Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Playing Theological Chess with a Calvinist


There is only one GROUND RULE for this chess match with a Calvinist. The Calvinist must accept all of my Arminian assumptions. Fair enough?

So if I assume that "the world" at John 3:16 literally means the whole world (of the living, of course, because that's the context, since John 3:16 is not talking about those in Hell being able to believe and have eternal life), in which "the world" is understood to be indiscriminate and distributive throughout living humanity.
Moreover, all references to "all" and "all men" must be understood in the same manner, unless the context explicitly indicates that "all" or "all men" incontrovertibly means something less, such as a present audience.
Moreover, the prospective contestant Calvinist must agree not to infer any "Secret Wills" in order to suggest that there is an unstated, hidden meaning to any given text.
Moreover, the prospective contestant Calvinist must agree to assume that God is so sovereign and so powerful that the "Total Depravity" of mankind is of little obstacle for God to overcome, without being "stuck" with having to resort to only using an Irresistible Grace, in order that a totally depraved person may be brought to the point of being divinely enabled to either accept or reject His free hand of grace. It is implicit in this assumption that where God leads, God liberates. So if man cannot do anything pleasing to Him, and is completely fallen, it is nonetheless of no difficulty whatsoever for God to be able to liberate such a person, so that they can freely receive or reject Him.
Additionally, the prospective contestant Calvinist must be willing to accept the Arminian assumption that both John chapter 6 and Romans chapter 9 each involve a very specific dialogue, which dialogue, is not allowed to be ignored, and that the dialogue which the Calvinist must agree to assume, is that the dialogue is focused squarely upon unbelieving Israel in the spirit of evangelistic conversion.
Additionally, the prospective contestant Calvinist must accept the assumption that if a New Testament writer makes reference to a passage from the Old Testament, that it be assumed that the writer fully intends that the Old Testament text serve as the contextual foundation and guiding principle for interpreting the New Testament revelation, such as Jeremiah 18:1-13 being referenced with respect to God being "the Potter" at Romans chapter 9.
Additionally, the prospective contestant Calvinist must agree not to manufacture text where it is not otherwise explicitly stated, such as by (1) illegitimately inferring an "eternal decree" where it is not otherwise explicitly stated, such as at Acts 13:48, and (2) illegitimately inferring a Calvinistic "elect" class into a text where it is not otherwise explicitly stated, such as at Ephesians 1:4.
Additionally, the prospective contestant Calvinist must agree to use only proper biblical usage of terms and words, such that terms like "from the foundation of the world" must not be shifted to mean "from [BEFORE] the foundation of the world," such as with reference to Revelation's "Lamb's Book of Life", such that the phrase, "from the foundation of the world" must be understood solely as defined by Scripture itself. (Cross reference Luke 11:49-51.)
Additionally, the prospective contestant Calvinist must agree to the principle that just because a biblical text positively affirms that Jesus died for "A", does not automatically mean that He must have died ONLY for "A", such that a positive affirmation of one group, does not automatically carry a contrasting negative implication for any other another group, which I will denote as "B", unless there is an absolutely explicit reference to "B" being excluded.
I understand that some Calvinists may feel that my "ground rule" is completely unfair, that is, to have the prospective contestant Calvinist accept all Arminian assumptions as the ground rule of any discussion. However, isn't it equally unfair for a Calvinist to insist upon me (as a "ground rule" to any discussion on Calvinism), that a person who is totally depraved cannot do anything good or pleasing to God, which thereby absolutely necessitates an effectual, monergistic, unilateral Irresistible Grace? Don't you think that such an assumption automatically sets Calvinism up to win? After all, why can't I assume that God is bigger than Total Depravity? Why can't I assume that where God leads, God liberates, so that a totally depraved person can be divinely enabled to either accept or reject God's hand of grace? After all, isn't divine intervention a Game-Changer? Moreover, compare with Jeremiah 18:1-13, in which Israel, believe it or not, threw Total Depravity in God's face, and God turned to the heathens and asked: "Who ever heard the like of this? The virgin of Israel Has done a most appalling thing." (Jeremiah 18:13) The purpose of this post is to show Calvinists that they are being totally unfair by insisting upon a "ground rule" (their words) which automatically sets up an assumption that makes Calvinism the victor by default. So I've created a post to give some "ground rules" to a Calvinist, to see how they like it. (Really, I'm trying to expose hypocrisy, although I loathe using such a strong word, but that's what it seems to be, in my opinion).

35 comments:

Steve Cascio said...

Richard you pose this question in your blog: "Why can't I assume that where God leads, God liberates, so that a totally depraved person can be divinely enabled to either accept or reject God's hand of grace?" To this I would say, you can, but if it would not be compatible with a free will of man perspective. You could not assume in that scenario that their is free will because it would be logically inconsistent to assume so. Allow me to explain.

If one is "divinely enabled" to accept or reject a "hand of grace" as you put it, or gift of grace, then it must have, out of necessity been determined by God. One simply cannot be enabled divinely and still preserve autonomous free will. Once God is involved in enabling of a regenerate believer, his/her conversion has already been predetermined.

If you argue that (and I'm not necessarily saying that you do) God can enable and not have predetermined him whom was willing, then you are in danger of rejection of God's omniscience and a move toward open theism. Assuming you hold to an orthodox view of omniscience and theology proper, then a closer examination of this issue of "divine enabling" reveals you are stuck where you (as a synergist) do not want to be. If God enables, then he must know who chooses, and if he knows who chooses, he must have known before. This, in turn, turns the notion of autonomous human free will on its head.

Not to mention, if he knows who chooses, he also knows who does not choose. Has the potter no right over the clay?

Check.

Richard Coords said...

Hello Steve,

Thanks for taking the time to dig through the post. However, I think that you made an incorrect inference.

You wrote: “Once God is involved in enabling of a regenerate believer, his/her conversion has already been predetermined.”

If God is involved in the liberation and enablement of a totally depraved *unregenerate unbeliever* (notice the difference between what you wrote above), so that the unregenerate unbeliever has the opportunity to make a decision for, or against, Christ, then only the opportunity itself is what is predetermined. It sounds like your post assumes that if God enables a person, then the enabling must be irresistible and fully regenerative, which no Arminian would agree with. So that's why your argument would not resonate with an Arminian. An Arminian would think that you are assuming Calvinism in order to prove Calvinism, which Arminians will contend is circular reasoning. In other words, if God intervenes in a divine encounter, in which a totally depraved person is miraculously liberated by Jesus to make an either/or decision to either accept or reject His gift of eternal life, then only the opportunity is what is predetermined. Do you follow? Arminians are heavily persuaded by Matthew 25:41, in which Jesus states that Hell was made for the devil and his angels. For that reason, Arminians do not believe that God ever intended Hell for humans, but that humans will go there, if they do what the devil and his angels do. However, if a person infers a secret will at Matthew 25:41, then this conclusion can be avoided, but Arminians reject secret wills completely, as per my opening Blog post. In fact Arminians believe that “secret wills” corrupt God’s word.

Let me illustrate how an Arminian views Total Depravity. Imagine a person who is drunk on alcohol and stoned on drugs, to the point where you cannot have any rational conversation with them. Then imagine if you touch them, and they were instantly sober, and could instantly hear and understand every word that you were saying. And then imagine that they accepted your testimony, and as a result, you instantly cured them of their addiction and they were immediately and forever a changed person (regenerated). Conversely, imagine if they rejected your testimony, even despite the illustrated liberation, and immediately you sent them back to the state of being drunk and stoned, and even in a worse condition than before. This is how Arminians view the divine encounter, in which where God leads, God liberates, so that the totally depraved sinner could freely receive God’s free gift of eternal life and His indwelling and His regeneration of them.

Richard Coords said...

You mentioned the Potter’s sovereign rights.

A's understand Romans 9 differently than their C brothers, not merely over understanding “nations” vs. “individuals”, but also of the entire dialogue, in terms of who Paul is talking to. A's believe that Paul is persuasively arguing with the unconverted Jew. (See Romans 2:17 in which Paul specifically calls out the Jew. Paul turns his attention to the Gentiles at Romans 11:13, in order to not have pride over the grafting change. Later, Paul turns his attention back to the church at large when discussing obedience to the governing authorities and his visit to the church.) A's believe that at Romans 9:1-3, Paul sets the tone for the dialogue, in that he has their best interests at heart, and to consider that, for what he is about to say. Paul mentions that the Jews think that they are saved by virtue of being sons of Abraham (Romans 9:7), and Paul immediately brings up Ishmael and Esau, both of whom are sons of Abraham, and yet neither comprised God’s covenant people, which has the effect of showing the unconverted Jews that they cannot simply trust in being children of Abraham. Paul adds that grace does not come through “willing and running.” If Paul is in dialogue with the unconverted Jew, then this “willing and running” is in reference to the Jews efforts to keep the Law, and merit God’s mercy, which Paul points out that God’s mercy is not triggered by keeping the Law. Paul then brings up the point about Moses and Pharaoh, which is relevant to the hardening. No Jew would ever reject that God was perfectly fair in hardening Pharaoh, since Pharaoh was the Hitler of the ancient days. However, God had more justification in hardening the Jews, than in the hardening Pharaoh, because the Jews had more light than Pharaoh. Scripture warns Israel at Jeremiah 18:1-13 that God said He would harden them like a potter hardens clay, unless Israel turns back to Him. According to Isaiah 65:2, God reached out His arms of grace to Israel all day long, but Israel rejected His loving efforts to gather them, like a hen gathers its chicks. This hardening was then executed according to Isaiah 6:9-10. The hardening was shown to be fulfilled at John 12. The talk of the hardening at Romans 9 was in reference to Israel (as part of the continuation of the dialogue from Romans 9:1-3), and is intertwined with the concept of the “stumbling stone,” which is also referenced in Romans 9. At Romans 11:25, the hardening is shown to be a partial hardening of the Jews, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. The concept of the hardening is not a magical process, but rather has to do with a person’s value system. The Jews did not value what God values. So when God would send His Messiah, He did not send His Messiah to reward the unbelieving Jews. Instead, God sent His Messiah with the same exact value system as His own, which value system, the Jews had rejected. The Jews valued power, omnipotence and sovereignty. God has those things, but they do not define Him. God values mercy, compassion, love, humility, faith and forgiveness, and the people rejected the substance of God. So the “stumbling stone” is a factor of God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ, being reflective of God’s values, in complete contrast to the people’s values, and hence they rejected the Son as well. If they had loved God for His values, then they would have loved the Son who mirrored those values, and would not have stumbled over the stumbling stone, and Jesus would not have been a stumbling stone at all. This is what Romans 9 is getting at, and God was patient with Israel, vessels fitted to destruction, because they rejected God’s grace toward them. See Isaiah 65:2. At Romans 9:20, Paul anticipates their reaction to having been hardened. The part about who are “you” o man, is the same “you” of Romans 2:17, which is part of the ongoing dialogue. So A's have a vastly different understanding of Romans than their C brothers.

Paul said...

Mr. Coors, thank you for that summary of Romans 9.

Carpinteiro Do Universo said...

Hello, Richard! I am a Brazilian blogger, and I am currently working on a blog about Arminianism/Molinism. Here in Brazil there are very little resources about it - and the young, restless reformers are spreadind day after day (in fact there are littrle theology inside most churches here in Brazil).

Another thing: I have a question about the expression "from the foundation of the world" and "before the foundation of the world." What are the possible meanings of it in the Bible?

Thankz in advance, and sorry my bad English :-/

Richard Coords said...

Yes, you may translate any material on my Blog here and either quote it or use it as your own, and I'd be glad to help answer questions.

The phrase "from the foundation of the world" implies from the time of Genesis until and indefinite time, such as through the present, whereas "from before the foundation of the world" signifies pre-Genesis. I hope that helps. That's a discussion that is very relevant to the Book of Life in Revelation. Let me know if you have other questions.

Charlie J. Ray said...

There is really only one ground rule that matters. Scripture and Scripture alone is the final authority, not your rationalism.

Scripture speaks for itself. If "all" always means "all" without any attention to context or exegetical considerations then you have basically decided what the text must mean without doing any historical/grammatical exegetical work or comparison of Scripture with Scripture.

18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ro 5:18.

I guess all men will be saved--literally:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

So God sobers and then makes drunk again. Looks like God hardens after all?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Ok, I'll take the bait. So please explain to me how it is that God sets all men free from sin but all men are not actually free from the bondage to sin? If God really wills to save all, why are they not all saved? A God who could save all and does not do so is not off the hook of culpability. In other words, it does not solve the problem of evil.

If a life guard sees people drowning and does nothing, wouldn't we call that person responsible for allowing some to die? So how does "free will" absolve your god?

Gene said...

Charlie,

I don't think any theological position "solves" the problem of evil. God is eternal, and evil exists. Whether Calvinist, Arminian or other, there's only one way evil came into existence, and that is somehow through the Sovereign hand of God, be it the decree/causation view of Calvinism or by the permission view of Arminianism. Of course causation and permission (and decree, sovereign, etc) are all loaded words with different connotations, but regardless evil exists and God is the ultimate cause of all things.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thanks for feedback, Gene. However, permission or free will does not solve the problem of evil. The late Dr. Gordon H. Clark said:

. . . Is the theory of free will, even if true, a satisfactory explanation of evil in a world created by God? Reasons, compelling reasons, will now be given for a negative answer. Even if men were as able to choose good as evil, even if a sinner could choose Christ as easily as he could reject him, it would be totally irrelevant to the fundamental problem. Free will was put forward to relieve God of responsibility for sin. But this it does not do.

Suppose there were a lifeguard stationed on a dangerous beach. In the breakers a boy is being sucked out to sea by the strong undertow. He cannot swim. He will drown without powerful aid. It will have to be powerful, for as drowning sinners do, he will struggle against his rescuer. But the lifeguard simply sits on his high chair and watches him drown. Perhaps he may shout a few words of advice and tell him to exercise his free will. After all, it was of his own free will that the boy went into the surf. The guard did not push him in nor interfere with him in any way. The guard merely permitted him to go in and permitted him to drown. Would an Arminian now conclude that the lifeguard thus escapes culpability?

This illustration, with its finite limitations, is damaging enough as it is. It shows that permission of evil as contrasted with positive causality does not relieve a lifeguard from responsibility. Similarly, if God merely permits men to be engulfed in sin of their own free wills, the original objections of Voltaire and Professor Patterson are not thereby met. This is what the Arminian fails to notice. And yet the illustration does not do full justice to the actual situation. For unlike the boy who exists in relative independence of the lifeguard, in actuality God made the boy and the ocean, too. Now, if the guard – who is not a creator at all – is responsible for permitting the boy to drown, even if the boy is supposed to have entered the surf of his own free will, does not God – who made them – appear in a worse light? Surely an omnipotent God could have either made the boy a better swimmer, or made the ocean less rough, or at least have saved him from drowning.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Continued:

Not only are free will and permission irrelevant to the problem of evil, but, further, the idea of permission has no intelligible meaning. It is quite within the range of possibility for a lifeguard to permit a man to drown. This permission, however, depends on the fact that the ocean’s undertow is beyond the guard’s control. If the guard had some giant suction device which he operated so as to engulf the boy, one would call it murder, not permission. The idea of permission is possible only where there is an independent force, either the boy’s force or the ocean’s force. But this is not the situation in the case of God and the universe. Nothing in the universe can be independent of the omnipotent Creator, for in him we live and move and have our being. Therefore the idea of permission makes no sense when applied to God.

Such subterfuges must in all honesty be renounced. Consider two quotations from Calvin: Here they recur to the distinction between will and permission, and insist that God permits the destruction of the impious, but does not will it. But what reason shall we assign for his permitting it, but because it is his will? It is not probable, however, that man procured his own destruction by the mere permission, without any appointment, of God; as though God had not determined what he would choose to be the condition of the principal of his creatures. I shall not hesitate therefore to confess plainly with Augustine, “that the will of God is the necessity of things, and that what he has willed will necessarily come to pass.”

God is very frequently said to blind and harden the reprobate, and to turn, incline, and influence their hearts, as I have elsewhere more fully stated. But it affords no explication of the nature of this influence to resort to prescience or permission…. For the execution of his judgments, he, by means of Satan, the minister of his wrath, directs their counsels to what he pleases and excites their wills and strengthens their efforts. Thus when Moses relates that Sihon the king would not grant a free passage to the people, because God had “hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate,” he immediately subjoins the end of God’s design: “That he might deliver him into thy hand.” Since God willed his destruction, the obduration of his heart therefore was the divine preparation for his ruin.
[5]



Gordon H. Clark. Religion, Reason and Revelation (Kindle Locations 4587-4626). The Trinity Foundation.

Visit my blog at Reasonable Christian

JJ said...

Charlie,

Your mistakes are as follows:

1. You said:

18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ro 5:18.
I guess all men will be saved--literally:)

The problem in this verse is not for the Arminian, but for the Calvinist. Arminians believe that the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient to save for ALL men; however, it’s only efficacious in saving for those who believe. As such, Romans 5:18 is teaching the sufficiency of the work of Christ. The problem for the Calvinist who rejects this reading is to then explain how “judgment came to all men” is not parallel to “the free gift came to all men” Does “all” not mean “all” in this verse? Or were some people not brought under judgement because of Adam’s sin?

2. You quote the late Dr. Gordon H. Clark doesn’t help your position. Armchair philosophy won’t do in this case. Alvin Plantinga, probably the most notable Philosopher of Religion in the 20th Century, in his seminal work called the “free will defense,” argues for precisely the point you are denying. Plantinga is considered by many to have ended the debate about how if free will exists, God is not responsible for the evil of our world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Plantinga%27s_free_will_defense

Charlie J. Ray said...

Actually, the problem is for the Arminian who rejects universal salvation. If justification came to all men without exception then all men should be saved. The Bible says they are not all saved, so therefore the verse does not refute the Calvinist position. Further, the Calvinist has a systematic exposition of Scripture that is logically consistent and air tight while the Arminian must appeal to mystery at every point. Ignorance must be bliss:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Besides, you didn't answer the question. If God is able to stop evil and merely "permits" evil, how does this get of the hook? Unless you're saying God is UNABLE to prevent evil? In that case your god is not omnipotent. He is subject to evil and cannot do anything to stop it. Arminianism degenerates to Open Theism.

Charlie J. Ray said...

I'm familiar with Plantinga since I studied Christian Philosophy under Jerry Walls, who earned his PH.D. at Notre Dame.

Richard Coords said...

As I understand it, the modern 5-Point Calvinist interpretation of Romans 5 is that Romans 5 is only speaking of the Calvinistically elect who are "condemned" and the Calvinistically elect who are "justified." However, at Romans 5, two points that jump out at me are that: (1) Paul continually emphasizes that there is an equal number of those to whom "condemnation" extends, and of those to whom "justification of life" extends, and (2) it doesn't appear that Paul is trying to make a case that only certain people are condemned, but that literally the whole world stands condemned. John Calvin's commentary concedes the point that all men are indeed condemned in sin. His resolution is that "justification of life" is not secured for all, but "offered" to all.

John Calvin comments: “Paul makes grace common to all men, not because it in fact extends to all, but because it is offered to all. Although Christ suffered for the sins of the world, and is offered by the goodness of God without distinction to all men, yet not all receive Him.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Romans and Thessalonians, pp.117-118)

Calvin adds: “Hence, we conclude that, though reconciliation is offered to all through Him, yet the benefit is peculiar to the elect, that they may be gathered into the society of life. However, while I say it is offered to all, I do not mean that this embassy, by which on Paul’s testimony (II Cor 5:18) God reconciles the world to Himself, reaches to all, but that it is not sealed indiscriminately on the hearts of all to whom it comes so as to be effectual.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.149)

Calvin concludes: “It is incontestable that Christ came for the expiation of the sins of the whole world.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.149)

So the first question to resolve is this: Who does Paul say is condemned? All men, or some men? If the answer is all men, then the Calvinist is forced to agree with the Arminian, that justification is a provision for all, and not that all men are, in fact, justified, which is Universalism, and which everyone, including every Calvinist, fully knows that Arminians reject. So I can agree with John Calvin that all men are condemned, and I can agree with John Calvin that not all men are justified, but that justification extends to all men via an offer, which offer, is guaranteed by the universal provision of Calvary.

Richard Coords said...

As for permission, and God’s liability for permitting those things that He could have otherwise stopped, I like to use the example of the father of the prodigal son. Would anyone suggest that the father is morally repugnant for allowing his son to leave with his share of the inheritance, which the father could have otherwise forbade? I don’t think that any reasonable person would charge the father with moral guilt. The difference between the Calvinist and Arminian explanation, is that in the Arminian explanation, God is allowing an *independent* person to commit an unscripted act. Conversely, in the Calvinist explanation, God is allowing a *dependent* person to commit a fully scripted act. In other words, with Calvinism, everyone, both man and devil, is dependent upon God for everything that is thought and done, with the every thought, word and deed being 100% predestined, decreed and scripted. So that means that “permission” is fundamentally different between the two systems. When Calvinists speak of God permitting something, it is not a matter of God permitting something that may or may not happen, but permitting what is already decreed, and most people can readily see that this is not true permission. With Calvinism, there are no independent beings. Instead, all beings, and their actions, are an extension of God Himself, who makes every decision for them, via absolute determinism.

Richard Coords said...

One analogy that is often presented against Calvinism is the matter of the Divine Arsonist. In this illustration, God sets a building on fire, and then picks which people to rescue, while "justly" leaving the rest to perish, all for the purpose of try to look like a hero for rescuing some, even though the Divine Arsonist is the one who set the fire in the first place. The reason why this is such an effective analogy is that since Calvinism teaches that everything is scripted, it necessarily follows that the Fall is scripted too. So if Total Depravity is part of God's decree, then mankind did not accidentally fall, but were made to fall. If Calvinists wish to back-track, and say that God did not decree the Fall, then that means that God did not predestine "whatsoever comes to pass" after all, and no Calvinist will agree to that, because Calvinists have already gone on record as to saying that that would otherwise mean that God is not truly "sovereign." So that means that Calvinists are caught in a pickle. As a result, Calvinists, not Arminians, are then left to muse of over the matter of a "mystery." See for yourself:

Calvinist. R.C. Sproul, states: “But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know.” (Chosen By God, p.31)

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)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Unsripted acts? Do you mean "undetermined" acts? Well, since Arminians admit that there is depravity, how is it that the bent toward sinning does not cause men to sin? Are any acts undetermined?

Secondly, you miss the point. If God "allows" or "permits" sin, isn't that a form of predetermination as well? God COULD have NOT put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden. God could have not "allowed" the tempter into the garden. In stead, God sits back and watches when all the time it was in his power to stop evil.

Think of it this way: A life guard watches people drowning. They entered the water by their own choice. The life guard knows they are drowning and does nothing. No one would say the life guard is not culpable for not helping or saving the drowning people.

So how does free will or permission get God off the hook? What is worse, God has power over the water and causes waves and whirlpools and other things. He has the power to make the water raise or lower. He is omnipotent over nature.

So free will does not solve the problem it sets out to do.

Furthermore, you failed to distinguish between a primary cause and a remote cause of sinful actions. If a sinner commits a sin, that person is still fully responsible for their actions because they are responsible moral agents. No one can say that God made them do evil. James 1:13 ff makes that clear. Yet, God is the remote cause of all that moral agents choose to do. He is ultimately the cause but not the immediate cause.

I'm saying this to show that determinism does not remove responsibility. God is free to dispose of His creatures as He pleases and you are not His judge.

God determines some to believe by giving them the Gospel and regenerating them. Others He predetermines to reprobation to show forth His justice. Who are you to judge God or His purposes?

Also, you seem to confuse the creature with the Creator. This distinction is an absolute distinction since there is only one God. Creatures are not an extension of God since God is absolutely self existent. It is the Arminian who confuses the creature with the Creator, not the Calvinist.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

No Calvinist worth his salt would concede that grace is common to all men without exception. There is a general call of the Gospel. But there is also an effectual call. The only grace the Bible speaks of is irresistible grace.

You would need to give me the specific references to the verses Calvin is commenting on so I can confirm the context.

Richard Coords said...

For the Arminian, sin is the self-determined act of the independent being, and not God’s determined act, played out in the individual.

God could have chosen not to allow the tree in the Garden, but with Arminianism, it’s still the individual’s self-determined action to disobey, and not God choosing to disobey vicariously through them. Calvinists like Calvin and Sproul recognized the obvious problem, and deferred to mystery. Arminians need not defer to any such mystery, and that’s the difference.

You cannot ask how Arminians get God off the hook, while ignoring the very answer that Arminians give, which is shown in the illustration of the father of the prodigal son. I’ll wait until you comment of whether the father of the prodigal son was morally repugnant for allowing his son to leave with his share of the inheritance, when the father could have forbade it. It’s not fair to insist that Arminians cannot answer something, when you ignore the very answer that they give.

Charlie J. Ray said...

The third end of man's creation which is so clearly and powerfully expressed by Solomon, "The Lord hath made all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov. xvi. 4), Pighius attacks in this way. With reference to God's condemnation of the reprobate and His punishment of sin, he argues, "If we say that God in His eternal decrees had any respect to what would happen to each person after his creation, we must necessarily confess that the discrimination between the elect and the reprobate was, in the Divine mind, antecedent to the Fall of man. Whence it will follow that the reprobate are not condemned because they were ruined in Adam, but because they were already devoted to destruction even before the Fall of Adam." To this witless argument I reply, What wonder is it that Pighius should thus (to use his own expression) indiscriminately confound all things in reference to the deep judgments of God, when he knows not how to make the least distinction between remote and proximate CAUSES! After men have looked this way and that way, they can never, by so doing, fix upon the cause of their destruction, nor upon the fault that produced it. And why? because the proximate fault rests with themselves. And should they complain that the wound is inflicted on them from some other quarter, the internal sense of their mind will bind them fast to the conclusion that the evil arose from the voluntary defections and fall of the first man. I know full well that the insolence of the carnal mind cannot be prevented from immediately bawling, "If God foreknew the Fall of Adam, and yet was unwilling to apply a remedy, we are rather perishing in our innocence by His bare external decree than suffering the just punishment of our sin." And suppose we grant that nothing was in this way foreseen of God, or thus viewed by Him, the old complaint concerning original sin will still be made, and as loud as ever: "Why was not Adam left to sin for himself as a private individual, so as to bear the consequences alone? Why was he made to involve us, who deserved no such calamity, in a participation of the same ruin? Nay, under what colour of justice does God visit on us the punishment of another's fault?" But, after all has been said that can be said on the subject, the internal feeling of every man's heart continues to urge its conviction, nor will it suffer any child of Adam to absolve himself (even himself being his own judge) from the sin, the guilt, or the punishment consequent on the original transgression of Adam! Nor can anyone, in truth, raise a controversy on the matter. For as on account of the sin of one man a deadly wound was inflicted on all men, all men at once acknowledge the judgment of God thereon to be righteous!

If, then, nothing can prevent a man from acknowledging that the first origin of his ruin was from Adam, and if each man finds the proximate cause of his ruin in himself, what can prevent our faith from acknowledging afar off, with all sobriety, and adoring, with all humility, that remote secret counsel of God by which the Fall of man was thus pre-ordained? And what should prevent the same faith from beholding, at the same time, the proximate cause within; that the whole human race is individually bound by the guilt and desert of eternal death, as derived from the person of Adam; and that all are in themselves, therefore, subject to death, and to death eternal? Pighius, therefore, has not sundered, shaken, or altered (as he thought he had done) that pre-eminent and most beautiful symmetry with which these proximate and remote causes divinely harmonise!

The Eternal Predestination of God

Richard Coords said...

Regarding primary and secondary causes, the Bible provides an excellent illustration of this. Consider David and Uriah. David was the primary cause, and the secondary cause that David used was Joab, who forced Uriah to the front lines, so that upon intentionally withdrawing, he would get killed. In this, God made no distinction of primary and secondary causes, but held David directly responsible for murder. It's also like the illustration of a Hit Man. The estranged husband may order an assassin to kill his wife, but the Courts actually would hold the estranged husband as *more guilty* than the Hit Man who actually carried out the crime.

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>You cannot ask how Arminians get God off the hook, while ignoring the very answer that Arminians give, which is shown in the illustration of the father of the prodigal son. <<< The prodigal son is elect. He returns to the father. But what about all the evil in the world. The atheist says that he would not believe in a God who "allows" evil. The Arminian says that he will not believe in a God who creates evil and foreordains evil. Yet the Bible teaches that God did both. So how is your objection to the problem of evil any different from the atheist objection other than you are one step removed from the atheist?

You refuse to answer the problem of evil because you don't have one and you imagine that ignoring the problem will make it go away. :)

Why would God "allow" Hitler to murder six million Jews? Why does God "permit" wars and natural disasters that wipe out millions of people? I guess your answer is that tsunamis and wars just happen, right? :)

Charlie J. Ray said...

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isaiah 45:7 KJV)

Richard Coords said...

Good night Charlie. I've got Church in the morning. Have a good evening, and I hope that you consider the example of the father of the prodigal son, in reference to the example that I gave.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Adam and Eve sinned because God foreordained the fall. All Calvinists acknowledge this. God predetermines the end from the beginning and everything that happens along the way:

The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: (Isaiah 14:24 KJV)

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isaiah 46:9-10 KJV)

Charlie J. Ray said...

The prodigal son does not solve your problem. There are way worse examples of evil in the Bible. God allows this? See:


And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. (1 Kings 21:15 KJV)

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>but the Courts actually would hold the estranged husband as *more guilty* than the Hit Man who actually carried out the crime.<<< So, with this in mind, how does God's permitting the murder get Him off the hook for you? After all, God predetermined it and could have prevented it. So if you think the wife who hired the hitman is more culpable than the person acting it out, then it follows that God is ultimately responsible for evil as well. But you think merely permitting evil gets God off the hook? How? :)

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>God could have chosen not to allow the tree in the Garden,<<< God did not "allow" the tree in the Garden. God placed the tree in the Garden and He deliberately did so. God is then responsible for evil because He didn't have to test Adam's obedience to begin with. Stop sidestepping and own up. :)

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>It’s not fair to insist that Arminians cannot answer something, when you ignore the very answer that they give.<<< The answer is an inadequate one and that is especially true when not every evil person repents as the prodigal did. In fact, the prodigal son does not solve your dilemma. Is Hitler a prodigal "son"?

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>all for the purpose of try to look like a hero for rescuing some,<<< You're kidding, right? God does not give a rip what you think about Him. You are not His judge. He is YOUR judge and to mock His justice against mankind is to risk your own damnation. God cursed all mankind for His own eternal purposes and His own glory. His justice proves that He is God. He can do what He likes with His creatures because God is subject to no law. Law is made for man. Psalm 115:3

Charlie J. Ray said...

>>>it necessarily follows that the Fall is scripted too. So if Total Depravity is part of God's decree, then mankind did not accidentally fall, but were made to fall. If Calvinists wish to back-track, and say that God did not decree the Fall, then that means that God did not predestine "whatsoever comes to pass" after all, and no Calvinist will agree to that, because Calvinists have already gone on record as to saying that that would otherwise mean that God is not truly "sovereign." So that means that Calvinists are caught in a pickle.<<< Scripted means determined. I don't disagree that God determines all that happens, including the fall. Calvin did not deny that either....

But determination does not remove the proximate cause of evil actions, namely man's own volitional choices. God is the ultimate cause. God is responsible for the existence of evil and all that happens. Absolutely. But that does not remove man's accountability and responsibility to God. That's the part you are missing. God does not do violence to man's will.

You are not God's judge and you will find that out one day. It is stupid to judge God as He is omnipotent and will judge you. Romans 3:1-6.

Charlie J. Ray said...

"Meantime, the object of all this foul calumny maintains, as a sacred principle, that, although the reason why of the counsels of God lies hidden and unknown, nevertheless, the high praise of His justice is ever to be given to God, because His will is, and must be, the highest rule of all equity! Wherefore, let him, whosoever he may be, who desires to load the man that constantly teaches these things with so atrocious a charge, as the making God the author of sin, first take upon himself the task of proving that when those wicked men who, by crucifying Christ, did "that which the hand of God and His counsel before determined to be done," they made God a partaker of their wickedness, and involved Him in a share of their guilt! The words, "That which Thy hand and Thy counsel before determined to be done," are not the words of Calvin (let it be remembered), but of the Holy Spirit and of Peter, and of the whole Primitive Church (Acts iv. 28)." The Eternal Predestination of God, Section VII