Thanks for following me @IndyChristian on Twitter. I enjoyed listening to your podcast just now, and in particular, your gentle/generous approach even to those on the other side of the discussion. After all, we not only possess limited knowledge, because of sin what we think we know may still be tainted as well as limited. (Scripture is of course is untainted, but our perception of it is not necessarily so.) This to say, because of these limits, we need to indeed be gracious, knowing we cannot fully lock in our positions as fully explanatory and unyielding.
And in the interests of gentleness, leading to great discussions, might we avoid using the labels related to following particular people (ie, John Calvin and James Arminius)? They unnecessarily introduce a ‘man-ness’ to this thing (ie, follower of Paul, Apollos, etc)… not to mention, introducing unnecessary complexities due to the labels not being monolithic, really.
My favorite question of folks is: “What portion of your salvation do you personally take credit for?” (From your podcast illustration of the drowning swimmer, I suspect, like myself you’d be in the camp ascribing all (100%) glory and honor to God for your salvation, holding out no portion of that honor for yourself/myself. At that point, we realize we’re all pretty much on the same page apart from some semantics.
Alternatively though, there may be some who will go to the mat, to reserve some credit for themselves… to which I’d have to wonder “Why?”
Again thanks for a creative discussion, Leighton.
I was drowning once in my sin but then someone tossed me a life ring, the gospel. The ring just lay there before me. Only when I took hold was I saved.
You were dead at the bottom of the water….God had to bring you back from the dead before you could hold on to any life preserver after He put it around you.
Listened to your podcast this evening on “Dead means Dead” – loved it by the way – BIG FAN!! Studying this out I have a question. Does death (Thanatos – James 1:15) and dead (Nekros – Eph 2:1) both mean separation? Nekros in my Strongs concordence says – not able to respond (Incapacity, Inability?). I’m not a Calvinist by any stretch of the imagination – what am I missing?
Outline of Biblical Usage [?]
one that has breathed his last, lifeless
deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell
destitute of life, without life, inanimate
destitute of a life that recognises and is devoted to God, because given up to trespasses and sins
inactive as respects doing right
destitute of force or power, inactive, inoperative
Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)
νεκρός nekrós, nek-ros’; from an apparently primary νέκυς nékys (a corpse); dead (literally or figuratively; also as noun):—dead.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon [?]
Click Here for the Rest of the Entry
It’s not formatted well but above is what I copied and pasted. Keep in mind that even lexicons are going to try the theological represent the historical manner in which people have interpreted any particular word.
Under the Metaphor usage is where it would be applicable for us here. Rev 3 also used Nekros and most wouldn’t take that to mean “moral inability to humbly confess one’s wrong.”
Even the definitions which reflect on “inability” don’t ever specifically say “inability to confess our inabilities.” So (as was discusses) an alcoholic may say he is unable to stop drinking. He is admitting his inability. To say dead means inability is not enough because it doesn’t say anything about what he is unable to do. He is unable to stop sinning. He is unable to believe in one whom he has not heard. He is unable to fulfill the demands of the law. He is unable to reconcile himself apart from the atoning work of Christ. He is dead in that since. Does that mean he is dead in the sense of being unable to admit those things in response to God Himself? If so, the Bible certainly doesn’t ever specify that.
Thank you Dr. Flowers. You were right on – I went back to Thayer’s and I think that straightened me out. I have a post I would like to share with you: Calvinism with Catholicism in Mind that I put together when I heard you teach on James 1:13-15 (Love those verses). Now I’m no super theologian and certainly don’t know this subject as well as you but I think it represents what Lord has taught me over the years and what I’ve learned listening to your podcast. But before I do – can I ask how your statement is not limited atonement? Specifically when you say the dead are “unable to reconcile themselves apart from the atoning work of Christ.” Would saying – “the dead are unable to reconcile themselves apart from the unlimited atoning work of Christ” work? To be very clear – I believe in unlimited atonement but this statement threw me a little bit. Lord Bless, Tom Franklin
God reconciles whoever believes by imputing Christ’s atoning work onto our accounts. He clothes all who believe in the righteousness of Christ.
Dear Dr. Flowers
So many things happen instantaneously at the moment of salvation (what a blessing). Could we say – “God reconciles whosever believeth by imputing Christ’s shed blood onto their accounts making them the elect?” This seems to break the process down systematically.
Or (this gets deeper)
Christ atoned for the sins of all men and God has imputed Christ’s atonement onto those “who were predestinated unto adoption according to His will” Eph 5:1 – (The Elect?)
Is this “predestinated”in Eph 5 the same you have written about in your commentary on Romans 8 (Romans 8:29) which refers to the “saints of old” thus NOT making them (those who were predestinated unto adoption according to His will) “the Elect”?
I just noticed I messed up the verse. Should be Eph 1:5, I corrected it below. 🙁 Is this a correct statement – “God reconciles whosever believeth by imputing Christ’s shed blood onto their accounts making them the elect?” This seems to break the process down systematically.
Or (this gets deeper)
Christ atoned for the sins of all men and God has imputed Christ’s atonement onto those “who were predestinated unto adoption according to His will” Eph 1:5 – (The Elect?)
My doubt is that this “predestinated”in Eph 1 is the same you have written about in your commentary on Romans 8 (Romans 8:29) which refers to the “saints of old” thus NOT making them (those who were predestinated unto adoption according to His will) “the Elect”?
Really enjoyed hearing a thoughtful response to Calvinism that was both a personal and theological reflection.
These teachings have confirmed issues that I have studied in the past and also opened up new ideas. Thank you for taking the time out to share these. Please keep them coming, even if they are not about Calvinism/Arminian specific doctrine.
Listened to “Romans 9”; surely puts to rest the [“Drive-By” Proof-texting] complaints we get.
Hello, just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed listening to the podcasts. You have a very understandable way of teaching on these things. Keep’em coming.
That means a lot brother! Thank you for letting me know.
I have listened to almost all of your podcasts. They are great! I did however disagree with a point you made on one I listened too today. You interpret the vine in Romans 11 to represent revelation. I think that you are interpreting that through the lense of once saved always. The Bible never refers to the vine as revelation. In John 15 we read that Jesus is the vine and God the Father is the vine dresser. We are grafted in through faith and we are told to abide in Christ. If we don’t abide in Christ through faith we will be severed from the vine and cast into the fire. In Romans 11 Israel is severed from the vine due to unbelief. The Gentiles are grafted in through faith. It makes no sense for the vine to represent revelation. The Gentiles aren’t grafted into revelation because of faith. Their faith isn’t the reason they recieved revelation. Their faith is a result of receiving revelation, not the cause. There for being part of the vine represents being in Christ.
The only other option that I see the olive tree in Romans 11 representing is the promise given to Abraham. Either way it’s still a salvation issue. To me it makes no since to represent the olive tree as revelation. You can’t un-reveal to a people that salvation comes through faith in Christ. Once that’s been revealed it can’t be erased from someone’s memory. You can however sever someone from the promise of that revealed truth due to their unbelief. I still feel like the clear analogy given in John 15 should have some influence on how we interpret Romans 11. One is concerning a vine and the other an Olive tree, but the concept is still the same.
I hear you, however, if God grafts all Gentiles into the vine and the vine is Christ, then why wouldn’t all Gentiles be saved? I believe the vine represents the means by which mankind comes to be in Him…i.e. the gospel (revelation). Being ‘cut off’ from revelation is different from ‘becoming blinded’ or ‘calloused’ to revelation over time. One who grows calloused to revelation by their own choosing may be cut off from further revelation (like Israel). Does that make sense?
God doesn’t graft all Gentiles in. Neither does he break off all of Israel. These are generic terms that represent both parties involved. The distinction was made in regards to faith or unbelief. When Paul talks about the Gentiles being grafted in by faith, this by no means includes all Gentiles. Only those who stand on faith. Furthermore Christ is God’s final revelation to man. Once He is revealed, there is no further need for revelation. We don’t recieve further revelation today do we? The Gentiles were warned that they too would be broken off if they fell into unbelief. Broken off can’t mean revelation because they have already received the fullness of revelation in Christ. See Hebrews 1:1-2. Read carefully John 15. There can be no mistake about who the vine is there.
I want to make sure what I am saying is clear. In Romans 11:17 we read that some of the branches were broken off and not all. Then in verse 20 Paul explains why they were broken off and why the Gentiles were grafted in. If the vine or tree represents the means by which mankind comes to be in Christ (the Gospel), then we have the cart before the horse. We know that the Gentiles are grafted in because of faith. If grafted in means receiving the knowledge necessary to be in Christ, then how in the world did they have faith before they received the knowledge? If faith comes by hearing then there is no way that they had faith before they heard. You don’t receive the Gospel because of your faith. What was the object of their faith prior to receiving the gospel? It is impossible to have faith without the Gospel. Can you see the contradiction here? Remember this letter is addressed to the Church in Rome and not the whole world of Gentiles. All Gentiles are not grafted in. Only those who put their faith in Christ. Lastly, Israel was never broken off from revelation. There was and always has been evangelism among the Israelite. I don’t think Paul or Peter ever stopped evangelizing the Israelites.
Sorry, I missed these responses…they must have been buried.
I think we agree in principle. He is speaking generally of God’s special revelation being granted to one group and then the other. It would be like if your church adopted a city in Africa to evangelize and after years and years of effort there was no fruit and the people grew to hate you and your efforts to evangelize them because they simply refused to believe your message.
So, your church decided to move on to adopt another city leaving them alone. Does that mean your church wouldn’t want that first city to still come to repentance? Of course not, you’d still pray for them and desire for their repentance but by moving on (as Paul did toward the Gentiles) your hope may be to provoke them with envy or give them room to reconsider their decision. After several years of leaving them alone your church may even go back and try again, but the decision to ‘cut them off’ or leave them alone is not necessarily final…nor is it a reflection of the lack of desire on the part of the ones cutting them off for them to come to repentance and faith.
So too, Israel (generally speaking) is being cut off (left alone) and the Gentiles are the new focus (Acts 28:27-28). And if the Gentiles continue in their belief (generally speaking) they will continue to receive more revelation, understanding and blessing from above. If they get prideful and create their own religious systems thinking they can make it without God (like Israel did) they too may be cut off. And if the Jews, having been provoked by envy (or other means), reconsider their decisions and come back the Lord will gladly graft them back in (just like your church would gladly readopt that first African city if they changed their minds and wanted to learn more). Does that clarify my perspective?
If possible, please enable an RSS feed for your podcast. I can’t figure out how to download your podcast files through iTunes, libsyn, or stitcher. I would like to download the MP3 directly so I can listen to the podcasts offline.
Bill, I’m not sure what you mean. When you go to the iTunes link, are you not able to subscribe to my podcast and upload them onto your device?
Thanks for the reply. I can’t run iTunes on my computer (it is not a Mac or Windows PC), so I can’t download files from the iTunes link.
It looks like libsyn may allow you to configure an RSS feed:
I don’t know much about this, and I appreciate your consideration. I may have missed something on my end as well.
I know you may have better things to do, but I wanted to mention it in case others have the same problem.
If someone with knowledge of such things has any advice I’m glad to try anything…
I had the same issue. What I did was search for “Soteriology 101” using Search option in my Podcast app (Podcast+ Pro on Windows Phone.) It brought it up and I was able to subscribe.
To see the actual URL of feed, I used Share option (sending it to my email.)
So long story short …
here’s the RSS feed address:
That is awesome Gabrielle, thanks. That is what I needed.
May help to set up RSS feed on libsysn.
I use Ant Video Downloader on Firefox to download from lybsyn; Itunes has #The15 as the last posting Feb 12, 2015.
I was saved in a theologically watered down typical baptist church after getting out of the military. I soon found myself confronted with the fact that many of the things being taught didn’t match up with what I was reading in scripture. That lead me in a path to finding myself at a point that I have called “being sympathetic to reformed theology.” I have been in ministry 10 years and I have attended a baptist seminary and I am a pastor, but through it all I have never been able to jump all the way on the Calvinist bandwagon (even though I have gotten much edification from many Calvinist brothers). I have always felt that while Calvinism provides better answers then much of what a typical American church offers it still has holes that I could not neatly deal with. This has left me feeling like I do not belong in either camp, and leads me to jokingly (and seriously) tell my congregation that I desire to be biblical not a Calvinist or Arminian. I began listening to your podcast recently when I heard about your debate with James White, and I have been blown away at how the Lord has used you to speak to many of the things that I believe either side does not do a great job of addressing. Thank you for your ministry it has truly been a huge blessing to me recently, and is helping me to be a better man of God as I seek to lead my family and the people of God. I pray God will give you a larger voice and a humble spirit, so that you may speak a word I think many are longing to hear.
Wow Mike. You made my week! Thank you. To Him be the Glory.
I think you are overstating what James White has said about Pelagianism. I can definitely imagine him quoting you on a particular position and then saying, “that’s Pelagianism” with the intention of communicating that you are in agreement with Pelagius on that point, but I can’t imagine him saying that you are a Pelagian. If he has said, “Leighton Flowers is a Pelagian”, I would agree with you that he should retract his statement. I may be mistaken and have just not heard him say it, but I would be interested in hearing that statement in context. If you can provide that, I will totally agree with you about him needing to retract it.
Dr. Allen’s statement was, “James White is a hyper-Calvinist” in the context that Dr. Ascol should not be joining with Dr. White to debate the Caner brothers because Southern Baptists should not team up with hyper-Calvinists. After repeated correction, Dr. Allen has attempted to defend his statement about Dr. White being a hyper-Calvinist instead of admitting that he falls way short of fitting into that category.
I also find a huge problem with your appeal to “mystery” to defend contra-causal free will. I think that people often appeal to mystery when there is no need, and that has been true of many Calvinists as well as non-Calvinists. Maybe it is due to a desire to show humility, but I think we should distinguish between something being a mystery and something being illogical. True mysteries come from inadequate information to discern a particular fact. The study of eschatology is full of mysteries, because of the nature of apocalyptic writing and the amount of symbolism it contains. The amount of information given is also not adequate for answering all of the questions we may raise. In areas like that, I am happy to say “I don’t know” and label the answers to certain questions a true mystery. In the area of soteriology the only mysteries are questions of “why” regarding particular circumstances. For example, if we ask, “Why was this person born in this place at this time into a culture where they would never hear the gospel of Jesus?” the answer would require exhaustive knowledge of how that person and every aspect of their life played into God’s accomplishment of His ultimate purposes in the most perfect way. We can give more general answers from scripture, but when it comes to the specific details for that individual it must be admitted that the answer is truly a mystery to us, but not to God.
When it comes to God’s sovereignty and human freedom I don’t think there is a mystery there. People are given the truth and commanded to follow it. They are then judged based on the intentions of their heart if they refuse to follow God’s command to repent and believe. While the statement that God is the primary cause of all things is true, the statement that the person’s decision to believe or not is the more immediate and direct cause of their salvation or damnation is also true. While that decision can ultimately be traced through causal lines back to God, God’s intention in the matter is to perfectly accomplish His perfect purposes, while the person’s intention was sinful and self-serving. I think scripture is clear in communicating that these sinful, self-serving intentions are sufficient for justly holding a person responsible for their actions.
The problem I see with any view of contra-causal freedom (libertarian) is that it is just what it claims to be (against the law of causation). It isn’t acceptable to proclaim a theory that violates a law of logic and then dismiss the fact that it is illogical by dogmatically claiming that it is true but just not understandable. Saying, “It’s a mystery” and humbly conceding that God’s ways are higher than our ways doesn’t correctly apply to this. The law of causation is a fundamental epistemological truth that we must assume is true in every aspect of our lives. We could not function or even continue living if we did not operate on its truth. We could not discuss this subject if the law of causation were not true. We could also not understand any of God’s revelation, natural or special, if the law of causation were not true. If we must assume this fundamental truth in everything else in life and scripture, but come to a certain point in our study of soteriology only to deny this truth, then we are both inconsistent and illogical. We also have no consistent grounds upon which we can understand anything revealed in scripture. If someone claims that the cause of our salvation is not faith and repentance but salvation is an effect without means (a causeless effect) how can we disagree if we affirm causeless effects in our theology also?
I know you may think that the cause of a person’s libertarian free choice is the person their self, but how can that be the case? If someone is in a set of circumstances where they are faced with making a decision, they will evaluate their potential choices through their thought process to determine which is most desirable. Causal factors that will influence their decision include their natural disposition, their physical and mental capabilities, their past experiences, any pieces of knowledge they may have picked up that are some way connected to their current circumstances, etc. If all these causal factors combine to produce the effect of a specific course of action being most desirable to a person, wouldn’t contra-causal freedom be a foreign force outside of the control of a person’s own thought process that produces choices against the persons own strongest desires. Wouldn’t this be an excuse before God on the day of judgment, “I really desired to serve and follow you, but that contra-causal freedom you gave me made me do otherwise”?
You may think that contra-causal freedom somehow plays into the thought process of the person, but this only produces another problem. If this freedom is present in the person’s thought process and makes the person equally able to choose what they desire most and what they do not desire most, then the link between cause and effect is necessarily destroyed. That is to say that every reason for a person rejecting God is the exact same set of reasons for the same person choosing to love and follow God. A person could come to Christ because they did not desire to serve God above themselves! Specific causes produce specific effects and specific effects are the result of specific causes. To claim that different causes produce identical effects or that identical causes produce different effects is the height of absurdity. If a rock thrown at a window will be the cause of the window breaking, then the rock not being thrown at the window will not be the cause of the window breaking. If the specific set of both internal and external circumstances produces a certain prevailing desire, then the introduction of contra-causal freedom will either cause a change in that desire or not. It will not produce an effect that has been totally divorced from what would have been its cause.
I’m typing this in the middle of constant distractions, so I hope what I have said is understandable. I also hope that it is understood to be given in a spirit of brotherly dialog, as that is how it is intended. God bless brother.
Tweets from Calvinism Debate: Which Soteriological View is Taught in Romans 9?
James White and Leighton Flowers
Moderator: Pastor Heath E. Marion
Thursday, May 7, 2015, 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
The Oaks Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, Texas
Tweets by Brian A. Speer
NOTE: These are my tweets I sent out during the debate; I didn’t include my photo tweets. Items in parentheses ( ) are my explanations or clarifications. One comment marked with after a tweet is my observation. Some of these tweets are actual quotes, while some are a summary of what I heard or a paraphrase of what was said; I did not differentiate between the two because I was live-tweeting during this debate. I think these tweets are accurate but not perfect; this is not a verbatim transcription.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: We can’t keep going with this namby-pamby easy believism.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Calvinists and non-Calvinists can work together as brothers in Christ.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Concerning the Reformation, I’m on Luther’s side, he (Leighton Flowers) is on Erasmus’ side.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: A provisional atonement was made just like it says in John 3 about Moses lifting up the serpent.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: The atonement of Jesus Christ did not make men savable.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Jesus Christ has never failed to save anyone He wants to save.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Whosoever believes can be saved through faith. It is provisional atonement; those who come in faith.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Romans 9 is encouraging to people who have God’s priorities. It is not encouraging… 1/2
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: …to people with man’s priorities. 2/2
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Humility does not earn righteousness.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: The wonder of grace is that it’s given to people like you and me.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: We are fallen but we can respond to God.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: We have a sin nature and are inclined toward sin (see The Baptist Faith & Message). We are fallen.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Dr. White spent most of his time critiquing my method, not my argument.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: I can say: Christ died for you!
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Christ taught us to love our enemies. God is glorified most at the cross!
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: God is too holy to look on evil or to tempt someone!
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Reprobates (if Calvinism were true) are to be pitied, not judged!
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Man’s will is free because God is sovereign.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Review Romans 8-9. Set aside your traditions. Ask: is this text offensive to my humanity… 1/2
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: …and am I trying to explain it away? 2/2
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: I don’t know who the elect are and God doesn’t hold me accountable for knowing.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: I begin with who God is.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: It’s hard for me to see how Prof. Flowers can get around the trap of open theism.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Before eternity itself, God set His love on His elect people.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: We need to start with a theocentric view of Scripture.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: I wanted two robust interpretations of Romans 9, but we didn’t get that tonight.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: We must follow the apostolic interpretation of the texts (O.T.) cited in Romans 9.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: We don’t know who the elect are, so we with passion share the Gospel.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: It is not God’s intention for Israel to turn to Christ (during the earthly ministry of Jesus).
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Prof. Flowers starts with man and reasons up to God (White says he does opposite).
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: I could not take the presentation of Prof. Flowers into a mosque… 1/2
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: …and pretend to defend the deity of Christ. 2/2
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Prof. Flowers doesn’t understand the subject (Calvinism) he is criticizing.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Who walked through the text of Romans 9? 98% of Prof. Flower’s debate isn’t on Romans 9.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: God has a redemptive intention for evil. But this does not mean that God brings about all sin!
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: God determines some things, but it’s for a redemptive purpose.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: I can’t trust a God who has two wills.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Matthew 22, the marriage feast parable, helps to explain Romans 9.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Choice 1: Apostles & Prophets; Choice 2: Jews & Gentiles; Choice 3: Whoever Believes (prev notes).
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Matthew 22: marriage feast. Choice 1: The choice of who will send the invitations. 1/3
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Matthew 22: marriage feast. Choice 2: The choice of who will get the invitations. 2/3
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Matthew 22: marriage feast. Choice 3: The choice of who will be allowed to enter in. 3/3
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: The Calvinist view of election didn’t originate until Augustine: former Gnostic, didn’t know Greek.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Calvinism: Total depravity is man being unable to respond to God; this is like judicial hardening.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Romans 9:6 is key to understanding the rest of the chapter.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Rom. 1 says man has no excuse for rejecting God; Calvinism: some men aren’t elected for salvation.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: God is accomplishing a redemptive purpose in the hardening of Israel.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Romans 9:6-7, 13: Being in Abraham’s line DOES NOT save you.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Esau was blessed not cursed as part of Abraham: Gen. 12:3 (see Romans 9:13).
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Romans 11:32: God shows mercy to all.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Men are born sinners, they are not born judicially hardened! Their hearts have BECOME calloused.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: What was Jesus attempting to do in 3 years? Israel was judicially hardened in rebellion.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Why did Israel reject Messiah? God hardened them in their rebellion, but He LOVES them!
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers said: Romans 9 is about salvation by grace, not works.
Calvinism Debate. It sounds like Dr. James White doesn’t believe in reprobation as other Calvinists do.
Calvinism Debate. Leighton Flowers asked Dr. White about other sons of Abraham, their standing? Dr. White: They aren’t discussed in text.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Some people may want to skip Romans 9.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Romans 9:27: Only a remnant of Israel will be saved.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Romans 9:13: What is startling is not “Esau I have hated,” but “Jacob I have loved.”
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Romans 9:8 lays down an important principle of God’s sovereign freedom.
Calvinism Debate. Dr. James White said: Romans 9:6-7 determine how we interpret the rest of the chapter.
Professor Leighton, I’ve been listening to your podcast (from the beginning). I currently listened to the episode where you used John Hendrix’s view to confront Dr. White and Dr. White was contradicting, argued against his own scholar, and again never dealt with the question at hand. Thank you for what you are doing and for presenting a Biblical view. Keep up the good work!
I wanted to write and let you know how much I appreciate your work here at Soteriology 101. I am a long time listener of Dr. James White and while I greatly respect his work in the field of Apologetcs, I have never agreed with his stance regarding soteriology (despite having listened to quite a few editions of Radio Free Geneva over the years I’m still not convinced).
I first became aware of your program when Dr. White initially began reviewing you on his program. Given how strongly he is committed to Calvinism, I was not surprised by what he had to say, but I did begin to wonder if he was accurately representing you or if he was refuting the same Arminian caricature that he has so frequently used to characterize any non-Calvinist. The irony in why I decided to listen to your program is that is was based on something Dr. White did during one of his programs.
While listening to said program, Dr. White was reviewing a statement made by Matthew Vines regarding his refutation of Vines’ video supporting so called gay affirming Christianity. In the short clip, Vines made radically inaccurate statements regarding what Dr. White had said in his refutation and explained his refusal to debate Dr. White as it being unhelpful and a waste of time. Dr. White appropriately pointed out that anyone who listened to his refutation would realize there was a huge disconnect between what Vines said and what he had actually said. He also (I’d say very appropriately) concluded that Vines demonstrated his intellectual dishonesty in failing to accurately represent his position and then refusing to engage him in dialogue.
I found Dr. White’s criticisms of Vines to be entirely appropriate as I have read and listened both to Mr. Vines and to Dr. White in their entirety. Ironically, when I began listening to your podcast I said, “Wait a minute Dr. White, there is a huge disconnect between what you’re saying and what Mr. Flowers is actually saying. You may disagree, but why can’t you apply the same standards to yourself that you demanded of Mr. Vines?” This is coming from someone who has great respect for James White.
Dr. White has recently spent a number of his programs criticizing other Christians for inaccurately representing the views of Muslims. I am in 100% agreement with him that failure to do so will only alienate Muslims from us and prevent them from hearing the gospel message. After seeing all this work on his part to defend Muslims, I am deeply saddened to see that he is unable to accurately represent the views of fellow believers who do not share his views on Calvinism.
I pray that one day he will recognize his double standards and apologize to you and the many other non-Calvinists that he has been so disrespectful to over the years.
Once again thank you so much for your work and being a voice for those of us non-Calvinists.
Well all I can say is we all have double standards in our systems of beliefs and philosophies. Not just James White but Leighton Flowers also and including me, I have discovered my own doubled standards and others have shown them to me. I have also seen those of Leighton Flowers. Especially his belief in the “Messianic Secret Motif Theory of 1901 by a man made doctrine. I am trying to get an article posted about it on here that covers the historical background and the fact of its origin only began in 1901, There is also an article at the Reformed Daily Post that refutes soundly Professor Flowers Theory of the “Messianic Secret Motif of 1901.The link to that article is with the article I am trying to get posted. Not sure why it is not being posted.I will believe the best about Flowers not posting it until I know differently. What the reason is. It really exposes the truth about this false man made doctrine, So yes, Well said,, Blessings
Well that reply went through, just don’t understand why the article on the “Messianic Secret Motif Theory of 1901 will not be posted. Hmmmmmm Just thinking and wondering out loud. Not understanding and waiting for clarification.
Brian I will respond to you when the “Messianic Secret Motif Theory of 1901 is posted and you have had time to interact and respond THOROUGHLY AND ALSO READ THE ARTICLE BY THE REFORMED DAILY POST THAT SOUNDLY REFUTES THE “MESSIANIC SECRET MOTIF THEORY OF 1901. I think it is time for the other side to got on the defensive concerning Flowers article and not just a paragraph or two. It is going to take some in depth interaction with the historical background and serious reading of the article from the Reformed Daily Post that refutes this man made centered doctrine. Not sure why it is not being posted. Makes me think I might have hit on something sensitive or maybe not. Please no quick responses Thanks Blessings.
I have now posted the refutation of Leighton Flowers article of the “Messianic Secret Motif Theory of 1901 on my own blog website at ReformedSoteriology101 for all who would like to to read the historical background of this man-centered doctrine and the article by the Reformed Daily Post (the link to the article is given within) I believe with the historical background of this fallacious article by Flowers and the scriptural refutation by the Reformed Daily Post their should be some serious response and interaction. Not just a pararagh or two or a suggestion to read another article. The reformed side has taken the time to interact and respond. Now it is up to the traditional baptist to not be superficial and take for granted they are right by not reading these two (really three articles, (I wrote a shorter one on point number 2 that led Professor Flowers out of Calvinism. Blessings.
The link to reformedsoteriology101
Tomorrow if God is willing, Benjamin Keach verses Professor Flowers on the true meaning of the Prodigal Son. Blessings
Podcasts are fine, but they tend to be too “reactionary” to James White. He’s not the end-all bogeyman for Calvinism and both men seem a bit obsessed with the other.
You may have a point. But in my defense, I do cover many Calvinistic authors/pastors. White just happens to be one I’ve engaged personally. If he brings a charge I’m typically going to answer it.
Dr. White rarely mentions Professor Flowers,, but Professor Flowers does not wait for Dr. White to make a charge against him and that is a fact he knows to be true. There is to personal and reactionary attitude toward James White and he does consider Dr. white the end-all bogeyman for Calvinism. Since the Romans 9 Debate where Professor Flowers Preached instead debated, the two have have not really had good mutual feeling for each other I think. Professor Flowers is correc though. when Dr. white bring a different perspective (instead of the word charge proving the relationship is not to strong) Professor Flowers does has the right to respond and has. I predicted in writing he would here on Soteriiology101 only I thought it would be the next day. I am interested to listen to it so here I go.
Dear Mr. Flowers,
After listening to Mr. Pierce’s most recent criticisms of your debate with Dr. James White and your most recent response, I must say that I am quite irritated at how Mr. Pierce repeatedly accuses you of being unwilling to listen while all the while ignoring your detailed responses to him and invitations to actually discuss the issues together. That being said, I feel compelled to share some email correspondence that I had with Mr. Pierce this past January when he first began critiquing the debate.
Let me say up front that when I emailed aomin.org, they explicitly stated that any email correspondence with them was not private and that they reserved the right to post it in its entirety in public forums. Given this warning, I see no reason why I cannot share it with you and your listeners.
My email was as follows:
“Dear Alpha and Omega Ministries,
My name is Spencer and I am a long time listener of the Dividing Line. I greatly appreciate how much your ministry has helped me over the years especially in teaching apologetics at my local church. I have the utmost respect for you and hope you continue in your work.
That being said, I would like to ask an honest question. First, I am not a Calvinist. I have, however, listened to a great many Radio Free Genevas over the years and read the works of many notable Calvinists (to include Dr. White) in their entirety. While I have not been convinced to become a Calvinist myself, I believe there is a strong case to be made for Calvinism and believe that many Calvinists, including yourselves, are trying their best to be faithful to God’s word and believe what it says, even if that may be difficult sometimes.
However, after listening to Mr. Pierce’s most recent criticisms of Leighton Flowers on the Dividing Line I have finally become compelled to ask this question. Do you honestly think there are no weaknesses with the Calvinist position, and is the only reason anyone rejects Calvinism because they are either ignorant or dishonest?
Let me assure you that I am not attempting to disrespect or insult you in asking this question. However, after listening to quite a few programs on the Dividing Line, I find it difficult to draw any other conclusion about what you believe. Although I know Dr. White has stated that he does not believe rejecting Calvinism is equivalent to one being unsaved, I have listened to many a program where it seems to me that any passing by listener would conclude just that based on the level of nastiness and condescension directed at non-Calvinists.
In Mr. Pierce’s recent review of Mr. Flowers, it seemed very clear to me that Mr. Pierce believes that Mr. Flowers is a deceiver. He knows that Calvinism is true in his heart of hearts and thus deliberately twists the scriptures to make them support his own selfish understanding of God’s word. I have taken the time to listen to Mr. Flowers’ podcasts in their entirety as well and although I do not agree with everything he says either, I have no reason to believe that he is not another true believer who disagrees with you, but is honestly trying to follow the Scriptures where they lead.
I will gladly be the first to admit that I know there must be some aspects of Christian doctrine that I believe, about which I am wrong. I couldn’t possibly be the only Christian who has it all right and know there must be errors in my thinking somewhere. I just feel like anyone who disagrees with your ministry’s views on Calvinism (which would include myself) is immediately written off as a dishonest fool, twisting the scriptures to support their own man-centered views with the attempt to detract from the glory of God.
Do you think anyone might reasonably conclude this based on what is said on your program or are my conclusions completely without merit?
Thank you again and I still have great respect for your ministry,
I received this incredibly short response:
If you think that my presentation was about Calvinism then you completely missed my point. Had I been focusing on that issue my presentation would have been much more detailed and I would have chased down and debunked much more of Prof. Flowers points. My presentation was about his method which was a blatant attempt to undermine the plain teaching of Romans 9.
Upon receipt, my initial thought was, Seriously? I just reached out as a Christian brother honestly wanting to learn something about where Mr. Pierce is coming from and why he thinks his criticisms of Mr. Flowers are justified and this is the response I get?
Quite frankly it merely confirmed my suspicions. Mr. Pierce thinks that you are a DECEIVER. This is a very serious charge against a fellow Christian brother and I believe it would be only fair that he actually respond to your invitations to speak more about the issue given the seriousness of such a charge.
I can only hope that eventually Mr. Pierce and Dr. White will at some point apologize for their disrespectful treatment of your ministry and then maybe agree to have a reasonable discussion about your points of contention. I know that we the listeners believe there could be much benefit to it.
Keep holding their feet to the fire.
This has helped me so much. my boss brought up calvinism which i had never heard of before as a new believer and this opened my eyes. i’m going to share this with him.
Love ya brother. Thanks for doing what God has called you to do. I appreciate you.
Dear Doctor Flowers,
I listened to your debate with Dr. White this morning. I found you by happenstance on a website that loaded an interview I came into the understanding of Calvinism at a non-denominational church I attended for 7 years, 2 years before I left.
I was raised by my parents, who lived the Christian life. I mostly attended a Pentecostal church with my grandparents.
When I started attending a church as an adult, I purposely picked a non-denominational church as I felt stigmatized by my years in a Pentecostal one. I was very disturbed when I realized that most of the leadership at the non-denominational church I attended were of the Reformed Calvanist belief. After I looked into it, I was dismayed by its doctrine.
Five or 6 years later, with more determined study and prayer, I continue to not be Calvanistic. Although my eldest married a Calvanist from said church, I am sure she has enough truth in order to stay grounded in faith. She does not profess Calvinism but is swayed by some of its points.
I write to to mention that I entirely agree with your evaluation of Romans 9 and your method for drawing your conclusions. For me, I was raised with much truth and exposed to much error. Calvanistic teachings made me personally face those erred beliefs. Yet, the Lord in His mercy, still heard my humble cry in 1992. He lifted me out of the bottomless pit of the life of sin I was walking in and there was no turning back.
You see, I may have had wrong, and in some ways no doctrine, but the Lord is faithful to His Word. I always needed Him but I came to realize it. He waited. He is truly a good good Father.
You are a breadth of fresh air and I look forward to listening to more of you. I am often privy to Calvanistic conversation. Unless it’s my daughter, I stay silent much of the time as I am not able to cut to the chase with people who are, much of the time, so determined to make these topics/doctrines detrimental to
truth and salvation. Your dedicated study and ability to articulate in a simplistic style are most helpful and apprectiated.
Thank you so much.
As a young person growing up in a Pentecostal church in Canada, I heard about ‘Eternal Security’ and ‘Once saved always saved’ (Christian Reformed Church mostly). I thought that those people were crazy. Now I am 60 and have heard just about everything. I have been listening a lot to Mohler, Sproul, MacArthur et al. I extremely dislike the label ‘Calvinism’ as we should not follow a person. In any event the message is compelling for a number of reasons. The ‘messengers’ of the movement have a high moral standard, outside of the ‘Calvinistic’ message they are very well versed on scripture and knowledgeable. They not ashamed to call ‘a sin’ a sin or speak against the moral decay of society etc. I think a better balance of New Testament teaching than others in respect to love, judgement etc. I am not yet convinced however but when I search for opposing views online i mostly hear yelling and bad mouthing these guys but not coming up with concrete answers (this does not mean there are not answers. I just have not found them). Leighton – you have the best answers (right or wrong) so far and I am still searching. I was disappointed in the Trump (bashing) analogy. He may not be a Christian but if you bring up his sins then you must tell Hillary’s as well (far worse). I think as Christians we have to vote for the person who more closely will defend our freedoms. He is pro-life. Need we say more? of course we should be under no illusion that he will do everything we want. Cyrus was a pagan but God used him to save the Jews. I think your criticism of Trump diminishes your message. Now… Mohler and MacArthur don’t like Trump either but Sproul says that the person who is against abortion will get his vote. (I’m with Sproul on that issue and a few more).
Leighton – I appreciate your time on this issue. We need to discuss this openly as many of us would like to see everything on the table. Mohler has said many times that these things should be discussed. The only caution I have is that we need to be careful that we spend so energy fighting each other that people like Osteen et al lead people astray. In other words I hope you are going after those ’emergent’ church ‘anything goes’ theology with more fervor.
Leighton…..in trying to explain away Acts 13:48…you jumped back to Cornelius and suggest he was saved before the Holy Spirit was there??? You still have not understood the noetic effects of the fall on all men.
What is next for You? In Ezekiel 37….can these bones live? Will you now suggest they resurrect themselves,and regenerate themselves as well???
Proper hermeneutics teaches us to allow for scripture to interpret scripture. Looking at the story of Cornelius is perfectly acceptable to understand the historical context.
I did not only appeal to Acts 10, but in my commentary I actually walked through the entire chapter.
We disagree with regard to the effects of the fall on men, and that is ok. We are free to believe differently. I understand what you believe but I simply disagree.
Plus, no one is arguing that we resurrect ourselves or that we regenerate ourselves. That is a gross overstatement and a strawman fallacy.
We believe mankind is responsible to admit their need for new life so as to receive it by grace. Scripture continually teaches that we are to repent so as to live. Those who confess that they have a bad heart are given a new heart. (Ezk 18:29-31)
Those who confess they are unclean in faith are washed by regeneration according to Titus.
Just heard a sermon on “God Saves – The Order of Salvation” based on Romans 8:28 – 30. The church doesn’t openly admit to being reformed, but referenced the “doctrines of grace”. What are the traditionalist’ positions on this reformed proof text?
I’m on a search committee and we have two candidates at the top of our list. One is Calvinist, one is not. We are in the SBC. One teaches calvins institutes to his church. He promotes monergism .com etc. etc. but sounds like a rock solid brother. I really like this candidate, but despise what certain systematics do to Gods holy name. The other candidate is great but not as good of a preacher and less liked by our committee. Many in our church don’t like Calvinism. I don’t like it either. Any advice? How should a search committee proceed?
And be very clear with the church as to where the candidate stands before voting.
I would not advise getting a Calvinistic pastor in a non-Calvinistic church. Receipt for split.
I have grown up in the Free Will Baptist Church but spent at least one year in college at a Nazarene, a Southern Baptist, and a FWB university. Much of my understanding of Scriptures such as Romans 9-11 and others seem to fall in line with yours. I’m curious, if you do know much about the FWB doctrine, what are some areas of weakness or areas that you would disagree with their doctrine based on your understanding of Scripture?
Thank you in advance.
I am not sure why this post came to me. I can try to answer it, but I am not well informed about the FWB churches.
On Tue, Nov 14, 2017 at 6:01 PM, SOTERIOLOGY 101 wrote:
> James Wagner commented: “Hi Leighton, I have grown up in the Free Will > Baptist Church but spent at least one year in college at a Nazarene, a > Southern Baptist, and a FWB university. Much of my understanding of > Scriptures such as Romans 9-11 and others seem to fall in line with” >
I’m not sure why it did either. This is my first time posting here, so maybe I posted in the wrong place.
I’m very glad to have found this website and Leighton Flowers podcasts. My question is regarding a Flowers podcast discussing Megan Phelps. The video is titled Romans 9 leads Megan Phelps to leave Christianity. I would like to suggest that a better title would be Romans 9 leads Megan Phelps to leave Westboro Baptist. From what I have learned about Westboro Baptist it doesn’t seem that they teach Scripture accurately. After watching some online interviews with Megan I wondered what evidence there was that she was ever a Christian? I didn’t hear her speak of knowing Christ as her savior or learning of God’s love and grace. Westboro Baptist seemed to have a very strong emphasis on exhibiting judgement, hate, and anger. I think it may be confusing, especially to non-Christians, to say that she left Christianity.
Hey Josie, I think the title is based on her own claim to have left Christianity. Of course, it can be up for debate whether her claim is true. We’ll probably never know.
Dr. Flowers, in a discussion with a Calvinist recently, he casually dropped Proverbs 21:1 as proof text for God meticulously controlling everyone’s desires and actions. I haven’t seen anything on your site or heard in your podcast where you address this verse and others that say there is nothing that God did not create (Col. 1:16, john 1:3). I’d like to hear a podcast where you cover this.
I just listened to the podcast on special vs general revelation. Much was made about Flowers’ apparent in orthodox view of the gospel message but this Calvinist gospel message is this: You will be saved if God chooses you. Full stop. There is no “good news” to the people whom God ordained to be unregenerate.
As for claims that Flowers is not a particularist, and that he thinks that salvation can come apart from Christ, even the Westminster Confession (Chapter X; on the call of God) avers that a child (who is born with original sin, mind you) will go to heaven without belief in Christ if they are Elect. This flies in the face of the Apostle Paul who tells the Calvinist that before belief the Elect are by nature children of wrath like the unbeliever. There are gray areas, or nuances, to soteriology that are not explicit in scripture, and we can only make our best guesses about these based on what we know about God’s nature from scripture.
I appreciate your desire to uphold the Word and diligently seek out the Truth and guard the truth from apparent error, which from what I have watched and read by you, seems to be the main thrust of your ministry. To call out error where you see it, especially as it relates to soteriology. I respect that and am thankful for your love for Scripture. I am a calvinist sort of by accident. I wasn’t looking for it, I couldn’t even have told you what it was, but it happened over many years of sitting under solid biblical preaching. One day I read a book on reformed theology and realized, “Oh, wow that is where I fit”. It was never a struggle for me to adhere to this view on soteriology because I saw it in the Scripture and it elevated my love for God, revealed my need more acutely, magnified the glory of his grace more greatly, propelled me to love holiness, helped kill my “pet” sins, increased my appetite for the things of God, and opened my eyes to how much more beautiful the Gospel is from beginning to end. Grace had never been so sweet to me until I saw just how corrupt I was and how great our God is through his awesome power to save. His sovereignty in salvation and over all things and his pursuit of his own glory in ALL things made me desire to worship him more, stand in awe of him more, and be less inclined to glory in anything within myself.
Now after everything I just said, I have no doubt you could speak the same words and you have tasted of the same things. We are both Christians of course and God is God no matter which side of the soteriological fence we stand on. He is AWESOME and glorious and no Arminian or Calvinist would disagree with that. But depending on how pure the Truth is we swim in each day it has got to have some kind of effect on us for good or ill. However, I have one thing that I probably can’t express well
in words exactly, but I’ll give it a try. When I look at the differences between what you teach and what Calvinists espouse and proclaim I can’t help but feel my heart affected in differing ways. I say this with all humility and respect for you. I am speaking merely on an experiential level now. This whole website is dedicated to the authority of the Word and that is what I base all my life on, but since great length has been spent on that in your countless writings, etc. I don’t surmise I am going to tell you anything new. So, take this with a grain of salt as my own personal feelings and experience. It is worth one cent, but nonetheless…… simply it is this….
……..when I hear the Word of God proclaimed, heralded, exegeted, declared and preached from a calvinist perspective regarding God’s power, glory and sovereignty through salvation, it creates within me such wonder, awe, longing and desire for God and his Word. Even in the face of mystery I am undone while considering the strength of God, the purity of God and yet his great love for his people, a people like me who are unworthy, unholy, unrighteous and undeserving of such loving kindness. It is overwhelming. It causes me to consider my insignificance and yet astonishingly my significance in relation to my Father. On the flip side, when I hear the Arminian defense against the Calvinist perspective I can’t help but come away feeling let down “God is not as sovereign as I thought he was, man is not quite in as desperate of a condition as I thought, grace doesn’t seem as sweet, more like something I need to chase after rather than the power to raise me from the dead”. Of course I am biased, but I am just being honest, the traditionalist view on Scripture just leaves me hanging. From my perspecitve it doesn’t grab my affections and increase their capacity, it doesn’t drive me to worship like it is life itself, it doesn’t insult my pride, it doesn’t leave me with nothing to boast in, however so slight it makes me regard man as worthy a little bit more than I did before.
Another argument based on experience (nothing more than that so another grain of salt). I know there are a lot of really stupid calvinist running around out there. You I am sure know all too well how passionate and crazy young calvinists get about the doctrines of grace. Cage stage diagnosis. I was there once before. I don’t excuse it, it is sin, it is immaturity and it is silly at times. However, given what I know about myself and what I know about human nature it is this. Even when we as Christians sink our teeth into pure truth we can sure muddy the waters really fast regardless of how pure the truth is we are chewing on. I think this is due to the lack of men and women who are intentionally discipled (across the evangelical world, calvinist included). Therefore, when a man grabs onto something so amazing as the doctrines of grace, he can’t help but get really excited about them because he has seen a part of God that has failed to be preached and enjoyed. He becomes so zealous that without the confines of a solid church to disciple him and hold in the reigns he can end up saying true things in all kinds of wrong ways, or wrong things in wrong ways. Double whammy. So, again, lots of zealous calvinists without the proper family structure to equip him well. At least I think that is part of the reason. Anyways, putting all that aside, there is still the fact that men and women who are becoming calvinists are growing to love the Word more, to love preaching, to love God, to love holiness, to be amazed by Him. Of course, mass insanity could be the cause too, but I have my doubts. I do not worship at a reformed church currently and there are a few people who are calvinists in our church, a couple of them new calvinists in the last year. These are not the kinds of guys I ever expected to gain such a passion for the Word, but I have been amazed. Since becoming calvinists they read their Bibles, they read other books (a wonder in itself), they are hungry to be fed, they pray more, they are becoming better fathers, etc etc. Of course this is all the work of the same Spirit we all have, but I just can’t help see a correlation between what God is doing within the “reformed” circles, which I honestly do not see withing Arminian circles.
Could it all just be what we ate for dinner? Sure, but I don’t think so based upon how I see it in the Word and based on my experience (which again is worth a grain of salt).
Anyways, I am sure you get long letters all the time. Sorry if it took too much of your time. I am sure you can’t read all these anyways, but there ya go. I love you as a brother, but for me to see salvation from your perspective just dampens my zeal and deflates my awe of the God I have come to see and believe through the Scriptures and in his stirring of my affections.
The contribution you are making to doteriology is very important. In the spanish-speaking we do not have this type of material to defend ourselves from the “calvinism invasion” . Do you have this material in spanish ?. We really need it and if you do not have it , humbly I recommend you please do it. Thank you very much and blessings.
I’ll let Leighton know of your interest. Thanks.
I correct “soteriology”
In his response to Bruce Ware in “Perspectives on Election: Five Views” Thomas Talbot points out an inconsistency in the Calvinistic view of moral responsibility. As compatibilists, Calvinists claim that acting according one’s nature (doing what one wants) is a sufficient condition for moral responsibility. The reprobate are morally responsible for their sinful actions because they are acting according to their (sinful) nature, even though their action are causally determined and their nature is the result of the fall which was ultimately decreed by God. In this case, 100% of the moral responsibility (guilt) goes to the individual, 0% to God. But when a born-again Christian does something good he is acting according to his (new) nature and doing what he (in his new transformed mind) wants. Yet in this case the Calvinist will assign 100% of the moral responsibility (merit) to God and 0% to the individual (sola gloria Deo). A compatibilist understanding of moral responsibility would assign 100% of the merit to the individual and 0% to God. Calvinists cannot have it both ways. On a compatibilist understanding of moral responsibility, either God bears some moral responsibility (guilt) for evil, or the believer bears some responsibility (merit) for good.
This strikes me as an excellent point, yet I have never it heard it from any Arminian theologian (Talbot himself is a universalist). I wonder what you think of it.
I discovered your podcasts (They’re great!!) about a month ago and have been going through them. In one, you were interviewed on the “Young Minds, Big Questions” podcast (“Is Open Theism a Heresy?” — May 8, 2017). I appreciate the fact that you really try to represent positions other than your own as fairly as you can. However, I believe the case for Open Theism is stronger than you seemed to indicate. And it should be emphasized that the dispute is not about God’s omniscience, but rather about the nature, the content, of the reality (in particular, the FUTURE) that God perfectly knows.
God sees things as they really are (Premise 1). God desires that all people be saved — Jn 3:16, 1Ti 2:4, and 2Pe 3:9 (Premise 2). If God really desires that all people be saved, then it seems, at the very least, He’d have made salvation a real possibility for each and every person (Conclusion). But a possibility isn’t a real possibility unless God sees it as a possibility. If God sees no possibility, no hope, for a particular individual’s salvation — because He has always known and never not known that the individual in question would be lost (as I understand the various closed views of the future to affirm) — then no such REAL possibility for salvation has ever existed.
The Open Theism position, of course, is that God sees not only eventualities, but REAL possiblities. Open Theists believe God knows everything there is to know about reality, and that the part of reality we call “the future” actully contains such REAL possiblities. Some Open Theists have even argued that it is the closed views of the future that impugn God’s omniscience (not to mention His character) by denying that He sees such REAL possiblities (particularly concerning salvation). I should add, Dr. Flowers, that you’ve employed the chess analogy, asking which is harder — winning by controlling both sides of the game, or playing real opponents? Greg Boyd takes the chess analogy to the next level*, asking which is harder — playing opponents, knowing what their every move will be before the game even begins, or playing opponents, not knowing what all their moves will be — opponents who, at each move, have, in many cases, a multitude of options to choose from.
No Christian should have a problem with Premise 1; to deny it would be to impugn God’s ability to see reality. Premise 2, of course, would be rejected outright by those with a Calvinistic bent; but such a rejection, of course, would impugn God’s character. The Conclusion, though, might be challenged in other ways. One might argue that God was UNABLE to arrange things so that salvation would be a real possibility for each and every person (and God seeing it thus); but this, of course, would impugn God’s ability. Again, those of Calvinistic bent would surely see God as being UNWILLING to so arrange things; but, again, this would impugn God’s character. The deterministic Universalist would simply argue that God determined that all people be saved — problem solved! The non-deterministic Universalist would argue that God non-deterministicly foreknows that all people will be saved — no possibilities needed in God’s knowledge! Unfortunately, both flavors of Universalism seem to have problems with Scripture.
The fact that God sees things as they really are is also the basis for another argument against the Untensed-Atemporal view**: If God stands outside of time and sees all of time in His eternal “now”/”present” seeing everything as “now” and nothing as “past” or “future” (untensed view), then (because God sees things as they really are) nothing IS “past” or “future”. If so, even our very existence is uncertain, since God would not see our nonexistence as “past” and our existence as “present”; rather, He would see both our existence and our nonexistence as “now.” Does God really see our former unregenerate state and our current regenerate state as equally real, equally “now”? Does He eternally see our sins in existence (as “now”)? When one’s view implies that God can’t tell whether we exist or not, then I think it is fair to say that such a view seriously impugns God’s omniscience.
* See pp127-128 of Greg Boyd’s “God of the Possible” (2000; Baker Books).
** Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli advocate for this view in their “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” (1994; IVP). In his book “God,Time, and the Incarnation” (2012; WIPF & STOCK Publishers), Chapter 1, “The Nature of Time and the History of the Debate,” Richard A. Holland Jr., who opposes this view (and Open Theism as well), indicates that the Atemporal view was nacent in Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus and was then picked up by theologians such as Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, and Aquinas. His bio reads “Richard A. Holland Jr. is Assistant Professor of Apologetics and Theology at Liberty University Baptist Theological Seminary and is Visiting Instructor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.”
Welcome Nathanel… I don’t feel so alone anymore, now that you’re here. lol 😉 Here is my quick argument for Dynamic Omniscience (better term in my view than Open Theism)
Set foreknowledge in Calvinism, Arminianism, and Molinism.
The future has to be set before creation to work out only one way for it to be known with certainty before creation that it will work out only one way. The certainty of knowledge is not the cause of it being set to work out only one way… but there is no other cause before creation than God to make that certainty or to create the necessity of a future working out only one way.
But the future is not set to work out only one way… therefore it is impossible for God to know it as set to work out only one way for God does not know lies about the future. And that it is set to work out only one way is a lie according to Scripture.
God knows the future as He has revealed it to be in His Word… with some will bes and some might bes. That is the truth about the future, and God only knows the truth about the future.
That truth changes, but stays truth, as God’s knowledge of what will be turns to knowing it as what was, and His knowledge of what might be turns to will be if He wants it to or to what would have been if He wants it to. That is dynamic omniscience. Pretty simple really! 😉
Knowledge isn’t causitive, but immutably set divine foreknowledge is confirming of a set future working out only one way. I reject that Scripture and logic teach this as it relates to Libertarian Free Will (LFW) and decisions made by it.
If a LFW decision requires a LFW to exist to make that decision,
Then the LFW decision does not exist before the bringing into existence of that LFW.
The LFW of man does not exist before creation, therefore the LFW decision of man does not exist before creation.
If a LFW decision requires at least two options to freely decide between in any given circumstance
Then there does not exist a LFW decision with only one option.
If God knew before creation that the future was set to work out only one way,
And if God’s knowledge is never wrong or able to be altered,
Then something had to set that future to work out only that one way before creation for God to come to know that one completed future to work out only one way before creation.
God was the only “something” that before creation could “set” the future to only work out one way and for Him then to be able to logically come to know it as set for certain.
Therefore the future working out only one way not only makes the existence of a LFW decision impossible, since the LFW requires more than one option to freely decide between once the LFW comes into existence, it also makes the certainty of a LFW decision to be known before the creation of that LFW impossible, since the LFW and its choice didn’t exist before creation to be known.
Thanks for the welcome! Your argumentation for “Dynamic Omniscience” (aka Open Theism) seems sound to me, but I suspect that those who hold to a Timeless View of God would disagree (which is why I address the Timeless view when I argue for Open Theism).
Exactly, Nathanel! Here are some more of my thoughts on –
Ps 90, 2 Sequential Reality
There are two definitions for “time”. One is connected only to creation… it is the measurement of matter in motion. The other is connected to reality which is from God’s nature.
Reality is sequential events… befores and afters going backwards infinitely and forwards infinitely. “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2)… “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). There were events of communication, relationship, and decision making in the Godhead before creation of space and matter… right?
A reality that is sequential and non-sequential for God at the same “time” is a logical contradiction borrowed into Christianity from neo-platonism. The Scripture gives no other “competing” reality for God’s presence, which is contradictory to the word “reality” anyway.
His foreknowledge is dynamic therefore and not static. His understanding is infinite (Ps 147:5). He knows all the possibilities that still exist and all things that are already determined that limit those possibilities.
Some like the illustration of God as a blimp watching the full parade below. But for a blimp to watch a parade, the full parade has to exist. The future does not exist as a completed entity to watch either as a place or in God’s mind.
Reality is only sequential, and comes from God’s eternal nature – “from everlasting to everlasting” (Ps 90:2), “who was and is and is to come” (Rev 4:8). Relationship and communication in the Godhead before creation was sequential (befores and afters).
The underlying important issue is – does God’s mind reflect univocally the sequential reality of His Word, or have scholars discovered in their philosophical reasoning that God hid from Scripture His perspective of reality? It would be a perspective that also makes man’s perspective in Scripture actually faulty, for Scripture makes the future as not yet existing, but in reality it is already existing as completed (forever), for God’s reality is the only true one.
In a previous post I addressed your May 8, 2017 podcast (you were interviewed on the “Young Minds, Big Questions” podcast “Is Open Theism a Heresy?”). In it and other podcasts, you claim that both Calvinists and Open Theists commit the “modal fallacy.” Could you explain? I assume you are claiming that Calvinists and Open Theists are making some sort of fallacious Modal Logic argument. I am not aware of such an argument from either group. Neither group argues that what God foreknows (in the Arminian/Provisionalist sense) is logically NECESSARY (i.e. in the Modal Logician’s sense of “true in all possible worlds”). What Calvinists and Open Theists do generally claim (or at least imply) is that what God foreknows is (or at least is tantamount to) CAUSAL DETERMINISM*. Such a claim, as far as I know, has nothing to do with Modal Logic because no claim is made concerning all “possible worlds” but only concerning the REAL WORLD that God foreknows. I should also add that most people use the words “necessary,” “possible” and “impossible” very differently than the very technical sense in which these words are used by Modal Logicians, where “necessary” means “true in all possible worlds” (e.g. “2 + 2 = 4”), “possible” means “true in at least one possible world” and “impossible” means “false in all possible worlds” (e.g. “2 + 2 = 5”).
Your claim that both Calvinists and Open Theists commit the “modal fallacy” sounds to me like a misrepresentation (albeit unintentional) of what these groups actually claim. At least with the Calvinists, you generally let them state their views in their own words before critiquing those views. You don’t seem to afford Open Theists the same courtesy before criticizing their views (at least, not on the podcasts I’ve heard). By the way, I do appreciate that fact that you haven’t dropped the “H-bomb” on us. (I should also add that I don’t know of anyone who has done a better job than you of answering Calvinist arguments/proof-texts.)
* Here is an argument for Open Theism that does not employ such a claim as a premise:
Premise 1: God sees things as they really are.
Premise 2: God desires that all people be saved — Jn 3:16, 1Ti 2:4, and 2Pe 3:9.
If God really desires that all people be saved, then it seems, at the very least, He’d have created a world such that a real hope for salvation would exist for each and every person. But if God has always known and never not known that a particular individual would be lost — as I understand the various closed views of the future to affirm concerning the lost -— then how could God be said to have ever seen any real hope for that individual’s salvation? And if God has never seen such a hope, then, per Premise 1, no such hope has ever existed. If one claims God was unable to create a world where each person has such a real hope of salvation, then God’s ability is impugned; if God was unwilling to do so, then His character is impugned.
Can anyone show me how this argument commits a “modal fallacy” of any sort? If so, HOW?
Unfortunately Nathanel you’ll have better success interacting with Leighton in the comments of his FB Soteriology101 when he posts and comments there.
Thanks for sharing your well thought out explanation.
If I’m understanding them properly, I basically agree with your views on God and Time. You referred to “two definitions for ‘time'” The first one — “connected only to creation” — I would call clocks. For example, the “lights … serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years” (Ge 1:14) and thus, in my opinion, merely MEASURE time. Your second definition, grounded in God, I would consider actual “time.” It is my personal belief that time was never created (any more than were the moral law and the laws of logic) but has always been part of God’s orderly nature. Time is what gives events their sequence, their order.