Friday, August 31, 2007

Proverbs 21:1

Proverbs 21:1: "The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes."

And God said to Moses: “But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.” (Exodus 3:19-20)

How does God know that after compulsion, Pharaoh would finally relent, and let Israel go? Is the answer simply because that is what is in God's alleged, Script of Life, and Pharaoh must ultimately play his role in God's Deterministic script, or is the answer because God has perfect Middle Knowledge, that is, knowing all possible contingencies, and knowing all of the what-ifs, which in this case, means knowing what Pharaoh would do in every single circumstance put to him?

God knows man, better than man knows himself. God controls the situations and God controls the range of a man's choices. 1st Corinthians 10:13 states: "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." How does God know what any man is able to endure, if He does not have perfect Middle Knowledge? This verse shows that the parameters of a man's choices are set by the Providence of God.

Why does the Bible say that Pharaoh hardened his heart (Exodus 7:13, 22, 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7), and after which, God hardened his heart? (Exodus 9:12, 34-35, 10:1, 20, 27, 11:10; 14:8) We have two answers from the Scriptures:

1) 2nd Samuel 22:27 states: "With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself unsavoury." [KJV]

2) Jeremiah 18:5-11 states: "Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 'Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?' declares the LORD. 'Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.' At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, 'Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds."'"

So what have we learned? I learned that God's molding is explicitly conditional. Pharaoh was a froward man and God dealt with him as such. But is it possible for a man to harden his own heart? Answer: If not, then what did God mean when He warned: "Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness." (Psalm 95:8) God knew exactly what made Pharaoh tick, and he being froward in the sight of God, God raised him to power and prominence in order for him to serve a useful purpose to God the Potter. It's not God's will that Pharaoh be froward, but God will deal with him as he is. If Pharaoh had repented, like Ninevah, then Scripture records that God would have relented.

What did John Calvin teach about Proverbs 21:1? Here is a link to my write-up on this passage:

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/OT/Prov21_1.html

14 comments:

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Richard,

No...I haven't left the planet, but things have been busy here. Will get back to you on this one pretty soon.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Richard, I'm pretty sure that Calvin said other things too. Like man's responsibility? The article you link too is one sided and therefore unbalanced. It is the side of Calvin which you do not like, but unfortunately you refrain from giving even any mention of where he puts the full responsibility unto man for his wicked deeds and treats man as an intelligent being, answerable to God for what he decides to do.

When men engage in wicked devices, they are operating out of the wickedness of their own hearts. God did not make men wicked nor does He tempt any man to evil. What God doesordain is that certain wicked events will infallibly take place. These cannot be seen as a response on God's part. The classic example being the Cross. Was the Cross a mere afterthought with God, where man decided first (as foreseen by God) to crucify God's Son and God took advantage of it to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?

Verses like 2 Samuel 22 where God shows himself pure to the pure etc., are to be taken both as a promise and a warning (as appropriate) by the reader, who is totally responsible for his deeds. When I read verses like this, I see that I am being instructed to be pure and so enjoy the blessing of God, while I am being warned that I will suffer if I disobey Him. I am a responsible person and it would be absolute folly on my part to rush on through the red lights which God has placed upon the track of my life, and (at the same time) ignore the many gracious offers which he also places on the same track.

SelahV said...

Good morning Richard, like this post. It will give aid to some of what I'm teaching regarding El Elyon this month at a ladies retreat.
I always see God's Sovereign hand as going before me to guide and direct the course of my life. "He knows my need before I even need it". So many times in life (as I look back) and as I seek to know Him more intimately, I see Him making sure my path and working in others that they turn from their wickedness to Him. More than once He has pulled the proverbial rug out from under my feet and left me sitting in a puddle of my own making. So I think God knows exactly what makes us "tick" and uses every method He can to bring us to Himself. Then, ultimately, we either follow Him in obedience to His call or we reject Him in prideful arrogance. Just my way of seeing things. blessings to you, my brother. selahV at selahvtoday.typepad.com

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey SelahV and thanks for stopping by with your comment,

I just posted on your website, concerning a guest pastor's thoughts on God's sovereignty, which you might find helpful.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

To Goodnightsafehome,

I wouldn't say that Calvin denied man's responsibility. I was simply quoting Calvin's use of the passage, and I think it's apparent that Calvin was a Supralasarian. Would you agree?

Tell me what you think of this quote from Calvin:

John Calvin comments on Romans chapter 9: “When God prefers some to others, choosing some and passing others by, the difference does not depend on human dignity or indignity. It is therefore wrong to say that the reprobate are worthy of eternal destruction.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.120-121)

What point do you feel that he was trying to get across, especially the bolded portion?

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

To add,

Your wrote: "Was the Cross a mere afterthought with God, where man decided first (as foreseen by God) to crucify God's Son and God took advantage of it to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?"

As an Arminian, I cannot help but point out the fact that Acts 2:23 does reference the "foreknowledge of God," as it relates to the predetermined plan of the Cross. I do believe that God planned good, from the standpoint of His foreknowledge of man's bad, so whether that amounts to "snatching victory from the jaws of defeat," I cannot say, but I do not mind it.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

One other point :)

You wrote: "What God does ordain is that certain wicked events will infallibly take place. These cannot be seen as a response on God's part."

I really believe that it is, and this may be another situation where we must ultimately agree to disagree, since I believe that if God was to predestine sin (even through secondary causes), that He would be more guilty than the willing secondary party who actually carried it out. Using an analogy, consider the situation of a husband who hires a contract-killer to murder his wife. After the crime is committed, and both parties are arrested, do you suppose that in court, the husband will be declared “Not Guilty” on the grounds that he was merely the Conspirator, rather than the acting secondary cause? Will he be exhonerated on the grounds that someone else, namely a secondary cause, was the one who actually pulled the trigger? In reality, however, the Prosecutor will most often, offer to Plea Bargain with the killer in order to levy their greatest charge against the Conspirator. Therefore, not only does the “secondary causes defense” not exonerate the Conspirator, it further backfires as the Conspirator is often held with greatest contempt.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

To Goodnightsafehome,

Regarding my 3rd point in the previous post, allow me to make one clarification:

At times, when judging Israel, God indeed stirred up the heathen nations, such as Babylon, as God explained to Habakkuk. I don't believe that this type of Compatibilistic, Soft Determinism makes God the Conspirator or Author of sin. However, sometimes with these alleged "eternally ordained decrees", the line between what is Hard Determinism vs. Soft Determinism gets blurred. I do not agree that what God permits, He ordains, and that's where I disagree with Sproul. Perhaps it's merely symantics, but the Arminian rejects the idea that God ordained sin. Arminians, rather, agree that God permits sin, and, as you explains, snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. I think that that's where you find the fundamental difference. Just to be clear, I am certainly not charging God with sin for stirring up the Babylonians. I'm alleging that there is real foreknowledge involved, together with Compatibilism.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Richard,

My humble apologies in not getting back sooner, but things busy here. I have had a quite a few debates going and they dropping off now one by one. Sounds like a "Whodunnit" type film In other words…you're next :-)

The key words in Calvin's quote “When God prefers some to others, choosing some and passing others by, the difference does not depend on human dignity or indignity. It is therefore wrong to say that the reprobate are worthy of eternal destruction.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.120-121) is the word "depend" Calvin isn't dealing herewith the matter of why men ultimately go to hell (which is their sin, and he says so elsewhere) but why, in election, some are passed by and others are chosen. Sin cannot be the difference because bothelect and reprobate are sinners. If sin in this case was the cause of the difference, then creature righteousness (of one manifestation or another) would be the cause of men being chosen unto life. Bearing in mind that God dealt with the human race back then as fallen sinners and so together we both deserved to perish eternally, He then on no other basis that his own sheer grace, chose some to be saved and left the others in the doom in which He found them. It took me a wee while to catch that one too, but it does make a big difference and at the one and same time plus the responsibility for sin on the sinner and all the glory of salvation to God.

The great theological problem with God decreeing things on the basis of what man does is that you have the Eternal God being influenced by matters of time.

Your analogy of the husband hiring the contract killer etc., is flawed when it comes to matter at hand. Both the husband and the hit man have only one motive - the sinful, wicked removal of the victim. The one (husband) for any one of a hundred reasons: hatred, jealousy, lust for another woman, false insurance claim etc., The other (killer) probably just for money and/or a reputation etc., (hardly an honest day's work) but neither for any pure motives. Neither can say that I am allowing this murder to go ahead for my glory. It stinks from beginning to end. Its perpetrators, if caught, will both go away for a long time. But from both our point of views, we have the same God who can either allow or disallow this act. It is in all our hearts to be this murderous husband. For some, the thought never really arises, for others it is quickly dismissed when it does, for others only eventually dismissed, for others yet again (sadly) it becomes a practical and wicked reality and the assassination is set up. We know that God knows our every thought from His eternal standpoint. As said, some of these He lets run when He could so easily prevent it. Others He prevents. Is God at fault when He lets these things run? We both answer "No!" because we know (even if we cannot explain the "how") that God can take sinful things and use them for His own glory. His relationship to sinful actions is entirely and 100% different from ours. He ordains the sinful actions (in this case: murder) but He does not ordain the sin. He is not the author of sin and Calvinism is very careful to make that clear. Such a thought is as repulsive to a Calvinist as to any Christian from any other school of thought. Effectively because God allows some things and denies others - snatching away evil thoughts and leading some out of temptation while leaving others to perish in it - we are both in the same boat here.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hello Goodnightsafehome,

Review Calvin's quote once more: “When God prefers some to others, choosing some and passing others by, the difference does not depend on human dignity or indignity. It is therefore wrong to say that the reprobate are worthy of eternal destruction.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.120-121)

You wrote: “Bearing in mind that God dealt with the human race back then as fallen sinners and so together we both> deserved to perish eternally, He then on no other basis that his own sheer grace, chose some to be saved and left the others in the doom in which He found them.”

You and seem to agree that John Calvin was wrong, in that we are “right” rather than wrong, “to say that the reprobate are worthy of eternal destruction.” I surmise therefore that you are not a Supralapsarian. Which lapsarian system would you classify your beliefs?

You wrote: “The great theological problem with God decreeing things on the basis of what man does is that you have the Eternal God being influenced by matters of time.”

Indeed.

You wrote: “Your analogy of the husband hiring the contract killer etc., is flawed when it comes to matter at hand. Both the husband and the hit man have only one motive - the sinful, wicked removal of the victim.”

Allow me to quote Calvin:

Calvin adds: “If what I teach is true, that those who perish are destined to death by the eternal good pleasure of God though the reason does not appear, then they are not found but made worthy of destruction.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.121, emphasis mine)

John Calvin writes: “Solomon also teaches us that not only was the destruction of the ungodly foreknown, but the ungodly themselves have been created for the specific purpose of perishing (Prov. 16:4).” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.207-208, emphasis mine)

Calvin adds: “At this point in particular the flesh rages when it hears that the predestination to death of those who perish is referred to the will of God.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, p.208, emphasis mine)

Do you repudiate Calvin on this matter? Luther stated that God created the perishing by “necessity”

In terms of Preterition, to create a class of the alleged “eternal flock of the Father,” requires that an omniscient God be simultaneously aware of creating those who are not in that class. To compound the matter, to decree sin to be carried out by secondary causes is not a matter of “allowing” but about predetermining, and premeditated sin appears, from my viewpoint, to be conspiracy to commit sin. That’s why I believe that the analogy holds. I welcome your thoughts.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Richard,

Sorry for the delay in getting back here. Things are really busy this end as we are gearing up for an outdoor evangelistic event soon and a thousand details need to be brought together. Which at least establishes my evangelistic credentials and belief in the responsibility of man :-) Not as if this is an easy subject of discussion either.

Without going into the all details (and, please, debate) I am a sublapsarian. No matter how the argument runs, I hold that salvation is all of grace while damnation is all of sin. That is a fixed principle as far as I am concerned. No man is in hell who does not deserve to be there.

My answer as to the end that the wicked were created etc., would probably differ from the quote attributed here to Calvin. I remember a discussion once in a Bible discussing the great question as to whether Judas was born to be damned. I came to the conclusion that he was born to glorify God and enjoy him for ever and signally failed. In other words, there are some questions that are best answered from the responsibility of man point of view and this is one of them. On the other hand, we cannot charge God with failure - intending one thing and settling for far less - and so I think we are facing one of the great deep mysteries of God in this matter. Certainly, however, for pastoral/evangelistic purposes, I would put the emphasis of man's responsibility in these issues and warn the erring that he will deservedly reap what he sows. Calvin evidently agrees here, because he wrote:

"And further, it must be noted that men are not exempt from guilt and condemnation, by the pretext of bondage: because although all rush to evil, yet they are not impelled by any extrinsic force, but by the direct inclination of their own hearts; and, lastly, they sin not otherwise than voluntarily." (Sermons on Genesis 8:22)

Again: ". . . the Lord had declared that “everything that he had made . . . was exceedingly good” [Gen. 1:31]. Whence, then comes this wickedness to man, that he should fall away from his God? Lest we should think it comes from creation, God had put His stamp of approval on what had come forth from himself. By his own evil intention, then, man corrupted the pure nature he had received from the Lord; and by his fall drew all his posterity with him into destruction. Accordingly, we should contemplate the evident cause of condemnation in the corrupt nature of humanity–which is closer to us–rather than seek a hidden and utterly incomprehensible cause in God’s predestination. [Institutes, 3:23:8]

Again, the Arminian foreknowledge of God idea does not really chase away the problem either. You are back to the same idea as to why God would create men when He knew beforehand that they would reject His law and reject His remedy for their sin. We are back to the big problems (for all evangelical Christians) as to why God countenanced that which even allowed for the possibility of sin coming into the world. Evidently, it was in the plan of God, to allow sin to come into the world and that He uses this fact to work out His own eternal purposes for His own glory. I'm afraid we both face the same problem.

Anyway, I have a feeling that we are not going to sort out this one pretty quickly. As I say, things are very busy here, so I may content myself keeping an eye on your site and maybe chipping in my tuppence worth when able. Thanks again for the chat and exchange of views.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hello Goodnightsafehome,

You wrote: "In other words, there are some questions that are best answered from the responsibility of man's point of view and this is one of them."

But would God's point of view, be any less truthful? The Arminian simply doesn't believe that Calvin's explanation of God's perspective is accurate.

Thanks for the quotes from Calvin. I would like to add a quote from one of my favorite Calvinist pastors, J. Vernon McGee, who attempted to explain the matter from (his opinion) of God's perspective:

"I don’t care who you are or where you are, God created you for His glory. Somebody says, ‘What about the drunkard in the street? What about that crooked man? That lost man--what about him? You mean he’s for the glory of God?’ My friend, this is a strong pill--are you read to swallow it? All of that is for the glory of God. ‘Oh,’ you may say, ‘I don’t like that.’ I don’t remember that God ever asked anyone where or not he liked it. He has never asked me that.” (Thru the Bible: Proverbs Through Malachi, p.56)

The Arminian feels that his rejection of such theology, is not merely based upon whimpy feelings, as McGee seems to suggest, but also based upon Scripture, and you are no doubt, well aware of the debated passages.

You wrote: "You are back to the same idea as to why God would create men when He knew beforehand that they would reject His law and reject His remedy for their sin."

Why? Because God is a God who tests. Allow me to share a verse with you, that I believe demonstrates this point:

"The LORD left certain nations in the land to test those Israelites who had not participated in the wars of Canaan. He did this to teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle. These were the nations: the Philistines (those living under the five Philistine rulers), all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the hill country of Lebanon from Mount Baal-hermon to Lebo-hamath. These people were left to test the Israelites—to see whether they would obey the commands the LORD had given to their ancestors through Moses." (Judges 3:1-4)

Even though an omniscient God fully knew the outcome, He did so anyway "to test." Such testing is not for His benefit, but for ours. I'm not saying this to educate you. You are, no doubt, far more well read in these subjects, but I simply explain it in a way to lay to lay out the Arminian case.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

Hi Richard,

What I actually wrote was: In other words, there are some questions that are best answered from the responsibility of man point of view and this is one of them. Which is entirely different from (as you quote me) "In other words, there are some questions that are best answered from the responsibility of man's point of view and this is one of them." I suppose I should have put it "responsibility-of-man point of view" i.e. put the emphasis there. We do this all the time when we evangelise. I have often challenged sinners with Pilate's great question: "What shall I do with Jesus?" although always ending up with the thought: What will Jesus do with me?

Jnorm888 said...

I like this post. It was real Good.

I would like to say onething to "goodnightsafehome"

Calvinists believe that humans are responsible with or without having the "ability" to obey what God wants done.

This is the problem. If you don't have the ability to do what God tells you to do then you are not a moral agent. You don't have responsibility.



INLOVE Jnorm