Monday, March 8, 2010

Clarification on "Chilling Quotes"

The Society of Evangelical Arminians [SEA] did an article on “Chilling Quotes” from John Calvin, based upon some quotes that I had provided. This article drew a response from Colin Maxwell to which I owe an explanation:


Quotes 1 & 2

John Calvin: “Elsewhere I deny that any injury is done the reprobate, for they deserve destruction. Here Pighius spreads his wings and noisily exults, that in this case I neither understand myself nor remember what I previously said. But it does not seem to me worth while to say many words in my own defence, and I am displeased at having to use even a few. When God prefers some to others, choosing some and passing others by, the difference does not depend on human dignity or indignity. It is therefore wrong to say that the reprobate are worthy of eternal destruction. If in the former case no comparison is made between men themselves, and worthiness has no relation to the reward of life, so in the second case the equal condition of all is not proved. Add to this that Augustine writes in one place that salvation never lacked to anyone worthy of it, but qualifies the statement in the Retractions so as to exclude works and to refer acceptable worthiness to the gratuitous calling of God. But Pighius presses on. If what I teach is true, that those who perish are destined to death by the eternal good pleasure of God though the reason does not appear, then they are not found but made worthy of destruction. I reply that three things must here be considered. First, the eternal predestination of God, by which before the fall of Adam He decreed what should take place concerning the whole human race and every individual, was fixed and determined. Secondly, Adam himself, on account of his defection, is appointed to death. Lastly, in his person now fallen and lost, all his offspring is condemned in such a way that God deems worthy of the honour of adoption those whom He gratuitously elects out of it. I neither dream nor fabricate anything of this. Nor am I called on in the present instance to prove each particular, because I fancy I have done this already. But I must dispose of this calumny of Pighuis who proudly triumphs over me as though I were vanquished ten times, for the reason that these things are quite inconsistent. When predestination is discussed, it is from the start to be constantly maintained, as I today teach, that all the reprobate are justly left in death, for in Adam they are dead and condemned. Those justly perish who are by nature children of wrath. Thus, no one has cause to complain of the too great severity of God, seeing that all carry in themselves inclusive liability. As to the first man, we must hold he was created perfectly righteous and fell by his own will; and hence it comes about that by his own fault he brought destruction on himself and on all his race. Adam fell, though not without God’s knowledge and ordination, and destroyed himself and his posterity; yet this neither mitigates his guilt nor involves God in any blame. For we must always remember that he voluntarily deprived himself of the rectitude he had received from God, voluntarily gave himself to the service of sin and Satan, and voluntarily precipitated himself into destruction. One excuse is suggested, that he could not evade what God had decreed. But his voluntary transgression is enough and more than enough to establish his guilt. For the proper and genuine cause of sin is not God’s hidden counsel but the evident will of man.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, Westminster John Knox Press, 1997, pp.121-122, emphasis mine)

With my edition, it is clear that there is no “scandalous tampering,” but I can hardly fault you since I did not include the edition for you to cross reference. What happened is that I had simply misinterpreted as belonging to Calvin, what Calvin was instead highlighting as being Pighuis’ inference. To that, I am in error, and my website at http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/ has been updated. Clearly, in context, John Calvin flatly denies the charge that he teaches that the “Reprobate” are unconditionally condemned, but rather are conditionally condemned on account of “inclusive liability.” Perhaps I was overly focused on the part which states: “If what I teach” while missing the part which says, “I reply.” That was sloppy on my part, and for that, I owe SEA and its readers an apology. But there is more to this story.

Colin, perhaps you would be willing to also comment on the following from Calvin, to see if I have inferred of Calvin correctly, which ultimately works back to the initial quotes 1 & 2:

John Calvin:They again object, Were not men predestinated by the ordination of God to that corruption which is now held forth as the cause of condemnation? If so, when they perish in their corruptions they do nothing else than suffer punishment for that calamity, into which, by the predestination of God, Adam fell, and dragged all his posterity headlong with him. Is not he, therefore, unjust in thus cruelly mocking his creatures? I admit that by the will of God all the sons of Adam fell into that state of wretchedness in which they are now involved; and this is just what I said at the first, that we must always return to the mere pleasure of the divine will, the cause of which is hidden in himself. But it does not forthwith follow that God lies open to this charge.” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, section 4, emphasis mine)

John Calvin: “They deny that it is ever said in distinct terms, God decreed that Adam should perish by his revolt. As if the same God, who is declared in Scripture to do whatsoever he pleases, could have made the noblest of his creatures without any special purpose. They say that, in accordance with free-will, he was to be the architect of his own fortune, that God had decreed nothing but to treat him according to his desert. If this frigid fiction is received, where will be the omnipotence of God, by which, according to his secret counsel on which every thing depends, he rules over all?” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, section 7, emphasis mine)

John Calvin: “Here they recur to the distinction between will and permission, the object being to prove that the wicked perish only by the permission, but not by the will of God. But why do we say that he permits, but just because he wills? Nor, indeed, is there any probability in the thing itself—viz. that man brought death upon himself merely by the permission, and not by the ordination of God; as if God had not determined what he wished the condition of the chief of his creatures to be.” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, section 8, emphasis mine)

My comment: In other words, Adam and Eve fell by the “pleasure of the divine will.” As such, God has a set script for His noblest creature, man, and that if any such creature were to script his own ways, according to the desert of his libertarian freedom, then God could not simultaneously be omnipotent.

John Calvin:The decree, I admit, is, dreadful; and yet it is impossible to deny that God foreknew what the end of man was to be before he made him, and foreknew, because he had so ordained by his decree. Should any one here inveigh against the prescience of God, he does it rashly and unadvisedly. For why, pray, should it be made a charge against the heavenly Judge, that he was not ignorant of what was to happen? Thus, if there is any just or plausible complaint, it must be directed against predestination. Nor ought it to seem absurd when I say, that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his posterity; but also at his own pleasure arranged it.” (The Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, section 7, emphasis mine)

My comment: John Calvin indeed believes that the Fall was divinely “arranged,” and also “dreadful.” Of course, if you are on the losing end of the arrangement, it is dreadful indeed. Now we return back to John Calvin’s comments in Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God:

John Calvin: “To this opinion of this holy man I subscribe: in sinning, they did what God did not will in order that God through their evil will might do what He willed.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.123, emphasis mine)

John Calvin:If anyone object that this is beyond his comprehension, I confess it. But what wonder if the immense and incomprehensible majesty of God exceed the limits of our intellect? I am so far from undertaking the explanation of this sublime, hidden secret, that I wish what I said at the beginning to be remembered, that those who seek to know more than God has revealed are crazy. Therefore let us be pleased with instructed ignorance rather than with the intemperate and inquisitive intoxication of wanting to know more than God allows.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.123, emphasis mine)

John Calvin: “But now, removing from God all proximate causation of the act, I at the same time remove from Him all guilt and leave man alone liable. It is therefore wicked and calumnious to say that I make the fall of man one of the works of God. But how it was ordained by the foreknowledge and decree of God what man’s future was without God being implicated as associate in the fault as the author or approver of transgression, is clearly a secret so much excelling the insight of the human mind, that I am not ashamed to confess ignorance.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.123-124, emphasis mine)

Understood, but when you go back to my initial quote, in which I mistakenly inferred of John Calvin, what was actually instead John Calvin’s summarization of Pighuis’ inference of Calvin, how would Pighuis’ inference not, in fact, be indicative of Calvin, since it appears to be so well congruent? In other words, if God’s choosing of some for the purpose of destruction, in no way depends upon His permission of their voluntary defection and the “desert” of their libertarian freedom, but instead depends solely upon a divine “arrangement” according to the “pleasure of God’s will” for His “noblest creation,” then how can we not say that Pighuis’ inference is absolutely spot on? Simply to “confess ignorance” as to how determinism and liberty fits together, does not suit his defense against Pighuis’ inference very well.


Quote 3

John Calvin: “Paul does not inform us that the ruin of the ungodly is foreseen by the Lord, but that it is ordained by His counsel and will. Solomon also teaches us that not only was the destruction of the ungodly foreknown, but the ungodly themselves have been created for the specific purpose of perishing (Prov. 16.4).” (The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians, William B. Erdman’s Publishing Company, 1995, pp.207-208, emphasis mine)

Colin, you say that we should not overlook the significance of the word “ungodly,” in terms of “their responsibility,” but are you not simultaneously overlooking the point of Calvinism’s objectors, who like me, highlight Calvin’s use of, “created”? In fact, does that not seem perfectly congruent with the inference of Pighuis, in that these are not merely found, but made, according to divine arrangement, according to divine purpose, and according to the pleasure of the divine will, to be born into this world as “ungodly” for a set purpose and perish as such? Surely you can see the unconditional nature of that, as per the doctrine of Unconditional Reprobation.

John Calvin: “Conceited men are resentful, because, in admitting that men are rejected or chosen by the secret counsel of God, Paul offers no explanation, as though the Spirit of God were silent for want of reason, and does not rather warn us by His silence—a mystery which our minds do not comprehend, but which we ought to adore with reverence.” (The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians, William B. Erdman’s Publishing Company, 1995, p.209, emphasis mine)

John Calvin: “There are some, too, who allege that God is greatly dishonored if such arbitrary power is bestowed on Him. But does their distaste make them better theologians than Paul, who has laid it down as the rule of humility for the believers, that they should look up to the sovereignty of God and not evaluate it by their own judgment?” (The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Romans and to the Thessalonians, William B. Erdman’s Publishing Company, 1995, pp.209-210, emphasis mine)

Again, where is the disharmony from the inference of Pighuis, in that these are not found but made worthy of condemnation by the “arbitrary power” of a “sovereign God”?

In Summary, here is how Calvin’s defense works:

Assert that since “A” is true, and that “B” is true, we do not need to explain how they work together, but merely that they are true, and the rest will sort itself out. Fully executed, here is how it appears:

We know that “Hard Determinism” is true, and we know that “human responsibility” is true, therefore we do not need to intrude upon the secret workings of God in order to figure out how they are both true, but only to recognize that they are both true, and let God sort out the mystery in His own due time. The problem, of course, is that we do not all recognize Hard Determinism as true, and therefore we can substitute a more *friendly* word such as “Sovereign.” With the substitution, here is how it appears:

We know that God is “Sovereign” (insert smily face) and we know that “man is responsible,” therefore we do not need to know how they work together, but only that they are, in fact, true and God can sort out the mystery in His own due time. Obviously, when dissected, Calvin’s defense is nothing more than Circular Logic, by simply presuming Hard Determinism (which is step 1 in his two-step defense, as shown in the initial quote where I have bolded the words “First” and “Secondly”), which is why Pighuis’ inference seems valid.

48 comments:

#John1453 said...

Calvin's argument is not to "mystery", as he alleges, but to "incoherence". Calvin's assertion that two contradictory propositions actually don't contradict each other for some "mysterious" reason is, in fact, incoherent.

If we are to accept as true such incoherent--and thus irrational-- reasoning, then we have no defence or grounds for arguing with cults and other religions that also have incoherent and irrational beliefs and use the concept of "mystery" to get out of their bind.

If Christianity is incoherent, yet to be believed, then the same is true of any other belief system.

regards,
#John

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard,

I appreciate you taking time to answer my email to you concerning these “chilling quotes” which have been attributed to John Calvin. I appreciate that as Calvinists (me) and Arminians (you) that we will probably not agree at the end of all this, but I think it is important that nothing be attributed to anyone which they do not actually believe and would repudiate. I am glad that movement has been made towards that position.

I do not propose to go through all your quotes here and check their context etc., simply because while there is room in my busy schedule (I am a full time Christian evangelist) for my internet site, yet spending hours debating with fellow Christians on the matter of God’s decree hardly constitutes a wise use of time. Especially seeing that I have already given some time to this subject in recent days. We all know that a paragraph that barely takes a minute to read can often take an hour to finally compile. I forbear giving any quotes from Calvin for the sake time and space. It would not be hard to supply them if challenged.

Suffice to say this:

1) Calvin freely admitted that he did not have all the answers concerning these things inasmuch as God has not revealed everything to us. However, he rightly says, we should remember that whatever reason God has for positively ordaining matters or allowing them to come to pass cannot contradict His attributes of justice, love and wisdom etc.,

2) Calvin never objected to the concept of God allowing things to come to pass. What he did object to was the concept of “bare permission” as if God simply stood by either helpless or indifferent. It is true that Calvin does attribute the fall of man to the Divine will, but this is simply looking on the event as a historian. Since God created the circumstances whereby sin could come into the world (i.e. by making a law) and allowed that law to be broken (when He could have prevented it as He did on other occasions e.g. withholding Abimelech from sinning against Sarah in Genesis 20: 7) then we must conclude that God (for wise and holy reasons best known to Himself) had a purpose in Adam falling.

3) Calvin never taught that God was the author or cause of sin, but admitted freely that God used the sins of men for His own sinless glory. The Bible abounds with many such examples, not least the Cross of Calvary where wicked hands did what God foreordained should be done. God’s holy will and man’s sinful deeds may indeed meet in one particular act (whether the Fall or the Cross) but they come from entirely different angles and they are done for entirely different reasons and therefore are either to be justified or condemned.

4) Calvin never lost sight of the fact that man is a free agent in all these things and therefore is culpable. Your quote above along with your argument makes that clear.

I think you should rest content with Calvin’s position whereby we do not try to reconcile what we cannot fully understand. Although Calvin (and those of us who tend to agree with him as long as he agrees with Scripture) puts himself in the front line with his views, yet those who wobble a bit only put off the inevitable. An atheist, for example, will pose the same questions to us both. Unless the Arminian is willing to say that God watched His plans go horribly wrong and decided not to get involved and let man take over the running of the show, then he is more or less forced into the Calvinist position. To say that God had a purpose that He was/is working out brings you into the Calvinistic camp, whether you want this label or otherwise.

I am happy enough to run with Calvin’s view. It is only gloomy to those who want to hold unto their sins and refuse the immense joy and privilege of worshipping their Creator against Whom (to quote the inspired sage) there is no counsel, understanding or wisdom (Proverbs 20:31)

Regards,

Richard Coords said...

Hey Colin,

I agree and applaud that ministry comes before theology. There is no fire. If you have time, great, and if not, totally understood.

Just to reiterate, my error was in thinking that Calvin attributed to himself, what was actually the inference of another, namely, his opponent Pighius, which inference Calvin had rejected as being an inevitable consequence, though how, remains less certain from Calvin’s rebuttal. The problem is that Calvin doesn’t give us a reason why to think that it’s not inevitable, and ultimately rests upon his own “instructed ignorance,” in lacking the knowledge of exactly how to explain it. Fair enough, but the dilemma is that Determinism is a like a Black Hole, where all free agency is consumed, though, Calvin does raise the concept of “inclusive liability,” insomuch as these did freely, what they were otherwise scripted to do. So were they ever, at any time, free to do otherwise, than that which was scripted for them to do, beginning from the moment of their conception? No? Well, then, there really is no free agency, but merely the illusion of free agency, and thus they can merely presume an inclusive liability upon themselves, when in reality, they are inclusive by a necessity that is inalterably inserted upon them.

In terms of permission or bare permission, take a look at Calvin’s quotes from Institutes (especially the 3rd quote from Institutes) in which Calvin addresses “will and permission.” I think he forcefully argues that man does not bring death upon himself, by his own libertarian deserts, under the permissive will of God, but rather that the death of man comes by the set “ordination of God” and the “will of God” since God had expressly determined what was to be the condition of the “chief of his creatures.” This is why I go back to the Black Hole analogy. This is why I think that Pighius’ inference really is inevitable.

In terms of Abimelech, the Arminian explanation is that God frustrated Abimelech’s attempt to sin solely because of something about Abimelech, namely, that he was innocent by way of Abraham’s deception. Once instructed on the nature of the matter, God threatened him with imminent death, should he refuse to release Sarah back to Abraham. With that said, I’d like to touch on the next point, in which you surmise that since God created the circumstances by which Adam could Fall, and in having permitted the Fall, we must conclude that God must have had a purpose in the Fall, or else God could have simply chosen not to permit it. So I wish to use an analogy which shows this conclusion to be forced. The father of the prodigal son had established the circumstance by which either of his sons could, at their insistence, take their inheritance and walk. One did. The father permitted it. But in having permitted it, are we forced to conclude that the father had a purpose in his son leaving? I think not. And now back to God. God is a God who tests, and Adam was indeed tested, as are we all. When we pass the test, God uses it. When we fail the test, God uses it. And hence I agree with what you said: “…God used the sins of men for His own sinless glory….” I believe that to be a very Arminian-friendly statement. Now if we should say that God used the sins that He causes, then do we not do a disservice to the meaning of “uses”?

You stated: “Calvin never lost sight of the fact that man is a free agent in all these things and therefore is culpable.” But just how is a man a free agent? Calvin confessed that he could not explain, in light of the ordination of God. But, you are right, that Calvin did use the concept, “inclusive liability,” in holding man accountable, which is a fascinating thing of itself, and worthy of further consideration. So is man liable inclusively with God’s ordination? It’s odd because it seems that it would implicate God as well. I’m honestly unsure as to where Calvin was going with that.

Take care and God bless,

Richard

Richard Coords said...

p.s. I agree that God has a purpose, and that He intervenes, but not that everything is purposed. For if everything has a purpose, then everything is necessitated by that purpose, and again we are back to the Black Hole.

Richard Coords said...

Hello John,

I appreciate your thoughts. I agree that embracing contradiction is troublesome. Jehovah’s Witnesses say, “Despite our false prophecies, just look at our great doctrines nonetheless!” If we are going to respond with, “Good fruit only comes from a good tree,” and hence false prophecy only comes from a false prophet, what’s to stop the Jehovah’s Witness from saying, “It’s a mystery!”

gwink said...

While Calvin was the 2nd worst theologian after Augustine, his deeds and actions will be judged greater than his actual poisonous writings.

Killing in the name of Jesus, should cause all of Calvin's disciples to view his teachings as suspect. "You shall know them by their fruit".

God the author of evil?
Calvin's God is not the God of the Bible.

Luke said...

Hey Richard,

I've always wanted to pose this question and I do so lightly but with real interest in the question if only by myself.

If an individual was created for destruction, and they do exactly what they were created to do(sin), then in a whacky sense, aren't they actually obeying the reason for which they were created and if they are obedient, how can they be eternally labeled as disobedient?

Okay, okay, back to reality. I've just finished reading a book entitled, "Why I Am Not a Calvinist" by Walls and Dongell. They deal with the idea of "hard" determinism in a very understandable way. Heck, I was able to understand it. And as such, I agree that it is a "black hole". But "IF" everything(key word) was predetermined, and everything goes just as predetermined, then isn't everything viewed as being obedient?

Blessings

Richard Coords said...

Hello Pastor Luke,

That's a fascinating thought. If the wicked are called to be wicked, and are in fact wicked (via an eternal, immutable script or decree), then you can say that they were faithful to their calling. Ouch! I wonder if that's the "high octane stuff" that Colin was referring to.

Richard Coords said...

Hello gwink,

There's an interesting history behind the argument of whether Calvinism's teaches that God is the author of sin. Do you ever notice that Calvinists will confirm that God is the ordainer of sin, but not the author of sin? ...or the causer and arranger of all things, such as sin, but not the author of sin? What's the big bugagoo about the "author" word? The answer has to do with Gnosticism.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard,

Sorry that my contributions here have been a bit hap hazaard. I've had desktop computer problems and been busy elsewhere.

Re: your last reply below, perhaps you could briefly comment on why Peter in Acts 2:23 indicted the hands that crucified Christ as "wicked" when those same hands did what God had already foreordained what they should so do.

Wherein would your answer differ from Calvin's view i.e. that God uses their wickedness but is not the author of it? (Comments on Acts 2:23)

Regards,

Richard Coords said...

Hello Colin,

In our own personal applications, when we say that we "use" something, isn't it naturally understood that we are not causing the very thing that we are using? That's why I think that the term "used" is an Arminian-friendly term. If Calvinism is true, then God didn't really "use" anything, but instead, simply scripted everything. Nothing, in that instead, would be "used" in the natural sense that we would normally understand it.

Speaking of Acts 2:23, I think that Arminians have a very strong position there, because it combines both foreknowledge and God's predetermined plan. In other words, what if God foreknew the evil intentions of Israel, and used it accordingly for the plan of Calvary? In that case, God wouldn't need to script their evil desires. That is already present, and God is simply using it. On the other hand, if Calvinism is true, then Acts 2:23 is unnecessarily redundant, for saying that Calvary was according to the foreordination and foreordation of God. That doesn't make sense to me.

gwink said...

Richard,

One of the more bizare statements during my recent systematic theology class taughat at my local church is the repeated statement by the calvinist teacher how he is "greatful" for his non-elect friends (how is he sure?) because he is thankful to God for grace and sees them repeat sin and blames it on their lacking of faith/grace.

I was so dumbfounded by that statement that he is greatful for non-believers who will soon spend eternity in hell.

This Dallas trained teacher is now trying to explain to everyone why infant baptism is "biblical".

Ugh, Augustian-Calvinism is such a virus.

Richard Coords said...

Hello gwink,

I, too, have heard that stated before, such as in internet message boards like CARM, but never from any published Calvinist book. If you find a quote, let me know and I'll forward it to SEA. The logic works like this: We are to be grateful to God for creating the non-elect so that we can appreciate "grace" all the more. I can't help but think of the illustration of the priest and the Levite, when I hear of such casual indifference.

Here is a quote that still bothers me:

Calvinist, Vincent Cheung, writes: “One who thinks that God’s glory is not worth the death and suffering of billions of people has too high an opinion of himself and humanity.” (The Problem of Evil, p.10)

Even John Calvin wrote: “Hence Augustine, having treated of the elect, and taught that their salvation reposes in the faithful custody of God so that none perishes, continues: The rest of mortal men who are not of this number, but rather taken out of the common mass and made vessels of wrath, are born for the use of the elect.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.107)

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians commented: “One of the things that I think happens as people get into studying soteriology is that they become desensitized to notions such as the suggestion that God creates the vast majority of people so that He can torture them forever in Hell, and that this shows His glory, what He is really like and about, that people actually become desensitized by such claims....” (SEA)

That comment was made in reference to Vincent Cheung's quote.

Richard Coords said...

Here is another C quote, but again, only from the internet: “God’s everlasting love is toward the elect only. His common love (His universal love) is toward absolutely everybody. When God shows love toward the nonelect, He does so knowing their eternal destiny in burning unending retribution. Thus His common love is a Holy love, a love which is experienced by every human being. Its ultimate purpose is to add intensity of sorrow to the nonelect who no longer experience it, as they used to—no more quietness, peaceful days, wife, family, friends, water, rest, sunshine etc. Yeah for all eternity they will remember His universal love, even as they scream and wail and pop and burn.”

That comment was made on "Parchment and Pen" but the article has since been removed:

http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/10/calvinists-often-make-the-worst-calvinists-2/#comment-12746

I'm currently reading a book written by C author, Richard Mouw, "Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport," and I think that it is, so far, very well written. Although, I complain that he does borrow from Arminian-friendly terms such as "uses" and "permission" when trying to explain the problem of evil from a C standpoint, which I feel that a deterministic "script" cannot account for.

gwink said...

non-elect "born for the use of the elect"

Yeah, that is what he repeatedly states. That he is so greatful for one of his childhood friends, who he still hangs with, but since his non-believer friend "can't" accept the gospel, that this non-believers "purpose" is to demonstrate grace to himself (the Calvnisist).

Talk about reading into preconceived concepts into Scripture.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard,

A number of things about your recent posts:

1) The term "used" is employed because man is a free agent and not a block of wood or a robot. You could only gripe at

its use if Calvinists believed otherwise. Since we both believe firmly in man's responsibility and free agency, then the word

is friendly to us both.

2) Re: Acts 2:23. I note that you seem to fal lshort of actually affirming that God foreknew Israel's wickedness and

then adapted it for His plan: "if"

In Acts 2:23, God foreknew because He foreordained. Peter's argument is (among other things) that Calvary was not an

accident nor something outside God's control, but God ordained in its every part. Hence the Son of Man went as it was

written of Him
(Luke 23:23) and they who crucified Him came together For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel

determined before to be done
(Acts 4:37)

It is your scenario (IMO) which contains the flaw:

A/ If God foresaw something happening, then it was going to happen whether God foreordained it or not. You cannot actually

foresee something happening which might or might not happen. Being forseen makes it certain to happen.

B/ God does not give His 'bare permission' without His wisdom, holiness, justice etc., To allow something to happen

must tie in with His purposes and plan. The plan therefore precedes the deed amd must give rise to it.

C/ What God does - whether actively or allows passively - He was always going to do from eternity and without any change. Seeing there is no counsel or understanding or wisdom against the LORD, (Proverbs 20:31) all that comes to pass must fall into that counsel. Again, this makes it sure. Such, however, does not render the willing sinner guilty.

3) Re: your alleged Calvin quote. The danger in unspecified or unreferenced quotes is that they may not be true. If they are not true, then (to state the obvious) they are false and misleading and can do great harm. No cuase is advanced by propagating false information. Personally, I would resist any temptation to load something unto a man that has not nor cannot be proved, lest I become partaker of the evil deeds of others. If nothing else, it damages my reputation for fair play and reliability - virtues which may be easily gotten for the first time but also easily lost and not so easily regained.

Regards, 

Richard Coords said...

Hello Colin,

1) In terms of “free agency,” in relation to what God “uses,” do you believe that everything is “scripted” by God? In other words, do you believe that God scripted every thought, word and deed, from before the foundation of the world? The answer to that question will help me understand what you mean by “free agency.”

2) At Acts 2:23, you said that “God foreknew because He foreordained” Calvary, and I understand that that’s what you infer, but I don’t see Acts 2:23 saying exactly that. It says, “This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” A) But did Peter specifically say that God’s foreknowledge was “because” (or, “as a result of”) the predetermined plan? I don’t see it saying that at all. B) You said that “If God foresaw something happening, then it was going to happen whether God foreordained it or not. You cannot actually foresee something happening which might or might not happen. Being forseen makes it certain to happen.” I wholeheartedly agree. What Arminians have taught, as the quote below demonstrates, is that the foreknowledge in question, is of the certainty of their hearts and intentions, that is, of the absolute certainty of their ‘willingness’ and ‘readiness’ to reject God. In this way, Arminians would hold that these are legitimately “free agents” because God is not determining their heart and intentions, willingness and readiness, but rather, having foreknown the certainty of it, is using it, in order to accomplish His own plan.

Arminian, Daniel Whedon, writes concerning Acts 2:23: “God wills that his son should lay down his life to redeem lost men. There are thousands of methods, from heaven above, or from earth below, in which it can be accomplished. But God foreknows that at that period and juncture the worst of men are living and ready to betray and to crucify him. It was fitting that God should permit the world to show how wicked men could be, as well as how good is God. There is a traitor in the twelve who is ready and foreseen to be willing, to be the undecreed, unnecessitated betrayer. The Jews and Gentiles are both at Jerusalem, foreseen to be ready and willing to be the unobliged crucifiers. Jesus has but to take his position at that central point and bide his time. Freely, responsibly, without decree, participation, or sanction on the part of God, the traitor and the murderers accomplish the work. Thus God’s end, that his Son should lay down his life, is accomplished. It is done by wicked men; yet neither are they to be thanked, or God to be implicated.” (Freedom of the Will: A Wesleyan Response to Jonathan Edwards, p.249)

So in relation to Acts 2:23, do you think that you might have misunderstood the aspect of foreknowledge that Arminians had in mind?

3) I certainly agree that “No cause is advanced by propagating false information.” The Calvin quote was accurate to the letter, but erroneous in that Calvin was instead summarizing Pighius’ inference about him, not that Calvin actually agreed with it. I’m thankful that you have helped me to correct this. If you find a similar error in the preceding Calvin-quotes, please let me know.

Take care and God bless,

Richard

p.s. Are you aware of the upcoming debate between James White and Michael Brown? I think it’s one to watch. Brown is a former C, and seems to be very knowledgeable about the C & A controversy, and obviously James White is as well, so I anticipate that it will be very productive, especially since they appear to be very friendly with one another.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard,

I cannot help but wonder whether we are effectively debating here about 'terms'. Both of us agree (I assume) that God can righteously use man's sin for His own glory & does so without contracting any evil or guilt on His part. The 'sticking pount' seems to be the use of positive sounding words like 'appoint'. However to say that 'God ordained to allow' is paramount to saying that 'God ordained' hence the positive and unapologetic language of Acts 4:38.

We know that God could easily have 'ordained it NOT to happen' but history shows that evidently he did not do so.

When God 'ordains to allow' sinful events to take place e.g. Judas betraying Christ, He simply withdraws His restraining grace and gospel light and leaves the sinner to the

wickedness of his own heart. In the case of Judas, he was left to the reality of the Devil entering his heart and directing his steps to the sin of betraying Christ. Better had Judas never be born than doing that. Having justly decided to leave Judas to his wickedness, we may say that God had decided to do that in eternity because there is no fresh information that causes the all knowing God to change His mind. God also exercises His sovereign and just right to channel any wickedness of His creatures to His own glory.hence we read that the King's heart is in the hand of the Lord and that He turns his heart whithersoever he wills (Proverbs 21:1) and that He makes the wrath of man to praise Him and where such is not possible, then it is restrained (Psalm 76:10)

Should the Calvinist overstep the mark and insist on the sinner being compelled to sin against his will, then there is room for howls of protest, but since this is not the case, then the Calvinistic position, as set out above,is seen to be scriptural.

Regards,

gwink said...

When is the debate with James White?

Richard Coords said...

Hello gwink,

The debate will be on White's webcast on 3/25/10 and then again on 4/1/10. Both shows will take place at 1:00PM EST and will be 90 minutes in length w/o commercial breaks. They will be focusing specifically on exegesis of certain key texts. In the first program, Michael Brown will be responding to John 6:35-45,
Romans 8:28-9:24, and Ephesians 1:1-14. In the 2nd program, he picks some texts for James White to respond to. Those texts have not
been announced yet, but apparently the "all" texts will be grouped
together as one of those that James White is to respond to. To access the programs on those days, you can listen from James White's webcast here:

http://www.aomin.org/articles/webcast.html

Richard Coords said...

Hello Colin,

In your explanation, I was unable to ascertain whether you believe in an eternal, immutable script, whereby all thoughts and intentions of the heart, of every creature, was scripted from before the foundation of the world. Whether sinful men are a "willing accomplice," in my mind, really isn't the issue, if their willingness is simply part of the immutable "script." I read where John Calvin was puzzling over the Fall, indicating that he did not believe that God caused the Fall, but at the same time, he said that he was unable to reconcile it with His views of God's decree. Here are his words:

Calvin writes: “To this opinion of this holy man [Augustine] I subscribe: in sinning, they did what God did not will in order that God through their evil will might do what He willed.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.123)

Calvin adds: “If anyone object that this is beyond his comprehension, I confess it. But what wonder if the immense and incomprehensible majesty of God exceed the limits of our intellect? I am so far from undertaking the explanation of this sublime, hidden secret, that I wish what I said at the beginning to be remembered, that those who seek to know more than God has revealed are crazy. Therefore let us be pleased with instructed ignorance rather than with the intemperate and inquisitive intoxication of wanting to know more than God allows.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.123)

John Calvin writes: “But now, removing from God all proximate causation of the act, I at the same time remove from Him all guilt and leave man alone liable. It is therefore wicked and calumnious to say that I make the fall of man one of the works of God. But how it was ordained by the foreknowledge and decree of God what man’s future was without God being implicated as associate in the fault as the author or approver of transgression, is clearly a secret so much excelling the insight of the human mind, that I am not ashamed to confess ignorance.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, pp.123-124)

I recall from the sermon from Charles Spurgeon, on "Jacob and Esau," in which he similarly argues for a case of free will and divine determinism, but while professing an inability to logically put it together:

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0239.htm

Charles Spurgeon: "'How,' says some one, 'do you reconcile these two doctrines?' My dear brethren, I never reconcile two friends, never. These two doctrines are friends with one another; for they are both in God's Word, and I shall not attempt to reconcile them. If you show me that they are enemies, then I will reconcile them. 'But,' says one, 'there is a great deal of difficulty about them.' Will you tell me what truth there is that has not difficulty about it? 'But,' he says, 'I do not see it.' Well, I do not ask you to see it; I ask you to believe it. There are many things in God's Word that are difficult, and that I cannot see, but they are there, and I believe them. I cannot see how God can be omnipotent and man be free; but it is so, and I believe it. 'Well,' says one, 'I cannot understand it.' My answer is, I am bound to make it as plain as I can, but if you have not any understanding, I cannot give you any; there I must leave it. But then, again, it is not a matter of understanding; it is a matter of faith. These two things are true; I do not see that they at all differ. However, if they did, I should say, if they appear to contradict one another, they do not really do so, because God never contradicts himself." (Jacob and Esau)

From my reading of Calvinists, when trying to reconcile liberty and determinism, there is simply no logical solution.

Richard Coords said...

Just to add a thought about Spurgeon's quote, it seems that the Determinists were arguing with him, "How can you teach free will if all things are foreordained?" while the Arminians challenged, "How could you teach Determinism if you acknowledge liberty?" It seems like he was cornered, and defers to mystery, and I agree that there are indeed mysteries in Scripture. Can I explain how God is eternal? No. But I agree that Scripture is clear on God being eternal, and like Spurgeon, that is good enough for me. However, do I believe that all thoughts and intentions were immutably scripted from before the foundation of the world? No, because I do not believe that Scripture is at all clear on that point. I think Eph 1:11 has been misused to that effect, and I offer my own commentary in the writeup on that verse. Further, I think that Scripture is clear that God denies having scripted whatsoever comes to pass. Consider God's own testimony at Jeremiah 32:35. Often, in rebuttle, I've heard, "Oh, this proves too much, for it also proves Open Theism," which of course, any fair reading of that verse shows otherwise. God is simply denying that it ever entered His mind to command child sacrifice, not that He's denying having ever known that it would occur. So I think that I could respond to Spurgeon by saying, "No, God Himself denies having scripted all things." So for me, this is no mystery. I'm simply looking at what God Himself has said.

I can't say for certain that in Heaven, I won't find out the Calvinism is true, and I certainly won't be one bit surprised if I find out that Arminianism is true, so I try to tread lightly, not knowing for certain. But I do feel that the Arminian interpretation more compelling, not only to logic, but also to the Scripture itself.

Unless you wish to open add'l dialogue, you can have the last word. I certainly appreciate your wise counsel and am honored to have you post here. My next Blog post will be a review of Richard Mouw's book.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard,

Thanks for discussing these things with me here. When all is said and done, we are all dealing here with deep things of which we know very little and indeed know nothing if it has not been revealed.

In the case of two apparently opposing situations, we must maintain both - in this case both man's responsibility (denoting him to be a free agent) and God's sovereignty - how He always achieves His purposes through the use of appointed means.

By maintaining a sense of responsibility for our own actions, we are kept from the snare of fatalism (Not that the Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God = Fatalism, but it isn't hard to go further and slip into it) and OTOH, if we maintain the doctrine of the SOG, then we will not slip into despair as if God was also dependent upon the whims of the creature.

Re: the script which God writes. Suppose a Muslim should verbally state in (say) a debate “Jesus Christ is NOT the Son of God” - we cannot suppose that God put these blasphemous words into his mouth. They are rooted rather in the unbelief of his wicked heart. However, we can say that God ordained that this Muslim should give expression to his wicked unbelief and do so at that time. He might do so for any one or all of a number of apparent reasons:

1) To reveal the wretched place where belief in the Koran leads us i.e. warn us
2) To give a Christian (say in the same debate) the opportunity to bear witness to the truth
3) To later convict the Muslim of his unbelief – that he should believe and state such blasphemy
4) If so and he got saved, he would later magnify the grace of God that lifted him from so wretched a position
5) Should the Muslim maintain his heretical belief, then the stating of it publicly but produces further evidence to convict him. He is condemned out of His own mouth.

I accept that the last listed suggestion may sound harsh to you. We are used to the thought (blessed thought!) that God has no desire for the death of any, but we both know that not all will be saved and that those who are damned are damned because they sinfully receive not the love of the truth. God is also Judge and well as Saviour and where He acts in such a way that allows wicked men free expression of their sin, then we cannot fault Him for doing so if such leads to their condemnation.

Ultimately, we always come back to the great overall issue: Why did God allow sin to enter into the world in the first place or why does he not intervene to stop sin right now? To say that He wanted men to have free expression of their hearts is fine -–but only as far as it goes. It still leaves us with the thought: Why did God want men to have free expression of their hearts when He knew that it lead to sin and iniquity and endless suffering? I suppose it is a bit like being attacked in our homes. We may run from room to another and lock doors only to see them being smashed down. At the last, we are left standing with our back towards a brick or concrete wall and still facing the ultimate issue that confronted us in the first place.

Anyway, I’ve enjoyed chatting you here. I like good solid serene debates, rather than much of what goes on elsewhere. Thanks for your kind words in your closing paragraph.

Regards,

gwink said...

Collin "we are all dealing here with deep things of which we know very little and indeed know nothing if it has not been revealed"

That's easy to conclude if one jumps over numerous passages like Matt 23:37

"How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.

What? God desired something (repentance) but free will of sinful men refused to repent?
Repetitive theme in book of Isaiah. The national rejection of God by His chosen people, yet their call and purpose of spreading God's word to the world.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard/Gwink:

Gwink: Calvinists heartily believe texts like Matthew 23:37 and indeed, I alluded to the substance of it when I acknowledged, in my last post,that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

But let us look at the verse.

Christ expresses His desire to save the people of Jerusalem, but witnessed their impenitence. We may safely assume that many of them, whom Christ desired to save, did indeed die in their sin. From this, we conclude that Christ's desire to save them differed greatly in operation from His desire to save His elect i.e. those who are finally found in Heaven. We must observe that His desire to save the non elect, while real and genuine, yet it did not extend to the length of a decree to save. Before we start indicting Christ on this matter, the cause of their damnation is given in the text itself - they would not be gathered. Therefore they effectively damned themselves in their own unbelief. They deliberately and voluntarily rejected the gospel call which is extended to all men - elect and non elect alike.

Regarding the elect: Christ's desire to save them was followed up by a decree to do so. Given to Christ by the Father, they definitely would come to Him and in coming, would not be cast out (John 6:37)

If, to go back to Matthew 37, would you say that the purpose of God re: the non elect was frustrated? Did He purpose to save non elect souls and time after time after time again knew abject failure in this regard?

Regards,

Richard Coords said...

Hello Colin,

To jump in on the Matthew 23:37 conversation, and this will tie in to the new post that I'm working on for Richard Mouw's book, you affirmed the natural reading of the passage, which is that Christ did in some way desire to save/gather those who rejected Him, though you qualify it as having "differed greatly in operation from His desire to save His elect...." That's the tough part. To that effect, sometimes C's will suggest that Christ is a Savior in the sense of a "common grace," with 1 Tim 4:10 referenced, whereas to others, namely Calvinism's elect, He is a Savior with "sovereign grace" or otherwise stated, effectual grace or irresistible grace. To non-C's, the "how often I wanted" rings hollow, if God purposely "passed by" them, in terms of grace, viz. Preterition.

Here is how Adrian Rogers described it: “Now folks, I want to submit to you that if He had said, ‘I would have, but you couldn’t,’ that whole thing will have been a great charade.” (You Can Be Saved: Romans 8:28-31)

I also find interesting the use Irenaeus (130-200) makes of the verse: “This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God...And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice...If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things and to abstain from others?” (Against Heresies XXXVII, Book 4, Ch. 37)

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard,

But you are still left with your great problem which I articulated at the end of my last post i.e.

If, to go back to Matthew 37, would you say that the purpose of God re: the non elect was frustrated? Did He purpose to save non elect souls and time after time after time again knew abject failure in this regard?

Regards

Richard Coords said...

I'm at work typing on my iPhone, and I was going to add a quick thought, when I saw your post. Yes, A's believe that God allows His will to be thwarted, as His will is not being done on earth as it is in Heaven, though, someday, will be. Arminian Roger Olson articulated the same view in Arminian Myths and Realities. The quick thought that I was going to add was that in order to understand what Jesus meant by *how often I wanted to gather* is to look at OT examples of just this, namely, Isaiah 65:2. I also lookat Jeremiah 18:1-13. Post back later tonight.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard,

I think we need to differentiate between God's preceptive will (e.g. "Thou shalt not kill" but hundreds get killed every day) and God's decretive will (e.g. "The Spirit bade me go..." and I went)

The precept of God (hence His preceptive will) us that sinners will repent and believe the gospel. The non elect willingly fail to comply with this command and pay the consequences (damnation) The elect, OTOH, do comply with it, because (to them) it is both a preceptive and decretive command.

So, if we go back to the question I pose earlier, I am not asking re: God's preceptive will (which is smashed every single moment of every single day) but His decretive will. IOW: Does God decree things and watch His decretive commands fall idly to the ground?

I answer, of course, in the negative.

Sorry, if this burdens you further with your time, but if you are going to frame a reply, I think it is important that I state my question more specifically to ensure a relevant answer.

Regards,

Colin Maxwell said...

Oops!

The precept of God (hence His preceptive will) us that sinners will repent and believe the gospel. should read:

The precept of God (hence His preceptive will) commands us sinners to repent and believe the gospel. The non elect willingly fail to

Luke said...

Collin,

I'm thinking at the moment that to suggest that God is an abject failure stems from a misunderstanding or lack of articulation of a point from which I would argue. So please allow me to try with the Matthew passage under consideration.

God loves Israel and desires to save Israel. YET, God gave Israel the ability to obey/disobey, rebel/respond, resist/receive and within that framework, that is how one defines God a failure/or not. God did not determine to save apart from the free agent response of man. If God had determined to save irregardless of the response of man, then yes, I can see how you might say, God's purpose was thwarted. But if God's purpose was to save with regard to man's free agent response, then no, God is not a failure because He purposed from the beginning that man would be free to "not choose" God. Thus, man's not choosing was well within God's purpose.

I cannot impose my conclusion on your assertion no more than you can impose your conclusion on my assertion and the reason is that the way you and I would assert as God's purpose, two different premises. Thus, we have to first agree completely on our premise before we can judge our conclusion faulty or not.

Hope I didn't derail your conversation Richard and Collin, thanks in advance for any insight as to how I have stated my understanding.

Luke

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Luke,

Thanks for your contribution here. I certainly agree that man is a “free moral agent” but I see that freedom existing only in his ability to follow the dictates of his own heart. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) However, the scripture tells us that the natural heart is certainly in no fit state to embrace the command of God to repent and believe the gospel. It is not free in the sense of being able to choose good or evil, but a bond slave to sin (John 8:34) being deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God and neither indeed can be (Romans 8;7) and the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14) His understanding is darkened etc., Unless he is drawn savingly to Jesus Christ (and not merely offered salvation) then He will not come to Christ (John 6:44/65)

Re: the decree of God and salvation. I think the Scripture goes a lot further than God merely making salvation possible and then sitting back to see who decided to believe and who doesn’t. (And I don’t mean that in a time wise sense i.e. that any deny God’s omniscience.) The free response (or should I say: the freed response) of the elect sinner is a result of God’s decree. What shall be at the end is what God decreed to happen. God not only decrees to have a redeemed people in Heaven, but has decreed the means thereto, including the circumstances that brings the gospel to the elect sinner and his God given ability to repent and believe. Hence he is said to “believe through grace” (Acts 18:24) Therefore salvation really is all of the Lord – from its very beginning through to the very end.

Regards,

Colin.

Luke said...

Collin,

Your reply is exactly that to which I was referring. From your vantage point, if God DECREED who would come to Him and then one of the DECREED did not, then you could have a frustrated/impotent God.

But that is not the point from which I am arguing. If I believe the Scriptures teach that God decreed that all who come to Him in Christ Jesus will be saved, then those who do not, though salvation was actually provided for them, do not frustrate God's plan or God Himself.(I don't like the structure of my run-on sentence but I can't seem to find any other way to phrase it at the moment.) God derives no pleasure in the death of the wicked yet He will not live in eternal torment because some rejected Him.

Is that any clearer? By the way, I'm not even trying to persuade you from any position OTHER THAN that if we mix the conclusion from my premise or yours, then we can end up with a "frustrated" God. BUT, if MY conclusion is attached to MY premise, not yours, God does not end up "frustrated" as you suppose. Savvy?

Luke said...

Oops. Forget to address one more thing. I personally do not hold to the understanding that John 6:44,65 is referring to all of Christendom rather I see it as specifically referring to the calling of the 12, no more, no less.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Luke,

I certainly can see what you are saying about the difference in our two interpretations about God and salvation. It seems to me that your view of God (I nearly said "Your God" but thankfully didn't. It came more from the grammar end of things than the polemic) allows room for a hit and miss scenario re: salvation. It leaves Him being hopefully satisfied with what He gets. My view (which I believe is the Scriptural view) sees Him setting out with a particular purpose in mind and satisfied only when it all comes to pass, as (I believe) it will. But I do see the point that you are making.

Your views on John 6:44 are interesting, although I see that they are not shared either by Wesley or Clark (HT: E-sword) Is there anything in the context which would rule out the conventional view held by both Calvinists and Arminians that salvation is in view here, rather than the specific call to the Apostleship?

Regards,

Luke said...

Colin,

Whether or not you agreed with my point, thank you for at least letting me know that you see what I'm saying. I was wondering if I was typing in "fog".

Per John 6:44,65

While I agree that in the passage at large, salvation is being spoken of, I do not believe that those two verses are addressing the salvation presented say in verse 40. The reason why is because of verse 70. Judas was CHOSEN as one of the 12 and yet he did not partake in salvation. Verses 44,65 I see as call to apostleship. Also, verse 65 lets us know that when verse 44 was spoken, it was not spoken to the whole crowd but rather for the benefit of the 12 of whom Judas was one. I also link verse 37 with these into John 17. Those whom God gave Jesus were the 12 Disciples.

As pertaining to salvation/drawing...John 12:32 speaks of Jesus drawing for salvation. John 6:44 drawing is for service(apostleship), not salvation.

I apologize if this is in a hurried format, I'm about to rush off to ministry obligations. But I should return, Lord willing, in the morning.

Thank you Colin for your interaction.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Luke,

I appreciate that you have a busy schedule and so I appreciate the time you take here.

On John 6, I think it is obvious that the choice made in v70 relates the Apostleship, as it is indeed qualified in v71 "being 1/12" Well & good.

It is not so straightforward though in relation to v44 or v65 since "coming to Christ" is a salvic term in John's gospel, as seen notoriously in John 5:40. Again, in v44, it speaks of being raised up in the last day which has a ring of salvation triumph and glory in it and so hardly applicable to the traitor. Again, if v37 relates to service, then Judas would not be "cast out," although the Scripture clearly teaches that he was.

Re: the drawing of John 12:32, the strength of this drawing relates to the identity of the "all" and vice versa. If "all" means "all without exception" i.e. every last sinner ever born, then the "drawing" falls short of salvation since that "all" are not saved. If the "all" means "all without distinction" i.e. "all kinds of" (both are grammatically correct) and ultimately refers to the Elect, then the drawing is more than a mere arousing of attention and even of interest. It will involve everything necessary that pertains unto life and godliness.

Take your time in replying. The ministry must always come first.

Thanks, Richard, in accomodating this discussion on your blog!

Regards,

Richard Coords said...

You're welcome and thanks to you both for sharing your wisdom.

I agree that Wesley took a different view of John 6, but many Arminians have taken the approach that is suggested by John 6:45. I'll be very interested to see what interpretation Michael Brown provides. On my website, I chronicle many A quotes on John 6, and I was frankly quite stunned to hear John Piper's remarks, so closely resemble a common A interpretation:

John Piper: “I’m leaving you. You have resisted Me; I’m backing away from you; I’m not going to draw most of you.” (Skeptical Grumbling and Sovereign Grace, 11/29/2009)

He was directly commenting on John 12, but commented on the general picture, as it spans John 5 to John 12. So, yes, it is fair to cite Wesley's view, but we should also consider Walls & Dongell, John Goodwin (1594-1665), Richard Watson (1781-1833), Daniel Whedon (1808-1885), as wells as Robert Shank, Laurence Vance, Robert Hamilton and James McCarthy. For those quotes, see the John 6:44 write-up:

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/Gospels/John6_44.html

One member of SEA explains it in a similar way: “The faithful, repentant, Old Testament remnant was the flock that belonged to the Father. They were obedient to the Father, and already in a covenantal relationship with him as Jesus arrived on the scene. Many were probably influenced, for example, by John the Baptist’s ministry. These people were the ones who had already been listening to the Father’s voice and were obedient to him in accord with Old Testament stipulations. When he arrives on the scene, Jesus explains that all of these sheep who were already in the covenant would believe in him since they listen to the Father, and because the Father was the one who sent Jesus. Thus, everyone who belonged to the Father were given to Jesus, as the Davidic shepherd sent to shepherd those who belong to the Father. We’re talking about a period in time, in human history, in the transitional period when the Old Testament remnant was becoming the Christian Church. But Jesus’ opponents were those who were not a part of the faithful remnant. They thought they were unconditionally elect and belonged to the Father on the basis of their physical descent from Abraham. They thought they could belong to the Father apart from Jesus. Jesus repudiates this, telling them that they were of their father the devil. For if they had been part of the faithful remnant, they would be part of the Father’s flock and would have believed in him. This is good Johannine theology, and good Arminian theology, and good exegesis. But it is so far removed from that Calvinism which so many people attempt to impose on the text. These texts are not talking about eternal, predestinarian decrees, but to a specific time and place in Israel in 30 A.D.” (SEA)

Richard Coords said...

To follow this line of thought, in one of my initial discussions on this Blog, I asked a Calvinist, when do you believe the "giving" of John 6:37 started, and when do you believe that the "drawing" of John 6:44 started, and I was told that the "giving" was from before the foundation of the world, and the "drawing" was from the time of Genesis, and I had to ask, Is that really what John 6 is telling us?

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Richard,

Whatever what we may call the "local conditions" of the gospel passages, I think to limit their truths to that particular period of time can creates great problems. Anyway, the same truths are taught elsewhere in the OT/NT, so nothing can be denied.

Regards,

Luke said...

Collin,

In referring back now to John 6:44 and comparing it to John 12:32. My referencing at this point is to not "who will be drawn" but WHO is doing the drawing. The fact that Jesus is doing the drawing in John 12 is significant compared to John 6. In John 6, I am arguing that the FATHER is drawing Jesus' disciples. In John 12, I am arguing that Jesus is drawing for salvation. Your argument about the "all" notwithstanding is not germane to my point.(At least as I see it.) Rather, there is a distinction in the "who" as disciples in opposition to the "whole" of the world. And I am not saying that salvation is not addressed in John 6. In verse 37 however, Jesus did not "cast out" Judas now did He? This can very much leave this verse open to the idea that discipleship is being referred to here. In fact, that is what I believe. Verse 39 is dealing specifically with the disciples and we know that Jesus did not lose any of them EXCEPT Judas that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But notice that when we move into verse 40, the will of the Father moves from giving "some"(disciples) to Jesus vs 39 becomes the will of the Father that EVERYONE which believes on Jesus should have salvation. So I am still contending that verse 39 and 40 have distinctive goals. Verse 39 is to service, verse 40 is to salvation.

And a little PS for you. It matters not to me whether Wesley, Calvin, Spurgeon nor any other scholar agrees or disagrees with me. I do read them, I do consider what they have written but I do not consider them infallible. Thus, I will tend not to give you so much of an historical approach to Scripture but rather a direct appeal to what I believe, "Thus saith the Lord" kind of thinking. I'm not of Paul and I'm not of Apollos. I want it to be known that I preach Jesus Christ crucified, buried and resurrected according to the Scriptures.

Thanks for your interaction.

Luke said...

Richard,

Once again, thank you for allowing the comments here. I realize that it is drifting away from the determinism structure but if I go no further than what I have, I believe it was done to try to substantiate my views against hard determinism or determinism in general as it relates to individual salvation. But I will try to move back more specifically to the topic at hand.

Thanks again.

Luke said...

Collin,

In regards to limiting truths to a particular time, I must agree with Richard. For instance, the prayer of Jabez was for a SPECIFIC time in a SPECIFIC place thus for anyone to pray as his prayer and claim that God must do for them according to His word as was done for Jabez is to claim promises of the Mosaic Covenant. Now this does not mean that I do not pray for all of the things in general or in spirit as Jabez but I have no claim "according to your word" because the New Testament affords no such thing to the followers of Christ. In fact, we are pilgrims, strangers passing through. We are called to count all as lost for Christ.

So I have no problem in agreeing with Richard that some of the solution to our exegetical proposals is to leave for "that time" what was specifically meant for "that time". Unless of course hard determinism is what God is really all about and then this conversation had to happen and so it matters not if we move from the topic at hand.:) Including the smiley face at the end.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi all,

Yes...we do seem to have moved from the original posting.

I think it is one thing to stand at every mountain and pray the prayer of Jabez (although we do learn from his faith and specificness (if that a word?) in prayer etc.,) to the doctrinal statements of John's gospel which were written with a particular purpose in mind (John 20:31)


Anyway, I'll leave it there. Might come back in another post as time allows and (of course) if God permits :o)

Nice to discuss these things in an amiable matter with you.

Regards,

gwink said...

Great debate with White and Brown.

In my opinion, Brown overwhelmed White based on better understanding of Hebrew themes from OldTest and the repetitive theme that God's will can be rejected.

Richard Coords said...

Gwink,

Thanks for the update. I cannot wait to review it. Last time, on the Line of Fire, they both came across very well. Sometimes in debates, it gets so heated that it's impossible to listen to, but since they both get along so well, and in fact are supportive of each other, the content is very productive and beneficial to all sides.

Richard Coords said...

Hello Colin,

I caught that, viz. "permits." Very good.

I understand your reservation about the A interpretation, as I've heard the same from others, namely, of what portions, then, that the Gospel has specific application vs. general application, and I certainly respect such an objection. However, I cannot help but notice that there is plenty of dialogue in John chapters 5 through 12 in which Jesus is, in fact, directly dealing with matters specifically pertaining to God/Jews disconnect. John 12:37 indeed speaks of the reason why "they" were not believing in Him. The fact that I could also quote John Piper's evaluation of the context at large, being himself a Calvinist, as it specifically relates to the "drawing," is to me, a home-run of a find, or pre-determined to have been found. ;-)

gwink said...

Richard,

I look forward to next week when the Brown gets to select the passages.

I went onto White's online chat after the show to see what his devotes were reacting to. I asked 1 too many questions about Ez 17 and got kicked out with no reason.
What love is this?