Saturday, December 27, 2008

Congruent Election

Now I know what Richard Land was talking about, when he referenced his understanding of Election as being a “congruent election,” at the John 3:16 Conference. This principle is taken straight from the Compatibilist, Norman Geisler, who describes a “congruency between predetermination and free choice.” (p.42)

Repeatedly we are told by Geisler, that Determinism and Free Will are perfectly compatible concepts. Echoing Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, Geisler states: “God’s predestination and human free choice are a mystery, but not a contradiction. They go beyond reason, but not against reason. That is, they are not incongruous (there’s that word again), but neither can we see exactly how they are complementary. We apprehend each as true, but we do not comprehend how both are true.” (p.54) This is precisely what Spurgeon stated, when he similarly affirmed the mystery of Determinism & Free Will:

Spurgeon: “Now, have I not answered these two questions honestly? I have endeavoured to give a scriptural reason for the dealings of God with man. He saves man by grace, and if men perish they perish justly by their own fault. ‘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. And I should think in this I exhibited the power of my faith in God, that I could believe him, even when his word seemed to be contradictory. That is faith.” (Jacob & Esau)

Geisler: “There is no contradiction in God knowingly predetermining and predeterminately knowing from all eternity precisely what we would do with our free acts. For God determined that moral creatures would do things freely. He did not determine that they would be forced to perform free acts. What is forced is not free, and what is free is not forced. IN BRIEF, WE ARE CHOSEN BUT FREE.” (p.55)

This is essentially Compatibilism, and it’s certainly not Arminian, and absolutely Calvinistic, and hence Geisler refers to himself as a “Moderate Calvinist.” In contrast, Geisler refers to Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, as an “Extreme Calvinist” (p.68), for rejecting the free agency of man. However, the joke is that both are Compatibilists! Sproul decries the “equal ultimacy” of what he terms, “hyper-Calvinists” or “anti-Calvinists” (Chosen By God, p.142). Sproul is not a Hard Determinist, and for that matter, neither is Calvinist, James White, who is a self-professed Compatibilist, who wrote the “Potter’s Freedom” in refutation to Geisler’s supposed Arminianism. The whole thing is one big charade, very much like the “free choice” of Compatibilism, in which free choice is made consistent with what is Determined, by eliminating all other “free” choices to only that which just so happens to be predetermined. That is hardly consistent with the “power of contrary choice.” Here is a caricature of this notion: “Sure they have Free Will. They have the freedom to do everything that they have been predetermined to do. See, we Determinists believe in Free Will too.”

Geisler echoes Spurgeon, when he agrees with several Arminian proof-texts, but which are merely made to conform to Determinism. For while he agrees with several Arminian arguments, he simultaneously agrees with the Deterministic Calvinists by stating:

“...only those the Father preordains to do so will come to Christ (John 6:44).” (p.40)

Geisler adds: “...only those who are elect will believe, for Luke wrote that ‘all who were appointed for eternal life believed’ (Acts 13:48).” (p.17)

Geisler espouses the same views as any Calvinist would at John 1:13 (pp.51-52) and Romans 9:16 (p.52), and thus rejects Arminianism as follows: “...if God’s choice to save was based upon those who choose Him, then it would not be based upon divine grace but would be based on human decisions.” (p.51) Notice what Geisler pits grace against: human choice. And what is human choice? He then goes on to reject Irresistible Grace (pp.47-48), and none of this is contradictory mind you. The “Extreme Calvinist” gets a nice helping of John 3:16 (p.50), as well as a terrific analogy against Preterition, in the form of a farmer illustration (p.50), which was disputed by James White at youtube. However, instead of redefining Geisler’s illustration, White should have tried to defend how letting the other two boys drown, can in any way, still be a genuine act of love, compassion and kindness, because the impression that Geisler had attempted to convey, is that casual indifference is not any “kind,” “level” or “type of love.” This is why there are aspects of what Geisler had stated, that both sides of the debate can agree with.


Chris said...

I really don't understand the honesty of saying "there is no contradiction here". I used to take a similar view to Geisler and even tried to defend it. However regardless of the codewords one uses like "paradox", "mystery" etc, it is simply a contradiction. There are clearly some truths in Scripture which we cannot understand (like the fact that God has no beginning and the Trinity) but I do not believe this to be one of them.

Where do you end when it comes to accepting contradictions?

Richard Coords said...

Hey Chris,

I really like the quote from SEA's Keith Schooley in this regard:

"Mysterion, in the NT, is used for
something which God had previously kept hidden, until He chose to
reveal it (as in, for instance, His intention that Jews and Gentiles would be brought together as one people of God, Eph. 3:6). It is something like a plot twist in literature. It is not necessarily difficult to fathom; it is just unexpected, something God chose to keep hidden for a time. But "mystery" in theology is frequently used for something
unfathomable, beyond human comprehension, understandable only to God. In practice, it is used to deal with a logical contradiction within one's theology. How can God ordain sin and yet not be its author? It's
a mystery. How can He desire the salvation of all and yet ordain that most of humanity remain condemned? It's a mystery. How can He be utterly good and yet ordain actions that are utterly evil? It's a mystery. It's all too convenient. A true mysterion awaits an apokalypsis, a
revelation of God's purpose. It's not an all-purpose escape clause for when you've ground your theology into self-contradiction."