its own internal consistency as a system. It ends up having too much difficulty dealing with ideas outside its own paradigm and so meaningful argumentation tends to get tossed aside.

        Consistency is like a circle. All circles are similar, but some circles are larger than others. Calvinism draws a small circle – too small, in fact, to properly account for God’s love.

  9. “Second, Wilson’s claim is this: “Of the eighty-four pre-Augustinian authors studied from 95-430 CE, over fifty authors addressed the topic [of predestination]. All of these early Christian authors championed traditional free choice against pagan and heretical Divine Unilateral Predetermination of Individuals’ Eternal Destinies”.”

    White makes two arguments” (1) determinism and free will were not at issue during the first four centuries after Christ, and (2) the determinism espoused by the pagan philosophies was different than the determinism espoused by Augustine. This occurs at the 47 minute mark. White has a general complaint that Wilson fails to substantiate his statements. When Wilson writes, that “over fifty authors addressed the topic [of predestination]” he does support that claim because he does not cite where they did this. The early church fathers would not even have known what “traditional free choice” was. The traditional – presumable libertarian – view would have been completely unknown to the early church fathers. Thus, we have Wilson imposing his views onto the early church fathers and getting the conclusion he wanted in the first place.

    1. rhutchin
      White makes two arguments” (1) determinism and free will were not at issue during the first four centuries after Christ

      brd
      Well that would be obviously false – based on the statements of the early church writers in which they did enunciate free will.

      What is legitimate in White’s argument is that the early church writers would have framed their arguments using terminology that was common to them in their context and within their current language. And since Ken Wilson reads the early church writers in their original languages – and presented evidence as to how their terminology would be commonly understood, and presented findings to that effect – to peer reviewed body. Thus it goes without saying – differences in terminology within ancient writings are an automatic expected consideration in such scholarly works.

      rhutchin
      (2) the determinism espoused by the pagan philosophies was different than the determinism espoused by Augustine.

      br.d
      Its already been established that White consistently falls into the fallacy of FALSE DILEMMA (i.e., all or nothing thinking)
      And this is just another example.

      rhutchin
      Thus, we have Wilson imposing his views onto the early church fathers and getting the conclusion he wanted in the first place.

      br.d
      This conclusion of course remains as nothing more than a claim made White – along with the logical weaknesses of his own reasoning.

      1. To follow up on this – no one in scholarship is looking for exact parallels between different generations and different cultures of believers.
        Exact parallels between Gnostic Christianity in Augustine’s day and Augustine himself.
        Or exact parallels between Gnostic Christianity in Augustine’s day and Calvinists today.

        What scholars are looking for – is what is typically called “continuity”.

        So or example – the ancient Gnostic Christians might say – the ELECT are born-into a “field of salvation” – while D.A. Carson would say the ELECT or born-into a “domain of providence”. And John Calvin would say the NON-ELECT or “doomed from the womb”.

        These are obviously not exact parallel conceptions – but there is obvious continuity between them.

        Current Gnostic today will tell you that the ancient Gnostic argued that faith was a gift – and the Irenaeus (against heresies) argued against them.

        So scholars aren’t silly enough to expect exact parallels
        Just points of continuity – which set Gnostic Christianity apart from the norm and which today set Calvinism apart from the norm.

      2. brdmod writes, “What scholars are looking for – is what is typically called “continuity”.”

        That continuity comes from a common reference to the Scriptures. That continuity ends when other non-Scriptural sources come into play.

      3. brd
        “What scholars are looking for – is what is typically called “continuity”.”

        rhutchin
        That continuity comes from a common reference to the Scriptures. ….

        br.d
        Almost but not quite.
        The continuity in this case has to do with how Gnostic’s and Calvinists use the exact same verses as proof texts – to reach conclusions – the Early Church Fathers considered heretical.

        Henry Longueville Mansel – The Gnostic Heresies of the First and Second Centuries
        -quote
        The followers of Basilides, an early Christian Gnostic (117-138 AD) moreover maintain that…. by the consequence of supermundate election, the mundane faith of every nature is determined, and that correspondent to the hope of each, and as such faith is a gift.

      4. br.d writes, “The continuity in this case has to do with how Gnostic’s and Calvinists use the exact same verses as proof texts – to reach conclusions – the Early Church Fathers considered heretical.”

        The continuity is derived from the appeal to the Scriptures. An appeal to something other than the Scriptures does not provide continuity. Whether the early church fathers viewed Calvinism as heretical is your opinion to which you are entitled. Given that Calvinism is monotheistic and gnosticism is polytheistic, they are not comparable. It would be like saying Arminianism and Calvinism are the same because they both agree on the Total Depravity of man.

      5. rhutchin
        The continuity is derived from the appeal to the Scriptures.

        br.d
        thank you for affirming what I stated.

        rhutchin
        An appeal to something other than the Scriptures does not provide continuity.

        br.d
        Which isn’t the case – so is a red-herring

        rhutchin
        Whether the early church fathers viewed Calvinism as heretical is your opinion to which you are entitled.

        br.d
        Brushing off the examination of historical evidence to someones opinion – serves as a RED-FLAG for easy believe-ism.
        As we can see – Calvinism has it own forms of easy-believe-ism :-]

        rhutchin
        Given that Calvinism is monotheistic and gnosticism is polytheistic, they are not comparable.

        br.d
        This was the black-or-white fallacy (i.e. false dichotomy) James White’s position is based on.
        Why are we not surprised.

        Syncretism – Wikipedia
        Syncretism is the combining of different constituents of different beliefs.

        AUGUSTINE, MANICHAEISM AND THE GOOD – Kam-Lun Edwin LEE
        -quote
        Augustine’s notion of concupiscentia is also linked directly to the Manichaean idea of evil as a disturbance of a person’s inner tranquility. By the time he wrote De uera reliqione, Augustine had imported into that notion a strong sexual overtone by equating concupiscentia with the Manichaean term libido, which implies sexual desire.

        But gradually, due to his conviction that personal evil is inevitable (a view shared by the Manichees and demonstrated in his conceptions of consuetudo and concupiscentia), Augustine assigned determination of one’s destiny to the jurisdiction of God.
        -end quote

      6. rhutchin: “Whether the early church fathers viewed Calvinism as heretical is your opinion to which you are entitled.”
        br.d: “Brushing off the examination of historical evidence to someones opinion – serves as a RED-FLAG for easy believe-ism.”

        Until br.d can produce the historical evidence, it remains his opinion.

        Then, “AUGUSTINE, MANICHAEISM AND THE GOOD – Kam-Lun Edwin LEE”

        Good example of someone expressing his opinion.

      7. He has his opinion – and you have yours.
        Good example of a Calvinist expressing his opinion about the conclusions of a scholar! :-]

    2. Hutch,

      “(1) determinism and free will were not at issue during the first four centuries after Christ”

      Demonstrably false.

      (2) the determinism espoused by the pagan philosophies was different than the determinism espoused by Augustine.

      Kinda true but not in the way White wishes. There were many different forms of determinism in pagan philosophies. This is true. Augustine takes the one espoused by Cicero and imports it, whole hog, into Christianity. So while Cicero disagreed with many other pagan philosophies, Augustine agreed with this Stoic father.

      Both of these points are directly addressed, and White is shown to be completely mistaken on both counts, by Dr. Wilson during the latest broadcast with Dr. Flowers.

    3. If White is correct that Wilson has not substantiated his claim that “over fifty authors addressed the topic [of predestination]”, it should be quite easy for him (or any other scholar) to have his or her rebuttal published in an academic journal. Since peer-reviewed publishing is life for ambitious academics, Wilson failing to adequately cite such a bold claim would be like dropping a suitcase full of cash in the middle of a slum.

      What we call “traditional free choice” just IS the view ECF took against all the various pagan determinisms. We call it traditional free choice because we inherited it from ECF.

      You are right about the ECF view not being exactly the same as “libertarian” free will, but that’s because 20th/21st century secular debates about free will have a different philosophical and scientific context. And you’re absolutely right that we have to be careful not to read ECF anachronistically. I don’t see how Wilson himself has done this though, but again, if he has then it’s a GREAT opportunity for any academic to get an easy career boost by publishing a refutation.

      1. I agree manor rabbit

        White appears to be going after very low hanging fruit.
        If indeed it is that simple – others within that peer reviewed arena will certainly pick it apart easily.
        But the fact that Wilson’s conclusions are pretty well acknowledged means the there is a low probability of that.
        I think what Wilson brings to the discussion that is somewhat new is question of whether Augustine modified his own previous writings – and anachronistically updated them so as to remove some of the more apparent self-contradictions between his original agreement with the ECF and then later departure from it.

      2. manor rabbit writes, “If White is correct that Wilson has not substantiated his claim that “over fifty authors addressed the topic [of predestination]”, it should be quite easy for him (or any other scholar) to have his or her rebuttal published in an academic journal.”

        White’s complaint was that Wilson made the statement without supporting documentation – like a nice appendix. Who knows? Did you spring the $100 to buy Wilson’s dissertation?

    4. RHUTCHIN: White makes two arguments” (1) determinism and free will were not at issue during the first four centuries after Christ, and

      AB: So what if that wasn’t an issue in the first four centuries? Enlighten us then and inform with documentation what was the predominant soteriological belief in the first four centuries relative to free choice?

      RHUTCHIN: (2) the determinism espoused by the pagan philosophies was different than the determinism espoused by Augustine.

      AB: Again, so what! Wilson never claimed they are identical in *every respect.* The overlapping concept is that your choices are caused by external antecedent factors which explains why one chooses as he does. That concept runs in Stoicism, Neo-platonism, and Manicheism, which Augustine was an ardent disciple. These pagan philosophies taught a necessity for which choice was causally determined, which is true irrespective if the cause were mechanistic, physical, monistic, or even personal. As Wilson recently pointed out, that’s a non-sequitur.

      RHUTCHIN: the traditional – presumable libertarian – view would have been completely unknown to the early church fathers.

      AB: That is simply a smear. There is no written evidence that Wilson anachronistically tacked on modern “libertarian” views of freedom back into the early church fathers. Again, you should tell us, with documentation, what was the consensus on freedom of the will in the early church with respect to soteriology??

  10. This has been a fascinating thread.

    Mr. Teebs makes an interesting point and essentially asks, “could the unlearned reasonably infer the doctrines of grace by simply reading the scriptures?” The Westminster Confession is so certain that the answer is “yes” that they literally put it in writing. But it is instructive of us to challenge this. Is it really true?

    I don’t think that even Calvinists would assert that your must understand TULIP in order to be saved. TULIP is sort-of retroactively applied to the saved person, explaining to them how and why they were saved, but they can certainly become saved without understanding a systematic theology, no matter how simple or complex.

    If I’m reading correctly, rhutchin seems to miss the point entirely, but even this is instructive. He simply restates 5-point Calvinism using TULIP, insisting that even a child can understand TULIP. But the question was not, “if you present TULIP to someone, can they understand it?” The question was, “if you allow someone to simply read the Bible without coaching / tutoring in the doctrines of grace, will they come away from their reading with this understanding?”

    Instinctively, most would say “no”. Indeed, if there was a way to poll people that had been saved less than a month – and not exposed to Reformed theology – to see if their understanding of scripture matched that of a Calvinist, I would venture to say that nearly 100% would conclude exactly the opposite of what Calvinism asserts. I’m being generous here and allowing rhutchin to use his own definition of “unlearned” as being “saved – buy untaught” instead of just “untaught – whether saved or unsaved.”

    The scripture quoted by rhutchin does not say that the unsaved don’t understand the gospel. It says they consider it foolishness. rhutchin actually embodies this very idea quite well. He understands the non-Calvinist position, but he dismisses it as foolishness. So I think it is a mistake to conflate “foolishness” with “unable to understand”. Foolishness is defined as “lack of good sense or judgement” and I find nothing in the word that implies inability.

    I have noticed that Calvinists have a difficult time separating their theology from the gospel. I saw in a couple other places on the web that some have actually proposed the acrostic “GOSPEL” instead of “TULIP” so this seems to further underscore that they conflate their doctrine with the gospel. Still others have proposed the acrostic “ROSES”. I haven’t looked closely enough to see how they map 5-point Calvinism onto six letters. Or maybe they have a 6-point systematic theology. Not sure and not really curious to know. TULIP seems to have won in the court of popular Reformed opinion.

    What the Westminster Confession seems to be saying is that a plain reading of scripture will allow the unlearned to understand the doctrines of salvation (or doctrines of grace in their vernacular). Like Mr. Teebs, I’m questioning whether that is really the case. It would be interesting to see some hard data on this. Almost like an exit poll administered as soon as possible after someone became saved.

    1. You know what I find as a really good laugh?
      When one asks a Calvinist how they came to believe an external mind – before they were born – determined them to believe in Calvinism.

      Not one of them will say: “An external mind – before they were born – determined them to believe in Calvinism”.

      They always speak *AS-IF* they weren’t determined to believe it.

      So what in fact did they come to adopt through reading scripture?
      That everything in every part is determined *AS-IF* nothing in particular is determined in any part!

      And that is “supposedly” what the Bible teaches them!

      What a hoot! :-]

      1. br.d writes, “When one asks a Calvinist how they came to believe an external mind – before they were born – determined them to believe in Calvinism.
        Not one of them will say: “an external mind – before they were born – determined them to believe in Calvinism.”

        They will say that God chose to save them before the foundation of the world. Calvinists refer to God; those with a humanist philosophy refer to an external mind.

      2. br.d
        When one asks a Calvinist how they came to believe an external mind – before they were born – determined them to believe in Calvinism.
        Not one of them will say: “an external mind – before they were born – determined them to believe in Calvinism.”

        rhutchin
        They will say that God chose to save them before the foundation of the world.

        br.d
        Which doesn’t answer the question now does it!
        Thank you for proving my point!

        rhutchin
        Calvinists refer to God; those with a humanist philosophy refer to an external mind.

        br.d
        A wonderful example of how Calvinists fall into the ditch of their judgments!
        In this case making believe that treating TRUTH *AS-IF* FALSE is not humanistic! :-]

      3. br.d: “Not one of them will say: “an external mind – before they were born – determined them to believe in Calvinism.”
        rhutchin: “They will say that God chose to save them before the foundation of the world.”
        br.d: “Which doesn’t answer the question now does it!”

        You gave the negative side, “Not one of them will say:…” I gave the positive side, “They will say…” What’s left?

      4. br.d
        Not one of them will say: “an external mind – before they were born – determined them to believe in Calvinism.

        rhutchin
        They will say that God chose to save them before the foundation of the world

        br.d
        Which doesn’t answer the question now does it!

        rhutchin
        You gave the negative side, “Not one of them will say:…” I gave the positive side, “They will say…” What’s left?

        br.d
        Well – Jonathan Edwards explains this for you:

        In Calvinism – good and evil are undifferentiated.
        The “negative” side is what glorifies the “positive” side
        Calvin’s god uses evil to glorify himself.

        Therefore – with Calvinism’s “negative” side – one also gets Calvinism’s “positive” side.
        “What’s left” is what Calvin’s god created the “negative side” for – to glorify himself.

        Now typically the Calvinist doesn’t mind Calvin’s god glorifying himself at someone else’s expense.

        But its different – when its at the Calvinist’s expense. :-]

      5. br.d writes, ‘Not typically the Calvinist doesn’t mind Calvin’s god glorifying himself at someone else’s expense.
        But its different – when its at the Calvinist’s expense.”

        How is it different?

      6. br.d
        Not typically the Calvinist doesn’t mind Calvin’s god glorifying himself at someone else’s expense.
        But its different – when its at the Calvinist’s expense.”

        rhutchin
        How is it different?

        br.d
        Just as you said – the Calvinist in this case – doesn’t give the “negative” answer.

        Here is an easy answer for the Calvinist to give:
        An External mind – at the foundation of the world – determined me to believe that all things are determined in every part *AS-IF* nothing in particular is determined in any part”.

        In other words
        Calvin’s god determined my mind to treat things TRUE *AS-IF* FALSE
        And to treat things FALSE *AS-IF* TRUE.
        That’s a psychological consequence of my “scriptural theology” :-]

      7. Calvinist:
        (TRUE *AS-IF* FALSE) and (FALSE *AS-IF* TRUE)

        That’s my “scriptural theology” and I’m stick-en to it! 😉

  11. br.d (and others),

    Do you read that section of the Westminster Confession as I do? That “unlearned” means “those not formally schooled in the doctrines of grace”?

    And that “in a due use of ordinary means” means just reading the scriptures or perhaps listening to them being proclaimed through preaching – without a rigorous systematic theology to explain them?

    rhutchin seems to imply that TULIP was developed to make the scriptures easy to understand, yet the Westminster Confessions (WC) states unequivocally just the opposite: “those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.”

    I’m detecting a tone deafness by him. The WC makes it clear that the scriptures (not TULIP) are what are being referred to. See bold highlights above. I quite agree with the WC in that sense: the scriptures are very clear about what one must do to be saved and whether learned or unlearned, even a person of the lowest intelligence can understand them. The question on the table is this: is TULIP easily elicited from the scriptures if the pupil is not given a carefully curated trail of scriptural breadcrumbs? If reading only the Bible without anyone to coach you, would most people arrive at the same conclusions as TULIP, or nearly opposite conclusions? My contention is the latter.

    What is indeed laughable to me is that the clear teachings of scripture necessary for salvation are so thoroughly inverted by Reformed theology. Cause and effect are nearly reversed. Simple words like “all” and “any” must be meticulously qualified in ways that are simply not going to be discovered by the “unlearned”.

    I’m also thrown off by this language in the WC: “those things with are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation.” Sounds an awful lot like works under the strict Calvinist definition of “works”. Faith is a work. Observance is a work. Even belief is a work under their rubric. This is why verses like Eph 2:4-8 are so important to them. Everything must be shown to be a gift, and originating in God. And if only grace is a gift – and not faith – the boat has sprung a leak.

    This thing positively screams “man made” and those who authored the WC were clearly not able to generate a document that wasn’t itself contradictory. When you read Reformed theology long enough, it becomes an endless parade of statements that contradict themselves, require further clarification, redefinition of words, invention of new phrases, etc.

    It gives new meaning to what “wrangling about words” looks like in the 21st century. I get the impression that 1st century Timothy had his fair share of such people. Paul nailed it: it leads to the ruin of the hearers.

    1. Over the years I’ve known RH – I’ve come to the point of not taking him seriously.
      I think Calvinism exists in shades of gray a lot more than any of us probably realize
      And Calvinists have to do a whole lot of work applying cosmetic masks over it.
      And so for me – most of it is simply one mask or another.

      Sometimes I feel sorry for Calvinists.
      But I also think something lures a person into it.
      And the Lord has to put his finger on that thing before there can be deliverance.

      1. br.d writes, “Over the years I’ve known RH – I’ve come to the point of not taking him seriously.”

        We seem to have two entirely different worldviews.

      2. br.d
        Over the years I’ve known RH – I’ve come to the point of not taking him seriously.”

        rhutchin
        We seem to have two entirely different worldviews.

        br.d
        There certainly is a difference in thinking!
        Within the Calvinist brain – everything in every part is determined *AS-IF* nothing in particular is determined in any part!

        And Its always interesting to observe when Calvin’s god has predestined your mind to have another FALSE perception – perceived as TRUE.

        I still think God gave Solipsism and Calvinism to mankind as a form of entertainment. 🙂

      3. br.d writes, “Within the Calvinist brain – everything in every part is determined *AS-IF* nothing in particular is determined in any part!”

        Calvinism says that God is omniscient and has perfect knowledge of the future based on the counsel of His will – in creating the universe, God determined all that was to follow.

      4. br.d
        Within the Calvinist brain – everything in every part is determined *AS-IF* nothing in particular is determined in any part!

        rhutchin
        Calvinism says that God is omniscient and has perfect knowledge of the future based on the counsel of His will – in creating the universe, God determined all that was to follow.

        br.d
        And that is why – Calvin’s god’s ENUNCIATED will is so often a FALSE REPRESENTATION of his SECRET will.

        And also why – within the Calvinist brain – everything in every part is determined *AS-IF* nothing in particular is determined in any part!

        I still think God gave Solipsism and Calvinism to mankind as a form of entertainment! 🙂

    2. WCF
      but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them

      br.d
      Consider the possibility here:
      The term unlearned is euphemistic language for those not yet indoctrinated.
      And the phrase ordinary means is euphemistic language for the indoctrination process

      1. WCF: “but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them’

        Even the atheist can understand salvation otherwise, how could Paul say that they consider it foolishness. It is those who are given faith that then believe the gospel unto salvation. Thus, WCF says, “we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:”

      2. WCF
        but the unlearned (i.e., un-indoctrinated), in a due use of the ordinary means (i.e., indoctrination), may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them’

        rhutchin
        Even the atheist can understand salvation

        br.d
        Even the TOTALLY DEPRAVED has understanding of divine things! :-]

        rhutchin
        otherwise, how could Paul say that they consider it foolishness.

        br.d
        Like the Roman Catholic church in Copernicus’s day – had understanding of the solar system – and so considered the earth rotating around the sun as foolishness. :-]

        rhutchin
        It is those who are given faith that then believe the gospel unto salvation.

        br.d
        The Gnostic Christians Basilides and Valentinus totally agree with you here- because they also have the GNOSIS!

        rhutchin
        Thus, WCF says, “we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:

        br.d
        AH! But John Calvin is more TRUTH TELLING
        -quote
        sometimes he also causes those whom he illumines only for a time to partake of it

        But the Lord… instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.
        (Institutes)

        -quote
        He only gives them a manifestation of his present mercy. (Institutes)

        -quote
        then he …..strikes them with even greater blindness (Institutes)

    3. Steve Sabin writes, ‘rhutchin seems to imply that TULIP was developed to make the scriptures easy to understand, yet the Westminster Confessions (WC) states unequivocally just the opposite…”

      We all know that TULIP was developed in response to the five points listed by the Remonstrants in contesting doctrines relater to salvation advanced by Calvin. and as such, as with the Remonstrant points, TULIP present the issues of salvation in a easily understood form. The WCF says that the essential doctrines of salvation are easily understood just from hearing (or reading) the Scriptures without any prior knowledge of TULIP. However, to have salvation taken seriously requires that the Holy Spirit illumine the mind. Hope this clarifies this point.

      I agree with you (and WCF) that, “the scriptures are very clear about what one must do to be saved and whether learned or unlearned, even a person of the lowest intelligence can understand them.”

      Then, ‘The question on the table is this: is TULIP easily elicited from the scriptures if the pupil is not given a carefully curated trail of scriptural breadcrumbs?”

      TD says that people are born with a depraved heart and without faith. As one receives faith through hearing the word, I think most people would grasp the notion that a person lacking faith would have no interest in God and would not have such interest until faith were present. Once that point is understood, the remaining points follow in describing the necessity for God to take certain actions (choose some to save, provide for the atonement of their sins, change their hearts (regeneration) and give them faith, and preserve them to the end). I think those points are easily established by the Scriptures. So, we disagree.

      Then, ‘Simple words like “all” and “any” must be meticulously qualified in ways that are simply not going to be discovered by the “unlearned”.”

      Probably correct – but is this necessary to salvation. In Ephesians 3, Paul explains that the gentiles are heirs of salvation. He does the same in Romans 9. I don’t see a problem in the Reformed defining “all” and “every” to mean “Jew and gentile” in certain verses where context allows it. I suspect that you get your definitions of “all” and “every” from the Dictionary so that you define terms that relate to salvation in a non-salvation context. Is that kosher?

      Then, ‘Faith is a work. Observance is a work. Even belief is a work under their rubric.”

      Faith is a work where that faith is inherent to the sinner and excited by the Scriptures to action. Faith is not a work if it arises from the illumination of the Scriptures by the Holy Spirit and does not otherwise exist.

      Then, “[To Calvinists] Everything must be shown to be a gift, and originating in God.”

      Yep. Do you think you have any good thing that is not given to you by God?

      1. In the marketing world – advertisements can be designed to produce a “Macro” view (i.e., the big picture)
        However, more often than not – advertisements are designed to produce a “Micro” view. (i.e., select parts of the big picture)

        The TULIP functions this way
        It serves as a “Micro” view
        A select presentation of the product designed to maximize its marketability.

        Marketing strategies of this sort are designed to produce a highly selective “IMAGE” of the product – while at the same time – hiding aspects of the product which make it less marketable.

  12. RHUTCHIN: Calvinism says that God is omniscient and has perfect knowledge of the future based on the counsel of His will – in creating the universe, God determined all that was to follow.

    AB: So God cannot know the future unless he “determined all that was to follow”. Doesn’t this reduce that sort of god to the human level?! Even humans can somewhat guarantee future outcomes by micro-managing the necessary state of affairs to ensure the intended outcome. Calvin’s god is too anthropomorphic. As Wilson stated on his recent interview, roughly “Only a puny god is unable to have knowledge and control billions of free agents unless he micro-manages them”.

    1. Ab writes, ‘So God cannot know the future unless he “determined all that was to follow”.

      That God is omniscient and thereby knows the future makes the future certain, or determined. So, in creating the universe God necessarily made certain, or determined, all that was to follow. You raise the issue of the necessity of all future events and whether God made future events necessary. Because God is sovereign, even absolutely sovereign, He necessarily becomes the final arbiter of all future events,so that Paul writes, “God works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Thus, God makes all future events necessary.

      Then, “As Wilson stated on his recent interview, roughly “Only a puny god is unable to have knowledge and control billions of free agents unless he micro-manages them”.”

      Wilson has it backwards, It is because God works all things according to the counsel of His will that He is omniscience and can have knowledge in the first place. God necessarily controls billions of free agents because He has an infinite understanding of those free agents and necessarily controls their free will actions by His decisions on the amount of freedom He gives them. God made all these decisions in eternity past resulting in His omniscient knowledge of the future of His creation when He created. There have not been, and will there be, any surprises to God as future events unfold. History unfolds as God knows, and determined it, to unfold – history is His story.

      1. rhutchin
        That God is omniscient and thereby knows the future makes the future certain, or determined.

        br.d
        Of course this does not LOGICALLY follow.

        However – if determinism is TRUE
        Then it does LOGICALLY FOLLOW – the determinist has no choice in the matter of whether he believes in determinism or not – because an external mind determines the determinist’s every belief and every perception for him.

        Both the determinists TRUE perceptions as well as his FALSE perceptions are completely determined by an external mind.

        And since 100% of the determinists’ perceptions of TRUE vs FALSE are determined not by himself – but by an external mind
        That leaves ZERO% of TRUE vs FALSE – left over – for anyone else – including the determinist himself – to determine.

        And hence it does LOGICALLY follow – a determinist has no ability to determine TRUE from FALSE.

        Where can I sign up for that! 😀

      2. rhutchin: “That God is omniscient and thereby knows the future makes the future certain, or determined.”
        br.d: “Of course this does not LOGICALLY follow.”

        An opinion offered without a proof. If X is certain to occur than X is determined to occur. A certain future is fixed and settled – iit can be no other way. A certain future will come about infallibly.

        Certainty makes determinism true but does not tell us how events come about. Certainty tells us that events must come about – thus, those certain events.have been determined to come about.

        Even br.d’s future thoughts and decisions are certain and even now, known to God, for nothing escapes God’s understanding – not even the confused thinking of a mere mortal. So certain is God’s understanding of all things that God does not have to provoke br.d to any particular thought or decision – it all comes about naturally from the mind with which he was born.

      3. rhutchin:
        “That God is omniscient and thereby knows the future makes the future certain, or determined.”

        br.d: “Of course this does not LOGICALLY follow.”

        rhutchin
        An opinion offered without a proof.

        br.d
        All one needs is a little LOGIC

        rhutchin
        If X is certain to occur than X is determined to occur.
        A certain future is fixed and settled – iit can be no other way. A certain future will come about infallibly.

        br.d
        Sure and an intelligent being who is infallible – has knowledge of what he determines – and by that knowledge he has certainty.
        So those things which he determines – he has certainty about – by virtue of knowing what he determined.
        But there is a knowledge that does not require determination.

        When you put a mouse trap on the kitchen floor and bait it with cheese – you have a certain type of knowledge – which allows you to know what the mouse will do.

        You set the mouse trap out – and sure enough – the next day there is that mouse.

        You do not have to determine what a mouse will do in order to know what a mouse will do.

        Therefore your statement does not LOGICALLY follow

        rhutchin
        Certainty makes determinism true……

        Br.d
        FALSE
        Certainly is a function of cognition.
        Here you are simply reciting a mantra!

        rhutchin
        Certainty tells us that events must come about

        br.d
        When you appeal to the term must you are appealing to necessity not certainty.
        You’ve historically conflated necessity with certainty.

        rhutchin
        Even br.d’s future thoughts and decisions are certain and even now, known to God

        br.d
        But not of necessity determined

        rhutchin
        , for nothing escapes God’s understanding

        br.d
        Again – conflating what one determines with what one knows/understand is a NON-SEQUITUR

        rhutchin
        So certain is God’s understanding of all things that God does not have to provoke br.d to any particular thought or decision

        br.d
        Well – here we have another excellent example of Calvinist DOUBLE-SPEAK.
        In Calvinism – no infallible decree for any given event equals no existence for that event.
        And yet the Calvinist wants to say that Calvin’s god does not “provoke” the events he decrees into existence.
        What a hoot!

        rhutchin
        – it all comes about naturally from the mind with which he was born.

        br.d
        FALSE
        In Calvinism – everything the comes to pass – does so INFALLIBLY
        Nature does not have the attribute of INFALLIBILITY.
        Therefore nature does not have the power or ability to engender anything INFALLIBLE (including its own movements) .

        Therefore – in Calvinism – since all movements of nature occur INFALLIBLY – it LOGICALLY follows – all movements of nature occur by the direct hand of – Calvin’s god.

      4. According to Scripture God is not fated by a fantasy natural knowledge that locked Him in and limited Him to experience everything only working out one way… never really making any decisions or choices… and having Him supposedly, unbiblically, experiencing it all at one time. I choose to believe His Word about Himself.

      5. brianwagner writes, “…God is not fated by a fantasy natural knowledge that locked Him in and limited Him to experience everything only working out one way… never really making any decisions or choices… and having Him supposedly, unbiblically, experiencing it all at one time. ..”

        The Scriptures describe God making decisions based on the council of His will. The council of His will draws from His infinite understanding of His creation. Every decision God makes is marked by perfect wisdom so there would be no reason for God to revisit any decision He makes after He makes the decision. So, God is described as making decisions and once God makes a decision, it is locked in and will not be changed. The reason that God never revisits any of His decisions is that His understanding of His creation does not increase (or decrease) over time. As God is timeless, God’s understanding of anything is always infinite and a perfect understanding.

        Your quibble seems to be that God does not make His decisions at one time in eternity past. Yet, as God’s understanding of His creation does not increase, any decision He makes will be the same regardless when he makes it. Whether God makes His decisions in eternity past or restrains Himself to make decisions in the course of time, there is no possibility that the decision would somehow be different because God waited to make the decision. Once God makes a decision, He is locked into that decision and He is limited to experiencing events working out one way. At least, you seem to recognize that events could be changed if God chose to change those events. Even that would be based on the counsel of His will; therefore arbitrary in not responding or reacting to anything outside Himself.

        You say that God does not know the future completely. As events unfold, God learns new things thereby increasing His understanding of His creation. So, God could not ever be omniscient since the future is always unfolding and God is always learning something new He did not already know.

      6. rhutchin
        God to revisit any decision He makes after He makes the decision. So, God is described as making decisions and once God makes a decision, it is locked in and will not be changed……etc

        br.d
        The two of you appear to be speaking past one another.

        The question is:
        Does Calvin’s god have multiple options from which to choose in the process of decision making?

        Or are his decisions made *FOR* him – having been already fixed in the past – by factors outside of his control?

        Consistent with determinism:
        His “already fixed in the past” decisions are already fated to occur before he even makes them. And fate determines that only one single option is available to him to choose. And thus no alternative possibilities exist for him. His decisions are not his to determine.

        If the answer is NO
        Then Calvin’s god’s decisions are not determined *FOR* him – and he thus has Libertarian Freedom in decision making.

        If the answer is YES
        Then Calvin’s god’s decisions are determined *FOR* him – and Libertarian Freedom does not exist in any form.

      7. I think its also quite humerus how – within the Calvinist’s imagination – he presents himself as having all sorts of extremely detailed INSIDE INFORMATION on everything having to do with Calvin’s god’s thoughts/decrees/decisions etc.

        Assuming to speak with authority – on a level of detail – nowhere found in scripture.

        The Apostle Paul was in the third heavens – seeing things that no man should utter.
        And yet the average Calvinist can provide an unlimited stream of details – with the poor Apostle Paul ignorant in comparison!

        In other words – they have no problem MAKING STUFF UP.
        Too funny! 😎

      8. br.d writes, “The question is:”Does Calvin’s god have multiple options from which to choose in the process of decision making?”

        That is presumed. Brian’s issue is whether God makes decisions. Ephesians 1 tells us that God makes decisions according to the counsel of His will. So God makes decisions and a decision presumes something to decide.

        Then, “Or are his decisions made *FOR* him – having been already fixed in the past – by factors outside of his control?”

        As nothing is outside God’s control given that nothing can exist but by God’s decree, God makes His decisions for Himself – presumably for His glory.

        Then, “Then Calvin’s god’s decisions are not determined *FOR* him – and he thus has Libertarian Freedom in decision making.”

        Of course, God has libertarian freedom and he alone has libertarian freedom in the truest sense. This because God has perfect understanding of all things that that understanding informs His will to make perfect decisions. Humans have a form of libertarian freedom but in lacking both understanding and knowledge can only choose from a limited range of options. A person without faith cannot choose among options that include spiritual things but is limited to that which appeals to the flesh and subject to slavery to sin – this called compatibilistic freedom.

      9. br.d
        The question is:”Does Calvin’s god have multiple options from which to choose in the process of decision making?”

        rhutchin
        That is presumed……etc

        br.d
        Go back and read his post again.

        -quote “According to Scripture God is not fated by a fantasy natural knowledge that locked Him in and limited Him to experience everything only working out one way…. never really making any decisions or choices

        That is a very accurate description of NATURAL DETERMINISM
        In which Nature is sovereign over a THEOS’s choices.
        Nature having determined those choices *FOR* the THEOS.

        When a particular choice/decision has been predetermined in advance – fixed in the past – there is no such thing as multiple options.

        You cannot decree a car to move forward and backwards at the same time.
        Only one option is physically possible.

        Thus – decision (e.g. to move forward or backwards) that is determined in advance – can only resolve to one physically possible option.
        You either choose “forward” or you choose “reverse” – because doing both is physically impossible
        You either choose “TRUE” or you chose “FALSE” – because doing both is LOGICALLY impossible

        Hence Peter Van Iwagen:
        -quote
        Determinism may now be defined: it is the thesis that there is at any instant exactly one physically possible future.

      10. rhurchin
        Of course, God has libertarian freedom and he alone has libertarian freedom in the truest sense.

        br.d
        Thank you for finally affirming LFW exists.

        And BTW:
        The phrase “the truest sense” is indicative of a perception of reality.
        To embrace a “non-true sense” of LFW is to embrace a FALSE sense of LFW.

        So – for a RATIONAL person – either LFW exists in a “true sense” or it does not exist at all.

        But I already know – Calvinism forces the Calvinist to embrace FALSE senses of freedom throughout his day.

        Every time a Calvinist – faced with a decision – assumes that decision was not already made *FOR* him by an external mind.
        And every time he assumes multiple options are OPEN for him to choose – he is embracing a sense of freedom that is LOGICALLY FALSE within his belief system.

        As Calvinist Paul Helm’s says:
        In the TRUE Reformed system – Libertarian Freedom is RULED OUT by determinism

        Welcome to Hotel Calvi-ism
        You can check out any time you like
        But you can never leave! 😳

      11. Once again Roger, after all these years you keep misrepresenting my views. I have never said – “that God does not know the future completely.” You can quote me as saying – “God does not know the future as completed, for the premise that it is completed in His mind is a lie, and God cannot know lies as true.” So in His perfect understanding, He does know the future as it exactly is in His mind right now, partly determined and partly yet to be determined, just as His Word reads it to be.

        I don’t have to believe the double minded view of God already having everything eternally locked in and limited as decided only one way, contradicting His Word saying He is still making decisions after creation, for I don’t believe your view is anywhere close to an idea of perfection or Scripture’s portrayal of reality.

        And I don’t believe all types of “learning” are deficiencies, just because neo-platonist theologians have said so. God is adding to His experiential knowledge constantly, especially since His experience of the incarnation began. His Word affirms that also Heb 5:8. But His understanding remains infinite. (As a side note – even adding to infinite understanding, logically doesn’t change it. ;-))

        As usual, I will probably not respond further. But I will now and again in the future respond to your mispresentations of my views. I don’t think you will mind.

      12. brianwagner writes, “after all these years you keep misrepresenting my views. I have never said – “that God does not know the future completely.” You can quote me as saying – “God does not know the future as completed, for the premise that it is completed in His mind is a lie, and God cannot know lies as true.” So in His perfect understanding, He does know the future as it exactly is in His mind right now, partly determined and partly yet to be determined, just as His Word reads it to be.”

        I know that. That is why I said, “You say that God does not know the future completely.” You kinda finess this by saying, “God does not know the future as completed,…” Does that mean that your position is that God knows the future completely but does not know the future as completed? I don’t see a difference between your statement, “the premise that [the future] is completed in His mind is a lie,” and mine “You say that God does not know the future completely,” unless your answer to my question is, Yes. Even then, it is still confusing to me. A couple Biblical examples would be useful for illustrating what you mean.

        Then, “So in His perfect understanding, He does know the future as it exactly is in His mind right now, partly determined and partly yet to be determined, just as His Word reads it to be.”

        So, God knows what will happen tomorrow, but some of those events will be determined by events between now and tomorrow. Obviously, I don’t understand what you are trying to say even though I thought I kinda did. Do your students understand this when you teach it?

      13. Prior to – and thus without – the decree that [X] come to pass – [X] has not yet been established as “fixed” or “rendered certain”.

        This is due to the lack of an immutable infallible decree which in Calvinism is required to establish [X] as “fixed” or “rendered-certain”..

        Calvin’s god’s omniscience is insufficient to know the future – prior to the decree which establishes it as “renderd-certain”? .

      14. br.d writes, “Calvin’s god’s omniscience is insufficient to know the future – prior to the decree which establishes it as “renderd-certain”? .”

        Ephesians 1 tells us, “God works all things after the counsel of His will.” The council of God’s will precedes and is the basis for God’s decision regarding His works. God’s decision on His works is His decree and His decree establishes His knowledge of His works and thereby His omniscience as He works all things. So, under Calvinism, God’s omniscience is sufficient to know the future because His omniscience is knowledge of His decree. God’s decree precedes His omniscience and it is God’s decree that makes the future certain.

      15. rhutchin
        1) God’s will precedes and is the basis for God’s decision regarding His works.

        br.d
        Lets rephrase this so that it clearly conjoins with the wording of your next statements.

        Calvin’s god’s will (of what things are not yet decreed and thus not yet “rendered-certain”) precedes and is the basis for his decision(s) regarding what his decrees will be – prior to his establishing future events as “rendered-certain”.

        br.d
        So omniscience of [X] exists prior to the decree of [X].
        And prior to the decree of [X] – [X] is not “rendered-certain”.
        So according to this position, omniscience is not dependent upon decree – but rather omniscience is necessary for and precedes the decree.

        Which means that omniscience of [X] exists without [X] being (determined/rendered-certain)
        Which resolves to there being omniscience of [X] without [X] being “rendered-certain”.

        rhutchin
        2)
        His decree establishes His knowledge of His works and thereby His omniscience

        br.d
        Wooops!
        Now you have the decree of [X] preceding omniscience of [X].
        Which is a complete turn-around from statement (1)

        rhutchin
        thereby His omniscience AS He works all things.

        br.d
        Wooops!
        Now you have the decree of [X] and omniscience of [X] at the same point.

        You’ve now made three different assertions – for three different states of being – for the decree of [X] and omniscience of [X]
        And all three contradict each other.

        You need to make up your mind.
        Either there is full and comprehensive omniscience of [X] preceding [X] being “rendered-certain” – or there isn’t

        If omniscience is tied to and dependent upon a decree – then you don’t have full and comprehensive omniscience prior to the decree.

        And if omniscience of [X] exists prior to [X] being rendered-certain – then your assertion that omniscience and determinism cannot be separated – is FALSE.

      16. rhutchin wrote:
        1) God’s will precedes and is the basis for God’s decision (decree) regarding His works.
        2) His decree establishes His knowledge of His works and thereby His omniscience
        Thus: God’s council –> God’s decision (decree) –> knowledge (omniscience)

        Br.d responds, “Wooops! Now you have the decree of [X] preceding omniscience of [X]. Which is a complete turn-around from statement.(1)

        I don’t see it.

        Then, ‘rhutchin: “thereby His omniscience AS He works all things.”
        br.d: “Wooops! Now you have the decree of [X] and omniscience of [X] at the same point”.

        God’s decree establishes His knowledge. God decrees event X, thereby God has knowledge of event X. This “knowledge” becomes “omniscience” as (given that) God works (decrees) all things

        Then, ‘You need to make up your mind.
        Either there is full and comprehensive omniscience of [X] preceding [X] being “rendered-certain” – or there isn’t.”

        There isn’t. Omniscience follows and is informed by God’s decree.

        Then, “If omniscience is tied to and dependent upon a decree – then you don’t have full and comprehensive omniscience prior to the decree.”

        CI have decree first; omniscience second.

        Then, “And if omniscience of [X] exists prior to [X] being rendered-certain – then your assertion that omniscience and determinism cannot be separated – is FALSE.”

        That is why I have event X being rendered-certain (decreed) and then event X becomes part of God’s knowledge.

      17. rhutchin wrote:
        1) God’s will precedes and is the basis for God’s decision (decree) regarding His works.

        br.d
        Which means he has omniscient of [X] prior to the decree of [X].
        And next your going to argue that he doesn’t ALWAYS have full and comprehensive omniscience of [X]

        rhutchin
        2) His decree establishes His knowledge of His works and thereby His omniscience
        Thus: God’s council –> God’s decision (decree) –> knowledge (omniscience)

        br.d
        “Wooops!
        Now you have the decree of [X] preceding omniscience of [X]. Which is a complete turn-around from statement.(1)

        rhutchin
        I don’t see it.

        br.d
        And yet – your going to repeat it in your next statements!
        What a hoot!

        rhutchin
        thereby His omniscience AS He works all things.”

        br.d
        Wooops!
        Now you have the decree of [X] and omniscience of [X] at the same point”.

        rhutchin
        God’s decree establishes His knowledge

        br.d
        Now you are simply repeating version (2) which contradicts version (1)

        rhutchin
        . God decrees event X, thereby God has knowledge of event X.

        br.d
        Again with version (2)
        So with this version – Calvin’s god does not ALWAYS have full and comprehensive omniscience of [X].
        Because in this version Calvin’s god’s omniscience is lacking without a decree

        rhutchin
        This “knowledge” becomes “omniscience” as (given that) God works (decrees) all things

        br.d
        Here you are just reciting nonsense
        Divine omniscience is defined as “ESSENTIAL” – which means there is never a point in which it lacks knowledge

        You are now operating in Calvinism’s classic INVENTION MODE – inventing things as you go..
        How Calvinistic of you! :-]

        Its obvious you are trying to have it all three ways.
        You want too say Calvin’s god ‘s omniscience precedes his decree
        And at the same time – you want to say that the decree establishes the omniscience

        One more half- baked Calvinist pretzel! :-]

        You need to make up your mind.
        Either there is full and comprehensive omniscience of [X] preceding [X] being “rendered-certain” – or there isn’t.”

        rhutchin
        There isn’t.
        Omniscience follows and is informed by God’s decree.

        br.d
        Well there you have it!
        Prior to the decree – Calvin’s god’s omniscience is “UN-informed” about [X]
        And thereby lacks full and comprehensive omniscience of [X] prior to the decree.
        Calvinism does not embrace the ORTHODOX doctrine of divine omniscience – which states that it is never lacking.

        rhutchin
        I have decree first; omniscience second.

        br.d
        You remind me of the serpent eating its own tail!
        Your version (1) has omniscience preceding the decree
        Your now doubling-down on version (2) which contradicts version (1).

        If omniscience of [X] exists prior to [X] being rendered-certain – then your assertion that omniscience and determinism cannot be separated – is FALSE.”

        rhutchin
        That is why I have event X being rendered-certain (decreed) and then event X becomes part of God’s knowledge.

        br.d
        So that is the version you have decided to settle on

        You now have Calvin’s god lacking full and comprehensive omniscience of [X] prior to the decree of [X]
        Which means you do not have an unorthodox version of divine omniscience – which is stated as an ESSENTIAL attribute.
        In other words – there is no point in which it is lacking.

        Lets face it – you’re stuck! :-]

      18. rhutchin: God’s will precedes and is the basis for God’s decision (decree) regarding His works.
        br.d: Which means he has omniscient of [X] prior to the decree of [X].

        God’s omniscience consists of knowledge of His decree. Therefore, His omniscience is void without a decree. This makes omniscience dependent on the decree and necessarily follows the decree.

        Then, “So with this version – Calvin’s god does not ALWAYS have full and comprehensive omniscience of [X].
        Because in this version Calvin’s god’s omniscience is lacking without a decree”

        Yep. At the same time, no one can identify the point where God’s decree appeared. As far as we can discern – given that we are finite trying to understand the infinite – God’s decree has always been. Thus, God’s omniscience has always been. The logical finite mind then places decree before knowledge. What we do know is that God’s decree predated His creation and by that decree, He had an omniscient knowledge of His creation before He created.

      19. rhutchin:
        God’s omniscience consists of knowledge of His decree. Therefore, His omniscience is void without a decree. This makes omniscience dependent on the decree and necessarily follows the decree.

        br.d
        Yes you’ve recited that particular mantra several times now.
        So we know for the Calvinist – the decree is the master – and divine omniscience is subservient.

        No man can serve two masters.
        He will eventually cleave to one and compromise the other.

        So with this version – Calvin’s god does not ALWAYS have full and comprehensive omniscience of [X].
        Because in this version Calvin’s god’s omniscience is lacking without a decree”

        rhutchin
        Yep. At the same time, no one can identify the point where God’s decree appeared. As far as we can discern – given that we are finite trying to understand the infinite – God’s decree has always been.

        br.d
        Well – there you are back to FALLIBLE and therefore FALSE perceptions.
        And this shows once again – how a MAKE BELIEVE world is necessary for the Calvinist to retain a sense of normalcy.

        rhutchin
        Thus, God’s omniscience has always been. The logical finite mind then places decree before knowledge. What we do know is that God’s decree predated His creation and by that decree, He had an omniscient knowledge of His creation before He created.

        br.d
        Wonderful!
        This provides another good example – of how the Calvinist is forced to hold so many things as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        This helps explain why Calvinists are consistently DOUBLE-MINDED :-]

      20. br.d writes “Wonderful! This provides another good example – of how the Calvinist is forced to hold so many things as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.”

        LOL!!! Says the person lacking an alternative explanation.

      21. br.d
        Wonderful! This provides another good example – of how the Calvinist is forced to hold so many things as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        rhutchin
        LOL!!! Says the person lacking an alternative explanation.

        br.d
        When a person is forced to embrace a world in which things are both TRUE and FALSE at the same time – it LOGICALLY follows – that person’s “explanation” will also necessarily be TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        For the SOT101 reader who is familiar with the phrase “Stream of consciousness”
        Typically defined as “the ability to have a continual stream of multitudinous thoughts and feelings passing through the mind”.

        Well – Calvinism has something that is even more exciting than that!
        They have a “Continual Stream of DOUBLE-THINK”. 😀

      22. br.s writes, ‘When a person is forced to embrace a world in which things are both TRUE and FALSE at the same time – it LOGICALLY follows – that person’s “explanation” will also necessarily be TRUE and FALSE at the same time.”

        Of course, that is the strawman you created in order to have something to argue.

      23. br.s writes, ‘When a person is forced to embrace a world in which things are both TRUE and FALSE at the same time – it LOGICALLY follows – that person’s “explanation” will also necessarily be TRUE and FALSE at the same time.”

        rhutchin
        Of course, that is the strawman you created in order to have something to argue.

        br.d
        Oh really?
        Let’s see some of your latest examples:

        rhutchin
        August 12, 2020 at 8:59 am
        God’s omniscience…..is void without a decree.

        rhutchin
        August 12, 2020 at 8:59 am
        At the same time……….God’s decree has always been.

        So here we have
        1) The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree of [X] is TRUE – and at that point omniscience of [X] is void
        2) The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree has never be TRUE

        Thus – your mind has been conditioned to embrace the decree of [X] as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        Secondly:
        You hold the proposition as TRUE – that 100% of whatsoever comes to pass was determined in every part
        While thinking and speaking *AS-IF* that proposition is FALSE

        Thirdly:
        You embrace the existence of infallibly decreed events as TRUE
        While at the same time – you embrace Calvin’s god intervening to prevent those events – which could only be the case if their existence as infallibly decreed events were FALSE

        Your thinking patterns are TOTALLY TYPICAL Calvinist thinking patterns.

        Your doctrine forces you to hold things as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        And all indicators show – you’re sure to provide more examples as we go along! :-]

      24. br.d writes, “rhutchin
        August 12, 2020 at 8:59 am
        At the same time……….God’s decree has always been.

        So here we have
        1) The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree of [X] is TRUE – and at that point omniscience of [X] is void
        2) The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree has never be TRUE”

        I said, “God’s decree has always been” that you change to “The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree ” thereby creating the strawman against which you can then argue. It is only by creating the strawman that you can then conclude, “Thus – your mind has been conditioned to embrace the decree of [X] as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.”

        The other points you make follow from your distorted thinking.

      25. rhutchin
        I said, “God’s decree has always been” that you change to “The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree ”

        br.d
        No one expects you to acknowledge it rhutchin
        You’d have to stop holding it as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time!
        That would be LOGICAL – and “taboo” for you. :-]

      26. rhutchin August 12, 2020 at 8:59 am “At the same time……….God’s decree has always been.”
        br.d: “So here we have 1) The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree of [X] is TRUE
        rhutchin: “I said, “God’s decree has always been” that you change to “The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree ” thereby creating the strawman against which you can then argue. It is only by creating the strawman that you can then conclude, “Thus – your mind has been conditioned to embrace the decree of [X] as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.”
        br.d: “No one expects you to acknowledge it rhutchin You’d have to stop holding it as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time! That would be LOGICAL – and a “taboo” for you. :-]”

        LOL!!!

      27. rhutchin
        hutchin: “I said, “God’s decree has always been” that you change to “The non-existence of Calvin’s god’s decree ” thereby creating the strawman

        br.d
        Now your choosing to read only the parts that you want to read – and ignore the rest.
        You made two statements not one – and I quoted both of them
        .
        1) Omniscience of [X] is void – do to the absence of a decree
        2) Then you later decided to add the silly statement that according to your “human finite perception” the decree has “always been”.

        So your first proposition declares the non-existence of the decree of [X] – at which point omniscience is void.
        And your second proposition declares the decree has “always been”

        This is simply so you can have the decree of [X] as TRUE and FALSE at the same time.
        Very consistent with the typical Calvinist DOUBLE-THINK. :-]

        Sorry rhutchin
        And it is totally understandable why Calvinists need to have things both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        When our Calvinist friend Brenton was here – he declared this aspect of Calvinist thinking – by stating -quote “the Calvinist holds to two realms of reality”.

        One realm in which propositions are TRUE.
        And one realm in which those propositions are FALSE.
        He then declared his two realms of reality Biblical

        What a hoot! :-]

      28. And BTW rhutchin
        Where does John Calvin state that the decree has no beginning and no end? :-]

      29. br.d wrote, ‘So your first proposition declares the non-existence of the decree of [X] – at which point omniscience is void.”

        I wrote, “God’s omniscience consists of knowledge of His decree. Therefore, His omniscience is void without a decree.” I did not say that the decree was non-existent; I wrote, “His omniscience is void without a decree.”

      30. rhutchin
        I wrote, “God’s omniscience consists of knowledge of His decree. Therefore, His omniscience is void without a decree.” I did not say that the decree was non-existent; I wrote, “His omniscience is void without a decree.”

        br.d
        Well – once again – without realizing it – you’ve conceded my point.

        You have a point at which omniscience is “VOID” due to the lack of a decree
        A decree which – according to you – will at some point “INFORM” omniscience – and – at that point – omniscience will no longer be “VOID”

        So it becomes obvious – you want the decree *AT THAT POINT* to both exist and yet not-exist.
        Thank you!

      31. br.d asks, “Where does John Calvin ever state that a decree has no beginning and no end? :-]”

        The term, “eternal,” conveys the meaning of having no beginning and no end.

        “…we hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things,—that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, he decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed.” (Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 16, para, 8)

        “…these trifles even infer, that the prayers of the faithful must be perverse, not to say superfluous, since they entreat the Lord to make a provision for things which he has decreed from eternity.” (Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 17, para 3)

        “Hence many argue that God has not fixed human affairs by an eternal decree, but according to the merits of each individual,” (Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 17, para 12)

        “In the meantime, there is no inversion of his counsel or will, no change of his affection. What from eternity he had foreseen, approved, decreed, he prosecutes with unvarying uniformity, how sudden soever to the eye of man the variation may seem to be.” (Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 17, para 13)

        “By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man.” (Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 21, para 5)

        “it is into [Christ’s] body that the Father has decreed to ingraft those whom from eternity he wished to be his,” (Institutes, Book 3, Chapter 24, para 5)

      32. br.d
        Where does John Calvin ever state that a decree has no beginning and no end? :-]”

        rhuthcin
        The term, “eternal,” conveys the meaning of having no beginning and no end.

        br.d
        Thank you for that info.

        So every decree that Calvin’s god makes concerning [X] has no beginning and has no end, even though every [X] has a beginning and an end.

        Its a very interesting little MAKE BELIEVE world!!!!

        It should be no surprise then – when we observe – the Calvinist goes about his office thinking and speaking *AS-IF* so many things within his world – are both TRUE and FALSE at the same time. :-]

      33. And while we are on the subject of Calvinism’s DOUBLE THINK thinking pattern, in which so many things are held as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time – we should also consider adding the following proposition:

        “There is only one single decree”

        I’m pretty sure – we can add this proposition to the list of things – which for the Calvinist – are both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        Along with the proposition that the Calvinist brain has been granted the Libertarian function of choosing (what we call discerning) TRUE vs FALSE on any proposition.

        Just think about it:
        Every time the Calvinist commits a sin – and the perception that comes to pass within his brain – is that that choice was up to him
        He is experiencing an infallibly decreed FALSE perception.

        Calvin’s god knows it is FALSE – because Calvin’s god was the one who decreed the Calvinist commit that sin before that Calvinist existed. And Calvin’s god also knows that he decreed that FALSE perception come to pass within that Calvinist’s brain.

        And thousands of such FALSE perceptions must likewise come to pass within the Calvinist’s brain throughout each day.

        Think about the years he spent – having FALSE perceptions of Christianity – before he became a Calvinist.

        All of those years – and thousands of daily FALSE perceptions predestined to come to pass within his brain.
        And no ability to know any one of them as FALSE.

        And now – no ability to know any one of his current FALSE perceptions as FALSE.

        Calvinism sure makes for a fascinating experience in FALSEHOOD COGNITION! :-]

      34. br.d writes, ‘So every decree that Calvin’s god makes concerning [X] has no beginning and has no end, even though every [X] has a beginning and an end. ”

        Yes. God’s decree is eternal having no beginning or end that we humans can discern. We cannot identify the point where the decree began in God’s mind. God’s decree covers events that we can fix in time. For example, God decreed the death of Christ on the cross for sin and we know that this happened in the first century. So, the decree itself has no beginning or end (it is an eternal decree) but the implementation of events covered by the decree are fixed in time and have a unique beginning and end.

      35. br.d
        So every decree that Calvin’s god makes concerning [X] has no beginning and has no end, even though every [X] has a beginning and an end. ”

        rhutchin
        Yes. God’s decree is eternal having no beginning or end that we humans can discern. We cannot identify the point where the decree began…..etc

        br.d
        Thank you for once again affirming my point!

        For you the proposition: “The decree has a beginning and an end” is TRUE
        But you tell yourself that you can’t discern where the beginning or the ending is.
        And that gives you the justification to then hold that same proposition as FALSE

        This allows you to speak out of one side of the mouth one minute – and the other side of the mouth the next.

        So in your first post – where you declared omniscience is VOID at the point where no decree exists – you were speaking out of one side of the mouth.

        And in your later post – where you stated “the decree has always been” – you were speaking out of one side of the mouth.

        And you can do this – by virtue of holding that proposition as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.

        This mode of DOUBLE-THINK allows the Calvinist to have things whatever way he needs them – for the sake of any argument.
        But eventually his mind becomes conditioned by this practice.
        His conscience is severed – making it easy for him to hold propositions as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time.
        His mind can instantaneously swing back and forth – treating a conception as TRUE one minute and FALSE the next.

        This mental condition comes from John Calvin himself.
        It is John Calvin’s classic justification for DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS

        He doesn’t know what forbidden fruit Calvin’s god has infallibly decreed him to choose to eat in the next few minutes.
        He doesn’t know what divine command Calvin’s god has infallibly decreed his mind to choose to disobey in the next few minutes.
        So he goes about his office *AS-IF* nothing is determined in any part. (i.e. Calvin’s god determines none of his mental activities)

        Thus he holds to the proposition that 100% of whatsoever comes to pass is determined in every part – as TRUE
        While going about his office *AS-IF* that proposition is FALSE.

        Holding things as both TRUE and FALSE provides the Calvinist with the ability to embrace the doctrine – and yet still retain some sense of normalcy in life – and some sense of interconnection with normalcy as described within the narrative of scripture.
        And as we can see by this example – it also allows one to speak out of both sides of the mouth whenever expedient.

        No need to try to convince anyone here now – that Calvinists don’t hold a multitude of such things as both TRUE and FALSE at the same time. Its all to obvious.

      36. br.d writes, “You have a point at which omniscience is “VOID” due to the lack of a decree A decree which – according to you – will at some point “INFORM” omniscience – and – at that point – omniscience will no longer be “VOID””

        People are able to hypothesize a point where there is no decree of God and therefore no omniscience that would arise from that decree. That is easy to do, and people do it all the time to speculate about things unknown. However, even though people can hypothesize that there was a point where the decree of God did not exist, no one can identify where that point could exist within the eternal God. So far as we can discern, the God’s decree has always been even though we cannot imagine how that could be.

      37. br.d
        You have a point at which omniscience is “VOID” due to the lack of a decree A decree which – according to you – will at some point “INFORM” omniscience – and – at that point – omniscience will no longer be “VOID””

        rhutchin
        People are able to hypothesize a point…….etc

        br.d
        AH!
        But this is where Calvinist language patterns are so deceptive.
        They make statements – as you did – which give no hint of hypothesizing – but rather present statements as absolute declarations.

        This is why Dr. William Lane Craig says “The Calvinist consistently fails to enunciate the radical distinctions of his belief system”

        And why Dr. Jerry Walls says: “If it weren’t for the Calvinist practice of misleading rhetoric – Calvinism would lose all credibility”

        Of course – this allows the Calvinist to speak out of two sides of the mouth.
        A practice he eventually becomes so adept at – he does it without thinking.
        And if you point it out to him – his eyes are blinded so that he can’t see it.

      38. br.d writes, “They make statements – as you did – which give no hint of hypothesizing – but rather present statements as absolute declarations.”

        I said, “People are able to hypothesize…” What they hypothesize is unimportant here (unless you actually want to address the point I made).

        The issue is whether Calvinists can make absolute declarations about God. They can by declaring what the Scriptures tell us about God. The Scriptures declare that God has infinite understanding, that He is omnipotent and does whatever He pleases, and many other things. The Scriptures also tell us that God makes people without faith and this results in people being totally depraved.

        br.d can quote pithy little statements that Craig and Walls make about Calvinism, but until he can explain what these guys mean, he has wasted our time. Even Craig agrees with the Calvinists that God is omniscient and knows the future perfectly and then calls the Calvinist doctrine of omniscience one of the “radical distinctions of his belief system.” Maybe br.d can invest some time in understanding what Craig is talking about rather than just quoting things Craig says that br.d does not even understand.

      39. rhutchin
        The issue is whether Calvinists can make absolute declarations about God.

        br.d
        It is entertaining to watch Calvinists “hypothesize” – 1001 microscopic details of various aspects of their infallible decrees!
        Expressing every imagination that comes into their tiny little minds as absolute declarations. :-]
        Where imaginations are accepted without question.

        rhutchin
        They can by declaring what the Scriptures tell us about God.

        br.d
        AH but going waaaaaaaaaay beyond what scripture expressly states – is in fact what Calvinism is all about.
        Calvinist doctrine – in that regard – often reminds me of Mormon doctrine
        1001 imaginations – all completely accepted without thinking.

        Augustine did eat of the fruit.
        And he gave it to Calvin
        And Calvin did eat.

        rhutchin
        The Scriptures declare that God has infinite understanding, that He is omnipotent and does whatever He pleases, and many other things.

        br.d
        I’ve noticed you typically start by pointing to things held in common – as a lead-in to things unique to Calvinism.
        I suppose the strategy there – is the hopes that the recipient will swallow all of them together without discretion.

        rhutchin
        The Scriptures also tell us that God makes people without faith and this results in people being totally depraved.

        br.d
        And here we have that which is unique to Calvinism
        Here is where the Calvinist raises his interpretation of scripture up onto a pedestal and declares it Canon.
        The books of scripture were not completed until the writings of John Calvin were all completed.
        Because without John Calvin’s magic ring – no one can rightly understand the “hidden meanings” within any verse. :-]

        rhutchin
        br.d can quote pithy little statements that Craig and Walls make about Calvinism, but until he can explain what these guys mean, he has wasted our time.

        br.d
        Well – not everyone’s
        Just those whose minds are “not free” to comprehend what those statements mean.
        Remember – what your mind is “free” to comprehend – was FIXED at the foundation of the world. :-]

      40. Ok, Roger, because of our long online friendship… I will try again. If I know the future is defined as some “will be” A events and also as some “might be” B or not B events, I can know the future completely as it is, partly known as some set events that will take place, and partly known as some events that might or might not take place. The two “partly known” premises come together to form “completely known”. The future that is not yet completed is completely known as not yet completed, but all the determinations and possibilities in it are known, so the future is completely known, but not known as completed.

        You define the word “future” as meaning it must be completely known as “completed”, as all events set to work out only one way. I don’t. And the Scripture doesn’t.

        I thought you saw these verses before, but here they are again. Maybe you are getting forgetful, or too dismissive in your old age! 😉 I know I have to fight those things.

        Verses – future is not completely set in God’s foreknowledge.

        Genesis 2:19 NKJV — Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam 👉to see👈 what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.

        Exodus 33:5 NKJV — For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the children of Israel, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, 👉that I may know👈 what to do to you.’ ”

        Jeremiah 18:11 NKJV — “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and 👉devising a plan👈 against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ’ ”

        Matthew 24:20 NKJV — “And 👉pray that your flight may not be in winter👈 or on the Sabbath.”

        Matthew 26:39 NKJV — He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, 👉if it is possible👈, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

        God’s mind conforms univocally with what He has revealed in His Word. It’s not locked in right now to seeing everything as “will be” or “is”. God’s foreknowledge is dynamic and includes also the truth about what “might be” or “might not be”.

        1. Was God waiting to see what Adam would call the animals, to know what they would be called?

        2. Was God waiting to see if Israel would take off their ornaments to know what He would do next?

        3. Was God saying He was devising a plan which means making decisions in His mind not made before about the future.

        4. Did Jesus affirm the disciples’ prayer could effect the setting of the date of Jerusalem’s fall, indicating Jesus’ believed it might not yet be set?

        5. Did Jesus pray about possible changes that could be made in God’s will because He knew such changes were indeed possible?

        The answer is an obvious “yes” to all those questions which are based on the clear meaning of those texts. If anyone thinks those texts don’t clearly show those self evident implications it must be because they are biased against the idea of the future being able to work out more than one way.

        ********
        The underlying issue in foreknowledge is if one is willing to believe that there are truly changes taking place in God’s mind in His knowing a “before” that then becomes known as an “after” and a “might be” that then becomes known as either a “will be” or a “could have been”.

        Calvinism rejects that such change in God’s mind exists before or after creation. Arminianism rejects that the idea of “before” creation means “before” and illogically accepts that changes in God’s mind exist and don’t exist at the same time. Molinism believes logically that some kind of change existed in God’s mind before creation but which cannot happen now after creation.

        Only Dynamic Omniscience offers the idea that God’s mind corresponds with the truth and sequence revealed in His Word univocally. An event declared as “will be” was known only as “will be” in His mind. Once it happened, it became known as “fulfilled”. Those declared as “might be” are only known as “might be”. He will freely choose to cause or permit one “might be” to change in His mind to a “will be” and another “might be” into a “won’t be/could have been”.

        The idea the future is limited to and locked in to working out only one way is a lie… or that changes happening in God’s mind is imperfection is also a lie. God’s Word counters clearly those lies. And God’s mind cannot believe lies as truths.

      41. Rhutchin: That God is omniscient and thereby knows the future makes the future certain, or determined. So, in creating the universe God necessarily made certain, or determined, all that was to follow. You raise the issue of the necessity of all future events and whether God made future events necessary. Because God is sovereign, even absolutely sovereign, He necessarily becomes the final arbiter of all future events,so that Paul writes, “God works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Thus, God makes all future events necessary.

        What a painful read! Even more concerning is the time a few take here to respond to such a novice. What I can say for certain, you cannot find any well-trained Calvinist philosopher make such a bungled claim; precisely because, it reduces God’s knowledge all the way down to that of a finite creature. Rhutchin has given no reason for anyone to rebut – per se – his claims, so much as to untangle so much weeds that seeps from 16th century prejudices.

        The first most embarrassing premise is his conflating “certainty” with “determinism”. This is simply a philosophical “argument” derived from ancient Greek fatalism dressed in theological guise. Let’s see this in deductive form. Let “x” stand for any event:

        A. Necessarily, if God foreknows x, then x will happen.
        B. God foreknows x.
        C. Therefore, x will necessarily happen.

        Since x happens necessarily (i.e., “deterministically”), it is not a contingent event. In virtue of God’s foreknowledge (i.e., “God makes all future events necessary.”) everything is fated to occur.

        The problem here is that it is just logically fallacious. A and B doesn’t imply C, but

        C’ Therefore, x will happen.

        C itself need not be necessary. So Greek fatalist rhutchin illegitimately transfers the necessity of the inference to the conclusion itself. What follows from A & B is C’ not C. Rhutchin in his confusion thinks that the conclusion is itself necessarily true and so winds up with C. Thereby, committing a common logical fallacy.

        From God’s knowledge that I shall do x, it does not follow that I must do x but only that I shall do x. God’s knowledge is not incompatible with contingent events. So this blurring of certainty with necessity is root of his confusion. But what about the notion that God knows the future because ”God is omniscient and thereby knows the future makes the future certain, or determined”.

        Nothing has been said of my initial rebuttal, namely, this sort of deity, unless via micro-managing control via omnipotence, cannot track billions of contingent events. Can anyone think of a more impotent deity! So let’s put this idea in a syllogism and see why rhutchin’s concept are more pagan than biblical.

        A. If and only if God determines the future, then God knows the future;
        B. God knows the future;
        C. Therefore, God determines the future.

        Rhutchin has not shown or given us any reason to think that God can know something only if he determines it. Perhaps we as finite knowers can have certain knowledge of the future only if we were able to determine it. But even if it were true of us, why think this is true of God? Why should we suppose that the mode of divine knowledge is the ame as ours? Why should we think that God can only know something future on the basis of having determined it? The subtlety behind rhutchin’s proposal presupposes an anthropomorphic view of God’s knowledge. That is to say, he affirms God’s knowledge is based on his determination because that is what makes sense to finite creatures since that’s how our knowledge can be certain. But Aquinas and Reformed scholastics have denied that God’s knowledge is discursive.

        More recently, Alvin Plantinga has argued that, although we don’t know how God knows the things he knows, we do have good reason to believe that “his knowledge doesn’t proceed via the causal channels by which our knowledge proceeds; we know further that it doesn’t proceed by way of ay other causal channels either.”

        As we can see, rhutchin’s assertions fail. And even if they were given the mere consideration, he would have to demonstrate how it stands on par with other philosophical views like Anselm’s isotemporalist view, or Hunt’s simple foreknowledge. As it stands, rhutchin views disallows contingencies because allowing a single maverick molecule to operate on its own aseity can lay waste to God’s sovereign plan. And, again, I ask: Can anyone think of a more impotent deity whose plans can be wasted by a single maverick molecule! (I think R.C. Sprout made this argument.)

        Lastly, rhutchin has neither given us any exegetical reason to think that the phrase “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11) – where “all” should explode the immediate context and instead think of it as a universal quantified; that is to say, “all” includes, for instance, the current explosion in Lebanon. (I can run several “all” texts” and show that rhutchin will use double standards in their instances but my response is already too long.) Rather, a glance at the context shows that the “all” is always controlled and modified by its immediate context. Until rhutchin can exegetically demonstrate that “all” should mean anything and everything universally, the text constricts its referent to the soteriological benefits of the people of God.

      42. Hello A.B. and welcome.

        I think if rh responds to you – it won’t take long for you to observe – he assumes himself as having the intellectual advantage over Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig and Peter Van Inwagen.

        After all – its imperative for a Calvinist’s perception of himself.

        Necessity has conveniently FATED him to always be right – and everyone else always wrong! 😉

      43. AB writes, ‘Lastly, rhutchin has neither given us any exegetical reason to think that the phrase “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11) – where “all” should explode the immediate context and instead think of it as a universal quantified;…”

        Ephesians 1:11 is a straightforward translation of the Greek text–

        In Christ…we have obtained an inheritance from God
        –having been predestined by God
        —-according to God’s purpose
        —–God who works all things
        ——–after the counsel of His will,

        Paul makes these points.
        1. Believers have now obtained an inheritance. from God
        2. Believers were predestined by God to receive this inheritance.
        3. This inheritance was God’s purpose for believers.
        4. God is the one who works all things – including the inheritance He predestined for believers.’
        5. God works as directed by the counsel of His will.

        The term, “all” refers to anything and everything so that God works each and every event. Paul makes this claim with reference to believers in Romans 8:28, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose,” and Philippians 2, “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Also Ephesians 2, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” and 1 Corinthians 12, “there are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all [believers].”

        Then, “I can run several “all” texts” and show that rhutchin will use double standards in their instances but my response is already too long.)”

        No double standard on my part. But you can try.

        Then, “a glance at the context shows that the “all” is always controlled and modified by its immediate context.”

        In the case of Ephesians 1:11, the immediate context has Paul describing God – God works all things and He works all things according to the counsel of His will. The surrounding context does not limit Paul’s expansive description of God as working all things and meaning, by “all” things, anything and everything.

      44. Rhutchin: The term, “all” refers to anything and everything so that God works each and every event.

        Unfortunately, this is just a repeat of the very problem that needs nuancing, namely, what does “anything” and “everything” refer to? To throw such ambiguous predicates do not in any way advance the conversation. For instance, if “anything” and “everything” is modified by the theological antecedents you enumerated (“1-5”), then it follows that “anything” and “everything” is *restricted* by the premises in the immediate context. If this seems to be the case, then I concur; and perhaps even others here as well.

        On the other, if by “anything” and “everything” you’re intending to mean “events” *BEYOND* what Paul describes scripturally, then the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate, as you put it: “the surrounding context does not limit Paul’s expansive description of God as working all things and meaning, by “all” things, anything and everything.” What would be helpful is if you can provide a few examples so we can get a clear idea of what you mean by such universal quantifiers (i.e., “anything” and “everything”).

        Here you provide a great example: Rhutchin “God’s understanding of His creation extends to every neurological impulse that will appear in your brain or every atom in the universe according to Sproul.”

        While I do not find valid nor authoritative your appeal to sinful and fallible men – or worse – put them on par with biblical authority, it would be helpful to everyone here if you can equally pull a sentence from that from Ephesians 1.

        Rhutchin: The surrounding context does not limit Paul’s expansive description of God as working all things and meaning, by “all” things, anything and everything.

        Great, so I’ll make it easy for you since you are not making it easy for the audience here. Let x represent “anything” and “everything”: (Q1) Would you, say, Paul intended [fill in “x” with”] the false prophet Muhammad to have sex with a prepubescent 9 year old girl Aisha to include “every event ” to be causally relevant to you obtaining an inheritance from God? As you say, “the surrounding context *DOES NOT LIMIT* Paul’s expansive description” (mine emphasis). So answer YES OR NO?

        Here’s another question: DOES THE APOSTLE HIMSELF SAY HE DOESN’T LIMIT THE DISCRIPTORS? OR ARE YOU AUTONOMOUSLY EXPLODING AND INTERPOLATING THIS PAGAN IDEA WHERE THE TEXT IS SILENT?

        Let’s just go with latter, since it’s obvious that scripture itself does not say this limitation; rather, you’re purposefully violating the apostle’s words to say what your prejudices require.

        Rhutchin: No double standard on my part. But you can try.

        Very nice! Rather than engaging the most difficult “all” texts, you cherry-picked passages where the problem simply follows your prooftexting. I suspect you’re not quite grasping the issue at hand. The same questions I posed above also effects your perfunctory prooftexting. Depending on how you answer Q1 will determine how you answer on Rom. 8:28; Phil2; Eph. 2; and 1 Cor. 12. Notice that all you’ve done is kick the can down the road, so to speak. Let’s take a look at a few texts I had in mind:

        Romans 5:18 “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for *all* men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for *all* men.”

        Q2: Do you follow Paul’s logic where the syntax fixes “all” in the first and second clause to consistently have the identical referent? That is, since humanity is in view, do you take “all” in the first clause to mean any and all men without exception: Yes or No? Do you take the “all” in the second clause to consistently mean any and all men without exception (“as one trespass… so one act of righteousness…”)? Yes or no? Let’s see if you are a Paulinist or a Calvinist.

        Romans 11:32 “For God has consigned *all* to disobedience, that he may have mercy on *all*.”

        Rhutchin: No double standard on my part. But you can try.

        Great! Do you take the first “all” to mean the universal quantifier any and all men without exception? And do you consistently, as Paul argues, take the “all” in the second clause to mean any and all men without exception? Yes or no? (I’m aware that to be consistent will require embracing some form of universalism. For the sake of argument, let’s just grant universalism is false. The issue here is if you can defend your assertion “No double standard on my part.”)

        1 Cor. 15:22 “For as in Adam *all* die, so also in Christ shall *all* be made alive.”

        This passage is similar to Romans 5:18. The same questions here apply.

        The upshot of this exercise of doing a particle search of how “all” is used in the NT is to show that no Calvinist can ever be consistent because, logical rigor will compel him to be inconsistent to endorse Calvinism which in turn undermines Paulinism.

        Let’s see if you can avoid the double-standard tap dance.

        Lastly, the phrase “God who works all things” is eons from thinking that God knows the future because he has foreordained the future. You didn’t touch my refutations for this anthropomorphic view of God’s knowledge. As it stands, Ephesians 1 doesn’t say anything that Calvinistically distinctive, for just about everything you mentioned can be embraced by non-Calvinists in a non-controversial way. Until you put forth a clear and solid proposition that is Calvinistically distinctive but incompatible with non-Calvinists views, everyone here should wholeheartedly embrace what you say, except when you smuggle Greek fatalism through the back door.

      45. AB writes, “Romans 5:18 “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for *all* men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for *all* men.”
        Q2: Do you follow Paul’s logic where the syntax fixes “all” in the first and second clause to consistently have the identical referent? ”

        Romans 5
        17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
        18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
        19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

        Paul begins his argument in v8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” By “us” and “we” Paul refers to believers.

        In v17, we have two groups identified, (1) by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, and (2) those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

        V18, begins, “so then,” indicating a continuation of this thought. The phrase, “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men,” tracks from “by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one” and the phrase, “through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men,” tracks from “those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” The same groups are in mind in v17 into v18.

        The same train of though carries into v19. The phrase, “through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners,” tracks from “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men,” The phrase, “through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous,” tracks from “through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”

        In v17-19, the same groups are described in three different ways.

        “death reigned through the one” and “condemnation to all men” and “the many were made sinners” all refer to the same people – this would be all of humanity. No human was unaffected by Adam’s sin.

        “those who receive the abundance of grace” and “justification of life to all men” and “the many will be made righteous,” all refer to the same people – the righteous. Believers are the righteous.

        In answer to your question, No, the two uses, by Paul, of the term, “all” in v18 do not have the same referent. Following the context in v17 and v19, The first appearance of “all” (condemnation to all men) refers to all humanity who were condemned by Adam’s sin. The second appearance of “all” (.justification of life to all men) refers to believers.

        This conclusion is consistent with v 15, “by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many,” and v21, “as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

      46. AB writes, “1 Cor. 15:22 “For as in Adam *all* die, so also in Christ shall *all* be made alive.”
        This passage is similar to Romans 5:18. The same questions here apply. ”

        1 Corinthians 15
        21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.
        22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
        23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,

        As in Romans 5, we track Paul’s though from v21-23. The phrases, “by a man came death” and “in Adam all die” refer to the same people – all humanity. The phrases, “the resurrection of the dead,” and “in Christ all shall be made alive” and “those who are Christ’s at His coming” all refer to the same people – believers.

        We can read v22 in context, “For as in Adam all [who are in Adam] die, so also in Christ all [who are in Christ] shall be made alive.”

      47. AB writes, ” the phrase “God who works all things” is eons from thinking that God knows the future because he has foreordained the future. You didn’t touch my refutations for this anthropomorphic view of God’s knowledge.”

        Ephesians 1:11 is straightforward Greek text. it has “του…θεληματος αυτου.’ “του and αυτου.’ refer to God. The phrase, “works all things after the counsel of His will,” describes God. God is the one who “works all things after the counsel of His will,” Because of this, as Paul’s argument goes, God has the power to predestine believers to receive an inheritance.

        Then, “(Q1) Would you, say, Paul intended [fill in “x” with”] the false prophet Muhammad to have sex with a prepubescent 9 year old girl Aisha to include “every event ” to be causally relevant to you obtaining an inheritance from God? As you say, “the surrounding context *DOES NOT LIMIT* Paul’s expansive description” (mine emphasis). So answer YES OR NO? ”

        We should both agree that God was present when Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old girl. God knew every intimate detail of that event.. We should even agree that God could have intervened to stop Muhammad from doing this. What did God do? Following the counsel of His will, God did nothing thereby giving Muhammad the freedom to fulfill his perverse sexual desires with the girl. Is this event included among the “all things” of Ephesians 1? By virtue of God’s sovereignty, Muhammad could not have acted as he did without God first deciding following the counsel of His will, that he should. So, t is included.

        Then, “DOES THE APOSTLE HIMSELF SAY HE DOESN’T LIMIT THE DISCRIPTORS? OR ARE YOU AUTONOMOUSLY EXPLODING AND INTERPOLATING THIS PAGAN IDEA WHERE THE TEXT IS SILENT? ”

        The Greek text seems straightforward to me. The phrase, “who works all things after the counsel of His will,” describes God and is not limited by the surrounding context. Rather it establishes God’s power to predestine anything He wants including the ability to predestine to give an inheritance to believers. Paul strengthens his argument when he makes the point that God works all things after the counsel of His will.

      48. rhutchin
        We should both agree that God was present when Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old girl. God knew every intimate detail of that event.. We should even agree that God could have intervened to stop Muhammad from doing this

        br.d
        Calvinism Class 101 – 10 easy lessons in why you can’t mentally survive as a Calvinist without being DOUBLE-MINDED

        FACTS:
        1: In Calvinism NO DECREE = NO FUTURE EVENT
        2: Every event is INFALLIBLY DECREED = NON-PREVENTABLE (at pain of falsifying an infallible decree)

        Therefore: the only way Calvin’s god can “intervene” in Muhammad having sex with a 9 year old girl is to NOT INFALLIBLY DECREE Muhammad have sex with a 9 year old girl. Which would make that a NON-EXISTENT FUTURE EVENT

        A Calvinist thinking Calvin’s god “intervenes” in NON-EXISTENT EVENTS is living in a custom made fantasy land.

        Welcome to Hotel Calvi-Fornia!
        You can determine whatsoever comes to pass any time you like
        But you are not the determiner of whatsoever comes to pass. 😎

  13. As we start to approach the cultures and times that would have more influenced Augustine, we have Basilides, (117 AD), who taught a Gnostic dualistic Christianity. Basilides claimed to have inherited his teachings from Matthew.

    But the dualistic system that would have been of greatest influence to Augustine, would be the Zoroastrian system, incorporated into Manichaeism, with its representations of divine-evil and divine-good. Manichaeism taught that the cosmos contains an opposition of two principles, good and evil, each equal in relative power and necessity. And thus we have a dualistic cosmos in which good and evil share equal divine status.

    When a good-evil dualistic cosmology and a NeoPlatonic view of God, are synchronized with the monotheistic God of Christianity, what will appear is an immutable God whose relationship to good and evil are utilitarian.

    Scriptures, which speak of God repenting of making man, or giving man the choice between life and death, become a curiosity, because the NeoPlatonic God is immutable, and therefore cannot change his mind or allow his creatures un-predetermined choices.

    Such scriptures must be allegorized or interpreted with complex non-explicit distinctions in order to be rightly understood.

    Scriptures in the New Testament that speak of predestination can readily be interpreted in the framework of the Gnostic good-evil dualism, where those individuals who are predestined to the light are awakened, as if by some kind of divine spark, while non-elect remain predestined to the dark. Both acts of predestination are equally holy, because both manifest the glory of the “one”.

    The believer would learn how to compartmentalize a good-evil dualism, embrace a Christianized form of stoicism, and learn to love and desire a god who speaks “ostensible” words of possible-divine-benevolence – while withholding his “veiled” will of possible-divine-malevolence.

  14. Youtube – Ken Wilson Rebuts James White
    Minute 1:02:25

    Paraphrased:
    Calvinists assume god decrees everything [without exception]. Why? Because Augustine brought micromanaging providence into Christianity. And he used an interpretation of select scripture verses that was consistent with the Manichaean interpretations of those verses to prove a deterministic theologically – for example in Ephesians 1 and 2.

    According to scholars who I quote in the thesis, the only Jews who ever taught meticulous providence, were the Qumranites and Philo, at around the first half of the first century BCE. Both were heavily influenced by Stoicism according to those scholars. So our Old Testament – the Jewish Tanakh – did not teach meticulous determinism, according to almost all Jews. Likewise, in the New Testament, no scholar I have read discusses Paul as teaching determinism, accept Calvinists. Not one non-Calvinist scholar I know, has written, that any Early Church father, held to Augustine’s deterministic god who unilaterally assigns human destinies.

    So Since:
    1) Augustine’s interpretations incorporating meticulous providence were not shared by the Early Church Fathers

    2) All scholars agree, Augustine, at points his life, was influenced by Christian Stoicism, Christian Gnosticism, and Christian NeoPlatonism.

    3) Early Church fathers – such as Irenaeus – all argued against these deterministic forms of Christianity.

    4) In Augustine’s first 15 years as a Catholic theologian, he argues against these deterministic interpretations, but then later changes and reverts back to them using representations of Biblical texts he once argued against.

    Scholars ask the question – what does one conclude as the origin of and cause of Augustine’s eventual reversion?

    Was it divine revelation that the Early Church fathers (some of whom were disciples of the Apostles) didn’t have?

    Scholars looking at this body of evidence, point to the deterministic elements found within Stoicism, Gnosticism, and NeoPlatonism, as influences upon Augustine’s thinking.

    So, Augustine “tweaked” his theology with elements found within Manichaean anthropology.

    The Manichaean emphasis of damnation by created birth was incorporated into Augustine’s version of damnation by inherited guilt from Adam.

    And at that point, Augustine’s peers accused Augustine of baptizing Manichaean concepts.

    English historian Theodore Maynard – The story of American Catholicism
    -quote:
    “It has often be charged… that Catholicism has been overlaid with many pagan incrustations. Catholicism is ready to accept that charge – and to make it her boast. The great god Pan is not really dead, he is baptized.”

  15. Heather writes, ‘ Those who get upset about Calvinism do so because they truly have understanding.”

    Everyone, even Dr. Flowers, recognizes that the preaching of the gospel is necessary to salvation. Without the hearing gospel, there can be no faith, and without faith there can be no salvation. Without the gospel and the faith it produces, Jesus said, “Mo one can come to me.” Without the gospel and the faith it produces. Paul wrote, “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

    As much as Dr, Flowers wants to think that ALL people are response-able, even he knows that no one can be response-able without first hearing the gospel. There are probably billions of people living today who will never hear the gospel preached and who will never receive faith and who will never have an opportunity to be saved. However, God knew this would happen when He created the universe, and this is His will.

    1. rhutchin
      As much as Dr, Flowers wants to think that ALL people are response-able, even he knows that no one can be response-able without first hearing the gospel.

      br.d
      The “ability to respond” is a generic principle.
      A person who is parallelized does not have the ability to respond to the needle prick.
      And without the needle prick – there is nothing to respond.

      But the inability to respond – due to paralysis is not a normal condition.

      Except in the mind of a Calvinist! 😉

      1. br.d writes, “A person who is parallelized…”

        LOL!!! Gotta watch that spell checker – the bane of all writers.

        Then, “But the inability to respond – due to paralysis is not a normal condition.”

        To the Calvinist it is because seemingly, only the Calvinist sees people being born without faith. Dr. Flowers appears to know this but has, so far, been unable to incorporate this into his arguments thereby leading to much confusion. Dr. Flowers built his system on opposition to Total Depravity without knowing what Total Depravity entailed – that TD was based on a lack of faith. He really doesn’t seem to have understood Calvinism despite his protestations otherwise.

      2. br.d
        But the inability to respond – due to paralysis is not a normal condition.”

        rhutchin
        To the Calvinist it is because seemingly, only the Calvinist sees people being born without faith.

        br.d
        Well since in Theological Determinism (aka Calvinism) an external mind determines 100% of what functionality people will have – from one moment to the next – it is really superfluous whether or not any given person is “born” with or without any given faculty or capacity.

        But we know – Gnostic Christians (i.e. Calvinists) have to try to make Gnosticism line up with scripture wherever they can.

        And to that end – the current Gnostic version today (i.e. Calvinists) is the invention of the notion that people are not “born” with the capacity to believe certain things.

        While the Gnostics of Augustine’s day – would say that “elect” people are “born” into a field of salvation.
        And “non-elect” people are “born” into a field of damnation.

        So we can see how the current Gnostic version simply evolved from the ancient Gnostic version.

      3. br.d writes, “what functionality people will have – from one moment to the next – it is really superfluous whether or not any given person is “born” with or without any given faculty or capacity.”

        In this case it does matter. God determines that a person is born without faith making this their normal condition – without faith, one cannot respond either to God or Christ in any manner.

        Then, “the current Gnostic version today (i.e. Calvinists) is the invention of the notion that people are not “born” with the capacity to believe certain things.”

        People are born without faith and unable to believe. That is why Jesus said, “No one can come to me.” A person can only receive faith by hearing the word. This is stated by Paul, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” and John, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.’

        Then, “So we can see how the current Gnostic version simply evolved from the ancient Gnostic version.”

        Calvinism evolved from the Scriptures as explained above. It is true that Gnostics borrow from the Scriptures freely and incorporate Scriptures into their belief system along with other religious beliefs and non-Scriptural sources.

      4. br.d
        Because Calvin’s god determines every micro-movement of every micro-second of what functionality people will have from one moment to the next – it is really superfluous whether or not any given person is “born” with or without any given faculty or capacity.”

        rhutchin
        In this case it does matter. God determines that a person is born without faith making this their normal condition – without faith, one cannot respond either to God or Christ in any manner.

        br.d
        It matters to you – because otherwise you don’t a way to tie Universal Divine Causal Determinism with the Biblical requirement of faith.
        Calvinists need to make their belief system at least APPEAR biblical :-]

        But per LOGIC – my statement still stands.
        Seeing that Calvin’s god micro-manages every neurological impulse that will appear in a persons brain – and micro-controls every human function – whether or not he creates people with a certain capacity or not is LOGICALLY superfluous.

        The current Gnostic version today (i.e. Calvinists) is the invention of the notion that people are not “born” with the capacity to believe certain things.”

        rhutchin
        People are born without faith and unable to believe.

        br.d
        According the current Gnostic version

        rhutchin
        That is why Jesus said, “No one can come to me.” A person can only receive faith by hearing the word. This is stated by Paul, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” and John, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.’

        br.d
        Well – it is a historical fact that the Gnostics always tried to tie scripture with their Gnostic beliefs
        Nothing new under the sun! :-]

        rhutchin
        Calvinism evolved from the Scriptures as explained above.

        br.d
        Yea I know!
        God made man in his image – and John Calvin decided to return the favor!

        rhutchin
        It is true that Gnostics borrow from the Scriptures freely and incorporate Scriptures into their belief system along with other religious beliefs and non-Scriptural sources.

        br.d
        YUP!
        And when we compare conceptions articulated by ancient Gnostics – with conceptions articulated today – we have Calvinism :-]

  16. Rhutchin: Agreed. Understanding provides the basis for the decree.

    Rhutchin: God’s will precedes and is the basis for God’s decision (decree) regarding His works.

    Exactly! Calvin’s god cannot know the future unless, like humans, he foreordains the future. You can’t get more anthropomorphic than that! I already said enough above to expose the pagan assumptions behind this implication.

    Here’s my plea. No one here should reply to rhutchin unless his contribution moves the ball forward. He recycles his points and thinks they’re valid responses.

    Well, he has yet to touch any of the points I made above on such an anthropomorphic view of divine foreknowledge. But for fun, I’ll put icing on the cake an take his premise that, “Understanding provides the basis for the decree.” This is just another way saying God cannot know the future unless it is *based* on something. The fact that such anthropomorphism can be derived from Ephesians reflects the lengths one must go to distort the apostle! At any rate, again, I already demonstrated why God’s knowledge cannot be discursive as it was denied by Acquinas and Reformed scholastics. So let’s get into this argument as an add-on to what I said previously.

    Call this the common argument (CA). Further, sustain rhutchin’s presupposition that God cannot have a foundation (i.e., “basis”) of foreknowledge unless he decrees everything. In this way, God knows the future because it is “based” on his decrees.

    The CA demonstrates that not even God can enjoy divine freedom:

    (1) If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
    (2) If God is omniscient, then God knows at t1 what God will do at t2;
    (3) God is omniscient;
    (4) Therefore, God knows at t1 what God will do at t2 (from 1,2)
    (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1, 4)

    McCall makes the following assessment: “Richard Swinburne sees this problem clearly, and he simply bites the metaphysical bullet. With characteristic clarity, he concludes that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient (in the traditional sense of omniscience). And since God is a perfectly free person, the conclusion to be drawn is that God can “not have knowledge of his future free actions.” Thus God “will not know in advance what he will do.” Swinburne recognizes that this places a “much larger limit on God’s omniscience that the limit concerned with future human free actions.”

    As you can see, if we consistently take rhutchin’s interpretive conclusions, not even God can have freedom; and if God cannot have divine freedom because of rhutchin’s constraints, then he is far from a perfect being. And if such being is not perfect, then we are no longer talking about God. But in fact this seems right, since the god of Calvinism is not identical to the God of Paulinism.

    Again, it’s an exercise in futility to reply to rhutchin’s regurgitations unless his replies are relevant, substantive, and moves the ball forward. But I suspect he’ll keep this arguments at a distance, and continue to—erroneously—ascribe to Paul if that’s what he is saying in Ephesians 1. If he thinks that’s the case, then he should reply cogently to these objections.

    1. I think you’re assessment is correct A.B.
      One of our ex-Calvinists here – calls the process “rinse and repeat – rinse and repeat”

      I think Calvinists are taught to recite their double-speak talking-points.
      And in their protected reformed-bubble environment – reciting talking-points like a mantra works for them because no intelligent person is there to challenge the mantra.

      So I observe – over time – many new Calvinist visitors come here – and auto-magically recite the double-speak talking-points.
      But we don’t fall for those shell games here.
      And once they realize their talking-points are going nowhere – then give up and leave.

      RH – on the other hand reminds me of a soldier who has been assigned to a certain battle area – and SOT101 is his assignment.
      That’s why you hear the same talking-points repeated over and over.
      I guess that Calvinist hopes that SOT101 readers perusing the comments will be fooled by them

      BTW:
      I appreciated your syllogism – (If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2)
      This would especially be true – given RH’s assertion that divine knowledge equates to everything being “rendered-certain”.
      And that would be contradiction of his claim that Calvin’s god has Libertarian Freedom.

  17. Br.d, to be frank, I don’t know how you have both the time and the patience. Nevertheless, I appreciate your efforts to defend what I’ve said against gross caricatures. Rhutchin recycles talking points, even some that are noticeably ad hoc, and he really believes he has refuted our arguments. I don’t mean to be condescending in any way, but you are in fact dealing with a zealous Calvinist whose amateur thinking and pretentious knowledge of the subject(s) really shows.

    The CA does not purport to demonstrate the absurd claim that “AB’s point is that a god who decrees everything loses his freedom and is an imperfect god.” Unbelievable! To arrive at this baffling conclusion, rhutchin swaps out the main premises of the CA for inferences rhutchin himself makes, and ignores that my inferences are drawn from the original premises of the CA—as you perceptively pointed out.

    The CA, to be clear, grants the assumption that divine foreknowledge excludes agents to do other than what they do (e.g., If God knows at t1 what Tom will do at t2, than Tom is not free do to other than what God foreknows Tom will do”). The CA that I presented was amended to likewise show that the problem, to be consistent, straightjackets God since God himself cannot falsify what he knows what he will do. The fallacy that rhutchin commits is to categorically conflate the nature of omnipotence (i.e., “god who decrees…is an imperfect god”), with the nature of omniscience “(i.e., “If God knows what Tom will do…then Tom is not free”).

    His profound confusion can be further shown when he makes the statement “God was free to make His decree in the first place…” Rhutchin asks “why is it true that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient[?]” The question reflects his puzzlement. Again, the CA is not designed to circumvent divine freedom from the first logical moment a priori of the divine decree. The argument, rather, is intended to inquire if divine foreknowledge annihilates libertarian freedom (both human and divine) *a posteriori* to the divine decree. Perhaps Calvinists are content to bite this bullet with respect to creaturely freedom. But the CA tasks—in a high stakes for modal consistency—to demonstrate if Calvinists are willing to bite the bullet with respect to divine freedom. If there is a difference, the burden of proof is on the Calvinist to provide a relevant difference. So rhutchin obviously mischaracterizes McCall’s assessment of Swinburne. If he is able to grasp the bite of the argument, he should see now how Swinburne’s conclusion is a “rational conclusion”. Most embarrassingly, rhutchin conflates McCall’s *assessment* of Swinburne with Swinburne’s conclusion. (Does rhutchin also struggles with a basic command of the English language?! What is so difficult for grasping “Richard Swinburne sees the problem clearly…” Does rhutchin know how quotations [“…”] function in in syntactical constructions?!)

    Rhutchin feels the itch to swiftly shoot everything thrown at him without the need to ask questions to ensure he responds to the strongest form of the argument(s), and to ensure he is not equivocating on terms that seem vague. And by all the mess he has created, it seems he can’t even shoot fishes in a barrel. It doesn’t dawn on him for a single second that brilliant philosophers bite bullets because these are real metaphysical conundrums. Rather he defaults to his own amateur and thin investments of such arguments, and dismiss published prominent philosophers as nonsensical. But as you can see above, his handling of presentations are tortured.

    So the CA has gone completely unscathed, and so his replies are invalid, if not utterly irrelevant. Neither has he touched the argument for Greek theological fatalism above, which demonstrates that God can know that p, and p can be instantiated contingently.

    Here’s some criticism hurled your way (if you can take it): I decided to run two arguments that have puzzled philosophers for centuries because they are very formidable against deterministic views. But until today—on this blog out of all places(!)—we have a Calvinist under a hidden moniker that has done what Aristotle, Augustine, Ockham, Acquinas, Leibniz, Descartes, Kant, Rasmussen, Rogers, Timpe, Pruss, Plantinga, Craig, Franks, and Davis, etc., couldn’t figure out! It’s just a matter of time for a high academic publisher like Brill, Palgrave, or Oxford to award rhutchin with a festschrift.

    All kidding aside, my criticism to you is this: the reason rhutchin recycles canned and unsubstantiated claims is because you are assuming he is getting the gist of our arguments, which in turn gives him too much of the benefit of doubt. He has you clarifying, clarifying, clarifying, when you should be asking questions, questions, questions—to use Koukl’s tactic.

    For instance, rhutchin makes the extraordinary claim that God decrees “every neural impulse”, yet there are instances where claims that God doesn’t “cause everything”. Obviously, this is a classic instance of having your cake and eating it to. I would ask him to clarify what he means by “every”, and if God doesn’t “cause every event” by what means does God infallible and perfectly ensure that agents act as he has decreed for them to act? Another massive incoherence is rhutchin ascribing to human real metaphysical possession when he talk about “their nature”, “their desires”, “their thoughts”, and “their perceptions” etc; yet, in the same breadth he wants to affirm “God did determine what the person would do by the capabilities He gave to the person…” Does this sound like “double-speak”. Yes; and that’s because it is!

    So here a few questions for rhutchin that, I think, he hasn’t quite thought out:

    To rhutchin:

    (Q1): CAN GOD HAVE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF FUTURE CONTINGENTS? WHY OR WHY NOT? [Notice I’m not asking a question of omnipotence, which you have conflated ad infinitum. The question has to do with the nature of omnscience.]

    (Q1*): CAN GOD HAVE THE POWER TO KNOW THE FUTURE WITHOUT DECREEING EVERY NEURAL IMPULSE? WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR THIS LIMITATION?

    Humans can certainly know the future if we also foreordain the future. Think of a single or group of software engineers programming to the tee what a sophisticated wet-robot would think, feel, and act at every particularly instance, down to the very nano second on the space-time continuum. Also consider a quintillion things that can go wrong but are anticipated by a backup solution for every problem. In this way, I, as a fallible imperfect being, can have certain knowledge of robot x will do because he only acts as I have programmed. Without question, as you’ve tirelessly repeated, this is the identical means by which an eternal being can also have foreknowledge.

    (Q2): As McCall asks, “WHY THINK THAT THE *MODE* OF DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE IS IDENTICAL TO CREATURELY KNOWLEDGE?”

    (Q3): CAN I ACT OTHERWISE THAN WHAT GOD FOREKNOWS WHAT I WILL DO? IF NOT, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE METAPHYSICS OF DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE EXACTLY THAT DISALLOWS AN ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES?
    [Again, the question targets the attribute of omniscience, not omnipotence nor sovereignty.]

    (Q4): IF GOD IS THE SOLE AGENT WITH LIBERTARIAN FREEDOM, AND IF CREATURELY FREEDOM IS ONLY DERIVATIVE AND PROGRAMMED (i.e., “their nature”, “their desires”, “their thoughts”, etc.). HOW DO YOU DISTINGUISH CALVINISM FROM PANTHEISM?

    In your comments above, you’re more than willing to concede that God is free to “change his mind” about what he decrees, but he won’t – principally, because there is no good reason to. The worry here is not weather he *would* or *would not*; rather, the worry is that a perfect eternal being can have even the *potential* to “change his mind” as you’re comfortable to suggest.

    Rhutchin: “It certainly cannot mean that God does not have the power to change His mind, as He obviously does given that he is God.” Therefore…

    (Q5): “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act?” (Num 23:19 NIV). CONTRARY TO DIVINE REVELATION DO YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD HAS THE POTENTIAL TO CHANGE HIS MIND BECAUSE AGENTS CAN CATCH GOD BY SURPRISE? DO YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD CAN CHANGE HIS MIND BECAUSE HE CAN LEARN THINGS THE MOMENT THEY EVENTUATE?

    Rhutchin: “The Scriptures declare that God has infinite understanding, that He is omnipotent and does whatever He pleases, and many other things.”

    (Q5*): CAN GOD COMMAND RAPE TO BE GOOD? CAN GOD MAKE IT SUCH THAT A TRIANGLE CAN HAVE FOUR SIDES? CAN GOD CHANGE THE PAST? CAN GOD INSTANTIATE A MORAL ETHIC IN SUCH A WAY WHERE HUMANS DERIVE PLEASURE FROM TOSSING INFANTS IN THE AIR AND RIDDLE THEM WITH BULLETS? IS THERE ANYTHING IN PRINCIPLE PREVENTING GOD FROM COMMANDING THE TORTURE OF CHILDREN FOR FUN? WHAT ARE YOUR ARGUMENTS FOR ENDORSING EPISTEMIC OCKHAMISM? WHAT IS THE SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE FOR THINKING THAT RADICAL VOLUNTARISM SHOULD BE PREDICATED ON GOD’S WILL OVER HIS CHARACTER??
    [The question goes to your assumption of “God changing his mind” and “and does whatever He pleases…” If he has unrealized potentialities (POTENTIALITIES… not on what he *would not do* in virtue of his perfect wisdom), are such metaphysical concepts feasible and realizable?]

    You made reference above about Muhammad being perverse (i.e., “his perversity”). But you’ve made clear over and over, God is the only true acting agent prior to the decree to create. All other agency and “neural impulses” are derivative and in accord with the divine decree. Muhammad, just like a pre-programmed robot, acts according to a divine decree.

    (Q6): WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT IS MUHAMMAD’S PERVERSITY? DID NOT SUCH PERVERSITY FIRST ORIGINATED, CONTEMPLATED, AND CULTIVATED IN THE MIND OF A HOLY GOD?

    (Q7) WHAT IS THE PROPERTY OR ATTRIBUTE THAT GIVES GOD THE ABILITY TO HAVE EVIL THOUGHTS—EVEN IF HE HAS THEM IN SUCH A WAY TO ACT THEM OUT THROUGH SECONDARY AGENTS?

    Jesus made it clear that the act of actual committing or carrying out a sinful action is not necessary to give birth to sin: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt.5:28). If Calvin’s god defines sovereignty by macro and micro control of every “neural impulse”, secondary agents cannot infallibly carry out the divine decree in time and history unless God himself is token-by-token acting out every “neural impulse” in the divine mind.

    As br.d points out, it is a careless caricature to suggest that the CA concludes “if God decrees everything, he is therefore imperfect” (paraphrased). That’s not the point of the CA. I have another argument/illustration for thinking that even your caricature is true. But let’s set that aside for a moment.

    (Q7): IF GOOD DETERMINES THE GOOD NO LESS THAN HE DETERMINES EVIL, WHY IS IT NOT LEGITIMATE TO SAY THAT CALVIN’S GOD IS BOTH HOLY & EVIL? WHAT ARGUMENTS HAVE YOU DEPLOYED FOR THINKING IT IS NOT LEGITIMATE FOR THINKING THAT BOTH GOOD & EVIL IS NOT CHARGEABLE TO GOD?

    After all, if Calvin’s god decrees anything and everything (i.e., “does what he pleases”), and is capable of “changing his mind” (contra Num. 23:19), yet he won’t in virtue of his perfect wisdom, you haven’t given us any good reasons to think that your creaturely and fallible mind can pretend to exhaust the reasons that *could* give god this mutable feature, let alone an actual reason for God to factor into the universe if he has this capability. Since you posited such feature, how is it not farfetched to think that if god can change his mind on what he has decreed, there are possible worlds in which he can in fact issue such retractions? What is your epistemic justification for thinking that God has a lingering property (i.e., “changing his mind”) and affirm that he wouldn’t—although he could—because he is never in a position to instantiated such feature. The undergirding presupposition is that God has attributes that are superfluous and ontologically effete. Otherwise, it seems that god has a property that *would*—although he *could*, as you argue—never be displayed or realized. But it seems that if God possesses such a property, it is because it can be instantiated for a reason, even if unbeknownst to us. Unless you provide reasons for thinking why god can possess a property that you claim could—but does not (“would not”—eventuate, you leave the atheist a wide open vulnerability, namely, that Calvin’s god has attributes—akin to human appendages—which are useless, unnecessary, and something that natural selection did not get right. If anything such unrealized potentialities provides another reason why Calvin’s god does not exist.

    Alas, from what I gather, none of your comments directly targets clear answers to these questions. You seem to be content with helping yourself to assumptions that are biblically incoherent, and outright contradict revelation Perhaps this blog is not the most suitable venue for this dialogue. I appreciate your zeal, however serious misplaced it is.

    As to your distortion: ““AB’s point is that a god who decrees everything loses his freedom and is an imperfect god”, I’ll return at a later point and offer an argument for this bungled assertion. I’ll simply make an amended to show that “a god who decrees everything is an evil god.”

    1. AB writes, “he really believes he has refuted our arguments.”

      I believe that I raise issues that you need to address in your arguments.

      Then, “The CA does not purport to demonstrate the absurd claim that “AB’s point is that a god who decrees everything loses his freedom and is an imperfect god.” Unbelievable!”

      That’s good to know. Does that mean that McCall disagrees with Swinburne in his assessment, “[Swinburne] concludes that it is not possible for there to be a perfectly free person who is also omniscient (in the traditional sense of omniscience). And since God is a perfectly free person, the conclusion to be drawn is that God can “not have knowledge of his future free actions.”

      So, do we agree that God, by decreeing everything, does not lose his freedom nor does He become an imperfect god.

      Then, “rhutchin swaps out the main premises of the CA for inferences rhutchin himself makes, and ignores that my inferences are drawn from the original premises of the CA—as you perceptively pointed out. ”

      I emphasized the first and last point of the CA argument.
      (1) If at t1 God knows what God will do at t2, then God is not free with respect to what he does at t2.
      (5) Therefore, God is not free with respect to what he does at t2 (from 1,4)

      Premise (1) is not shown to be true but becomes the assumption that is then declared true. In this case, a false premise (or an unproven premise) leads to a false conclusion. Your original argument – “The CA demonstrates that not even God can enjoy divine freedom: – is a false argument until you establish the truth of Premise (1) in the CA argument. Your claim, – “So the CA has gone completely unscathed,…” – is unsupportable. At least, you do not provide that support in your comments.

      Then, ‘The fallacy that rhutchin commits is to categorically conflate the nature of omnipotence (i.e., “god who decrees…is an imperfect god”), with the nature of omniscience “(i.e., “If God knows what Tom will do…then Tom is not free”). ”

      Premise (1) says, “(1) If at t1 God knows (in His omniscience) what God will do at t2, then God is not free (in His omnipotence) with respect to what he does at t2.

      The CA deals with that which God does. It has nothing to do with Tom so Tom is irrelevant to the argument. The CA argument, as you present it, deals only with God and deals specifically with the effect on God’s omniscience (“God knows what God will do at t2”) on His omnipotence (“God is not free with respect to what he does at t2)”. I don’t see what I have conflated. If anything, you confuse the CA argument you presented by introducing Tom saying “then Tom is not free.” The CA argument you presented doesn’t care whether Tom is free or not.

    2. Excellent A.B.
      I’m not sure if Calvinism is the *MOST* intellectually dishonest practice within professing Christianity.
      But if it isn’t – I personally don’t know what would be.
      Calvinists often remind me of the quintessential scam artist.

    3. AB asks, “(Q1): CAN GOD HAVE FOREKNOWLEDGE OF FUTURE CONTINGENTS? WHY OR WHY NOT?”

      Prior to His creation of the universe, God had a perfect understanding of the impacts of His actions in creating and in involving Himself in that creation. In decreeing to create, God necessarily knew all that would be and all that could be but would never be. God decreed that which would be based on the counsel of His will and His decree reflected His perfect wisdom. Once God decreed to create, all future contingencies disappeared and the future became certain. A contingency could now exist only if God could learn new information in the future that would result in God having yo take an action not anticipated by Him before He created. Once God decreed that which He would create, He had a perfect knowledge of His decree and was thereby omniscient. The presence of a future contingency would be occasion to provide God information He did not already have and thereby show that He was not omniscient.

      If God can have a future knowledge of contingencies, then God cannot be omniscient. If God’s decree makes the future certain while making future contingencies impossible, then God is omniscient.

    4. AB writes, “As McCall asks, “WHY THINK THAT THE *MODE* OF DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE IS IDENTICAL TO CREATURELY KNOWLEDGE?”

      No reason to think such. Human knowledge of the future is imperfect being based on an imperfect knowledge of past/present events and a lesser understanding of those events. Humans make guesses about the future with varying likelihoods of success. The fewer the factors involved and the shorter the time frame involved, the better the likelihood of success.

      By contrast, God has a perfect, infinite understanding of all factors that contribute to future events and of the interactions of those factors and God arranges those factors to bring about the future He has decreed. God does not make guesses about future events. It is God who arranges for the sale of Joseph by His brothers to the Midianite traders because He had already decreed the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine in order to save many people alive. The Psalms and the prophets provide abundant details of Christ’s coming and death that God had already decreed. It is God who gives faith to some people and not others and He does this based on the counsel of His will and not on anything a person does.

    5. AB writes, ‘(Q3): CAN I ACT OTHERWISE THAN WHAT GOD FOREKNOWS WHAT I WILL DO? IF NOT, WHAT IS IT ABOUT THE METAPHYSICS OF DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE EXACTLY THAT DISALLOWS AN ALTERNATIVE POSSIBILITIES?”

      Divine foreknowledge has no part in bringing about the events that will happen in the future. Divine foreknowledge does not prevent a person choosing otherwise. People make decisions based on specific reasons (even if they don’t always know those reasons). It is those reasons that determine what people decide. While divine foreknowledge includes knowledge of these factors, divine foreknowledge does not bring about any of these reasons/factors.

      People have the physically ability to choose otherwise than included in divine foreknowledge. If God had no knowledge of future events, the events that occur will be the same as known to God under divine foreknowledge.

      Many future events occur as a direct result of God’s involvement in human activities. It is God who told Noah to build an ark and then flooded the world killing all but eight people. It is God who confused the languages at Babel. It is God who chose Abraham to bless and provided protection for his descendants over many centuries. It is God who confronted Saul on the road to Damascus and converted him to a devotion to Christ. It is God who did nothing to prevent the killing of Stephen and James but then did not allow Peter to be killed as recorded in Acts..

      No future event can occur unless God decrees the event to occur and no event can occur that God decrees not to occur.

  18. Rhutchin: That’s good to know. Does that mean that McCall disagrees with Swinburne in his assessment…

    AB: Not so fast. I asked if you’re struggling with reading English? Tell us why you couldn’t see that McCall was assessing Swinburne’s views? Were they or were they not quotations used to distinguish McCall’s assessment from Swinburne’s conclusions?

    Rhutchin: So, do we agree that God, by decreeing everything, does not lose his freedom nor does He become an imperfect god.

    AB: Are you really that dense! You’re nowhere near out of the woods. Your answers to the questions posed will demonstrated if you continue to hold to the absurdity of such claim, or if you can defend it against the objections raised in both commentary and question format.

    Rhutchin: Premise (1) is not shown to be true but becomes the assumption that is then declared true. In this case, a false premise (or an unproven premise) leads to a false conclusion.

    AB: You’re unable to see its truth because you have no background in philosophy of religion. You’re still assuming that your high-school intellect should be the standard, while well respected theistic philosophers are “nonsensical”. But here, let me give it to you in kibbles n’ bits. I’ll amend it, and if you cannot see the problem that has plagued this issue in philosophy for centuries, I’ll recommend a few resources. Simply factor the new premises in the questions I asked below, lest you get totally sidetracked from providing answers.

    Premise 1 (amended): If at t1 God foreknows what Rhutchin will do at t2, then Rhutchin is not free to do other than what God foreknows what Rhutchin will do at t2.

    Again, the classic problem of freedom, fatalism, and divine foreknowledge is factored into the questions above.

    Rhutchin: The CA argument, as you present it, deals only with God and deals specifically with the effect on God’s omniscience (“God knows what God will do at t2”) on His omnipotence (“God is not free with respect to what he does at t2)”. I don’t see what I have conflated.

    AB: What can I say to this: what raw idiocy! Can you not see that is a distinction I (AB) made?! Why are you claiming that that is something “you” did not conflate. You’ve made a mess of things by ascribing a strawman—here let me remind you:

    “AB’s point is that a god who decrees everything [omnipotence] loses his freedom [omnipotence] and is an imperfect god.”

    (QQ): Where is your mentioning of “omniscience” so as not to conflate it with omnipotence (“decrees everything”)???

    How stupid do you think the audience here is to think you can plagiarize someone else’s distinctions and claim them as your own.

    Here is the argument for your caricature in an amended form: “a god who decrees everything is an evil god.”

    ————————

    The following argument is taken from notes on similar topic.

    We need to think concretely about the implication of Rhutchin’s assumption on god “decreeing everything”. Imagine for a moment: The innocent, happy world of a charming and witty nine-year-old girl is instantly transformed into an unthinkable nightmare when she is kidnapped by a demented, sadistic pedophile. For years she is imprisoned in a dark cell while being tortured and raped daily. The psychological hell her parents descent into as they for years ponder their beloved daughter’s unknown fate is as diabolically dark as the hell experienced their daughter.

    Based on rhutchin’s assumption, this is exactly as God ordained it to be! Every single perverted neural impulse the sadistic pedophile has, every sadistic faction he afflicts on his tortured victim, every sobbing pile and terrified scream that comes out of this abused child’s mouth, and every anguished speculation of what might be happenings to their daughter that slowly erodes the sanity of this child’s tormented parents—all of this is exactly as God will it to be (“decrees everything”), moment to moment to moment. And as is the case with all evil, we are told that every horrific detail of this macabre episode is willed by God “for the good of his children and the glory of his name.” The suggestion frankly leaves me dumbfounded.

    On top of this, rhutchin insists that “god does whatever He pleases”. Given that everything is from the start exactly as God wills it to be, it is not clear what it means to claim that God works at maximizing or minimizing anything—as Calvinists typically assert. The more important point, however, is that, when combined with a deterministic understanding of providence, this conviction forces the awkward conclusion that every single horrific detail fo this macabre episode is maximally good! Indeed, since the all-good God is at every moment maximizing the good wile exhaustively determining every detail of this episode, we must accept the ghoulish conclusion that God’s glory as well as maximal goodness would have been shortchanged if the pedophile had tortured this girl less viciously and less frequently than he did, and if this victim had shed one less tear and uttered one less scream than she did.

    At this point, it seems to me that the concepts of “good” and “evil” have lost all meaning. I am left wondering, If this is what an all-good God decrees, what would an evil god ordain? The very fact that the divine deterministic model of providence (“decrees everything”) makes this a plausible question is perhaps the most fatal objection against it.

    So, do we agree that “a good who decrees everything is an evil god”??

    1. A.B.
      The more important point, however, is that, when combined with a deterministic understanding of providence, this conviction forces the awkward conclusion that every single horrific detail fo this macabre episode is maximally good!

      br.d
      And that is why R.C. Sproul states: “Evil is Good”.

      According to the doctrines of Augustine’s primary mentor Plotinus (204/5 – 270 C.E.)
      Evil is stated to be beautiful

      According to Gnostic/NeoPlatonist thinking “Good” and “Evil” are Co-equal, Co-necessary, and Co-complimentary – because they entail the harmony within the universe.

      Augustine:
      -quote
      And because this orderly arrangement maintains the harmony of the universe by this very contrast, it comes about that Evil things must need be. In this way, the beauty of all things is in a manner configured, as it were, from antitheses, that is, from opposites: this is pleasing to us even in discourse”. (ord 1.7.19)

      Jonathon Edwards – on the need for divine evil
      – quote:
      It is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory be complete; that is all parts of his glory should shine forth……..
      …..because the parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, ….
      …..nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.

      So here we see the Gnostic/NeoPlatonic camel – swallowed by Augustine who did eat of its fruit
      And he gave to Calvin – and he did eat.

      Thus “Good” is simply one part of divine glory
      And Evil must needs be because it is the other part.

      1. Thus – we when we look “under the hood” into the Calvinist conscience – what we find is a conscience that has learned to embrace a world in which any delineating line between good and evil becomes blurred.

        In a system of DUALISM – good “morphs” itself into evil and thus presents itself
        But it eventually “morphs” back into good – and thus presents itself.

        All pagan deities are DUALISTIC in one way or another.

        At one moment we find the god Zeus functioning as the judge of right and wrong – presiding over the transgressions of the lesser gods
        The next moment we find him raping Europa

        At one moment we find Pan – the benevolent shepherd – tenderly caring for vulnerable lambs who look to him for protection.
        The next moment we find him raping members of that same flock for his good pleasure

        Author Peter Nathan on Augustine writes:
        -quote
        “During the course of Augustine’s lifetime, the blurred boundaries between Christianity and paganism, and between faith and philosophy, were redrawn. Paradoxically, this created a world in which paganism seemed simply to disappear…….Augustine’s adoption of the new philosophy was wholehearted. The new world of dualism aroused in him a desire to retreat from society to a life focused on the pursuit of the spiritual and, with it, of the truth he believed philosophy could provide.”.

    2. AB wrutes, “Tell us why you couldn’t see that McCall was assessing Swinburne’s views? Were they or were they not quotations used to distinguish McCall’s assessment from Swinburne’s conclusions? ”

      McCall’ comments were clearly an assessment. MY mistake was in assuming that you were citing McCall to support your position. Given the context, I presumed that you were doing this,. On Re-reading McCall, I can see that he could be a Calvinist taking objection to Swinburne’s view. Who would have known given your argument? So, I am puzzled – Why did you cite McCall?

      Then, Rhutchin: “So, do we agree that God, by decreeing everything, does not lose his freedom nor does He become an imperfect god.”
      AB: “Your answers to the questions posed will demonstrated if you continue to hold to the absurdity of such claim,..”

      I guess your answer is, No.

      Then, Rhutchin: “Premise (1) is not shown to be true but becomes the assumption that is then declared true. In this case, a false premise (or an unproven premise) leads to a false conclusion.”
      AB: “You’re unable to see its truth because you have no background in philosophy of religion.”

      So, there is a proof, but you are not going to provide it.Then, “Premise 1 (amended): If at t1 God foreknows what Rhutchin will do at t2, then Rhutchin is not free to do other than what God foreknows what Rhutchin will do at t2.”

      OK. Now you have recast your earlier statement recognizing that you had flubbed it the first time. But again we need to define what you mean by “not free.” Even though God knows what a person will do at T2, God’s knowledge does not coerce the person to act at T2 nor does God use His omnipotent power to get that outcome. There is no physical explanation for the person being unable tot choose otherwise than God knows he will choose at T2. So, again, what do you mean by “not free”? How is the person ‘Not free”?

      Then, ‘the classic problem of freedom, fatalism, and divine foreknowledge is factored into the questions above.”

      Then, it should be easy for you to define, adequately, what the term, “not free,” means. I’ll agree that ‘the classic problem of freedom, fatalism, and divine foreknowledge is factored into the questions above – but a lot of unspecified assumptions make this possible. Ogf course, one of the problems is in defining what the term, “freedom,” means.

      Then, rhutchin: ““AB’s point is that a god who decrees everything [omnipotence] loses his freedom [omnipotence] and is an imperfect god.””
      AB: “How stupid do you think the audience here is to think you can plagiarize someone else’s distinctions and claim them as your own. ”

      In response to the same question at the beginning of your comment, you said, “Are you really that dense! You’re nowhere near out of the woods.” Guess, I’m confused about what you really think.

    3. AB writes, “We need to think concretely about the implication of Rhutchin’s assumption on god “decreeing everything”. Imagine for a moment: The innocent, happy world of a charming and witty nine-year-old girl….Based on rhutchin’s assumption, this is exactly as God ordained it to be! ”

      We both know that God is present and watching every intimate detail that occurs and even knew that these would happen before they came abut. We also know that God has omnipotent power and could easily choose to prevent all that happens to the little girl. If God knows what would happen and chooses not to prevent it, does that mean that God ordained the event to happen. The Calvinist says, Yes. It is as you say, “all of this is exactly as God will it to be (“decrees everything”), moment to moment to moment.” On what basis do you say that God did not ordain it – meaning that God neither knew about the event even in present time nor had the power to prevent it?

      Then, “we are told that every horrific detail of this macabre episode is willed by God “for the good of his children and the glory of his name.” The suggestion frankly leaves me dumbfounded. ”

      Isn’t this what Romans 8 tells us, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” While not as gruesome, the things that happened to Job, Joseph, and Christ were gruesome in their own way. Are you dumbfounded by the things that happened to them?

      Then, ‘On top of this, rhutchin insists that “god does whatever He pleases”.’

      this because of Psalms, “our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases,” and “Whatever the LORD pleases He does, In heaven and in earth, In the seas and in all deep places.” That God does whatever He pleases is a rebuttable presumption. So, argue against it.

      Then, ‘it is not clear what it means to claim that God works at maximizing or minimizing anything—as Calvinists typically assert.”

      I have never read of any Calvinist using the term, “maximizing or minimizing anything.” Neither term, “maximize,” or “minimize,” appears in Calvin’s Institutes. Do you have a citation for this term being used by a Calvinist?

      Then, “it seems to me that the concepts of “good” and “evil” have lost all meaning. I am left wondering, If this is what an all-good God decrees, what would an evil god ordain?”

      Obviously, God is “good” because the Scriptures declare that God is good. Regardless, an all-good God is still omnipotent and able to arrange only good to occur even if denied any knowledge of the future – God is able to arrange for only good events and outcomes even if all He has is present (and past) knowledge.

      So, when you ask, “do we agree that “a good who decrees everything is an evil god”??” my answer is, No. According to the Scriptures, “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” and “The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom” and “the wicked are reserved for the day of doom;”

      Finally, Jesus said, “No one is good but One, that is, God.” John write, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.”

      1. rhutchin
        a god who decrees everything is an evil god”??” my answer is, No

        br.d
        It is wisdom to bear in mind – within the Calvinist praxis of SEMANTICS – many answers will be – NO one minute and YES the next.
        TRUE one minute and FALSE the next.

        So to save yourself from following after the Calvinist who talks in circles – take that wisdom into consideration in all statements such as this one.

        The prudent man foresees the matter and positions himself accordingly.
        But the simple pass on, and fall into the snare. :-]

  19. Rhutchin, if you can be the least bit discerning, you will notice that I am granting your assumptions for the sake of argument in my most recent lengthy reply. All your questions and assumptions will be answered and justified, respectively, when you wrestle with the questions I posed above.

    Question for both you and br.d.: are you guys willing to have a virtual dialogue? I find this format to be very difficult to make progress, unless one’s writing skill-set is quite superior, which we all fall quite short of. Not interested in a debate, nor a match to score argumentative points, but clarity which seems to be lost quite frequently to the point of making no progress. We can schedule a day and time. We can share our emails and go from there.

    What do you guys think?

    1. Hi A.B.
      I won’t have the time for the virtual dialog.
      I’m in and out – and have more of a singular purpose here at SOT101
      But I thank you very much for your gracious offer.
      And I appreciate your comments in my direction!

      I’ll be curious to know if rhutchin takes you up on your offer.
      However, doing so would not fit into Calvinism’s primary urgency (1001 semantic masquerades to hide the face of evil)

      Sincere thanks,
      br.d

    2. AB writes, “I find this format (writing) to be very difficult to make progress, unless one’s writing skill-set is quite superior, which we all fall quite short of.”

      If a person cannot explain himself through writing, then he probably doesn’t know the subject matter well enough to explain it. Writing is difficult because issues can be difficult to explain.

  20. Rhutchin: If a person cannot explain himself through writing, then he probably doesn’t know the subject matter well enough to explain it.

    AB: You mean when you were not able to comprehend the usage of quotations, and plagiarize others’ formal distinctions and ascribe them to yourself!

    (Q8) Is it impossible for someone to have expertise on a subject matter and have poor writing skills? YES OR NO? If not, why would you say something so foolish?

    Rhutchin: In decreeing to create, God necessarily knew all that would be and all that could be but would never be. God decreed that which would be based on the counsel of His will and His decree reflected His perfect wisdom.

    AB: (Q9) WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “ASSERTIONS” AND AN “ARGUMENT”? Please tell us how you understand these components so we are on the same page. (Q10): CAN YOU ALSO DEFINE WHAT IT MEANS TO “BEG THE QUESTION”?

    Rhutchin: Once God decreed to create, all future contingencies disappeared and the future became certain.

    AB: (Q11): HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU HAVE TO REGURGITATE YOUR BELIEFS BEFORE WE SEE AN ACTUAL ARGUMENT FOR SAID BELIEFS? DO YOU AGREE THAT ASSERTIONS ARE NOT ARGUMENTS?

    Rhutchin: If God can have a future knowledge of contingencies, then God cannot be omniscient.

    AB: I already exposed this modal fallacy above which you haven’t touched (i.e., Greek theological fatalism). On the other hand, this bare assertion seems to be reflective more of your autonomous fallible capability as a foreknower, than a truly sovereign God. These are creaturely limitations, but you haven’t provided arguments to distinguish between creaturely capability and divine capabilities with respect to the issue of foreknowledge.

    (Q12): WHAT IS YOUR ACTUAL ARGUMENT FOR THINKING THAT DIVINE OMNISCIENCE AND FUTURE CONTINGENTS ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITHOUT RESORTING TO FEDEISM?

    PRESENT AN ARGUMENT USING PREMISES IN A DEDUCTIVE FORMAT WITH A CONCLUSION THAT REFLECTS YOUR BELIEF.

    You continue to illustrate the ancient modal fallacy of confusing the necessitas consequentiae with the necessitas consequentiis. The necessity of the consequent is not entailed by the necessity of the consequence. So by said distinction, divine foreknowledge can have knowledge of future contingents without determinism and without “learning”. The point—a point you continue to conflate and never justify ad infinitum—is not to confuse ‘Nec(p –> q)’ with ‘p –> Nec q.’

  21. AB writes, “As McCall asks, “WHY THINK THAT THE *MODE* OF DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE IS IDENTICAL TO CREATURELY KNOWLEDGE?”

    Rhutchin: No reason to think such. Human knowledge of the future is imperfect being based on an imperfect knowledge of past/present events and a lesser understanding of those events.

    AB: Rather than engaging arguments I clearly put forth, you swap them out for easier targets, then shoot them down and think they are somehow compelling. So far you’re not answering any of the questions. So you’re wasting time and off to a bad start. Again, again, again, again, and again… we already know what you believe. We need to see actual arguments for your beliefs.

    I already prefaced this question with what it means for humans to have foreknowledge.

    If you don’t want to engage the arguments presented it to you, you shouldn’t waste everyone’s time with formulating your own prefaces that you can easily tear down in your own mind.

    We can all see why hiding behind a computer screen is extremely convenient for you.

    WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DIALOGUE VIRTUALLY???

    1. A few years ago – when I first discovered SOT101 – and rhutchin was here exhibiting all of what you observe today – I started under the false assumption that as a professing Christian he would be interested in truth discovery, even if that truth may come through the avenue of a non-Calvinist source.

      I operated on that assumption in my dialogs with him for a while – at the same time watching him in dialog with others, who similarly assumed the same. It didn’t take long for me to conclude my assumption of his openness to truth discovery was erroneous.

      The modus-operandi strongly parallels that of a marketing agent whose primary strategy is the deployment of sophistic (subtly equivocal) language. Which for the most part functions as a cosmetic strategically designed to hide aspects of the product the agent knows consumers will find distasteful.

      The silver lining is IMHO – that the Lord is able to use rhutchin’s posts – as examples of Calvinism’s DOUBLE-MINDEDNESS, and its less than honest use of language.

      Personally I’m convinced that Calvinist language exemplifies what Social Scientist Dr. Bella Depaulo calls “Altruistic Dishonesty”
      -quote
      “Altruistic dishonesty occurs when a person is working to protect a ‘target’. A high percentage of people who rationalize the use of dishonest language, experience some sub-level degree of discomfort, but which is effectively outweighed by rationalizations. And they generally do not regard their lies as lies. And this is especially true with people who are working to protect a ‘target’.”

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

      I see the phenomenon of Altruistic Dishonesty as inherent in dialog with any serious promoter/defender of Calvinism.

      1. br.d writes, “I started under the false assumption that as a professing Christian he would be interested in truth discovery, even if that truth may come through the avenue of a non-Calvinist source. ”

        Rarely, if ever, do you deny the truths that I draw from the Scriptures. You don’t always like what the Scriptures tell us, You don’t argue against those truths. You complain a lot, but don’t usually offer constructive criticism of the Scriptural positions I take – How could you; even you recognize truth when you see it.

        A good contrast to the approach you take is Brian Wagner who always makes arguments based on Scripture (at least he will cite the more interesting Scriptures) – something you seem to avoid like the plague.

      2. Well – LOGIC clearly shows – a person for whom every perception which comes to pass within his brain – is determined by an external mind – does himself not “draw truths” from any source.

        A person for whom MERE PERMISSION does not exist – is a person for whom being MERELY PERMITTED to determine TRUE from FALSE – only exists as a FALSE perception.

        A perception that according to his own doctrine was infallibly decreed to come to pass within his brain.

        Whatever perception you have of “truth” – is simply a perception which an external mind infallibly decreed come to pass.
        You have no say in the matter of what perceptions are infallibly decreed at the foundation of the world – to come to pass within your brain.

        And since we’ve been keeping track of the number of FALSE perceptions Calvin’s god has decreed come to pass within your brain here at SOT101 – the count has come to somewhere near 2 dozen.

        Now that exists as a consistent pattern for us to draw from – and to anticipate perceptions Calvin’s god has decreed come to pass within your brain in the future – will also follow that pattern .

        And BTW – all SOT101 readers recognized Brian’s enlarged heart and desire for your openness.
        And he too saw the impracticality of continuing in that.

        FALSE perceptions don’t “draw truths” from scripture
        FALSE perceptions simply lead to FALSE conclusions. :-]

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