Calvinism’s View of the Origin of Sin and God’s Offer of Salvation | Part One

April 6, 2016

Ronnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK

Calvinists believe that man is free to choose according to his greatest desire. For example, Jonathan Edwards believed in what he called “strength of motive.”[i] He said concerning such, “I suppose the will is always determined by the strongest motive.”[ii] Therefore, Edwards argued that one freely chooses to act according to his “strongest motive.” Regarding the nature of free choice, he also said that it is “the ability to do what we will, or according to our pleasure.”[iii]

Consequently, according to Edwards, man’s freedom to choose is determined by his nature and his desires. In other words, man is free to choose to do his greatest desire. Of course, this is the Calvinist view of free will as defined by compatibilism.[iv] It is important to note two very important components of this view. First, the desire or nature from which the desire emanates is not chosen—i.e. a person’s past. Second, the unchosen desire is in fact determinative of what the free choice will be.

That is to say, the Calvinist believes man is free to choose according to his greatest desire but not contrarily. Therefore, his free choice is actually determined by his desire. For example, according to Edwards, sinful man will always freely choose to do his greatest desire, which is to sin. The greatest desire is a part of his nature. Fallen man will never choose to follow Christ without first having his nature changed to emanate new desires; this is the basis for the Calvinist position that regeneration precedes faith.[v]

This view of freedom also highlights the compatibilist’s inability to answer satisfactorily the question of what caused the first sin. Because if man chooses according to his greatest desire, and man chose to sin, then sin must have been his greatest desire. This leads to the disturbing question of where did the desire come from? Of course, it had to come from God since God created everything. Thus, according to Calvinism, God gave the desire, which unavoidably birthed the choice to sin, and this desire God called “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Therefore, God must have, in some very significant sense, desired for man to sin or else He would not have given him a nature or past emanating such desire (this desire being more than merely the desire to create, which all recognize), a disquieting reality. In the same way, when God desires people to be saved, He must choose to regenerate in order to give them a new nature with new desires so they will freely choose to exercise faith in Christ.

When the concept of compatibilism is applied to the first sin, the Calvinist conundrum is even more apparent because it results in Lucifer choosing to sin because of his nature or his greatest desire before sin existed. His choice could not have been from preexisting internal sin or a direct external temptation since both he and his environment were directly created by God, lest one posit God creating sin or tempting one to sin, which is impossible. Therefore, it seems inescapable that according to Calvinism, God gave Lucifer either an environment, nature, or past that would inviolably produce a desire to sin from which would come the free choice to sin, Calvinist demurring notwithstanding, a disquieting reality. For, if Calvinists respond that Lucifer (or man) could have chosen not to sin, then they are espousing libertarianism, and compatibilism becomes simply a later incongruent development of Calvinism.

Now, it is true that Calvinists are often clear and passionate about their denial that God caused sin, which I appreciate; further, they are correct to deny that Calvinism teaches that God directly caused sin, which is consistent with a compatibilist understanding of freedom. However, their answer to how this denial fits with compatibilism is inchoate and unconvincing and leads to the Calvinist retreat, “it is a mystery.” In other words, they do not usually want to implicate God in desiring, willing, or orchestrating sin, and rightfully so, but the logic of their system seems to inevitably lead to that inescapable reality. Further, you have some Calvinists who exacerbate the problem regarding God’s role in the first sin and sin in general by their avowals and beliefs regarding free choices, like Edwards and his contemporary protégés.

For example, R.C. Sproul Jr.’s comment that “every Bible-believing Christian must conclude at least that God in some sense desired that man would fall into sin…I am not accusing God of sinning; I am suggesting that he created sin.”[vi] He further “describes God as ‘the Culprit’ that caused Eve to sin in the garden.”[vii] Then there is Gordon Clark’s assessment, “As God cannot sin, so in the next place, God is not responsible for sin, even though he decrees it.”[viii] Again, Clark in response to Arminians asseverates, “I wish very frankly and pointedly to assert that if a man gets drunk and shoots his family, it was the will of God that he should do so …. In Ephesians 1:11 Paul tells us that God works all things, not some things only, after the counsel of his own will.”[ix] Contrary to Clark, Ephesians does not say that God wills—determinatively desires—everything, but rather that “he works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).

Part Two Coming Soon!

 

 

[i] Jonathan Edwards, Freedom of the Will (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), 143.
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid., 11.
[iv] Succinctly, compatibilism believes that determinism and moral responsibility are compatible; such compatibility is accomplished by defining moral freedom to exist when one chooses to do what he desires. This compatibility does nothing to lessen the deterministic nature of compatibilism any more than that found in raw determinism.
[v] Such change may be called renovation, quickening, or regeneration.
[vi] David L. Allen and Steve W. Lemke, eds., Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism, (Nashville, B&H Academic, 2010), 148.
[vii] Ibid.
[viii] Ibid., 292.
[ix] Ibid.

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Andrew Barker

Ronnie: Thanks again for taking this subject head on! It would appear that RC Sproul Jr’s comment … “every Bible-believing Christian must conclude at least that God in some sense desired that man would fall into sin…” does not take Matt 18:7 into consideration. Either that or Sproul Jr thinks that God holds us to a higher standard than he holds himself!

Gordon Clark’s comment on Eph 1:11 is also another example of the propensity of some to quote half a verse of scripture. God does not determine everything, period! He determines everything after the counsel of his will. If we look at what God’s will is, in relation to salvation, it is not an unconditional decision to save some or an unqualified ‘all’ for that matter. It is to save ALL those who come to Him through faith.

    Ronnie W Rogers

    Hello Andrew

    You said “God does not determine everything, period! He determines everything ‘after the counsel of his will.’ It is to save all who come to Him through faith.”’

    I agree. Calvinist do not believe that God works things according to His will any more than we do, but rather the disagreement is what His will comprehends. Seems odd to me now, but as a Calvinist, I became so inclined to read determinism and unconditional election into everything, that determinism and unconditional election became the only possible ideas that could immerge from such statements as Ephesians 1:11.

    Thanks for your kind words and insights

      Andrew Barker

      Ronnie: I’ve been thinking this through and come to conclusion that you’ve lost me at this point. “Calvinist do not believe that God works things according to His will any more than we do, but rather the disagreement is what His will comprehends.” I’m not quite sure what you mean by the phrase “what His will comprehends”. I certainly get the impression that many Calvinists simply believe that God has determined what will be and that’s that.

        Ronnie W Rogers

        Andrew, I am sorry for the confusion. Let me try again. Calvinists are very adamant that God works everything according to His will, which is often suggestive that Extensivists, given libertarian freedom, do not believe God is working according to His will, but is in fact at times passive in the presence of man’s will.

        Thus, my comment is that we believe God does do His will, but we also believe His will is not limited to everything being determined. Man as a libertarian free being is not a force outside of God’s will, but is in fact a component of God’s will i.e. comprehended in God’s will.

        To wit, Extensivists agree with Calvinists that God’s will is carried out, but we believe endowing man with libertarian freedom is a part of that will, whereas Calvinists do not—everything is determined. There are no contingencies. They simply do not believe that His will includes otherwise choice and we do.

        I hope this clarifies. Thanks for giving me a chance to comment, and hopefully I did not blow it.

          Scott Shaver

          “Let me try again. Calvinists are very adamant that God works everything according to His will….” R. Rogers.

          I agree. My problem lies with the fact (not scripturally unsupported) that they (“Calvinists”) also erroneously think they have a methodology, template for ascertaining, understanding and explaining the INFINITE “will of God”.

          Consequently, the potential for error (scripturally, ethically, practically) is astronomical.

          Andrew Barker

          Indeed it does. Clarifies that is!

Lydia

“That is to say, the Calvinist believes man is free to choose according to his greatest desire but not contrarily. Therefore, his free choice is actually determined by his desire. For example, according to Edwards, sinful man will always freely choose to do his greatest desire, which is to sin. The greatest desire is a part of his nature. Fallen man will never choose to follow Christ without first having his nature changed to emanate new desires; this is the basis for the Calvinist position that regeneration precedes faith.[v]”

This is what I could never understand. If humans never choose to follow Christ and their nature has to be changed first for this new desire, then how come the humans’snature was not changed to desire other good things like not burning dissenters at the stake or drowning re-baptizers or protecting pedophiles? It makes no sense that changing the nature for new desires would not result in better fruit.

    Andrew Barker

    Lydia: This change of heart or desire also has other rather odd consequences. Before this change, the natural man is viewed as only being able to do evil. He cannot by definition choose the good. However, when the ‘change’ of heart/desire is made it results in the ability to respond to God in a positive fashion. However, as you mention it does not appear to result in any inability to sin, since it is quite evident that we do unfortunately continue to sin.

    What the compatibilist has therefore argued for is the situation where the natural man who can only do wrong is changed (by God) into the ‘new man’ who can do both wrong and right! Yet they will still argue that God is right to condemn the natural man who cannot do anything else according to his nature, but sin, but will pardon the ‘new’ man who could do something about sinning, but still doesn’t. You wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of this compatibilist God’s choice would you!

      Lydia

      “What the compatibilist has therefore argued for is the situation where the natural man who can only do wrong is changed (by God) into the ‘new man’ who can do both wrong and right! Yet they will still argue that God is right to condemn the natural man who cannot do anything else according to his nature, but sin, but will pardon the ‘new’ man who could do something about sinning, but still doesn’t. You wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of this compatibilist God’s choice would you!”

      Yes, this is often the realization that turns some of the more fervent young Calvinists into eventual atheists or Unitarians. I have met a few. The sad part is they could not get past the determinism.

Les

Thanks Ronnie. As I think this through, I do have a clarifying question. Is it your position that man’s libertarian free choices are *uncaused*? And if yes, is this view talking only about moral choices?

Thanks Ronnie.

    Les

    Also Ronnie, as I think all this through, do you believe that natural man can come to faith in Christ without ANY help/action by God? i.e. does natural man have total free will to believe in Christ apart from some action by God?

    Thanks brother.

      Robert

      Les,
      From reading Ronnie’s book and observing his comments here at SBC today it seems that he has the same view that I have requiring the necessity of God working in the person before they are saved. I call this the preconversion work of the Spirit and it includes things such as convicting the sinner of their sin, revealing Christ to them (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3), showing them they need to repent of their sin and turn to Christ to save them, showing them that Jesus is the only way of salvation, etc. etc. Both of us would also point to Jn. 6:44 that says a person cannot come to Christ unless drawn first. We would say this drawing is the preconversion work of the Spirit that enables but does not necessitate a faith response. Les you have heard this all before so I am wondering why you are asking about this?

      Les

      Thanks Robert. I know we have plowed this ground in some manner before. But it is still confusing to me so I am seeking clarifications. Since we are in the realm of logic and philosophy of what exactly LFW is or is not, I want to make sure I understand the position as best I can. So when I see a statement like “Thus, being the efficient cause means that man is endowed with origination (he can initiate a new sequence of events…” I wonder on what this is based and what the results of such a position are.

      BTW I repled to Ronnie’s reply but it is in moderation.

        Robert

        Les,

        You wrote:

        “Since we are in the realm of logic and philosophy of what exactly LFW is or is not, I want to make sure I understand the position as best I can. So when I see a statement like “Thus, being the efficient cause means that man is endowed with origination (he can initiate a new sequence of events…”

        Les here is an illustration that shows what Ronnie is talking about.

        Imagine a ball that is being driven by the wind so that it has to roll just in front of you. The ball’s direction and action is driven by the wind and the ball has no choice as to where it is going (that is determinism, a cause necessitates some sort of action). The ball is driven deterministically so that it ends up rolling right in front of you. Now you, unlike the ball, have free will, that means you have choices regarding your actions. So the ball rolls in front of you as it has to because it is determined in its action. Now when the ball rolls in front of you, you having free will, now have some choices/options. You can ignore the ball and just let it roll by. You can choose to kick the ball. You can choose to pick up the ball. All of your choices originate from you, none of them are determined by some cause outside of you. The ball’s action is completely determined, your choices are not, they are up to you. The ball rolls in front of you, but your choices are up to you and when you make such a choice you “initiate a new sequence of events” in the world. This illustration should make clearer the difference between a being that determined (the ball by the wind) and a being that has free will (you making a choice about what you will or will not do regarding the ball).

        Les

        Robert,

        That’s a good illustration. It helps me understand the LFW thinking more. But, it begs a question. Why do I pick up the ball? Or not? Why would I kick it instead of either of the other two? Maybe I have a knife and I puncture it. But why? Does LFW posit that there is zero motivation or desire in me to make one of the several options?

          Robert

          Les,

          “That’s a good illustration. It helps me understand the LFW thinking more.”

          Baby steps, :-) we have to walk you through this slowly. Now you understand there is a difference between a thing that is acted upon by forces that determine its behavior and a person who has and makes their own choices. Proponents of LFW also believe that people do things or make their choices for reasons. We may not agree, we may not like another person’s reasons, but this does not change the fact they make choices for reasons in line with what is important to them. I call these “importances”, whenever we make a choice we do so with something that we consider important.

          “But, it begs a question. Why do I pick up the ball? Or not? Why would I kick it instead of either of the other two? Maybe I have a knife and I puncture it. But why? Does LFW posit that there is zero motivation or desire in me to make one of the several options?”

          Common Les your last question is almost intentionally dense, of course we make our choices for reasons. The standard view of those who believe in agent causation is that we always make our choices for reasons. Each choice has its own reasons for being chosen. In philosophy they have whole discussions of the ethics involved in choosing, why make this choice and not the other, what morality is attached to various choices.

          And we can see this with the ball illustration as well. One reason for leaving the ball alone is that at that moment you are lazy and just don’t want to do anything to or with that ball. If that ball happens to belong to your child or grandchild, you may choose to pick it up so it does not get lost (especially if you bought the child that ball! :-) ). You may choose to kick the ball because you are in a whimsical mood! :-) You might choose to puncture that ball if it belongs to an enemy and you so detest them that you choose to puncture their ball! :-) Etc. Etc. etc. Whatever choice you make is normally done for reasons.

          Even in extreme cases people choose to do what they do for reasons. Take a terrorist for example, one who is a suicide bomber. He values his/her life, values his wife and children, etc. etc.. He also values his cause, values his opposition to Israel or the US. When he kills himself with that bomb he does it for reasons. You or I may not agree with those reasons, condone those reasons, but that is not what matters, what matters is what is important to him when he makes his choices. And we all operate like this.

          That is why for example, when someone commits a crime, a common question is “why did you do it?’ Meaning what reasons were important to you when you committed the crime.

          Again, Les I strongly doubt that you don’t know any of this. Seems to me that you are just trying to set up some sort of argument. You understand LFW just fine, you just want to argue against it or make fun of it. That’s OK, it is inescapably true for you just like the rest of us that you have and make your own choices and you do so for reasons just like everyone else. In your case you attack LFW and make fun of it, because your Calvinism/determinism is important to you. As long as that is true, you have your reasons for attacking non-Calvinistic thinking (including non-Calvinistic thinking regarding LFW). :-)

          Les

          Robert,

          Yes baby steps are good. I surely need them. My thing is since when will fallen man desire Christ? How is that so since he is a God hater?

          Ronnie says, “Consequently, according to Edwards, man’s freedom to choose is determined by his nature and his desires.”

          So, in regards to salvation, his can a lost person by nature and one who hates God desire to choose Christ? He has available options to him. He can choose eternal death or he can choose eternal life? Why does he make a choice for one over the other assuming in the LFW non Cal position, he can understand fully his options?

          This is what I am looking for from the non Cal, LFW position. All the other about picking up the ball or not, or which socks I choose today are not relevant IMO to the spiritual decision.

            Andrew Barker

            Les: You quote Ronnie as saying … “Consequently, according to Edwards, man’s freedom to choose is determined by his nature and his desires.”
            You then ask an ancillary question … “So, in regards to salvation, his can a lost person by nature and one who hates God desire to choose Christ?” Which just goes to show that you don’t read all of Ronnie’s comment on Edwards’ position which was given as ” This view of freedom also highlights the compatibilist’s inability to answer satisfactorily the question of what caused the first sin. Because if man chooses according to his greatest desire, and man chose to sin, then sin must have been his greatest desire.”

            Ronnie has already shown the deficiency in the compatibilist’s position, so it becomes a nonsense when you start posing questions based on the “desire to choose Christ” or not! The reason you don’t get anywhere in the LFW discussion is because you fail to engage properly. It’s as though you completely ignore what Ronnie has said.

              Les

              Keep searching brother. Maybe you’ll be able to figure it out some day. :)

            Robert

            Les,

            I am disappointed you are regressing to the Les of the past, the Les that I did not respect and who asked questions not to know but in order to argue.

            “Yes baby steps are good. I surely need them. My thing is since when will fallen man desire Christ? How is that so since he is a God hater?”

            Couple problems here. First, the nonbeliever in his unbelieving state may rebel against God and some even seem to hate God (e.g. Richard Dawkins, the new atheists) but you question is when will the fallen man desire Christ? Well he won’t desire Christ or desire to become a believer until the Holy Spirit works in his heart and mind (again what I call the preconversion work of the Spirit in which he reveals Christ to a person, convicts a person of their sin, etc.).

            But here is the fundamental disagreement (one you know already and yet you keep poking at as if things will change on this): for the Calvinist when the Spirit works in this way it is irresistible, the person who experiences this work of the Spirit will become a believer by necessity (because it is deterministic). For the non-Calvinist this work of the Spirit is resistible (as the person has free will they can and sometimes do resist the work of the Spirit). Put in the language of theology, one side believes in irresistible grace and the other does not, instead believes that the grace of God can be resisted
            .
            [[Ronnie says, “Consequently, according to Edwards, man’s freedom to choose is determined by his nature and his desires.”
            So, in regards to salvation, his can a lost person by nature and one who hates God desire to choose Christ? He has available options to him. He can choose eternal death or he can choose eternal life? Why does he make a choice for one over the other assuming in the LFW non Cal position, he can understand fully his options?]]

            And you have asked this question before and had it answered before: people have different responses to the gospel when it is presented (and this includes differing reasons for rejecting it: Jesus said this clearly in the parable of the sower, some reject because the cares of the world, some reject because they are deceived by Satan, some seem to accept until persecution comes). So we have explicit Bible verses telling us there are differing responses to the gospel. If we do any evangelism we see this as well. A very common reason for rejection is because people want to maintain “control” over their lives so they do not want Jesus to be Lord or master over them.

            “This is what I am looking for from the non Cal, LFW position. All the other about picking up the ball or not, or which socks I choose today are not relevant IMO to the spiritual decision.”

            See these comments bother me. Because at first you ask questions, when I answer those questions with a simple illustration now you change the subject and say it is not “all the other about picking up the ball or not”. This is disingenuous on your part, you ask a question and I answer it. Now you say it really wasn’t about that. This is how skeptics operate, they ask questions **not to know the answer** or to **understand a view better**. No, their purpose is to argue against it, to set you up for further questions. This **appears** to be all that you are doing Les. The comments about wanting to understand the non-Calvinistic view were not sincere. You were merely trying to set up other arguments. You understand the non-Calvinistic view and you reject it and that is fine and understandable as you hold to determinism. But this talk of wanting to understand the non-Calvinistic view on free will is not sincere at all.

            Les

            Robert,

            I’m sorry if my statement about the balls illustration offended you. That was not mu intent. I also was not trying to change the subject. I was simply trying to bring the discussion back to the spiritual choice to repent and believe. I truly do not see LFW in the scriptures and do not see how it is compatible with man in his fallen state.

            Please see my last reply to Ronnie when it comes out of moderation. That may explain better where we are missing each other.

              Robert

              Les,

              You wrote/claimed/asserted:

              “I truly do not see LFW in the scriptures”

              Anywhere in the scriptures where you see a person or persons who have a choice and then make a choice where at least two different options were involved: you are seeing LFW.

              If a person has a choice and then makes a choice they are experiencing LFW.

              In determinism in contrast a person makes a choice, HE JUST NEVER HAS A CHOICE!!!!

              Les

              Robert, people making a choice does not demonstrate LFW. LFW adherents assert it does. But it does not. Reformed Compatiblism does not acknowledge that fallen man has as one of his options of choice, to choose Jesus. Something about the fallen man must change, by God, and then he will choose Jesus.

                Robert

                Les,

                This response is why I am just about done with you and your intentional disregard of what proponents of LFW say.

                You wrote:

                “Robert, people making a choice does not demonstrate LFW. LFW adherents assert it does. But it does not.”

                You have completely disregarded what I said. It was very short and very simple. I will explain it one more time.

                In determinism a person MAKES A CHOICE but they NEVER HAVE A CHOICE (this is true because some sort of necessitating factor forces them to make the choice that they make, this necessitating factor causes them to choose one option and makes the choosing of another option impossible, various determinists have proposed various candidates for this necessitating factor, some claim it is our genes, others our brains, others our environment, others our sin nature, others our “greatest desire”).

                In LFW the person ****BOTH**** HAS A CHOICE and they MAKE A CHOICE. Having a choice means they really can choose either option (conversely if they cannot choose either option they do not HAVE A CHOICE).

                I never claimed that the mere making of a choice demonstrates the presence of LFW (because in determinism you can make a choice, you just never HAVE A CHOICE). I made it clear that in LFW not only does the person make a choice they also have a choice. Les you are being intentionally obtuse.

                “Reformed Compatiblism does not acknowledge that fallen man has as one of his options of choice, to choose Jesus. Something about the fallen man must change, by God, and then he will choose Jesus.”

                OK, let’s assume that you are correct that the fallen man cannot choose Jesus unless something about the fallen man must change.

                It does not follow from that (even if it were true) that this fallen man does not experience LFW. In their daily lives they HAVE AND MAKE all sorts of choices. For instance they choose which sins to commit or not commit, how often to commit them, etc. etc.

                Now you could argue from the fallen man’s condition that he does not have the choice to trust in Jesus within his range of choices: but that only means THAT choice is not within his range of choices. That does not mean that in other areas the same persons has and makes choices.
                For most of us, presumably, we could not choose to torture our own children, so that choice is not within our range of choices, but it does not follow from the fact that we cannot make that choice that in other areas of our life we do not have and make our own choices.

                This is a major problem in your thinking Les: you make the mistake of believing and arguing that if a person cannot make a particular choice, it follows that LFW does not exist for that person at all. That is irrational, not having one particular choice within your range of choices does not mean that you never experience LFW.

                Les

                Robert,

                I am not trying to be difficult. But my focus—where I want to drill down, is on the one choice of all choices. Man choosing to repent and believe. The choice of socks, etc. we all make every day, we all agree are not neutral. They flow from what we want. last night I took my wife out for her birthday dinner. Among several factors for what I chose to order was what particular food I wanted at that moment. My desire.

                But, on the choice of all choices, I just do not see neutrality (not saying you said that) and I do not see man as having the option to choose Christ, or the desire since he is born at enmity with God, unless and until his nature is changed by God. Then, then he has that choice among the other option to not repent and he will choose to repent and believe. As Turretin said,

                “The Spirit does not force the will and carry it on unwillingly to conversion, but glides most sweetly into the soul (although in a wonderful and ineffable manner, still most suitably to the will) and operates by an infusion of supernatural habits by which it is freed little by little from its innate depravity, so to become willing from unwilling and living from dead. The will so renewed and acted upon immediately acts, converting itself to God and believing. (II. 524)”

                Les

                Robert, I replied to your 08-04-2016, 13:13 comment a minute ago. For some unknown reason some of my comments get thru and some go to moderation.

      Scott Shaver

      Why is LFW (“libertarian free will”) first on deck.

      Les

      Perhaps readers should examine first the fallacy of finite human beings (saved or lost) having the capacity in any way to apprehend or explain both the rationale and logistics of God’s operation or exhaustive goals in time-less eternity.

      Cart before the horse. Like it or not, “libertarian free will” exists along with the attendant evils thereof. Ultimately, following your Calvinist-persuaded logic, God was the cause of the Oklahoma City bombing, Charlie Hebdo in Paris, …….plug in any ominous newspaper headline you desire.

        Les

        Scott, first on the deck by whom? Not me. Read the OP.

    Ronnie W Rogers

    Hello Les

    Thanks for your comments, and I have included both in this response.

    You said, “Is it your position that man’s libertarian free choices are *uncaused*? And if yes, is this view talking only about moral choices?”

    NO, they are caused. I believe there are two dimensions of this causation. First, libertarian free choices are caused by the person who is created in the image of God, which includes him being created as the efficient cause of his choices, sometimes referred to as agent causation.

    Thus, being the efficient cause means that man is endowed with origination (he can initiate a new sequence of events unlike compatibilism, which only encompasses voluntarism); accordingly, one need look no further for the genesis of a decision or action than the morally free person. Such decisions can of course be heavily influenced by other variables, but the person is the efficient cause, and therefore, quite understandably responsible.

    No, libertarian freedom is not only limited to moral choices. Also, the change in the range of options (such as precipitated by the fall, seasons of life, what family a person is born into etc., do not eradicate nor diminish the existence of libertarian freedom).

    Second, the ultimate or originating cause for the existence of such a force as libertarian free beings, and therefore, libertarian free choices is God. God caused such a force to exist by His free and sovereign choice to endow man thusly, and comprehended such an operative force within His creative/redemptive plan.

    Being thusly created, such a force possessing origination is not, in its existence, contrary to nor outside of God’s sovereignty or plan, but rather by His design an inextricable component. He, being the sovereign, decided on its existence, range of options, and can and does override such freedom when He deems such to be necessary—the thought of kings who use their freedom to extend their power or sin further than He desires is a lucid example.

    You said, “do you believe that natural man can come to faith in Christ without ANY help/action by God? i.e. does natural man have total free will to believe in Christ apart from some action by God?”

    NO, I do not. I believe the Scripture portrays God giving creative and redemptive grace. Adam and Eve were created by God with a true desire on God’s part for them to always choose righteousness; accordingly, through creative grace they were sufficiently endowed to do so.

    However, subsequent to the fall (I believe in total depravity, extensively speaking, which includes the range of options available to fallen man on his own), creative grace is insufficient for man to come to God; although the fall did not totally eradicated all of man’s sensibilities regarding God (Genesis. 3:8-10; Romans 1:18).

    Thus, God had to supply grace beyond creative grace, and that is what I call redemptive grace. Of course, this was not an afterthought of God, but rather totally comprehended in His eternal creative/redemptive plan. I refer to these sufficiently liberating acts of grace as grace-enablements (see a list of them @ http://www.ronniewrogers.com/2015/01/26/anyone-and-everyone-can-be-saved-by-grace/).

    While they are sufficiently enabling for fallen man to choose to believe while still in a lost state, they are by God’s sovereign choice and design not causative. Actually, if one so chooses to finally walk away from God’s work of grace-enablement, He does so with a true knowledge of who Christ is and what He was offered; I would understand this to be the unpardonable sin.

    Thanks Les, and I hope this answers your questions.

      Les

      Thank you Ronnie. Couple of followups for further clarification?

      “He, being the sovereign, decided on its existence, range of options, and can and does override such freedom when He deems such to be necessary.” So is it agreeable to you that man then does not have TOTAL libertarian free will, since God controls the range of options?

      “Adam and Eve were created by God with a true desire on God’s part for them to always choose righteousness; accordingly, through creative grace they were sufficiently endowed to do so.” Always choose righteousness? Then where dd their desire to disobey God come from?

      “Thus, God had to supply grace beyond creative grace, and that is what I call redemptive grace. Of course, this was not an afterthought of God, but rather totally comprehended in His eternal creative/redemptive plan. I refer to these sufficiently liberating acts of grace as grace-enablements”

      So is it fair to say (and agree with Calvinists) that man in his natural state does not possess libertarian free will regarding his salvation, unless and until God acts upon/in such a natural person?

      Thanks Ronnie.

        Ronnie W Rogers

        Hello Les

        You said, “So is it agreeable to you that man then does not have TOTAL libertarian free will, since God controls the range of options?”

        No. Libertarian freewill by definition means that man, given the same past, can choose within the range of options available, and whatever he did in fact choose, he could have chosen otherwise. Thus, libertarian freedom is either total or non-existent; to wit, there is no total or partial libertarian free moral agent.

        Total (or being a completely libertarian free being) does not mean that one must have the same options as others, or as he once did, or will have in the future for his libertarian freedom to be considered total. Additionally, total (complete) does not mean one can, or ever has to be able to do anything in order to be said to be in possession of libertarian freedom.

        That is a misunderstanding of libertarianism. To wit, the possession of libertarian freedom never entails the ability to do anything (absolute), but rather that one is able to choose between the options he has (the limitation or expanse of such does not change the nature of libertarian freedom), given the same past, and whatever one chooses he could have chosen otherwise.

        Thus, Adam had libertarian freedom and so does fallen man, but the available options are different in each scenario, but the latter is not a partial libertarian freedom. This is the best and most accurate way to speak of libertarian freedom because it is never absolute—can do anything one might want e.g. fly.

        You said, “Adam and Eve were created by God with a true desire on God’s part for them to always choose righteousness….Then where did their desire to disobey God come from?

        The nature of libertarian freedom is that it entails the ability to truly choose between various options, and in this case, to choose righteousness or sin. Thus, the efficient cause (libertarian endowed individual) can choose right (God’s desire for man as expressed throughout the Scripture) or choose wrong.

        The choice of right is what God desired man to choose, and sin is the misuse of God’s gift of otherwise choice. The desire does not emanate from determinative antecedents like compatibilism, but rather it arises within the constellation of desires, non-determinative motives (even conflicting ones), various moods, reasons, feelings, options, etc., of the agent endowed with libertarian freedom at the time of deliberation; although, the past may surely, and does, influence such, it is not causative.

        Calvinists often have a difficult time grasping this because they view it through a compatible lens, but the two perspectives are mutually exclusive; accordingly, they must be only viewed through what seems to be the normal pattern of Scripture. The error here is similar to libertarians who view compatibilism through the lens of libertarian, and therefore, wrongly conclude that compatibilism does not entail a free choice.

        Thus, the distinction is that compatibilism entails voluntary action, but it does not entail origination, and libertarian entails both; consequently, a libertarian being can originate a new desire (as a part of a new sequence of events) whereas compatibilism cannot.

        You said, “So is it fair to say (and agree with Calvinists) that man in his natural state does not possess libertarian free will regarding his salvation, unless and until God acts upon/in such a natural person?”

        He still possess libertarian freedom, but the ability to relate to God on his own like Adam is lost i.e. it is not within the range of options available to him because he is so corrupted by the fall; hence, the absolute need of grace-enablements or redemptive grace.

        The difference, as I see it, between Calvinism and Extensivism, is not that they do not both necessitate God’s initiation, and even superintending, but rather that such is causative in Calvinism and is non-causally enabling in Extensivism. This is due to our different views of the original nature of man (compatibilism vs. libertarian) rather than the severity of the fall, whether one believes in TD as I do.

        Thank you Les, and I appreciate your desire to understand the distinctions between the two perspectives—not always easy to glean.

        Have a great day, and sorry for the delayed response.

        Les

        Ronnie,

        Thank you for your reply. I now see, perhaps I’ve just missed it before, that you are talking about LFW choices within a limited range of options.

        You said, “He still possess libertarian freedom, but the ability to relate to God on his own like Adam is lost i.e. it is not within the range of options available to him because he is so corrupted by the fall; hence, the absolute need of grace-enablements or redemptive grace.”

        And here, it seems to me, is the sticking point. Fallen man’s range of options in relating (having a relationship) with God are limited. I think we agree here. Fallen man in his natural state cannot have a relationship with God unless and until God acts. I think we agree on that. But when God by His Spirit acts in some manner upon/in the fallen person, we diverge. We may also diverge on the depth of depravity. i.e. the spiritual abilities remains in fallen man. Maybe not. Not sure your view of TD.

        We compatibilists believe that there is no range of options available to fallen man that included choosing Christ part from God enabling fallen man to do so. Once man is enabled by God to choose Christ, we believe that man will always choose Jesus and paradise over death, hell, destruction and Satan. We believe that man is spiritually blinded but when he the scales are removed, and he can see Jesus in all His beauty and glory, he now understands and will freely choose Jesus.

        We do not believe that God forces a choice on man. We do not believe that man does not have a real choice. But as I said, once given sight and freed from the bondage of sin, man freely chooses Jesus. Hence compatibilism. God acting on man, and in a way BTW that man didn’t ask for in his God hating condition, and having even decreed who would eventually be saved is compatible with the call to “come unto me” freely.

        God bless Ronnie.

          Ronnie w Rogers

          Hello Les

          You are correct that we do agree that fallen man cannot be restored to God apart from God acting first. However, we do not necessarily diverge regarding the power of the Holy Spirit brought to bear or the depth of depravity; although, it often appears to most that we do. Actually, as I see it, the disagreement is regarding the nature of man as created by God. That is to say, what is necessary to provide the opportunity for salvation within compatibilism is different (requires a new past, nature) than that of giving the opportunity to believe within libertarian (conviction of the Holy Spirit, drawing, call etc.). The new nature is only required in libertarian freedom after salvation.

          You said, “And here, it seems to me, is the sticking point. Fallen man’s range of options in relating (having a relationship) with God are limited. I think we agree here.

          Although Calvinists speak of a “range of options” in choosing, there is never an actual and accessible option other than the one the person chooses according to compatibilism. Thus, the lost, according to Calvinism, always chooses to reject God, which is not due to the depth of the depravity per se, but rather the effect of TD upon a compatibly free man.

          His nature or past determined that he would freely choose to sin, and in that choice his nature and past was changed to only reject God. Thus, he must be changed again for him to believe; hence, quickening prior to faith.

          Within compatibilism, it is always, in every situation, a predetermined free choosing without a choice to have done differently in the moral moment of decision; thus, libertarianism includes actual accessible options that can be chosen, but that does not exist in Compatibilism, at any time. Even what you are choosing at this moment to believe, may feel like the result of choosing between options, but it is not according to compatibilism. I know this kind of determinism is hard to grasp, but it is an accurate picture of compatibilism and therefore Calvinism.

          You said, “We compatibilists believe that there is no range of options available to fallen man that included choosing Christ part from God enabling fallen man to do so. Once man is enabled by God to choose Christ, we believe that man will always choose Jesus and paradise over death, hell, destruction and Satan.”

          Yes, this is correct, but insufficient. First, the enabling is not mearly an enabling but an inviolable changing. Again, the concept of range of options (actually accessible actions different than the one chooses at the moral moment of decision) does not exist in compatibilism. To wit, there was no range of options available to Adam than the one he chose, no range of options to fallen man than to reject God (and this includes even whether he likes green beans or not), and once, according to Calvinism, the elect are “enabled by God to choose Christ, we believe that man will always choose Jesus….” They not only “will” choose, but they cannot not choose because they have no other options; thus, the micro-determinism of Calvinism.

          Yes, they will choose to freely believe, as determined by God changing their nature, but they cannot do anything else but believe. Even as a Christian, they have no range of options that are actually accessible. This is what I desire Calvinists to make clear to themselves and others, lest the Calvinists sound so libertarian that he confuses himself and others.?

          You said, “We believe that man is spiritually blinded but when he the scales are removed, and he can see Jesus in all His beauty and glory, he now understands and will freely choose Jesus.”

          Yes, this is true, but only trivially so because he cannot not choose Jesus, which is actually not due to being enamored with Jesus per se, but rather because God changed the nature, past, which determinatively resulted in the desire to freely choose Christ. Additionally, this only leads you back to the problem of why did Adam who was not spiritually blinded, saw God’s glory and beauty, and yet chose sin. Compatibilism and libertarian give two mutually exclusive answers.

          You said, “We do not believe that God forces a choice on man. We do not believe that man does not have a real choice.”

          Yes, technically, the act of choosing is not forced, but it is free according to compatibilism. However, it is equally true that the nature or past from which the desire, from which the free choice emanates is forced against sinful man’s choice, nature, desires etc. this as Calvinists often argue that fallen man will always choose against God until the quickening (see my last article Decoding Calvinism). Consequently, there is a forced, monergistic, action of God that results in a new nature emanating a new desire from which man freely chooses within compatibilism and Calvinism.

          You said, “having even decreed who would eventually be saved is compatible with the call to “come unto me” freely.”

          Just for my own sake, I trust that you know using “compatible” in the way you have used it in this post, while not contradictory to compatibilism, it is also neither reflective of its actually meaning and entailments of determinism. I think this kind of talk confuses people unnecessarily.

          I hope I have made it clear through my writings on this site that I consider Calvinism to be within orthodoxy, and that I love my Calvinist brothers and sisters; however, I do ask that all of you speak more clearly about these issues so that everyone, including Calvinists, can understand all that is involved.

          Now to your statement, yes, what you have said is true, but it is only trivially true. That is to say, while the call may be “come,” “whosoever”, such is absolutely not accessible to those who hear, particularly the non-elect, but also the elect until God monergistically changes them. So the question is not is it “compatible,” but rather is it meaningful. The answer is no since consistent with Calvinism as you said “We compatibilists believe that there is no range of options available to fallen man that included choosing Christ part from God enabling fallen man to do so.” It is impossible. I would even argue that it is deceptive.

          Please when you proclaim Christ, make it known to the hearer that there is no real “option” to come unless God regenerates them, which act is reserved for the elect, so that they do not mistake you to believe they have an actually accessible choice.

          You are correct in saying Calvinism teaches that man has a “real choice,” but it is not a choice between accessible options, which I what I think Calvinists need to make as clear as they do the more palatable aspects of Calvinism.

          Thanks Les

          Les

          Thanks Ronnie. A lot to digest when I get back to my computer.

          But your last comment provokes a question. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I read you saying that at the point of God acting in/on a fallen sinner the sinner has otherwise choice. He can choose by his will to repent and believe. Or he can choose not to. Is that correct?

          So when I professed Christ back in 1983 on that day when I actually did repent and believe, I legitimately had other options and actually could have rejected Jesus. Is that according to what you believe?

          If it is, then what of God’s knowledge of all things that ever have been or ever will be? How does your view fit with His perfect knowledge of what happens in the future?

          Thanks Ronnie

        Les

        Ronnie, I just replied to you at 08-04-2016, 11:59. But any sort of long comments by me go into moderation. I assume they will show up eventually.

      Andrew Barker

      Ronnie: I note your answer to the question: “do you believe that natural man can come to faith in Christ without ANY help/action by God? i.e. does natural man have total free will to believe in Christ apart from some action by God?” I would like to add that this type of question is really a non-question because it assumes something which is false to start with. I’m not sure which fallacy it will come under, but I’m sure someone somewhere will know. The point being that God in his mercy right from the beginning acted to bring about the salvation of all those who will put their faith in Him. So there is never a time when we can argue whether or not we can be saved without help/action by God because that possibility just doesn’t exist. God acted right at the beginning of time itself. Further more, throughout scripture God is seen as the one who takes the initiative. God spoke …. men listened. Thankfully, some of them heard and obeyed. But nobody can claim credit for inventing their own salvation. It seems to me that it is God who is looking and seeking and we are left with the choice of whether to respond or not. The word is near you, it is in your mouth and in your heart …. how much closer does a person need it to be?

      Les

      Ronnie, I have a longer reply in moderation. But till then, one other question. You said, “I believe in total depravity.”

      Do you think that natural man, apart from some action by God directly, can understand/discern spiritual things (not intellectual as we all agree that is so)?

      Thanks

    Robert

    Les,
    I can answer this question as well because Ronnie and I agree on the nature of libertarian free will: “I do have a clarifying question. Is it your position that man’s libertarian free choices are *uncaused*?”

    The answer is that the cause is the person themselves.

    If you want to see a good example, consider God when he makes choices and is acting freely. The choice that He makes is caused by Him. It is not caused by antecedent factors that necessitate the choice (as is true in determinism). There is not a chain of causes that flows through and forces Him to make His choice. No, the choice comes from Him. He is the source of the choice, the cause of the choice. This is the nature of having and making a choice when acting freely. The person considers their available alternatives and then that person makes the choice actualizing one option and not the other. When God had the choice to create the universe, he had two choices, to create or not to create. When he chose to create the choice came from Him and He is the cause of His own choice. If you can understand that example you can also understand how it works with us as well. Again, Les, you have been through this before, so I am wondering why you want to go through it again?

Lydia

‘Before this change, the natural man is viewed as only being able to do evil. He cannot by definition choose the good. However, when the ‘change’ of heart/desire is made it results in the ability to respond to God in a positive fashion. However, as you mention it does not appear to result in any inability to sin, since it is quite evident that we do unfortunately continue to sin.”

The converse is that many unbelievers often do good and even work to protect innocents. Even Calvinists cannot deny this. (I guess some call it common grace whether determined or not?)

Because free will is not a real option for Calvinists, I have heard them say these good things are “filthy rags” to God in what I think is a misunderstanding of Isaiah. If God is controlling every molecule, this seems to add a different character to His attributes. He wants some unbelievers to behave more Christlike than some believers as they don’t really have the total free will to choose different. Strange that.

Chris

“This leads to the disturbing question of where did the desire come from? Of course, it had to come from God since God created everything.”

Why is this an inevitable conclusion? How do you answer the question of where Adam’s desire to sin came from? And where did Satan’s desire to sin come from?

    Scott Shaver

    Chris:

    Ever consider the possibility that the “question of where man or Satan’s desires to sin came from” are only questions or issues for those of the hyper-calvinist persuasion.

    Not even a blip on the radar screen for a lot of folks. They settle with the testimony of scripture and HS that “evil”, “free will” and “sin” are part and parcel of the human existence.

    Speculative philosophies and theologies can only take you so far.

    Find yourself needing either further indoctrination or “liberation”. My suggestion would be to choose “liberty” in Christ.

      Chris

      Scott,

      “Ever consider the possibility that the “question of where man or Satan’s desires to sin came from” are only questions or issues for those of the hyper-calvinist persuasion.”

      If that were true, then the article would be unnecessary and untrue, because hyper-Calvinists are a fringe group and most Calvinists would condemn their beliefs too. Most Calvinists (4,5-pointers, who this article is targeted at) are not hyper-Calvinists.

      I don’t understand how these are not issues for you as well though. I mean Adam had Satan tempting him. That fall seems to make that make more sense, because there was a tempter. But how in your theology did Satan himself choose to fall? He had no serpent in his garden leading him to sin. He had only been exposed to good and God’s glory, and yet somehow he chose to sin. How does your theology make sense of this? Crying “Free will” explains nothing. Sure, Satan had free will, but how did it ever come into his mind to rebel when all he had ever known or been exposed to was obedience? This is not just a Calvinist problem. It’s a problem for your view too.

      It’s interesting to me that an article like this would be written…asking a question to Calvinists but not asking it of yourselves and then not giving an answer from your position either.

        Robert

        Chris,

        From reading your posts, you don’t strike me as a person that takes non-Calvinistic views seriously. Instead you just want to argue for your calvinism. Instead of dealing with an obvious problem in your theology, you instead want to turn it around and claim we non-Calvinists have the same problem. You are just passing the buck because you don’t have an answer.

        Actually it is worse than that for you because if your theology is true, then God gave Satan the desire to rebel and sin against God. And that makes God the author of sin.

        “I don’t understand how these are not issues for you as well though. I mean Adam had Satan tempting him. That fall seems to make that make more sense, because there was a tempter. But how in your theology did Satan himself choose to fall? He had no serpent in his garden leading him to sin. He had only been exposed to good and God’s glory, and yet somehow he chose to sin. How does your theology make sense of this? Crying “Free will” explains nothing. Sure, Satan had free will, but how did it ever come into his mind to rebel when all he had ever known or been exposed to was obedience?”

        As you already know, but it appears that you don’t take your own theology seriously enough on this, in Calvinist theology God gives us every desire that we have because he decrees “whatsoever comes to pass” (including our desires) as the Westminster confession states it. In non-Calvinism God does not decree our every desire, in fact we can have desires independent of and in conflict with God’s will. This is a difference that you intentionally refuse to acknowledge.

        But let’s put that aside. You raise the question: why would Satan choose to sin?

        We have to distinguish between what scripture explicitly declares (e.g. Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no comes to the Father but by Him) and things not directly stated by scripture. We don’t have a direct and explicit verse that tells us why Satan chose to sin. But we may have a clue. In Isaiah in a passage that many take to be referring to Satan, we are told that he desired to be like the most High/God. Now consider how children desire to be like their parents. What if something like this occurred with Satan? In some way, like a child desires to be like their parent, Satan desired to be like God. But in desiring this, as he is a creature and is not God, something then went wrong when he had this desire and pursued it. In this way, God did not cause him to fall, but by his own desires Satan fell. Now this may or may not be how it happened. Seems to me that something like this did occur and that explains how Satan could end up falling without being tempted by another person as Adam and Eve were.

          Chris

          “you don’t strike me as a person that takes non-Calvinistic views seriously.”

          I don’t know what you mean by this. I have worked through many (not all) of the arguments brought up here in my way to becoming a Calvinist.

          “Instead you just want to argue for your calvinism.”

          Couldn’t I say the same thing about you in reference to Traditionalism?

          “Instead of dealing with an obvious problem in your theology, you instead want to turn it around and claim we non-Calvinists have the same problem. You are just passing the buck because you don’t have an answer.”

          I don’t mind dealing with this problem. I am not passing the buck. However, I do think it’s helpful to point out when you have the same problem. Traditionalists will ask questions like this and accuse Calvinists of this and that but never ask themselves the same questions. It’s an interesting inconsistency to behold.

          “Actually it is worse than that for you because if your theology is true, then God gave Satan the desire to rebel and sin against God. And that makes God the author of sin.”

          Actually, if my theology is true, your statement above is false. In my theology, God does not give people sinful desires and he is not the Author of sin.

          “As you already know, but it appears that you don’t take your own theology seriously enough on this, in Calvinist theology God gives us every desire that we have because he decrees “whatsoever comes to pass” (including our desires) as the Westminster confession states it.”

          No, I do not believe God gives us our evil desires nor do the majority of Calvinists. You are taking our theology and adding to it. Like if I said, you believe man has free will so he can get unsaved whenever he wills to…that’s the kind of thing you are doing.

          God does decree (choose) all that comes to pass. How do you believe in God and not believe that? Are there things he did not know would happen or things he was unable to stop from happening? If not, then God in some sense at least chose (decreed) to allow those things to happen.

          But saying that God has chosen for things to happen (again you’d have to agree unless you hold that either God is not omnipotent or omniscient) does not mean that God planted evil desires in people’s hearts. Consider Gen 50, Isaiah 10, or Acts 2:23.

          “In non-Calvinism God does not decree our every desire, in fact we can have desires independent of and in conflict with God’s will. This is a difference that you intentionally refuse to acknowledge.”

          Refuse to acknowledge? When? There is a sense in which the plans and purposes of God cannot be thwarted. If you doubt that, then you’d be justified in doubting whether or not the promises of God (like your salvation) are any good. However, God does allow his moral will to be thwarted. He gives commands and he allows people to disobey. But surely you don’t think we can defeat the plans of God? You are not making proper distinctions concerning God’s will.

          If I were so inclined what prevents me from agreeing with your answer to how Satan fell?

    Ronnie W Rogers

    Hello Chris

    You quoted me “This leads to the disturbing question of where did the desire come from? Of course, it had to come from God since God created everything.” Then you said, “Why is this an inevitable conclusion? How do you answer the question of where Adam’s desire to sin came from? And where did Satan’s desire to sin come from?”

    First, my conclusion is based upon the actual meaning of compatibilism, which is the Calvinist perspective on man’s ability to choose; although, it is very common for Calvinists to speak inconsistently regarding the actual meaning of the model they embrace.

    Compatibilism means that determinism and moral freedom are compatible; hence the name. Such compatibility is arrived at not by lessening the deterministic nature of compatibilism to be any less deterministic than hard or raw determinism, but rather by defining freedom to be that when one chooses according to his desire, that choice is considered free.

    The desire is, however, the product of determinative antecedents (nature, past, creation etc.,); it is, therefore, a predetermined unalterable desire from which the person then freely chooses, but could not have chosen differently in the moral moment of decision than he did in fact choose.

    To wit, every time someone chooses according to Calvinism, (compatibilism), he freely chooses from a predetermined desire. In compatibilism, there is never an opportunity to have chosen differently than one chooses because the desire from which he chooses emanates from one’s past which then makes the choice free but determined—could not have been different in the moral moment of decision. Inherent in compatibilism is voluntariness (the choice is free), but not origination (that he can originate a new sequence of events) as is true of libertarianism.

    Therefore, it is “an inevitable conclusion” because if you trace the causal chain producing the desires back all the way to Adam, you then inevitably end up with God having created Adam’s past to inviolably emanate the desire from which he would inviolably freely choose to sin. This is why knowledgeable Calvinists who understand compatibilism leave this in the realm of “inscrutable mystery” (a mystery that only exists because of Calvinism’s commitment to compatibilism). If a Calvinists chooses to elide this reality, then he is inconsistent.

    Thus, while it is consistent in compatibilism to say that Adam is responsible, it is also inevitably consistent to say that the one who is Ultimately Responsible for Adam’s choosing to sin is God—the same is true for every sin in the universe. That is the disturbing reality of compatibilism.

    In absolute contrast, libertarian freedom encompasses that man is the efficient cause of his choices (he possesses both voluntariness and origination), and given the same past, he, at the moral moment of decision, can choose differently than he did in fact choose; hence, he is obviously responsible because he chose to misuse God’s gift of free will and sin.

    The same is true with Satan. According to libertarian freedom, God created and provisioned both to be able to freely choose righteousness, which is what God’s desire in Scripture is for all of His creation, but He knew they would sin. According to compatibilism, the provision given by God inviolably would lead to choosing sin; had God not so desired, from a compatibilist viewpoint, He would have created them with a nature, past, emanating such desires and man would have never sinned.

    The end is, compatibilism accurately understood means that God did desire man to sin, and in libertarianism He did not, but provisioned for such.

    The inability of Calvinism to answer dilemmas like this played a significant part in my leaving Calvinism. I only ask that you seek to be consistent with compatibilism if you are going to embrace it, and represent libertarian freedom accurately as well; as I do with you and others.

    Thank you

      Chris

      Ronnie,

      ‘Therefore, it is “an inevitable conclusion” because if you trace the causal chain producing the desires back all the way to Adam, you then inevitably end up with God having created Adam’s past to inviolably emanate the desire from which he would inviolably freely choose to sin.’

      Are you saying that God is at fault for creating Adam? Or are you saying that God created evil desires in Adam? What do you mean by “God created Adam’s past”?

      “Ultimately Responsible for Adam’s choosing to sin is God—the same is true for every sin in the universe.”

      Why is this so? Again, are you saying that God creates evil desires in people? I do not know of a Calvinist who believes that.

      “In absolute contrast, libertarian freedom encompasses that man is the efficient cause of his choices (he possesses both voluntariness and origination), and given the same past, he, at the moral moment of decision, can choose differently than he did in fact choose; hence, he is obviously responsible because he chose to misuse God’s gift of free will and sin.”

      And he is also responsible for his own salvation and hense has a place to boast.

      “According to compatibilism, the provision given by God inviolably would lead to choosing sin; had God not so desired, from a compatibilist viewpoint, He would have created them with a nature, past, emanating such desires and man would have never sinned.”

      What do you mean by “past”? I have never heard anyone besides you say that compatibilism means that God created people with sinful desires. Do you have a quote from a Reformed Christian saying “compatibilism means God created people with sinful desires”?

      I mean I know Reformed people would say that Adam was created good but had the capacity to sin. But that’s not different than what you would say.

      “if you are going to embrace it, and represent libertarian freedom accurately as well; as I do with you and others.”

      I do not think you are representing compatibilism accurately. Again, I know of no Reformed person who would say what you are saying.

Chris

Scott,

I still think they are an issue for you. So what is your answer?

Paul C.

I often hear the Calvinist chestnut, “Man can’t do any good, but wholly evil.” Putting aside the issue of whether or not a believer can do anything “good”, let’s consider an atheist. If an atheist saves a human being from death, has the atheist done anything good by that act? I don’t mean the atheist has performed a deed that is meritorious for salvation, but can this deed be seen as “good” by God? If not, what is the difference if the atheist had decided to leave a person to die rather than had chosen to save him? If a choice to save a human being by a nonbeliever can be termed as “evil” for the sole reason that an nonbeliever, and not a believer, has performed the act, then how do Calvinists distinguish moral good vs. moral evil if the standard for good and evil is not according to God’s holy nature, but rather the standard for determining something is “good” or not is determined by the belief/nonbelief status of the person who performs the deed? It seems to me Calvinists confuse “good” deeds with meritorious deeds.

What role do Calvinists believe the conscience plays in the Calvinist unregenerate elect and non-elect? If man can only do evil, then the conscience is no guide to his action since he can do no differently.

    Robert

    Paul C,

    You bring up a fun inconsistency or dare I say hypocrisy in calvinistic theology.

    It is this, on the one hand they have a reason to want to argue that the nonbeliever is incapable of ever doing any **good** (closely related they will then argue that since faith is a “good” and the unbeliever can never do any “good” under any circumstances, the unbeliever cannot have faith unless they are regenerated first, their nature is changed).

    On the other hand, living in the real world like the rest of us do, they have, like the rest of us seen clear instances of nonbelievers doing good (e.g. when the nonbelieving fireman rescues your spouse or children from the burning building do you really say; “well that was an evil action because it was done by an unbeliever” or do you thank the nonbelieving fireman for DOING GOOD and saving your family?). So what do they do with this REALITY? They have invented a concept called “COMMON GRACE” which refers to the supposed good things that nonbelievers do. Read Calvin and the rest and they speak of common grace when speaking of the good things the nonbelievers do. The hypocrisy is that they want to argue the nonbeliever is incapable of doing good to argue for their false doctrine of regeneration preceding faith. So they will go to great lengths to deny the obvious reality that we all see daily, nonbelievers actually do good things. So they redefine good so it can only be something a believer does (cf. if it is done to honor Christ it is good, if not then it is not good, etc. etc.).

    “I often hear the Calvinist chestnut, “Man can’t do any good, but wholly evil.” Putting aside the issue of whether or not a believer can do anything “good”, let’s consider an atheist. If an atheist saves a human being from death, has the atheist done anything good by that act?”

    Yes he has done good. If that fireman is an atheist and rescues my family I don’t argue with him afterwards and act like an ingrate and say what he did was not really good but was actually evil!

    “I don’t mean the atheist has performed a deed that is meritorious for salvation, but can this deed be seen as “good” by God?”

    Yes it can be seen as a good deed by God: recall that Paul says the unbeliever has the law written on their hearts (i.e. they have a natural knowledge of good and evil on their hearts, some follow this more and are better people, some do not and so they are worse people).

    “If a choice to save a human being by a nonbeliever can be termed as “evil” for the sole reason that an nonbeliever, and not a believer, has performed the act, then how do Calvinists distinguish moral good vs. moral evil if the standard for good and evil is not according to God’s holy nature, but rather the standard for determining something is “good” or not is determined by the belief/nonbelief status of the person who performs the deed? It seems to me Calvinists confuse “good” deeds with meritorious deeds.”

    Absolutely correct here Paul C.

    “What role do Calvinists believe the conscience plays in the Calvinist unregenerate elect and non-elect? If man can only do evil, then the conscience is no guide to his action since he can do no differently.”

    Interesting you ask this as I work in prison ministry. And crimes are considered worse if a person ignored their conscience and did the crime against their conscience. I also wardens, and policemen and judges and lawyers and correctional officers who are nonbelievers but they sometimes definitely do good (unless you are a Calvinist and want to play semantic games and redefine what goodness entails). My wife works in the mental health field with people with developmental disabilities (again you find clear examples of nonbelievers doing the right thing in the compassion they show to the disabled). The examples could be multiplied on and on and on . . .

    Les

    Paul,

    You and Robert fail to make an important distinction we in the Reformed faith make. of course unbelievers may do things that are good for others and themselves. If an atheist saves someone from death, not only is he God’s agent in doing so (unwittingly) but he has done a good thing. He saved a life. Also, when unbelievers feed their children, that is a good thing. Matt. 7-9-11

    But here is where Reformed theology stakes what we believe to be the biblical view. In the chapter on good works,

    “Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.”

    And there you have it.

      Lydia

      “Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.”

      The author who wrote that to interpret scripture for Reformed believers forgot to add your mantra about us mere humans “not being able to know the intentions of the heart”. :o)

      Les

      “forgot to add your mantra about us mere humans “not being able to know the intentions of the heart””

      I know, right. How could he forget? Wait, it’s not MY mantra. It’s God’s mantra. I suppose the divines figured any bible reader could figure that one out.

        Lydia

        Les, you are playing games. I should know better. You are well aware you have accused me of claiming to know the intentions of a persons heart. (I accept that as one of your tactics) I do no such thing and have made it clear over and over, I only deal in words, actions and patterns of both. Those things proceed from the heart. It is the reformed who claim hearts are righteous even when accompanied by patterns of evil or deceptive deeds. They do this by equating their brand of correct doctrine with the fruit of salvation.

        What next? “Believe the best” about the tyrannical despot, Calvin? :o)

        Les

        Lydia, ” You are well aware you have accused me of claiming to know the intentions of a persons heart.” I have only pointed that out when you have done it. See I watch words and patterns too. You have a pattern of seeming to know people’s intents and motivations. Your words at those times are very clear. Just like Joe in this case.

    Les

    Paul, I posted a reply less than a minute ago. In moderation. Who knows why?!

    Les

      Andrew Barker

      Les: It seems that you have Phil 4:3 on the brain, as in “let your moderation be known to all men” but this only works in the KJV!

      Les

      Yep Andrew. All part of the plan from eternity.

        Andrew Barker

        Les you keep whinging about ‘moderation’. Understand it as part of God’s plan to keep you quiet.

        Les

        “Understand it as part of God’s plan to keep you quiet.” I know. For some reason you guys can’t handle the truth all at once, so it’s necessary to moderate it and have it come out to you all slowly. :)

          Andrew Barker

          Or living proof that you really don’t understand God’s plan!

    Les

    Paul, since I seem to be able to do short comments, here’s one. Even when unbelievers obey a command from God (such as not committing adultery) it is not pleasing to God and is still sin. They are not operating from biblical faith.

    “Everything that is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23)”

      Robert

      Les,

      Sorry Les your attempt here completely fails.

      I hope everyone sees how Les is attempting to redefine good so that only a believer can ever do good.

      Note this blatant attempt at semantic game playing:.

      “Even when unbelievers obey a command from God (such as not committing adultery) it is not pleasing to God and is still sin. They are not operating from biblical faith.”

      Sorry, I’d rather have a nonbeliever who is faithful to his wife and not committing adultery than a professing believer who professes to be operating from biblical faith and is committing adultery. Like the recent Calvinist pastor of the mega church who committed adultery. Fact is, adultery is wrong no matter who does it, and it is good and right no matter who abstains from committing adultery.

      Now especially note Les’ proof text for his semantic game playing:

      “Everything that is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23)”

      Is Romans 14 interpreted properly according to context talking about nonbelievers? No. Is it talking about how nonbelievers are incapable of ever doing good? No. So what is it actually talking about?

      This section is one in which the apostle Paul is discussing the issue of Christian liberty (what believers do or don’t do when they have differing positions in regards to something not expressly condemned or expressly praised. In this CONTEXT speaking to BELIEVERS Paul says “everything that is not from faith is sin”. Meaning that believers need to consider certain things when it comes to issues of Christian liberty. For example though your conscience does not bother you say concerning X, another believer struggles with X. So for the sake of the other brother you abstain from X. One of the principles of Christian liberty is not to put stumbling blocks in the path of other believers. If you are not considering how you action may impact the other brother (who has different convictions than you do) than your action is “not from faith it is sin”. Paul is not making any sort of declaration concerning the nonbeliever in this verse, it is explicitly and contextually dealing with believers who have different convictions about things. What the nonbeliever can or cannot do is completely off the radar for the apostle Paul in this passage.

      The Calvinist such as Les however, as he is looking for some proof text for his view that nonbelievers are incapable of doing any good, finds this verse and IGNORES ITS CONTEXT AND MEANING. That is shoddy and inaccurate interpretation of scripture. But that is exactly what you can expect from calvinists seeking to “prove” that nonbelievers are incapable of doing any good. It really gets zany and comical to see calvinists try so hard to ignore the obvious, that at times the nonbelievers actually do good things!

        Lydia

        “I hope everyone sees how Les is attempting to redefine good so that only a believer can ever do good.”

        One of my biggest pet peeves about Calvinism/Reformed thinking.

        “Sorry, I’d rather have a nonbeliever who is faithful to his wife and not committing adultery than a professing believer who professes to be operating from biblical faith and is committing adultery. Like the recent Calvinist pastor of the mega church who committed adultery. Fact is, adultery is wrong no matter who does it, and it is good and right no matter who abstains from committing adultery.”

        Thank you! It is like insisting a believing wife beater is better than an unbeliever who would never hit his wife. I tend to think the former is not really showing the fruit of belief.

      Les

      Robert,

      We’ve been getting along so well for a while. Now I really seem to be under your skin and you seem to be getting angry. No need brother. We just differ. I COULD say your arguments fail and accuse you of all sorts of game playing and such. But I shall not.

      “Sorry, I’d rather have a nonbeliever who is faithful to his wife and not committing adultery than a professing believer who professes to be operating from biblical faith and is committing adultery.” As would I. But that is not the point. See my other fuller comment at 08-04-2016, 14:47. That’s my fuller argument. I remain unpersuaded by your arguments brother.

        Robert

        Les,

        “We’ve been getting along so well for a while. Now I really seem to be under your skin and you seem to be getting angry. No need brother. We just differ.”

        I am not angry, just getting frustrated when you have been told things repeatedly about the non-Calvinist position (specifically our views on libertarian free will) and yet you keep asking the same questions that have already and repeatedly been answered.

        I understand that you don’t like our answers because of your commitment to Calvinism. But to keep asking the same questions that are repeatedly answered over and over is not honest, is not seeking genuine dialogue, and I don’t respect that at all.

        And if we “just differ” than why don’t you accept our answers instead of keep asking the same questions and not accepting our answers when they are given to you?

        “I COULD say your arguments fail and accuse you of all sorts of game playing and such. But I shall not.”

        I don’t play semantic games, I am a very straight shooter.

        Regarding a failed argument. I meant specifically in reference to your attempted proof text from Romans 14. The passage has nothing to do with unbelievers, it is speaking to believers exclusively about issues of Christian liberty. You ignore all of the context of the passage looking for proof that what nonbelievers do is not really good (by redefining “good” only as something that a believer can do). If you were taking an exegesis class and your assignment was the proper exegesis of Romans 14: I would fail you for your attempt at proof texting from a passage to tell us about nonbelievers not being able to do good when the passage has *****nothing to do with unbelievers*****. It is only dealing with believers, so the principles it presents are only applicable to believers (e.g. we cannot tell unbelievers to forsake doing something for the sake of a weaker brother, nor do we tell a nonbeliever that whatever is not of faith is sin, as that principle is in reference to believers not unbelievers). This misuse of scripture by you and not interpreting scripture properly according to context is completely ignoring the context of the passage. As it is such a clear example of proof texting in the wrong sense and your argument is based upon it, your argument fails.

        Les

        Robert,

        I know YOU have repeatedly told me things Robert. And I better understand things you say. But I started this out asking **Ronnie** some questions. I don’t think you speak for every non Calvinist. In fact, I know you don’t because some of your brothers here and you have disagreements.

        Now about the Romans 14 verse. We differ brother. I think it has universal application. If the statement in v. 23 is true for believers, it is certainly also true for unbelievers.

        Last, read what I wrote at 08-04-2016, 14:47. I 100% stand behind those comments. Try refuting the section I copied and pasted (HT to you Andrew) from the WCF. Tell me where you disagree with that.

          Robert

          Les,

          “I know YOU have repeatedly told me things Robert. And I better understand things you say. But I started this out asking **Ronnie** some questions. I don’t think you speak for every non Calvinist.”

          I never claimed that I speak for all non-Calvinists on all issues. That being said, I do hold the same views on LFW that Ronnie holds. You have asked him and me repeatedly questions on LFW that have been answered by both of us and yet you keep asking them. This becomes disingenuous on your part and tedious for us.

          “Now about the Romans 14 verse. We differ brother. I think it has universal application. If the statement in v. 23 is true for believers, it is certainly also true for unbelievers.”

          That is not the way that we are supposed to interpret the Bible Les and you know it. We are to interpret contextually. Some things said to Israel when they were under the law, do not have universal application, they do not even apply to Christians today (unless you hold the false theology of economists). Some things said to the early church, do not have universal application, they do not even apply to Christians today.

          Some things are said to believers, intended for believers, they do not have universal application because by definition they are intended for believers. Romans 14 and other passages dealing with issues of CHRISTIAN LIBERTY fall into this category. An easy way to tell if it applies universally or to nonbelievers is to ask if the principle given by scripture applies to the nonbeliever.

          I gave one example as the principle intended for believers to be willing to forsake things for the sake of the weaker brother. Well how will that apply to a non-believer who isn’t even a brother in the first place? You cannot tell the nonbeliever to consider the weaker brother because that principle only applies to believers. It does not have universal application.

          And this again points out how you completely fail to interpret Romans 14 properly. It is providing principles of Christian liberty, these principles apply only to believers and their interactions with one another. To claim, mistakenly as you do, that they have universal application shows failure to interpret the scripture according to context. So it is more important to you to try to proof text from Romans 14 than it is to properly interpret Romans 14 in its context.

          “Last, read what I wrote at 08-04-2016, 14:47. I 100% stand behind those comments. Try refuting the section I copied and pasted (HT to you Andrew) from the WCF. Tell me where you disagree with that.”

          What you quoted was the Westminster confession. As a Baptist, I don’t agree with the Westminster **Calvinistic** confession. The quote is NOT scripture it is the confession. I don’t have to refute it nor submit to it, as it is a man-made confession not scripture. It is also not a document that a Baptist such as myself need submit to or obey either. It can make the pronouncements that it does, but these are merely the pronouncements of men, not scripture. They are only binding on persons such as yourself where members of your group must submit to these words. As a Baptist they are not something I need to agree with, submit to, etc. The words of the confession may have authority for you, they have none for me. So quoting ***your authority***, which is ***extrabiblical*** and ***non-Baptist***, why should I agree with it? I disagree with it, just as I disagree with you, because the Bible does not say that the nonbeliever never does any good, never does anything that pleases God. That may be your belief and your theology but that is not stated by the Bible (unless you prooftext as you do from Romans 14, but by means of prooftexting in this way where you ignore the context and anything can be proved by using Bible verses in that way). I think I am done on this.

          Les

          Robert,

          Maybe you are done. I’m not.

          “An easy way to tell if it applies universally or to nonbelievers is to ask if the principle given by scripture applies to the nonbeliever.” Ok, can a non believer do anything based on faith in God? Nope. Case rested and won.

          “The quote is NOT scripture it is the confession. I don’t have to refute it nor submit to it, as it is a man-made confession not scripture.” You have just negated anything YOU say Robert. Anything YOU write here is guess what, “a man-made confession not scripture.” What YOU say is extra biblical Robert. You’ve just thrown yourself under the bus. I realize you don’t have to nor do you submit to the words I quoted. But can you refute those man made words? They’re just part of a systematic theology document after all. So refute the wording.

            Robert

            Les,

            As you continue in completely ignoring the context of scripture and proof texting you have become no different than a non-Christian cultist. I have a lot of experience with non-Christian cultists and they do EXACTLY WHAT YOU DO with scripture. They begin with a point or idea that they want to “prove”, they then search for some scripture that they can use to “prove” their point (in doing so they completely ignore the context of scripture: e.g. the Mormons taking a passage in the Psalms about God being like a mother bird who spreads her wings over her chicks: is used by them to “prove” that God is physical, the examples could be multiplied endlessly).

            Les you do exactly the same thing with Romans 14:23: the context is principles of Christian liberty that the apostle Paul is giving to the Roman church. He is speaking to BELIEVERS about how they are to handle their differences when differing believers have differing convictions. These principles are not meant for or intended for nonbelievers. I gave one example which I notice you have now repeatedly ignored (e.g. the principle that a believer should forsake doing something for the sake of a weaker brother, that principle cannot apply to a nonbeliever because they could never be the stronger brother forsaking something for the weaker brother, you won’t apply THAT to the nonbeliever but you will apply the principle given in Romans 14:23 to the nonbeliever completely ignoring the context, this is just shoddy and irresponsible interpretation of scripture, you have no excuse to be doing this as supposedly you are a pastor or elder).

            {{ “An easy way to tell if it applies universally or to nonbelievers is to ask if the principle given by scripture applies to the nonbeliever.” Ok, can a non believer do anything based on faith in God? Nope. Case rested and won.}}

            The principle is for believers. To then ask if a nonbeliever can “do anything based on faith in God?” is AGAIN to run rough shod over scripture. Completely ignoring the context (i.e. principles given to BELIEVERS concerning issues of Christian liberty). You say “Case rested and won” but your argument completely fails. This is ridiculous. Until you prove that THAT principle (and the other principles of Christian liberty given by Paul in the New Testament) are **supposed to be for unbelievers**, supposed to be **speaking of nonbelievers**, you have not proven anything. You are just declaring “victory” having proven nothing!

            [[“The quote is NOT scripture it is the confession. I don’t have to refute it nor submit to it, as it is a man-made confession not scripture.” You have just negated anything YOU say Robert. Anything YOU write here is guess what, “a man-made confession not scripture.” What YOU say is extra biblical Robert. You’ve just thrown yourself under the bus. I realize you don’t have to nor do you submit to the words I quoted. But can you refute those man made words? They’re just part of a systematic theology document after all. So refute the wording.]]

            We are not talking about the authority of our statements, you are changing the subject. I do not need to refute the words of the confession because all they are is a claim, and a false claim at that. I don’t have to refute the wording.

            Lastly, Les that you a Presbyterian who ***used to hold Baptist beliefs*** and ***NOW RENOUNCES AND REJECTS THEM***. Yet you have the gall to come to this Baptist discussion group and try to argue against our Baptist beliefs (including our rejection of Reformed theology, infant baptism, the Westminster confession, all things that you hold to now having rejected Baptist theology and beliefs and practices). Here you appeal to a document, the Westminster confession, which Baptists reject, and you expect THAT to be persuasive for us Baptists? All you are doing is trying to impose your false Presbyterian beliefs on us. If you want to discuss your Presbyterian beliefs why don’t you discuss them in a Presbyterian context and leave us alone? I don’t go to Presbyterian sites and argue for Baptist beliefs and try to correct them.

            Les

            Robert, let’s take this a little at a time. So I withdraw the Romans 14 passage. I still disagree with you, but you need not try to correct me anymore on that passage. Let’s look at Hebrews 11. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

            Titus 1:15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.

            Now Robert, can an unbeliever please God in any way by works he does?

              Robert

              Les,
              Here you appeal to a document, the Westminster confession, which Baptists reject, and you expect THAT to be persuasive for us Baptists? All you are doing is trying to impose your false Presbyterian beliefs on us. If you want to discuss your Presbyterian beliefs why don’t you discuss them in a Presbyterian context and leave us alone? I don’t go to Presbyterian sites and argue for Baptist beliefs and try to correct them.

              Les

              Robert, “Here you appeal to a document, the Westminster confession.” Now I have quoted BAPTISTS.

              “All you are doing is trying to impose your false Presbyterian beliefs on us.” My challenge is still out there Robert. Show me ONE place where I have tried “to impose [my] Presbyterian beliefs on anyone on this site. Just one. Besides, don’t forget that I am an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

              “and leave us alone” Robert, you do not have to interact with me. You have a free will, remember?

                Robert

                Les,

                “But in any case Robert, you refuse to refute the WCF or the LBC because you say you don’t accept them and they are man made confessions.”

                Is the purpose of this site to refute confessions?

                Is the purpose of this site to refute a Presbyterian who comes in here and disputes with and argues against Baptist beliefs?

                All you are doing is trying to impose your false Presbyterian beliefs on us. If you want to discuss your Presbyterian beliefs why don’t you discuss them in a Presbyterian context and leave us alone? I don’t go to Presbyterian sites and argue for Baptist beliefs and try to correct them.
                Les you keep ignoring this point, though I have now made it repeatedly.

                Les

                “Is the purpose of this site to refute confessions?”

                Well you do it all the time. When I state my belief, that’s a man made confession in my words. You do too. Then you definitely proceed to try and refute it.

                “Is the purpose of this site to refute a Presbyterian who comes in here and disputes with and argues against Baptist beliefs?” Again, show me where I have done such. Just one time.

                “All you are doing is trying to impose your false Presbyterian beliefs on us. If you want to discuss your Presbyterian beliefs why don’t you discuss them in a Presbyterian context and leave us alone?” I keep responding that I have done no such thing. And I have challenged you to prove your assertion, and all you do is keep repeating the same assertion without one shred of evidence.

                  Robert

                  Les,

                  “Well you do it all the time. When I state my belief, that’s a man made confession in my words. You do too. Then you definitely proceed to try and refute it.”

                  Don’t be so obtuse and dense Les, I am speaking of **formal man made confessions** like the Westminster confession that you keep quoting as your authority. I don’t think that any us (except for you apparently) thinks that when we post our comments here they are a formal confession being presented. This claim that all of us are presenting formal confessions every time we share something here is just ridiculous.

                  [“Is the purpose of this site to refute a Presbyterian who comes in here and disputes with and argues against Baptist beliefs?” Again, show me where I have done such. Just one time.}

                  In the past I saw you going for quite a long time (I believe it was with Lydia, though I could be mistaken) arguing for your Presbyterian belief in elder rule (Baptists hold to congregational form of church leadership). So you **were** directly going against a Baptist belief. In citing the Westminster confession you are citing a Presbyterian document that presents Presbyterian beliefs. In some cases this Presbyterian document contradicts Baptist beliefs (including believer baptism, congregational church government, church/state separation, etc. etc.)

                  [[“All you are doing is trying to impose your false Presbyterian beliefs on us. If you want to discuss your Presbyterian beliefs why don’t you discuss them in a Presbyterian context and leave us alone?” I keep responding that I have done no such thing. And I have challenged you to prove your assertion, and all you do is keep repeating the same assertion without one shred of evidence.]]

                  I just gave evidence and further it is not about me having to prove my case, it is you who instead of discussing your Presbyterian beliefs such as the Westminster confession, elder rule, etc. on a Baptist site that rejects those things: should be presenting these Presbyterian beliefs in a more proper context (i.e. on a Presbyterian site). Again, I and I am guessing most of the other Baptists here do not go to Presbyterian sites and argue with them and against them and present our Baptist beliefs instead. There is something wrong about a person who does this.

                  Les

                  Robert,

                  “This claim that all of us are presenting formal confessions every time we share something here is just ridiculous.” I never said that our personal confessions are “formal. Not once. But make no mistake, they are confessions of faith. That’s strike one.

                  “In the past I saw you going for quite a long time (I believe it was with Lydia, though I could be mistaken) arguing for your Presbyterian belief in elder rule.” When she brought it up. I did so in an explanation. I have NEVER tried to argue against your Baptist distinctive and for mine. Strike two.

                  “I just gave evidence…” No you didn’t. Easily explainable as not trying to impose Presby beliefs.

                  Robert I do not argue against your Baptist distinctive. I have never brought up Baptism, eldership, covenant theology and so on…Presbyterian distinctive…and argued for them and against your distinctive. You still have not found one shred of evidence to the contrary. I HAVE argued Reformed soteriology (which man Baptists hold) but that is not distinctive to Baptists. That’s strike three BTW.

            Les

            Robert,

            “I do not need to refute the words of the confession because all they are is a claim…” Won’t or can’t? And as far as me coming on here and quoting the WCF? Ok. Here’s the London BAPTIST confession 1689 on good works:

            “Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, nor make a man meet to receive grace from God, and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.”

            Care to refute these Baptist words?

              Robert

              Les,

              Now you cite from a confession that merely parrots the Westminster confession. I don’t accept that confession either, sorry. Actually not sorry, as that confession is another Calvinistic confession that I reject.

              All you are doing is trying to impose your false Presbyterian beliefs on us. If you want to discuss your Presbyterian beliefs why don’t you discuss them in a Presbyterian context and leave us alone? I don’t go to Presbyterian sites and argue for Baptist beliefs and try to correct them.

              Les

              Robert,

              “Now you cite from a confession that merely parrots the Westminster confession.” I can’t help it if the 1689 Baptists got it right.

              But in any case Robert, you refuse to refute the WCF or the LBC because you say you don’t accept them and they are man made confessions. I’ve already pointed out to you that YOU have man made confessions and you post them here all the time. So do I. And yet you don’t have any problem refuting MY man made confessions which you surely also don’t accept. Such inconsistency. So go ahead and take a shot at a different man made confession, the WCF or the LBC (I don’t care which), and see if you are able to effectively refute it.

            Les

            Robert,

            “Yet you have the gall to come to this Baptist discussion group and try to argue against our Baptist beliefs (including our rejection of Reformed theology, infant baptism, the Westminster confession, all things that you hold to now having rejected Baptist theology and beliefs and practices).” and “All you are doing is trying to impose your false Presbyterian beliefs on us.” Robert, I don’st argue against Baptist beliefs. Show one place on this blog where I have tried to impose my Presbyterian beliefs on you. Just one. I never argue paedobaptism. I never argue covenant theology. So show me one.

            The things I argue for are right in the Southern Baptist denomination. Reformed soteriology.

            “Here you appeal to a document, the Westminster confession, which Baptists reject, and you expect THAT to be persuasive for us Baptists?” Fine. Gong forward I will reference the LBC 1689. Baptist systematic theology.

          Les

          Robert, my reply to you at 11-04-2016, 17:30 is held up. But an addition. If you see no need to refute a man made confession like the WCF (and I could have easily quoted the LBC), then feel free to have no need to refute my man made confessions too. All our stated theological views are man made confessions after all with each of us having scripture backing up our positions.

        Les

        From the Society of Evangelical Arminians:

        “In their natural state, human beings are hostile toward God and cannot submit to his Law nor please him (Rom 8:7-8). Thus, human beings are not able to think, will, nor do anything good in and of themselves.”

          Scott Shaver

          “From the Society of Evangelical Arminians”………so what?

          There’s a quote of Romans 8:7 followed by a totally unsubstantiated hypothesis beginning with the word “Thus.”

          Toss that one along with the “Westminster” would be my suggestion.

          Les

          Scott,

          ““From the Society of Evangelical Arminians”………so what?” For you? Nothing. That was for Robert’s and any others’ benefit if they think that it’s a Calvinist position only that unbelievers cannot do good works that please God the same as Christians. Myth debunked by SEA. But thanks for chiming in.

            Scott Shaver

            My response to your last “flash of insight” Les was for anybody who rejects man-made confessions.

            “Confessionalism” has been killing the SBC and drawing maggots for last 20-25 years. “SEA” as you call it debunks and contributes nothing to an anti-confessional mindset.

            Les

            Scott, news flash for ya. When any man makes statement on what he believes, he’s making a, you guessed it, man made confession! You are commenting on a post of Ronnie’s man made confession. So you don’t reject man made confessions. You actually make them yourself. Trads make them. There’s one attached to this site. The Trad statement. Yu just don’t band together with like minded folks and publish your man made confession like the Trads on this site have and like the WCF and LBC folks did. You’re a funny guy sometimes.

Robert

I mistakenly wrote: “Some things said to Israel when they were under the law, do not have universal application, they do not even apply to Christians today (unless you hold the false theology of economists).”

I meant “theonomists” not “economists”.

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