A Comment and a Question for Calvinists

First of all the comment:

I believe God gave us the choice to choose. We had no choice in the matter. Additionally, While God gave us the choice to choose, He did not give us the choice to choose the consequences of our choices. He reserved that for Himself.

God in His sovereignty chose to make us sovereign over our own choices so that He could make provisions for those who made the chose to choose Him!

Just had glory bumps come over me! Happy Easter to all! (Here I do mean ALL… not just the elect.)

Here is my question:

Every Calvinist I know considers themselves among the “elect.” I do not think I have ever heard from a lost person who was a calvinist. I know a LOT of folks who claim to be Christians that might well be lost but no calvinists. While that is an interesting observation, my question has to do with the children of calvinists and effectual calling and irrestible grace and limited atonement. I think it is fair to say that the majority of people in the world are lost and not saved. I would say most Christians, calvinist and non-calvinist a like would agree with that statement. So, for the calvinist, this is simply the result of God’s eternal decrees.

Here is my question. Let’s say as a Calvinist you have 4 children. God is completely just in giving His grace to whom He wills. Let’s say one of your four children is predestined for glory. There is NO HOPE for the other three. Would that cause you to see Calvinism in a different light?

Here is the reason I ask this question. When I see discussions about God being just in the damnation of the non-elect, “they” get what “they” deserve I realized something; I have never read a calvinist saying, “I will get what I deserve.” It is as if God’s grace is theirs and their family and the “they” that get what “they” deserve always refers to someone one else. I thought that was an interesting observation.

Any feed back there?

><>”

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154 responses to this post.

  1. …or maybe the “elect” are somewhere hidden in the beatitudes…
    Keep posting!
    His Peace,
    Chris

    Reply

  2. Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 7, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    If you will forgive the “Devil’s Advocate” position I am taking here, God in his glory and wisdom chose to take the elect that he chose from before the beginning of the world and make them be born to Calvinists (I mean, other members of the elect that he also chose from before the beginning of the world.)

    This reasoning also explains how come Christians only show up in countries where the gospel is preached. God chose only to have the elect born into countries where the gospel would be preached.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Les on April 8, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Bob,

    You: “Every Calvinist I know considers themselves among the “elect.”” But of course. Doesn’t everyone professing to know Christ consider themselves among the elect? Whether a Calvinist or not? of course. Don’t you consider yourself among the elect?

    It would be absurd for a professing Christian to say that they consider themselves among the non-elect.

    You: “Let’s say as a Calvinist you have 4 children. God is completely just in giving His grace to whom He wills.”

    Agree.

    You: “Let’s say one of your four children is predestined for glory. There is NO HOPE for the other three. Would that cause you to see Calvinism in a different light?”

    First, how would I know with certainty if any are all are “predestined for glory?” This is really a non-sensical hypothetical. But in your hypothetical, with personal sadness (just as Jesus was sad at Lazarus’ death) I would hope I could hold fast to my trust in God’s sovereign prerogative, since no one deserves anything from Him.

    You: “I have never read a calvinist saying, “I will get what I deserve.””

    Of course you haven’t. Calvinists say that we are NOT getting what we all deserve…hell. That is mercy my friend.

    Reply

  4. Les,

    I am sorry brother, and I do mean that with ALL my heart. I KNOW that you and I are brothers in the Lord. I simply do not believe in my heart of hearts that I can look at ANYONE and say, “They have No hope… in Jesus” I simply cannot do it.

    I know you are going to say the same thing and use as a qualifier, Only God knows who is and is not the elect. I understand the stark reality of it all that either way, as many as 9 out of 10 people who will wake up all around the world THIS EASTER morning will close their eyes in this life without Christ and wake up in eternity in hell.

    The fundamental difference in my view and your view of this tragedy as i see it is, that tragedy is largely MY FAULT while the calvinist HAS TO SEE it as God’s fault. I am sorry but there is no way under the SON I can accept that; none. If it is true that Jesus only died on the cross for the elect, then that is it; no questions asked… those are the only ones going to heaven…

    In your response You: “I have never read a calvinist saying, “I will get what I deserve.”” you missed the real point I was trying to make… in that the “non-elect” are always refered to by calvinists as “they” and most of the time it is almost always someone else’s children. ( In all the reading I have done about calvinism I cannot recall one single statement regarding ANYONE commenting on the slightest possibility HIS or HER children might not be among the “elect”… not ONCE.

    And for the record, no I do not consider myself among “the elect” in the sense that Jesus died for MY sin and not someone elses. When He was on the cross and cried “It is finished” payment for my sins, your sins, and the sins of EVERY PERSON was paid for, IN FULL and ANYONE who would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life. God made His choice at Calvary known… This is My beloved Son that I gave so that you might have life…

    He chose you and died so that you could choose Him and live. That is THE GOSPEL MESSAGE I will believe with all my heart and preach until Jesus takes me home. I have complete confidence that Jesus can and will save to the uttermost ANYONE who will hear the Easter message and repent and come to Him… and it will not be because God effectually called them to do so; there was no decretive will on God’s part that made me a child of His… the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin and my lostness and I understood that Jesus died for me and I repented of my sin and God forgave me and made me part of His forever family and He will do the same for ANYONE that calls on His name to be saved.

    ANYONE….

    I am so thankful for the message of Easter becasue I know it is hope for EVERYONE and ANYONE who will believe.

    ><>”

    Reply

    • Posted by Les on April 8, 2012 at 8:22 am

      Bob,

      Happy resurrection day!!

      You wrote, “I simply do not believe in my heart of hearts that I can look at ANYONE and say, “They have No hope… in Jesus” I simply cannot do it.”

      Neither can I. I didn’t say that. As long as someone is breathing there is hope. As a pastor, I was asked by folks, “what about my lost relative? He/she is old and dying and doesn’t know Christ.”

      I would always tell them that as long as they are breathing there is hope they will trust in Jesus. I would tell them to continually pray and plead that God would save them. I would remind them that God saves!

      Brother, there is always hope. Have a blessed day with your church family and family.

      Reply

      • As long as someone is breathing there is hope that they will trust in Jesus… not if they are not the elect… not if Jesus did not die on the cross to pay the penalty for their sins.

        I realize we can spin things a number of ways and in some respect, we can both say the same thing but a consistent calvinist cannot say… what you have said because it simply is not true. That is my point.

        ><>”

      • Posted by Les on April 8, 2012 at 8:44 am

        Well brother, call call me inconsistent. I am sure I am in many ways. But I’ve been saying it for years and will continue.

        Have a glorious day!

      • Les,

        I was not trying to be condescending in any way… but my point is, and I understand it is a technical one, but to me it is important… vitally important…

        If Jesus did not die to pay the penalty for Bob Hadley’s sin… then is it correct for me to say that Bob Hadley cannot be saved? Yes or no.

        If the answer is yes it is true THEN it is not right to say that one can look at Bob Hadley and say, I believe everyone can be saved. The fact that you do not know whether or not Jesus died for me is immaterial If Jesus did not die for me.

        Since we all know that according to the calvinist, Jesus did NOT DIE for everyone, He only died for the elect, THEN that same calvinist cannot say I believe EVERYONE can believe and be saved.

        Where is the flaw in what I have just said? I really am trying to understand HOW one can correlate his preaching with his theology. There is a difference in saying “I preach that sinners can be saved” because sinners are being saved, whether calvinist or non-calvinist.

        However, to say ANYONE can believe when one believes only those God decrees to be saved will be saved, then it seems difficult to say “anyone can believe and be saved.” It simply “ain’t so for the calvinist” as I see it.

        ><>’

  5. Posted by Les on April 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Bob,

    I didn’t take what you said as condescending. So no worries.

    Here’s the thing. if i preach the gospel, why are you and other non Calvinists so concerned with our view of the atonement and whether or not we have a basis to call men to Christ?

    If we are preaching the same gospel as you, what is there to be concerned about?

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 8, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Are you familiar with the parable of the sower and the seed? If someone were to take the seed that could be viable and cast it into shallow ground without roots, or where it could be attacked and eaten by the birds of the air, then they are not doing a service.

      Would you make the same argument for other groups that appear Christian on the surface, but once you are drawn inside you are taught a different Jesus on the inside? The Jesus preached by Calvinism did not love the world and is not willing that all come to a knowledge of the truth, and this is where we have a fundamental difference of belief.

      Reply

    • Les,

      Once before, you attempted to answer my statement a sentence at a time… I would appreciate you doing that on the comment and question I asked just before your question to me, If we are preaching the same gospel as you, what is there to be concerned about?

      What we preach is one thing; what we believe is another. As I said earlier, it is one thing to say that sinners can be saved but as a calvinist who believes God and God alone decrees who will and will not be saved and those are the only ones Jesus died to pay the penalty for their sin, then the consistent calvinist cannot say, “I believe ANYONE can be saved.” ANYONE cannot be saved IF Jesus did not pay the penalty for their sin on the cross. That is a fundamental difference in what the gospel says to me and so from that perspective, I do not preach the same gospel.

      ><>”

      Reply

      • Posted by Les on April 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm

        Bob, I’ll try to respond point by point. First, let me stipulate that I take the scripture seriously when it says in John 3.36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

        I also take seriously when Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.””
        (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

        If calling people to come to Jesus was good enough for Him, it’s good enough for me.

        Now, having said that.

        “If Jesus did not die to pay the penalty for Bob Hadley’s sin… then is it correct for me to say that Bob Hadley cannot be saved? Yes or no.”

        No. I might add that it is impossible for you or anyone else in this life to determine whether you are elect or not. Therefore it is impossible for you are anyone else in this life to determine whether Jesus’ atoning work was intended for you or not. Therefore, i would proclaim the gospel to you and anyone else since I don’t know the secret things of God and neither do you.

        “If the answer is yes it is true THEN it is not right to say that one can look at Bob Hadley and say, I believe everyone can be saved. The fact that you do not know whether or not Jesus died for me is immaterial If Jesus did not die for me.”

        My answer was no. I have not said that everyone can be saved. I have said that “anyone” can ba saved. Anyone (whoever as the scripture above says) who places their faith in Jesus and repents may be saved. But the biblical fact is, that unless “the Father draws” a person he/she WILL NOT trust Christ and repent.

        “Since we all know that according to the calvinist, Jesus did NOT DIE for everyone, He only died for the elect, THEN that same calvinist cannot say I believe EVERYONE can believe and be saved.”

        I have not said “everyone” can be saved.

        “Where is the flaw in what I have just said? I really am trying to understand HOW one can correlate his preaching with his theology. There is a difference in saying “I preach that sinners can be saved” because sinners are being saved, whether calvinist or non-calvinist.”

        Not sure what this point is.

        “However, to say ANYONE can believe when one believes only those God decrees to be saved will be saved, then it seems difficult to say “anyone can believe and be saved.” It simply “ain’t so for the calvinist” as I see it.”

        Here is perhaps an example. Suppose I had the opportunity to preach in Haiti this month (which I may) and I preach to 1000 people from the community. These are people who are not churched. I can say with biblical authority that whoever among you 1000, or anyone of you 1000, who will trust Jesus and repent can be saved. That, Bob, is consistent with Calvinism, and more importantly is consistent with the bible. See the verses I started with.

        If there are non-elect among the 1000, and that’s entirely possible, then the gospel is foolishness to them and they will refuse to believe and repent because their hearts are hard. They are sinners. Only those whom God regenerates will respond by believing.

        Les

      • OK… I really do understand WHAT you are saying. I get it and have understood it for a while. I am glad you can preach what you do and I believe with all my heart you mean every word that you preach and from our interaction I know that to be true.

        I simply have a serious problem with the underlying theology that does not line up with what you are preaching but I know that the Lord will use you as He does me to touch people’s hearts and bring them to a saving knowledge of Jesus and for that I am equally grateful.

        The fact that no one KNOWS who is and is not saved is really not an issue in this argument as I see it. I understand you believe all who come are all that God has effectually called… but the truth is according to calvinism… Jesus died for a select group of people and those are the only ones who will respond and it is God who gives them the ability to respond…

        Because that is what calvinism teaches, not anyone can come… I understand those who do are “the elect” but let me ask this question… do you believe everyone who comes is truly saved? do you believe that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord is saved? That is what the Bible says…

        I will admit I have a tough time with that statement… by itself and I would guess you would as well. But to me this raises a serious question with respect to TD and the calvinist tenets… because no one will come unless the Spirit draws him… the cross is foolishness to the TD individual… so do those who come come solely because Christ has effectually called them unto Himself?

        Seems to me this presents a difficult dichotemy for the calvinist as well.

        Once again, I appreciate the dialoge and even though we know we see things from very different perspectives, I do take what you say into account and seek to see the wisdom in what you write.

        ><>”

      • Posted by Les on April 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm

        Bob,

        You: ” but let me ask this question… do you believe everyone who comes is truly saved? do you believe that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord is saved? That is what the Bible says…”

        I believe that the scripture says that all who call upon Him in genuine faith and repentance will be saved. The bible does not teach, and I know you would agree, that just mouthing the words “I believe” or “Jesus save me” will save a person. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that not everyone who calls Him Lord is truly saved.

        ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
        (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

        You: “But to me this raises a serious question with respect to TD and the calvinist tenets… because no one will come unless the Spirit draws him…”

        No, it’s not a problem at all. We call it effectual calling or sometimes efficacious grace. When the Holy Spirit regenerates someone, it actually works. Now, in a preacher calling sinners to repent and believe, there will always be some who respond, sincerely believing that they are being saved but being mistaken. They respond in the flesh…emotion, etc. I know. I was one of those many times at revivals. Much later I was truly converted.

        I appreciate the interaction too. I’m always learning.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 8, 2012 at 10:24 pm

        Les, back to that parable of the sower and the seed again, this doesn’t seem to support the theory of “effectual calling” … or maybe I am not using the right terminology, but Jesus said that it is possible to receive the word and then fall away.

        Mat 13:18-23 KJV
        (18) Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
        (19) When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
        (20) But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
        (21) Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
        (22) He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
        (23) But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

        As I have heard you describe Calvinist belief, one cannot receive the word unless the Spirit first opens his heart, and it is impossible for him to undo this, as in “he couldn’t be lost if he tried.”

        My point here is that this parable certainly seems to contradict the either the “only the elect can receive the word” or the “once an individual is among the elect, he is always among the elect.” Jesus even included an example of someone that once bore fruit of the word and then became unfruitful, but it had been from the right seed.

        By the very nature of the parable, all of the ground in the field gets the same chance from the same seed, but there is no guaranteed return. It does not say that a planter went forth to plant sprouts in a few select spots that he carefully chose, but planted weeds in every other patch. Plainly speaking, Jesus does not sound like a Calvinist.

        How dedicated are you to this Calvinism theory? You have said that it doesn’t make a difference what you actively preach to others, so (as a real question) can you point to any positive effect that it creates? It seems to me that it ultimately leads to a hopeless determinism.

      • Posted by Les on April 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm

        Andrew. Good questions. I’ll be back later tonight or in the morning. But for now it’s interesting that the parable of the sower comes into the conversation. Jesus said when asked why he was speaking to the crowd in parables,

        “Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:
        “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
        and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
        For this people’s heart has grown dull,
        and with their ears they can barely hear,
        and their eyes they have closed,
        lest they should see with their eyes
        and hear with their ears
        and understand with their heart
        and turn, and I would heal them.’”
        (Matthew 13:10-15 ESV)

        Hmmm. Interesting. Jesus is deciding who is given the ability to understand and who is not.

        later…

      • Les,

        It is interesting indeed… but here is my initial thought and it is JUST that at least at this point, I think Jesus’ use of parables has absolutely NOTHING to do with people coming to Him but everything to do with the Jew’s failure to see Him as Messiah and His role in taking the gospel to the gentiles. The Jews crucified Him and that crucifixion opened the floodgate to the gospel’s being taken to the whole world… and to me this has more to do with Jesus’ use of parables than anything.

        Just a thought.

        ><>”

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 8, 2012 at 10:54 pm

        Jesus may have purposely cloaked his meaning (and his true person) at that time, but that is not the same thing as determining that someone could never be allowed to repent unto salvation.

        I have never claimed that it is beyond God to blind someone or open their eyes, but I have never seen a scriptural example where someone who was willfully wicked was forced to repent against their will, and I have never seen a case where someone who sought righteousness is ultimately rejected or specifically blocked from understanding (“knock, and it shall be opened…”)

        … so I am just cutting to the chase here by saying that I don’t see how that is relevant to the question at hand (nor do I see how your observation would provide any logical necessity for Calvinism.)

        I don’t mind waiting for the answer about “positive effects” vs “determinism.”

      • Posted by Les on April 9, 2012 at 7:46 am

        Andrew, whatever the parale means, it cannot mean that a truly born again person can fully and finally fall away and be lost forever. You said,

        “but Jesus said that it is possible to receive the word and then fall away.”

        Yes, receive the word and then fall away. You bolded the rocky soil. Yes he received the word with joy and then fell away. His apparent reception of the word was false. That was the case with me at one point.

        You: “My point here is that this parable certainly seems to contradict the either the “only the elect can receive the word” or the “once an individual is among the elect, he is always among the elect.” Jesus even included an example of someone that once bore fruit of the word and then became unfruitful, but it had been from the right seed.”

        No, there is no contradiction. In only the elect will the word and Spirit be effective. That’s all we Calvinists say. And sure someone can “bear fruit” and appear to be one of the children of God. They are false professors. Heck, they may even be preachers!

        ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
        (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

        So, the parale is no problem for us Calvinists at all.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 9, 2012 at 11:58 am

        A poor internet connection lost my submitted reply, so I am rewriting this.

        When one reads the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus says nothing to indicate that the seed “taking hold” was false in the second and third cases. In fact, when he speaks of the person “receiving the word with joy” this hardly sounds like a “false conversion.” When Jesus was explaining this parable to his disciples, he did not stop and explain Calvinism to them first.

        There are other places in scripture where Paul says that he could “become a castaway” and elsewhere where he speaks of those who have received the Spirit but fallen away, that it is impossible to renew them unto repentance, and these are not isolated exceptions in but the overall rule and contained within the totality of scripture. The wicked and the righteous can change, for the better or for the worse… see Ezekiel chapter 18.

        Eze 18:23-24 KJV
        (23) Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
        (24) But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.

        As I understand Calvinism, it is indeed God’s good pleasure that the wicked should die, because God even designed them (or messed with their head on purpose) to keep them from repenting. When God spoke to Ezekiel, it would seem that he had never heard of Calvinism (nor had it come into his mind.)

        I would like to speak through Ezekiel once again,

        Eze 18:29-32 KJV
        (29) Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?
        (30) Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
        (31) Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
        (32) For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

        Some simple observations,

        1) Verse 29, God says that his ways are equal, but the very premise of Calvinism is that his ways are not equal, and specifically prejudiced. The wicked is not allowed to repent and the righteous is just as wicked as the wicked but he is forced to repent (or his head is messed with to such a degree that he has no other option, which is the same thing)

        2) Verse 30, God says that he will judge them according to their ways, be it good or evil. This stands in contradiction to the Calvinist premise that we are judged according to whether God already gave us a secret lottery ticket from before the beginning of space-time.

        3) Verse 31, it seems as if God expects this people to take an active part in making themselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why does he ask them “for why will ye die?” A Calvinist wouldn’t ask that question, because he would say that they were dying for God’s good pleasure because they had no hope.

        4) Verse 32, If God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, and the wicked shall die, then it is obvious that God does not get everything he wants. Additionally, God implores them to “turn yourselves” which makes no sense under a Calvinist perspective, for no one “turns themselves” but they find themselves “irresistably turned.”

        One of the major moral problems I see with Calvinism is that by its very determinist nature it is a useless doctrine. If it is true, it would be best if it were never preached because it is a doctrine of hopelessness. If it were true, then no one can change anything, and you might as well allow people the hope of thinking that God is merciful and welcomes repentance.

        Even aside from the problem that Bob poses of “If God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked and is not willing that any should perish, why are there not more saved” then I am hoping that you will address this issue of determinism.

  6. Posted by Ron suarez on April 8, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    As a dad, I hope my dtr is called and saved. I know that it is ultimately up to God if she is saved or not. Salvation is not confered by shear arbitrary luck of being born into the family that believes. In that view most people would be beyond grace because they have no privilage of a believing family member. In my estimation, God’s grace is more widely available because it confered by God’s choice and not a matter of some sociological accident.
    As a chaplain I face death almost every day. I face the death of lost people on a regular basis. I was not a hard 5 point Calvinist before I faced death on a regular basis. God’s soveriegnty over death, life, and salvation is the only thing that makes sense of a lost persons death or young persons death. I trust that God is good and can be trusted in those deaths that seem especially horrible.

    Reply

  7. Ron,

    As a dad, I BELIEVE my son is saved and on his way to heaven because God touched his heart and he responded by asking God to forgive him of his sin and he invited Christ into his heart. To me, faith is believing that God is everything He says He is and He will do everything He says HE will do… and that is good enough for me.

    I agree with you that being born into a family that believes does not guarantee ones salvation and I am equally glad that one may be born again who did not grow up in a family that believed. However, I do not believe God’s grace is conferred by God at His decree; He reveals Himself through the Scriptures and revelation and then seeks to draw all men unto Himself through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit and all who choose Him are born again as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their hearts and becomes the guarantee of glory for them.

    Jesus willingly went to the cross and so does every person who wants to come to God. I am confident that your daughter will see Christ in you and come to know Christ as her Savior! She must choose Him as He has already chosen her.

    May God bless you and your family!!!

    ><>”

    Reply

  8. Posted by Jim Johnson on April 8, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Ron, You said, “Salvation is not confered by shear arbitrary luck of being born into the family that believes. In that view most people would be beyond grace because they have no privilage of a believing family member. In my estimation, God’s grace is more widely available because it confered by God’s choice and not a matter of some sociological accident.”
    May I suggest that with the God who created all things out of NOTHING, there is no such thing as “sheer arbitrary luck,” or a “socialogical accident.” God gives families the very children he has prepared for them. That is one of the reasons abortion is such an abomination. People destroy the very gift of life he has provided (even though outside of their personal choices). When a child is born into a believing family, or even into a family with one believing parent, that child has been placed into a priviledged position. That child will hear the Gospel, and will (hopefully) be raised in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We who believe that God makes covenant with us, have great hope in the promises God makes to us and our children.

    Reply

    • Jim,

      I love the last paragraph you just wrote, especially the statement about a child being born into a believing household being a privileged position. I had never thought of it in that light. Thank you!

      This reflects what I believe was God’s original intention in the garden of Eden; parents who knew God would bring their children up to know God and it would be a process of populating the world with God loving believers!

      We have allowed our priorities to get out of control and we have made things of the world our God and as a result, our children are following us and they too are making the things of the world their gods but that was never God’s plan.

      I love this picture! May God bless you and thanks for your contribution.

      ><>”

      Reply

    • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 9, 2012 at 9:43 am

      You don’t have to convince me about chance, I’m a Calvinist. The Arminian would like to sidestep the problem of God’s effectual calling by saying that salvation is often influenced by sociological factors: where, when, and to whom you were born. This attempted evasion, however, does not solve the Arminian’s difficulties. My point here is that God ordains our effectual calling and the means of salvation. The means of salvation I am talking about is when, where, and to whom you were born.
      I believe Acts 17:26 teaches that God ordains the time and durations of the nations. God’s purpose for nations has a direct effect on individual’s lives, since they are subject to the consequences of their nation. The Arminian must decide if the location of our births are by chance or by God’s purpose.
      This Acts passage demonstrates that God chose to place some in a time and location where they would have little to no opportunity for salvation. Consequently, the Arminian must come to grips that there is not much difference between God purposing that people be born in a nation, and family, where they have no real opportunity for salvation and the Calvinist’s view of effective calling; God’s choice of placement means that some people are effectively cut off from salvation, they have no opportunity to hear the gospel, or have any option to hear anything other than pagenism.
      Indeed, God chose to place the majority of people prior to Jesus’ incarnation in the Gentile world. Those people were overlooked by God, were separated from the community of Jewish Faith, and had little to no chance of salvation. In these latter times God has chosen to open the door of salvation, according to Ephesians 3:6. God chose to place Gentiles in families that were outside the household of faith; the mystery in Ephesians is that God now allows the door of salvation to be opened to Gentiles.
      Consequently, the Arminian can try to evade the issue of God’s purposes by saying He places people in the household of faith to receive the means of salvation. But in sidestepping one truth Arminians fall into another difficult truth: God chose to place generations of people in Gentile homes where they would have practically no opportunity for salvation. God could have chosen to make the Jewish race and culture predominate in the world, but He did not. Arminians must come to grips with that fact God’s choice is the predominant factor in determining humankind’s eternal destiny.

      Reply

  9. Posted by jimmiedon on April 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Briefly, I would like to call attention to a little considered fact. Is it not strange that The calvinists were the ones who launched the Great Century of Missions, and the key document in that launch was Jonathan Edwards’ Humble Attempt, a tract calling on believers in all denominations to unite in prayer for the propagation of the gospel among all peoples. The aim of the calvinists who went was to win the elect, known by their response to the Gospel of Sovereign Grace. The Arminians enlisted in the missionary effort later. Also the Two Great Awakenings opened the doors of Heaven so to speak for major changes in government, education, freedom of religion, speech, and press, etc. Strange results or could it be the effect of doctrines that are like therapeutic paradoxes, designed to empower the unbeliever for change? I am tired so cannot continue this. Bob, your answers lie back their in those awakenings and in the launching of the Great Century of Missions. I had a DOM once who really took me to task for preaching on God’s Sovereignty in salvation, etc. I pointed at a book on his library shelf; it was the Memoirs of Luther Rice, the father of missions among Southern Baptists, and I said, “”He says it is in the Bible and you had better preach it.” Later the DOM gave me that book. A fellow I spoke with recently said he had a DOM on his case about the same matter, and he said he just quoted the theology textbooks that his DOM had studied (W.T. Connner’s works) and the DOM cried. You might be interested to know that much of the Sovereign Grace revival among Baptists, Southern and independent at well grew out of the work of Evangelist Rolfe Barnard who had studied under Conner and at one point had been selected by Conner to replace him..but Barnard wanted to preach….more than he wanted to teach theology. Look up the John Mack Library at Bob Jones U. and inquire about the Sovereign Grace Movement. It was on a site there about 2 years ago.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 9, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Andrew Patrick said “My point here is that this parable certainly seems to contradict the either the “only the elect can receive the word” or the “once an individual is among the elect, he is always among the elect.” ”

    The main point of this parable is the depravity of man’s heart. Luke 8:11-15 interprets this parable: the seed is God’s word and is good, the soil is man’s heart. The problem is not the seed (the Gospel) but man’s heart. The seed cannot grow because man’s heart finds no place for the seed. This parable has nothing to say about God’s effective calling or God making the heart able to receive the seed. Man’s rejection of God’s good seed if proof of their depravity. They would have accepted it if they had a heart to receive God’s word.
    Ron S.

    Reply

    • Posted by Les on April 9, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Ron,

      Great point that I didn’t really flesh out above in my rely to Andrew.

      Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 9, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Ron, you forgot one important thing. The soil in that parable is supposed to bring forth seed. It does not say that the sower went forth to cast seed on his rooftop (for a lark) but built special vessels out of clay where he was going to plant the seed he intended to grow. All the soil that a sower plants is intended to have the potential to grow.

      If Jesus were a Calvinist, you would expect an analogy of someone planting potted plants that were kept in a royal greenhouse, with the rest of the seed thrown onto the street to illustrate the glory and majesty of the greenhouse or the potter who made the pots. However, the parables that he did use seem rather opposed to Calvinism.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        Andrew, Christians are not born in Hot Houses, that goes for Arminians and Calvinist alike. God saves us where we are. This parable does not address how the soil came to receive the seed, it addresses the fact that good soil produces fruit. You can tell the soil type of your heart by the fruit. Trying to read “If Jesus was a Calvinist” into this parable misses the point of the parable. We all, Calvinist too, must ask ourselves “what is Jesus/God trying to tell us in this story” and go no farther than what the text allows.
        We all have become unprofitable. We were designed to bring forth fruit; the soil was expected to bring forth produce. We can say the soil is bad because it brought forth something other than what it was designed produce, a bad or unproductive crop.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm

        According to the Calvinist premise of “Perseverance of the Saints” the hothouse analogy is most appropriate, otherwise how would God guarantee the heart and mind of every person that he chose when he condemned everyone else?

        In a greenhouse you can guarantee optimal conditions because nothing is left to chance. Isn’t that the Calvinist premise to begin with, that God will not leave anything to chance, or even allow his elect to have the free will to love him or reject him?

        1) A field is a fitting analogy for the world with all of its factors unleashed. The field is not micromanaged and thus this is a suitable analogy where man can choose to listen with an open heart or to prefer his own ways and traditions over the things of God.

        2) A greenhouse would be the appropriate Calvinist counterpart to the field, where the elect plants are guarded zealously against birds of the air, and they are never actually threatened by weeds, and never receive too much son, and their soil was specially prepared for each and every one. The rest of the seed is thrown out onto the street to be trampled and devoured as an example for the glory of the greenhouse keeper.

        Yes, I think it is appropriate to read Christ’s words, and of the rest of the scriptures as well, and ask how come there are so many passages that simply oppose the very premises of Calvinism.

        What is God trying to tell us with the parable of the sower and the seed? To begin with, although the seed may be good, not all seed will grow to maturity and bear fruit, because there is another factor involved, that of the soil.

        This directly opposes Calvinism which says that God is in perfect direct control of determining every factor. In the parable, the sower is not in direct control of the soil of the field. As such I would say that the point of this parable is to refute any deterministic worldview or doctrine, which would include both Calvinism and Universalism.

  11. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I think your position is tenuous, since 13 verses after the Matthew account of the Sower and the Seed, Mt 13:24, Jesus describes God’s Kingdom as a field. In that parable the good seed are God’s children and the bad seed are Satan’s children.
    God’s children are born in the field of this world among the weeds, the scorching sun, rocky ground, and birds. You must check the soil type of your heart because you are in the world filled with these elements. We also know Satan has cast his seed into the world to make it harder to know if you are really a child of God; the JW, LDS, and other groups would convince us that they are the good seed and we are the bad seed. Me must discern, according to God’s word, whether we are good soil or bad soil, good seed or bad seed.
    Also, the parable of the Sower indicates that God’s children, good soil, will bring forth good produce. It is impossible for bad soil to bring forth a good result, and it is impossible for good soil to not bring about no results. That is how you can tell the difference between good soil and bad soil. We would have no way of know what we are if it were otherwise.
    Incidentally, what does that say about Total Separation if there are only 2 kinds of seed in Mt 13:24-30?
    Blessings,
    Ron S

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

      In the parable of the sower and the seed, there is only one type of seed, and that is the word of God. The seed is the word, and the ground represents the people, which is judged by its fruit. This parable opposes determinism.

      In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the symbolism has changed somewhat because there is a different emphasis, and the seed is no longer the word of God, but the actual individuals themselves. I will grant that this specific parable does not refute Calvinism, but neither does it require it as an explanation.

      I really don’t know what you mean by “Total Separation.” I am not familiar with that term, and because you use it with Capital Letters, I must assume it is a specific terminology with previously defined meaning. So I cannot tell you what the parable says about “Total Separation” unless you can tell me what you mean by the term.

      I will say that the two species, of wheat and tares, represents that there are two competing agents in this war, namely the Son of Man, and the devil, and ultimately there is no middle ground, but the main point of this parable is that the wheat and the tares are not determined until the end of the world. Until that point any plant could be wheat or tares… to borrow a modern analogy, akin to a quantum state.

      I realize that the Calvinist may argue that someone is fixed as their species of wheat or tare from the beginning, but that is not a requirement of the parable, which by their nature sometimes employ imperfect analogies. I would likewise point to the fact that the plants are not judged until the harvest, and they shall be judged by the fruit they bear, and whether we bear fruit or not depends upon whether we will respond to God’s call.

      When there is a question of something that could be interpreted one way or the other, especially from a parable, I think it is vital that we go to the strong specific statements elsewhere. For example, I would point to the earlier passages from Ezekiel where God speaks with Israel and asks them to change their own heart, where he says that the wicked can turn from his old way and bear good fruit and thus be forgiven.

      If you really want to approach this question honestly, I think it is vital that we ask ourselves where the burden of proof lies, and what should be our default assumption. I think it is self evident that our default assumption should be that we have the freedom to respond or rebel against our creator, for this is evident in the first chapters of Genesis and recorded throughout the entire scripture.

      Does the parable of the wheat and the tares contradict Calvinism? No, it does not. However, there are many other parables which will cause contradiction when taken at their primary meaning. For example,

      1) In the parable of the two sons that the father asked to work in the field, the sons had the freedom of will to answer one way or the other, and also the freedom of will to change their own mind as to their original commitment.

      2) In the parable of the pearl of great price, the man had to make a very real decision whether he wanted to sell all that he had to obtain that field with the pearl. He was not drawn against his will, and there is no mention of anyone changing his will to where he can make no other choice.

      3) In the parable of the sheep and the goats, they are separated by their works, and what they have done unto others, and this is what determines who is a sheep and who is a goat. They are told it is because what they have done and not done, not because some existed and were picked before the beginning of the world, and others were damned for the glory of God.

      I could go on and on, for there are a great many parables to draw from (and I chose those parables almost at random), but my point is that many of them simply make no sense from a Calvinist premise, a premise which was not assumed by the holy prophets, nor Christ, nor the apostles, and of which none of them ever saw fit to declare as the gospel. It is a construction that must be pieced together much like “Lucy” (the supposed missing link) with a bone from one site and a fragment from another dig miles away, setting aside all evidence to the contrary.

      In fact, now that I think about it, I think that Calvinism has the same difficulties as experienced by the Evolutionist camp, that of missing links and sheer lack of evidence, and all the contrary evidence that must simply be ignored, or explained away while assuming the very thing that is still unproven.

      Have you ever thought of approaching the problem in this way, of starting at the beginning of scripture and building all evidence from that point on? Are you really treating all of scripture as being given by the inspiration of God, or are you relying on a few fragments of proof-texts and allowing previously-assigned Calvinist definitions (like the Calvinist definition of “predestined”) to take precedence?

      If you are listening carefully to me, you might realize that I am also telling you the method that might be persuasive with me. If your understanding is correct, it should survive this type of testing, but if you cannot prove your doctrine this way, why should I be convinced?

      Reply

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm

        The funny thing is, I was not trying to “prove” Calvinism in commenting on the Sower and the Seed, I was merely commenting that this parable does not have much data to about Arminiansm/Calvinism; it is about judging your heart and responding accordingly.
        To the second point, Total Seperation is the Arminian alternative to total Depravity that Rev Hadley had written about a while back. Anyway, my presupposition is that an Ethiopian cannot change its skin, a leopard cannot change his spots without God bringing it about (Jer 13:23).
        Augustine stated that we were created good, before the fall, with the ability to choose either good or evil before the fall. After the fall, in our fallen state, we can only choose evil and not good. A saved person has been transformed so they can do good, but it is impossible for us to not sin. I would challenge: quit sinning. That’s it, do no more sin forever. Even saved people (Paul) sin, Rom 7. That is all the proof I need to know all I have to offer God is my sin for Him to forgive.
        The church ruled against Arminius’ rejection of Original Sin. We are by nature children of the devil after the fall. None of us are deserving of heven. God chooses to save some out of Hell. These are my presuppositions.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm

        Ron, thank you for stating those presuppositions. That is very helpful.

        1) As a serious question, what would be the purpose of judging your own heart? Under the Calvinist perspective it would not make any difference one way or the other… it only makes sense if you understand that you are an integral part of the process of change.

        2) I had not realized that Bob Hadley was the definition of Arminian theology, but even so, I have never claimed to be Arminian. Bob might remember some months ago when Chris Fincher (who was posting on this blog) said that I was Arminian, and so we went to Wikipedia for a definition and I demonstrated that I was not.

        3) Jeremiah 13:23 is a favorite passage for Calvinists who typically exclude it from its own context, especially the rest of the verse, for does it not qualify itself saying, ” … that are accustomed to do evil?” How does one get “accustomed” to doing evil? We set our own spots, and we are punished according to our past transgressions. The Calvinist reading of Jeremiah 13:23 stands in opposition to the rest of the book of Jeremiah (and many examples shall be provided upon request.)

        4) I was not aware that the “Adam had free will but Abel did not” doctrine came from Augustine. I had heard that before from a Baptist pastor who was preaching Calvinism, and he was unable to show me where the Bible taught such a thing, and now I know where it was from.

        Also, when questioned according to his (Augustinian) theory, he was unable to answer firstly, if Adam had free will but Abel did not, where scripture gave us any indication of such an important change, and secondly, how then God could speak to Cain and tell him that he would be accepted if he did well? For if Cain was preemptively rejected, then why would God lie to him?

        Gen 4:6-7 KJV
        (6) And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?
        (7) If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

        It would seem as if Augustine never read further than Genesis 3, and neither had this particular pastor, who was essentially left speechless.

        5) This last part I find most interesting,

        The church ruled against Arminius’ rejection of Original Sin. We are by nature children of the devil after the fall. None of us are deserving of heven. God chooses to save some out of Hell. These are my presuppositions.

        I was not aware that the Synods of Dort represented the will of God or even qualified as the church, and I would say that I am in agreement with the statement of King James that the doctrine they formulated was the most likely candidate to turn man against his maker (he actually used much stronger words than this.)

        Are you really proposing that the Synods of Dort are a proper authority to be seriously considered? Why should I respect this council over any of the other councils from the Roman Church?

        It seems that I do not share your presuppositions, but I will abide by scripture if you are able to make a persuasive biblical argument that starts with Genesis and that treats all of scripture as inspired. Half a verse of Jeremiah taken out of context and the rulings of the Synod of Dort are simply not persuasive to me.

      • Hey guys,

        For the record, I am not Arminian. As I understand it, Arminianism begins with total depravity just as the calvinist does. They see the work of God’s grace differently as one sees the work of God’s grace as effectual and the other as prevenient or enabling saving faith in the otherwise dead individual.

        No where in the Old Testament is total depravity even hinted of and if you will do some investigating on the subject, you will not find total depravity anywhere in Jewish literature; nowhere. It is not an OT concept at all.

        Check it out. You will not find ANY Jewish OT scholars even so much as hinting of total depravity.

        ><>”

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 3:26 am

        Bob, this is slightly off the post topic, but concerning the “Total Depravity” concept, what do you think about Rahab in this context?

        If she was “Totally Depraved” then that would mean that God either had to specifically “activate” her for the purpose of protecting the spies, or perhaps she was the only “elect” (in the Calvinist sense) that had been placed in the entire city-state of Jericho.

        Yet when she is mentioned favorably in Hebrews 11:31 Paul lists her as an example of faith (James 2:25 said her faith was justified by works). There is no mention of a divine “opening her heart” and as such it certainly looks like she took the initiative herself (knowing that the LORD of Israel was coming against Jericho soon, she didn’t want to be on the wrong side of that war.)

      • Andrew,

        I do not really have an answer for that question. I guess it could be argued either way. Since I believe it is the Word of God that convicts sinners through the revelatory and reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit, my answer would be that she believed in her heart that the God of the Hebrew people was God and in receiving the spies she was seeking to surrender and submit herself to that God. The Holy Spirit was actively involved there, without a doubt. Of all places for the spies to go and then to find shelter. After all, God does promise that whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved! She did what she did at the risk of losing her own life and the life of her family. She literally forsook all for the God of the Hebrew people. She may well be the first gentile “convert” which is interesting. She did receive an inheritance in the Promised Land.

        ><>”

  12. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    What a typo, Pelagius and original sin. That’s what happens when you write on the fly. Most Evangelicals, and Catholics, agree with the first major counsels of the church. In that type of situation I would say that if you are at odds against Nicaea, Celadon, Constantinople, Carthage, then the burden of proof is on you to prove why the majority of the church believes one way and you believe another. The question of Original Sin was answered at Carthage. This question is for another thread.
    Calvinist do not throw out tradition and the witness of the Saints who have gone before us, but submit those to the word of God. I quote Augustine because we, quite frankly, cannot state it any more profoundly than he.
    To answer you about “proving” my position, much of what I have learned about God’s glory has occurred as I see how His Sovereignty relates to the suffering and death I encounter every day. Our helplessness in the face of sin, disease, and death created the framework to help me accept his Sovereignty in salvation.
    Much of what we do in this format is proof texting. This is a limited format and there is much that can only be conveyed in an ongoing dialogue. I have no wish to convince you in 3 easy steps. That is not what I, nor the Doctrines of Grace, are about. The last couple of posts seem to have gotten more and more confrontational. I am sorry for my part in that. I hope that we can learn from each other.

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      It does not matter to me how many councils or papal bulls have been issued one way or another, even if the majority of all churches burnt incense to Baal I would still appeal to a higher authority, namely the authority of God as contained within the Holy Scriptures.

      Plainly speaking, it would not matter why everyone else followed false gods or taught false doctrine. Jeremiah stood at odds with the traditions of wayward Israel, and is it not also written, “let God be true, but every man a liar?”

      Rom 3:4 KJV
      (4) God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

      Concerning the place of scripture and tradition, when you quoted Augustine I demonstrated where his saying was in opposition to scripture (Genesis 4:7). If you are really placing the traditions of men beneath scripture, shouldn’t that be sufficient in itself?

      To me practical Calvinism seems very confusing, because beneath the claim of “Scripture Only” it seems to have a Roman Catholic flavor. If tradition and the sayings of men are beneath scripture, then why not go directly to scripture in the first place, and why hang on to the writings of people which are already disproved or are unable to answer for what they have said? Is the scripture insufficient?

      You may count those questions as rhetorical if you like, but I will say ahead of time that I will not be offended if you attempt to persuade me to your way of thinking. The danger (if one could call it that) is that one cannot be very persuasive to someone else unless they use fair techniques and allow themselves the same fair opportunity to be persuaded, so it is a sword that cuts both ways.

      Reply

  13. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Look, if you want rational arguments for a rational acceptance of Calvinism I suggest you read Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will and John Owens’ The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, in that order. I could regurgitate their arguments, which are the classic arguments all Calvinist end up using, but what good would that do?
    The type of Calvinism I hold to is more than a rational argument. John Frame talks about the three part human experience: Objective (Word of God), Situational (preaching, books, and tradition), and Existential (our personal interaction with the other two). In Philosophy this would translate to the Rationalism, Empiricism, and Existential perspectives. Our view must be balanced between these three positions, with the Word of God set as the final interpreter of what the other two should mean. Human philosophy fails in politics, humanities, and education because it elevates one above the others.
    I suspect you are very profoundly rational. I use to be that way too. You remind me very much of myself in my earlier days. In Calvinism we call this the “Cage Stage.” That is where one has so much truth they need to be put in cage until they calm down. These types of Calvinist, and Arminians, never do much to advance their position. I hope I am different today. I am learning that relationships are important, and you can learn a lot from a person just by getting to know them. I have learned that my Relationship with God and my church brothers will always be stunted if I am out of balance; I am singularly rational.
    All that to say, my story is very much a part of why I am a Calvinist. I cannot give you a straight up rational argument for Calvinism, because that is not who I am. Such an argument would be proof texting anyway, and what good is that? My story is that I saw myself as a helpless sinner, a pathetic human being that should be a pervert, a drug addict, a burn out, and living on the government. I never thought I could be anything or do anything. I never thought I could get an education because I fried my brain, I had ADHD, and I was worthless. But God. That is my argument for Calvinism. You will never be convinced as long as you hold on to any shred of ability and/or reject Original Sin. You will never understand God’s grace until you realize you had nothing to offer him except your sin. I am still worthless, in my own ability, but God has made me more than I could ever be.
    I believe that we can never give God too much credit for the things he has done in us that are of him, and through him, and to him. We detract from God’s glory to the degree we claim this ability or knowledge. I hope this helps.

    Reply

    • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 8:25 am

      Ron,

      Thank you for this wonderful,comment. I can so relate. I was one of those “cage Calvinists” back in the 1980s. I can still fall back into some of those ways of arguing. Just ask Andrew the commenter here. I’ve largely stayed out of your back and forth with Andrew due to my tendencies and the fact that you so well articulate the Reformed faith.

      One of your best comments,

      “You will never be convinced as long as you hold on to any shred of ability and/or reject Original Sin. You will never understand God’s grace until you realize you had nothing to offer him except your sin. I am still worthless, in my own ability, but God has made me more than I could ever be.”

      Amen. SDG!

      Les

      Reply

    • Hey Ron and Les!

      Good morning. See you have all been busy.

      Thank you for sharing YOUR STORY, “My story is that I saw myself as a helpless sinner, a pathetic human being that should be a pervert, a drug addict, a burn out, and living on the government. I never thought I could be anything or do anything. I never thought I could get an education because I fried my brain, I had ADHD, and I was worthless. But God.”

      I do not know anyone who would not amen that statement for there but by the grace of God go you and I… all of us are in the same boat ONCE we come to Christ. I fail to see how that is an argument for calvinism. Most assuredly everyone who is saved understands that it is by God’s marvelous grace that we are forgiven and adopted in to His family and are redeemed by the blood of the lamb. The proplem is one of process as I see it. I do not believe I was regenerated BEFORE I repented. It is as simple as that. Some say… you are NOT regenerated BEFORE you believe it is all simultanenous. It all happens at the same time. Well… I can agree with that to a degree… but when I say repentance and saving faith bring about regeneration that is when the calvinist backs away… and that is where I am going to stand firm.

      You wrote, “You will never be convinced as long as you hold on to any shred of ability and/or reject Original Sin. You will never understand God’s grace until you realize you had nothing to offer him except your sin. I am still worthless, in my own ability, but God has made me more than I could ever be.” That sounds too much like the charismatic argument… “you will never understand until”

      I may be more calvinistic than you are… just like I told a charismatic one time who was going to have me speaking in tongues… which was an extraordinary experience in and of itself… but when the two ministers laid hands on me and started praying… one said to me… just mumble something… you have to get the words going… I said to him, my God is so great He does not need me to jump start anything… he can have me walking on the ceiling if He wants me too… and shortly after than they simply walked off… If God is the deterministic God you declare THEN my choice to be a calvinist or not would be His choice… and since I am not I can only conclude I am right where He wants me to be as I know you are. So from that standpoint, we have to just agree to disagree. For even in your own statement, “God has made you more than I could ever be.”

      Praise the Lord I can say the same thing there as well.

      As far as original sin is concerned, I see things differently and I too have been a student of the Scriptures for a LONG time. God called me to preach 37 years ago and I have been a student of His since that time. In fact, He enrolled me in private school… and I guess what took Paul 3 years to accomplish, I kept being demoted instead of being promoted and it took me 25 years of private school before He finally was able to loosen the reigns…. and I am not sure that is a fair statement… He may well have simply passed me on social promotion!

      I love the Word; I love the brethren and I love telling people about the Jesus who saved me and made me His Own and will do the same for them. I love spending time with you guys as well… even if we do disagree about what the Scriptures say but we can agree that we all love Him and are being used by Him for His glory and the benefit of others.

      Oh… and I am certainly grateful I am not a “cage calvinist”!

      ><>”

      Reply

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 10:29 am

        Good morning Bob. As has been our history, we disagree on most soteriological points. But hey. We’re still brothers!

        You said, “If God is the deterministic God you declare THEN my choice to be a calvinist or not would be His choice…”

        I think it is important to define what you think we Reformed believe about determinism correctly. Here is what I said over at SBC Today to Eric Hankins about this:

        I think is is only fair to acknowledge that most Reformed folk would not hold to a determinism which as you said earlier as “God is the cause of everything including sin, evil, and the damnation of sinners.” I do not and frankly I don’t know any Reformed folks who affirm what you described.

        You see, his definition of theological determinism ascribed to Reformed folks is not what we Reformed folks espouse. We reject how he characterized determinism among Calvinists.

        So, it is important to not attribute to us a belief that we reject. Maybe it would be good if you define what you mean by “the deterministic God you declare.”

        Thanks,

        Les

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      If I am to read Martin Luther and John Owens, should I also read Erasmus’s refutation of Martin Luther, and find someone else to balance out John Owens? There is no end to books (Ecclesiastes 12:12) and there are also people asking me to read multiple books that are supposed to persuade me of Universalism. I do have realistic limits on my time.

      If those books gave you good rational answers, I would expect that they would aid you in your discussion with me. But there is another option, just as God tore the temple veil in two indicating that we could come to God without need of an earthly priest, I would prefer to go straight to scripture.

      I think I have heard the “classic arguments” that Calvinists use and they they don’t stand up, but I am willing to consider that I might not have heard everything, so I am willing to listen to anyone who is a real live person who will be responsible and respond to questions.

      I suspect you are very profoundly rational.

      I will take that as a compliment (thank you.)

      In Calvinism we call this the “Cage Stage.” That is where one has so much truth they need to be put in cage until they calm down.

      You mean like the way Israel became enraged with Jeremiah and threw him in a cage to calm him down, or the way they imprisoned Peter, and after beating them told them not to preach? John the Baptist was also caged for a little while as well, if I remember correctly, and another John was banished to Patmos.

      When God speaks through his scriptures and we are in the wrong, that is not the time to “calm down” and it is usually the establishment and the status quo that are the ones bringing out the cages to contain the prophets. Should Elijah have been kept in a cage? Didn’t he slay 850 prophets of Baal and the groves? I am sure that lost him a lot of friends, with people in his profession that he could have gotten along with otherwise…

      That is my argument for Calvinism. You will never be convinced as long as you hold on to any shred of ability and/or reject Original Sin.

      Do you realize that this tends to be a circular argument, and a non-biblical argument as well? I have read my entire bible and not once does it use the phrase “Original Sin” and furthermore, the concept of having “no ability to choose to respond to God” is the essence of Calvinism to begin with.

      Yes, I admit that I have asked for a rational biblical argument, but I have also presented a moral argument, and that is that determinism is a doctrine of hopelessness. You may think you are “saved” or among the special “elect” but those may be false fruits. God may be playing tricks on you for his glory, but there is no way for you to find out and nothing you can do to repent. Too bad for you…

      I apologize if that sounds a bit cavalier, but the reality is that if God is the God of Calvinism, then I could fearlessly curse him to his face and know that if I am among the elect, then I will be forgiven anyway even if I didn’t want to be anyway… and likewise that if I was not among the elect then it wouldn’t matter how much I learned to love God and my fellow man, or repented of sin and strove to be as God wanted me to be, that it was hopeless regardless, that I was damned on a whim.

      Reply

  14. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Thank you for your response. I think most of the questions come down to one’s definition of Total Depravity and the Ordo salutis. As to “That sounds too much like the charismatic argument,” I believe there are saved Catholics, Arminians, and Charastmatics, but not all experience God’s grace equally. We all experience the grace of God in proportion to the degree we obscure God’s glory. John remarks in at least 3 places ‘And his disciples believed in him.’ Did they not believe in him the first time? We grow in our enjoyment and understanding of God as we remove our misheld beliefs about Him which obscures His Glory. All that to say we should grow in our enjoyment and belief in God and should work to diminish the places where we obscure God’s glory.
    By the way, I joke with some friends that about just how much a Car-Carrying-Calvinist we arein relation to others. Today I am a 7 point Calvinist and increasing. Would that make you a 9-10 pointer?

    Reply

  15. The charismatic comment was in reference to your comment, ““You will never be convinced as long as you hold on to any shred of ability and/or reject Original Sin. You will never understand God’s grace until you realize you had nothing to offer him except your sin.” Seems to me my being convinced just does not fit into a calvinist mindset but since I ain’t one maybe I have it all wrong.

    Now I am no expert by any stretch of the imagine but here is what I understand the Abstract Priniciples state….

    The Abstract of Principles:

    IV. Providence

    God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

    Here is my question and it is in reference to Les’ question earlier, if Calvinists are not determinsts how else can one interpret this statement… “and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events;

    Listen that is about as plain is the nose on someone’s face… unless your all here is like the all in the Scriptures and really does not mean ALL. Come on… black ink on white paper here…

    I hate to point it out… seems to me this is somewhat of a contradictory statement… in that in one instance God governs and directs all creatures and all events… but then in the next sentence is not the author or approver of sin nor to destry the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

    This has to mean one of two things… first of all according to this statement, sin is not an event because God controls and directs ALL events… and sin is not committed by God’s creatures since once again God directs and controls ALL Creatures…

    How is this NOT strict determinism? If God directs and governs all creatures then you are calvinists by the grace of God, which I have heard some say… and that makes me not calvinist by the same grace of God and that is the point that I was making earlier.

    ><>”

    Reply

    • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      Bob,

      “Here is my question and it is in reference to Les’ question earlier, if Calvinists are not determinsts how else can one interpret this statement… “and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; ””

      I didn’t say Calvinists are NOT determinists. I said, “I think it is important to define what you think we Reformed believe about determinism correctly.”

      We are determinists. Just not like Eric defined determinism.

      Bob, all one has to do is look at a few passages in scripture to see explicit examples of what some call “soft determinism.” Joseph for example:

      “So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, WHOM YOU SOLD into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So IT WAS NOT YOU WHO SENT ME HERE, BUT GOD. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” BOLD ADDED
      (Genesis 45:4-8 ESV)

      So, who sold Joseph into slavery? His brothers or God? Yes!

      Reformed folks believe that Joseph’s brothers did not have to have God create fresh sin in their hearts for them to commit the evil they committed against their brothers. They didn’t need God to force them against heir wills to do that sinful thing. Their own sinful natures led them along from their evil hearts.

      But God! God had a plan, right? He superintended the plan He had to get Joseph to Egypt. He was governing the whole affair and using their sinful actions to accomplish His sovereign plan. They were unwitting participants in His plan. He governs all events.

      Prov. 19.9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
      Prov. 19.21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

      It is not a foreign concept for us to see two truths in scripture which seemingly cannot be reconciled. e.g. Jesus is fully God. Jesus is fully man.

      Pretty plain from scripture. See also Acts.

      “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the **definite plan and foreknowledge of God**, **you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men**.
      (Acts 2:22-23 ESV)

      And…

      for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, **to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined** to take place.
      (Acts 4:27-28 ESV)

      Seems plain enough.

      Les

      Reply

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm

        From what I have observed the Calvinist version of determinism goes a lot further than recognizing that God may choose to steer certain events for a particular purpose or dramatic effect. The quotes provided by the Wingfooted One (below) are a partial testimony to that effect.

        With the example you give of Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 45) God did not have to cause sinfulness, because the sin already existed. Joseph’s brothers were envious, but beyond envious, they were also murderous. God is fully capable of seeing the elements (or ingredients) of a situation and shaping them (or improvising) when he chooses to do so.

        I think it is evident from common experience and biblical example that God does not always choose to do so, and when Joseph speaks to his brethren to relieve their fears and to tell them that he is not holding them responsible, Joseph is not saying that God makes every event happen. He speaks as if the event is exceptional, not the rule of everyday existence.

        When considering this example, I think it is worthy to note that Reuben is really the only brother (besides Benjamin) that might be judged innocent of plotting to kill Joseph or to sell him into slavery. In Genesis 37:21-22, it is Reuben who heard his brothers plotting and said “let us not kill him” and planned to return when it was safe to release Joseph.

        Assuming that God has a plan to send Joseph to Egypt, Reuben was not forced to go along with that plan. His will remained his own, and he did not willingly sell Joseph. Joseph was sold, but we do cannot (justly) hold Reuben responsible for the act. Since God wanted Joseph to go to Egypt, then God worked around Reuben, rather than forcing someone without sinful intent to become sinful.

        If Joseph’s brethren had not been murderous, and assuming that God still wanted Joseph to go to Egypt, I believe that God would have used other events to make this come to pass.

        However, if I must emphasize one thing, this exceptional example of Joseph entering Egypt does not prove that God “governs all events” let alone that he ordains sin, forces wicked men into sins, or plans hopeless damnation.

        If I may borrow another example, think of how an Evolutionist often attempts to “prove” evolution by pointing to natural selection, where the animals in one region specialize when certain genes are removed from the local gene pool. I recognize the validity of natural selection (which removes existing information without adding anything) but then they will attempt to say that this proves Evolutionary Theory, as if Rabbits evolved from Rocks (which an Evolutionist must believe in the most literal sense.)

        I think that you are (unwittingly) employing the same leap of logic in the realm the will of God and man. The second example you gave was also exceptional, most certainly exceptional, and the participant in this scene was none other that God himself, so he could be guaranteed of His Own cooperation.

        From every example that I can think of from scripture (help me out here if you can think of an exception) God never forces an individual to sin where the sinful intent (hatred is the sin of murder) did not already exist. When the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, Pharaoh was already wicked and executing Hebrew infants every day. The “hardening” was not keeping Pharaoh from legitimate repentance, but smacking him with a “spirit of stupidity” (my own phrase) so that he would be an example.

        But if we believe that Pharaoh would have repented but was specifically blocked for a reason, then likewise Pharaoh cannot be held responsible for his actions (for they would not be his own.)

        If God determines that a certain event must happen, no individual is required to go along with the plan. Reuben did not sell Joseph into slavery but his brethren did. Nicodemus did not crucify Jesus, but the rest of the Pharisees (as a group) put him to death.

        On a final note, you seemed to make an argument that the scripture often has contradictory statements, and that this would justify other contradictory doctrines (like Calvinism.) This logic does not follow for several reasons:

        1) If the bible is contradictory we should discard the bible
        2) If we hold to contradictory ideas then who is to say which contradictory ideas are acceptable and which are not
        3) Your example of “God” and “man” is not contradictory: God is the person, and man was the form. In another instance, God appeared as a burning bush, and there we can also say “God was the person, and the burning bush was the form.”

        What you are calling “soft determinism” is not what is normally meant by the word “determinism” and even in the case of bringing Joseph into Egypt, God might have been appealed and changed his mind, as in the case of Sodom (an unsuccessful appeal) or Nineveh (a successful appeal).

        When I ask about determinism, I am speaking not of “soft determinism” (likened to natural selection) but “Calvinistic determinism” (likened Evolution Theory.) I am speaking of a doctrine that says that I existed before the beginning of the world and God made a secret selection that I am will be damned or granted mercy, and that there is nothing that can be done otherwise one way or another, not only for me, but every single person who ever existed (and those who have not yet been born already existed before the beginning of the world, for how else would God assign them their ticket?)

        That is what I mean by “hopeless determinism”, where God decrees sin and punishes men for that which is beyond their control, where it is simply impossible to repent unless God makes you… so let us eat, drink, and be merry, for if we be damned there is nothing we can do about it, but if we be the elect then all shall be forgiven even if we do not repent of our own choosing (but we shall go through the motions to satisfy the Ordo Salutis, because that is the required ritual, but not because we want to.)

        I anticipate you will say that “Calvinists do not believe in that type of determinism” but that is where the doctrine naturally leads. If you do not believe in that type of determinism, then it seems to me that you aren’t being consistent in your beliefs, and some Calvinists certainly do seem to believe that way (see the aforementioned quotes from Wingfooted1.)

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm

        Patrick,

        Let me respond to a few things you wrote. I’ll not have time now for everything. I’ll use all caps simply to distinguish, not to shout.

        From what I have observed the Calvinist version of determinism goes a lot further than recognizing that God may choose to steer certain events for a particular purpose or dramatic effect. The quotes provided by the Wingfooted One (below) are a partial testimony to that effect. NOT ALL CALVINISTS REMARKS ARE INDICATIVE OF ALL OTHER CALVINISTS. SAME WITH YOU NON-CALVINISTS. SHALL I LOOK UP SOME NON-CALVINISTS EMBARRASSING REMARKS AND TRY TO PAINT YOU ALL WITH THEM? NAY.

        With the example you give of Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 45) God did not have to cause sinfulness, because the sin already existed. THAT’S WHAT I SAID AS WELL. Joseph’s brothers were envious, but beyond envious, they were also murderous. God is fully capable of seeing the elements (or ingredients) of a situation and shaping them (or improvising) when he chooses to do so. OR, AS I BELIEVE, NOT JUST FORE SEEING, BUT ORDAINING AHEAD WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF ALL FUTURE EVENTS.

        I think it is evident from common experience and biblical example that God does not always choose to do so, and when Joseph speaks to his brethren to relieve their fears and to tell them that he is not holding them responsible, Joseph is not saying that God makes every event happen. He speaks as if the event is exceptional, not the rule of everyday existence. YOU ARE WELCOME TO YOUR OPINION OF THE TEXT. I JUST LET THE TEXT SPEAK FOR ITSELF.

        When considering this example, I think it is worthy to note that Reuben is really the only brother (besides Benjamin) that might be judged innocent of plotting to kill Joseph or to sell him into slavery. In Genesis 37:21-22, it is Reuben who heard his brothers plotting and said “let us not kill him” and planned to return when it was safe to release Joseph.

        Assuming that God has a plan to send Joseph to Egypt, Reuben was not forced to go along with that plan. TRUE, THOUGH HE DID NOT ACT TO STOP IT. His will remained his own TRUE, and he did not willingly sell Joseph TRUE. Joseph was sold, but we do cannot (justly) hold Reuben responsible for the act. AS IN NOT EVERY JEW IN JERUSALEM INDIVIDUALLY WAS DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR JESUS’ DEATH. Since God wanted Joseph to go to Egypt, then God worked around Reuben, rather than forcing someone without sinful intent to become sinful. MOST CALVINISTS, AGAIN, DO NOT BELIEVE GOD FORCES AN OTHERWISE UNWILLING PERSON TO SIN, AS I HAVE SAID ABOVE.

        If Joseph’s brethren had not been murderous, and assuming that God still wanted Joseph to go to Egypt, I believe that God would have used other events to make this come to pass. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO YOUR “I BELIEVE” OPINION.

        However, if I must emphasize one thing, this exceptional example of Joseph entering Egypt does not prove that God “governs all events” YOUR OPINION let alone that he ordains sin, forces wicked men into sins MOST CALVINISTS DON’T THINK GOD FORCES MEN INTO SIN, or plans hopeless damnation. AGREE.

        The second example you gave was also exceptional, most certainly exceptional, and the participant in this scene was none other that God himself, so he could be guaranteed of His Own cooperation. HE USED WICKED MEN AND THEIR EVIL INTENTIONS. THIS IS NOT HARD FOR GOD. HE IS GOD, AFTER ALL.

        From every example that I can think of from scripture (help me out here if you can think of an exception) God never forces an individual to sin where the sinful intent (hatred is the sin of murder) did not already exist AGREE. When the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, Pharaoh was already wicked and executing Hebrew infants every day. The “hardening” was not keeping Pharaoh from legitimate repentance, but smacking him with a “spirit of stupidity” (my own phrase) so that he would be an example.

        But if we believe that Pharaoh would have repented but was specifically blocked for a reason, then likewise Pharaoh cannot be held responsible for his actions (for they would not be his own.) GOD USED PHARAOH’S ALREADY WICKED HEART.

        If God determines that a certain event must happen, no individual is required to go along with the plan. Reuben did not sell Joseph into slavery but his brethren did. Nicodemus did not crucify Jesus, but the rest of the Pharisees (as a group) put him to death.

        On a final note, you seemed to make an argument that the scripture often has contradictory statements NO, I SAID “It is not a foreign concept for us to see two truths in scripture which seemingly cannot be reconciled. e.g. Jesus is fully God.”

        What you are calling “soft determinism” is not what is normally meant by the word “determinism” LOOK UP THE TYPES OF DETERMINISM and even in the case of bringing Joseph into Egypt, God might have been appealed and changed his mind, as in the case of Sodom (an unsuccessful appeal) or Nineveh (a successful appeal). MIGHT? YOUR OPINING AGAIN.

        When I ask about determinism, I am speaking not of “soft determinism” (likened to natural selection) but “Calvinistic determinism” (likened Evolution Theory.) YOU NEED TO BECOME ARMED WITH DEFINITIONS NOT OF YOUR OWN MAKING I am speaking of a doctrine that says that I existed before the beginning of the world and God made a secret selection that I am will be damned or granted mercy, and that there is nothing that can be done otherwise one way or another, not only for me, but every single person who ever existed (and those who have not yet been born already existed before the beginning of the world, for how else would God assign them their ticket?) DEFINITIONS.

        That is what I mean by “hopeless determinism”, where God decrees sin and punishes men for that which is beyond their control, where it is simply impossible to repent unless God makes you… so let us eat, drink, and be merry, for if we be damned there is nothing we can do about it, but if we be the elect then all shall be forgiven even if we do not repent of our own choosing (but we shall go through the motions to satisfy the Ordo Salutis, because that is the required ritual, but not because we want to.) DEFINITIONS. SEE WHAT CALVINISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE…WCF.

        I anticipate you will say that “Calvinists do not believe in that type of determinism” but that is where the doctrine naturally leads. If you do not believe in that type of determinism, then it seems to me that you aren’t being consistent in your beliefs, and some Calvinists certainly do seem to believe that way (see the aforementioned quotes from Wingfooted1 CALVINISTS ARE NOT HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY OTHER CALVINIST STATEMENTS, JUST AS YOU AND WF1 I’M SURE DON’T WANT TO BE HELD TO EVERY STATEMENT BY ALL NON-CALVINISTS.)

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm

        By the way Andrew, no need to write another long essay type reply on my account. I’ll likely not be able to reply in kind. For my part, try to shorten up your responses. 🙂

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm

        Les, why not use the “blockquote” and bold (“b”) tags? That way you can speak with normal case and it will set your text apart, making it look a lot better. Just make sure you don’t miss an ending tag or it will look really weird.

        As a general response, I have a couple things to say:

        First, you have a tendency to react when someone makes a successful point to say “that’s just your opinion” regardless of whether or not the statement is actually an opinion. This particular response of yours seems to be a form of escape, as if that seals the discussion.

        …example one…

        If Joseph’s brethren had not been murderous, and assuming that God still wanted Joseph to go to Egypt, I believe that God would have used other events to make this come to pass. YOU ARE ENTITLED TO YOUR “I BELIEVE” OPINION.

        I will point out that I already prefaced this statement with “I believe…” but considering that you yourself have said that God does not make sinful actions happen where no sinful intent already exists, how could you possibly disagree with this statement? You didn’t have to comment at this point, but saying “That’s your opinion” is not a good answer here.

        …example two…

        However, if I must emphasize one thing, this exceptional example of Joseph entering Egypt does not prove that God “governs all events” YOUR OPINION

        In this case, you are absolutely incorrect. This is not a matter of opinion at all, because pointing to one exceptional example is not sufficient to prove as the rule, let alone a rule without exception, especially when it has already been demonstrated that there are other viable explanations than what you have offered.

        What I said here was a statement of FACT, that what you had presented was not a sufficient proof. By its nature, that cannot be a statement of opinion, it is either CORRECT or INCORRECT. If it was incorrect, then you would need to show a logical reason why your example of Joseph in Egypt proved that God micromanaged and controlled every single event on earth throughout its entire history. But you did not do that, so it shows that you have a tendency to use the “OPINION” claim as a convenience, sometimes as an escape.

        …example three

        and even in the case of bringing Joseph into Egypt, God might have been appealed and changed his mind, as in the case of Sodom (an unsuccessful appeal) or Nineveh (a successful appeal). MIGHT? YOUR OPINING AGAIN.

        What are you suggesting is the opinion?

        (a) That God might have changed his mind if the scenario had been different, based upon what you and I both agreed upon and recognizing that this remains within God’s power, or…

        (b) That someone did appeal to God to change his mind in the case of Sodom, and that although God did listen to this appeal, that he still proceeded with his same plan of action, or….

        (c) That someone did appeal to God to change his mind in the case of Nineveh, and that God did actually listen to this appeal, and he did decide to spare Nineveh the evil he had promised to bring upon them?

        The last two options, (b) and (c) are not opinions, but statements of fact, which can be challenged from and subsequently proven by direct scriptural statements. If these are “opinion” then the entire bible is opinion and it is therefore not an agreed upon standard of evidence.

        However, if (b) and (c) are accepted as truthful statements of fact, then what reason is there to believe that statement (a) is merely a statement of opinion? For it would fall under the same circumstances as (b) and (c)…

        When you find yourself tempted to respond with a flat “OPINION’ response, you might want to check yourself and ask if it is really an opinion, or if you might be subconsciously pushing the question under the carpet.

        I have on more thing I would add, because your response was somewhat contradictory. Here are two statements you just made, in the same post:

        1. DEFINITIONS. SEE WHAT CALVINISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE…WCF.

        2. CALVINISTS ARE NOT HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY OTHER CALVINIST STATEMENTS

        Those are contradictory statements. On one hand you say to “go see what other Calvinists believe” and within the following breath you protest that you cannot be held responsible for what other Calvinists believe.”

        Furthermore, it is not inconsistent for me to demonstrate that the logical ramifications and conclusions naturally lead to the absolute determinism as evidenced by the provided quotes. I have suggested that perhaps you are not realizing the implications of your stated beliefs, but offered you a chance to explain how that is not the logical conclusion.

        So pointing to the Westminister Confession of Faith is no help already, especially considering that Bob has already shown how it points to the “hopeless” determinism that I am talking about, and besides that, you were also protesting that I shouldn’t be looking to what other Calvinists believe.

        So I am asking that you will please go back and look at your “opinion” statements again (rather than dismissing those sections) and that if you do not want to be judged by what other Calvinists believe, that you please be willing to speak for yourself when I ask for your (personal) explanation.

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        Andrew,

        I apologize for the BOLD format. I was in a bit of a hurry and that was what was best for me.

        You: ” “That’s your opinion” is not a good answer here.” I do think it was appropriate. I do not grant that Joseph’s brothers could not have been murderous. Remember, I believe in God decreeing all that occurs.

        You: “This is not a matter of opinion at all, because pointing to one exceptional example is not sufficient to prove as the rule, let alone a rule without exception, especially when it has already been demonstrated that there are other viable explanations than what you have offered.”

        Yes, I believe it is an opinion. I do not grant that God sovereignly controlling all events, even while using the will of man, is exceptional. In fact, scripture is replete with these kinds of examples. I only referenced two examples. Plenty sufficient. You are burdened to prove that He does not control all things since He says He does.

        “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” Is 45.7

        You and me: “and even in the case of bringing Joseph into Egypt, God might have been appealed and changed his mind, as in the case of Sodom (an unsuccessful appeal) or Nineveh (a successful appeal). MIGHT? YOUR OPINING AGAIN.”

        You are right that I should have not said “Opining.” I should have said speculation. You are simply speculating. That’s fine. What ifs. But one shouldn’t build or attempt to refute doctrine on one’s speculations when other scriptures corroborate the doctrine.

        You: “Those are contradictory statements. On one hand you say to “go see what other Calvinists believe” and within the following breath you protest that you cannot be held responsible for what other Calvinists believe.””

        No, this is not contradictory. I clearly said that “CALVINISTS ARE NOT HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERY OTHER CALVINIST STATEMENTS.” Notice the word “every.” I didn’t say “any.”

        To be inconsistent I would have to have said,

        “1. DEFINITIONS. SEE WHAT CALVINISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE…WCF.
        2. CALVINISTS ARE NOT HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY OTHER CALVINIST STATEMENTS”

        You: “So pointing to the Westminister Confession of Faith is no help already, especially considering that Bob has already shown how it points to the “hopeless” determinism…”

        Bob (and you) has not made his case successfully. He has asserted such, but has failed to prove his case.

        You: “please be willing to speak for yourself when I ask for your (personal) explanation.”

        I’ve done so many times.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm

        Les, you are not using the word “if” correctly.

        When someone puts forth a statement preceded by an “if” condition, that “if” condition is treated as true when considering the rest of the statement. You cannot say that the statement itself is an “opinion” when it stands as true. If you disagree with the conditional assertion (the “if”) that is what should be specified.

        However, in this case I will point that if you are claiming that it was not possible for Joseph’s brothers to have not been murderous, then you have just made God the author of sin, essentially that he decreed this sin, not only in its specific action, but also in their very heart.

        …and besides this, Reuben is an example of a brother who was not murderous, so your contention is already disproved by specific example. Reuben is already an example of someone that the LORD obviously did not specifically control.

        Moving this along further, if the LORD was specifically controlling Israel then he must insane, because when He commands them to “have no graven images” the first thing he controlled them to do was to erect graven images. That’s a second disproof of your theory… unless, of course, you are willing to say that God is insane.

        For a third obvious disproof of God controlling and micromanaging everything,

        Jer 7:30-31 KJV
        (30) For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.
        (31) And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.

        Aside from the sheer insanity of God decreeing that Israel set abominations in his house, he even specifically says (of their burning their sons and daughters in the fire) that he did not command them to do it, and beyond this, he says that it never came into his heart.

        How can God micromanage and decree sin when He says it never came into his heart? You are claiming that God decreed and controlled that his house be set upon by abominations and that they burn their sons and daughters in the fire, but God specifically protests that this was the furthest thing from his mind.

        As a side note, your differentiation between “any Calvinist” and “every Calvinist” does not make much sense. If you can be held responsible for “any Calvinist” then I could hold you responsible for the Calvinists that the Wingfooted One quoted. Rather, I continue to point to them as evidence that Calvinism (when consistently followed) does lead to absolute determinism.

        But this is ironic…

        You: “please be willing to speak for yourself when I ask for your (personal) explanation.”

        I’ve done so many times.

        Then please explain to me what WCF means (that’s not a swear word, is it?)

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        Andrew,

        You: “Les, you are not using the word “if” correctly.”

        IF you say so.

        You: “I’ve done so many times.
        Then please explain to me what WCF means…”

        Westminster Confession of Faith.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        Les, I have a college degree in how to use the word “if” correctly, and it is a basic fundamental whether building computers, programming, or performing mathematical proofs, and the word “if” is also vital to understanding scripture.

        Joh 21:21-23 KJV
        (21) Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?
        (22) Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
        (23) Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

        Using your prior standard, you would have replied to Christ with “OPINION.” However, Jesus was not saying that John would tarry until he came, but only offering it as a possible scenario. One may not have agreed with his conditional statement, but his statement nonetheless was ironclad.

        Then please explain to me what WCF means…”

        Westminster Confession of Faith.

        When I ask for your personal explanation, and you reply with WCF, now you are telling me that it stands for the Westminister Confession of Faith? Come on, Les, you expect me to believe that you wrote the Westminister Confession of Faith? I don’t buy that. Really, what does it stand for?

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 5:42 pm

        Andrew,

        “Les, I have a college degree in how to use the word “if” correctly…”

        I must be careful here. Did you pay a lot for that education?

        “Come on, Les, you expect me to believe that you wrote the Westminister Confession of Faith?”

        I’ll let you figure that one out on your own.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

        Les, this might be a good time to take a break from this and come back later.

        1) Computer Science is the entirely about the application of logic, and lives and dies over the application of the word “IF” – and as I mentioned, it is also strictly interpreted in both the Bible and in higher mathematics (computer science has a high math requirement, so I also was a math minor.)

        2) I do not believe that you wrote the Westminister Confession of Faith, which means that when you claimed that you were speaking for yourself when asked what you personally believed, that you were being less than genuine. I was trying to be nice about it and let you figure that one out yourself.

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm

        Andrew,

        I apologize that I got a little frustrated. I was very clear above that I speak for myself and write my words here mostly. I also may refer to the WCF sometimes. That’s all. Pretty plain.

        But please answer below about if you believe God knows all things before your break.

        Thanks.

  16. Posted by jimmiedon on April 10, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Bob, you can’t do a thing like repent and believe until you are made alive. This past Sunday, I preached on the spiritual resurrection stated by our Lord in Jn.5:25. Until that spiritual resurrection occurs, man’s sinfulness, his by nature the child of wrath, original sin, total depravity rules in his life, and he can be and is very religious as was those people who didn’t like Jesus’ on the idea of a spiritual resurrection or healing on the sabbath or telling a fellow to take up his bed and walk. Our Lord spoke about the spiritual resurrection and then the resurrection of life and that of condemnation, and all of this he said, Jn.5:34, that they might be saved, presenting them with the fait accompli of an impossible demand like that in Ephs.5:14, “Awake, you who are sleeping, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon you.” In other words, do the impossible (cf. Mk.10:21,27) and you will live. Paradoxical, it would seem. Hmmm! You know, Sort of like Jesus saying, Lazarus, come forth. I think it was Augustine who said, “Give what you will, and command what you will.” So Jesus’ voice conveys life in His very command for us to come alive.

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      What do you mean when you say that John 5:25 is “spiritual resurrection?” As I read that passage, and as understood by Christ’s audience, Jesus was speaking of a very literal resurrection to life, one that has been foretold throughout the scriptures, which will shall occur when Christ returns in the glory of his angels.

      Joh 5:25-29 KJV
      (25) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
      (26) For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
      (27) And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.
      (28) Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
      (29) And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

      Are you implying that Jesus is making an allusion to the actual resurrection in verse 25, as in “they that hear shall live” meaning “they that listen shall see life” and then speaking plainly in the literal sense from verse 26-29?

      I might see how that might be a tempting analogy, but there is nothing in the context that would require it to be understood in anything other than the actual literal sense. Jesus personally raised at least two people from the dead before his crucifixion, then he raised himself from the dead, and he is coming a second time to raise everyone that ever lived.

      The reason I ask this, is because I have noticed a tendency of churches to marginalize the resurrection, or even to replace it or practically eliminate it all together by tacking on the word “spiritual.”

      So with that in mind, I have a question for you to consider: if you used an allegorical interpretation of John 5:25, did you also preach the actual and literal resurrection of the dead, when all that have lived shall come forth from their graves?

      Because the resurrection is a vital theme of scripture (see also Job 19:16, Daniel 2:2, Isaiah 26:19, Ezekiel 37, Acts 24:15, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Revelation 20…. and more. Jesus also said that Moses should be sufficient to prove the resurrection, see Mark 12:24-27) … but I am not sure what you mean by “spiritual resurrection” (because the bible never uses that term.)

      Reply

    • Dr. Willingham,

      As you already know, I do not accept the premise of TD… so your statement dealing with not being able to repent or believe unless God makes you alive has no meaning to me. I do not believe we are regenerated in order to be saved. I believe at salvation, once an individual has repented and exercises saving faith, one is THEN regenerated. It is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation; God’s Word reveals who He is to a lost and dying world and the Holy Spirit works through conviction to reconcile the world unto God. That reconciliation takes place as we surrender our wills to His will and do as Jesus willingly did; go the way of the cross. If Jesus had to go to the cross, why do you think we do not have to do willingly the same?

      ><>”

      Reply

  17. Posted by wingedfooted1 on April 10, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Hi Bob.

    Here are some calvinistic quotes to support your assessment.

    “God fore-ordains everything which comes to pass….God initiates all things, regulates all things….” – A. W. Pink

    “God is in back of everything. He decides and causes all things to happen that do happen….He has foreordained everything ‘after the counsel of his will’: the moving of a finger…the mistake of a typist, even sin.” – Edwin H. Palmer

    “God desired for man to fall into sin. I am not accusing God of sinning: I am suggesting that God created sin” – R. C. Sproul Jr.

    “He hated the reprobate and planned their sin and damnation” – Robert Morey

    “That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction”. – John Calvin

    “God has predestined whomever he saw fit, not only to damnation, but also to the causes of it…The decree of God cannot be excluded from the cause of man’s corruption.” – Beza

    “It is certain that God is the first cause of obduration. Reprobates are held so fast under God’s almighty decree, that they can do nothing but sin…” – Zanchius

    “God inclines and forces the wills of wicked men into great sins.” – Martyr

    “God moves the robber to kill. He kills because God forces him to. But, you will say, then he is forced to sin; I permit truly that he is forced.” – Zwingli

    “Reprobate persons are absolutely ordained to this twofold end, to undergo everlasting punishment, and necessarily to sin; and therefore to sin, that they may be justly punished.” – Piscator

    wingedfooted1

    Reply

  18. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Once again, it comes down to ones view of Adam’s sin. Calvinists would agree with Augustine: we were able to both sin or not sin before the fall, can only sin after the fall apart from God’s grace, a Christian can do good, but cannot totally refrain from sin after salvation. Adam was holy and could walk with God, that proves the first point. Adam’s nature could change, since he went from being holy and acceptable to God to being separated from God. Satan offered him a choice, so he must have had free libertarian will before the fall.
    Calvinists would say that Adam’s race lost libertarian free will after the fall. We chose to sin, so we don’t get to complain about its effects. Man’s nature was objectively changed to that of being a child of Satan and to wanting sin. God does not make Adam’s race sin, we do it by choice. Jonathan Edward’s treaties on Freedom of the Will gives an extremely rational explanation of this assertion. In short, Freedom of the will for a Calvinist means that we act according to our nature. A dog cannot act like a cat, it would go against his will to make him act like a cat. The same is true of a sinner. God can change our nature, take out a heart of stone and put in a heart of flesh, at salvation without compromising our freedom. He is not making us do something we do not want, he is changing our want to (nature). God purposes that we do what we want, sin, even though it is against his will. He upholds our freedom by purposing that we act according to our nature. God would be acting against our nature if he purposed that we obey Him when it was in our nature to sin.
    This is where it gets dicey. God did not make Judas sin, but he purposed that Judas betray Christ. God is not responsible for Judas’ sin since Judas acted and chose according to Judas’ will. We see in scripture that God can purpose that evil events come about for His Good purposes. We see this in Gen 50:20 and in the Death of Christ. It was a bad thing to kill Christ, but God purposed that he would crucify His son for the salvation of His Children. No, God does not have licence to break the 10 commandment, It is good because he purposes it be good. He changes our evil to good. This is Rom 8:28.
    God can determine everything and we are still free, in the Calvinist viewpoint, because we act according to our nature. That is the key point: everyone acts according to their nature. Calvinist and Arminians both have to deal with a God who chose to make a people disobey Him in the Garden.
    That is a very short answer to a very big question. I can understand why God’s predestination is impossible within the view of free or libertarian will. It won’t make sense with that definition. I don’t want to argue whether this or that is true. I just want to help answer your question.

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Would you please explain this?

      Calvinist and Arminians both have to deal with a God who chose to make a people disobey Him in the Garden.

      I just figured out that you probably meant “to make the future descendants of Adam and Eve disobey” (and that he decided this in the Garden, not that they would disobey in the Garden) but this still doesn’t add up.

      Calvinists might have to deal with this, but why would an Arminian have to explain this? I didn’t think that Arminians believed that God could simply decree willing obedience.

      I apologize if this sounds like an elementary question, but please remember that I do not claim to be Arminian.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm

        That was I typo. it should have read: Calvinist and Arminians both have to deal with a God who chose to make a people who would disobey Him in the Garden. That is the Theodicy: Why did God make people who would sin? He is All knowing. I Don’t accept that He had no other choice but to create people who could sin to uphold free will. Arminians are speculating if they pose this. You and I have no idea what God could or could not have done. He is God. He could have created the race of Adam out of Rocks.
        By the way, would you say that you hold to a more Free Libertarian view?

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm

        Your change in wording still leaves the same effect. As I understand it, God made a people who could (not not necessarily would) disobey Him. Could implies that the possibility is there, whereas would implies that it is an inescapable conclusion. There’s a lot of difference between those two.

        I cannot say if I hold to a “Free Libertarian” view because I simply don’t think in those terms. I try to avoid labels unless it is clearly uncontested in meaning and I understand the meaning (and it took me a while before I realized that “Reformed” (as a Title) did not mean “reformed” (the adjective.) So if you can define it for me or can ask me questions, I could probably provide a better answer.

  19. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Andrew: God Know all future events. God knew that man would sin. There was never a question in God’s mind what action we would take. Why did God make man when He knew man would sin? That is the Theodicy.
    Those who reject this question miss the nature of suffering. Every suffering and dying person I have ever dealt with as a chaplain asks this question. Why did a Good God allow sin, death, and suffering to come into the world? God knew this would happen. How can God be Good and have allowed sin. THAT is the problem that Arminians and Calvinist alike must deal with.
    Peace
    Ron Suarez

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      Ron, what do you mean by “God Know all future events?” This needs to be defined, because I think that this is where things start to veer off track. For example, when you say…

      “God knew that man would sin.”

      I am not aware of anything in scripture which would justify your statement. When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, and gave them the fullness thereof excepting one specific tree in its midst, that very event itself presumes that Adam and Eve were capable of obeying the commandment, that although God could have prevented any possibility of sin (by issuing no commandment) that He was waiting to see what they would do if given the opportunity.

      The only way I can see justifying your conclusion is by reading Calvinism backwards on top of the Genesis account, which is an example of eisegesis. I am not fond of big words, but that means when a meaning is read into the text, rather than obtaining the meaning directly from the text.

      So if I reject your question, it is because I reject its Calvinist premise, not that I miss the nature of suffering. God allows death and suffering in this world because it is a clear demonstration of the difference between our way and His way.

      God has allowed us to know good and evil, the good and the bad, so that we can see what would happen if we were to follow Satan or even our own best intentions. Is the example working yet? Those people who grieve at suffering are starting to see the point. But to keep all of this in perspective, pain and suffering are temporary things.

      God allows evil for a temporary time, but the time is coming (and it is coming very soon) when he will destroy all wickedness, and there will be a final triumph over evil, and pain and suffering will be no more.

      Rev 21:4 KJV
      (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

      If someone does not truly believe that God can wipe away all pain and suffering, and to truly do away with the former things, then that is an issue of faith, that they do not really believe that God can do what He has said He will do. Yes, we can be hurt by this world that we have ruled for the past six thousand years, but the time is coming when God is returning to take it back.

      Yes, we may suffer hurt in the meantime, but we can be healed (or even destroyed) and one way or another evil and suffering will be no more… and we will know that what we received is truly good, because we will have seen the alternative with our own eyes, and know why we do not want that other path.

      I do not need any complex theology to answer that type of question, because it is already spoken plainly enough in scripture.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm

        Orthodox Christianity has always held God is all-knowing, unchanging, all powerful, and perfect. God cannot be all powerful if He lacks any one of the other attributes; the same could be said of the other 3 attributes. God is All-knowing. God does not change, learn, or grow in power. I reject Process theology and Open Theology. Those views are not compatible with historical Orthodox Christianity.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm

        Ron, regardless of what you think “Orthodox Christianity” has always believed, did you notice that your definition was self-contradictory?

        If God is all powerful, but cannot learn, then he does not have the power to learn. If God absolutely cannot change, then this is likewise a limitation upon his power. If God is “all knowing” in the sense that I think you understand the term, that also means that he himself is just an observer and powerless to change anything, and certainly it would be beyond his power to create free moral agents.

        I am interested in what the Bible says, not arguments from tradition (or else I would be Catholic, or perhaps Jewish.) You have acknowledged that I am a very rational thinker, so can you show demonstrate what you mean in a rational manner from the scriptures?

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm

        Andrew:
        God is Perfect: Mat 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
        He does not change: James 1:17 …coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
        Num 23:19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it?
        Mal 3:6 “For I the LORD do not change;
        1Sa 15:29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”
        My favorite: 1Ti 1:17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

        This is just a sampling. He is perfect, unchanging. He does not change His mind because he is perfect and unchanging. He is immortal because he is unchanging and perfect.
        A perfect thing has no need to change because it is perfect.
        The Bible uses anthropomorphism when it speaks of God changing his mind. God warns Nineveh and Abimeleck he was going to destroy them, but did not, so they would repent. God covers us with his wings, but is not a chicken. I believe it was Calvin who stated that God’s use of such means was like a nurse who lisps to child so they can understand her.

      • Hello Ron,

        In Matthew 5:48. the word “perfect” means “perfect in love.” I am not sure how you intend to apply this verse, but did you notice that we are commanded to be perfect in the same way that God is perfect?

        I also do not know what you are intending to do with James 1:17, which doesn’t say anything about God being unable to change. It says that in Him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, which clearly means that he is faithful and reliable to give us these good gifts. It does not mean that it is beyond his power to produce a random variable if He wishes.

        When you read Numbers 23:19, did you not also notice that it says that God is neither a man, nor the son of man? If I understand the way you are applying this passage, you just denied the deity of Christ as unintended collateral damage. Read the passage within its own context, and you will see that it is saying that God cannot be manipulated and dissuaded like weak mortal men. It does not mean that he is beyond appeal, or else why would be we told to pray?

        When you read Malachi where it is written “I am the LORD, I change not;” did you not notice that this was qualified by the phrase “therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed?” The problem with your isolated partial quote is that the sons of Jacob have been consumed, and I could likewise show you were God has made changes. For example, if Jesus was God’s only begotten son, then that means that was the first time God was manifest in the flesh through the process of being begotten. That’s a change of sorts, so what type of change is it really talking about here?

        1 Samuel 15:29 … you have the same problem as in Numbers 23:19, and I honestly have no idea what you are trying to say with 1 Timothy 1:17 (please explain?)

        The bible does clearly speak in instances where God changes his mind, so this cannot be beyond the scope of his power or in contradiction to his character. God said that he was going to destroy all of Israel, and Moses pleaded for them and God changed his mind. God said he would destroy Nineveh, but they repented and God changed his mind.

        You say this is “anthromorphism” … but this cannot anthromorphism, because it is plainly not written that way. You would have to go a bit further and say that the biblical accounts were fabrications, myths, or even lies.

        My God does not have an inferiority complex, and does not feel threatened by allowing his creation to have their own thoughts and even asking them for ideas. For example,

        1Ki 22:20-22 KJV
        (20) And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
        (21) And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
        (22) And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.

        If you will give greater credit to Kings and Chronicles and less to Calvin, the scripture gives testimony of a God that is a lot more knowable and a lot less alien… a God that is a lot like Jesus (is it strange that we should come to that conclusion?)

        But I must ask you about this last statement,

        If square circles exist it is because God created it or purposed that it can exist. Nothing has an existence apart from God created it, so he can know all things, you know, Gen 1:1? I think I gave biblical proof about God’s unchanging mind and power already.

        The point is that by definition, but the very rules of the Universe that God has ordained, it is impossible for a square circle to exist. A square has four corners, and a circle has no corners. Four can never equal zero, and therefore God cannot know how to make a square circle.

        If your understanding of God results in square circles, then I don’t even know how to respond to that on a logical rational level.

      • Here’s a passage that came to mind, for consideration:

        Psa 103:8-9 KJV
        (8) The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
        (9) He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

        God can be angry, but that anger can pass. Again, I am not really sure what you are specifically arguing against, but when we have statements like these it is hard to imagine God as if he was some sort of spiritual ice cube.

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm

      As a follow up, even if God knew with 100% certainty that Adam and Eve would sin, Adam and Eve wouldn’t have believed it until they saw it happen for themselves.

      In a similar manner, some people still think that we humans can create a utopia on earth without God. I think that in itself is a good enough reason for God to give us enough rope to hang ourselves, so to speak, because otherwise we would never believe what we were capable of.

      However, I am still rather skeptical that God knew with 100% certainty that Adam and Eve would disobey in the Garden, and if you have some sort of scriptural evidence in this regard, I would like to see it.

      Reply

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm

        Andrew, just a quick jump in:

        Peter to Jesus:

        “Lord, you know everything;”
        (John 21:17 ESV)

        Now, either “everything” does not mean everything or Jesus is not God or Peter was mistaken.

        Now it really seems quite elementary to have to point out to you that God knows everything. Sometimes it seems like you argue points just for the sake of argument.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm

        So the Lord knows how to draw a square circle? I think that you have a strange understanding of the word “everything” …

        Mar 13:32 KJV
        (32) But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

        Another possibility is that maybe Peter wasn’t listening carefully when Jesus was talking to them about the second coming.

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm

        Andrew, so you deny that God knows all things? I just want to be clear and not misunderstand. Yes or know will do.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 5:51 pm

        No, I simply deny that Les is using an fair definition of the word “all things” and affirm that he is interpreting scripture in such a way that necessarily contradicts other scripture.

        So come now, you should know that I am not going to fall into a trap of answering a question with undefined terms. When you explain to me how you can say that Jesus knows all things when Jesus gave a specific example of something that was beyond his knowledge, then you may try to ask your question again.

        Perhaps you might even wind up answering your own question.

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm

        Andrew, please answer do ” you deny that God knows all things?” before your break.

        Thanks

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 5:58 pm

        I see you obfuscated. I suspected. How about this. Since you questioned if God knows all future events (I am still rather skeptical that God knew with 100% certainty that Adam and Eve would disobey in the Garden, this being but one of many future events), why don’t you define what knowledge God does have. We’ve stated our position.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

        Les, it’s your question, so please define “all things.”

        For example, are square circles included in “all things?” What about the name of the three children that Mary gave birth to before she gave birth to Jesus as her firstborn? Does God know the five positive integers that are between 10 and 11?

        I have already asked you to define your question… do you not understand?

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 5:59 pm

        This should have been as below:

        I see you obfuscated. I suspected. How about this. Since you questioned if God knows all future events (Andrew: “I am still rather skeptical that God knew with 100% certainty that Adam and Eve would disobey in the Garden”, this being but one of many future events), why don’t you define what knowledge God does have. We’ve stated our position.

      • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 6:04 pm

        No Andrew, I’ll leave it where it is. It seems clear to me that you do not believe that God is omniscient. Feel free to prove otherwise. But barring you demonstrating that here, if you choose, that is what seems clear.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 6:07 pm

        God knows all things that are knowable, of which it is possible to know. Some things, by their very nature, cannot be known.

        For example, if God has created a creature with free will, then he cannot truly know what it will choose unless he gives it an opportunity to choose. If God has not made up his mind on something, or leaves himself open to change, then he cannot know what he will decide until he has decided.

        Square circles (or the names of non-existent children) are also examples of things that cannot be known. Thus, “all things” certainly requires some limitation away from the non-existent, the contradictory, and the absurd.

        And you’re still left with the problem that you have created a scriptural contradiction of which it seems you are unable to solve…

        John 21:17 vs. Mark 13:32

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm

        Joh 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

        All that exist comes from God. That includes all that can be known. If square circles exist it is because God created it or purposed that it can exist. Nothing has an existence apart from God created it, so he can know all things, you know, Gen 1:1?
        I think I gave biblical proof about God’s unchanging mind and power already.

    • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 7:30 pm

      Andrew, how you assert your positions based on the Bible’s truthfulness if the one who gave it is not all-knowing, unchanging, all powerful, and perfect? May be God didn’t have all the facts when he gave the Bible? May be he changed his mind after he said those things? May be he doesn’t have the power to deliver on his promises? The Bible you are basing your answers on is useless if he is changing, growing, and might not grasp all the facts. It could be there is another god out there of which he was not aware.
      It is self-refuting to say there are some things god might not know while using his book to assert your premise.
      Andrew, do you have a church you attend on a regular basis where people know you? Do you talk about these things with the pastor, and elder, deacon, or some knowledgable person that can speak into your life? There are many accepted parts of Historical Orthodox Christianity that you seem to question. I think you need to talk with someone at your church about these things.
      Blessings,
      Ron Suarez
      Now unto the king Immortal, Invisible, the only wise God be all glory and honor forver, Amen. 1 Tim 1:17

      Reply

      • Ron, I can assert everything I have said with scriptures, like the ones that I have already been providing. If you are willing to discuss scripture this should serve as no obstacle. However, when I do read the Bible I try to allow it to speak the way it was written, without toting in a bunch of preconceived baggage.

        For example, when the scriptures say that the Lord God is omnipotent (this term actually is found in scripture, see Revelation 19:6) is is not meant to be applied to inane philosophical arguments like “Can God create a rock so big he cannot lift it?” Having “all power” cannot be logically extended to absurd ideas such as knowing what someone will choose of their own free will before they exist.

        When you have made your arguments, you continually appeal to persons that you must feel are authorities, like tradition or John Calvin. These are not persuasive to me. It seems to me that you are arguing from a philosophy that made up some very strange science-fiction sounding ideas about God because they did not understand how God could fulfill prophesy unless he was looking through a crystal ball.

        Or in other words, they simply did not believe that God was powerful or intelligent enough to make the things happen that He said would happen. When the Bible tells me that God listens to prayers, and when it relates instances where he has received petitions to change his mind and he has sometimes granted them, this does not challenge my faith in the slightest.

        However, if I truly believed what you call Calvinism, I would be left with that thorny problem of hopeless determinism, and the issue that God lied when he said that he so loved the world, and that all those times when he told us how he listened to our prayers? Those were just faked? That’s what you said…

        I would assume that you are not used to having someone stand up and question things that you have taken for granted, but attempting to blame me and justify yourself with an illusion of “Orthodoxy” is not the answer, nor a fair response. Usually when someone does that it is an indication that:

        – 1) they think they are in a fight and
        – 2) they thought they were losing the fight and
        – 3) they are trying to exit while covering themselves with a smoke screen…

        … but this is not supposed to be a fight. I am asking you to set aside your Calvinist dogma and simply look at the scripture. Is that so scary? What do you have to lose?

        When I respond to your assumptions from scripture, it is not appropriate to claim that I reject the authority of scripture. That’s simply absurd. I reject the (supposed) authority of Augustine and John Calvin, but certainly not scripture. Considering the repeated criticisms of Jesus Christ against the vain “traditions of men” you should realize how dangerous (or at best, irrelevant) arguments of “orthodoxy” really are.

        I did have some time off today, but I will be busy for the next few days, so if there is something you want to talk about or discuss, it may have to proceed at a slower pace (like one or two responses per day, until the weekend.)

  20. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Andrew, you argued:
    If square circles exist it is because God created it or purposed that
    it can exist. Nothing has an existence apart from God created it, so
    he can know all things, you know, Gen 1:1? I think I gave biblical proof
    about God’s unchanging mind and power already.

    That is a logical fallacy.
    It is similar to the fallacy of: God is omnipotent, there is nothing that he cannot move, God could create a rock he could not move. If he cannot create a rock he cannot move he is not omnipotent. It God created a rock he could not move he would not be omnipotent, because he can’t move the rock.
    It just doesn’t work. That is not an argument.

    God is able to do all things according to his will. It is impossible for God to do anything contrary to his will. God would not create a rock he could not move because it is not in his will to do something that would detract from His glory.
    Ron Suarez

    Reply

    • Ron, those were your own exact words that you are arguing against. I was quoting you, word for word, with the “blockquote” tags, when I printed that. Do you not recognize them?

      This is the original post where you said these very words:

      https://transformedtheology.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/a-comment-and-a-question-for-calvinists/#comment-1040

      If you look at the header, you can see where it also says, “Posted by Ron Suarez on April 10, 2012 at 6:39 pm”

      If you are now identifying your own argument from your own post as a logical fallacy, then congratulations, I guess… Of course it doesn’t work, and of course it is a logical fallacy. This is why I was criticizing you for saying it in the first place!

      This is the link to where I criticized that statement, your statement, and identified it as a logical fallacy:

      https://transformedtheology.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/a-comment-and-a-question-for-calvinists/#comment-1041

      Note the sequential “comment number” went from 1040 to 1041. The header here reads, “Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm”

      Is there more than one person posting on this board using the same account that is calling themselves Ron Suarez? I would really appreciate some sort of explanation.

      Otherwise, I am just stunned that you would say something so contradictory, and then when I respond to it and call it down, then claim that I was the one who originally said it and say that I am implementing the logical fallacy. I am … amazed. Not fooled, but amazed.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 11, 2012 at 10:02 am

        Andrew: please see my comment fro 0855, 11-Apr. Please understand, I did not say God can create a rock he cannot move or something He cannot understand. I said all that exist was created by Him. He can create something i cannot understand, but He does. Please go beyond what I say and listen to what I mean. That is wisdom.
        Blessings,
        Ron

    • Ron, I think you need to find the person who hacked your account and posted that “logical fallacy” with your name at April 10, 2012 at 6:39 PM, because it clearly says it was “posted by Ron Suarez”, not by “Andrew Patrick.”

      But if you can see the logical fallacy behind the argument of that fake Ron Suarez, maybe you can understand why suggesting that,

      1) “God knows all future events with absolute certainty of everything that has never occurred and does not yet exist” …

      … is an absurd proposition, which is just as foolish as the “Can God make a rock so big he can’t lift it” question.

      In the meantime, good luck on hunting down that person that hacked your account. I hope you can find him and get this straightened out.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 11, 2012 at 5:57 am

        Andrew: you never did interact with pauls hymn of praise in 1 Tim 1:17. He knows all things, even future events. So we have all-knowing in this verse, omnipotent in Rev 19:6.
        You sidesteped my question about being a member of a church were you submit to a pastor and engage in regular fellowship with a body of believers. You should talk with your pastor about your views on God’s knowledge.

      • Ron, I am still baffled at how you would take your own argument, label it as a logical fallacy, and then claim that those were my words instead of your own. It would appear that someone hacked your account and posted all those previous things you said, or that you have a multiple personality disorder.

        Jas 1:8 KJV
        (8) A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

        You have already identified your own argument as being inherently illogical. If you have any sort of explanation for your behavior, I would like to hear it please. And that being said, I have no idea how you manage to deduce an absurdity like “God knows the future of things that do not exist” out of 1 Timothy 1:17.

      • A Couple of comments guys….

        First of all, Andrew I think you are way out of bounds in this last comment; if I believed someone has gotten out of bounds in their conversations, I simply thank them for their input and bless them and move on. I believe everyone here is interested in revealing the Scriptures as they see them and are doing it from a convictional position, as you do. Rule number one in communicating is mantaining respect of your audience. Once you pass that line, nothing you way will make a bit of sense because your audience has dismissed everything you write as in the case of blogs… not that even the most passionate presentation is going to change anyone’s mind but at least you have a possibility of raising an eyebrow.

        Now… to Ron… and your reference to I Timothy as a proof text on God’s knowing all things, even future events, Here is that text… “1 Tim 1:17
        17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (NKJV)

        How does this text state that God is omniscient and knows future events? I agree that God is omniscient and He may well know the end before the beginning, even though you and I cannot begin to understand how or why that can be true nor can we fathom how His omniscience works with respect to decisions and even events that take place in the world that He created.

        This is obviously at the heart of this whole discussion and debate in the first place. Even the WCF as I state in Les’ reference to Frame on determinism, this problem is clearly presented and there is no real answer for how we are to see those differences in the Scriptures. There are plenty of passages that lend themselves to several interpretations.

        ><>”

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 11, 2012 at 8:55 am

        Andrew: I have NO idea what you are talking about ‘how you would take your own argument, label it as a logical fallacy, and then claim that those were my words instead of your own.”
        Your statements are self refuting: God cannot know future acts of man/you appeal to the scriptures as authority. God cannot prophecy about the future if he cannot know future human choices. He cannot make ethical demands if there are things that are unknowable to God. He cannot say worship me alone because I am the only God (Is 45:5) if there is Anything that could be unknowable to God; the existence of another god might be in the category of things he doesn’t know about.
        Your logic seems to be: imagine an impossible thing exists, a square circle. It cannot exist because it is impossible, a square circle. It is unknowable because it cannot exist. God cannot know this type of unknowable thing, therefore, God is not all-knowing. This is self refuting because it requires you to say something exist before saying it is impossible for that thing to exist.

        On to scripture:

        Mat 6:8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

        How can God know our needs if he doesn’t know future human events? This would seem to require God to know what we will do in the future to know what we will need. According your logic, God would not know the future choices that resulted in the need. Why pray if God does not know future choices? How can I pray God lead and protect me if he doesn’t know the future choices of people that might harm me? The thought of God not knowing future human events is too abysmal for me to think about. How can God know the results of what He does if he doesn’t know future events? He cannot know how I might react to them. In that case he is just reactionary. You can’t really say God plans a future event, like God promising to make Cyrus release the Jews from Babylon, if all he does is reactionary in response to our choices. Don’t give me that Rob Bell – Love wins stuff. Love only wins if it has the power to know and do.

        Bob: I hope this will also answer your question about 1 Tim 1:17. I just love that verse. Also, were you able to find my post at 1333 on 10-Apr? I couldn’t figure out how to post it under your question. My bad. That is the context in which the Westminster Confession makes those assertions.

        Blessings,
        Ron Suarez

      • Ron, if you do not know what I am talking about, I will say this very simply,

        . 1) You quoted an argument in its full text, and this happened to be your argument that you had previously entered on this very board.

        . 2) You then claimed that this was my argument (which is difficult to imagine because I specifically responded against that argument of yours) and …

        . 3) … then you proceeded to identify the argument as illogical, which I would agree with, except the problem was you were blaming me for making that argument instead of taking responsibility for yourself.

        If you want to quote your own words that is fine with me, but don’t claim that I am making your own argument, especially for the purpose of shooting it down. This was so bizarre I really didn’t know what to think, and you were not offering any explanation (and you still have offered no explanation.)

        I don’t like being misquoted, but when someone takes an argument that I have specifically protested against and claims that it was my argument (when they should know better) that starts to look like slander, insanity, or that another person hacked your account unbeknownst to you.

        If you want to argue against something I have said, then quote what I have said, but don’t assign illogical arguments you have made to me for the purpose of having an easy target. Take responsibility for your own arguments, and if you want to attack an argument you have already made, simply state that you are changing your mind and that explaining your reasons.

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

        Friend, I am sorry I offended you. I am sorry I misquoted you. I am not arguing against you. I am sorry that I lead you to believe that. My goal is that you could understand my position. I am sorry I can’t help you understand what I believe. Please listen to what I am saying and understand what I believe. You don’t have to agree with what I say to understand my point of view. There is no point of having a conversation if I can’t help you understand my position.
        I would like to ask again, do you have a church home and am under submission to a pastor, elders, or deacons? I am asking because it is so important for spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is more than having rational facts, being able to articulate them, and convince people of your position. I struggle with bridging the gap between intellect and relationship myself.
        My God’s peace be on you,
        Ron Suarez

      • Ron, I think that one or both of us misunderstood the other, and even if you accidentally did something that made no sense, it’s not like I also haven’t done things before that made no sense (especially when I was low on sleep.)

        I think that I do understand your position, far more than you realize, and I think that I can demonstrate this even by showing how I have even preemptively answered some of the questions (or problems) you are now presenting. You have another post from 8:55 AM this morning to which I would like to respond; can you please be patient and wait for me to get to it, either tonight, or failing that, tomorrow evening?

        Your question about “church homes” and “submission to pastors, elders, and deacons” is a whole different topic all together, and I will answer this briefly:

        1) My understanding of the church is that the church is the body of believers in Christ, not a building, or a corporation, a gang, a club, or a social circle. Anyone who is a genuine believer in God and Christ is a member of my church.

        2) God has not called us to be in submission to pastors, elders, and deacons, at least not as these terms are used within the context of modern lingo such as “church homes” and the like. Jesus has told us that we are not to be lords one over the other (see Mark 10:42-43) and we are supposed to be accountable to one another under the authority of his Word and Spirit.

        The concept of being “in submission” to a hierarchical structure seems to be descended from its Roman Catholic roots. We should be in submission to God’s word, and anyone using God’s word speaks with that authority, which should trump any presumed position of power.

        When I read the Bible, I do not read of saints and prophets that were “in submission to pastors, elders, and deacons.” When I read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, these were people that were persecuted by those who claimed to be “pastors, elders, and deacons.” When “pastors, elders, and deacons” prefer the traditions of men rather than relying on scripture, they lose any claim to authority that they might have had to begin with.

        The Jews were frustrated many a time by the prophets that refused to be subject to their traditions and “chain of authority” … should Jeremiah and John the Baptist have sought out a Pastor so they could place themselves in submission to … a man, instead of God? So they could be told to shut up by a leadership that God had already condemned?

        Why did Jesus rip the temple veil in twain from top to bottom? Who is our High Priest but Christ himself? Do we need an intercessor, or is scripture a secret mystery that requires a priesthood to interpret it for us in light of tradition?

        You may consider those all rhetorical questions, and I will focus on your earlier letter in bit, but to summarize and to answer your questions in short form:

        1) Yes, I have a church home, it is called the body of Christ (and by its nature its members can be found in many different places.)

        2) I am not in submission to a hierarchical structure consisting of a “pastor, elders, and deacons” but I am in submission to God, and anyone who faithfully speaks in his name, which can usually be confirmed or denied by scripture.

        As I understand the intended order of things, a twelve-year old child who speaks rightly from the word of God trumps the supposed authority of the Pope and the Southern Baptist Convention combined, and I would consider such a child to be a member of my church.

      • Hello Ron, I have a few minutes where I can respond to your “April 11, 2012 at 8:55 am” post above (I was not ignoring your earlier):

        First, I will point out that I have never said that God cannot know future events. I have said that God does not necessarily know “every thing” that will take place with 100% certainty.

        Such a scenario as you have suggested would make God unable to react, to respond, to show mercy, to change his mind, or to make creatures possessing free will. To the contrary, we are told by scripture that we are being tested and tried, and God tells us in no uncertain terms that we have the ability to choose.

        1) If God created men with free will as he has said he has done, then he cannot truly know what someone will choose until he gives them an opportunity.

        2) If someone does not exist, then God cannot know what that someone that does not exist will choose when that non-existent person has not yet been given a choice. This is basic and elementary, and is essentially the “square circle” problem before referenced. The future choice of a non-existent person is in the same category of a square circle – by definition, they are both unknowable.

        3) If we were unable to choose, then God would not tell us to choose life over death, and he would not present us with sins and ask us to repent. If God could not be influenced, he would not instruct us to pray, and James would not tell us that the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. If God knew what we would do before we were born, he would not give us tests, and by definition he could not take action or intervene in the world.

        In short, your philosophical model of reality renders man as nothing more than a wind-up clock and God as merely an observer of what he once created, not to mention the author of all sin and evil in the world.

        If you were to begin your life on a desert island, with nothing but a Bible and creation around you to shape your beliefs, I believe you would have a much simpler and plainer understanding of God and reality that doesn’t require explaining away contradictions or saying “God didn’t really mean that.”

        And as such, I really hope that your faith is built on something else than “God seeing the future with 100% certainty in every detail from thousands of years away before it ever existed” … because I cannot recall any place in scripture where we are told to place our faith in something like that.

        With that introduction, I will respond to your statements directly (with quotes):

        “How can God know our needs if he doesn’t know future human events?”

        First, there is more than one way of “knowing” future events, but every time I have asked you or Les for a definition I have been met with determined evasion, a refusal to define your terms. I never said that God cannot know future human events. I can know future human events, and I am not God.

        Second, God knows the hearts of men, and thus he knows your thoughts with greater clarity than you do. When you make a conscious (or subconscious) choice, he knows this choice before the time delay between your brain and synapses expire, and furthermore it’s not like God is so unintelligent that he is unaware of the possible options for any situation.

        God does not need to have “seen the unchangeable future in every detail” in some sort of “crystal ball outside the space-time continuum” to know of your needs before you ask of them (per Matthew 6:8).

        “According your logic, God would not know the future choices that resulted in the need.”

        I do not understand how choices you might make in the future would necessitate what you need in the present day, so since I do not understand your question I wonder how you can know what “my logic” would say. When considering your questions, I am answers from a “normal” model of reality, not a Greek philosophical model of “God” or a “Doctor Who” model of space-time.

        “Why pray if God does not know future choices? How can I pray God lead and protect me if he doesn’t know the future choices of people that might harm me?”

        Under your understanding of God, why should anyone pray at all? If God has already seen everything that will happen and it cannot be changed, and if God has already decreed everything and will not change his mind, than any prayer would be nothing but a foolish ritual that is doomed to fail.

        I think your question is not only silly but self defeating. We are talking about a God that can create matter and energy from the void, read and influence the thoughts of men, and suspend or change the very physical laws of gravity or the behavior of the elements at subatomic levels… and you are asking how this God could possibly be a sufficient protector?

        Plainly speaking, I have a reason to pray, because I believe that God can hear prayer, that he can respond, and that even if he has determined something before hand, that he can change his mind. This is also a core aspect of the gospel, for is it not written that we are condemned already (a decree) but that if we repent he will have mercy?

        ” The thought of God not knowing future human events is too abysmal for me to think about.”

        Then you have placed your faith in a false God, one that does not exist, that is never revealed in scripture, that will not hear your prayers. I want you to please think very carefully about this. What is your faith really based on?

        “How can God know the results of what He does if he doesn’t know future events?”

        Are you really seriously asking this question?

        1) A human strategist, like a centurion or a chess player, even for all their human limitations, can do a fairly good job of taking action based upon anticipation of future events. God has far greater resources than the greatest general or artificial intelligence.

        2) God does not need to “see things happen in the future” because He has the power to make things happen in the future. Our God is an active God, not a mere observer.

        “He cannot know how I might react to them. In that case he is just reactionary. “

        My bible reveals God as taking both an active role, by initiating events, and responsive, by reacting to his creation. Indeed, if God is not reactionary then your prayers are in vain and nothing more than superstition. What is wrong with God being reactionary? Did he not tell Abraham that because he offered his only son, that He would bless him upon the earth? That word “because” is reactionary. See Genesis 22:16.

        “You can’t really say God plans a future event, like God promising to make Cyrus release the Jews from Babylon, if all he does is reactionary in response to our choices.”

        When did I say that “all” that God does is simply reactionary? You never asked me this, and thus it seems that you are grossly misrepresenting me, so it is hard for me to believe that you are fully informed at at this point.

        When we consider Cyrus, what was the actual prophecy?

        1) That there would be a king named Cyrus
        2) That this king would have power over the Jews
        3) That this king would act in a certain manner

        It is a small matter for God to raise up kingdoms, and it is a simple thing for him to influence the naming of a child so that the heir would be named Cyrus. For another example of where God directly intervened for the naming of a child, please see Luke 1:18-63, “His name is John.”

        When God has named the child Cyrus, he can steer events and protect Cyrus to ensure that he comes to power, and then he takes action as he sees fit. If Cyrus sees the prophecy and willingly obeys it, God need not take a heavy hand. If Cyrus were unwilling, God can use a divine override of his mind to make the prophecy happen.

        That is the meaning of prophecy, that God will make the thing come to pass, not that God has seen it in a mystic crystal ball like the pagan oracles of old.

        I will also point out that instances like the naming of John proves that God did not simply see that “the child was named John” in the future, but he had to take direct action to make it happen. This is only one example that upsets the “static God seeing every event before it happens” theory.

        As another example, I will point to a favorite passage oft used by Calvinists, where Moses and Paul says that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh. If God took action to make Pharaoh do something, that means that God initiated a change, and if God initiated a change, that means that it would not have been that way unless he took action. Thus, reality is not some static thing that has already happened in God’s crystal ball outside space-time.

        “Don’t give me that Rob Bell – Love wins stuff. Love only wins if it has the power to know and do.”

        I know very little about Rob Bell, but I do know that he uses an emotional and mystical approach. You have made arguments from feeling, and emotion, and said that that your current view was based more upon the way you interpret your own experience (which by necessity cannot be a valid proof for me.)

        The scriptures say that God is active and powerful, not passive and merely observing “every event” from some nebulous and mystical “Eternity.” Prophecy happens because God intervenes to make it happen and is proof of his power, not his ability to divine the future. Finally, God can hear my prayers and intervene, but the consistent Calvinist has no right to ask God to change his mind.

        I would like to ask you to please think carefully about these things (and try to come up with some really good questions) because from what you have said already it seems that you have placed your faith in the wrong thing. If your faith in God depends upon Him “seeing every event in perfect detail and knowing what you would decide thousands of years before you were born” … that is not the God of the Bible, nor what we are told to place our faith in.

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 12, 2012 at 7:08 am

        Andrew, can we talk as people, and friends? This is not a war. Friendly conversation starts with 2 people seeing each other as friends, not adversaries: ‘I have even preemptively answered some of the questions (or problems) you are now presenting.” I am not challenging your views on ecclesiology or asking you to defend or assert your view of the church. I am asking you as a friend: do you regularly assemble with the body of believes (Heb 10:24-25), in an assembly with a pastor whose job it is to equip the saints (Eph 4:11-14), that has elders in oversight of the saints (1 Tim 5:17, Titus 1:5), and that group is rightly called a church because it fulfills the 3 fold function of the church: preaching of the word, baptism, and Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42).
        Please just answer the question plainly. A simple ‘yes Ron, I do meet with a group of people who has a person preach/teach the word, who partake of the Lord’s Supper (Communion) together, and baptize’ would be sufficient. See, all that preemptive stuff was unnecessary, because friends don’t have to talk like that. They can be honest with each other, open to hearing another’s opinions without feeling the need to correct every point. So I would challenge you to answer me in the positive way friends talk. The hardest thing for me to learn was to put hard truths in a positive manner that people can accept.
        Ron Suarez

      • Andrew,

        I too would really like to see your answers to Ron about your local church involvement and if you are in submission to local oversight and shepherding. It is vitally important.

        Les

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 12, 2012 at 9:41 am

        Andrew: you said “I will point out that I have never said that God cannot know future events. I have said that God does not necessarily know “every thing” that will take place with 100% certainty.” This is one in the same. You cannot say you know a fact if you cannot say you know it with certainty. You might say God knows some facts with certainty, some facts he does not know with certainty. Show me a verse that makes this distinction. Oh wait, God doesn’t tell me abortion is wrong. You shouldn’t sacrifice your baby to Molech, but that doesn’t have anything to do with abortion. The Bible does not give answers to every question we might have to satisfy our curiosity. Some things we have to gather from the Bible in a Systematic Theology.
        God can know all future events because all of history is upheld by him Col 1:17, Rom 11:33-36,Is 40:13-14. You will have to show me the scripture that outline the things God does not know or do, apart from sinning. You have said that God never changing makes God static. Show me a verse backing that up. You said that God cannot learn if he is perfect. Show me that verse.

        You said that what I suggested “would make God unable to react… or to make creatures possessing free will.”
        Can you show me a scripture that backs this up?

        You said “If we were unable to choose, then God would not tell us to choose life over death”
        Exo 3:19 And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
        I am pretty sure that refutes your fist idea that God does not know future events with 100% certainty. I recognize you said “ everyting,” but How was God certain he knew this event with certainty if he does not know every event with certainty. It could be that this was an event that God thought he knew with certainty but really didn’t. You could say that there are certain events God knows that He knows with certainty and other events he can’t forsee with any certainty. I would say that when God tells Nivivah they will be destroyed that is indicative of Him making a statement so they will repent, and is not indicative of God understanding that he did not know the outcome with any certainty. Anyway, show me a very a verse that says God only knows some future events with certainty and some events he does not know the outcome with certainty.
        The response of man is not a factor in whether God’s actions are right or not. God said repent, it was right for Pharaoh to repent because God is our creator and has the right to tell us to repent. Pharaoh was still condemned even though God knew he would not repent. I have resisted writing like this because it is rediculous.
        Ron Suare

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

        Now that I think about it, the Bible does not say that square circle can’t exist. It doesn’t say they do exist. The Bible doesn’t say computers exist, so do they? The Bible doesn’t say God can’t create and understand a square circle. See where I am going with this?
        Like I had said in the beginning, there is the Objective truth (God’s word), situational truth (the world around us and the laws of nature), and the existential reality (our experience). God created all three to work together. The objective truth of God’s word doesn’t say anything about computer, but we know they exist from the situational and existential observation. God uses books, churches, synods, and preachers to communicate truth. If not, you can never listen to another preacher. But God tells us he gave teachers and preachers for the edifying of the church. So Synods, churches, preachers, books, and such, are permissible evidence as long as they are subject to the objective truth of God’s word. We can know a preacher, synod, or author is true by the Holy Spirit’s witness that it corresponds to God’s word. Furthermore, all your logic is invalid if you truly accept the word of God as the only proof. But how do you judge scriptures accept by a logic that has been sanctified by God’s word? Logic is the existential aspect of reality. God’s truth must encompass all 3 areas of reality for it to be true.
        Ron Suarez

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 12, 2012 at 1:42 pm

        Andrew: I am not listening to you anymore because your words are no more valid than John Calvin, The Counsel of Ephesus, or the Westminster Confession. Only the word of God is valid now. Thanks for bringing me to the very rock bottom of philosophy and theology. ;~)
        Ron Suarez

      • Andrew,

        I think Ron is right on saying, “I am not listening to you anymore because your words are no more valid than John Calvin, The Counsel of Ephesus, or the Westminster Confession. Only the word of God is valid now.”

        After all, you said earlier,”If tradition and the sayings of men are beneath scripture, then why not go directly to scripture in the first place, and why hang on to the writings of people which are already disproved or are unable to answer for what they have said? Is the scripture insufficient?”

        So, taking you at your word, I’ll henceforth join Ron in only dialoging with you in scripture quotes. In your view, neither your nor my words (“sayings of men”) are of value. Only scripture.

      • Mat 15:7-9 KJV
        (7) Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
        (8) This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
        (9) But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

        Job 15:34 KJV
        (34) For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.

        Mat 6:5 KJV
        (5) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

        Luk 20:26 KJV
        (26) And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.

        Pro 1:17-18 KJV
        (17) Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
        (18) And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.

        Job 38:3 KJV
        (3) Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

      • I thought for a moment that perhaps Ron was being sincere when he was asking to talk as normal people, but Les, you should ought to know better than to throw Br’er Rabbit into the briar patch…

      • Answering your question in the style you have required and promised to converse in from henceforth:

        Andrew,

        I too would really like to see your answers to Ron about your local church involvement and if you are in submission to local oversight and shepherding. It is vitally important.

        Les

        1Ti 4:12-13 KJV
        (12) Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
        (13) Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

        2Ti 3:12-15 KJV
        (12) Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
        (13) But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
        (14) But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
        (15) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

        Mat 18:20 KJV
        (20) For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

        Jer 23:28-32 KJV
        (28) The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.
        (29) Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?
        (30) Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.
        (31) Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith.
        (32) Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

        Isa 66:4-5 KJV
        (4) I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.
        (5) Hear the word of the LORD, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the LORD be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.

        Act 28:31 KJV
        (31) Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

        Joh 6:8 KJV
        (8) One of his disciples, Andrew,

      • If anyone other than Ron or Les would like a translation using normal English dialogue, I will oblige, although I still do not have much time available before the weekend.

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm

        Andrew, lets agree: the bible takes supremacy over all other knowledge and “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another,” Pro 27:17. Your ideas, my ideas, and the words of those who go before us have validity as they help us obey God and correspond with God’s word.
        Therefore encourage one another and build one another
        up, just as you are doing. 1Th 5:11

        Ron Suarez

      • Ron, these are your two most recent statements, and they seem rather contradictory:

        First quote today:

        Andrew, can we talk as people, and friends? This is not a war. Friendly conversation starts with 2 people seeing each other as friends, not adversaries.

        Second quote today:

        I am not listening to you anymore because your words are no more valid than John Calvin, The Counsel of Ephesus, or the Westminster Confession. Only the word of God is valid now. Thanks for bringing me to the very rock bottom of philosophy and theology. ;~)

        Which of these do you really want? Are you wanting to talk as a conversation, or would you prefer that I speak only with undiluted scripture? Technically, you did not promise to only speak with scripture quotations. That was what Les promised (and I will hold him to that) but if you chose to stop listening, perhaps you might also choose to listen once again.

        Isa 1:18-20 KJV
        (18) Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

        Let us come together and reason. God is reasonable, and God expects us to be reasonable… and considering our topic of discussion, the rest of the passage is just to good to pass up.

        (19) If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
        (20) But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

        Truthfully, my words (or anyone’s words) are more valid than John Calvin and the Westminster Confession if and when I (or they) invoke the authority of scripture. Is it not written, “he that hath my word, let him let him speak my word faithfully?” (Jeremiah 23:28).

        However, as I was saying yesterday, this is not a good time for me to be able to respond in much detail, because I have much to do before the weekend. I can manage a few short responses, but I cannot be expected to answer instantly, and I do not have time to catch up with the backlog of posts that came in today.

        However, I would appreciate it if you would respond to the content of my posts, and maybe construct some really good questions, and sincerely try to be open and fair. No, I still do not accept synods, edicts, decrees, papal bulls, or tradition as authorities, but yes, I am still bound by scripture.

        In the meantime, will you please be careful? For example, I did not say that “God cannot learn if he is perfect” (I believe you are misquoting me) and you should realize that knowing (or promising) that Pharaoh would not heed Moses is a far scale away from divining what someone will choose for breakfast 3000 years before they are born.

        I will also point out that you have neglected my point that we are specifically told that God intervened to make these events come to pass, by hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Intervention proves that this was not simply foreseen… this is entirely relevant to the matter at hand.

        Assuming that you still want a conversation, I am asking you to please do your best to focus the conversation, and to think what you would consider the crux of the matter, what you are holding in your mind that must be answered or recognized that (for you) would settle (or at least tip) this one way or the other…

        … for example, does it bother you that under the Calvinist worldview that prayer is nothing more than an uneducated superstition? That would get my attention. But maybe this isn’t the question that matters to you. What is?

        Goodnight for now, I will try to check in tomorrow.

      • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm

        Andrew, don’t mistake my graciousness for weakness. I do not think I want to argue with you. I would like to press you on your response on April 11, 2012 at 9:05 pm. Do you regularly assemble with the body of believes (Heb 10:24-25), in an assembly with a pastor whose job it is to equip the saints (Eph 4:11-14), that has elders in oversight of the saints (1 Tim 5:17, Titus 1:5), and that group is rightly called a church because it fulfills the 3 fold function of the church: preaching of the word, baptism, and Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42)? Like I said before, a simple Yes/No Ron, I don’t regularly attend a gathering of the church body that has pastor and elders as its oversight (according to Titus 1:5),and takes communion and baptizes on a regular basis would be sufficient.
        Pastor Bob, could you help me understand the nature of the local church body, its function, and its importance to the left-brain, rational individual like me who likes to be a loner and not place himself under the leadership of a shepherd? I know it is probably not good to call another person into an discussion, but I could really benefit from you helping me understand.

      • Ron

        Let’s end this thread. Enough is enough.

        Bob

      • Ron, I refuse to answer a fundamentally flawed question with a “yes” or “no” and as such you already have been provided with a scriptural response at 7:43 PM today (above in this same thread.)

        Act 2:42 KJV
        (42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

        Act 2:42 KJV
        (42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

        Please pay attention as I illustrate some the flaws in your question:

        First, when one presents a statement with multiple conditions as a “yes/no” or “true/false” scenario, the failure of any one of those conditions in whole or in part requires that the statement be answered in the negative.

        Second, when one presents false statements of fact packaged within such a question, the presence of the false statement also requires that the whole question be answered in the negative.

        Third, I predict (and I need not be a prophet for this) that you would take a negative statement (due to your misrepresentation of fact) and presume to apply the negation to any subsection that might suit your convenience, and

        Fourth, it is obvious to me (from having observed this technique many times before) that you are simply attempting to find some way to seek to discredit me, and

        Fifth, your tone (as revealed in the bottom of your last post) is rather condescending and insulting, and thus seems to betray your actual motive.

        Sixth, merely as an example, let’s pull up Acts 2:42 where you claim that a church is defined as:

        “…and that group is rightly called a church because it fulfills the 3 fold function of the church: preaching of the word, baptism, and Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42)?”

        Is that what the verse says? Whatever happened to the church being the body of believers, where two or three are gathered together in His name? Let’s pull up this scripture, shall we?

        Act 2:42 KJV
        (42) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

        Let’s examine the problems with your statement against the scripture.
        (a) this is not a “church service”
        (b) there is no “Lord’s Supper” ritual described here
        (c) we are supposed to preach whenever the opportunity presents itself
        (d) all of the above

        The correct answer is (d) that your statement is flawed for all of the above reasons. They were not holding “church services” and “breaking of bread” was not a “Lord’s Supper” sacrament, and in this case it simply means to eat food together (see Acts 2:46).

        So I do have a question for you, and since you insist that you are not weak, please answer this question. William Tyndale (my favorite martyr) wrote in defense of the sacraments, saying that a ritual could be useful and instructive, and it need not necessarily be taken straight from scripture, but he also said that in a case when the rite was performed without understanding simply out of habit, and the meaning of the symbols were forgotten, that at that point the sacrament in question became vanity and idolatry.

        Therefore, I have a question for you considering what you consider to be “The Lord’s Supper” which I will ask in several parts:

        1) Do you include bread and wine within this sacrament?
        2) If you use bread, what type of bread do you use, and why? Is it leavened bread? What does this bread represent?
        3) If you use wine, what type of wine to you use, and why? Is it alcoholic wine? What does the wine represent?
        4) Why do you perform this sacrament?

        Until such a time as you can honestly answer these types of questions, I am unable to give you a simple yes or no answer that you will not misunderstand one way or the other. Otherwise, I have already provided an answer within the limitations of sheer scriptural quotation, and that should be sufficient for you in the meantime.

      • Ron,

        With apologies to Andrew who I do to want to offend, all you have to do is search this site for past conversations with Andrew and you will see how futile this thread is. I’ve been there and done that. I should not have even tried this time. I’ve learned my lesson I think. The admission that he is not in submission to church leaders nor part of a local expression of the body of Christ is all one needs to know that this will not go well and would never end lest one just ends it. I pray Andrew finds the answers he seeks. No malice at all.

      • Les,

        Let’s end this thread. Enough is enough.

        Bob

      • Les speaks untruthfully, willfully misrepresenting my words, saying:

        “The admission that he is not in submission to church leaders nor part of a local expression of the body of Christ is all one needs to know…”

        And I respond with scripture, as Les has requested:

        Job 17:8-9 KJV
        (8) Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite.
        (9) The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

      • Andrew… lets end this thread. Enough is enough.

        Bob

  21. Les and Ron,

    I see you guys have simply by-passed my statement concerning the Abstract Priniciples… and the contradiction I suggest it poses….

    The Abstract of Principles:

    IV. Providence

    God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

    Here is my question and it is in reference to Les’ question earlier, if Calvinists are not determinsts how else can one interpret this statement… “and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; ”

    Listen that is about as plain is the nose on someone’s face… unless your all here is like the all in the Scriptures and really does not mean ALL. Come on… black ink on white paper here…

    I hate to point it out… seems to me this is somewhat of a contradictory statement… in that in one instance God governs and directs all creatures and all events… but then in the next sentence is not the author or approver of sin nor to destry the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

    This has to mean one of two things… first of all according to this statement, sin is not an event because God controls and directs ALL events… and sin is not committed by God’s creatures since once again God directs and controls ALL Creatures…

    How is this NOT strict determinism? If God directs and governs all creatures then you are calvinists by the grace of God, which I have heard some say… and that makes me not calvinist by the same grace of God and that is the point that I was making earlier.

    How do you suggest that I as a non-calvinist benefit from this important statement of faith?

    ><>”

    Reply

    • Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      Bob, I replied Posted by Les on April 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm

      Reply

      • I know you did comment but you did not deal with what the AP actually said… that is why I repeated the question. Seems to me the AP defines determinism… period. I know there is the caveat…

        God decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events … with the exception of those things He does not decree or direct or govern????????????????????

        ><>”

      • Posted by Les on April 11, 2012 at 12:11 am

        Bob,

        I thought I had sufficiently answered above. God does “from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.”

        I said above that we are determinists, just not in the sense that Eric described it.

        Maybe this will help. Theologian John Frame summarizes in his article ““Determinism, Chance and Freedom,” for IVP Dictionary of Apologetics:

        Determinists believe that every event (or every event in a certain category) has a cause that makes it happen exactly as it happens. Among the varieties of determinism are the views of (1) Plato, who held that one’s ethical choices are determined by his view of what is good, (2) B. F. Skinner, who believed that stimuli, dispositions and motives govern all human behavior. (3) Democritus, Hobbes, Spinoza, and many others, who have held that every event in the universe is determined by a physical cause. Of special interest to us are (4) theological determinists, who hold that all events occur exactly as God has foreordained them. These would include Calvin and others in his tradition. The classic exposition of theological determinism is Jonathan Edwards’ Freedom of the Will. Note that it is possible to be a determinist in sense (4) without being a determinist in sense (3). That seems to be the position of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which says in 3.1 that “God did… ordain whatsoever comes to pass,” but also says in 9.1 that man’s will “is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil” (compare 5.2).

        The examples I gave earlier of Joseph and Jesus are scriptural evidences of what I am talking about. Did God put Joseph in Egypt? Or did his brothers? Yes!

        There cannot be a clearer example of what the Abstract is saying. Your argument is not with Calvinists. This scripture is so very plain.

      • OK Les,

        I am sure you anticipated my picking up on the following statement:
        “Note that it is possible to be a determinist in sense (4) without being a determinist in sense (3). That seems to be the position of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which says in 3.1 that “God did… ordain whatsoever comes to pass,” but also says in 9.1 that man’s will “is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil”

        That is pretty much my interpretation when I wrote what I did, “God decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events … with the exception of those things He does not decree or direct or govern????????????????????”

        Here is my question with respect to this statement, which certainly explains the illogical dichotemy in the WCF.

        If this can be accepted with respect to determinism, would that line of reasoning not equally apply to God’s sovereignty or the exercise of His soverigenty? He is sovereign over the events and decisions that He chooses to be soverign over?

        Now understand something; God is ALWAYS sovereign… whether He chooses to exercise His sovereignty or not; just like Jesus is Lord whether or not we acknowledge it or not. Jesus is Lord and God is sovereign over the most determined athiest. That does not mean that they are responsible for the choices of the athiest or the unregenerate for that matter and they are not responsible for that athiest’s renouncing his or her position with respect to God’s self- revelation of who He is and what it is that He wants to do in that person’s heart and life.

        This is of course at the heart of my problem with calvinism.

        ><>”

      • Bob,

        “… with the exception of those things He does not decree or direct or govern????????????????????””

        No. WCF says God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. Then later, states that in that ordination of all things, man’s will is not forced. You are trying to read your view of sovereignty and man’s will into it.

        BTW, it’s funny that non-Calvinists keep trying to say that we Calvinists believe that God somehow overpowers and forces man’s will to love Him. Like we believe that God makes man some kind of robot.

        Not at all. We believe that those who are saved do in the exercise of their wills. They choose Christ. They willingly follow Him.

        Just thought I’d remind all you NCs on this forum.

      • Les,

        In your own quote of Frame he said, ““Note that it is possible to be a determinist in sense (4) without being a determinist in sense (3). That seems to be the position of the Westminster Confession of Faith,” to which I replied there is not much difference in that statement and the statement I made, ““God decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events … with the exception of those things He does not decree or direct or govern????????????????????”

        Now… it is true that the WCF does say God decrees all things that come to pass…. but it also says, “and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events;”

        Les, I do not mind rebuttal but don’t try to side step the reality of the determinism that is clearly stated in the WCF… and especially from the standpoint that I am somehow missing the boat on something so simple.

        In addition you made the following comment, “BTW, it’s funny that non-Calvinists keep trying to say that we Calvinists believe that God somehow overpowers and forces man’s will to love Him.” I do not say that; I am fully aware of the language that men naturally follow their natures; the unregenerate sins because that is his nature and the regenerate follows his new nature and comes to Christ.

        I have some problems with the implications of your posits but I do not make such empty charges. So, while others may be guilty of such, I am not. It is not prudent to make accusations in the same spirit that others do when I hear of these strawmen arguments; which is interesting since the only people I have ever heard use such a phrase was calvinists charging non-calvinists. Don’t want you making the same mistake!

        ><>”

    • Posted by Ron Suarez on April 11, 2012 at 5:51 am

      Bob, I gave the Calvinist expination of how God is sovereign and man is free above. I failed to link it to you question, so it might have been overlooked. That answer is what got Andrew started asking if God was indeed all knowing. BTW, 1 Tim 1:17

      Reply

    • Bob,

      First, I apologize about the last part. I was not saying that you have charged that to us Calvinists. I’ve seen numerous such charges lately. It was a general statement.

      Now, to Frame. He simply says that one can be a determinist in #4 sense while not in #3. #3 says “who have held that every event in the universe is determined by a physical cause.”

      I don’t know any Calvinists who hold to #3, do you?

      What Frame is saying is not the same as what you posit. Frame holds to classic Calvin decretal theology. You do not. WCF does NOT in essence say that God decrees ALL things “except “those things He does not decree or direct or govern????????????????????” It says He decrees all things. Period. I’m not sidestepping at all. Maybe I’m just missing what you’re getting at.

      Help me out.

      Reply

      • OK… I was not reading the brief statement from an item by item basis in Frame’s statement, once can be a determinist in 4 and not in 3… however, I would be inclined to think of 3 as more of a physical absolute akin to the principle “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” speaking of the universe and from that standpoint, i would have to disagree with Frame. #3 is perhaps the most deterministic of the 4 statements, although not necessarily theologically speaking. I went to college as a physics major before surrendering to preach.

        Now… I simply read Frame’s statement basically as follows… one can be a determinist in one sence and not in another. My bad.

        However, Frame’s opinion is just that. In going back to the WCF, it clearly states that God from eternity, decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

        Now… that statement, those 10 words in bold are deterministic; it is impossible to deny that fact. It cannot be stated any clearer.

        The fact that the second part says something different, does not dismiss the determism of those 10 words. As far as I am concerned, the WCF was written in a way to say… when we need determinism refer to rule number 1… the 10 bold words.

        When we dont need determinism like with sin and free will, go to rule number 2: yet so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.

        If sin is an event, which it is, then it is part of the “all events” that God directs, governs and decrees… notice the conjunction “and”; that unites both sides with equal weight. Sin is an event… no way around it.

        Decisions people make are “events” and according to the WCF they too are controlled by God’s decrees and His direction and governing.” After all, the whole of regeneration that calvinists build their theology on follows this pattern; God decrees it and it is necesarily so. You have even said so in previous comments;

        that IF God decrees something, then it cannot not happen. God’s decrees must take place. So, all events, good and bad happen according to His decrees.

        That was my point.

        ><>”

      • “Now… that statement, those 10 words in bold are deterministic; it is impossible to deny that fact. It cannot be stated any clearer.”

        As I have said, Calvinists are deterministic. The real question is in what way. I have differed with Eric’s characterization over at SBCToday and stated more fully here. I do not affirm a determinism that forces wills and makes God a causation agent of sin.

        “The fact that the second part says something different, does not dismiss the determinism of those 10 words. As far as I am concerned, the WCF was written in a way to say… when we need determinism refer to rule number 1… the 10 bold words.”

        No, I would say the second part is not rule #2, it is explanatory of #1 and a qualifier based on other biblical data.

        Bob, this all really goes back to this. Calvinists say that man’s will is not free. It is in bondage to sin and his sinful nature due to the fall. His heart is bad. He needs a new heart to see the kingdom of God. We say God gives a new heart in regeneration (new birth). The scales fall off and the newly “made alive” sinner can see the kingdom and then he chooses Christ with his own new freed will and new heart. He genuinely repents and exercises faith. That’s really all there is. You and others don’t see the new birth as needful for man to exercise his will. We do.

      • OK…. so you do not agree with the WCF then. My argument here is not about WHAT calvinists believe; I get what you are saying.

        What I am saying is that the WCF points to determinism in those 10 words.

        ><>”

      • Bob, as I said above, “As I have said, Calvinists are deterministic.” I’m a Calvinist. So, I’m a determinist. I agree with the WCF.

        I agree with William James, “soft determinists hold that all events, including human decisions, are determined, but that some kind of freedom and moral responsibility also exists.”

        I’m also a compatibilist.

      • Ok… so you are a determinist… so is it fair to say that God’s decrees MUST take place?

        Is it possible for God’s decrees NOT to take place?

        ><>”

      • I agree with the WCF: “1. God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

        Therefore, I do not believe that what God decrees must necessarily happen.

      • “Therefore, I do not believe that what God decrees must necessarily happen.”

        Should read, “Therefore, I DO believe that what God decrees must necessarily happen.

      • OK…

        Lets look at WHAT you have said… “I agree with William James, soft determinists hold that all events, including human decisions, are determined, but that some kind of freedom and moral responsibility also exists.”

        And “I do believe believe that what God decrees must necessarily happen.”

        Look at what YOU HAVE SAID in these two statements, how does that NOT make God primarily responsible for man’s sinful decisions?

        If all events, which includes man’s decisions, are determined (by God’s decrees) which “must necessarily come to pass, THEN God and not man is responsible for those decisions “BEING MADE.” Man can still be held responsible for them but it is God’s decrees and not man’s nature that is fully responsible for the decisions themselves.

        Please reserve your comments to WHAT I have just written. I understand the other nuances but what I am doing is trying to fathom the implications of these two statements you have just made… that is ALL. And for the record, I hope you can do better than pointing to the complexity of the Trinity with this one as well.

        I am not trying to be cute here or anything… I am seriously wanting to undertand HOW one can say one thing and mean another.

        ><>”

      • Bob,

        You: “Look at what YOU HAVE SAID in these two statements, how does that NOT make God primarily responsible for man’s sinful decisions?”

        Because God has decreed something to happen does not make Him responsible for that thing nor does it make Him the author of it. Only one example is necessary to prove the case, and I have noted it before. Jesus’ betrayal by Judas. God ordained (decreed) it, Judas carried it out and Judas was responsible for what he did. God did not do it nor is God the author of Judas’ sin nor can God be held accountable for Judas’ sin. God knew it ahead of time (so His perfect knowledge secured that it would happen) and yet so governed the events that they happened perfectly according to His decrees and purposes. Mystery? Yes. Sorry if you don’t like to hear us Calvinists appeal to some degree of mystery. We can’t help it because s ways are higher than ours and His knowledge is higher than ours. Who can fathom?

        It is an amazing thing to think that God can and does work all things, even our sin, for His purposes and His own glory.

        Bob, we both come at this presupposing that God is Holy and cannot sin. Nor can He be charged with authoring sin. So whatever we conclude about what the scriptures say about Judas and Joseph’s brothers, etc., we cannot violate the presupposition that the scripture clearly teaches…namely that God is Holy.

      • You are correct in your statement, “So whatever we conclude about what the scriptures say about Judas and Joseph’s brothers, etc., we cannot violate the presupposition that the scripture clearly teaches…namely that God is Holy.”

        There is however one other conclusion: Since God cannot sin or be charged with sin, perhaps God is not as decretive as calvinists contend and that is my position.

        I do not believe God’s sovereignty is forced into the mold the calvinists have forced it into and that is the meaning of the madness in the discussion I have engaged in here.

        ><>”

    • The Westminster Confession of Faith contradicts itself within the same sentence. God cannot simultaneously:

      (a) “perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events;” and
      (b) “not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin nor to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.”

      Especially considering the Calvinist understanding of “all creatures and events” includes the free will (or not so free will) of men and/or angels, down to the very thoughts, not just in special cases, but in every thought and every deed.

      When the Confession says “upholds, directs, and governs” it really means “forced by divine decree” because it is not meant in the sense of an option or a suggestion, but something which is unavoidable regardless of the wishes of anything else. This is called “forcing.”

      As Bob has pointed out, sin (in thought or in deed) is an event (or “a thing”) and as such the Westminster Confession of Faith is really saying,

      We believe A = B, but not that A = B;

      And it declares that men and angels are really responsible for things that are absolutely beyond their control, which defies the very meaning of the word “responsible” by definition.

      Most normal people can see this type of contradiction from a mile away, but it seems that it takes a special type to be able to reconcile two contradicting statements at the same time. I think the Confession is written that way so that a Calvinist can bounce back and forth between each phrase as dictated by convenience.

      Reply

  22. I thought that perhaps another biblical example might help to show that God does need to see what we will do before he judges us, and that he actually does respond in reaction to what happens upon the earth, rather than seeing it through a magical crystal ball.

    Gen 22:10-12 KJV
    (10) And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
    (11) And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
    (12) And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

    If God already knew with 100% certainty what Abraham was going to do, then he wouldn’t have needed to test him, would he?

    Gen 22:15-18 KJV
    (15) And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
    (16) And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
    (17) That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
    (18) And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

    Why does God issue this promise? It was because Abraham had done this thing, that is, in reaction to Abraham’s demonstration of faith. That’s what it saith.

    I am just reading the scriptures the way the Holy Spirit inspired them to be written, and it is really difficult for me to accept that there is a Secret Gnostic Determinist doctrine that must be read into every page to disregard what it so plainly says. Allowing the words to be read in their ordinary meaning, we apparently are allowed to have free will that is not directly controlled or predetermined. That is, God has decreed that we shall be allowed free will.

    Reply

  23. Posted by wingedfooted1 on April 11, 2012 at 10:15 am

    Bob,

    As already stated from the WCF….

    “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever come to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

    Now from the Banner of Truth website regarding the above…

    “Reformed theology, contrary to what some may think, is not opposed to the concept of the freedom of the will. The Confession states that God’s eternal decree does not violate man’s free ability to do as he pleases.”

    So when God regenerates those He intends to save, does He do so with their consent? Or does He violate their “free will”?

    “At the same time, however, with John Calvin we must also say that God’s will is and rightly ought to be, ‘the cause of all things that are.’ So while man is free to do as he pleases he is never totally free. He is never free to act apart from God’s divine decree.”

    If man is not “totally free” then he is not free at all. So it appears from the WCF that man’s problem is not that he is a “slave to sin”, but rather a slave to the secret decretive will of God.

    wingedfooted1

    Reply

    • WF1

      To an extent, we are in agreement where God’s decretive will is concerned. However, for the sake of clarification, lets change the statement that “man’s problem is not that he is a ‘slave to sin’ but rather a slave to the decretive will of God” to “man’s problem is that he IS A SLAVE TO SIN because that is God’s decretive will” and so it is not that man’s nature that is the cause of his sin (according to calvinism) , but the CONCEPT of God’s decretive will itself, since if it is God’s decretive will, it cannot NOT HAPPEN.

      ><>”

      Reply

  24. Bob,

    Just curious. T4G has these affirmations and denials. Can you agree with them?

    http://t4g.org/about/affirmations-and-denials-2/

    Reply

    • Les,

      I actually did take the time to read the affirmations and denials… and I am good with it all, given my leaning. The one statement that I would have written a little differently would have been, “We further deny that any teaching that separates regeneration and faith is a true rendering of the Gospel.” I am ok with them being inseparable; for as I see them, true faith brings regeneration and the two can be considered simultaneous. I realize the calvinist will say that regeneration brings about faith and that the two are simultaneous as well; there is a difference in the order.

      That is the only objection I would have, with one pass, even though it was a careful pass. I doubt that will make me a welcomed member of the club, however!

      ><>”

      Reply

      • I thought you could affirm them. Most Calvinists see regeneration as essentially simultaneous, but logically place regeneration prior.

  25. Posted by jimmiedon on April 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Dear Bob: Having neither tine nor energy to continue this discussion, as well as having been absent from it due to other involvements, I will withdraw with the following comments. One, the reality of the word “can” must be recognized by you and accounted for in your total separation interpretation. Jesus said “no man can come to me except he father draw him….no man can come to me except it were given him of my Faher above.”(Jn.6:44,65). The total depravity of man includes total inability, the disabling effects of the original sin. Can refers to ability. The negative before in the two references makes it plain that man does not naturally have the ability to come to Christ without supernatural power and influence, without a supernatural gift. As to original sin and total depravity, in view of the fact that the Bible asserts that man is dead in trespasses and sins, a child of satan, walking in darkness, a save of sin, self, and satan, a child of wrath, lacking all soundness, spiritually, in his being (from the top of his head to the sole of his foot), with madness in his heart till the day of his death, you know with all that man might as well be considered totally depraved. And Bob think how much is owed to them calvinists who founded this denomination. Even the father of missions, Luther Rice, said the doctrines of grace are in the Bible and you had better preach it, and he was very influential on Basil Manly who suggested and then led in the founding of Southern Seminary. The theology of Sovereign Grace was the theology of the First and Second Great Awakenings and of the launching of the Great Century of Missions, and it transformed Protestantism from a Gospel recovery effort, contentious, combative, and conflicted into an outgoing, we will win you with persuasion of the truth movement. Now for 40 years and more, prayer has been made to God for a Third Great Awakening, one that might win the whole earth and every soul on it (hopefully beginning with this generation) and continuing for a 1000 generations. Naturally, if your going to have an awakening, you have to have the theology that goes with it. God bless you to see the arguments of truth being pressed upon you. Les and Ron are doing pretty good jobs.

    Reply

    • Dr. Willingham,

      Thanks for your input; you are consistent for sure. I can always count on a history lesson in your comments. I do take them into consideration.

      You wrote, “Naturally, if your going to have an awakening, you have to have the theology that goes with it. God bless you to see the arguments of truth being pressed upon you.”

      I promise you God has shared His glory with me in more ways than I can count and certainly deserve. It is and has been an immeasurable blessing to be able to search the Scriptures and find His presence and His power and His provisions in my life and the lives of those He has placed on my path these years and even today. I am indeed humbled that He would even consider a sinner like me for such a high calling.

      My God continue to bless and use you as well!

      ><>”

      Reply

  26. OK… that is IT… you guys need to end this converation.

    Bob

    Reply

  27. Posted by Steve on April 14, 2012 at 2:00 am

    A Calvinist is a Christian & a believer of Scripture FIRST, before he ‘realizes’ himself to be a Calvinist. Scripture says ‘all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God.’ This includes Calvinists. It also says the wages of sin is death & that death (along with all those in Hades) get thrown into the lake of fire. The Calvinist realizes that he deserves the lake of fire too, since he too has sinned. However, the Calvinist also believes that it is through Christ Jesus Whom we receive the ‘free gift’ of faith, & that ‘it is not of ourselves.’ The Calvinist also believes that we can be ‘assured’ of our salvation based on what’s written. However, a ‘genuine’ & ‘assured’ conversion results not only in a changed heart, but also changed actions. The Calvinist lives his new life for Christ by not only identifying with his death, but also identifying with his resurrection. I don’t have any children, but a ‘true’ Calvinist, who is true to Scripture, would admit that if they were able to ‘know’ that one of their 4 children were not predestined, or part of the ‘elect,’ that that child would end up in Hell, because a person cannot come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ on their own, without the ‘draw’ of the Father. However, the Calvinist also believes that no one is able to look into a person’s heart, including their children, & ‘know’ if they are part of the ‘elect’ or not. So, the Calvinist does what the Scripture tells him – preach the gospel to EVERY creature. Lastly, even if we don’t know God’s Will or why He predestined some & not others, that doesn’t diminish the holyness or sovereignty of a loving, righteous, perfect, & judging God. God gets glory from salvation, just as He gets glory from condemnation. Hope this answers your question. In Christ, Steve.

    Reply

    • Steve,

      Thanks for the comment. I guess the real point was that i hear people talking about the elect and it is always seems to be inclusive… meaning me/us and the unregenerate always seems to refer to they/others.

      It is true than in every church setting and certainly every crowd, there are lost people. The percentage of lost is unfortunately too high… so when you take that same number of folks who consider themselves to be “the elect” I wonder how the same percentages would apply there?

      I was simply thinking out loud. I know how those percentages most certainly apply to those who consider and call themselves “Christian”.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      ><>”

      Reply

      • Posted by Steve on April 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

        Yeah, unfortunately I couldn’t agree with you more. There does seem to be an arrogance & feeling of entitlement of some Calvinists & non-Calvinists alike. Although it’s true that we can be assured of our salvation based on what’s written (1 John 5:13), unfortunately, many Christians continue to live that same actively, sinful lifestyle that they led before they ‘converted,’ which shows that they were never truly converted to begin with. I agree with you that percentage of the lost, even amongst the church is unfortunately too high, but then again, Jesus did warn us that the majority of people are going to end up in hell, rather than Heaven (Matthew 7:13-14), even those in the church, who ‘think’ they are saved (v.21-23). The only real way of knowing if a person is truly saved is if they can honestly look within, be honest with themselves, & ask, ‘am I doing the will of the Father, or living for myself.’ I don’t think we will ‘know’ this side of the grave who is truly part of the ‘elect’ & who isn’t, other than ourselves, until we reach heavenly glory. However, we can be assured from Scripture that there is indeed an ‘elect’ that was predestined by God before the foundation of the earth, that we can know if we are the ‘elect’ by ‘calling on the Name of the Lord,’ & that the rest are the wicked who will unfortunately end up in the lake of fire for all eternity. Thanks for your comment & may God bless you, in Jesus’ Name! In Him, Steve.

  28. Posted by earl on July 26, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Bob.
    After reading all the blogs following the SBC meeting about Calvinism, here is a new subscriber who is so happy to find you.

    Reply

  29. Welcome Earl!

    Be sure to check out http://www.sbcissues.com as well.

    ><>”

    Reply

  30. Posted by Steve on July 27, 2012 at 1:47 am

    In regards to the whole ‘Calvinism’ issue, I found a brief, but great 8 minute video by one of the most Biblically accurate pastors that I have heard, since becoming a Christian:

    If you can’t link to it, goto YouTube & type in ‘John MacArthur Predestination question from 2010 Shepherd’s Conference’

    God bless in Jesus’ Name,
    BornAgainRN

    Reply

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