Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The incompatibility of Compatibilism

There are two kinds of Determinism: Hard Determinism and Soft Determinism, otherwise known as “Compatibilism.” Wikipedia defines Compatibilism as “the belief that free will and determinism are compatible ideas, and that it is possible to believe both without being logically inconsistent ... compatibilists hold that free will and determinism are not mutually exclusive....”

First of all, Arminians reject Determinism. So the Arminian has no interest in trying to reconcile the two. The Arminian has a completely different view of predestination, which is one that involves God’s foreknowledge, as Acts 2:23 states: “...by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God....” However, the Arminian is interested in seeing how Compatibilists try to make Determinism work with Free Will, especially since both are polar opposites, where it often appears that Determinism only ends up in completely engulfing Free Will. In other words, if God “ordained whatsoever comes to pass” (Determinism) via a predetermined Script, penned before the foundation of the world, whereby all events in history unfold according to this alleged Script, how can there be any sense of Free Will? Wouldn’t it merely be an illusion of Determinism? Therefore, consider the following exchange in the book, Debating Calvinism, by Calvinist James White and non-Calvinist, Dave Hunt:

Calvinist, James White, explains: “The belief that God’s sovereign decree and man’s creaturely will coexist (compatibilism) and that since God judges on the basis of the intentions of the heart, there is in fact a ground for morality and justice.” (Debating Calvinism, p.320)

Dave Hunt responds: “Yes, God judges ‘the intentions of the heart,’ but Calvinism falsely says that He causes the intentions He judges. ... Compatibilism is double-talk.” (Debating Calvinism, 327)

White responds: “He has the temerity to say it is ‘double-talk.’ I might assign some weight to his assertion if I could bring myself to believe that he understood what it is.” (Debating Calvinism, p.331)

Hunt explains: “...God turned into good what Joseph’s brothers intended for evil. But if God caused the brothers to do evil, compatibilism is double-talk.” (Debating Calvinism, p.333)

So is that what Compatibilists believe? Do Compatibilists believe that God causes the sin that He judges? You should know that Hard Determinists reject Soft Determinism, and they simply reject Free Will altogether, and therefore make no attempt to reconcile the two. Some Hard Determinists candidly admit that they believe that God is the author of sin. They say that it is God’s sovereign right, for His own glory. Whether that makes them hyper-Calvinists is another matter.

So that brings us back to square one. How is it that Calvinistic Determinism and Free Will are not mutually exclusive, as alleged? Recently on CARM.org, I was told that it cannot be understood, but only accepted on faith, because it’s a paradox. However, if Compatibilists wish to make the assertion that Calvinistic Determinism and Free Will are compatible, don’t they have a duty to explain how they are compatible, without resorting to, “Well the Bible teaches both, so I don’t need to explain it!” It seems to me that they would have a duty to give a better answer than that. What say you?

32 comments:

kangaroodort said...

How is it that Calvinistic Determinism and Free Will are not mutually exclusive, as alleged? Recently on CARM.org, I was told that it cannot be understood, but only accepted on faith, because it’s a paradox.

The problem, of course, is that it is not paradox or mystery, but contradiction. Contradictions reveal error. If Calvinism wants to affirm contradictions then they have no right to attack opposing systems on logical grounds. Calvinism sits pretty because it cannot be falsified. Whenever contradiction is pointed out they just appeal to "mystery" and do so as if they are just trying to be true to the Bible. In other words: "So what if Calvinism doesn't make sense, neither does the Bible." Ha!

God's word is truth and it certainly makes sense. If Calvinism leads to contradictions (and it surely does), then it simply cannot represent Biblical theology.

The best the compatibilist can do is redefine "free will" in a way that makes it meaningless. It essentially becomes the “freedom” to do what one cannot avoid doing, or the “freedom” to do what God determined for you to do, etc.

So free will is not compatible with determinism in any way. A redefinition of free will that essentially takes away the "free" and the "will" is compatible with determinism, but that is little more than saying that determinism is compatible with determinism.

Anyway, that is how I see it. For a great treatment of the incoherence of Calvinist theology I recommend Objections to Calvinism As It Is

God Bless,
Ben

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Ben,

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out tonight after work and comment on what I find. Also, thanks for giving me some good quotes. This one stands out especially:

"The best the compatibilist can do is redefine 'free will' in a way that makes it meaningless. It essentially becomes the 'freedom' to do what one cannot avoid doing, or the 'freedom' to do what God determined for you to do, etc."

So in other words, nothing is being "reconciled." Determinism & Free Will really are mutually exclusive, as Free Will is simply being redefined in order for the two to "coexist," as James White states, which really takes us back to Hard-Determinism.

kangaroodort said...

So in other words, nothing is being "reconciled." Determinism & Free Will really are mutually exclusive, as Free Will is simply being redefined in order for the two to "coexist," as James White states, which really takes us back to Hard-Determinism.

That is how I see it. You can't reconcile contradictory concepts. All you can do is change them but then you are not "reconciling", but "changing".

For example, a person cannot be a bachelor and a married person at the same time. By definition they cannot co-exist. The concepts are irreconcilable. All you can do is change one of the definitions. If you can convince someone that bachelors are actually married then you can say that there is such a thing as married bachelors.

You would not, however, prove that being a bachelor and being married is compatible, you would instead be changing the meaning of "bachelor" to something that it is clearly not, by definition, in order to make contradictory concepts seem compatible.

Of course, Calvinists will just say that the normal use of "free will" is not Biblical, and so they are just working with the proper Biblical definition, etc. But there is no way to prove that from Scriptures without begging the question and you are then working against the normal use of the word. So, to be honest, they need to come up with a new word since "free will" just does not properly define the concept they wish to define, or just deny free will altogether.

God Bless,
Ben

Matt said...

I don't know many Calvinists today that would be Hard Determinists. R.C. Sproul (I think) is an exception. Of course, that's usually the case with his brand of Calvinism.

Most Calvinists of the C.H. Spurgeon/William Carey variety would assert with Aristotle that there are different ways to use the term 'cause'. There is material cause (how the maker makes it), formal cause, etc etc. The way that determinism and free will are compatible is through the acknowledgement that God is the MATERIAL cause of all things but not the FORMAL cause. God made Adam and Eve RIGHTEOUS but not PERFECT/INNOCENT, and he created them with the capability to sin. Therefore, He is the material cause. However, we as humans still are the ultimate, (i.e. formal) cause of our actions. WE do them and no one else. Therefore we can still be held responsible. This is different from Hard Determinism, which is more akin to Islamic philosophy than Christian, and basically treats humans as robots.

My Daily Bread said...

I am a Hard Determinist. I am satisfied that it is the teaching of the bible. I would be happy to change my mind if those who deny it could simply explain a hundred scriptures that teach it. I also do not like a world with free will. If free will got us into this mess, why do we value it so highly? Besides, if having free will, as it is generally defined, means I must choose without coercive force, or the power of contrary choice, then we will never be secure in heaven.

If free will is so valuable, why do we, as Christians, pray for the Spirit of God to "control" us?

I will give one example of the passages which prove determinism for any to "chew on."

"And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled." (Rev. 17: 16, 17 KJV)


What does "put in their hearts" mean? Was this that was put in their heart a good or a bad thing?

Good discussion!

God bless

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hello Matt,

Sproul is definitely not a Hard Determinist, though he has made statements that suggest Hard Determinism (i.e. “the script”), and then refutes it when he rejects “Equal Ultimacy.” (See “Chosen By God,” p.142) I would classify Sproul as a Compatibilist in the mold of Spurgeon. Hard Determinism is generally associated with Supralapsarianism.

Thanks for your explanation of Formal and Material Causes. I’m trying to figure out whether this jives with primary & secondary causes, as taught by Calvin. Nevertheless, I’d like to add a perspective explained by “LaMontre” on CARM.org: “God need not ‘cause’ sinners to sin. He only needs to arrange circumstance in such a way that they will do as they do by nature. Rebel against God. The crucifixion is a perfect example of compatibilism in action. God intended for Christ to be crucified from the foundation of the world, yet He did nothing but command Christ to speak the truth to them who would do the deed, and they fulfilled His will, which ended in salvation for the world. Thus they were held accountable for their actions even though they fulfilled Gods will.”

“LaMontre” sees a kind of Compatibilism at Acts 2:23. In terms of the crucifixion, he writes: “God intended for Christ to be crucified from the foundation of the world, yet He did nothing but command Christ to speak the truth to them….” My question is this: “Why would God intend for Christ to be crucified (from before the foundation of the world), unless God foreknew that it would become necessary? In other words, once Foreknowledge and Middle Knowledge are introduced, it can then be something that makes God privy to man’s will, in order for God to plan accordingly. However, to the Arminian, there is a definite pitfall to this kind of thinking. For if God has exhaustive Foreknowledge and Middle Knowledge, then He can indeed arrange events, and then the question arises, “Which kind of events is God arranging? All events?” In other words, God’s Foreknowledge and Middle Knowledge of man’s free will can then become tools for determining any event, even the present world that we see today. God can thus simply arrange things in a way that He infallibly knows will turn out, which comes very close to Determinism, which Arminans are well aware of. One of the authors of “Why I am Not a Calvinist,” also wrote “Is Molinism as Bad as Calvinism?” This is a concept that has been on my mind for a very long time.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Stephen,

Rev 17:17 reminds me of 2nd Chronicles 18:18-22:

Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the Lord. I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right and on His left. The Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab king of Israel to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘How?’ He said, ‘I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and prevail also. Go and do so.’ Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of these your prophets, for the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you.”

I tend to answer the question of how God puts it into their heart, within this perspective. Thoughts?

My Daily Bread said...

Yes, I have thoughts on both passages. However, I don't think they need any explaining. Scriptures like these are much harder for us to "accept" than they are to "understand" or "figure out."

I think this issue is relative to the Euthyphro dilemma and the Divine Command theory. Don't you think?

I also see the end of Arminian free willism is Process Theology which denies omnipotence and omniscience.

I look forward to hearing you comment on both passages.

Those are only two of "hundreds" of verses similar to them.

God bless

Stephen

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Stephen,

In terms of "how" God does the things outlined at Rev 17 and Chronicles, it may be that God takes a passive approach. In the case of Job, Satan is the one who carried out his own will against God and Job. Most Compatibilists agree that God's hardening may merely be the withdrawl of grace. Compatibilists, in these cases, site the positive and negative decrees of God.

In my opinion, I'm not sold on the idea that God is actively working sin in the lives of those described at Rev 17, but rather is simply giving them over to the will of Satan.

Matt said...

I agree with your questioning of Molinism as almost to the point of being Calvinistic. If God 'actualizes the world where man's free will most glorifies Him' (Molinist language) how is that different from simply determining beforehand? A question I have been asking myself as well.

You are also correct to point out that, from a Calvinistic standpoint, God foreknew Christ's death would be necessary. That brings us back to how he created Adam and Eve, i.e. materially. A Calvinist would say that in creating them distinct from and different from Him, albeit still in His image, He knew that they had the propensity to sin. The Bible does not explicitly state that God created Adam and Eve this way SO THAT they would sin, and so I do not go so far as to say that. However, I must affirm that God at the very least knew they would because Christ is "the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world."

My Daily Bread said...

Dear EC:

You wrote:

"I tend to answer the question of how God puts it into their heart, within this perspective."

"In terms of "how" God does the things outlined at Rev 17 and Chronicles, it may be that God takes a passive approach. In the case of Job, Satan is the one who carried out his own will against God and Job. Most Compatibilists agree that God's hardening may merely be the withdrawl of grace. Compatibilists, in these cases, site the positive and negative decrees of God."

What real difference does it make "how" God does it? In either case, you admit God is the one who does the work. Does it make a difference "how" I kill a man, whether with a gun or knife? Is it not murder either way?

Those who say God causes things "passively" still have God causing it. If I know that my inaction will cause a certain thing, is my inaction not a cause in the same way action is a cause?

How would our courts rule in such cases? What about product liability laws? (Are we not God's product?)

The inaction of the good Samaritan was condemned and could have been considered a "cause" of the death of the wounded man.

I don't see how one can read that God "put into the heart" and see God doing something passively.

So, you have not really dealt with the issue. You still have God's inaction causing evil.

God bless

Stephen

kangaroodort said...

If free will got us into this mess, why do we value it so highly?

If determinism is true then God got us into this mess. Why then should we value Him so highly?

Arminians do not value free will for the sake of free will. We believe that God is not, and cannot be, the author of sin. We also believe that the Bible plainly teaches that salvation is conditional which pre-supposes free will. There are also specific passages of Scripture that seem to force the issue of free will (e.g., 1 Cor. 10:13).

Free will is also valued because it makes for genuine relationships. It gives us an opportunity to exercise true love, and with that comes the ability to mess things up as well.

Besides, if having free will, as it is generally defined, means I must choose without coercive force, or the power of contrary choice, then we will never be secure in heaven.

Not necessarily. If God makes us incorruptible it is in response to our free will decision on earth. the Believer desires to be free from sin and conformed to the image of Christ. When God does that for us in Heaven, He is perfectly fulfilling our will. There is more that could be said about that but I don't want to make this too long.

What does "put in their hearts" mean? Was this that was put in their heart a good or a bad thing?

It means that God powerfully influenced them. That does not mean that they had to yield to that influence. However, they did in fact yield to that influence, and therefore we can say that God's influence was the reason.

It should be noted that God did not cause them to sin. There kingdoms and intentions were already evil. God only influenced them to yield their kingdoms to the Beast. By their wickedness they were already in allegiance with Satan and the Beast, God only influenced them to re-direct that allegiance in a more material way. So God did not cause their sin but influenced them to change the direction of their sin.

The NASB translates it this way:

"For God has put it into their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast..." (emphasis mine)

I would suggest that you are reading far more into this passage than is intended.

Scriptures like these are much harder for us to "accept" than they are to "understand" or "figure out."

It is impossible to accept that God is the author of sin because it contradicts His holiness as revealed in the Bible (James 1:13- note that according to hard-determinism God actually does worse then tempt us since temptaion can at least be resisted).

I also see the end of Arminian free willism is Process Theology which denies omnipotence and omniscience.

It does not necessarily lead to those things (since Arminians affirm omnipotence and omniscience). However, I would argue that the "end" of determinism is panentheism and makes God the author of sin. Why then don't you find the end of determinism as disturbing as what you perceive to be the "end" of Arminianism?

The inaction of the good Samaritan was condemned and could have been considered a "cause" of the death of the wounded man.

I don't see how one can read that God "put into the heart" and see God doing something passively.

So, you have not really dealt with the issue. You still have God's inaction causing evil.


First of all, if God permits evil it is not the same as causing it. God is not obligated to intervene every time man wants to do something evil. And yet God will eventually make everything right.

The parable of the good Samaritan is big trouble for your Calvinism. In Calvinism God does exactly what Jesus condemns in the parable. He passes over the majority of His creation without giving them any way out of their situation, and in your hard-determinism- a situation that God Himself caused.

In Arminian theology God is not like those who passed by and refused to help because God is active. He desires all to be saved and gave His Son to bring reconciliation to all sinners. God provided help. He took the initiative. He works in our hearts to bring us to faith and repentance so that we can be united to Him in Christ. He wants to bind our wounds and bring healing.

If we persistently resist His grace and refuse His help He is under no obligation to continue to work in us. He has the divine right to leave us alone and remove His grace from us (Rom. 1:20-32).

Therefore, God is not responsible for our sins, nor is He passive in the same way as those in the parable. God gives us what we want and deserve if we continue to reject Him and spurn His grace. God could leave us all in our sinful and rebellious state and be perfectly just in doing so. Instead, He reaches out. If we reject Him then we are to blame, and not Him. But if God pre-determined our sin and rejection, then He alone is to blame, which is where your theology inevitably leads.

Again, God could intervene and prevent sin and evil at every turn, but He has chosen to deal with evil and suffering differently. Apparently, God values us a persons made in His image and values a relationship with us that allows for the possibility of sin and suffering.

This in no way makes God responsible for our decisions to sin and reject Him. Nor does it make Him responsible for our sin because He does not stop us at every turn. Nor does it mean that God isn't doing anything about sin and suffering. He did more than we deserve in the cross and God will eventually judge the earth in perfect justice.

Not sure that I will be able to continue this discussion but I want to give you some thoughts from an Arminian perspective.

God Bless,
Ben

My Daily Bread said...

Dear Ben:

If free will got us into this mess, why do we value it so highly?

If determinism is true then God got us into this mess. Why then should we value Him so highly?

Arminians do not value free will for the sake of free will. We believe that God is not, and cannot be, the author of sin. We also believe that the Bible plainly teaches that salvation is conditional which pre-supposes free will. There are also specific passages of Scripture that seem to force the issue of free will (e.g., 1 Cor. 10:13).

Free will is also valued because it makes for genuine relationships. It gives us an opportunity to exercise true love, and with that comes the ability to mess things up as well.

I did not affirm that free will got us into this mess. I was only showing that free will theology offers no real or lasting security, no guarantee of it. If free will caused all the evil in the world, then how could it be a good thing? If this is the result of free will, and we still have free will in heaven, we may then fall from heaven as Satan or Adam. Yours is an indeterminate system, both now and forever.

As far as salvation being “conditional,” that would depend on what you mean by saying that. Further, if you interpret it in the typical Arminian fashion, you will have “conditional” equal “indeterminate” and “uncertain.” Something can be said to be conditional in the context of certainty and unconditionality.

The passage you cited in I Cor. 10:13 says nothing about the will of man being “free” and “independent.” Both scripture and modern science demonstrate that the idea of absolute free choice is a myth, as Luther said. Choices are caused, not uncaused. If there were no causes to choice, then we could not predict choice. But, we can predict choice, so choices have determining causes.

Your argument how love must be freely given, meaning without anyone or anything “causing” the love, is not scriptural. We are commanded to love God. We are not commanded to love every woman as our spouse, however. Do you say we are commanded to love God or not? If we are commanded to love God, there is no choice, is there?


Besides, if having free will, as it is generally defined, means I must choose without coercive force, or the power of contrary choice, then we will never be secure in heaven.

Not necessarily. If God makes us incorruptible it is in response to our free will decision on earth. the Believer desires to be free from sin and conformed to the image of Christ. When God does that for us in Heaven, He is perfectly fulfilling our will. There is more that could be said about that but I don't want to make this too long.

So, we freely choose to lose free will? How then can we love God in heaven, by your definition of love? Why would we choose to not have free will if it is necessary for loving God, as you say? If it is so valuable? Let me ask you this. Suppose you have a son who is addicted to heroin, and has lost his will power to un-addict himself, but you have the power to change his will, and make him willing and able. Would you, out of love for your son, nor force your good will on his evil will?

What does "put in their hearts" mean? Was this that was put in their heart a good or a bad thing?

It means that God powerfully influenced them. That does not mean that they had to yield to that influence. However, they did in fact yield to that influence, and therefore we can say that God's influence was the reason.

It should be noted that God did not cause them to sin. There kingdoms and intentions were already evil. God only influenced them to yield their kingdoms to the Beast. By their wickedness they were already in allegiance with Satan and the Beast, God only influenced them to re-direct that allegiance in a more material way. So God did not cause their sin but influenced them to change the direction of their sin.

The NASB translates it this way:

"For God has put it into their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast..." (emphasis mine)

I would suggest that you are reading far more into this passage than is intended.

But, what does “powerfully influence” mean? Can you tell when “influence” becomes “force” and coercion? Does God exert the same degree of “influence” on all? If so, why is one positively affected by that influence, and another is not?

Influenced them to do what? Was it not to do an evil thing? Do you believe he was influencing them to a good thing? Is this text not saying that the “giving” of the kingdom to the beast, by the ten kings, is because God put it in their hearts to do so?

I do not think I am reading to much into the passage. The unbiased person knows what the text is saying. Again, what it says is “hard” to “accept,” but not hard to understand.

Scriptures like these are much harder for us to "accept" than they are to "understand" or "figure out."


It is impossible to accept that God is the author of sin because it contradicts His holiness as revealed in the Bible (James 1:13- note that according to hard-determinism God actually does worse then tempt us since temptaion can at least be resisted).

God is the “cause” of “all things,” as the scriptures say in numerous places. If by “author” you means cause, then yes, God is the cause of sin. Many scriptures teach this.

I also see the end of Arminian free willism is Process Theology which denies omnipotence and omniscience.

It does not necessarily lead to those things (since Arminians affirm omnipotence and omniscience). However, I would argue that the "end" of determinism is panentheism and makes God the author of sin. Why then don't you find the end of determinism as disturbing as what you perceive to be the "end" of Arminianism?

Calvinism does make God the cause of all things, for the scriptures say he is. I do not know of any Calvinists who have become pantheists, but I know lots of Arminians who have become believers in “open theism.”

The inaction of the good Samaritan was condemned and could have been considered a "cause" of the death of the wounded man.

I don't see how one can read that God "put into the heart" and see God doing something passively.

So, you have not really dealt with the issue. You still have God's inaction causing evil.


First of all, if God permits evil it is not the same as causing it. God is not obligated to intervene every time man wants to do something evil. And yet God will eventually make everything right.

First, you are wrong about permission not being a cause. Where did you get that idea? Why is it that many lawyers argue differently everyday? Giving permission, especially when that permission is necessary for doing anything, is a cause. Attorneys use the “but for” argument along this line, dealing with causality in its many forms. “But for” the action of A, the action of B would not have occurred. “But for” God not withholding his permission, he caused, or was a cause, of the action. Why does God condemn men for permitting evil if it is not a sin to permit it?

Do you mean that God is obligated sometimes to “intervene” and stop evil? When is he obligated then, and when is he not? Besides, did not God keep Abimelech from committing sin in regards to Sarah? If God can intervene in stopping sin once, would not one argue that he is liable for not stopping others, or all?


The parable of the good Samaritan is big trouble for your Calvinism. In Calvinism God does exactly what Jesus condemns in the parable. He passes over the majority of His creation without giving them any way out of their situation, and in your hard-determinism- a situation that God Himself caused.

In Arminian theology God is not like those who passed by and refused to help because God is active. He desires all to be saved and gave His Son to bring reconciliation to all sinners. God provided help. He took the initiative. He works in our hearts to bring us to faith and repentance so that we can be united to Him in Christ. He wants to bind our wounds and bring healing.

Obviously you do not see that you have the same problem that you imagine that only Calvinists have. You say God “passes over” without giving necessary aid (opportunity for salvation), in the Calvinist scheme. But, do you not believe that men can only be saved by the gospel and that those who have died without hearing the gospel are lost? Then, in your own system, God did not provide many wounded sinners with what they needed to be saved.


God Bless,

Stephen

My Daily Bread said...

Dear Ben:

God "passed over" the fallen angels too, did he not?

Stephen

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Ben and Stephen,

Thanks for the input and perspective. You both made several points worthy of commenting on, however I'd like to focus on one element of the exchange:

Stephen wrote: "Those who say God causes things 'passively' still have God causing it. If I know that my inaction will cause a certain thing, is my inaction not a cause in the same way action is a cause? How would our courts rule in such cases? What about product liability laws? (Are we not God's product?)"

I'd like to follow up on this point, and highlight something that Ben said.

First, in the past, I've used an analogy of a hit-man, in order to demonstrate the fallacy of the secondary causes defense, which you, Stephen, may agree with. For instance, if a man hires a hit-man to murder his wife, can he claim innocense on the grounds that he carried it out through a secondary cause? In reality, the Prosecution will offer to plea bargain with the hit-man, in order to levy their greatest charge against he conspirator. So I'll agree with you that the secondary causes defense is no defense at all.

However, I didn't mean to give the impression that I endorsed it, either. Ben highlighted my thoughts, being 'permission,' and I would like to offer another verse to provide perspective:

Romans 1:28: "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper."

God is doing something, but it's passive, or what Sproul might call a "negative" action. He is turning them over to a secondary agent, namely Satan, but God is neither endorsing nor causing their obstinance. He is permitting them to exercise their will, and removing His grace, and giving them up. So I do not believe that fits the hit-man analogy. I do not believe that this makes God the Conspirator of their sin. God is simply giving them up, in the same way that the father of the prodigal son, had given him up, against the father's will for his son, in the same way that God had given up the tribulation "666" crowd to the will of Satan, and given up Ahab to the will of Satan. Thoughts?

God bless you both,
Richard

kangaroodort said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kangaroodort said...

I deleted the above comment because of a ridiculous typo...

I did not affirm that free will got us into this mess.

Here are your exact words: “If free will got us into this mess, why do we value it so highly?

I was only showing that free will theology offers no real or lasting security, no guarantee of it.

If you say so, but it seems to me that you are back-peddling.

If free will caused all the evil in the world, then how could it be a good thing?

Because genuine love could not take place without it and the most genuine Being in the world would not be satisfied with anything less. That we use a gift perversely does not mean that it is not good. Our wills were not intended for disobedience, but disobedience remained a possibility. If I use a hammer to bash someone’s head in it does not mean that hammers are bad, and it does not mean that the person who designed and made the hammer should be held responsible for my actions. Hammers are very useful. I can use a hammer to build a church or a house for a homeless person. That is what hammers were intended for, to build. If I use it for something else it doesn’t mean that it was not intended for something good.

If this is the result of free will, and we still have free will in heaven, we may then fall from heaven as Satan or Adam. Yours is an indeterminate system, both now and forever.

No it is not as I explained before. Why can’t we surrender our will to God? In fact, that is exactly what Scripture calls on us to do. But if God controls our will then we are not really surrendering our will to him. That makes any kind of human act of sacrifice meaningless. If we pray and desire to fully surrender our will to God and be conformed to His image, and God answers that prayer by making us incorruptible in Heaven, then God has not violated our will, but given us what we wanted and answered our prayer. Our relationship with God would still be based on a free-will decision even if we are incapable of sinning in Heaven. Not that complicated really.

As far as salvation being “conditional,” that would depend on what you mean by saying that. Further, if you interpret it in the typical Arminian fashion, you will have “conditional” equal “indeterminate” and “uncertain.” Something can be said to be conditional in the context of certainty and unconditionality.

So something can be both conditional and unconditional? Feel free to explain.

The passage you cited in I Cor. 10:13 says nothing about the will of man being “free” and “independent.”

Ah, but it does. It plainly implies free-will and kills determinism. Here is the passage:

“No temptation has overtaken 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 a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

God provides the ability, the grace, and means by which to escape temptation. Yet many still yield to temptation. The determinist says that the one who yields to temptation does so because he must. God determined him to fall prey to temptation. If that is the case then it was not possible to endure the temptation and escape it which plainly contradicts the above passage and makes God unfaithful rather than faithful as the passage declares and defines it. Therefore, the passage demonstrates that determinism is unbiblical and that man has the power to do things that he does not actually do.

Both scripture and modern science demonstrate that the idea of absolute free choice is a myth, as Luther said.

Scripture says no such thing. It everywhere pre-supposes the existence of free-will and the above passage proves this. Modern science could never disprove free-will if free-will is found in the mind or soul which is immaterial and not subject to physical laws or to scientific observation. To say that science has proven that free choice is a myth is absurd.

Choices are caused, not uncaused.

Correct. They are caused by the free-agent with the God given power and ability to make choices.

If there were no causes to choice, then we could not predict choice. But, we can predict choice, so choices have determining causes.

I agree. See above.

Your argument how love must be freely given, meaning without anyone or anything “causing” the love, is not scriptural. We are commanded to love God. We are not commanded to love every woman as our spouse, however. Do you say we are commanded to love God or not? If we are commanded to love God, there is no choice, is there?

We are commanded to love God and yet many do not (which means we do have a choice, either to obey the command or not). But according to your determinism all would infallibly love God since He commands it and does not give us a choice, but rather determines our choices. But you believe instead, since again many do not love God, that God commands all of His creation to love Him and then irresistibly causes most of His creation to hate Him. Ridiculous.

So, we freely choose to lose free will? How then can we love God in heaven, by your definition of love? Why would we choose to not have free will if it is necessary for loving God, as you say? If it is so valuable? Let me ask you this. Suppose you have a son who is addicted to heroin, and has lost his will power to un-addict himself, but you have the power to change his will, and make him willing and able. Would you, out of love for your son, nor force your good will on his evil will?

This analogy does not fit God’s interactions with His creation since it is not related to two people in a relationship loving each other. It is about making someone overcome addiction and not about making someone love you. Those who are in Heaven are there because they chose to love God and willingly surrendered their wills to Him, which is itself an act of love. So they yield something that is “valuable” to God, an act of surrender and sacrifice that your theology makes impossible.

But, what does “powerfully influence” mean? Can you tell when “influence” becomes “force” and coercion?

When it is irresistible.

Does God exert the same degree of “influence” on all? If so, why is one positively affected by that influence, and another is not?

Because of their God given ability to yield to or resist that influence (free-will). You are begging the question of determinism.

Influenced them to do what? Was it not to do an evil thing? Do you believe he was influencing them to a good thing? Is this text not saying that the “giving” of the kingdom to the beast, by the ten kings, is because God put it in their hearts to do so?

They could either keep their power or give it away. God influenced them to give it away. Were they giving it to something evil? Yes, but they were already in allegiance with the beast and Satan in their hearts so God did not cause that allegiance. God may have influenced them (gave them the idea, i.e. “put it in their hearts”) to see that their allegiance (which God did not cause) was best served by giving their kingdoms to the beast. That is far from saying that God caused them to sin.

I do not think I am reading to much into the passage. The unbiased person knows what the text is saying. Again, what it says is “hard” to “accept,” but not hard to understand.

And I think the unbiased person would never come way from reading Scripture with the idea that God causes sin, especially in light of James 1:13, which you have so far ignored.

Scriptures like these are much harder for us to "accept" than they are to "understand" or "figure out."

And I wonder why you do not “accept” those passages which plainly state that God died for all, desires to save all, loves the world, etc? Don’t you try to “figure out” a way to make them conform to your Calvinism? So it is not as simple as you want to make it. The text does not say that God caused sin, and I have given you some alternative ways to understand the passage which do not do violence to the text.

God is the “cause” of “all things,” as the scriptures say in numerous places. If by “author” you means cause, then yes, God is the cause of sin. Many scriptures teach this.

Show me a Scripture that says that God causes sin. Again, James 1:13 makes such a thing impossible.

Calvinism does make God the cause of all things, for the scriptures say he is. I do not know of any Calvinists who have become pantheists, but I know lots of Arminians who have become believers in “open theism.”

Actually, I said that hard-determinism leads to panentheism (not pantheism). In your view God meticulously controls everything in such a way that their really cannot be any true personality besides His own, for even the personality of His creatures is dependent on Him as He controls every thought and action that they make. So really there is nothing but God out there and we are all just various expressions of God (which must also include our sinful disobedience, i.e. sin is an expression of God’s personality- a blasphemous thought!).

First, you are wrong about permission not being a cause. Where did you get that idea? Why is it that many lawyers argue differently everyday? Giving permission, especially when that permission is necessary for doing anything, is a cause. Attorneys use the “but for” argument along this line, dealing with causality in its many forms. “But for” the action of A, the action of B would not have occurred. “But for” God not withholding his permission, he caused, or was a cause, of the action. Why does God condemn men for permitting evil if it is not a sin to permit it?

“But for” the fact that Fred gave John that hammer to build his dog house, John couldn’t have used that hammer to break into the Sports Store where he stole the gun that he used to kill his wife. Therefore, Fred is responsible for this heinous act. Ha!

Do you mean that God is obligated sometimes to “intervene” and stop evil? When is he obligated then, and when is he not?

God is obligated to judge and punish evil because of His justice and holiness. He is not obligated to stop us from committing evil nor is he responsible for that evil because He permits it.

Besides, did not God keep Abimelech from committing sin in regards to Sarah?

Yes He did, because Abimelech was acting in ignorance because he had been deceived to believe that Sarah was not married. Therefore, God protected him from sinning against Sarah and Abraham by sleeping with her. Was God obligated to do so? No. He did it as an act of grace because Abimelech was acting in ignorance of the reality of the situation. His intentions were not evil. He was trying to do things properly and God honored that. That is hardly analogous to God being bound to step in and prevent someone bent on evil to commit sin, nor does it in any way demonstrate that God is responsible for the sinful choices we make because He does not stop us from making those choices.

If God can intervene in stopping sin once, would not one argue that he is liable for not stopping others, or all?

This simply does not follow.

Obviously you do not see that you have the same problem that you imagine that only Calvinists have. You say God “passes over” without giving necessary aid (opportunity for salvation), in the Calvinist scheme. But, do you not believe that men can only be saved by the gospel and that those who have died without hearing the gospel are lost? Then, in your own system, God did not provide many wounded sinners with what they needed to be saved.

Perhaps he did reach out to them. I don’t know how God may work in the hearts of those who never hear the gospel and neither do you. Many have come to know the Lord through visions, etc. It may be that God acts in accordance with how people who never hear the gospel respond to His natural revelation. I have heard some amazing stories along those lines. It may be that if they respond to the grace given that God will work things out so that they will eventually hear the gospel. Paul says that men are “without excuse” because God reveals Himself to them through creation. However, if what you believe is true then there is no reason to give reasons for why pagans are “without excuse” because such things form no basis for responsibility anyway. And don’t you think it strange that God decided to plant His elect primarily in America, etc., according to your Calvinism?

As far as fallen angels we just do not have enough Biblical information concerning their nature or the how they “fell”. It would seems foolish to me to try to build or even support ones theology based on an issue that we know almost nothing about. Anselm (I think) suggested that because angels are purely spiritual beings and have such superior knowledge, that their decisions, once made, are irrevocable. That may be true but it is just speculation since we simply do not know enough about angels to make such judgments.

kangaroodort said...

Richard,

I think that your above comments regarding permission are excellent. I agree completely.

God Bless you both,
Ben

My Daily Bread said...

Kangaroodort

I did not affirm that free will got us into this mess.

Here are your exact words: ““If free will got us into this mess, why do we value it so highly?"

Brother, don’t you know that “if” does not assume the statement is true, being an “if” of logic or reason. In other words, you should have read my words as meaning “if free will got us into this mess (it did not, but assuming it did), why...?” Perhaps my use of the pronoun “we” through you off? Perhaps I should have said “you.” But, I had already announced myself as a “hard determinist” and so you should have known that I personally do not believe in free will. Also, said many things wherein I denied “free will.” I have made it plain that I do not value “free will” so highly.

I was only showing that free will theology offers no real or lasting security, no guarantee of it.

If you say so, but it seems to me that you are back-peddling.

Only in your mind, Richard. Being a logical statement, rather than a statement of my own belief, I was, in fact, only attempting to show that “free will” theology offers no real security and that it is a contradiction in such theology to speak of being one day fully determined, without ability to choose evil, and yet having free will or the ability to fall. Such is an indeterminate system and can never be determinate. Besides, you seem to favor loss of free will by a free will decision, a thing, as I have said, is incongruous. You have yet to show how you will one day be fully determined to only do good and yet have free will. You have yet to show how, losing free will in heaven, as you seem to admit (assuming we once had it), makes genuine ongoing love to God possible. By your definition of love, which is not fully scriptural, a man in heaven who no longer has free will is no longer loving God freely.

If free will caused all the evil in the world, then how could it be a good thing?

Because genuine love could not take place without it and the most genuine Being in the world would not be satisfied with anything less. That we use a gift perversely does not mean that it is not good. Our wills were not intended for disobedience, but disobedience remained a possibility. If I use a hammer to bash someone’’s head in it does not mean that hammers are bad, and it does not mean that the person who designed and made the hammer should be held responsible for my actions. Hammers are very useful. I can use a hammer to build a church or a house for a homeless person. That is what hammers were intended for, to build. If I use it for something else it doesn’’t mean that it was not intended for something good.

If genuine love cannot exist without free will, and you admit that we lose free will in heaven (the loss of which makes sin impossible), then love to God is not genuine when in heaven.

You cannot see your contradiction on love to God. You want to make it strictly analogous to a man loving a wife. But, as I have shown, to restrict the bible presentation to that example alone is not correct and leads to the type of thinking that you and other Arminians display. You admit that I have no right to command a woman to love me. You affirm that I have no right to demand or command such love from her, right? Now, is this how you restrict the nature of salvation? Is it only something we have the option to do or not, as in a choice to marry a woman? Surely you are not even seeing the point!

In your restricted view, God cannot demand love nor condemn a man for not loving him, no more than I can condemn a woman for not loving me when I want her to!

Your knowledge of “causality” is little. Don’t you know there are different kinds of causes and that there may be varied causes to an effect, or what is called “contributing causes”? Do you or do you not believe that God is the “first cause of all things”? Do you believe he knows everything in advance? Your hammer analogy falls in this respect. First, the hammer is a “cause,” being a “material” cause, as Aristotle would say. There are, as he pointed out, material causes, efficient causes, formal causes, final causes, etc. So we also talk of secondary causes, or instrumental causes. You really should know all this if you are trying to swim out this deep.

Is it your position that God is no “cause” at all, in any sense, then?

True, the hammer could not be “blamed” or “faulted” in a legal sense, as humans are, but if we use the term “cause” in the sense of “responsible,” we use it in regard to both things human and non-human. So too with the words blame and fault, we use it in regards to things. For instance, “a faulty engine was to blame (at fault, or responsible) for the wreck.”

If I make a hammer, and I know in advance that the hammer will kill a certain person, and I nevertheless make that hammer, and give it to the person, am I, in any sense, a “cause”? You know our legal system would say I was at fault, responsible, or to blame, or the legal cause.


If this is the result of free will, and we still have free will in heaven, we may then fall from heaven as Satan or Adam. Yours is an indeterminate system, both now and forever.

No it is not as I explained before. Why can’t we surrender our will to God? In fact, that is exactly what Scripture calls on us to do. But if God controls our will then we are not really surrendering our will to him. That makes any kind of human act of sacrifice meaningless. If we pray and desire to fully surrender our will to God and be conformed to His image, and God answers that prayer by making us incorruptible in Heaven, then God has not violated our will, but given us what we wanted and answered our prayer. Our relationship with God would still be based on a free-will decision even if we are incapable of sinning in Heaven. Not that complicated really.

I have already addressed this in my above remarks.

As far as salvation being ““conditional,”” that would depend on what you mean by saying that. Further, if you interpret it in the typical Arminian fashion, you will have ““conditional”” equal ““indeterminate”” and ““uncertain.”” Something can be said to be conditional in the context of certainty and unconditionality.

So something can be both conditional and unconditional? Feel free to explain.

Here is an example. I push over domino # 1, and it pushes over domino # 2, etc. Now, did you know that once I push over the first domino, that the others will all fall, unconditionally? But, do you not know that I can appropriately say, nonetheless, - “domino # 3's falling over is conditioned upon domino # 2 falling over”? Besides, see Acts 2: 2: 23, 24 : 4: 35

The passage you cited in I Cor. 10:13 says nothing about the will of man being ““free”” and ““independent.””

Ah, but it does. It plainly implies free-will and kills determinism. Here is the passage:

““No temptation has overtaken 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 a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.””

God provides the ability, the grace, and means by which to escape temptation. Yet many still yield to temptation. The determinist says that the one who yields to temptation does so because he must. God determined him to fall prey to salvation. If that is the case then it was not possible to endure the temptation and escape it which plainly contradicts the above passage and makes God unfaithful rather than faithful as the passage declares and defines it. Therefore, the passage demonstrates that determinism is unbiblical and that man has the power to do things that he does not actually do.

Sure, God gives ability. Who denies that? But, he also gives the willing heart, and the readiness of mind and spirit. If a man have all three, then he will prevail in the temptation. In your system, in the end, you must credit yourself for overcoming temptation, not God. “For who made you to differ from another” as regards the use of this ability?

Both scripture and modern science demonstrate that the idea of absolute free choice is a myth, as Luther said.

Scripture says no such thing. It everywhere pre-supposes the existence of free-will and the above passage proves this. Modern science could never disprove free-will if free-will is found in the mind or soul which is immaterial and not subject to physical laws or to scientific observation. To say that science has proven that free choice is a myth is absurd.

Brother, you are just ignorant of modern behavioral sciences which are mostly deterministic in the matter of human choice and behavior. In fact, many criminals are found not guilty because the attorneys in their defense proved that sociological, psychological, or environmental factors brought about the choice and behavior. I guess you set yourselves against them all. I think you should look up articles on “free will” as it is discussed by psychologists.

Choices are caused, not uncaused.

Correct. They are caused by the free-agent with the God given power and ability to make choices.

But here you contradict what you said above! If there are causes to choice, then choice is not “free” by common Arminian and Libertarian definitions.

If there were no causes to choice, then we could not predict choice. But, we can predict choice, so choices have determining causes.

I agree. See above.

But, again you contradict yourself.

Your argument how love must be freely given, meaning without anyone or anything ““causing”” the love, is not scriptural. We are commanded to love God. We are not commanded to love every woman as our spouse, however. Do you say we are commanded to love God or not? If we are commanded to love God, there is no choice, is there?

We are commanded to love God and yet many do not (which means we do have a choice, either to obey the command or not). But according to your determinism all would infallibly love God since He commands it and does not give us a choice, but rather determines our choices. But you believe instead, since again many do not love God, that God commands all of His creation to love Him and then irresistibly causes most of His creation to hate Him. Ridiculous.

Yes, and in your “paradigm” on love for God and salvation, God does not command us to love us for you have made it strictly equivalent to a man choosing to love a wife. You seem to put man on the level of God and have him seeking a wife after the manner of the Pagans. In such a love relationship, both come to each other as “equals,” do they not? In your paradigm you have yourself to thank for your loving God. Who created the love you have for God? It must be either God or yourself, correct? But, you think that if God create or cause us to love him, then the love is of no use. You think self created love is what God desires more than any love he would cause or create!

So, we freely choose to lose free will? How then can we love God in heaven, by your definition of love? Why would we choose to not have free will if it is necessary for loving God, as you say? If it is so valuable? Let me ask you this. Suppose you have a son who is addicted to heroin, and has lost his will power to un-addict himself, but you have the power to change his will, and make him willing and able. Would you, out of love for your son, nor force your good will on his evil will?

This analogy does not fit God’s interactions with His creation since it is not related to two people in a relationship loving each other. It is about making someone overcome addiction and not about making someone love you. Those who are in Heaven are there because they chose to love God and willingly surrendered their wills to Him, which is itself an act of love. So they yield something that is ““valuable”” to God, an act of surrender and sacrifice that your theology makes impossible.

But, the scriptures do put us in the position, not only of a would be “suitor,” but of a man needing to be rescued! All men are God’s children by virtue of natural creation, yes? But, these children have become wholly addicted to sin and lost their free will! But, you still love them! And, you have the power to change their wills! To make them not want heroin again! I know you get the point!

But, what does ““powerfully influence”” mean? Can you tell when ““influence”” becomes ““force”” and coercion?

When it is irresistible.

So, you do not believe in “falling in love”? You do not believe that love can be irresistible? Read your bible!

Does God exert the same degree of ““influence”” on all? If so, why is one positively affected by that influence, and another is not?

Because of their God given ability to yield to or resist that influence (free-will). You are begging the question of determinism.

So, clearly, you would ascribe the ultimate difference to something in the persons themselves. So, if we ask you, Richard, “who made you differ” in this matter of resisting or not resisting his influence on you? Not God! It was Richard who made himself different!

Influenced them to do what? Was it not to do an evil thing? Do you believe he was influencing them to a good thing? Is this text not saying that the ““giving”” of the kingdom to the beast, by the ten kings, is because God put it in their hearts to do so?

They could either keep their power or give it away. God influenced them to give it away. Were they giving it to something evil? Yes, but they were already in allegiance with the beast and Satan in their hearts so God did not cause that allegiance. God may have influenced them (gave them the idea, i.e. ““put it in their hearts””) to see that their allegiance (which God did not cause) was best served by giving their kingdoms to the beast. That is far from saying that God caused them to sin.

Brother, if you will look at all the other places in the bible where this and similar language is used - “put it in their hearts,” then I think you could talk about this more intelligently. If I put into the heart of my son to commit murder, no court in the land would hold me wholly blameless, or not in any way a “cause” or “responsible,” and you know that! You just refuse to believe in a God that does what he clearly does in the passage cited. Why don’t you quit twisting the verse and trying to say “God had nothing to do with it”? This is really what you are trying to say! But, anyone reading the text can see that God had something to do with bringing about their evil deed, and therefore, was in some sense, a cause of it. But, you do not like to think of God causing such things and so you twist the passage and end up saying “God had nothing to do with it”! For, you know, that if he did have something to do with it, then he had some level of causation or responsibility for it.

I do not think I am reading to much into the passage. The unbiased person knows what the text is saying. Again, what it says is ““hard”” to ““accept,”” but not hard to understand.

And I think the unbiased person would never come way from reading Scripture with the idea that God causes sin, especially in light of James 1:13, which you have so far ignored.

Brother, James 1: 13 is what you have brought up because your argument is weak on the passage in Revelation 17. Can we settle what is being said and “implied” in that passage first? Can we first settle the question as to whether God “causes” all things?

Scriptures like these are much harder for us to "accept" than they are to "understand" or "figure out."

And I wonder why you do not ““accept”” those passages which plainly state that God died for all, desires to save all, loves the world, etc? Don’’t you try to ““figure out”” a way to make them conform to your Calvinism? So it is not as simple as you want to make it. The text does not say that God caused sin, and I have given you some alternative ways to understand the passage which do not do violence to the text.

Why are you bringing up new issues when it is taking so long to discuss the few points we have engaged to discuss? I don’t have time for all this and so would like for us to keep to the topics already introduced before bringing up new ones.

God is the ““cause”” of ““all things,”” as the scriptures say in numerous places. If by ““author”” you means cause, then yes, God is the cause of sin. Many scriptures teach this.

Show me a Scripture that says that God causes sin. Again, James 1:13 makes such a thing impossible.

I will give you just a few. Romans 11: 36; I Cor. 8: 6: Colossians 1: 16-18.

No, James 1: 13 does not make that impossible. You are not correctly understanding that passage if you think it denies God being the first cause of all things, and the cause of all other causes.


Calvinism does make God the cause of all things, for the scriptures say he is. I do not know of any Calvinists who have become pantheists, but I know lots of Arminians who have become believers in ““open theism.””

Actually, I said that hard-determinism leads to panentheism (not pantheism). In your view God meticulously controls everything in such a way that their really cannot be any true personality besides His own, for even the personality of His creatures is dependent on Him as He controls every thought and action that they make. So really there is nothing but God out there and we are all just various expressions of God (which must also include our sinful disobedience, i.e. sin is an expression of God’’s personality- a blasphemous thought!).

Sorry about the mistake on the term. If God create a personality, then it cannot be a personality? What kind of logic is that? Or, are you saying that God does not create personality? Not even the personality of Christ? Who created yours then? Yourself? Somebody else?

The bible teaches that God does control every action, from the bird falling to the ground, to the number of hairs on a man’s head. That is intense or minute control or governorship!


First, you are wrong about permission not being a cause. Where did you get that idea? Why is it that many lawyers argue differently everyday? Giving permission, especially when that permission is necessary for doing anything, is a cause. Attorneys use the ““but for”” argument along this line, dealing with causality in its many forms. ““But for”” the action of A, the action of B would not have occurred. ““But for”” God not withholding his permission, he caused, or was a cause, of the action. Why does God condemn men for permitting evil if it is not a sin to permit it?

“But for” the fact that Fred gave John that hammer to build his dog house, John couldn’t have used that hammer to break into the Sports Store where he stole the gun that he used to kill his wife. Therefore, Fred is responsible for this heinous act. Ha!

That is true! You are simply thinking that “legal” cause is the only kind of cause there is! Are you denying that the hammer was not a material cause?

It is valid to say, for instance, “but for” God creating Richard with free will, he would be happy in Eden now”! Do you deny this is valid?



Do you mean that God is obligated sometimes to ““intervene”” and stop evil? When is he obligated then, and when is he not?

God is obligated to judge and punish evil because of His justice and holiness. He is not obligated to stop us from committing evil nor is he responsible for that evil because He permits it.

But, any lawyer, if he could put God on trial, would argue thusly, would he not?

Lawyer to the judge - “your honor, God kept Abimelech from sinning. He thus has the power to keep men from sinning. My client has sinned and great harm has come to him. He admits he did wrong, but your honor, God could have done for my client what he did for Abimelech.”

So, Richard, how would you respond? Suppose you put your name up there instead of “God.” In other words, “Richard could have kept my client from doing this evil”?

You see, the difference between you and me is simply this. You try to do the impossible, by scripture and reason, to exonerate God of all causality in evil, but I acknowledge his causation.


Besides, did not God keep Abimelech from committing sin in regards to Sarah?

Yes He did, because Abimelech was acting in ignorance because he had been deceived to believe that Sarah was not married. Therefore, God protected him from sinning against Sarah and Abraham by sleeping with her. Was God obligated to do so? No. He did it as an act of grace because Abimelech was acting in ignorance of the reality of the situation. His intentions were not evil. He was trying to do things properly and God honored that. That is hardly analogous to God being bound to step in and prevent someone bent on evil to commit sin, nor does it in any way demonstrate that God is responsible for the sinful choices we make because He does not stop us from making those choices.

It makes no difference as to my argument as to whether Abimelech was “innocent.” God kept him from a sin. But, in your Arminian system, God can’t do this! And, if he did, you must say he must do the same for all! And, you put yourself in the position of answering the interrogatory of the lawyer (above).

I am not saying God is obligated to do so! Read carefully what I say! I believe he does so and it is perfectly consistent with my system for him to do so and remain just. You do not, however. You refuse to believe in a God who discriminates or chooses to do for one what he does not do for another.


If God can intervene in stopping sin once, would not one argue that he is liable for not stopping others, or all?

This simply does not follow.

I addressed this above. It does follow as I have shown!

Obviously you do not see that you have the same problem that you imagine that only Calvinists have. You say God ““passes over”” without giving necessary aid (opportunity for salvation), in the Calvinist scheme. But, do you not believe that men can only be saved by the gospel and that those who have died without hearing the gospel are lost? Then, in your own system, God did not provide many wounded sinners with what they needed to be saved.

Perhaps he did reach out to them. I don’’t know how God may work in the hearts of those who never hear the gospel and neither do you. Many have come to know the Lord through visions, etc. It may be that God acts in accordance with how people who never hear the gospel respond to His natural revelation. I have heard some amazing stories along those lines. It may be that if they respond to the grace given that God will work things out so that they will eventually hear the gospel. Paul says that men are ““without excuse”” because God reveals Himself to them through creation. However, if what you believe is true then there is no reason to give reasons for why pagans are ““without excuse”” because such things form no basis for responsibility anyway. And don’’t you think it strange that God decided to plant His elect primarily in America, etc., according to your Calvinism?

As far as fallen angels we just do not have enough Biblical information concerning their nature or the how they ““fell””. It would seems foolish to me to try to build or even support ones theology based on an issue that we know almost nothing about. Anselm (I think) suggested that because angels are purely spiritual beings and have such superior knowledge, that their decisions, once made, are irrevocable. That may be true but it is just speculation since we simply do not know enough about angels to make such judgments.

It is unbelievable to me that Arminians preach salvation apart from the gospel and faith in Christ when they see how to believe such puts them into the position I have uncovered!

God bless,

Stephen

kangaroodort said...

Stephen,

This exchange is getting very long. Let me just address a few things as briefly as possible and then I will probably not be able to continue going back and forth with you.

Regarding your back-peddling some things need to be cleared up as you seem to have thrown quite a bit of smoke on the situation.

Here again is what you wrote initially:

If free will got us into this mess, why do we value it so highly?

Here is what I deduced from that statement: free will should not be valued highly because it got us into “this mess.” I understand that you are a determinist and that you were arguing from my point of view and not yours. All of that is really irrelevant. The point was that I, as a believer in free-will, should not value free-will because if it wasn’t for free-will then we wouldn’t have gotten into this “mess” (sin, the fall of man, etc.). In other words, if something gets us into a mess, especially the mess of sin and the fall of man, it shouldn’t be valued. I then turned that around on you and made the point that from a determinist point of view it would mean that we should not value God since in the determinist view God and not free-will got us into this mess.

You then back-peddled and try to say that all you meant was that free-will gives us no guarantee or security, but that is not what you said and if there was some misunderstanding it did not stem from me failing to understand that you were assuming my perspective when you made that statement. I knew that you were and returned the favor. So again, according to determinist theology, why should we value God so highly seeing as how He caused the fall of man and brought sin and destruction into the world and then punished his creation for the sins that God caused them to commit?

You then wrote:

Being a logical statement, rather than a statement of my own belief, I was, in fact, only attempting to show that “free will” theology offers no real security and that it is a contradiction in such theology to speak of being one day fully determined, without ability to choose evil, and yet having free will or the ability to fall. Such is an indeterminate system and can never be determinate.

I never said that we would one day be fully determined. I only said that we will be unable to sin in Heaven. That does not mean that God will determine all that we do. As I have plainly explained our incorruptible state in Heaven is rooted in free-will and is therefore a genuine love relationship. If we surrender our will to God then we have done so willingly. There is no contradiction in saying that the genuineness of our relationship with God is proved while on earth and sealed in Heaven. It is also true that God will remove all those things which pull us toward sin in heaven. We sin on earth because of:

1) The pull of the sinful nature
2) The pull of the corrupt and sinful world system
3) Temptation form demonic forces

In Heaven there will no longer be a sinful nature, a corrupt world system, or demonic forces. There is really nothing in the Bible that tells us what our wills will be like in Heaven. It does seem that there will be no sin in Heaven and I am content to believe that this results from the lack of opportunity to sin coupled with the fact that God makes us incorruptible in accordance with our will (and His) to be completely free from sin and conformed to the image of His Son.

Besides, you seem to favor loss of free will by a free will decision, a thing, as I have said, is incongruous.

I favor the ability to surrender our will to God just as Jesus surrendered His will to the Father. If we make the free-will decision to surrender our will to the Lord and desire for that surrender to be permanent and God makes that decision permanent, then the relationship that results is still genuine because it was based on the free-will decision of the free-agent. However, if God irresistibly determines our choices then our choices are not ours but his. In that case, when we love God, God is really just loving Himself. He is not receiving love from His creatures but receiving love from Himself. Worse yet, when a person hates and rejects God, he is not really hating and rejecting God because he is not in control of his decisions, God is. Therefore God is just hating Himself and rejecting Himself. It really does reduce to a cosmic puppet show where God causes puppets to love Him and causes puppets to hate Him and then punishes them forever for doing what God caused them to do. That is why hard-determinism is absurd and the history of Christianity has never accepted it as orthodox.

If genuine love cannot exist without free will, and you admit that we lose free will in heaven (the loss of which makes sin impossible), then love to God is not genuine when in heaven.

Genuine love must be based in free-will. If we do not have free-will in Heaven it is because we have freely surrendered that will to God. As long as our relationship with God in Heaven is based on our free-will decision to love God (and it is) then that relationship is genuine even if the ability to sin no longer remains.
Christ went to the cross to make provision for our salvation. That provision, once made, was permanent. Christ had the freedom to choose all the way to the cross and He chose to go to the cross freely. Once He died, however, that freedom also died. His death made that decision permanent. That does not mean that it was not a genuine act of love after the cross because the affects of the cross were permanent.

In a similar way, death makes our decisions permanent, but that permanency does not make those decisions any less real or genuine prior to death. That is why we are judged, rewarded, etc. after death. That is how God wanted to do things and I respect His sovereign right to it that way.

In your restricted view, God cannot demand love nor condemn a man for not loving him, no more than I can condemn a woman for not loving me when I want her to!

Herein lies the basis of much of your confusion. Our relationships with each other are not always analogous to our relationship with God. Our relationship with God and our interactions with God are different because God is our Creator and He has certain rights over us that we do not necessarily have over each other. I have no right to take the life of another person, but God, as Creator, does have the right to take life. I do not have the right to seek vengeance while God alone has the right to avenge, etc. I cannot condemn a woman for refusing to love me because I am not her Creator. I do not have absolute rights over her. She does not belong to me. That is not the case with God. We owe allegiance to God because He is our maker. It is wrong for us to rebel against our Maker, and yet God allowed for that possibility because God wanted us to do what was right freely. God created us as moral agents and treats us accordingly.

Again, God has the sovereign right to create us as free moral agents and hold us accountable for our actions. He does not have to prevent those actions. He has the right to decide how to deal with us as His creatures as long as it does not contradict His nature. Allowing us to act and holding us accountable for those acts does not violate His nature.

In your view God creates us without the ability to do anything that God does not make us do and then holds us accountable for actions that He irresistibly determines us to do. As I said before, He commands us to love Him and causes us to hate Him and then punishes us for doing what He caused us to do. It would be similar to you punishing your child because she has blond hair. Such behavior is not consistent with His nature as He has revealed Himself. It makes the God of truth contradictory. It makes the most holy One the only true sinner in the universe. It makes the God whose essence is love into a puppet master who does not value real relationship and demonstrates His power by proving He can do whatever evil thing He wants to with His creation. God is sovereign, but his sovereignty is directly related to His holy nature.

Your knowledge of “causality” is little. Don’t you know there are different kinds of causes and that there may be varied causes to an effect, or what is called “contributing causes”? Do you or do you not believe that God is the “first cause of all things”?

I believe that God created the universe and nothing happens that God does not either cause or permit. You call my knowledge of “causality” little, but I am trying to work with normal definitions. If you want to expand and stretch a definition to the point that includes things that are contrary to it, then we are not going to be able to have an intelligent conversation. If you want to say that permission is the same as causality then you need to demonstrate that and not just assert it or appeal to what Aristotle thought on the matter. Perhaps I do not want to swim where you are swimming if that means that you can just assert whatever you like. Most people understand the difference between permitting something to happen and making something happen. That is the definition I am working with.

True, the hammer could not be “blamed” or “faulted” in a legal sense, as humans are, but if we use the term “cause” in the sense of “responsible,” we use it in regard to both things human and non-human. So too with the words blame and fault, we use it in regards to things. For instance, “a faulty engine was to blame (at fault, or responsible) for the wreck.”

I am glad your are bringing the conversation back to responsibility and I think this illustration is helpful. If the faulty engine was to blame for the wreck then the faulty engine was responsible. Would we charge the driver with a crime if the fault lied with something beyond his control? No, we would not. It was mechanical failure that was to blame. If someone in another car was killed as a result, the driver of the first car would be innocent.

People are not machines that cannot help but to do what they do. People are free-moral agents and are held responsible for the decisions they make for that very reason. In your view people are little more than machines. They do not make moral decisions. They are entirely passive and God makes decisions for them. God punishing us for what we do in hard-determinism is as absurd as punishing an engine for breaking down. In your view (since you like appealing to the courts) one should never be exonerated due to mental deficiencies, etc. For if determinism is true then no one is any more or less responsible since none of us are really in control of our actions. Yet, the courts do show mercy to those who are deemed not to be in control of their actions. But, then again, you seem to believe that ability has nothing to do with responsibility.

If I make a hammer, and I know in advance that the hammer will kill a certain person, and I nevertheless make that hammer, and give it to the person, am I, in any sense, a “cause”? You know our legal system would say I was at fault, responsible, or to blame, or the legal cause.

God did not give us free-will so we could sin. It was not His intention when He gave it to us. That God foreknew that we would choose to disobey Him does not make Him culpable for our disobedience since God did not cause that disobedience. God’s foreknowledge is not causative. We do not do things because God foreknows what we will do. God foreknows what we will do because we will in fact do them (freely).

Again, our interactions with each other are not always analogous to God’s interactions with us. We owe allegiance to God as our Creator, but God does not owe allegiance to us. God does not have to stop us from abusing the gifts He has given us. And the fact that God does not stop us from abusing His gifts does not make Him responsible for that abuse. The one who freely abuses the gift is responsible because He is perverting God’s gift and using it in a way that God did not intend for it to be used. In your view, however, God does intend for sin and then punishes the sinner for what He intended and caused them to do.

He does not have to rescue us from the consequences of our behavior either. God will, however, make things right. He has provided for forgiveness and restoration through the cross and will judge the world in perfect justice.

Sure, God gives ability. Who denies that?

You do. How can I have the ability to resist temptation if God irresistibly determines that I will not resist temptation? If something is impossible for us to do then we do not have the ability to do it. That is a very basic use of normal human language and no appeals to Aristotle or claims of shallow thinking will ever change that. In this passage God says that we can resist temptation. Many do not. Therefore, either God is not faithful as He claims or your determinism crumbles.

In your system, in the end, you must credit yourself for overcoming temptation, not God. “For who made you to differ from another” as regards the use of this ability?

Actually, Paul goes on to explain this further in a way that perfectly conforms to Arminian theology:

“For who makes you different than anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

So the reason they cannot boast is because they have only received what they have. They did not work for it or earn it. In the same way, we cannot boast in our salvation because we have only received it as a free gift from God. Faith excludes boasting because it is the receiving of a free gift that is not deserved or earned. Paul does not say that they have no basis for pride because the gift is received irresistibly.

Brother, you are just ignorant of modern behavioral sciences which are mostly deterministic in the matter of human choice and behavior. In fact, many criminals are found not guilty because the attorneys in their defense proved that sociological, psychological, or environmental factors brought about the choice and behavior. I guess you set yourselves against them all. I think you should look up articles on “free will” as it is discussed by psychologists.

I have no problem setting myself up against them since the Word of God contradicts them. They are wrong. Why are you so certain that they are right? Because it seems to support your beliefs? Do you also believe that science has proven that we are just a cosmic accident and the results of random mutations which took place over millions of years? Do you dare “set yourself against” the atheistic evolutionary scientific community?

And let us suppose that they are right to let people off the hook because their wills are not free due to the control of social, psychological, and environmental factors. How then could we ever condemn anyone for any crime at all? And if divine determinism is correct then there is no difference between the Harvard grad with good parents who murders someone and the kid who grew up in Harlem in a broken home surrounded by drug pushers who murders someone. In both cases their will was determined by God, and so neither of them should be responsible.

But here you contradict what you said above! If there are causes to choice, then choice is not “free” by common Arminian and Libertarian definitions.

Not at all. The free-agent is free to use his powers however he decides. But he is the cause of his actions. His actions are not “uncaused.” They are caused by him. You have misunderstood how Arminians understand free-agency. That, unfortunately, is not uncommon among Calvinists.

But, you think that if God create or cause us to love him, then the love is of no use. You think self created love is what God desires more than any love he would cause or create!

I believe that God did create us to love Him. That is our purpose. It is to love and worship Him and give Him glory. God is best glorified when His creatures freely love and worship Him. How is God glorified by making His creatures love Him? However, if love is defined as something that one must freely do, then God cannot make us love Him. He could make us act and feel like we love Him, but it would not be real love. Nor would it be real worship. We are not God’s equals. We owe Him love, but love is not love if it is caused irresistibly. If God wanted to cause us to love Him, then we should never see God pleading for the love of His people (not because God needs us but because we need Him, and God wants what is best for His creatures). Yet we see that all throughout Scripture.

Brother, if you will look at all the other places in the bible where this and similar language is used - “put it in their hearts,” then I think you could talk about this more intelligently. If I put into the heart of my son to commit murder, no court in the land would hold me wholly blameless, or not in any way a “cause” or “responsible,” and you know that!

And of course, the passage does not say anything about God putting it into their hearts to murder.

I will give you just a few. Romans 11: 36; I Cor. 8: 6: Colossians 1: 16-18.

Romans 11:36- God created all things and everything that has been created owes its existence and allegiance to Him. It is not saying that God made sin.

1 Cor. 8:6- Again, everything is created by God and owes its existence to Him. But God created all things “good” and created nothing evil. This passage is not speaking of decisions to rebel against God and corrupt His goodness. Rather, it is speaking of how God created and sustains His universe. “All things” has reference to created things and the passage is speaking of those things’ existence and not their actions. That you call this passage into service demonstrates how weak your position is.

Col. 1:16-18- Same as above. The context is even more obvious than that in 1 Cor.8:6 and Rom. 11:36 with regards to what is being described: creation and its existence, not the sinful actions of God’s creatures. Weak.

No, James 1: 13 does not make that impossible. You are not correctly understanding that passage if you think it denies God being the first cause of all things, and the cause of all other causes.

Of course not. I must not be correctly understanding it because it doesn’t fit with your determinism  I gave you an alternative interpretation for Rev. 17. You don’t accept it, and that is fine, but at least I tackled the passage instead of waving it off as you have.

James makes it plain that we should never imagine that God tempts us because to think such of God is improper and impossible. Yet, your determinism is even worse than accusing God of temptation since at least temptation can be resisted. In your view God just causes us to sin in a way that is irresistible and then punishes us for it.

Sorry about the mistake on the term. If God create a personality, then it cannot be a personality? What kind of logic is that? Or, are you saying that God does not create personality? Not even the personality of Christ? Who created yours then? Yourself? Somebody else?

If God controls our every thought then our thoughts are not our own. They are God’s thoughts. Therefore, our thoughts, actions, and personality are just expressions of who God is (panentheism). God allows us to mold our own personality. Our personality is shaped based on how we use our God given powers of self-determination. That does not mean that God does not influence us for good and play a part in shaping our personality, but we are distinct from God. Your view dissolves that distinction and panentheism results. Christ’s personality was uncreated in His divinity, and shaped by His own power of self-determination in His humanity, which Christ perfectly exercised in full submission to the Father’s will. So, in a real sense Christ’s personality was indeed the perfect expression of God’s personality. And since Christ never sinned nor caused anyone to sin, then we can conclude that God never sinned nor caused anyone to sin.

The bible teaches that God does control every action, from the bird falling to the ground, to the number of hairs on a man’s head. That is intense or minute control or governorship!

Actually, it says that no bird falls to the ground without God being aware of it, and that the hairs of our head are numbered. No one ever said that we control the number of hairs that will grow on our head (If that were the case I would surely have more hair on my head!). These examples do noting to prove your determinism and your wild claims that God causes our sinful actions.

It is valid to say, for instance, “but for” God creating Richard with free will, he would be happy in Eden now”! Do you deny this is valid?

Maybe, and maybe not. It may be that our happiness can only come when we freely choose to love and obey God. If that is the case then happiness would be contingent on free-will and Adam could not have been happy. Though Adam could still be happy in Eden if he had not decided to rebel against God. Either way, God did not cause Adam’s sin and is not responsible for it. Adam could not have sinned if God did not create the universe, and yet God declared that all he created was “good.” God did not intend for Adam to sin and He did not cause Adam to sin. Therefore, God is not responsible for Adam’s sin. Your courtroom analogies fail to reckon with the unique creature/ Creator relationship between man and God, and deny God the sovereign right to create free moral agents and hold them morally accountable for their actions.


So, Richard, how would you respond? Suppose you put your name up there instead of “God.” In other words, “Richard could have kept my client from doing this evil”?

You see, the difference between you and me is simply this. You try to do the impossible, by scripture and reason, to exonerate God of all causality in evil, but I acknowledge his causation.


See above regarding the difference between our interactions with each other and God’s interactions with us. BTW, I am not Richard. Later, you chide me for not paying close attention to what you write, yet you cannot even keep straight who you are addressing.

The difference between me and you, IMO, is that you blaspheme God by making Him the cause of sin, something Scripture plainly contradicts, and I do not.

It makes no difference as to my argument as to whether Abimelech was “innocent.” God kept him from a sin. But, in your Arminian system, God can’t do this!

I never said that God cannot prevent us from sinning in certain situations. I did say that God cannot cause sin. He is holy, just, perfect, and non-contradictory. In fact, we are to pray that God will not lead us into temptation, which essentially means to protect us from situations where we may be tempted to sin. That is what God did with Abimilech. That God intervenes at times for specific reasons, does not mean that He must always intervene. Nor does it mean that if He could intervene, but does not intervene, then He is responsible for what His creatures freely do.

Just so we understand each other I need to make a few things clear. I do not believe that God treats everyone equally. I do not believe that circumstances cannot limit our freedom, or that God cannot limit our freedom by circumstances. I do not believe that everyone gets the same exact opportunity to hear or respond to the gospel. I do believe that God holds us responsible for what we can do and how we do respond to Him in whatever circumstances God puts us in. I even believe that God sometimes overrides man’s will to accomplish things. I do not, however, believe that God ever overrides man’s will to deliberately sin against Him. So, I, like most Arminians, believe that God gives us a measure of free-will and allows us to make moral decisions and judges us accordingly. I do not believe that God gives us unlimited free-will as you seem to think.

My main concern is the genuineness of a love relationship with God and avoiding the blasphemous charge of making God the author of sin. If it wasn’t for those things I wouldn’t give a rip about free-will.

It is unbelievable to me that Arminians preach salvation apart from the gospel and faith in Christ when they see how to believe such puts them into the position I have uncovered!

Not sure what “position” you have uncovered. I don’t preach salvation apart from the gospel and faith as I said, “It may be that if they respond to the grace given that God will work things out so that they will eventually hear the gospel.” All of it is speculation and it is unwise to build doctrines on speculation and “secret decrees” of which the Bible says nothing. That is a backwards and dangerous hermeneutic, as your conclusions that God causes sin plainly demonstrate.

There is much more that I could say, but I cannot devote any more time to this exchange. It is not that it is not important, or that I do not think you are worth my time, it is just that I do not have the time. If I do respond to something you write, it may not be for quite a while. It seems clear that we are not going to agree.

I am, however, genuinely concerned for you regarding your belief that God is the author of sin. I hope that you will reconsider that belief. I believe that it is truly a blasphemous charge to lay at the foot of a holy God, but I do not think you intend to blaspheme God. May God bless you as you continue to seek Him, and may His Spirit guide you into all truth.

Ben

My Daily Bread said...

kangaroodort

Thank you for the engagement on this issue. I, like you, do not have time for the continuation of this discussion.

I commend you for defending what you believe, although I disagree with it.

It is not true that those who believe that God is the cause of all things believe God therefore delights in wickedness. Many supralapsarians have been very godly men.

I do commend you also for a point or two you made. Perhaps you too were helped some by this engagement?

I pray you well.

God bless

Stephen

kangaroodort said...

Stephen,

I also appreciate the discussion. You are the first hard-determinist I have debated with so you have forced me to think more clearly about the issue, which is never a bad thing.

I admire your desire for consistency. Many Calvinists abandon consistency for the sake of trying to sound more orthodox. I only wish that your consistency would lead you to realize that Calvinism has serious problems since it does make God the author of sin. Instead, you seem content to affirm that God authors sin for the sake of being consistent and remaining a Calvinist.

Again, I hope that you will re-consider this. I do believe that you are an honest seeker and that you are trying to be true to the word of God, and I respect that. That is all that I am trying to do.

I do need to make a small correction. I wrote:

"Actually, it says that no bird falls to the ground without God being aware of it"

I did not check the reference on that one because I thought I remembered it clearly. The passage actually says that no bird falls apart from “the Father” (Matt. 10:29). It does not say “apart from the Father knowing”. A few translations add “Father’s will”, but that seems to be interpretive and not demanded by the text. Even if that is the correct rendering I think it still makes better sense to understand that within the framework of permission and not causation (and even if it does relate to causation it is not a problem for my view, since I believe that God causes many things).

Anyway, thanks again for the enlightening discussion. I appreciate that we could maintain a civil dialogue even though we took some small shots at each other along the way. May God bless you as you continue to seek His truth.

Ben

kangaroodort said...

Oh, and one more thing...

It is not true that those who believe that God is the cause of all things believe God therefore delights in wickedness. Many supralapsarians have been very godly men.

I never thought or suggested that supralapsarians, because they believe that God authors sin, cannot live godly lives. I only suggested (and truly believe) that to think such things about God is unBiblical and blasphemous.

But again, I do not think that any supralapsarian means to or believes that they blaspheme God with their beliefs. Like you said, they are mostly godly men who are trying to be faithful to what they believe the Scripture teaches. I only think that they are very wrong about how they understand Scripture and come to some very unfortunate conclusions based on that misunderstanding.

God Bless,
Ben

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Ben:

Thanks much!

I do plan to write some more on this topic in my baptistgadfly.blogspot.com blog. I have already posted the exchange between us there.

I have studied theistic and non-theistic determinism all my life. I wrote papers on it in college. I dealt with the issue of cauality and responsibility.

I believe absolute predestination of all things is scriptural and I believe it is the only view that satisfactorily deals with the "problem of evil," being the best "theodicy."

Sin does serve God's purpose or else it would not be suffered to exist in any world he created.

I do not believe that God created Adam as an end, but that he created Adam, willed the fall, in order that he might reveal himself in the second Adam.

Had Adam not fallen into sin, there would be no second Adam, no redemption, no understanding of the love, grace, and mercy of God, nor would we know the meaning of pain, suffering, rest, etc.

I will let you know when I have found time to write some on this topic in my Gadfly blog.

God bless,

Stephen

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Ben:

Here is a reply to your last writing, and one I posted in my blog, the baptistgadfly.blogspot.com location.

If you don't have time or inclination to respond, I will understand. Still, I wanted to make these further comments to your last anaylytical writing.

God bless and take care.

Stephen

P. S.

"Iron sharpens iron."


So again, according to determinist theology, why should we value God so highly seeing as how He caused the fall of man and brought sin and destruction into the world and then punished his creation for the sins that God caused them to commit?"

That was a good "tit for tat." However, I never said that we should "value" determimism. I certainly never put any "value" upon "free will." What I do "value" is the sovereignty, omnipotence, and omniscience of God. What I devalue is giving such attributes to creatures.

Yes, God's will and decree "got us into this mess." But, for the elect, there is a determined decree to "get them out of the mess." But, it can also be said that Adam got us into this mess. Further, it could be said that Eve and Satan got us into this mess. It can be said that we get ourselves into this mess also. All these persons are "causes" for us being in this mess, yet in different senses of "causality."

But, granting that "free will" got us into this mess, it certainly cannot get us out!

Many Determinists believe that Adam acted freely, as did Christ, but all other men now act passively, being now unpossessed of "free will," as it was given to Adam and Eve. These Determinists would avow that "free will" got us into this mess but only predestination (determinism) gets us out. Very few deny that Adam had free will, although this is not my view; of course, this depends on how we are defining "free will." But, these same people, while admitting that Adam had "free will," believe that he and all men now do not have that same freedom.

"He caused the fall of man and brought sin and destruction into the world and then punished his creation for the sins that God caused them to commit?"

Yes, this is what the bible teaches. It teaches that God willed every event to occur. It teaches that God willed the fall of Adam and yet held Adam accountable for the fall.

Both God and Adam willed the fall. Adam intended it for evil, but God for good. (Gen. 50: 20)

Before Pharoah, Esau, and such "vessels of wrath," were born, or created, they were hated and rejected by God. It was not based upon "any evil" they had done. It was "before" it, and could not therefore be a reaction to it. (Romans 9)

Also, scripture is very clear, saying - "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Proverbs 16: 4 KJV)

"And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go." (Exodus 4: 21 KJV)

"And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said...And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said." (7: 13, 22, etc.)

"And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen." (Exodus 14: 17 KJV)

"But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day." (Deuteronomy 2: 30 KJV)

"There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses." (Joshua 11: 19, 20 KJV)

"O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance." (Isaiah 63: 17 KJV)

"He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." (John 12: 40 KJV)

It seems that "free will" theology will not let God get his "honor" from the destruction of Pharoah, the Egyptians, and with Sihon! They must affirm that their understanding of God makes it impossible for God to do as he has done in these verses! And notice how the end, God's "honor," certainly "justifies the means"! Can God not use a creature for such ignoble ends? Does he owe the creature anything?

As far as "cause" and "effect" goes, who can read these verses and say God was no cause at all? That he was not in any way "responsible"? God is responsible for all things, but he is not accountable to anyone, nor to any law outside of himself. I use the term "responsible" in the sense of "cause" here. Many things are "responsible" for other things but are not "accountable," blameworthy, or guilty, in a social and legal context.

I will have a few more comments to offer on "causality" forthwith as I address some of your other comments along this line.

But, notice how even the holy and godly prophet, Jeremiah, also asks God why his heart has been hardened by God! Was he blaspheming God?

"I never said that we would one day be fully determined. I only said that we will be unable to sin in Heaven. That does not mean that God will determine all that we do."

Yes, and I see this as a contradiction, and you do not. We will not have free will in heaven and neither will we be fully determined!

If we are unable to sin in heaven, then God took some "ability" away from us? That taking away of ability does not determine or guarantee future choice and activity? Does not fully determine it?

Besides, where did this "ability" to sin come from? You say it is part of free will ability. You define free will as having both the power to do do good and the power to do evil. And you admit that "free will ability" is what God gives (imparts) to man (without man's permission, I might add!) Thus, you admit that God gave man the power to do evil. Why would he do that? Would you create a machine or robot that had the power to do evil? If you did, would you be "responsible" and "accountable" by the laws of society?

Thus, you admit that God gave "A" (power or ability or free will) knowing that the giving of "A" would cause "B" (mess of sin, etc.), but yet you refuse to allow that this in any way makes God, in any sense, a "cause" or one "responsible" for "B."

God either determines an event will occur or it will not occur. By your own confession and definition of things, you admit that God "permits" things to occur. You also imply that this "permission" is necessary for the event to occur. If event "A" cannot occur without the permission or will of "B," then "B" can be said to be a "cause" of "A."

If I am holding a rock in my hand, it cannot fall without me "letting" or "permitting" it to fall.

Notice these words of scripture:

"Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?" (Lamentations 3: 37, 38 KJV)

It is also true that God will remove all those things which pull us toward sin in heaven. We sin on earth because of:

1) The pull of the sinful nature
2) The pull of the corrupt and sinful world system
3) Temptation form demonic forces

In Heaven there will no longer be a sinful nature, a corrupt world system, or demonic forces."


If the presence of the things itemized are causes to our being able to sin, as you admit, then you must admit that these things are in our world by the will of God, for he could remove them even now, and thus make him a cause. You admit that a sinless existence will come about when God "removes" these things. Therefore, God not only has the power to stop these things, and thus stop all sinning, but will actually do so in the future.

You admit that God "allowed" or "permitted" Satan to tempt us, and also admit that he will remove this temptation in the world to come. Thus, you admit that the presence of the temptor in our world is the result of God willing or causing it.

"There is really nothing in the Bible that tells us what our wills will be like in Heaven. It does seem that there will be no sin in Heaven and I am content to believe that this results from the lack of opportunity to sin coupled with the fact that God makes us incorruptible in accordance with our will (and His) to be completely free from sin and conformed to the image of His Son."

I do not agree that the scriptures are silent on the state of our wills in Heaven. If you really believe it says nothing about it, then you ought not to be taking any dogmatic stands on the topic.

You speak of "opportunity" to sin as being something God is in control of, in these words, but you will not allow him to be a cause. I find that grossly illogical.

Is God making one "incorruptible" that which fully determines the individual to every future right action? You seem to affirm this and if you do, you have come over to Determinism to a great degree.

"However, if God irresistibly determines our choices then our choices are not ours but his. In that case, when we love God, God is really just loving Himself. He is not receiving love from His creatures but receiving love from Himself. Worse yet, when a person hates and rejects God, he is not really hating and rejecting God because he is not in control of his decisions, God is. Therefore God is just hating Himself and rejecting Himself. It really does reduce to a cosmic puppet show where God causes puppets to love Him and causes puppets to hate Him and then punishes them forever for doing what God caused them to do. That is why hard-determinism is absurd and the history of Christianity has never accepted it as orthodox."

"In your view people are little more than machines. They do not make moral decisions. They are entirely passive and God makes decisions for them. God punishing us for what we do in hard-determinism is as absurd as punishing an engine for breaking down."


Again, what do the scriptures say? Why do you think Calvinists believe this? Is it not what Romans 9 and other verses plainly teach? Notice also how you cite no scripture that says "man is not a puppet or a machine." This proposition is simply an enthymeme of yours and one that is not scriptural. In fact, the bible does picture man as God's product, his machine, his creation. Certainly our bodies can be called "machines" can they not?

I think you have a problem in denying that man is, in any sense, a machine or a puppet. Was the Assyrian not a puppet in God's hand? (Isaiah 10)? What is the essential difference in saying we are the clay and God is the Potter or saying God is the puppeteer and we are the puppets? Does God have any "strings" attached to his creation, whereby he controls them? Maybe we disagree on how many strings God controls versus the puppet himself?

It is a non sequiter to say that if God causes our choices then the choices are not ours. Does God cause our resurrection? If so, then by your logic, we cannot say that such a resurrection is "our" resurrection! Does God cause our breathing? If so, then by your logic, it is not "our" breathing!

I must also ask you if you believe God has ever caused or determined a single choice anyone ever made? Has he ever compelled or constrained a man to think, will, or do anything? If you do allow any cases where God caused a choice, then that choice, by your definitions and logic, is not the creature's choice. That is not logical, a non sequiter.

Calvinist do not have any problem with the concept that praises given to creatures are, in essence, God's praise of his own work in us! You Arminian free will advocates, however, believe that God gets no "credit" or "praise" for our choices! He is no "cause" at all! We are the sole causes of all our good choices and deeds!

Calvinists do not believe that the will of God in regard to the non-elect is the same as the elect. We do not say that the individual evil choices and acts of men are God's working in the non-elect for the purpose of God rejecting or discrediting himself.

It is really an old argument from the Libertarians to argue that any praise God gives to his creatures cannot be valid praise unless the creature do the praiseworthy deed without God, without his causation, i.e., by "free will." Again, where is this scriptural? Where is the verse that says praise can only occur when the creature acts out of his own free will and ability? That is another enthymeme that is not scriptural. If one reads the New Testament epistles, one sees how the apostles praised Christians for every virtue and spiritual grace, and yet, at the same time, did not hesitate to avow that these virtues and graces were the sovereign free gifts of God.

From what you are arguing, God is not to be praised for our virtues and graces, for our good deeds! He gets no credit or praise at all!

Also, you are wrong to think it absurd for God, a Potter, to create a vessel, then to purposefully destroy it, so that he might remake it! Why can't a Potter make a vessel with the intent of destroying it? Do we not do that even ourselves? Suppose I wanted to teach a child the meaning of the word "destruction." I want to do this by acting out the meaning of the word for the student. So, I create a vessel out of clay, then, before the face of my students, I break it. I tell them, that is what it means to "destroy" something. By your logic, however, a Potter never would create something for the purpose of destroying it.

People destroy things all the time also to demonstrate their rights of sovereignty, and their strength to do so. In other words, people say, "it belongs to me. I will prove it by destroying it!" Or, "I will break this concrete block to demonstrate my power."

Further, you put limits on the Potter! You say he cannot make it into whatever he pleases! You deny him his right and sovereignty to make the clay into something ignoble and with inferior ends or a low destiny! What law exists that limits the heavenly Potter from making creatures to either high or low destiny? Why do you put rules upon the Potter?

Nearly all free will advocates say God CANNOT make any creature without the intent of making that creature's ultimate happiness and well being the highest or "prime objective." But, where is this rule that God must abide by when he creates a living being? Who wrote the law that says to God - "God, you cannot create any creature simply to destroy him, but you must only create a creature with his ultimate happiness as the end"?

"Herein lies the basis of much of your confusion. Our relationships with each other are not always analogous to our relationship with God. Our relationship with God and our interactions with God are different because God is our Creator and He has certain rights over us that we do not necessarily have over each other."

This is really ironic that you should argue this way. First of all, it was not I that tried to make our relationships with each other analogous, in every respect, to our relationship with God? It was YOU, not I! I was the one who rebutted your doing so by saying that you Arminians err in doing this very thing! You make the wooing of a spouse the only type of analogy that is used for the conversion or salvation experience! I showed you how that lone analogy is insufficient, and if taken by itself, yeilds the kind of Arminian perversions you parrot.

This paragraph of yours is what Calvinists are saying, and you contradict what you elsewhere say. In fact, if I only had the above words of yours to read, I would think you were a Determinist or Calvinist. It is you who deny God superior rights to do what he pleases. You certainly deny him the right to make "vessels UNTO dishonor"! Or, the "wicked for the day of evil"!

"Allowing us to act and holding us accountable for those acts does not violate His nature."

Neither does his creating vessels to destruction violate his nature, as you suppose. God raised up Pharoah in order to do with him as he did. The destiny of Pharoah was decided by God before he was born. God hating Esau before he was born, and not for any evil thing he did, also does not violate the nature of God.

"In your view God creates us without the ability to do anything that God does not make us do and then holds us accountable for actions that He irresistibly determines us to do."

You keep saying that such teachings are my teachings, but I have shown that I am saying nothing that scripture does not plainly say.

I believe no man can "do" anything without "power." Do you agree or disagree? If it takes "power" to "do" anything, from whence comes "power"? Did I not cite Colossians 1: 16-18 wherein God is said to create all things? I will address this more fully later, but for now, let me say that the passage clearly puts "powers" in the category of "all things." You want to limit "all things" to all material things. But, "all things" is not limited, in this passage, nor the other passages where the term is used, in the New Testament, to "all material things." Your adding of the adjective "material" to the apostolic statement regarding "all things" is an addition to the word of God and puts a limit upon what was intended to be unlimited. You could also "interpret" "all things" to mean "all good things," or all "holy things," etc. But, Paul used no such adjectives, did he? In fact, clearly your use of the adjective "material" is not warranted, for Paul lists some of the categories included in the "all things," mentioning "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers." Are these material things? Are there only good powers but no evil powers? Are there only material thrones? Are there only only heavenly dominions?

It seems you have the same problem that you attempt to impute to the Determinists! You say that Calvinists believe that God determines to create a man for an evil destiny and imply that it is not "just" for God to do so or to hold him accountable for his predetermined deeds. But, again, that is a non sequiter. Did you not say that you believed that God had absolute foreknowledge of all future events? Then, let me ask you these rhetorical questions, assuming God's foreknowledge.

If God foresees an event will occur, can it fail to occur? Or, if God says that something will occur in the future, can if fail to occur? If God foresaw that Ben would die without having been converted, and yet goes ahead and creates him anyway, knowing his destiny, how have you "exonerated" God from all causality? How have you escaped your own dilemma?

Besides the other scriptures I have cited that show what you deny and abhor, let me cite this other verse that destroys your unbelief and your unfounded enthememes.

"But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed..." (II Peter 2: 12 KJV)

"I believe that God created the universe and nothing happens that God does not either cause or permit. You call my knowledge of “causality” little, but I am trying to work with normal definitions. If you want to expand and stretch a definition to the point that includes things that are contrary to it, then we are not going to be able to have an intelligent conversation. If you want to say that permission is the same as causality then you need to demonstrate that and not just assert it or appeal to what Aristotle thought on the matter."

You have here come much closer to Determinism than you think! Nothing can happen without either God causing it or permitting it! Thus, all we really have to do then is discuss honestly the nature of this divine permission, a thing I have been trying to do in a "here a little, there a little" manner. I have already demonstrated many instances where "permission" is a kind of "causation." I have also demonstrated where inaction is a cause of things, and therefore worthy of condemnation as sin, as in the case of the "priest" who "passed by" the wounded soul and was eventually helped by the "good Samaritan." Yes, we have discussed this, but the parable demonstrates that inaction is a sin in certain cases. That is why we have "good Samaritan laws," to punish such inaction. In such cases "inaction" is a cause of blame and punishment.

You promote the idea that somehow God's permission cannot in any way be equated with his "will." Is permission not a man's will? If I permit a man to enter my house, have I not willed it? Could the demons have gone into the herd of swine without the permission of Christ? Here I might carry forward what I said about the "but for" argument used to prove "responsibility" (causality, contributing, or otherwise).

Arminian free willers, and non-determinists, argue that God creates evil and sin by simply "withdrawing" his gifts, or his restraints, etc. They say God is not "at fault" or a "cause" of the sin because he did not directly or efficiently cause it, but simply withdrew something from the sinner that ultimately made him sin. Then, they try to do the impossible by saying, "but this does not mean God in any way caused the sin." Any philosopher or logician knows how absurd and illogical is such reasoning. Who will avow that the removal of restraints and powers did not, in some sense, cause the sin? Such logic would be equivalent to a man who argues before a judge - "your honor, I did not cause the man to fall off the ladder, I merely removed the ladder from under him."

I think what you say about permission and causality, in the above last words of yours on this subject, simply verifies my charge that your knowledge of the laws of causality are a cause (pun intended) for your confusion.

But, again, I will have a few more words on causality shortly as I address some of your other words on this topic, from your last writing.

"But, then again, you seem to believe that ability has nothing to do with responsibility."

Here again, we see how the "devil is in the definitions." If we define "responsibility" as being synonymous with "ability to respond," then I will affirm that no man has ability to respond unless God give him that ability. As I said, Paul taught that all "powers" are the creation of God. I believe, like all Calvinists, that Adam had an ability to respond to God that we do not have as fallen sinners of his corruptible seed. We have lost that ability to respond. Yet, we are still responsible because we were once responsible in Adam. I therefore think that people are rather thinking of the term, morally speaking, as meaning the same as "accountability" or "guilt" or "blame." The question then, for bible students, is - "what is the elements of accountability?" In what does it consist? On what basis?

If we look at the verses referred to by me already, it is clear that a man is accountable to God by decree, by the intention or designation by the Potter. Besides, there is vicarious responsibility, as we see in Christ and in Adam.

"That God foreknew that we would choose to disobey Him does not make Him culpable for our disobedience since God did not cause that disobedience. God’s foreknowledge is not causative."

I have already addressed this and shown it to be illogical and unscriptural. I haved shown how God's foreknowledge does make him the cause of all things, but you are the one who adds the idea of "culpability" in regards to God, a thing I find impossible. Further, you have not shown how the bible or logic proves that God is not, in any sense, the "cause of all things." In fact, you have virtually admitted that God is the cause of all things, for you have said that nothing comes to pass without God either directly causing it or permitting it. And, I have shown that this kind of divine permission, being essential to the occurrence of any event, must therefore be viewed as a cause of the event.

God allows things and is not culpaple, true. Men permit things also and are, however, culpaple, as I have shown. God allows things and he is responsible. But, this is not an "either or" situation, as you wrongly imagine. You seem to think that either God is responsible or the creature is responsible, and that they cannot be both responsible, yet in differing senses.

God's foreknowledge is indeed causative. The scriptures demonstrate this abundantly. But, as this is already quite long, I will not flood you with scripture citations, but favor you only with this sampling.

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1: 5)

That foreknowledge of Jeremiah did not cause his existence? Did not God cause his existence? Also, does not the Greek word for "foreknowlege" mean more than bare prescience, and includes the idea of foreordination?

"Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15: 18 KJV)

The question really is this - "does God foresee any events or effects of which he is not the ultimate first cause?" And, -"can anything come into existence apart from the will, foreknowledge, and predestination of God?

You also favor the idea of two wills with regard to the will of God by your belief in the "permissive" will of God. You have decretal or non-permissive will, and permissive will. When you give reluctant permission, are you not one possessed of two wills, one of which is superior? You do not want your child to do something, but, you give them permission anyway, for you think that they need their freedom, thus you are conflicted in your will regarding them when you give reluctant permission, correct?

"Actually, Paul goes on to explain this further in a way that perfectly conforms to Arminian theology:

“For who makes you different than anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7)

So the reason they cannot boast is because they have only received what they have. They did not work for it or earn it. In the same way, we cannot boast in our salvation because we have only received it as a free gift from God. Faith excludes boasting because it is the receiving of a free gift that is not deserved or earned. Paul does not say that they have no basis for pride because the gift is received irresistibly."


But, you fail to apply Paul's rhetorical question as to why one "received" the gift and another did not. I offer two men a gift, and one actually receives that gift, but, "who or what made the difference?" You still attribute the ultimate reason to the creature himself, making him the author of his own salvation, a "first cause" of things, a thing that can only be said of God himself, and the one who makes himself different from another. Don't you see? Besides, you seem to imply, by your logic, that no one can "receive" something both passively and actively. When you "received" your name, or your first breath, was it comparable to "receiving" an offered gift?

"I have no problem setting myself up against them (Aristotle and writers on causality) since the Word of God contradicts them. They are wrong. Why are you so certain that they are right? Because it seems to support your beliefs? Do you also believe that science has proven that we are just a cosmic accident and the results of random mutations which took place over millions of years? Do you dare “set yourself against” the atheistic evolutionary scientific community?

And let us suppose that they are right to let people off the hook because their wills are not free due to the control of social, psychological, and environmental factors. How then could we ever condemn anyone for any crime at all? And if divine determinism is correct then there is no difference between the Harvard grad with good parents who murders someone and the kid who grew up in Harlem in a broken home surrounded by drug pushers who murders someone. In both cases their will was determined by God, and so neither of them should be responsible."


I will address causality further in just a minute when I notice your rebuttal of the passages I brought up to prove God was the cause, the only first cause, of all things. But, I do wish to say this; I do not believe that the scientific community has "proven" that this world is a cosmic accident or that evolution is a fact of history. But, science, or more properly perhaps, philosophy, has demonstrated that every effect must have a cause, a fact which you seem to deny, affirming that choices have no determining causes. But, I will address this point shortly.

The word of God is our guide in judging effects by their immediate or instrumental causes, not human logic. Thus, as a jurist, sitting in trial for a violation of the law, I should take notice of the various "causes" that brought about the violation. And, we do show leniency based upon an analysis of these causes. God's secret will is not a consideration in such cases, but only his revealed will in scripture which prescribes our duties in these cases. Further, our ability to condemn a person is not the same as God's ability to condemn them.

"Not at all. The free-agent is free to use his powers however he decides. But he is the cause of his actions. His actions are not “uncaused.” They are caused by him. You have misunderstood how Arminians understand free-agency. That, unfortunately, is not uncommon among Calvinists."

The man controls the will and the will controls his actions - this is what you are avowing. What part of the "man" controls his will? His flesh and blood? His body? His understanding? His affections? Besides, who causes the man? Is man a first cause of himself and of his own actions? Are there two "first causes" then in the universe? Rather, many?

"I believe that God did create us to love Him. That is our purpose. It is to love and worship Him and give Him glory. God is best glorified when His creatures freely love and worship Him. How is God glorified by making His creatures love Him? However, if love is defined as something that one must freely do, then God cannot make us love Him."

You have me confused here. When God made Adam, did he make him with love for him, or did he make him without this love, and then, after making him, win him over to love him? If you take the former view, then it destroys all you said about God not being able to create love for him. From your statement above, you seem to believe that when God made Adam, he put him in a state of indifference and equilibrium, at first, without either love or hate for God, and then later brought him to love him.

About God not being able to make us to love him, I have already shown how this is false, in many ways.

You ask - "how is God glorified in making his creatures love him?" However, I have already shown you how this is the only way he can be glorified, for any man loving God. You think God is glorified when a sinnner, on his own, comes to love God? Is this not rather the glorification of the sinner?

"Romans 11:36- God created all things and everything that has been created owes its existence and allegiance to Him. It is not saying that God made sin."

Again, "all things" does not mean "some things." Is sin not a "thing"? Besides, what does it mean for a thing to be "of" or "from" something else? I believe Paul teaches that all things are "of God" in that God is the material, formal, or first cause of all things, that Paul is affirming what Jeremiah affirmed, that nothing can come to pass apart from God's will and secret counsel or decree. "Through him" would mean God is also the instrumental cause, and is similar to the verse in Colossians one that says "by him all things consist" or "are held together." "To him" indicates also that God himself is the "final cause" of "all things." Thus, I am only affirming what Paul clearly taught in this verse.

"1 Cor. 8:6 - Again, everything is created by God and owes its existence to Him. But God created all things “good” and created nothing evil. This passage is not speaking of decisions to rebel against God and corrupt His goodness. Rather, it is speaking of how God created and sustains His universe. “All things” has reference to created things and the passage is speaking of those things’ existence and not their actions. That you call this passage into service demonstrates how weak your position is."

But, is evil not included in "all things"? Why do you take away from the word of God with such additions and "interpretations"? God created nothing "evil"? Why do the scriptures say otherwise? (See Isaiah 45: 7 & Amos 3: 6) Again, you seem to believe there are a category of "things" that are not created, or at least, not created by God. Do you believe in more than one Creator, then? Are powers created things? Are thoughts and actions? Events? Are principalities and thrones and dominions created things? Are they all good?

"Col. 1:16-18- Same as above. The context is even more obvious than that in 1 Cor.8:6 and Rom. 11:36 with regards to what is being described: creation and its existence, not the sinful actions of God’s creatures. Weak."

Same as above also for me! Further, the "context" shows that the "all things," the all things created, are not things confined to the material world!

"Of course not. I must not be correctly understanding it because it doesn’t fit with your determinism. I gave you an alternative interpretation for Rev. 17. You don’t accept it, and that is fine, but at least I tackled the passage instead of waving it off as you have."

Your "alternative interpretation" was no interpretation at all, but a twist on the obvious meaning of the text. I still affirm that you refuse to believe in a God who can do what he did there and still be just and holy and good.

"James makes it plain that we should never imagine that God tempts us because to think such of God is improper and impossible. Yet, your determinism is even worse than accusing God of temptation since at least temptation can be resisted. In your view God just causes us to sin in a way that is irresistible and then punishes us for it."

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1: 12-15 KJV)

This verse is not denying that God is the cause of all things. This verse is not denying that God never, in any sense, tempts a man. "God did tempt Abraham." "Then was he led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Was the Spirit of God involved in the temptation of Christ? Yes, it was the will of the Spirit of God for Christ to be tempted. You also affirm that it was the will of God that Adam and Eve be tempted, for you allow that he was there by the will of God.

Thus, what James is saying is that no one succombs to temptation because of something residing within the man, what is called his "lust" or sinful nature and passions. A man sins, not because he is tempted, for Christ was tempted and did no sin, but because he succombs to the temptation. I will give an example, of cases dealing with lawful setups or entrapments set for criminals by the police. Police departments routinely will have an undercover cop pretend to be a prostitute in order to catch those who pay for prostitution. They tempt these kinds of criminals. Now, when a person succombs to the temptation, who or what was the cause of the man giving in to the temptation? Was it the temptation itself? Was the intent of the cops, in tempting these criminals, to get these criminals to do these crimes because they want these crimes committed? No, they are doing it to expose and to catch them. The man who succombed to the temptation of the prostitute, put there by the cops (God), is not the reason or the condemnable cause of the crime. Don't you see?

"It may be that our happiness can only come when we freely choose to love and obey God. If that is the case then happiness would be contingent on free-will and Adam could not have been happy. Though Adam could still be happy in Eden if he had not decided to rebel against God. Either way, God did not cause Adam’s sin and is not responsible for it. Adam could not have sinned if God did not create the universe, and yet God declared that all he created was “good.” God did not intend for Adam to sin and He did not cause Adam to sin. Therefore, God is not responsible for Adam’s sin."

Some of the these things I have already addressed. However, let me address the other things you mention. By your view of things, Adam was not happy the moment God created him, for God cannot create happiness in a man. Happiness with God can only come for Adam later, after he is created, according to your view, by his free will decision.

"The difference between me and you, IMO, is that you blaspheme God by making Him the cause of sin, something Scripture plainly contradicts, and I do not."

If I blaspheme God, then so did the prophets and apostles. I say nothing other than what the scriptures plainly say and demonstrate.

"I do not believe that God treats everyone equally. I do not believe that circumstances cannot limit our freedom, or that God cannot limit our freedom by circumstances. I do not believe that everyone gets the same exact opportunity to hear or respond to the gospel. I do believe that God holds us responsible for what we can do and how we do respond to Him in whatever circumstances God puts us in. I even believe that God sometimes overrides man’s will to accomplish things. I do not, however, believe that God ever overrides man’s will to deliberately sin against Him. So, I, like most Arminians, believe that God gives us a measure of free-will and allows us to make moral decisions and judges us accordingly. I do not believe that God gives us unlimited free-will as you seem to think."

It is amazing that you cited no scripture to prove all your conjectures. I again see you make many statements here that are Deterministic and contrary to your other statements. You talk about degrees of free will! God gives some a "measure of free will"? God does not treat all alike! Well, welcome to the Calvinist camp!

"Not sure what “position” you have uncovered. I don’t preach salvation apart from the gospel and faith as I said, “It may be that if they respond to the grace given that God will work things out so that they will eventually hear the gospel.” All of it is speculation and it is unwise to build doctrines on speculation and “secret decrees” of which the Bible says nothing. That is a backwards and dangerous hermeneutic, as your conclusions that God causes sin plainly demonstrate."

The position was the Arminian position that says that God must given everyone an equal chance for salvation, that he equally desires the salvation of all men! If men must hear the gospel to be saved (they do), then all those who died without the gospel died without opportunity for salvation, and this dispoves much of what Arminians write upon the justice, fairness, and equality of God's dealings, when battling the Calvinists.

I rather think it is the Arminian who routinely gets into conjecture and unbiblical definitions. Where, for instance, does the bible say the will of man is free? Where does it say that God is not the cause of all things?

Yours sincerely and for the truth,

Stephen

kangaroodort said...

Stephen,

I am a litle surprised that you responded again and posted our exchange on your blog. I thought you had decided to let the disagreement go.

Anyway, I don't see much reason to respond again. We could go on and on and we are not going to agree. Much of what you wrote here I have already addressed and you just continue to disagree and assert that your arguments are valid while I still maintain that they are not.

I do plan on responding but it will be my last response because I just do not have the time to devote to this. When I respond, I will be focusing on only a few things that you have said, and will give special attention to the passages of Scripture that have been discussed so far. After that, I will leave you to continue to re-assert the same points if you like and post them at your blog. I need to focus on other things.

I should be responding some time next week.

God Bless,
Ben

kangaroodort said...

Stephen,

I just do not have the time to argue philosophy with you which is what this exchange has become primarily concerned with. You think that I am not a philosopher and a lousy logician, and I am fine with that. You have overwhelmed me with proof texts which would take a great deal of time to explain why I believe that you are misunderstanding those passages and using them improperly. I am not looking to get into a proof text battle so I will just focus on the passages that I brought up initially and the passage that you began this conversation with, make a few other quick points, and leave it there. When I have more time I may devote a post at my blog to examining some of the passages you quote which you seem to think support your position.

Revelation 17:17:

“For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.”

This is the passage which you have held up as a proof text for determinism. You have suggested that God irresistibly controlled the will of these kings in order to accomplish his purpose. You have concluded from this that God always controls the wills of all His creatures, even to sin and do evil (since you seem to see God controlling these kings to do evil in this passage). I have several problems with the conclusions that you draw from this single passage, some of which I have already shared. Allow me to review and then point out some more difficulties with the view that this passage teaches that God controls the will of His creatures even to evil.

First, as I have already noted, the passage does not say that God controlled their wills. It only says that He put it into their hearts (or minds) to share a common purpose. This common purpose was secured in the fact that they gave their kingdoms to the beast. The passage does not say that the kings necessarily yielded to what God put in their hearts to do (i.e., God did not control their wills irresistibly, but only influenced them).

Second, their wills and desires were already in line with those of the beast so God did not influence them to sin (since He did not give them those desires). They were already in allegiance with the beast in their hearts before God put it in their hearts to give their kingdoms to the beast. God only influenced them to make tangible the allegiance which was already in their hearts so that God could accomplish His purpose. The transference of power is not immoral in and of itself. That is all that God influenced them to do. Any evil motivation for that transference of power or allegiance was not caused by God, but already resided in the hearts of the kings.

Third, verse 13 tells us that these kings received their authority from the beast. So these kings are not even really yielding their kingdoms to the beast in a sense because the power and authority they have came from the beast in the first place. The emphasis, then, is on the fact that God put it in their hearts to exercise their power in line with the purpose of the beast (i.e., to cooperate with him to accomplish something). And what was that purpose? This is the key to understanding this passage. Verse 16 tells us what God was trying to accomplish:

“And the ten horns [kings] which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.”

God put it into the hearts of the kings to be of one purpose with the beast to destroy the whore of Babylon. God was using the beast and the kings to exercise divine judgment on her (who probably represents the corrupt world system). So God put it in their hearts to do His will, which was to destroy Babylon (the great harlot). Was the destruction of Babylon a bad thing? No. It was a good thing for Babylon to be destroyed, an act of divine judgment, and it was that alone which God put into their hearts to accomplish. So God actually put it in their hearts to do a good thing, even if their intentions were not good!

Fourth, even if God had irresistibly influenced them to be of one purpose it does not follow that this is always how God operates. In fact, the fact that the text specifically tells us that God put it into their hearts would seem to suggest that this is not how God usually operates. If God always controls man’s thoughts and will, then there would be no need to make a point of it here. The fact that the text makes a point of God’s involvement suggests that this is not always the case. So the text fails to support your concept of determinism on many levels and certainly fails to make God the author of sin.

1 Corinthians 10:13:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

I made the point that this passage implicitly teaches the power of contrary choice and therefore destroys determinism. God is faithful to give us the power to endure and overcome (escape) temptation. So when we are tempted we are able to resist. If we yield to temptation (as many do), then it is because we decided to submit to the temptation, rather than to the grace God provided for us to escape that temptation. In your view, if we sin, it is because God determined that we should sin and we could not possibly do otherwise than to sin. Yet this passage teaches that when we are tempted and sin, we did not have to sin. We could have escaped it and endured temptation since God is faithful. You must, then, either deny that our sins are pre-determined by God (since we can avoid sin which determinism denies), or deny that God is faithful (when Paul says that God provides a way of escape and will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear [i.e., resist], he is not telling us the truth. God would not be faithful since we actually cannot bear temptation when we sin since God pre-determined that we should fall to it).

James 1: 12-15

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

I brought up this passage because you make God the cause of our sins. James tells us that we should not even think that God tempts us since God never tempts any man. Yet, your determinism makes God worse than a tempter since temptation can be “endured” (vs, 12, cf. 1 Cor. 13:10 above) and God’s irresistible causation (determinism) cannot be resisted. So God becomes worse than the devil since the devil can only tempt us to sin where God actually causes us to sin (irresistibly).

Your response:

This verse is not denying that God is the cause of all things. This verse is not denying that God never, in any sense, tempts a man. "God did tempt Abraham." "Then was he led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Was the Spirit of God involved in the temptation of Christ? Yes, it was the will of the Spirit of God for Christ to be tempted. You also affirm that it was the will of God that Adam and Eve be tempted, for you allow that he was there by the will of God.

God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience. He did not tempt Abraham to sin. The Holy Spirit did not tempt Christ in the wilderness. Satan did. It was God’s will for Christ to affirm His true identity in that testing and to be able to sympathize with our being tempted, but it was not God who tempted Christ. It was also an opportunity for Christ to affirm His love and commitment to the Father’s mission for Him on earth. In a similar way, God did allow for Satan to tempt Adam and God used this as a vehicle to test Adam’s obedience and faith. However, God did not cause Satan to tempt Adam, nor did He tempt Adam to sin. God also told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Was He tempting Adam to sin by denying him this fruit, or testing his obedience and giving Adam an opportunity to prove his love and faithfulness to God?

You went on to say:

Thus, what James is saying is that no one succombs to temptation because of something residing within the man, what is called his "lust" or sinful nature and passions. A man sins, not because he is tempted, for Christ was tempted and did no sin, but because he succombs to the temptation.

And you seem to hope that we will forget that according to your theology it is God who causes those lusts and makes sure that we succumb to temptation. So what you are saying is that a man sins not because God tempts him to sin, but because God makes him sin by controlling his will and lusts and ensuring that he succumbs to those lusts. And you think that was James’ point? Worse yet, James does not say, “no one should say that they sin because God tempts them” as you are implying. The verse plainly says, “No one should say that God is tempting me.” This is because God does not draw us away from Him. We draw ourselves away by our own lusts. But again, in your view there is no difference since God controls our desires and lusts.

You then went on to give a rather strange example:

I will give an example, of cases dealing with lawful setups or entrapments set for criminals by the police. Police departments routinely will have an undercover cop pretend to be a prostitute in order to catch those who pay for prostitution. They tempt these kinds of criminals. Now, when a person succombs to the temptation, who or what was the cause of the man giving in to the temptation? Was it the temptation itself? Was the intent of the cops, in tempting these criminals, to get these criminals to do these crimes because they want these crimes committed? No, they are doing it to expose and to catch them. The man who succombed to the temptation of the prostitute, put there by the cops (God), is not the reason or the condemnable cause of the crime. Don't you see?

Look carefully at this paragraph. It goes against all that you have been arguing for since the beginning of our discussion. You now affirm my view for the sake of trying to avoid the plain implications of James 1:12-15. You say the man is responsible for the crime and not the cops even though the cops provided the environment and opportunity for the crime. Do you not realize that you have just conceded the entire argument? And again, you want us to forget that in your scheme the cops (God) are the reason and condemnable cause of the crime if they are to be compared to God as you have described Him, since God pre-determined their sin and controlled their actions and lusts so that they could not do anything other than commit the crime.

So James says that we are to blame for being tempted because we indulge our sinful nature and lusts and allow them to gain control over us. But you say that God determines and causes our lusts to gain control over us. After all, you deny the power of self-determination. Therefore, when we submit to our lusts and allow ourselves to be enticed, we are not in control of our actions. We cannot do otherwise. God alone is in control and controls us to sin. He causes us to be enticed and overcome by lust. The very opposite of what James was teaching, and a truly blasphemous doctrine.

Concerning Col. 1:16-18, 1 Cor.8:6 and Rom. 11:36:

These passages simply will not give you what you want. They teach that God is the source of all existence. Yes, this includes immaterial things like the power of the will. God did create us with the power of choice. But he is not responsible for the abuse of that power for sin and disobedience. He created all of his holy angels and gave them power as well. They corrupted that power and are to blame for their corruption. That God created them and sustains their existence does not mean that God corrupted them or caused them to sin. He created the power but did not create the abuse of that power. This is all very basic and obvious to me and I am a little surprised that you are still trying to hold up these passages as proof texts for your position.

Sin is not a created thing. It is a corruption of God’s creation. God, therefore, gets all the glory for the beauty and goodness of His creation and we get all the blame for corrupting that creation and perverting His righteousness. Should we praise God for corrupting His own creation and then blaming and eternally punishing those made in His image for what God has done? According to you, that is part of what Paul was affirming in these passages. It is simply not the natural way to read them, nor does it fit the contexts, and I have personally never met a single person, nor read a single commentary that understood “all things” to include the sinful actions of God’s creatures. This is proof-texting of the worse sort and very weak proof-texting at that.

For your numerous other proof-texts, you just assume a Calvinistic interpretation and call that the plain meaning of the text. Of course I disagree and would offer alternate interpretations for all of those passages. But I don’t have the time. That is why proof-texting is so annoying in discussions like this.

Your last post demonstrates a misunderstanding of much of what I was saying and you have jumped to many conclusions and often argued against a position that I do not hold. Here is just one example:

I wrote:

"I do not believe that God treats everyone equally. I do not believe that circumstances cannot limit our freedom, or that God cannot limit our freedom by circumstances. I do not believe that everyone gets the same exact opportunity to hear or respond to the gospel. I do believe that God holds us responsible for what we can do and how we do respond to Him in whatever circumstances God puts us in. I even believe that God sometimes overrides man’s will to accomplish things. I do not, however, believe that God ever overrides man’s will to deliberately sin against Him. So, I, like most Arminians, believe that God gives us a measure of free-will and allows us to make moral decisions and judges us accordingly. I do not believe that God gives us unlimited free-will as you seem to think."

And you responded with:

It is amazing that you cited no scripture to prove all your conjectures. I again see you make many statements here that are Deterministic and contrary to your other statements. You talk about degrees of free will! God gives some a "measure of free will"? God does not treat all alike! Well, welcome to the Calvinist camp!

I did not cite Scripture because I was not trying to proof-text, only explain my position to you so that you would not misrepresent it and argue against a straw man. I was not trying to prove my position through Scripture, only explain it for the purpose of clarification. And yet you chided me for not citing Scripture for all of my “conjectures” (as if you have always cited Scripture for your conjectures). You then continue to misrepresent and misunderstand me when you write, “You talk about degrees of free will! God gives some a "measure of free will"? God does not treat all alike! Well, welcome to the Calvinist camp!” Please find where I said that God gives some a measure of free-will and not others. You can’t because I never said that. Here is what I said,

“So, I, like most Arminians, believe that God gives us a measure of free-will and allows us to make moral decisions and judges us accordingly. I do not believe that God gives us unlimited free-will as you seem to think."

I did not say that God gives “some” a measure of free-will, but that God gives “us” (His creatures, i.e. all of us) a measure of free-will, and then went on to explain what I meant by saying that I do not believe that God gives “us” an “unlimited” free-will. My point was that I have no problem with God restricting our wills in certain areas. Neither do most knowledgeable Arminians. We are not concerned with free-will for the sake of free-will as I mentioned previously. You want to make everything “all or nothing” and “either/or”. This kind of simplistic thinking plagues Calvinism and makes the rest of us shake our heads in wonder at the inability of Calvinists to see anything in between.

The subtleties and complexities of personal relationships are thrown out the window in favor of the simple “cause and effect” model. The wonder and beauty of God’s grace to a fallen world is reduced to irresistible causation. The sovereignty of God (including His sovereign right to create free moral agents) is reduced to cause and effect determination and meticulous control. God’s omniscience is reduced to “God can only know what He will cause to happen.” The Biblical definitions of faith and works are thrown out in favor of 16th century definitions which were prompted by an over-reaction to Catholicism and a failure to grapple with these terms in their historical contexts (e.g. “works” becomes “anything you do” and faith becomes a “work” since trusting is an act unless God irresistibly causes it, etc.) The glory of love and God’s interactions with His creatures all reduces to simple “cause and effect”.

The desire for simplicity ironically leads to ridiculous and head spinning complexities and contradictions. The gnat gets strained out but the camel gets swallowed whole, and the simple and glorious gospel of Jesus Christ gets swallowed up by the “horrible” secret decree.

So what are we left with? A God who is self-contradictory at His core. He says one thing while secretly ensuring the opposite. He says come, while secretly making sure that many cannot come. He makes people sin and then punishes them for it. He creates the “pots” for the purpose of “talking back” to Him and then rebukes them for doing so. He punishes His creatures for perfectly fulfilling His will doing what He decreed for them to do.

When we argue with each other it is really just God arguing with Himself since He controls our thoughts and actions. God just loves to give Himself a hard time. And we must wonder how it is that we can possibly know if we are right about anything since truth is not something that we can discern since God controls our thoughts. We can never be certain of anything because God may be bending our thoughts towards falsehood. We can’t figure things out and discern truth because we have no control over our thoughts. Contradictions cannot even reveal error since God is contradictory at His core. You may think that you are discovering truth and sharing that truth with me but it may just as well be that God is deceiving you and causing you to embrace a lie and share that lie with me (but don’t worry, God will rightly punish you for your lying deceptions). So we have really wasted our time here, but then again, that is just how God decreed for it to be from all eternity. But then again, I am no philosopher so who cares what I think anyway.

God Bless,
Ben

kangaroodort said...

BTW, since you like legal proceedings so much I thought I would share this with you. Two nights ago I was watching “Dateline” (I think) and it had a bizarre story about this stripper who played three men and eventually played one man against the other to the point of murder. The first part of the show was concerned with the guy who murdered the other guy and his conviction (the trial did not happen until 10 years later when a cold-case was established in the precinct and the guy in charge decided to pursue the case). The second part had to do with the girl being prosecuted for her role in the murder (which was essentially manipulation). She had reformed herself in those ten years since the crime, married, and had a 7 year old daughter, but her past was coming back to haunt her.

She was found guilty of murder and the judge made an interesting statement before sentencing her, “I can find no distinction between the puppet and the one who pulls the puppet’s strings.” He then sentenced her to 99 years in prison (the same sentence as the one who pulled the trigger). How about that?

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Ben,

I've used a similar analogy to a hit-man. A man who hires another man to commit murder, is often held to higher contempt than the actual killer. The Prosecution will often Plea Bargain with the killer in order to go after the Conspirator. That's why the "secondary causes" defense presents so much difficulty.

By the way, I was very intrigued by your commentary on Rev 17:17. I quoted much of it in the Rev 17:17 write-up.

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/NT/Rev17_17.html

After dinner, I will look at the other verse-commentary as well.

Stephen Garrett said...

Stephen,

"I just do not have the time to argue philosophy with you which is what this exchange has become primarily concerned with. You think that I am not a philosopher and a lousy logician, and I am fine with that."


Well, Ben, if you think this is a waste of time, then you are of course free to spend your time in more profitable ways. Secondly, your statement is what we call a "pot shot." You "insinuate" that my writing has all been in order to "argue philosophy" and further insinutate that "philosophy" is a bad thing, meaning there is no good philosophy. Or, are you just using a "motive" word for the purpose of simply "stirring" emotion and prejudice?

I suspect that you think it is "philosophy" to talk about effects and causes. Correct? And "philosophy" to talk about causality? I guess the bible writers did not have a philosophy about cause and effect? One that is evident in their writings, and in their reasonings?

I do think your reasoning is fallacious. That is hopefully the reason why we engage each other, so that we might find the uncontradictory truth.

"You have overwhelmed me with proof texts which would take a great deal of time to explain why I believe that you are misunderstanding those passages and using them improperly. I am not looking to get into a proof text battle so I will just focus on the passages that I brought up initially and the passage that you began this conversation with, make a few other quick points, and leave it there. When I have more time I may devote a post at my blog to examining some of the passages you quote which you seem to think support your position."

First, I am guilty for relying on philosophy or reason, and then guilty for appealing to scripture? I think the first comment I made to you was that I believed in divine determinism because it was taught in the bible. The fact that reason and philosophy also lead to the same truth is secondary.

I also told you in the beginning that there were hundreds of verses that taught divine predestination of all things. I think the few verses I have cited prove it and you have not cited any verses that contradicted the ones I cited nor did you show where the verses did not teach what I showed that they clearly did.

Revelation 17:17:

“For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.”

This is the passage which you have held up as a proof text for determinism. You have suggested that God irresistibly controlled the will of these kings in order to accomplish his purpose. You have concluded from this that God always controls the wills of all His creatures, even to sin and do evil (since you seem to see God controlling these kings to do evil in this passage). I have several problems with the conclusions that you draw from this single passage, some of which I have already shared. Allow me to review and then point out some more difficulties with the view that this passage teaches that God controls the will of His creatures even to evil.

First, as I have already noted, the passage does not say that God controlled their wills. It only says that He put it into their hearts (or minds) to share a common purpose."


Are you saying then that the act of God ('putting into their hearts') was not the cause of the effect? If this act of God was not a cause, or the cause, then what was the cause? Do you believe that when God put this into the heart that he could not be certain of the effect?

Yes, and what was that "common purpose"? "To agree" (or become confederate or allied together, or to allign under the mastermind) and "TO give their kingdoms to the beast." How can you make this a good act on the part of these wicked kings? Again, they meant if for evil. God meant it for good. But, you want to now interpret the verse to mean that both the wicked kings and God both meant it for good!

"This common purpose was secured in the fact that they gave their kingdoms to the beast. The passage does not say that the kings necessarily yielded to what God put in their hearts to do (i.e., God did not control their wills irresistibly, but only influenced them)."

I suppose this answers the question I asked you above, where I asked you - "do you believe that when God put this into the heart that he could not be certain of the effect?"

Did God "influence" them without knowing for sure whether that influence would do what the influence was designed to do? Besides, tell us what was the end of this divine "influence"?

You want to say that God influenced these men to do what they did but that he did not cause them to do what they did. You even think that this is a great point and matters a great deal.

"Second, their wills and desires were already in line with those of the beast so God did not influence them to sin (since He did not give them those desires). They were already in allegiance with the beast in their hearts before God put it in their hearts to give their kingdoms to the beast. God only influenced them to make tangible the allegiance which was already in their hearts so that God could accomplish His purpose. The transference of power is not immoral in and of itself. That is all that God influenced them to do. Any evil motivation for that transference of power or allegiance was not caused by God, but already resided in the hearts of the kings."

Here you show how reluctant you are to face the music of the plain text and what it reveals about the sovereignty of God. And here you again end up making the wicked kings into good men who do righteousness, and with the intent of pleasing and doing the will of God! You make their giving their sovereignties to the beast to be no sin at all. But, really, you try to have it both ways. You want to say it was no sin, no evil intention, that the wicked kings gave up their sovereignties to the beast, on the one hand, but then on the other, you seem to ackowledged that it was sin but that God did not have anything to do with the sin occurring!

This incident is similar to what we see in Isaiah 10 with the wicked king of Assyria, who likewise does an evil thing in his devastations of the people, including Israel, for he does it with an evil heart and intention, and yet God means it for good, as a means of punishing and correcting his people, and so the record is "Howbeit he meaneth (intends) not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few." (Isaiah 10: 7)

There is no doubt some truth in what you are saying about the "modus operandi" of God in bringing all this about, through what you call the "transference of power." It recalls the words of the Psalmist who said:

"He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtilly with his servants." (Psalm 105: 25)

Yes, the Egyptians already had "hate" in their hearts, and the Lord directed it towards his people. But, still, the reason why the Egyptians hated the Israelites was because God turned their hearts to that end.

"Third, verse 13 tells us that these kings received their authority from the beast. So these kings are not even really yielding their kingdoms to the beast in a sense because the power and authority they have came from the beast in the first place."

But, that is simply not the case, brother. Verse thirteen is anticipatory of what takes place in verse 17, being the "hour" predicted. Again, are you not here trying to make the act of the kings a righteous deed?

"The emphasis, then, is on the fact that God put it in their hearts to exercise their power in line with the purpose of the beast (i.e., to cooperate with him to accomplish something). And what was that purpose? This is the key to understanding this passage. Verse 16 tells us what God was trying to accomplish:

“And the ten horns [kings] which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.”

God put it into the hearts of the kings to be of one purpose with the beast to destroy the whore of Babylon. God was using the beast and the kings to exercise divine judgment on her (who probably represents the corrupt world system). So God put it in their hearts to do His will, which was to destroy Babylon (the great harlot). Was the destruction of Babylon a bad thing? No. It was a good thing for Babylon to be destroyed, an act of divine judgment, and it was that alone which God put into their hearts to accomplish. So God actually put it in their hearts to do a good thing, even if their intentions were not good!"


Any schoolboy ought to be able to see your great inconsistency. You again want to make the act of the wicked kings a good act! No sin at all! You seem to want to say that "the wicked kings meant it for good just as God meant it for good." What hermenuetics! Did the Assyrian king sin when he acted the tyrant? Just because God used the sin to his glory, and for good, you want to say his sin was no sin, just as you make the sin of the ten kings to be no sin.

"Fourth, even if God had irresistibly influenced them to be of one purpose it does not follow that this is always how God operates."

This is true, and I never said that the verse in Rev. 17:17 meant that this was true of every act of man's will. I cited this to show how "free will," the opposite of "determinism," was a myth and a falsehood, the verse here proving it, showing that God causes men to make choices.

But, first things first, can we agree that he does it in some cases? And, if we agree he does this in some cases, then can we agree that he diliberately decides in which cases to so act? The question is, would the ten kings have done their wicked deed without God's "influence" or "putting into their hearts" their intentions? If you say yes, then you make God's act meaningless and unnecessary. If you say no, then you make God a cause of the action of the kings by his action. But, perhaps this is too much "philosophy" and "logic" for you?

"In fact, the fact that the text specifically tells us that God put it into their hearts would seem to suggest that this is not how God usually operates. If God always controls man’s thoughts and will, then there would be no need to make a point of it here. The fact that the text makes a point of God’s involvement suggests that this is not always the case. So the text fails to support your concept of determinism on many levels and certainly fails to make God the author of sin."

This is perhaps your best point in all your apologetic utterances. But, notice that your argument is only a possible "implication," not a necessary inference. It might "suggest" such and such to you, but any logician knows that it cannot be proven either way, from this verse alone, whether this is God's normal way of dealing with men or whether it is exceptional.

You keep saying that determinism makes God the author of sin. I have already addressed that and do not need to rehash it. Who do you believe is the author of sin? Man? Satan? Who is the author of the authors? Again, you make man a god when you make him a first cause of himself, and when you give him the powers you give to him.

1 Corinthians 10:13:

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

I made the point that this passage implicitly teaches the power of contrary choice and therefore destroys determinism."


Brother, the word "choice" is not even in the passage. It does tell us that God does something to bring about a certain end result in the lives of his people. The big question then is simply this - Does God fail to accomplish his purposes? Can you give a scriptural example where God gave a man power in Christ to overcome temptation but who did not overcome it?

"God is faithful to give us the power to endure and overcome (escape) temptation. So when we are tempted we are able to resist. If we yield to temptation (as many do), then it is because we decided to submit to the temptation, rather than to the grace God provided for us to escape that temptation."

Yes, and by your view this act, this effect, this decision or choice of the sinner, did not have a cause! Or rather, the man himself is the cause of himself! I can see why you decry philosophy for you do not believe in basic science/philosophy that says that every action (effect) must have a cause.

"In your view, if we sin, it is because God determined that we should sin and we could not possibly do otherwise than to sin."

In one sense yes, but in another sense, no. Even you agree that God determined it. You just try to have it both ways, speaking contradictorily. You have said that nothing comes to pass without God "permitting" it. When you can show that God permitting is not God willing and purposing, then you will have a point. Further, when you show that God can say "I will not permit that to happen" and yet it happen anyway, then you will have a point. If you admit that God's "permission" is absolutely necessary for the occurrence of an event, then you make God's permission a cause of the event.

Was this not true in the case of Job? Who caused the calamities of Job? God or the devil? Or both? The devil was the immediate agent or cause, the secondary cause, correct? Also, if we ever had a case of what is involved in divine "permission" it is here in the case of Job. God permitted the devil to do what he did. The devil could not have done what he did without God's willing or permitting it. But, Ben does not want to say that God's permitting it caused it! God was not a cause or responsible at all! Did not Job ascribe the events to God?

Do you believe that God can forsee a man committing a sin and that sin not come to pass?

"Yet this passage teaches that when we are tempted and sin, we did not have to sin. We could have escaped it and endured temptation since God is faithful. You must, then, either deny that our sins are pre-determined by God (since we can avoid sin which determinism denies), or deny that God is faithful (when Paul says that God provides a way of escape and will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear [i.e., resist], he is not telling us the truth. God would not be faithful since we actually cannot bear temptation when we sin since God pre-determined that we should fall to it)."

This passage is addressed to Christians. It is they who are given power to overcome temptation. It is not talking about a prevenient grace type of power given to all men in natural birth.

You also imply that if we can prove that a man cannot avoid sinning, then determinism is true, for you see it as integrally connected. But, does Peter not say of the wicked reprobates, that "they cannot cease from sin"? (II Peter 2: 14) Sounds like, in some sense at least, that some mens sins are inevitable.

Notice that the passage seems to guarantee success. God in his faithfulness does two things, both in order to insure preservation. First, he gives power to overcome temptation. Note also that the giving of this power is viewed as the one thing needed to bring about the end result. Second, God keeps the temptations and trials within the limits of the power he gives, and why? Or for what end and purpose? Is it not in order that his people might not be overcome by temptation? To say that the child of God can so resist these efforts of God, or that God will fail in these methods of preserving his people, is to read into the texts what is not there.

James 1: 12-15

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."

I brought up this passage because you make God the cause of our sins. James tells us that we should not even think that God tempts us since God never tempts any man. Yet, your determinism makes God worse than a tempter since temptation can be “endured” (vs, 12, cf. 1 Cor. 13:10 above) and God’s irresistible causation (determinism) cannot be resisted. So God becomes worse than the devil since the devil can only tempt us to sin where God actually causes us to sin (irresistibly)."


But you also make God the cause of sin by your view on divine permission. You agree that sin cannot occur without God's permission.

Besides, I have already addressed your points here and you are just rehashing old arguments and appealing to popular prejudice, not to the word of God.

I could return the "pot shot" and say that you dethrone God and you will soon be in the "open theism" camp if you continue down the road you are on. You will end up denying the omnipotence and omniscience of God.

"Your response:

"This verse is not denying that God is the cause of all things. This verse is not denying that God never, in any sense, tempts a man. "God did tempt Abraham." "Then was he led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Was the Spirit of God involved in the temptation of Christ? Yes, it was the will of the Spirit of God for Christ to be tempted. You also affirm that it was the will of God that Adam and Eve be tempted, for you allow that he was there by the will of God."

God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience. He did not tempt Abraham to sin. The Holy Spirit did not tempt Christ in the wilderness. Satan did."


Again, any schoolboy should see how you squirm and are like a roving meteor without a fixed position. You are failing to remember the point we are disagreeing about, are you not? Remember, you are affirming that God is, IN NO SENSE, the "CAUSE" of sin or any evil. Remember? Are you saying then that the Holy Spirit was not a cause in Christ being tempted? Are you saying that it was not the will of God for the devil to tempt him? Of course it was not the will of God that Christ succomb to the temptation! But, it was a temptation to sin! Why do you manifest a reluctance to admit that we are often led by the Spirit to be tempted to sin? That it is God's will that we be tempted? You say that the devil tempted Christ according to the eternal will of God? Welcome again to the predestinarian camp!

Killing your son would not be a sin? If it was no sin, then why was there any mental struggle for Abraham? If it was a good deed, why his "trial"?

"It was God’s will for Christ to affirm His true identity in that testing and to be able to sympathize with our being tempted, but it was not God who tempted Christ."

Who is building a "straw man" now? What Calvinist or determinist believes that God did the actual tempting? But, in your statement you admit that it was God's will for Satan to tempt Christ! Of course, it was not God's will for Satan to succeed! This verse reminds us again of the story of Job. Who killed the children of Job? Satan! Could Satan have killed them without God's permission, against his will?

"It was also an opportunity for Christ to affirm His love and commitment to the Father’s mission for Him on earth. In a similar way, God did allow for Satan to tempt Adam and God used this as a vehicle to test Adam’s obedience and faith."

My my, how close you are to the predestinarian view! You here have sin or evil viewed as having purpose, or a good end. Elsewhere, in your Arminian writings, you seem to think the fall of man was unforeseen, undesired by God, and served no purpose! God can use evil to bring about good!

"However, God did not cause Satan to tempt Adam, nor did He tempt Adam to sin."

God did not "cause" it in any sense? Don't you see where this position has you often contradicting yourself? Could Satan have entered the garden when God sovereignly willed and decreed - "you shall not enter"? Was Satan there or not there by God's permission? Could Satan have been there without this permission?

Again, of course, God did not do the actual tempting, but it was obviously God's will that Satan tempt our parents.

"God also told Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Was He tempting Adam to sin by denying him this fruit, or testing his obedience and giving Adam an opportunity to prove his love and faithfulness to God?"

The temptation, proper, was when Satan conversed with Eve and enticed her to eat. The command of God not to eat was not the temptation.

Had Adam not sinned, and no sin had occurred, would God have been more glorified, more revealed, than he is and will be because Adam sinned? Will you answer that? Would there have been a second Adam without the fall of the first Adam? When God made the first Adam, was it with the intention of bringing about the existence of the second Adam?

"You went on to say:

"Thus, what James is saying is that no one succombs to temptation because of something residing within the man, what is called his "lust" or sinful nature and passions. A man sins, not because he is tempted, for Christ was tempted and did no sin, but because he succombs to the temptation."

And you seem to hope that we will forget that according to your theology it is God who causes those lusts and makes sure that we succumb to temptation."


Yes, man would not exist without God. Man also would have no power to sin without God. And, you agree, no man can sin or do anything without the sufferance of God. So, you too believe that God is a cause.

"So what you are saying is that a man sins not because God tempts him to sin, but because God makes him sin by controlling his will and lusts and ensuring that he succumbs to those lusts. And you think that was James’ point?"

Man sins because he has an inner sinful nature called his "lusts." God permits or wills that men be tempted, or entrapped, as I demonstrated by analogy, but that entrapment is not the immediate or condemning cause of the sin, but the lusts. James is saying that men are not being forced against their wills to sin, or wholly from without themselves, and even though there are various causes to sin, the chief cause of blame lies in the man's lust.

"Worse yet, James does not say, “no one should say that they sin because God tempts them” as you are implying. The verse plainly says, “No one should say that God is tempting me.” This is because God does not draw us away from Him. We draw ourselves away by our own lusts. But again, in your view there is no difference since God controls our desires and lusts."

Again, however, you are being repetitious and I do not need to follow you in this.

You then went on to give a rather strange example:

"I will give an example, of cases dealing with lawful setups or entrapments set for criminals by the police. Police departments routinely will have an undercover cop pretend to be a prostitute in order to catch those who pay for prostitution. They tempt these kinds of criminals. Now, when a person succombs to the temptation, who or what was the cause of the man giving in to the temptation? Was it the temptation itself? Was the intent of the cops, in tempting these criminals, to get these criminals to do these crimes because they want these crimes committed? No, they are doing it to expose and to catch them. The man who succombed to the temptation of the prostitute, put there by the cops (God), is not the reason or the condemnable cause of the crime. Don't you see?"

Look carefully at this paragraph. It goes against all that you have been arguing for since the beginning of our discussion. You now affirm my view for the sake of trying to avoid the plain implications of James 1:12-15. You say the man is responsible for the crime and not the cops even though the cops provided the environment and opportunity for the crime. Do you not realize that you have just conceded the entire argument? And again, you want us to forget that in your scheme the cops (God) are the reason and condemnable cause of the crime if they are to be compared to God as you have described Him, since God pre-determined their sin and controlled their actions and lusts so that they could not do anything other than commit the crime."


Brother, I have from the very first argued for various kinds of causes. Have you forgotten that? You just cannot see how there can be more than one cause to an effect, do you?

"So James says that we are to blame for being tempted because we indulge our sinful nature and lusts and allow them to gain control over us. But you say that God determines and causes our lusts to gain control over us."

God causes them in a sense! Man's lust also causes his sin. Again, you should learn more about causality instead of being biased against the study.

"After all, you deny the power of self-determination. Therefore, when we submit to our lusts and allow ourselves to be enticed, we are not in control of our actions. We cannot do otherwise. God alone is in control and controls us to sin. He causes us to be enticed and overcome by lust. The very opposite of what James was teaching, and a truly blasphemous doctrine."

Brother, it is the bible that teaches that God is the decider of every man's destiny. For you to deny it is your grave error.

Don't you believe that the ten kings, in a sense, could not do otherwise? Don't you believe that those who crucified Christ could not do otherwise?

God causing it does not eliminate blame. In fact, God is the one who "assigns" blame and accountability.

God is in control and men are, in some degree, in control of certain things. But, to take man's limited control outside of the paradigm of God's overall control, is not scriptural nor logical. Is "control" a "thing," by the way? Is that one of the "all things" he has created? One of the things that "consist" because of his will? Can a man have control if God does not give it to him?

Concerning Col. 1:16-18, 1 Cor.8:6 and Rom. 11:36:

These passages simply will not give you what you want. They teach that God is the source of all existence. Yes, this includes immaterial things like the power of the will. God did create us with the power of choice. But he is not responsible for the abuse of that power for sin and disobedience. He created all of his holy angels and gave them power as well. They corrupted that power and are to blame for their corruption. That God created them and sustains their existence does not mean that God corrupted them or caused them to sin. He created the power but did not create the abuse of that power. This is all very basic and obvious to me and I am a little surprised that you are still trying to hold up these passages as proof texts for your position."


You at first argued that "all things" meant all "material" things. Now you have amended your view. Good. Now, let us amend it further.

God gave a man power to sin but God is not in any sense the cause resulting from the giving of that power? That is ludicrous.

Also, your view that nothing can come to pass without the permission of God makes all your apologetic in this last paragraph your own problem (although I am not admitting any real problem).


"Sin is not a created thing. It is a corruption of God’s creation."

Good Lord! Ben believes sin is "nothing"! Well, let me ask you a few questions. 1) Is to cause a thing the same as to create a thing? 2) Is to make a thing happen the same as to create a thing? 3) Is the opposite of sin (righteousness or obedience) a thing? 4) Is corruption a thing? 5) Is sin a "power"? 6) Is sin a "principality"? 7) Is sin a "throne"? 8) Is sin a "dominion"?

"God, therefore, gets all the glory for the beauty and goodness of His creation and we get all the blame for corrupting that creation and perverting His righteousness."

Who denies this? I really believe you should spend time looking into the philosophical and theological definitions for words such as guilt, blame, responsibility, accountability, etc. You seem to think that it is possible for God to be "blamed" and be "guilty." Is there some law that God is under? On which side of the "Euthyphro dilemma" are you? Do you reject the "divine command" view? God causes all things but God cannot be blamed for he is under no law. Besides, part of God's own apologetic for evil is that he has purposed to bring the greatest good out of it. This evil serves a purpose, and is a necessary means. You, however, see none of these blessed truths.

"Should we praise God for corrupting His own creation and then blaming and eternally punishing those made in His image for what God has done? According to you, that is part of what Paul was affirming in these passages."

It is clearly what Paul taught in Romans chapter nine and what is taught in many places in the bible, some of which I have already cited. For instance, "he has made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." Remember?

"It is simply not the natural way to read them, nor does it fit the contexts, and I have personally never met a single person, nor read a single commentary that understood “all things” to include the sinful actions of God’s creatures."

Well, assuming you are correct, this is nothing but ad hominem argumentation and carries nothing. But, it is not true. Many able commentators have interpreted the verses I have cited the same way.

"This is proof-texting of the worse sort and very weak proof-texting at that. For your numerous other proof-texts, you just assume a Calvinistic interpretation and call that the plain meaning of the text. Of course I disagree and would offer alternate interpretations for all of those passages. But I don’t have the time. That is why proof-texting is so annoying in discussions like this."

Well, excuse me for citing scripture! As I recall, you brought up the first rebuttal scriptures, the one in I Cor. and in James. Did you not? Why is it then wrong for me to cite scripture? Also, I don't think I am twisting verses. I think the verses I cited speak for themselves and they only need to be "reinterpreted" and "re-translated" by you.

"Your last post demonstrates a misunderstanding of much of what I was saying and you have jumped to many conclusions and often argued against a position that I do not hold. Here is just one example:

I wrote:

"I do not believe that God treats everyone equally. I do not believe that circumstances cannot limit our freedom, or that God cannot limit our freedom by circumstances. I do not believe that everyone gets the same exact opportunity to hear or respond to the gospel. I do believe that God holds us responsible for what we can do and how we do respond to Him in whatever circumstances God puts us in. I even believe that God sometimes overrides man’s will to accomplish things. I do not, however, believe that God ever overrides man’s will to deliberately sin against Him. So, I, like most Arminians, believe that God gives us a measure of free-will and allows us to make moral decisions and judges us accordingly. I do not believe that God gives us unlimited free-will as you seem to think."

And you responded with:

"It is amazing that you cited no scripture to prove all your conjectures. I again see you make many statements here that are Deterministic and contrary to your other statements. You talk about degrees of free will! God gives some a "measure of free will"? God does not treat all alike! Well, welcome to the Calvinist camp!"

I did not cite Scripture because I was not trying to proof-text, only explain my position to you so that you would not misrepresent it and argue against a straw man. I was not trying to prove my position through Scripture, only explain it for the purpose of clarification. And yet you chided me for not citing Scripture for all of my “conjectures” (as if you have always cited Scripture for your conjectures). You then continue to misrepresent and misunderstand me when you write, “You talk about degrees of free will! God gives some a "measure of free will"? God does not treat all alike! Well, welcome to the Calvinist camp!” Please find where I said that God gives some a measure of free-will and not others. You can’t because I never said that. Here is what I said,

“So, I, like most Arminians, believe that God gives us a measure of free-will and allows us to make moral decisions and judges us accordingly. I do not believe that God gives us unlimited free-will as you seem to think."

I did not say that God gives “some” a measure of free-will, but that God gives “us” (His creatures, i.e. all of us) a measure of free-will, and then went on to explain what I meant by saying that I do not believe that God gives “us” an “unlimited” free-will. My point was that I have no problem with God restricting our wills in certain areas."


Will you define those areas where it is okay for God to restrict our wills?

Also, what I meant to say was - "you believe God gives some a different measure of free will"? So, my fault for not being more clear. But, while there, let me ask you this - Do infants have this measure of free will at birth? Can he get more of it? Can he lose his measure? If so, how would he get it back? Also, is the man who is born a vegetable, or without cognition, have a measure of free will?

"Neither do most knowledgeable Arminians. We are not concerned with free-will for the sake of free-will as I mentioned previously. You want to make everything “all or nothing” and “either/or”."

No brother, ironically, it is you who want to make things an "either/or" in cases where it is not an either/or thing. I could give examples of this, but this is long enough already.

"This kind of simplistic thinking plagues Calvinism and makes the rest of us shake our heads in wonder at the inability of Calvinists to see anything in between. The subtleties and complexities of personal relationships are thrown out the window in favor of the simple “cause and effect” model."

Are you saying that the cause and effect model is invalid? Erroneous? That it will contradict other models?

About your personal relationship models, and about your false proposition that said that God cannot cause a man to love him, I have shown that to be false, have I not?

"The wonder and beauty of God’s grace to a fallen world is reduced to irresistible causation."

Brother, God is irresistable in the execution of his sovereign decrees! You deny God his omnipotence! Does not Paul affirm that no creature can resist God's will in Romans 9? Also, do you not believe that nothing can come to pass without God permitting it? Is this permission not irresistable causation, as in the case of Job?

"The sovereignty of God (including His sovereign right to create free moral agents) is reduced to cause and effect determination and meticulous control. God’s omniscience is reduced to “God can only know what He will cause to happen.” The Biblical definitions of faith and works are thrown out in favor of 16th century definitions which were prompted by an over-reaction to Catholicism and a failure to grapple with these terms in their historical contexts (e.g. “works” becomes “anything you do” and faith becomes a “work” since trusting is an act unless God irresistibly causes it, etc.) The glory of love and God’s interactions with His creatures all reduces to simple “cause and effect”. The desire for simplicity ironically leads to ridiculous and head spinning complexities and contradictions. The gnat gets strained out but the camel gets swallowed whole, and the simple and glorious gospel of Jesus Christ gets swallowed up by the “horrible” secret decree."

Again, you are repititious and I will not be. Also, have I not already shown you, in other comments, that your use of the word "awful" and "horrible," in regard to the words (translation) of Calvin, is wrong? Did I not say that "awful" meant "full of awe" and "horrible" meant "that which strikes terror" and not "repugnant"?

"So what are we left with? A God who is self-contradictory at His core. He says one thing while secretly ensuring the opposite. He says come, while secretly making sure that many cannot come."

Yes, and he told Pharoah, "let my people go" when it was not his secret will for Pharoah to do so. Again, what you say is true in a sense, and in a sense, it is not true.

"He makes people sin and then punishes them for it. He creates the “pots” for the purpose of “talking back” to Him and then rebukes them for doing so. He punishes His creatures for perfectly fulfilling His will doing what He decreed for them to do.When we argue with each other it is really just God arguing with Himself since He controls our thoughts and actions. God just loves to give Himself a hard time. And we must wonder how it is that we can possibly know if we are right about anything since truth is not something that we can discern since God controls our thoughts. We can never be certain of anything because God may be bending our thoughts towards falsehood. We can’t figure things out and discern truth because we have no control over our thoughts. Contradictions cannot even reveal error since God is contradictory at His core. You may think that you are discovering truth and sharing that truth with me but it may just as well be that God is deceiving you and causing you to embrace a lie and share that lie with me (but don’t worry, God will rightly punish you for your lying deceptions). So we have really wasted our time here, but then again, that is just how God decreed for it to be from all eternity. But then again, I am no philosopher so who cares what I think anyway."

Again, this is all rehash and really mostly non-sequiter prejudicial statements. It is also mostly taking "pot shots" and form no real solid argumentation from scripture or any self evident truths or propositions, and so this whole last paragraph is just your ranting against a God, whom you admit, permits everything that occurs to occur, and that this permission is necessary for the occurrence.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Stephen,

In terms of the discussion on Rev 17:17, the question is whether or not "what God caused" may be deemed a positive or negative action. I had argued that what God "caused" was in the negative or passive sense, of withdrawing His hand, and giving people over to a greater range of choices from which "they" may choose, which range of choices had previously been surpressed by God, as per 1st Corinthians 10:13. To me, this negative action on God's part, is the source of a lot of confusion on the subject. In my opinion, the negative action is being deemed a positive action. My next Blog post for Wednesday will be a quote from R.C. Sproul where he discusses this very point.

Arminian said...

I am just going to give an analogy for how Ben's interpretation of Rev 17 makes perfect sense, and Stephen's criticism falls short. This is the only post I can make here; I am quite short on time.

Say there were a bunch of political leaders, each with his own evil, war mongering nation bent on conquest and actively involved in its pursuit. And there arose the worst and most evil political figure of them all, who intended to unite these nations under himself and then use the resources of that resulting, huge axis of evil to destroy another totally evil and immense nation conducting its own war of conquest on any nations it could take down, intending to take over the whole world. It would not in any way be wrong for someone with the power (say, someone with a drug with which they could control the actions of another, and access to the leaders of the many nations besides that immense one conducting a campaign of world conquest) to get the many nations to unite under that one evil leader who would then lead them to destroy the immense evil nation conducting a campaign of world conquest. Still less would it be a moral problem if that person also had his own resources through which he would then take out the remaining evil conglomerate united under its evil leader.

Stephen just doesn't seem to get the scenario that is in view, God moving people bent on evil to unite under a leader who will then lead them in destroying the evil whore of Babylon. I don't see how this has God moving them specifically to sin. if you have a bunch of evil people, and God puts into their heart which one they choose to lead them, that does not consititue causing them to sin.