Disapproving God’s Plan | Part One

July 12, 2016

Leighton Flowers | Professor of Theology
Dallas, TX

**This article was previously posted by Leighton Flowers on his website www.soteriology101.com and is used by permission.

Leighton is: teaching pastor in his local church, an adjunct Professor of Theology, and the Youth Evangelism Director for Texas Baptists.

Learn more about Leighton, HERE.
Follow @soteriology101 on Twitter HERE.
Follow him on Facebook HERE

A Calvinist sent me a note on Facebook stating in part, “Why are you standing in opposition to God and His ways? You should not disapprove of His sovereign plan and purposes.” Ironically, I believe it is the Calvinist who so often express disapproval of God and His plans.  Allow me to demonstrate.

This same Calvinistic friend recently twitted this message in response to yet another atrocious event in the news:

“Horrified over the senseless acts of violence and evil…”

I “liked” his message because I too am horrified by the heinously evil behavior of some people in our world. And I have no doubt that this Calvinistic friend genuinely feels the same way. I have purposefully not mentioned the actual event because I do not wish to “theologize” the personal pain of those touched by such grief. However, if our theology is to be practical, we must be able to consistently speak into the issues from our theological worldview, which brings me to the question of this article:

Should Christians ever express disapproval or disgust for God’s self-glorifying will and plan?

Expressions of disapproval about things that have come to pass do cause me pause when brought by Calvinistic believers.  I cannot help but question the logical consistency of Calvinists who express feelings of indignation and disapproval over such atrocities given the ACTUAL CLAIMS of their doctrinal worldview.

Calvinism teaches that God has sovereignly planned and brought about every meticulous detail, including the evil intentions of His creatures, in order to glorify Himself. In other words, if Calvinism is true, the shooting which horrified my Calvinistic friend was planned and brought about by God so as to bring Himself glory. So, in actuality, it is the Calvinist who is expressing disapproval of God’s plans, not me. I am expressing disapproval of man’s autonomously evil choices which stand diametrically opposed to God and His plan. My Calvinistic friend is expressing horrified disapproval of that which God planned for His own self-glorification. How can he do so consistently?

OBJECTION ANTICIPATED:

Here is where I am often met with the accusation of misrepresentation — or what is known as the fallacy of “strawmanning.” I suspect, however, that those bringing that accusation either (1) do not rightly understand Calvinism and Calvinistic scholar’s ACTUAL CLAIMS or they (2) do not really affirm the ACTUAL CLAIMS of John Calvin and most of the Calvinistic scholars, but have adopted a much milder, more palatable, and arguably inconsistent form of the systematic. (If it is the second, however, I cannot help but wonder why would they not stand with me in opposition to the ACTUAL CLAIMS of Calvinism rather than accusing me of not understanding it rightly?)

For instance, let’s consider this quote from John Piper’s ministry website, Desiring God:

“God . . . brings about all things in accordance with his will. In other words, it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love him; it is rather that he himself brings about these evil aspects for his glory (see Ex. 9:13-16; John 9:3) and his people’s good (see Heb. 12:3-11; James 1:2-4). This includes—as incredible and as unacceptable as it may currently seem—God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz as well as the terrible killings of Dennis Rader and even the sexual abuse of a young child…” (Link)— Mark R. Talbot, “’All the Good That Is Ours in Christ’: Seeing God’s Gracious Hand in the Hurts Others Do to Us,” in John Piper and Justin Taylor (eds.), Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006), 31-77 (quote from p. 42).

On the one hand we know that Piper has at times expressed disappointment and disgust for the Holocaust and the sexual abuse of children, while on the other hand claiming these same events have been brought about by a God seeking His own glory. Therefore, Piper has expressed disapproval and disgust of what God has planned and brought about for His own glorification. As I said, Calvinists are the ones expressing disapproval of God’s plans, not me.

John Calvin himself taught:

“Creatures are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 3)

“thieves and murderers, and other evildoers, are instruments of divine providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute judgments which he has resolved to inflict.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 5)

“We hold that God is the disposer and ruler of all things, –that from the remotest eternity, according to his own wisdom, He decreed what he was to do, and now by his power executes what he decreed.  Hence we maintain, that by His providence, not heaven and earth and inanimate creatures only, but also the counsels and wills of men are so governed as to move exactly in the course which he has destined.” (John Calvin,Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 16, Paragraph 8)

“The devil, and the whole train of the ungodly, are in all directions, held in by the hand of God as with a bridle, so that they can neither conceive any mischief, nor plan what they have conceived, nor how muchsoever they may have planned, move a single finger to perpetrate, unless in so far as he permits, nay unless in so far as he commands, that they are not only bound by his fetters but are even forced to do him service” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 17, Paragraph 11)

“…it is very wicked merely to investigate the causes of God’s will. For his will is, and rightly ought to be, the cause of all things that are.”…”For God’s will is so much the highest rule of righteousness that whatever he wills, by the very fact that he wills it, must be considered righteous. When, therefore, one asks why God has so done, we must reply: because he has willed it. But if you proceed further to ask why he so willed, you are seeking something greater and higher than God’s will, which cannot be found.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 1)

“Many professing a desire to defend the Deity from an individual charge admit the doctrine of election, but deny that any one is reprobated. This they do ignorantly and childishly, since there could be no election without its opposite, reprobation.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 1)

“…it is utterly inconsistent to transfer the preparation for destruction to anything but God’s secret plan… God’s secret plan is the cause of hardening.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 23, Paragraph 1)

“I admit that in this miserable condition wherein men are now bound, all of Adam’s children have fallen by God’s will.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 4)

“With Augustine I say: the Lord has created those whom he unquestionably foreknew would go to destruction. This has happened because he has willed.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 5)

“…individuals are born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction.” (John Calvin,Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

“…it is vain to debate about prescience, which it is clear that all events take place by his sovereign appointment.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

“But since he foresees future events only by reason of the fact that he decreed that they take place, they vainly raise a quarrel over foreknowledge, when it is clear that all things take place rather by his determination and bidding.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 6)

“Again I ask: whence does it happen that Adam’s fall irremediably involved so many peoples, together with their infant offspring, in eternal death unless because it so pleased God? The decree is dreadful indeed, I confess. Yet no one can deny that God foreknew what end man was to have before he created him, and consequently foreknew because he so ordained by his decree. And it ought not to seem absurd for me to say that God not only foresaw the fall of the first man, and in him the ruin of his descendants, but also meted it out in accordance with his own decision.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 7)

“The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 8)

“Even though by God’s eternal providence man has been created to undergo that calamity to which he is subject, it still takes its occasion from man himself, not from God, since the only reason for his ruin is that he has degenerated from God’s pure creation into vicious and impure perversity.” (John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 23, Paragraph 9)

Now, before moving on, I hope all those who proudly wear the label “Calvinist” can rightly understand what I am opposing here. I have not misrepresented or “strawmanned” Calvinism. John Piper is arguably the most influential modern day proponent of Calvinism and he is representing exactly what John Calvin himself taught on this subject in the quotes above (all of which are properly cited for contextual examination). Both of these Calvinistic scholars are abundantly clear about what they believe.

I am not suggesting a “Calvinist” must agree with John Piper or even John Calvin on every theological point in order to be considered a “Calvinist.” But if you are going to proudly promote this label shouldn’t you at least affirm the basic theological claims over the issues that make Calvinism so controversial in the church?  The major reason we even know of John Calvin and “Calvinism” is because of his controversial views over predestination, election, free will, sovereignty, etc.  If you cannot affirm his statements on at least those issues, then may I suggest you stop promoting the label “Calvinist?” Or, if nothing else, at least stop accusing people like myself of not really understanding Calvinism? <READ THIS for more>

Part Two Coming Soon!

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Alan House

A very helpful post. One does not have to read very far in most contemporary calvinistic writing about current events or societal issues to find the writers expressing various levels of displeasure or disapproval with events that they (in other settings) confidently proclaim to be nothing more or less than God’s (meticulous) providence. But the raising of this issue is irrefutable evidence that the issue-raiser does NOT understand Calvinism! My take on this is that a big percentage (maybe more than 50%) of people who show up for church at the calvinist churches do not understand the necessary implications of determinism, or they do not properly understand determinism, or they believe that determinism is optional in calvinism, or they are there just for worship and fellowship and do not reflect on (much less think critically about) doctrine. Or, like Calvin and Boettner, they believe that the children of the elect are elect (notwithstanding insurmountable scriptural evidence to the contrary) so their conclusion is, more or less, “the main thing is that our (extended) family is all going to Heaven so we don’t have to get really deep into this stuff!”

Jake Fower

Professor Flowers,

I do believe you’re equivocating the Calvinist’s understanding of compatiblism with determinism. A compatibilist could be disgusted with human actions and still understand its in accordance with God’s plans. It could be argued that a determinist would logically be disgusted with God’s plans of evil events.

For example, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. That was evil. God planned that for his on glory to perserve his people. I can be disgusted with the human’s act of selling into slavery while at the same time marvel at God’s plan to in that act. Joseph’s brothers acted according to their highest desire and thus are morally culbable while God can be glorified. They intended for evil; God intended for good. In conclusion a Christian (even a Calvinist) can be disgusted with human actions but at the same time praise God for his good intentions and know that evil is not meaningless.

    Robert

    Just because Randall claims this post deals with Leighton’s article, as if we missed it, I will show the problems with this post.

    “I do believe you’re equivocating the Calvinist’s understanding of compatibilism with determinism.”

    This comment shows ignorance of both the nature of determinism and compatibilism (because compatibilism **is** a form of determinism, an attempt at showing free will to be compatible with determinism).

    “A compatibilist could be disgusted with human actions and still understand its in accordance with God’s plans.”

    Sure if all was decreed and God decreed for him to be disgusted. Conversely, God could also decree him not to be disgusted with something that really is disgusting (e.g. child abuse, rape, etc.).

    “It could be argued that a determinist would logically be disgusted with God’s plans of evil events.”

    A determinist would only be disgusted with something if God had decreed for him to be disgusted. What you keep forgetting is that if God decrees all events that includes everything including our reactions to events or persons. In all instances we say, do or think only and always what we were decreed to say, do or think. This also means that it all amounts to luck from our perspective as we have no control over anything, we only and always do what God decrees for us to do. If we are lucky we get to be believers, if more lucky mature believers. If we are unlucky we get to be nonbelievers. It really has nothing to do with us, we are just puppets or actors playing our preassigned roles.

    “For example, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. That was evil. God planned that for his on glory to perserve his people.”

    Where in the text does it say that God “planned that for his own glory”? It doesn’t. It does say He planned it to preserve his people.

    “I can be disgusted with the human’s act of selling into slavery while at the same time marvel at God’s plan to in that act.”

    True because you choose your reactions freely. You choose to be disgusted with slavery. Other people choose to not be disgusted with slavery. Your reaction really depends upon your freely made choice to the event.

    “Joseph’s brothers acted according to their highest desire and thus are morally culbable while God can be glorified.”

    Where in the text does it say they acted according to their highest desire? It doesn’t, that is again something you are reading into the text. You are reading in your Edwardian understanding of choosing (i.e. that we choose according to our highest desires, so these desires determine our actions, that makes you a determinist, though you try to distance yourself from this reality by means of the term “compatibilist”). They should not have been morally culpable if their actions were decreed and they had no choice in the matter. If they had no choice (which is true if compatibilism is true) then they had to do what they did and it was impossible for them to do otherwise. If that is the case, it is wrong to hold them morally culpable (just as it is wrong for holding a car responsible for the direction it goes when it has no choice, it has to go that way based on the laws of physics the mechanics of a car and the freely made choices of the driver).

    “They intended for evil; God intended for good.”

    True, and the non-Calvinist believes that sometimes God uses evil choices that are freely made to accomplish something good (the best example being the crucifixion of Jesus).

    ‘In conclusion a Christian (even a Calvinist) can be disgusted with human actions but at the same time praise God for his good intentions and know that evil is not meaningless.”

    Sure they **can** be disgusted, but if their Calvinism is true, and all is decreed, then they **can** only be disgusted if God decreed for them to be disgusted. If God decreed for them not to be disgusted by something instead of being disgusted by it and avoiding it they have to do what God decreed for them to do AND NOT BE DISGUSTED BY IT.

    Actually if Calvinism is true, whatever we say, think or do is decreed and it is impossible for us to do otherwise. Again, it all boils down to luck if Calvinism is true. You can only hope that God decrees for you to be a believer, to do good things, to be outraged at evil, etc. If instead you got unlucky then God could just as easily decree for you to be a “reprobate” to do evil things, to rejoice and enjoy evil and not be disgusted by it at all.

      Randall Cofield

      Robert,

      Was God’s purpose to preserve a people for himself contingent upon Joseph’s brothers making a libertarian free will choice to sell Joseph into slavery?

        Robert

        Randall asks:

        “Was God’s purpose to preserve a people for himself contingent upon Joseph’s brothers making a libertarian free will choice to sell Joseph into slavery?”

        Was God’s purpose in providing an atonement through Christ contingent upon the Jewish leaders making a libertarian free will choice to work with the Romans to have Jesus crucified?

        If they had freely chosen otherwise would the crucifixion have occurred?

        If the brothers had freely chosen otherwise would the slavery of Joseph to the Midianites have occurred?

        If Jacob had not shown favoritism to Joseph by giving him the multi-colored jacket would they have been as resentful towards him?

        If the brothers had not listened to Reuben and instead freely chosen to kill Joseph would he have been sold into slavery?

        Sometimes God uses freely made choices to accomplish His purposes. He did it with the crucifixion, He did it with Joseph, He even sometimes does it in our lives here in the twenty-first century. It does not seem particularly difficult for a person who is omniscient and thus foreknows all future events even when those events involved freely made choices.

        I hope the word “contingent” does not bother you Randall, seeing as everything that happens in this world is contingent. Only God is absolute, invariable, separated from His own creation, Holy, every created thing is contingent and in dependent relations with other created beings.

      Jake Fowler

      Robert,

      Thank you for your response. I appreciate the dialogue because I believe it to be key for the unity of the SBC. Regretfully, I am not the wisest person to be discussing these things with; however, I do want to explain more so what I believe versus what you say I believe. I pray this will encourage positive discussion between the convictions within our denomination so that either side can see the Biblical capability of the other. This is why I continue to stay subscribed to this blog. I know that sometimes I will read things that will make me angry and I will be heavily tempted to chide due to my characterurized beliefs. I pray that this blog will not see the SBC today as bickering or one particular soterilogical view over the other, but that both convictions can come together in order to provide spiritual formation in our families and that all peoples may come to find their true joy in Christ and Him alone.

      So, when you conclude that the Calvinist’s view of God’s sovereignty is merely the secularist’s notion of luck, you are making unhelpful remarks that you know no Calvinists actually believes (however it can bait many Calvinists to throw bombs back, and thus the endless spitefulness continues). It is impossible for for the logical conclusion of God’s decree to be luck for it is fully under God’s control. God does not flick His cosmic coin to decide whom to save (He does not bow His will to chance for “our God is in the heavens and He does all that He pleases” Ps. 115:3).

      Now you claim that I am ignorant of the compatibilist position because it is a form of determinism. Determinism is heresy. This would be like me saying “libertarianism is the view that God does not know the future and was shocked when man sinned.” I use one term and define it by the heresy close to that term. People then might call me out, “that’s not libertarianism!” But then I could argue that the logical conclusion of God restricting His sovereignty in granting freedom to man logically proceeds to man having ultimate sovereignty and God not knowing the future. Obviously I’ve merely committed the same conflation by logical leaps. These arguments are not helpful to the conversation. They simply cause people to continue to believe that “them Calvinists are those people who believe God determines every single thing so we don’t even need to go out and evangelize!” So instead of being able to have genuine conversations on whether the modish version of the “sinner’s prayer” is biblical, we’re stuck on “well they’re just saying that because they don’t believe in evangelism”. Fear mongering causes division, conversation promotes unity.

      To the topic at hand: if the libertarian either God willed something or man willed something model is true, in light of Acts 2:22, who put Jesus on the cross? Did God have the freedom to will it, or did the wicked men who nailed him there have the freedom to will it? The compatabilst position says both God and man willed it. The wicked man acted according to His highest desire: kill Jesus. God acted according to his highest desire: redeem wicked men. Man is blameworthy, God is praise worthy.

    norm

    So either God planned for Joseph to be sold into slavery, or God allowed it to happen. One must choose. Can’t have it both ways. Your position intimates that there was no other way that God could have eventuated what he intended for Joseph. Are you saying the God planned for Joseph’s brothers to do evil? Let no man say when he is tempted that he is tempted by God. This is a major problem for Calvinists. Piper is unwilling to for the actions of men to influence what he sees as the sovereignty of God. So, he says the evil actions of men are within the plan of a sovereign God. And that makes God the author of evil. There is no other way to slice it.

      Bob Hadley

      AMEN

      Randall Cofield

      According to Scripture, God often *plans* calamity, rather than simply allowing it. This is one example among many:

      1 Kings 22:19 Micaiah said, “Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.
      20 “The LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that.
      21 “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’
      22 “The LORD said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’”

      The demise of Job, the sack of Jerusalem, and the crucifixion of Christ all come to mind. Yet the writers of Scripture never charge God with being the author of evil.

        Dennis Lee Dabney

        Ahab was the enemy of the truth, the sponsor of lies well before the lying spirit was dispatched by the Lord to ensure he was taken from his corrupt labor to his deserving reward.

        Satan had already “considered” Job.

        Pharoah had already “hardened” his own heart concerning the LORD.

        Israel “sacked” themselves the same way we do, having been warned, yet went headlong into their rebellion against God. They had to go or make the Lord of Glory a liar.

        Joseph was chosen by the LORD to save His people in spite of their sins.

        Finally, the Lord Jesus Christ was slain “before” the foundation of the world, for the sins of the whole before His handlers laid a finger on Him.

        Preach!

          Randall Cofield

          Yet nothing you offer changes the Scriptural reality that God carefully planned and executed his will in every one of those cases, yet was not the author of the evil involved.

            Jim Poulos

            That’s fine Randall. But that is a far cry from God being the source of or initiating evil. That He can direct and maneuver within an evil world is not the same as contributing to or approving evil in that kind of world.

            That kind of thinking is repulsive and should be rejected in understanding who He is. “God is Love.’ Evil is against a God like that.

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Brother Randall,

            My offering supplied the Scriptural reason for the above judgment of both Ahab and Pharoah.

            We wouldn’t want someone out there to get the wrong idea about old Ahab or Pharoah since he was included with 2 other righteousness men of God in your comment.

            We wouldn’t want someone to get the impression Ahab was the poster Boy for Truth and Pharoah’s heart was soft like warm butter.

            Now as to Joseph, not only did he, by the hand of God, save Israel but also by the grace of God provided salvation from “starvation” of the world of his day, Egypt. What a picture?

            Job was tested by the Lord, while tempted by Satan to curse the Lord to His face. Satan was found once again to be liar in the face of the Most High God.

            Now, the implications for Adam’s offense must be realized in every generation of the children of men. This earth and world is under the curse of sin, unleashed by Adam who consumed the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

            So the knowledge of good and evil along with all of its life lessons and human experiences etc has continued from the Garden of Eden till the end of the age, laying grievous burdens upon all after his kind.

            Nevertheless God has chosen in His Divine, Sovereign prerogative to provide salvation to the lost, and His goodness extended to the just and the unjust.

            Preach!

      Jake Fowler

      Norm,

      Thank you for your response, it is a very good point.I would respond in assumption that you are holding to the libertarian position “either God wills something or man will something,” So, why is Joseph in Egypt? Is it because Josephs brothers planned it, or because God planned it? “One must choose. Can’t have both ways.” (At least according to your position). However the Holy Scriptures say, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.” Gen. 50:20 HCSB. In your position, you would say these brothers under the same circumstances and in the same exact situation could have chosen non-A (not selling him into Egypt). So they would have chosen the opposite action for the exact same reasons which is why contra-causal freedom is philosophically untenable, or rather named the freedom of indifference. However, it is still a biblically valid (though I would argue less convincing) way of joining God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom. However, I get the impression that many people arguing against me would not be willing to say that about my position. To anyone who would do that I would say that is not very Southern Baptist of you. Southern Baptists have been for decades united on the Gospel and many other conservative values while differing on these soteriological convictions. Its by far time we stop calling each other heretics and start uniting on the fact that Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God for us and we begin to devote our lives to our families, flocks, and the world so that everyone might know this great truth.

      Should we debate and converse these issues? Yes, Anything that can get us closer to the truth God has given us. Should we promote the view that compatabilists believe that God causes people to do evil and is therefore evil himself? No, because that is not what compatabalists believe, it could be what at determinists believe (although the latter is also still debatable).

      I could say, “God knowing everything man would do with his contra-causal freedom and choosing to create him anyways made God the author of evil”. But I also know that’s not what any Libertarian believes.Me promoting that view as what all Libertarians believe simply by citing one popular one would merely be attempting to cause division in stead of seeking conversation and unity. “There is no other way to slice it.”

Bob Hadley

Leighton,

You are absolutely correct in your assertion. “Why are you standing in opposition to God and His ways? You should not disapprove of His sovereign plan and purposes.” You are not; in fact, IF that were true the logical conclusion of that position would be that you are doing EXACTLY what God has sovereignly chosen for you to do and believe and it is the inconsistency of the calvinist to deride you for being and doing what the will of God has determined that you do.

Even those who do not consistently hold to this strict form of determinism have MORE problems that they must face. The primary argument with respect to one’s salvation is that God has from the beginning of time known who will and will not be saved and since He cannot be wrong, those that He knew would be saved were the ones Jesus died for on the cross and no one else. He could not have died for those who God knew would not be saved.

So it is God that saves those He has predestined to save with no input on man’s part. God gives new life and men repent and believe. Here is what I see as the reverse side of the consequences you have highlighted in your article and that is this: If God is NOT responsible for evil and He is NOT responsible for every sin that men commit THEN that means God is ONLY sovereignly responsible for ONE decision in the life of the elect and NOT EVEN ONE decision in the life of the reprobate. I find this position terribly inconsistent with the tenet of God’s sovereignty that is a primary plank in the calvinist philosophical system. I believe this is one of the reasons men like Piper are at least consistent in their thinking as you have pointed out.

It has to be one way or the other. Neither is theologically plausible as I see it.

kyle

Mr. Flowers as usual miss represents biblical christianity. God has two wills and his moral will does not supercede His will to glorify Himself in every situation in this world. God is disgusted with sin and evil just as the person identified as a calvanist in this article. God is directing the ends and the means , which involves the moral acts of sinful individuals.
Mr. Flowers is fighting a straw man and will probably win because straw men are weak men. If he accurately represented biblical christianity regarding God’s sovereignity, he wouldn’t have much to say anymore. Stay tuned for his next inaccurate article because he will have to miss represent God’s Word there too to try and make another weak point.

    Bob Hadley

    Kyle,

    Just for kicks, why don’t you actually engage Dr. Flower’s argument point by point instead of offering a WEAK generalized statement of disagreement?

    Interestingly enough, the one statement that you do make actually affirms Leighton’s article. “God is directing the ends and the means , which involves the moral acts of sinful individuals.” How can God be “disgusted with sin and evil” if according to your own theological conclusion, “God is directing the ends and the means , which involves the moral acts of sinful individuals.” If as you assert, God is indeed directing the moral acts then how can you say He is disgusted with the acts He is directing? If He is directing them, which is what Leighton is saying, it MUSST be you who is disagreeing with your own assertion by saying God is disgusted with that which He Himself is directing!

Rick Patrick

So every time a Calvinist writes a four thousand word blogpost denouncing the shallow beliefs of a junior high girl who enjoyed her youth group lock-in, they are, in fact, raging against a ministry approach that, according to their own system, God has meticulously determined must exist since before the foundation of the world. They are not really arguing against the unreformed, but against the God who has determined the actions of the unreformed.

In other words, the consistent Calvinist must view everything that takes place as being part of God’s sovereign will. Calvinists, therefore, cannot complain. If they truly believe God determines all things meticulously, so that events cannot turn out any differently than they do, then they should be the most accepting, compliant and passive people on the face of the earth. If there is only one Actor in life, namely the Lord, then no matter what happens, they must ask, “Who am I to question God?”

    Alan House

    Rick, it does not seem like a difficult concept unless one has been drinking the Geneva Kool-Aid.

    Robert

    I want to elaborate on something that Rick said:

    “In other words, the consistent Calvinist must view everything that takes place as being part of God’s sovereign will. Calvinists, therefore, cannot complain. If they truly believe God determines all things meticulously, so that events cannot turn out any differently than they do, then they should be the most accepting, compliant and passive people on the face of the earth.”

    Rick is correct, if Calvinism were true, and if Calvinists ACTUALLY believed that everything that occurs is decreed by God. Then Calvinists should ****never complain**** about anything because EVERYTHING THAT OCCURS IS GOD’S WILL/everything is precisely what God wants to occur with no exceptions.

    Use Kyle as an example of how this would work out in actual practice. Kyle sees this post by Leighton and he should not complain as God decreed that Leighton write this post, in fact God decreed every word that Leighton wrote. Kyle sees other responses to the article that include Arminian or Traditionalist or other non-Calvinist ideas and he should not complain about any of these comments as in fact God decreed every word and argument that every commentator is presenting in this thread. When Kyle drives his car and someone cuts him off, he should not complain as God decreed that the person cut him off. If someone treats Kyle unfairly or cruelly, Kyle should not complain as the actions of that other person were decreed by God. So Kyle should never complain about anything if he truly believed that God decrees all things.
    But in fact Kyle does complain, he complains about Leighton’s article, about non-Calvinist ideas and arguments, especially those that challenge his Calvinistic beliefs. So why is Kyle complaining if all is decreed, all if God’s will?

    If I believed that all events were God’s will, all events were decreed by God, I would be thankful for everything that occurs. As Rick points out there would be no reason to complain about anything.

    The reason we all (including Kyle) complain is because not every event is decreed by God and not every event is something that God wants to occur.

    In this real world as opposed to Calvinism, as Jesus said, God’s will is not always done. Which is why we pray that it is done here as it is always done in heaven and we do what we can to see the will of God occur in this world.

      Ken

      Robert:

      Your argument, with which I totally agree, along with the arguments of Leighton, Bob, and Rick, reminded me of the story told by a southern Baptist TV preacher, as follows:

      “A calvinist fell into a ditch from which he could not extricate himself. He kept pleading with passersby to help him out and was ignored. Finally a Southern Baptist(obviously I assume a Traditionalist) came along and heard the man’s plea for help, to which the Baptist responded, ‘I can’t get you out of that ditch, you were predestinated to fall into it.’ “

        volfan007

        Ken,

        LOL

        David

        Robert

        Thanks for that joke Ken, that is a keeper! :-)

Roland Peer

Jake, Kyle,

I think you’re inaccurate in describing this article as attacking a straw man.

I’m familiar with the nuances between determinism and compatibilism. Erudite scholars have supported the compatibilist position, like John Feinberg.

If you get into the nitty gritty, in the end, the sovereign will overrides the revealed will. So what “matters” is the sovereign will. That is the one that is actually in effect. When a baby is raped in a satanic ritual, it isn’t God’s revealed will, it is God’s sovereign hidden mysterious inscrutable will.

The normal reading of this is that this is not God’s will at all. We pray for justice and for the Return and we energize our efforts behind the Great Harvest. We cry because it is not God’s will. But this isn’t allowable under the comparibilist framework.

Think about this. This isn’t a perfect analogy but it illustrates my point. A terrorist holds your wife. He says, I don’t want to kill her. It is my will to not kill her. But then he kills her. Because it was his hidden will. Overrides declared will.

Are you supposed to not protest because the terrorists declared will was your wife live? Or do you voice disapproval at the terrorist?

    Jake Fowler

    Mr. Peer,

    Thank you for your response. I appreciate having conversation to help clarify certain issues. You say,” If you get into the nitty gritty, in the end, the sovereign will overrides the revealed will.” I’m assuming you don’t believe that but asserting that is the Calvinist position? Who holds that view? I’ve never actually heard of it. It sounds more charismatic (or gnostic) that there is a secret will of God that matters more than the Holy Writ.

    You may have been discussing the desired will and soveriegn will. As in, God desires all people to be saved (desired will); but not all people are saved (SBC and BF&M 2000 is not universalist).

    On a side note: your illustration was quite vile and was not even nessitated to your argument. I don’t even desire to read something like that. Maybe I’m not as strong in my faith as you; however, to associate the Holy One deterministically with such a vile act should not be done. There may be those who hold to the Doctrines of Grace out there who hold to such fatalism (mainly hyper-Calvinists) but that does not mean all (or even a majority) do. I request for my sake and for the ease of my stomach that you would refrain from such illustrations. You may have not known before, but you should know now though I may hold to the doctrines of grace, I repudiate the idea that God actively causes evil.

      Roland Peer

      Jake — desired will has also been described as revealed will, and are juxtaposed against the sovereign/hidden will, which is what actually takes place. Here’s the difference — you say, “As in, God desires all people to be saved (desired will); but not all people are saved (SBC and BF&M 2000 is not universalist)” — that’s not two wills under my framework. That’s one genuine will — all people be saved. But God delegating responsibility in a real sense so that God’s will is not always the outcome.

      These vile things happen all around us, and we must minister to the victims. The world is a terrifying place and the types of wickedness you see on a daily basis is disheartening. The example I noted is every bit as real, and much more frequent than a Hurricane Katrina, but hurricanes in today’s desensitized world no longer make the point that determinism / compatibilism don’t hold up well to the problem of evil.

      If you repudiate the idea that God actively causes evil, will you hold that God does delegate freedom to some extent?

kyle

Instead of biblical arguments, it is usually best with arminian’s to use philosophical ideas because most arminian’s like philosophy more than clear plan biblical texts. Let’s take the city of coventry in england, in the war, for an example. England as you may know deciphered the German communication code and discovered that the Germans were going to bomb coventry. If they evacuated the city, Germany would know that they had cracked their communication code. So, they made the incredibly difficult decision to allow the Germans to bomb coventry so they could use the communication breach to help win the war. This is at the foundation of Mr. Flowers misunderstanding of God’s will. As I mentioned earlier, there are two wills in God. His moral will, which can and is violated constantly and his decreed will, which is inviable. Arminian’s mock this idea of two wills in God. However, as Dr. Grudeum has clearly pointed out they believe there are two wills in God as well. That is, they are animate that God wants to save every single person. Yet, He surrenders that will to the so-called libertarian freedom of man. That is two wills in God. Sadly, they relegate the ultimate decision of God’s supposed will to save everyone to the all powerful autonomy of man. They are in the exact same dilemma as the calvanist except man is in charge of God’s universe instead of God. I would take the biblical approach and stick with God any day of the week and twice on Sunday compared to that. On another note, I have listened to many of Mr. Flowers arguments and they are as man made as they can be. His arguments regarding this very subject of evil are funny to listen to. He likes to distance himself from the very fact that God created the universe and each individual knowing exactly what each would do from what actually occurs. If God created and knew exactly what would happen, you can’t then say He isn’t responsible for what happens unless you want to be an open theist.

    Alan House

    Ronald Reagan used to say, “There you go again!”

    Robert

    Kyle,

    I get the sense that you are a very young man, perhaps a student, from your posts. They are like “drive by Calvinist posts”, just uttering Calvinistic drivel.

    You bring up the false two will theory yet again:

    “As I mentioned earlier, there are two wills in God. His moral will, which can and is violated constantly and his decreed will, which is inviable. Arminian’s mock this idea of two wills in God.”

    You wonder why this ridiculous idea is mocked.

    Let’s give you an example so you can see how this appears to be absolutely ridiculous to non-Calvinists. You claim two wills, one that can be violated, the other that cannot be.

    The problem is that God decrees every violation of the moral will!!!!

    God says in the moral will, what is revealed in scripture, that we should not commit adultery. And yet the secret will, which INCLUDES EVERY EVENT, has God decreeing every act of adultery! So you have GOD CONTRADICTING HIMSELF CONTINUOULSY. He says he wants strong marriages (moral will) but then He decrees every act of adultery, every thought of infidelity, every act of spousal abuse, every divorce. Not only does this mean that His moral will does not mean much (as it is constantly violated by EVENTS THAT HE DECREES. It also means that the real will of God that really counts is the secret will. That is the will that He really wants to see happen. So He SAYS that adultery is wrong, commands us not to do it, to supposedly protect our marriages. And yet He DECREES every act of adultery that occurs.

    This means these two wills are constantly contradictory to one another, it also makes God appear to be a sadistic schizophrenic person. Sadistic because He decrees every sin that harms or endangers a marriage, and that is cruel. Schizophrenic because He says one thing in the Word, but He wills the opposite, with lots of harmful consequences including bad relationships, divorces, spousal and child abuse, negative consequences that impact people negatively for years. And this is JUST ONE EXAMPLE of the idiocy of the two will theory. I just spoke about adultery and marriage. God also says not to harm children (moral will) and yet if He decrees whatsoever comes to pass/every event, then He decrees every act of child abuse. Again if this false theory were true it makes God appear to be sadistic and schizophrenic. Fact is we could show this kind of contradiction, sadism, schizophrenia with any sin or evil you care to mention.

Roland Peer

Kyle, wrong again sir. I would love to focus on Scripture. That’s where I spend most of my time when discussing these matters. My website in fact makes that point that Scripture and not philosophy is the only real way to engage. But philosophy is useful in showing people the logical outcomes of their theology.

Also, the fact that everyone who isn’t a Calvinist is an Arminian is another caricature. Did you know that neither the author of this article, nor I, are Arminian? Did you know that the only people who are Arminians or Calvinists are western, seminary-educated, mostly men, probably less than 10% of Christians globally?

You are incorrect that I believe there are two wills of God. Here is the difference between your posts and mine. I only go off of what you wrote, while you prop up a straw man as to what I believe.

God has one will, and He delegates freedom in a genuine sense, and as a result we go against His genuine will. This is different than the compatobilist position in that it affirms libertarian freedom. Not the same. To delegate means to not impose will. To describe the non-imposition of will as a will is misleading and a poor choice of words.

kyle

One thing I find curious, is the idea that God cannot be responsible for pain, suffering, and evil in the universe and still be sovereign. It would be my suggestion to look at the book of Job and see if that holds true. Either God had no sovereign purpose in that or He did. We must not skip over the text in the beginning of the book for it clearly states that it was God who offered Job for the suffering and aproved of it by withdrawing His protection. This is where many get confused with the ends (God’s sovereign purposes) and the means. “Have you considered my servant Job” is the question from God to satan. I would not begin to propose all the reasons why God did that. However, it appears to be pretty clear at the end of the book that God was wanting to share the profound truth that He is in charge of His universe. That goes against the grain of those who claim God isn’t involved in the determination of suffering and even evil as some would see it. The bigger question, is the the one that comes in the end of the book and the apostle Paul brings up in Romans 9. That is, who are we to answer back to God. If Mr. Flowers is correct, he will be the one who gets to answer back to God in the end about who suffers, who does not (no one actually), who God has chosen to save and who He has not chosen to save. That seems like a very arogant position to be in in my opinion. To which i might be wrong. Maybe God has given up some or much of His sovereignty to preserve the free will of man but just don’t see it in scripture.

David R. Brumbelow

I have noticed that in real life situations, Calvinists usually just act like other people do.
I suppose there are few really consistent Calvinists; maybe some Primitive Baptists and Hyper-Calvinists.
David R. Brumbelow

Jim Poulos

Yes, the last paragraph of the article is correct: Labeling is a problem. But that problem happens to be a two way street is why the problem won’t go away.

    Bob Hadley

    Sorry. Labeling is NOT the problem that will NOT go away. The reason this problem will not go away is because we have two very different theological positions and neither side is willing to concede it’s position to the other. The truth i, while we both may well be wrong in our soteriological positions, one thing is crystal clear; we cannot both be right.

    As long as calvinism is being promoted in the SBC there WILL be a valid reason for dissension. That reason is found in the Bible.

    Jim Poulos

    Well, that’s that. We disagree. This ‘labeling problem’ is the source of why no honest discussions can begin. One side just gives the little hint of some understanding of one side or the other then mud, that is labeling, start flying.

    Simply, people trying to understand issues are forced into corners the other side won’t let them escape from.

    It is labeling problems. The simple label ‘Christian’ is not enough today.

    Roland Peer

    Labeling is a problem but its not the essential problem. When you peel back and get past the labels, there remain very essential differences between determinism/compatibilism and a philosophical system that upholds genuine (libertarian) freedom. Some of the differences:

    – Are spiritually dead people able to respond to the Gospel message?
    – Is there a genuine offer of salvation to every person in the world?
    – Has God delegated responsibility and freedom in a genuine sense?
    – Does God ordain sin, or does God permit sin?

    These questions remain after we get past all of the labels.

      norm

      If you will search this blog for Dr David Allen’s name, you will find biblical answers to your first two questions. In short, “yes!”

    Jim Poulos

    You won’t get past labels. For that reason alone labels are an essential problem.

    Scripture is too involved for many to ‘handle the word of truth accurately’. Labels are the easiest escape from that hard work.

      Roland Peer

      Why do you say I won’t get past labels? My last post didn’t have any labels in it.

      Jim Poulos

      Roland,

      You may personally get by labels and if so to your credit but corporately is different fight.

Randall Cofield

Lol. In the second comment, Jake Fowler completely neutered–with scripture–the entire premise of the OP and every anti-Calvinist argument thus far on this thread.

In the feeding frenzy, no one even noticed.

    Roland Peer

    Incorrect! Actually, Jake has not addressed my comments, not the other way around. The question is, did God ordain Jacob’s brothers to sin, or did God delegate freedom in a genuine sense, and permit Jacob’s brothers to sin? The two are different.

    Also, is this universal promise from God? Some things in Scripture are descriptive, others are prescriptive. Take this statement: “In conclusion a Christian (even a Calvinist) can be disgusted with human actions but at the same time praise God for his good intentions and know that evil is not meaningless.” — what about a victim of satanic ritual abuse who never hears the Gospel, would you say the same? You might if you believe in reprobation. But herein lies the divide. The poster of the comment did not “neuter with Scripture” the entire article.

    No one is saying that evil in meaningless. The objection here is whether evil was ordained, or permitted, by God.

    Andrew Barker

    Randall: You were very gently taken to task by Ronnie Rogers last time you tried to defend your compatibilst notions. If you’ve forgotten, I’m sure we can dig out the relevant post, but you had no answer then and I’ve seen little evidence that you’ve learned from the experience. If you think a few lines from Jake are sufficient to rubbish what Leighton has written, it confirms your lack of understanding of the issues rather than any great insight on your part.

    You’ve been told this many times and still you don’t get it? Compastibilism is determinism. End of!! The ladies with their egalitarian coiffure could have told you this ?

      Randall Cofield

      Really, Andrew? If you will recall, Ronnie pulled out of that discussion with several critical questions unanswered. That you view this as Ronnie “taking me to task” speaks more to your wearing anti-Calvinist glasses than to reality.

      Have you yet straightened out the glaring theological liberalism of your Anglican fellowship? I’m sure the rather confused Primates, who have no idea how to deal the the LGBTQXYZ influence in your midst, would welcome your wisdom.

        Andrew Barker

        No Randall: I’ll leave Ronnie to defend his own position if he has time and energy, but that’s not how I viewed the post. He took a great deal of time to demonstrate the lack of coherence in the compatibilists’ position. I suspect that much of the time, you are failing to grasp the details of what he’s saying.

        Your troll like attitude to all things Anglican is not enhancing your stock either. I’ve already told you that I don’t hold to an Anglican point of view, it’s just where I choose to worship. If you can’t get your head round that, then that’s more a reflection of your lack of understanding than the fallibility of my position. :-)

          norm

          Andrew: Some Calvinist detractors of this blog will, when out-smarted, revert to the time-worn lawyers’ adage: “When the law is on your side, argue the law; when the facts are on your side, argue the facts; when neither the law nor the facts are on your side, attack your opponent.” When such an attack comes, the Calvinist is saying that an attack is the only defense he has. Poor tactics, to say the least. And probably not the attitude of preferring others above ourselves.

            Randall Cofield

            Hi Norm. Tried to look you up at the Convention, but failed to find you.

            I didn’t attack Ronnie. We actually had a rather civil discussion, and I consider Ronnie a true brother. And, according to his own words, he considers me likewise.

            It is the liberals here that I have little patience with.

              Andrew Barker

              Randall: Nobody has accused you of attacking Ronnie Rogers. But it’s clear from the way you write that if you don’t like something I’ve said, you’re more than willing to attack what you see as my ‘weak’ points which is where I happen to attend church. Truth is, where I attend church is totally irrelevant to the present discussion. Neither do I ‘attack’ the Calvinists’ position for the sake of it. I do however choose to point out where I think you and others of your persuasion are wrong. Now, if you don’t like being disagreed with, fair enough, but don’t blog here and expect to be agreed with just because your an SBC pastor.

              As to ‘liberals’ on this blog, I would hazard a guess that Ronnie Rogers would agree more with the likes of those you try and rubbish as ‘liberal’ than he would with your position on Calvinism. Of course, that’s not really for me to say as a fact, but I’m making a fair assumption based on what I’ve seen and read over quite a few years. Certainly, if he disagreed with them on some aspects he would conduct his discussion in a cordial manner. What is puzzling is that you seem quite keen to be polite and cordial with Ronnie, but not so with those who you have deemed to be ‘liberal’. I can’t see the logic in that position. Why not treat everybody the same?

              Lastly, just to point out something which you may just be overlooking. There are people within the SBC family of churches who have been, over the last few years, deeply involved in child abuse and also the protection of abusers. I don’t need to name names do I. Now, I’m not going to try and tar the whole of the SBC with that same brush because I know for a fact that it doesn’t represent either what those who blog here believe or indeed what the vast majority of SBC members believe. So I would tactfully suggest to you, that the next time you wish to go riding a hobby horse about other denominations and the shortcomings of their ‘leaders’ etc and the unbiblical positions they take on various current issues, you refrain from doing so, unless it is explicitly germane to the discussion in hand. That’s just a suggestion of course. I’m not here to dictate to you or anybody how this blog is run.

                Randall Cofield

                Andrew: Given your persistent derision toward Calvinists, your wildly inconsistent ecclesiology, and the fact that you consistently align yourself with liberals here, I find it hard to take you seriously.

                This is an internecine discussion that is of real consequence. You are an outsider, and you appear to be a liberal. Given the recent history of the SBC and the damage done by liberals in our midst, your opinions mean very little to me.

                You may take offense to this if you wish, but if you do so, you simply don’t understand the dynamics of what is going on here.

                I hope this is helpful.

                PS: To equate child abuse in the SBC (which no one here approves) with the massive pro-LGBTQ contingency in Anglicanism is…well…ridiculous.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Randall: Sorry, but again you’re simply wrong in your assumptions here. I’ve been contributing to this blog for many years and in fact, it’s only recently that you’ve contributed on a regular basis. If anybody’s a Johnny come lately … it’s not me!

                  What is more, although I’m not personally involved, and in truth I do try and stay out of the internal politics of arguments on this site, I’ve been contributing for long enough now that I’ve a good idea of how the SBC ticks. I haven’t taken offense Randall and what’s more I have no wish to give offense either but your attempt to silence me on the basis that I don’t understand is I believe just another re-run of the Calvinists’ mantra “you just don’t get it”. I do get it Randall and I believe I have a fairly good understanding of the issues being discussed. Now if you wish to point out exactly where I have misrepresented something, then be my guest and go ahead. But don’t expect me to lie down and take it, just because you say so. You’re going to have to do better than that I’m afraid.

                  BTW, the ‘ladies’ who you wish to denigrate by using terms such as ‘egalitarian coiffure’ are sharp, (and I’m not referring to dress sense) maybe more so than you, but that’s just IMO. (Wave to Lydia and Mary)

                    Randall Cofield

                    Then by all means, Andrew, don’t let me dampen your audacity.

          Randall Cofield

          “Your troll like attitude to all things Anglican…”

          That’s not trolling, Andrew, it is a genuine amusement that you are derisive toward Calvinists all the while the church of your choice is in utter disarray over LGBTQ issues, not to mention an entire host of other liberal issues. That’s what I can’t get my head around.

            Andrew Barker

            Sorry Randall, but it is like trolling. Whether or not you can get your head round a problem is irrelevant to the discussion. As is your amusement at my disagreement over the claims of Calvinism while fellowshipping with other Christians in a denomination which includes people who do not follow a Biblical line in their teaching. But while you’re laughing, spare a thought for Jesus. After all, he had to attend Synagogue each Saturday with the very Pharisees and Sadducees he referred to as whitewashed sepulchers!

              Randall Cofield

              Andrew, one could also point out that Jesus eventually also labeled some of his fellow Synagogue attendees a generation of vipers and blind leaders. Then he platted a whip and spanked the rumps of some of his fellow Temple attendees.

              Imagine your dismay if I were more like Jesus. :-)

                Andrew Barker

                Randall: This is typical side stepping by you. Jesus never attacked his fellow Temple attendees did he. It was the money traders and those who were misusing the Temple for their own gain that he attacked. Thieves and robbers he called them. So if you wish to make a point, please get your basic facts correct.

                My point still stands. Jesus went to the Synagogue and worshipped there with other people which must have included those with whom he strong disagreements. I didn’t mean to make a big issue out of this and it was only given as an example of the shortsightedness you were expressing in arguing that I shouldn’t be attending an Anglican church as a place of worship.

                Randall, I would not be at all dismayed IF you were more like Jesus in fact I would welcome it But I hesitate to point out that that’s probably quite a big ‘if’ isn’t it!

                  Randall Cofield

                  Come now, Andrew. Surely, in your rush to defend your association with an extremely liberal group, you have not forgotten that Jesus withdrew himself and his disciples from the synagogues and Temple and established this little thing we call the Church, have you?

                    Andrew Barker

                    Well, factually incorrect again Randall. You really ought to be more careful. Jesus never established the Church while here on earth did he. He left that to his disciples if you remember. :-o

          Robert

          Andrew,

          Andrew it bears repeating that Randall has some real weaknesses when it comes to logic. He keeps attacking you and your claims against his Calvinism by bringing up your association with Anglicism (“Your troll like attitude to all things Anglican is not enhancing your stock either. I’ve already told you that I don’t hold to an Anglican point of view”).

          One logical error that he is committing is that we need to look at the claims being made by a person carefully. This means that even the devil can be telling the truth when he makes a claim that is in fact true. The issue is not whether or not you are an Anglican but whether or not the claims that you make are true or not.

          A second error that he is making is that he is trying to produce a guilt by association claim (since Andrew is an Anglican and since they have problems X, Y, and Z in that denomination, we should not take anything he says seriously). This is the fallacy of guilt by association. Say that the Anglican denomination really is having problems with X, Y and Z, it does not follow from THAT, that the claims being made by Andrew against Calvinism are therefore false.

          Someone could easily turn this around on Randall and make another fallacious guilt by association argument like this: Randall is part of the Southern Baptists, the Southern Baptists have problems in their denomination with A, B, and C (A could be declining attendance, B could be division over Calvinism, C could be lots of people claiming to be SBC and yet many of these professing SBC folks are not attending Sunday morning services, or whatever) therefore whatever claims Randall is making are false. This is ridiculous.

          Randall needs to stop bringing up Andrews’ association with Anglicism and stick to the claims he makes (are those claims true or false?).

          I might be making an unreasonable demand here on Randall, one which he cannot fulfill since he has shown repeatedly his weaknesses when it comes to logical thinking.

    Bob Hadley

    Randall,

    Have not heard from you in a while. Hope all is well with you and yours. I read Jake’s statement and have been mulling it over in my head. I will respond here since you have pointed to it.

    Let me make sure I am not reading more into this than I should. Is it the calvinist position that God is the One responsible for WHAT Joseph’s brothers did OR did He use what was done in sin to turn out for good by using Joseph to “preserve His people” as Jake says? Obviously, everyone would agree that the latter is certainly the case. At issue however, is God’s involvement in the actions of the brothers.

    The real point of the OP is that in this specific case, it does not make sense that anyone who believes that God is the One who was responsible for WHAT the brothers did to THEN disapprove of what happened SINCE it was God’s doing in the first place. The same would have to be said of the shooting in Dallas or in Orlando… the tsunami in Japan… 911… whatever.

    I do not believe God is responsible for the sin that men commit. It was sin that caused Joseph’s brothers to do what they did. They most certainly COULD and SHOULD have done otherwise! This is what God told Cain AFTER he had slain Abel. To attribute these awful events to the will of God IS an inditement against the character of God. Period.

    The fact that God used WHAT the brothers did is a tribute to His character but to argue that the means were to justfiy the end in cases like this because God worked it out, is not logically sustainable.

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Bob. Good to hear from you, brother. We are well, thanks for asking.

      How would you apply your paradigm to 1 Kings 22:19-23?

      This issue is significantly more complex than the OP and comments thus far admit to. (See my query concerning the problem of evil below).

        Bob Hadley

        Well… I certainly find the reference to I Kings an interesting one dealing with God’s omniscience since He asks the hosts of heaven for advice! Just a humorous side note. All I see here is that the false prophets would prevail in advising Ahab… I see verse 28 as the key verse in this passage: 28 But Micaiah said, “If you ever return in peace, the Lord has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Take heed, all you people!”

        It is interesting that a Lying spirit was put in the false prophets… kind of like hardening pharaoh’s heart that was already hard… since he considered himself a god. This is where I think it is a mistake to use such passages to build a theology… why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart if he was an unregenerate and already was dead spiritually… if he was already totally depraved isn’t that like killing him twice to make sure he is dead?

        Verse 28 seems to me to be the key verse in the I Kings passage.

    Roland Peer

    Incorrect! Actually, Jake has not addressed my comments, not the other way around. The question is, did God ordain Jacob’s brothers to sin, or did God delegate freedom in a genuine sense, and permit Jacob’s brothers to sin? The two are different.

    Also, is this universal promise from God? Some things in Scripture are descriptive, others are prescriptive. Take this statement: “In conclusion a Christian (even a Calvinist) can be disgusted with human actions but at the same time praise God for his good intentions and know that evil is not meaningless.” — what about a victim of spiritual abuse who never hears the Gospel, would you say the same? You might if you believe in reprobation. But herein lies the divide. The poster of the comment did not “neuter with Scripture” the entire article.

    No one is saying that evil in meaningless. The objection here is whether evil was ordained, or permitted, by God.

      Randall Cofield

      Hi Roland,

      You posit: “The objection here is whether evil was ordained, or permitted, by God.”

      Scripture seems to indicate that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, intentionally provoked Satan against Job, sent a lying spirit to deceive Ahab, intentionally raised up Babylon to sack and destroy Jerusalem, and ordained the wicked crucifixion of his own Son. I honestly do not see how one can make a case from scripture that God merely “permitted” these things.

      Grace to you.

        Roland Peer

        Randall — I’ve seen this: there is a pattern across Scripture: if people are confronted with revelation but demonstrate that they are unwilling to be convicted, then in time God may pronounce judgment via hardening so that they are unable to believe. Each of your examples: Judas, Pharoah, Ahab, Babylon (re: Job, I don’t think God provoked Satan in the sense you have in mind; Satan would destroy all of us right away but for God restricting him) fit this example. Therefore, you cannot conclusively deny this possibility. Each of these four were already turned against God in a very definite, perhaps permanent way, prior to God’s hardening. This isn’t proof one way or the other, but its [empirical] evidence. God has the sovereign power to harden whenever, wherever, but appears that he delegates responsibility and that people have a window of genuine opportunity to respond to grace.

          Randall Cofield

          Roland,

          Perhaps I am missing something, but nothing you posit here seems to support that God merely “permitted” these atrocities. Scripture seems quite clear that God was actively involved in every one of them–indeed, he explicitly ordained them.

          This seems to controvert your contention, does it not?

          In the end, I am not contending that God is the author of evil, but that he rules and overrules in all matters of evil for his eternal glory and our good. I feel sure you agree.

          Grace to you.

            Roland Peer

            Randall, do a “CTRL-F” on my most recent post (12-07-2016, 15:22) — I didn’t use the word “permit.” I said God hardens people who resist the truth (paraphrase). Do you understand what I’m saying?

              Randall Cofield

              Hi Roland,

              I was referring to your statement “The objection here is whether evil was ordained, or permitted, by God.”

                Roland Peer

                So you didn’t read my response then and just posted two messages saying the same thing? We stopped talking about permissive will hours ago and into God’s criteria for action but you then went back to an old topic that isn’t relevant anymore? Makes no sense.

        Jim Poulos

        Hello Randall,

        If I may give some things for you to consider. Yes, I can see where you would come to some of the conclusions you take, that is that God ordained. Why? Because it does come off almost like it was meant to happen. In some ways it was. But not by your conclusions.

        Look at Cain. The Lord comes to Cain and tells him, “sin lies at your door and its desire if for you but you must rule over it.”

        Something was going on with Cain that the Lord was bringing to his attention that he simply could not rule over. It, Sin, ruled over him in the end. It was almost his ability to chose to do what was right was gone. It was not. He just did not have the power to rule over the real problem. A problem we all must face.

        Pan ahead to Peter. Just a reflection of Peter prior to Crucifixion/Resurrection and particularly Pentecost and post Pentecost. It almost seems like two different Peters. It was the same Peter. Peter before Pentecost could not rule over his actions of right and wrong. Three time denying he ever knew Jesus. After Pentecost, he was turning the world upside down facing all opposition to what he know as right, witnessing about Jesus and the resurrection.

        It was and is the power of Sin that dictates and overcomes people conscience about right or wrong.

        Think about putting that factor into place. I believe it is true to the ‘Word.’

        Peace

Randall Cofield

The OP and the anti-Calvinist commenters here are overlooking a glaring problem–the so-called problem of evil. I see nothing in the Traditionalist/non-Calvinist philosophies that even comes close to addressing the problem of evil, whereas compatibilism and a healthy view of God’s absolute sovereignty over evil seems to resolve the issue in accordance with Scripture.

The Problem of Evil falls out thusly: The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a significant challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were omniscient, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world. If God were omnipotent, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering. Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it. And yet we find that our world is filled with countless instances of evil and suffering. These facts about evil and suffering seem to conflict with the orthodox theist claim that there exists an omniscient, omnipotent, morally perfect God.

Positing that God sovereignly endowed man with libertarian free will does nothing to resolve the problem, so how do the Traditionalists/anti-Calvinists here address the above questions?

    Robert

    Randall,

    I have said this before about you and your latest post again demonstrates this: apparently you are not too keen when it comes to logic. You also seem to be completely cut off from contemporary discussions of the so-called problem of evil (POE).

    Perhaps a brief history lesson may help here. For many years atheists led by folks like John Mackie presented the POE as a defeater against Christian belief. Alvin Plantinga a Christian philosopher came along (and using libertarian free will in what famously was called “the free will defense”) in his little book (GOD, FREEDOM, AND EVIL) ***eliminated***/refuted the logical POE argument (i.e. that the existence of evil is incompatible with the existence of a good, all powerful, all knowing God). He did so logically and so persuasively that even atheists (including Mackie!!!!) admitted that HE DID IT, that he eliminated the logical POE.

    Now atheists engage in probability arguments (i.e. the amount of evil present in the world probabilistically brings into question the existence of a good, all powerful, all knowing God). Note the change from the LOGICAL POE to the probabilistical POE argument. Plantinga’s book came out in 1989 so we are talking about this being true for almost 30 years.

    And yet Randall apparently is completely oblivious to all of this. He brings up POE:

    “The Problem of Evil falls out thusly: The existence of evil and suffering in our world seems to pose a significant challenge to belief in the existence of a perfect God. If God were omniscient, it seems that God would know about all of the horrible things that happen in our world. If God were omnipotent, God would be able to do something about all of the evil and suffering. Furthermore, if God were morally perfect, then surely God would want to do something about it. And yet we find that our world is filled with countless instances of evil and suffering. These facts about evil and suffering seem to conflict with the orthodox theist claim that there exists an omniscient, omnipotent, morally perfect God.”

    And then makes the absolutely ridiculous claim that:

    “Positing that God sovereignly endowed man with libertarian free will does nothing to resolve the problem, so how do the Traditionalists/anti-Calvinists here address the above questions?”
    ***Even THE ATHEISTS*** admit that Plantinga did it, eliminated the LOGICAL PROBLEM OF EVIL argument. Plantinga showed the compatibility of a good, all powerful, all knowing God with the existence of evil and his argument used libertarian free will to do so.

    But Randall oblivious to all of this, makes his statements.

    The book is very short, Randall should read it and understand it, before making his false and ignorant claims.

      Randall Cofield

      Perhaps Robert-no-last-name-who-addresses-in-the-third-person-and-considers-himself-an-impecable-logician is unaware that Alvin Plantinga had to redefine the omnipotence of God contra to Scripture to make his case.

      Notice also that Robert appeals to atheists to affirm Plantinga’s paradigm.

      Robert also seems unaware that a number of notable philosophers have exposed faulty epistemology in Plantinga’s argument.

      And notice that Robert’s appeal to libertarian free will fails to answer any of the questions posed.

      But I digress in my ignorance.

        Robert

        Randall presents four claims conveniently broken up into four sections. I might respond to each one.

        First claim:

        “Perhaps Robert-no-last-name-who-addresses-in-the-third-person-and-considers-himself-an-impecable-logician is unaware that Alvin Plantinga had to redefine the omnipotence of God contra to Scripture to make his case. “

        Still do not understand Randall’s juvenile comments about my posting only by first name. Trying to attack me on this is acting like a child.

        The claim here is that Plantinga “had to redefine the omnipotence of God contra to Scripture”. Hmm, first of all, scripture never gives a definition of omnipotence. Generally speaking we take this to mean God can do all things that are logically possible and not contrary to His own will or nature. Randall makes this claim but provides no evidence whatsoever that it is true. I trust Randall like I trust a snake in the grass, so his merely claiming this is entirely insufficient. Some people will claim that God being omnipotent means that He can do anything. But this fails to take into account that even scripture presents things that God cannot do (He cannot lie, He cannot deny Himself). So whatever our definition of omnipotence is it has to be a bit more nuanced than God can do anything. Let’s see Randall provide the biblical definition of omnipotence (what verse presents that definition?)

          Robert

          Randall’s second claim is:

          “Notice also that Robert appeals to atheists to affirm Plantinga’s paradigm.”

          This is a lie or misrepresentation by Randall. Recall what I actually said: “***Even THE ATHEISTS*** admit that Plantinga did it, eliminated the LOGICAL PROBLEM OF EVIL argument.”

          My point and this is a common point in the context of legal cases, is that if your opponent grants a point or admits something, that is considered to be strong evidence of the truth of something. Say one lawyer argues that more than one gun was used in the crime. If the opposing counsel admits that more than one gun was used in the crime, that is strong evidence that in fact more than one gun was used in the crime. Regarding the POE, the logical version which Plantinga dealt with, atheist themselves admit that his arguments refuted it. If the atheists admit it, that is strong evidence that it is true. This is not using atheists to affirm Plantinga’s paradigm, they don’t want to support his paradigm at all. But even they admit that he successfully argued against the logical problem of evil. That is why they have now switched to evidentialist arguments involving POE. Their adjustment shows they admit that Plantinga was successful.

          Many people recognize this, but let’s quote a source “close to home” (Jeremy Evans a professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina wrote a book on the Problem of evil) Evans says regarding Plantinga’s efforts and the consequence: “It should be noted that the LPE [logical problem of evil] is a relic of the past. Even J. L. Mackie, who formulated the LPE, in its most precise form, decidedly rejected his own thesis in his later work effectively conceding that the problem of evil does not show that the central doctrines of theism are logically inconsistent with one another given the reality of evil.” [footnote 10 occurs here –and it cites J. L. Mackie THE MIRACLE OF THEISM, (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1982, page 150]. Others could be quoted on this, the exceptions are of course Calvinists who reject libertarian free will and so reject Plantinga’s argument. But the opponents, the atheists grant that “more than one gun was used”.

            Robert

            Randall’s third claim is:

            “Robert also seems unaware that a number of notable philosophers have exposed faulty epistemology in Plantinga’s argument.”

            First Randall cites no one, gives no examples. So this sounds at first like it is other philosophers who are merely discussing Plantinga. Second, the philosophers who have most questioned or attacked Plantinga have been CALVINISTS. And this is easy to understand, they reject Libertarian free will, so they reject the free will defense of Plantinga that relies of LFW. These supposed “notables” are CALVINISTS. They are of course biased against LFW and so will argue against it even when it helps to explain the problem of evil. Anything to maintain their false theology, including arguing against a helpful argument that can be used against atheists.

              Robert

              Randall’s fourth claim is this:

              “And notice that Robert’s appeal to libertarian free will fails to answer any of the questions posed.”

              LFW does answer how a good, omnipotent, omniscient, loving and perfect God and exist at the same time as evil in this world. Plantinga demonstrated this with his free will defense and even atheists acknowledge that he had done so. Randall simply rejects LFW because he holds to determinism, specifically the form known as compatibilism. For most of us, the existence of LFW easily explains why evil exists in this world: persons freely choose to do evil and they are responsible for the evil they choose to do. This does not make God the author of sin (as does compatibilism). This fits what the Bible says about evil, it is not done by God but by creatures. This fits our daily experience, we have done evil when freely choosing wrongly and observed others who have done wrongly when freely choosing wrongly. It is perhaps too simple for Randall. But I don’t think so, the reason he rejects it is his Calvinism. To maintain his determinism/compatibilism he has to argue against LFW. That explains everything Randall says and does, it is all his attempt to defend his cherished but false theology of Calvinism.

              “But I digress in my ignorance.”

              Actually Randall isn’t digressing in his ignorance, he is simply displaying more of his ignorance every time he posts. :-)?

                Lydia

                “Randall’s second claim is:

                “Notice also that Robert appeals to atheists to affirm Plantinga’s paradigm.

                ””This is a lie or misrepresentation by Randall. Recall what I actually said: “***Even THE ATHEISTS*** admit that Plantinga did it, eliminated the LOGICAL PROBLEM OF EVIL argument.””

                I read your comment and understood exactly what you meant. And I understand that atheists are operating in their own determinist paradigm.

                This is the sort of continual tactic that makes unity a joke. Trust? This sort of communication is the normal in that world which is why productive interactions won’t happen. And because they cannot afford for people to question determinism for all sorts of reasons. Mainly control over others.

Leighton Flowers

I don’t have a lot of time so allow me to quote from an earlier article referenced on my site in order to answer the issue of Compatibilism being conflated with theistic determinism, and the issue of Theodicy:

“The reason that most Calvinists are compatibilists rather than hard determinists is due to looming difficulties with hard determinism, particularly in regard to the question of evil. That is, within a hard determinist framework, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to find any rational basis on which to avoid the following conclusions: (a) humans should not be held culpable for their sin (given that humans are, from the hard determinist viewpoint, incapable of exercising free will in the matter), and (b) God should be held culpable for human sin (given that His decree is the determinative cause of each act of human sin). Many theistic hard determinists, in fact, concede the logical point, and argue that man’s culpability and God’s innocence in the matter must instead be accepted on faith rather than reason, as among the inscrutable mysteries of the divine revelation.

Those who reject theistic hard determinism, in contrast, generally do so in the belief that it is premature to abandon rational argumentation in regard to this question, especially given that there appear to be rational alternatives to hard determinism. …

Compatibilists (Calvinists) attempt to maintain that men are free in the sense that they are “doing what they desire.” However, this appears to be an insufficient explanation to maintain any sense of true freedom considering that compatibilists also affirm that even the desires and thoughts of men are decreed by God. (i.e. WCF: “God has decreed whatsoever comes to pass.”)

This is an important circularity in the claim by Calvinists that humans can be considered genuinely free so long as their actions are in accordance with their desires (i.e. “voluntary”). Given the long-held Calvinistic belief that all events and actions are decreed by God, then human desire (the very thing that compatibilists claim allows human choices to be considered free) must itself also be decreed. But if so, then there is nothing outside of or beyond God’s decree on which human freedom might be based.

Put differently, there is no such thing as what the human really wants to do in a given situation, considered somehow apart from God’s desire in the matter (i.e., God’s desire as to what the human agent will desire). In the compatibilist scheme, human desire is wholly derived from and wholly bound to the divine desire. God’s decree encompasses everything, even the desires that underlie human choices.

This is a critical point, because it undercuts the plausibility of the compatibilist’s argument that desire can be considered the basis for human freedom. When you define freedom in terms of ‘doing what one wants to do’, it initially appears plausible only because it subtly evokes a sense of independence or ownership on the part of the human agent for his choices.

But once we recognize (as we must within the larger deterministic framework encompassing compatibilism) that those very desires of the agent are equally part of the environment that God causally determines, then the line between environment and agent becomes blurred if not completely lost. The human agent no longer can be seen as owning his own choices, for the desires determining those choices are in no significant sense independent of God’s decree.

For this reason, I feel human desire within the compatibilist framework forms an insufficient basis on which to establish the autonomy of human freedom (and from this the legitimacy of human culpability for sin).

puppetleavesSome compatibilists, such as John Hendryx on monergism.com, do not refute these arguments, but simply embrace them by admitting that compatibilism is “no less deterministic than hard determinism.” And compatibilism “simply means that God’s predetermination and meticulous providence is ‘compatible’ with voluntary choice.” In other words, he is virtually saying “Mankind is doing what they want and what they want is determined by God, so get over it, He is God and can do whatever He wants!”

If I cast a spell on John causing him to desire what I decided that he should desire, would he still deem his own choices to be voluntary? I seriously doubt it, but if God virtually does the same thing, then the term “voluntary” is acceptable, I guess? It is quite baffling.

Think about it. According to this premise, guys like Jeffrey Dahmer “voluntarily” molested and ate his victims because God unchangeably determined for him to desire it. James 1:13 teaches God does not even tempt men to do evil, yet Hendryx wants us to believe God unchangeably determined our desires which in turn determine our choices to do evil? Really? Why would anyone want to go with that answer rather than to simply appeal to mystery? How can one conclude compatibilisitic determinism is a better Theodicy than that proposed by free will advocates even with the apparent mysterious surrounding the infinite attribute of divine omniscience?

    Randall Cofield

    Dr. Flowers,

    The same God who declares that he “does according to his will in the armies of the heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Da. 4:35), who says he has “…purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out and who will turn it back?” (Is. 14:27), who says “I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying my counsel will stand and I will accomplish all my purpose” (Is. 46:9-10), who “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11), and whose counsel is immutable (He. 6:17)…..

    …has also said “the soul that sins shall die” (Ezk. 18:4).

    There you have it. The absolute, determining, sovereign will of the Creator and the moral responsibility of the creature taught side by side throughout Holy Writ–without apology.

    The apostle Paul, a rather significant intellect, writing under the inspiration the Holy Spirit, wrestled mightily with this tension. To those who reject this tension, Paul responded (again, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?’ On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?”

    God’s will and man’s will cannot both sit upon the throne that is ruling over all of history. Others may cry up “autonomous,” “libertarian” human free will until the cows come home, but I am going to stick with Paul’s theodicy.

    At the end of the day, I’m pretty happy that the all-wise, all-good, infinitely holy God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass. I may not always understand what he is doing, but I am confident that he knows what he is doing.

    Grace to you.

      Roland Peer

      Welcome back, Randall. See you didn’t answer my question yesterday. None deny that God sovereignly moves in human history. For example, the incarnation. Creation. Bringing Israel out of Egypt. The Palestinian land covenant. The election of Israel. The selection of the Apostles. The logical leap that Calvinists make is that because God has ordained certain things like these according to Scripture, He must then decree and be the cause of all things, including sin. A few Calvinists balk when I bring up things like Hurricane Katrina, or 9/11. Most Calvinists balk when I bring up more unspeakably evil things like rape and what I mentioned previously in comments. These tend to try to bring out a nuanced difference between determinism and compatibilism. It then takes a bit to show them the logical inconsistency of such a difference, then these Calvinists fall back to passages like Romans 9.

      Great, let’s talk about Romans 9. Is Paul struggling with the fact that we have moral responsibility even though we aren’t in control over our morals, like you suggested? The potter and the clay reference is to Jeremiah 18. And Jeremiah 18:11 has an exhortation for the clay to repent. Both Paul and Jeremiah are dealing with nations here. It’s a directive to Israel, about God’s sovereign purposes over Israel’s election and her current status after Pentecost. Individually, as in the cases of Pharoah, Pharoah hardened his own heart several times before God hardened his heart. Why does Scripture make this all-important distinction? As for morals, is that what Esau and Jacob were about? Esau displayed way more character than Jacob in my opinion — he forgave Jacob, genuinely, even though Jacob never asked for forgiveness. Esau believed the Abrahamic promises — those same promises that Abraham believed in which made him righteous. That’s why Esau sought the blessing with tears (don’t tell me he sought repentance with tears, or else you have a spiritually dead person seeking God, which I believe in and find support elsewhere like with Cornelius, but if you acknowledge, would destroy TULIP). Esau lost the privilege but not the salvation, like Moses lost the privilege of seeing the Promised Land but not salvation.

      Your accusation that the result of God delegating limited but genuine freedom to man, which can be taken away at God’s discretion, means that “man is sit[ting] over the throne that rules over all of history] is one of the worst straw man prop-ups I’ve ever read (since the last time I interacted with a Calvinist).

        Randall Cofield

        Roland,

        I’m not sure who you are, but I’m quite certain I am under no obligation to answer your every question—especially given that your first-ever dialogue with me begins with “Incorrect!” and then proceeds with a rather belligerent accusation despite my several attempts at civility.

        If you wish to play rough, I’ll be your huckleberry. But don’t cry foul when I hurt your feelings.

        That being said, the bulk of your response here is your personal opinion and is void of any support from Scripture. While you are certainly entitled to your opinion I am under no obligation to change my position based on your opinion. So I’ll not respond to the bulk of your opinions.

        However, notice that your brief engagement with Romans 9 contains the following postulate:

        “Both Paul and Jeremiah are dealing with nations here. It’s a directive to Israel, about God’s sovereign purposes over Israel’s election and her current status after Pentecost.”

        One must completely ignore the context of Romans 9 to make this passage about national election.

        First, Paul opens the pericope by stating “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart, for I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” This is not anguish over Israel’s national election and her “status” after Pentecost. He wants his kinsmen to come to Christ for salvation.

        Secondly, Paul anticipates the objections to his teaching of election unto salvation when he posits “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!” Nobody in Paul’s audience would have objected to Israel’s national election and accused God of injustice. The fact that Paul anticipates your very objection here is pretty sound evidence that he is teaching election unto salvation.

        Thirdly, Paul’s anticipation of the objection “Why does (God) still find fault? For who can resist His will?” is utterly nonsensical if he is concerned about the national election of Israel and their status after Pentecost. Conversely, this is virtually word for word the anti-Calvinsts’ objection to election unto salvation.

        Fourthly, Paul plainly states that his “heart’s desire and prayer to God for (Israel) is that they might be *saved*”—not that they might understand their national election and status after Pentecost.

        Fifthly, Paul is comforted in that “at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” He rejoices that a remnant of Israel will be saved by grace, not that they will understand their national election and status after Pentecost. If that is not sufficiently clear salvation language for you, you really are not interested in what this pericope is teaching.

        Finally, the entire context of the first eight chapters of Romans is justification by faith. Given that the identical salvation language is sprinkled liberally throughout chapters 9-11, that you would have me believe Paul suddenly changes the entire subject of his letter is simply not credible.

        Now Roland, if that was too rough for you and you are rethinking the wisdom of civil dialogue, let me know. I can go either way.

          Roland Peer

          Randall, you’re talking past me again. Youre holding that Romans 9 talks about Reprobation?

          Roland Peer

          Because you didn’t address what I said. God may move sovereignty in history which He does but is the extension that He decreed all things true? It’s primarily about Israel, Paul’s people, who are hardened as judgment, individually and also as a nation, if you actually read my post I didn’t say there was no applicability to individuals. You didn’t address my claim. Also I said incorrect about your accusation. That is objectively incorrect. Plus this is three straight posts you have shown that you have not carefully read what I wrote. First, about Jake. Second, about permissive will, third, about rom 9 thinking I said it doesn’t apply at all to individuals. That’s pretty bad.

          Roland Peer

          Randall,

          Sent you an email too, whichever one is easier.

          I’ve read your comments, your 5 points, but you don’t seem to get one point I’m making: you will have a hard time making a generalization from Romans 9.

          Romans 9-11 are focused on Israel. It’s plain and simple. Of course, there are ramifications for individuals. God hardened individual Israelis as punishment. Paul agonized over them. But the point is, just because Scripture describes God as sovereignly moves in human history onparticular occasions, doesn’t mean God decrees everything. That’s the logical jump Calvinists make. You’ll have to try to look elsewhere in Scripture.

          — My position: if people demonstrate that they are unwilling to receive truth and conviction of sins, God may pronounce judgment via hardening so that they are no longer able to believe.

          And, the underlying Calvinist assumption is that unsaved people are ontologically unable to respond to God. Take out Augustinian T, then TULIP falls. When cornered, every single Calvinist has admitted this. Are you up for a conversation on this?

          You say, “First, Paul opens the pericope by stating “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart, for I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” This is not anguish over Israel’s national election and her “status” after Pentecost. He wants his kinsmen to come to Christ for salvation.”

          — It’s both anguish over God’s transition from Israel as light to the nations, and the judgment of hardening over Paul’s individual brethren. Israel had long been the choice people, but no more. Judgment was on Israel for rejecting Christ. God hardens people who reject revelation and grace.

          You say, “Secondly, Paul anticipates the objections to his teaching of election unto salvation when he posits “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!” Nobody in Paul’s audience would have objected to Israel’s national election and accused God of injustice. The fact that Paul anticipates your very objection here is pretty sound evidence that he is teaching election unto salvation.”

          — This is where your first logical leap comes, in my opinion. This is an objection to the judgment of hardening. What does Paul say next? Not all who is Israel is Israel. Paul affirms that salvation is by faith. This is agnostic as to whether election is unconditional. God has the power to override our wills but God doesn’t.

          You say, “Thirdly, Paul’s anticipation of the objection “Why does (God) still find fault? For who can resist His will?” is utterly nonsensical if he is concerned about the national election of Israel and their status after Pentecost. Conversely, this is virtually word for word the anti-Calvinsts’ objection to election unto salvation.”

          — Again, look at where Paul goes after this: Esau, Ishmael. Pharoah. See my earlier comment. Definitely not enough Biblical evidence that Esau was reprobate. Nor Ishmael. And Pharoah hardened his own heart prior to God’s hardening — an all-important distinction.

          You say, “Fourthly, Paul plainly states that his “heart’s desire and prayer to God for (Israel) is that they might be *saved*”—not that they might understand their national election and status after Pentecost.”

          — God has rendered judgment. But Israel shall be saved, preserved as a national identity. This is not against God’s planned purposes under the dispensational framework. Like I said, this is about both individual destinies and the nation Israel, but the focus is on Israel.

          — Also, boulema (the only time that the concept of a decree appears in Scripture) comes from the lips of a fatalistic objector. What do you think that means?

          You say, “Fifthly, Paul is comforted in that “at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” He rejoices that a remnant of Israel will be saved by grace, not that they will understand their national election and status after Pentecost. If that is not sufficiently clear salvation language for you, you really are not interested in what this pericope is teaching.”

          — Again, I didn’t say this had no repurcussions as to individual salvation, so you’re preaching to the choir. Also, saved by grace doesn’t mean that people are ontologically unable to respond to God’s invitation. You’ll have to try to look elsewhere for that.

          Every conversation is meticulously logged and analyzed, I haven’t warned Calvinists in the past, but will now. It will be distributed to a large audience too.

          Now, please let me know your thoughts as to what I said about Esau and Pharoah. Also, I hold by my assertion that you were indeed incorrect in your initial post, and that you did not understand what I wrote, which is why you wrote two consecutive posts concerning permissive will, saying essentially the same thing.

          Roland

            Randall Cofield

            “…you have not carefully read what I wrote.”

            You see, Roland, the problem is I have carefully read what you wrote. I’m sure it makes perfect sense in your head, but when you write you careen between cryptic and incoherent. A writing course at your local Jr. college may help.

            In the meantime, thanks for the exchange.

              Roland Peer

              No you have not which is why you wrote twice about permissive will. And you have failed to address anything from my last two posts while I have addressed your points. That’s pretty bad. Duly noted.

            Ron

            “— Also, boulema (the only time that the concept of a decree appears in Scripture) ….”

            What about Eph. 1:11?

            King James Bible
            In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel [boul?n, ?????? (decree?)] of his own will [thel?matos, ????????? (desire?)]:l

      Andrew Barker

      Randall: What you describe above as tension, is only tension if one holds to Reformed/Calvinistic beliefs. It is a tension of your own making and does not exist in scripture. The verses you quote do not hold the meaning which you appear to be giving them ie that God determines everything. In short, they say that God knows the end from the beginning and that his purposes will be accomplished come what may. You wrongly take this to mean that God therefore has determined ‘everything’ in advance.

      When it comes to specific verses like Eph 1:11 it’s worth noting that it doesn’t say that God determines everything, and leave it there. It says that God works everything according to the counsel of his will. So we must ask ourselves what is the counsel of his will? I believe the simple answer to this question is that God’s will is to save all those who come to him in/through faith.

      Where you and I may disagree then, is not the above statement, but it has more to do with whether or not God is truly willing to save all. What you cannot argue though, is that those of us who hold to the position where we believe God has provided for ALL to be saved, are in effect saying that a person’s individual response can be outside of God’s will. When Peter stood up and said “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” he was never in any danger of making a promise God couldn’t or indeed wouldn’t keep. It was/is entirely within God’s will that everyone who calls can/will be saved.

      Your comment about “man’s will and God’s will cannot both sit upon the throne”, is a false dichotomy. We all agree with Paul’s theodicy. Where we disagree is your interpretation of it.

        Randall Cofield

        “What you describe above as tension, is only tension if one holds to Reformed/Calvinistic beliefs.”

        Andrew, the only way that the absolute sovereignty of God as presented and in Scripture and human responsibility in Scripture does not induce tension in the human mind is if one or the other truth is rejected. That is what this two millennia old debate is about.

        “I believe the simple answer to this question is that God’s will is to save all those who come to him in/through faith.”

        I agree completely that it is God’s will to save all those who come to him by faith. At the same time, I think you know that the will of God is much larger than your simple reduction. As per our last exchange on Eph. 1, I would still love to see you exposit 3-11 and keep it coherent with your understanding of “in Christ,” and now, with your “simple answer.”

          Andrew Barker

          Randall: Let’s be straight. The phrase “absolute sovereignty of God” is not found in scripture is it. But even so, I’m happy to use it in terms of God showing his absolute sovereignty in sending Jesus so that whoever believes in him, will be saved. It’s just that I don’t accept your use of the phrase which is little more than a synonym for determinism.

          The answer is indeed simple Randall. God’s will is to save all who come to him through faith. Granted, the ramifications of this are extensive and far reaching, but that need not take away from the truth that the redemption of the human race is the central focus of God’s will and plan for the whole world.

            Randall Cofield

            “Let’s be straight….etc.”

            I don’t think you are being “straight,” Andrew. You limit God’s sovereignty to a handful of issues that you cherry-pick yourself. That’s not absolute sovereignty, and it is certainly not the way the God of Scripture reveals himself. “My purpose shall stand and all my will I shall do.”

            The problem with your “simple answer” is that it impugns the character of God by making him a sadistic roulette player. He “wills” to save all who come to him by faith, then ties his hands behind his back by endowing all with unassailable libertarian free will. Such a god is neither sovereign nor good.

              Andrew Barker

              Your problem Randall, and it is a problem, is that you not only use a phrase which itself isn’t in scripture, but you then proceed to assign this meaning to a verse which doesn’t mean anything of the kind. You appear totally unable to comprehend what God’s will means in any other terms other than he gets to determine everything. It’s actually a very poor view of God and I think in many senses it limits him to the boundaries of your very finite imagination!!

                Randall Cofield

                Well, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, and I’m sure you are quite fond of your opinion, Andrew, but I am under no obligation to alter my biblical position based on your opinion.

              Robert

              The exchange between Andrew and Randall brings out a crucial issue in the disagreement between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.

              Every believer believes in God’s sovereignty when we are praying that God’s will be done (i.e. we all believe that in any and all situations God as God has the right to do whatever pleases Him, e.g.- if he wants to heal the terminally ill person He can, He can also choose not to heal that person).

              But Calvinists are not satisfied with the biblical concept of sovereignty. So they go beyond the biblical conception to a CALVNISTIC CONCEPTION of sovereignty (which is defined as God decrees all events and controls everything and everyone at every moment so that everything that occurs is exactly what God wants to occur). This conception is read into the Bible, every Bible verse is INTERPRETED in line with this conception. And Calvinists committed to this system then will claim that non-Calvinists do not believe in God’s sovereignty (when in fact we do, as long as it is viewed biblically as God does whatever He pleases in any situation).

              We see a perfect example of this when Randall speaks of the “absolute sovereignty of God” and Andrew questions this phrase (Randall: Let’s be straight. The phrase “absolute sovereignty of God” is not found in scripture is it.”). There are not degrees of sovereignty, God is either sovereign and does as He pleases in all situations or He is not.

              The Calvinist often mistakes sovereignty with CONTROL. So the Calvinist thinks that if God creates people with libertarian free will, he loses control and is not sovereign. Or if God delegates some control in a situation to people, he is no longer sovereign. Both of these ideas are false if the biblical conception of sovereignty is kept in mind.

              Adam clearly had LFW, as seen in God telling him it was up to him to name all of the animals (i.e. it was his choice, just as when a Father tells his young daughter you can name the dolly any name you want, presuming that the daughter has multiple choices to choose from and the daughter is given the choice, the Father does not make the choice for the daughter, the daughter had LFW). God also gives mankind delegated control “and let them rule over the fish of the sea . . . fill the earth and subdue it” (i.e. man was given dominion over the earth).

              Even more fundamentally if God is sovereign when He does as He pleases, and HE decided to give people LFW, that decision is a choice that comes directly out of His sovereignty.

              Notice Randall says:

              “You limit God’s sovereignty to a handful of issues that you cherry-pick yourself. That’s not absolute sovereignty”

              Randall is limiting God’s sovereignty because he claims God is only sovereign if He chooses to control everything and decree everything. But scripture reveals God giving Adam LFW, giving him dominion/control over the earth. Randall is the one limiting God’s sovereignty when he claims that God could not be sovereign and give people LFW at the same time. And yet scripture and our own experience say otherwise (at times we do have choices and the choices are ours, the choices are not dictated by God or controlled by God, an especially good example of this is when we freely choose to sin).

              If you understand the sovereignty of God as He does as He pleases in all situations. Then you have no problem with God deciding that He would provide an atonement for all, desiring for all to be saved and AT THE SAME TIME setting up a process of salvation in which the person who is saved is justified by faith (a freely chosen decision to trust God alone to save him/her). All of this is true, if God does as He pleases and makes these decisions. Instead of acknowledging God can make these choices, Randall mocks God’s choices:

              “The problem with your “simple answer” is that it impugns the character of God by making him a sadistic roulette player. He “wills” to save all who come to him by faith, then ties his hands behind his back by endowing all with unassailable libertarian free will. Such a god is neither sovereign nor good.”

              The same God who sovereignly chose justification through faith, also chose to give man LFW. If God decides in His sovereignty to give mankind LFW, then not only is that the way it is, that is also good as God is good. To claim that God giving mankind LFW makes him “neither sovereign nor good” is to question and challenge God’s sovereign decision to give people LFW. It is also to operate from a wrong conception of sovereignty.

                Randall Cofield

                Notice that Robert offers only a lengthy list of his personal opinions sans any Scripture whatsoever. One is left with the impression that if one is an impeccable logician like Robert, one is not required to submit to the Word of God.

                That God sovereignly influences the wills of his creatures according to His purposes is writ large in Scripture, a point which utterly decimates Robert’s idol of autonomous LFW. If Robert is unable to locate said Scriptures, Randall will be happy to supply Robert with a lengthy list of such.

                Hence, Randall’s premise stands unscathed by the “logical,” Scriptureless gyrations of Robert.

                  Robert

                  Randall apparently cannot recognize a reference to scripture unless the verses are cited by number.

                  I had written:

                  “Adam clearly had LFW, as seen in God telling him it was up to him to name all of the animals (i.e. it was his choice, just as when a Father tells his young daughter you can name the dolly any name you want, presuming that the daughter has multiple choices to choose from and the daughter is given the choice, the Father does not make the choice for the daughter, the daughter had LFW). God also gives mankind delegated control “and let them rule over the fish of the sea . . . fill the earth and subdue it” (i.e. man was given dominion over the earth).”

                  I ***was*** making reference to scriptures in Genesis without giving the explicit numbers. Randall ignores this and claims my post contained no scripture references:

                  “Notice that Robert offers only a lengthy list of his personal opinions sans any Scripture whatsoever.”

                  Randall also wrote:

                  “One is left with the impression that if one is an impeccable logician like Robert, one is not required to submit to the Word of God.”

                  It is this kind of statement that makes some Calvinists like Randall completely untrustworthy. They lie and intentionally misrepresent things. Anyone reading my post, who knows scripture, would have known I was citing passages from Genesis though I did not give the numbers.

                  Also nowhere in my post or in any other post did I ever say or suggest “that if one is an impeccable logician like Robert, one is not required to submit to the Word of God”.

                  Submitting to the Word of God is what every genuine believer does. That Word of God also includes not lying about others or misrepresenting what they say, as Randall does.

                  He can talk about submission to the Word all he wants, but I don’t believe it when I see him engaging in this kind of lying and false misrepresentation.

                  Now it is one thing if Randall disagreed with my interpretation of the texts I alluded to in Genesis, but that is not what he does, he lies and claims my post contained no references to scripture and that I suggested that we only need logic and need not submit to the Word.

                  Frankly this behavior by Randall is embarrassing. It is this kind of thing that turns people off about Christianity and church leaders/pastors. If pastors are like Randall who lie and distort what other believers say, why would you want to be connected to that?

                  “That God sovereignly influences the wills of his creatures according to His purposes is writ large in Scripture, a point which utterly decimates Robert’s idol of autonomous LFW.”

                  Again this is precisely the kind of idiocy that turns people off about supposed Christian leaders.

                  It is true that I believe that LFW is real and that I believe that God designed us to have the capacity for LFW (most genuine believers share these beliefs as well, including all Traditionalists who post here). But I (we) do not worship LFW as Randall falsely claims (“which utterly decimates Roberts’ idol of autonomous LFW”).

                  And I will say it yet again, the sovereignty of God means that He does as He pleases in every situation.

                  One of those situations was when He created the world to be the way He wanted it to be. If He created man to have LFW, then that is the way it is, no matter how many folks like Randall may mock and reject LFW. It is very simple, if God created us to have LFW and that is His will for us, then that is the way it is.

                  I repeat we are dealing with two very different conceptions of what sovereignty means (one is biblical and one is equating sovereignty with theological determinism/calvinism), what I said earlier is merely confirmed yet again by Randall’s words:

                  “Every believer believes in God’s sovereignty when we are praying that God’s will be done (i.e. we all believe that in any and all situations God as God has the right to do whatever pleases Him, e.g.- if he wants to heal the terminally ill person He can, He can also choose not to heal that person).
                  But Calvinists are not satisfied with the biblical concept of sovereignty. So they go beyond the biblical conception to a CALVNISTIC CONCEPTION of sovereignty (which is defined as God decrees all events and controls everything and everyone at every moment so that everything that occurs is exactly what God wants to occur).

                    Randall Cofield

                    Again, notice that Robert ignores the copious Scriptural evidence that God sovereignly influences the wills of His creatures.

                    LFW! LFW! LFW!, cries Robert. ‘Genuine’ believers hold LFW! Adam had LFW because Robert said Adam had LFW. God gave man LFW and “that’s the way it is.” Not because Scripture says God gave man LFW, but because Robert said God gave man LFW.

                    Robert impugns the character of God by making him a sadistic roulette player. Robert claims God “wills” to save all who come to Him by faith, then ties both His hands behind His back by endowing all with unassailable, autonomous, libertarian free will.

                    Hence, Robert’s conception of God is that He therefore *cannot* sovereignly influence the wills of His own creatures to repent and believe and be saved–oh no, God can’t tamper with Robert’s sacred, autonomous, libertarian free will. Maybe some will believe, maybe they won’t, but hey, they can sure plunge into hell proud that they have LFW.

                    That is sadistic.

                    Such a god is neither sovereign nor good.

                    Nor is he the God of the Bible.

                    Randall is now going to withdraw from this silly exchange and allow Robert to glory in his LFW uncontroverted.

            Randall Cofield

            Two more observations.

            Notice that to avoid the tension I mentioned, you immediately reject the absolute sovereignty of God. Just as I predicted.

            And this: “The phrase “absolute sovereignty of God” is not found in scripture is it.”

            The term “Trinity” is not found in Scripture either. I hope you have not discarded the doctrine of the Trinity.

              Andrew Barker

              Randall: Two quick corrective comments.

              1. You didn’t predict anything of the kind. You may have thought it but you didn’t predict it.
              2. The phrase “you don’t understand the meaning of non sequitur” is also not found in the Bible. But it appears to be true in your case!!

                Randall Cofield

                Getting a little snippy there, aren’t you Andrew? You whine when I don’t engage what you say, and then you whine when I do.

                Whatever is a Calvinist to do?

                  Andrew Barker

                  Wrong again Randall. You making a habit of this or what?
                  I guess a Calvinist will do whatever he is determined to do … but then you knew that anyway didn’t you! :-o

                    Lydia

                    Andrew, Have you ever had any one on one dealings with NPD tendencies that you know of? Well, you have now because this is how it goes. That movement either attracts the types that are pre disposed or recruits them young enough to instill them with adult tendencies. The emotional equivalent to 13 year old boys. It is uncanny when you know what to look for. And deadly.

                    Discourse is really a waste of time but can be illuminating at arms length.. It is all about winning (or a faux charm offensive of those they want to use) and if winning means marginalizing people through whatever methods work, then so be it.

                    These are people who talk a lot about God’s sovereignty yet do not really fear him.

                    These are people who long for the days of John Calvin’s Geneva Where such words had physical teeth. Trustworthy? I think not. One would have to exhaustingly verify everything. And that is impossible with non disclosures and lock boxes.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Robert,

              If you provide chapter and verse Calvinist will still impose reformed theology upon the text.

              If you give him Romans 9, he will return it back to you reformed.

              Preach!

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                I say give him the Holy Scriptures!

                Preach!

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                Romans 9 as we say around here is like a good piece of meat, “It will make its gravy”!

                I get so weary of Calvinist imposing individual salvation upon this portion of pericope. The Egalitarian imposes their viewpoint upon Galatians 2:28, the Word of Faith their bias upon 3rd John 1:2.

                The chapter in light of the apostles apparent burden for the whole nation of ISRAEL to be saved doesn’t proffer individual election to SALVATION.

                The expositor is given the subject, Israel, the theme God’s purpose of the election of the only nation He ever referenced as His son, along with their history, whom He is not finished with, whom will be saved.

                Does anyone have a problem with Him choosing Jacob over Esau? Verse 14 answers that question in relationship to Him choosing one son over another. Why because the Lord Jesus Christ was totally in view in all of His doings and dealings with this rebellious nation, Israel, in a wicked world.

                Preach!

    Nancy2

    “Think about it. According to this premise, guys like Jeffrey Dahmer “voluntarily” molested and ate his victims because God unchangeably determined for him to desire it. …………Hendryx wants us to believe God unchangeably determined our desires which in turn determine our choices to do evil? Really? ”

    Exactly. So, under those beliefs, why should we struggle to resist the temptations to sin? Why not just do what we want and live it up? After all, our behavior is predetermined by God. Either we are of the Elect, or we are not – we have no choice in the matter.

Jim Poulos

A little boy was walking home and God came alongside him and asked if He could walk with him.
The little boy said, “Sure! This is great.”

The little boy asked God if he could ask Him some questions.
God said, “Sure. Go ahead. Ask anything you want.”

The little boy asked, “How long is 1,000 years to You?”
God said, “That’s easy. 1,000 years to Me is like 2 minutes.”
The little boy was impressed.

The little boy then asked God, “How much is $1,000,000 dollars to You?”
God said, “That’s easy too. To Me, a $1,000,000 dollars is like 2 cents.”
The little boy was impressed again.

The little boy got to thinking. He then asked God, “Can I have 2 cents?”
God said to the little boy, “Sure. Just wait 2 minutes.”

A little boy’s lesson: Be careful when you decide to let God walk with you.

Andrew Barker

Lydia: Randall is not the first Calvinist I’ve come across who argues the way he does and I guess he won’t be the last. I agree entirely that discourse can be a waste of time with someone who thinks the way he does but as you say, it is possible to glean an insight into how their minds work which can be helpful on occasions. It is also helpful if we share the glaring inconsistencies in their methods of argument especially if it helps to prevent others from going down the same blind alley.

What the recent exchanges with Randall have demonstrated is the danger of thinking that something is so simply “because the Bible tells me so”. This is very often shorthand for saying you must agree with my interpretation of what the Bible ‘allegedly’ says. The absolute sovereignty of God is a good example. Randall points to various verses and states this proves what he is saying is true. Yet when asked to verify the phrase “the absolute sovereignty of God” he cannot, because there are no verses which explicitly say this.

When challenged on this fact, Randall replied with an oft used fallacy regarding the trinity…. “The term “Trinity” is not found in Scripture either. I hope you have not discarded the doctrine of the Trinity.” So here we have Randall happy to support a doctrine which is not explicitly taught in scripture. There’s nothing inherently wrong in that but we should always be on our guard about the conclusions drawn from such discussions. Yet, when it suits him, Randall is quite adamant that unless something is explicitly stated in scripture, it cannot be true hence his comment to Robert on LFW ….. “Adam had LFW because Robert said Adam had LFW. God gave man LFW and “that’s the way it is.” Not because Scripture says God gave man LFW, but because Robert said God gave man LFW.”

This is not the way to reach a sound conclusion about what scripture teaches. This is doctrine based upon accepting what one person happens to believe is true and that’s not good enough for me!

    Robert

    Andrew,

    In contrast to Randall who keeps trying to attack you via a guilt by association fallacy (i.e. he is connected with those liberal Anglicans so just disregard his claims . . .): I am more concerned about whether or not the claims you make are true or false.

    “Lydia: Randall is not the first Calvinist I’ve come across who argues the way he does and I guess he won’t be the last. I agree entirely that discourse can be a waste of time with someone who thinks the way he does but as you say, it is possible to glean an insight into how their minds work which can be helpful on occasions. It is also helpful if we share the glaring inconsistencies in their methods of argument especially if it helps to prevent others from going down the same blind alley.”

    Sadly this is true and it is exactly like my earlier experience dealing with counter cult ministry. Cultists often came across exactly as Randall does, absolutely committed to their false theology, belittling and dismissive of others’ beliefs, engaging in all sorts of logical fallacies and personal attacks. At times it may seem like a waste of time to engage a cultist, but some do get out of their cults and there are always others watching. So for the sake of others at times you engage cultists, to demonstrate their errors for others and to keep them away from these groups. Unfortunately, with **some** Calvinists they act just like these cultists, and their thinking and group think is very cult like (not all, as there are Calvinists with whom you can have a gracious discussion while disagreeing in an agreeable way).

    “What the recent exchanges with Randall have demonstrated is the danger of thinking that something is so simply “because the Bible tells me so”. This is very often shorthand for saying you must agree with my interpretation of what the Bible ‘allegedly’ says. The absolute sovereignty of God is a good example. Randall points to various verses and states this proves what he is saying is true. Yet when asked to verify the phrase “the absolute sovereignty of God” he cannot, because there are no verses which explicitly say this.”

    This is a crucial observation.

    What this whole disagreement between Calvinists and non-Calvinists comes down to is the matter of INTERPRETATION. The biblical texts are the inerrant and infallible Word of God. The scriptures are not the problem. The problem is that Calvinists (again much like cultists) come along and claim THEIR INTERPRETATION, their system of theology is the truth. So every Bible verse is INTERPRETED in line with their false theology, their paradigm. Non-Calvinists do not share this paradigm, this system of theology, so we come to different interpretations of the same Biblical texts. People have to keep this in mind, the issue is not intelligence or Christian commitment, the issue is differing interpretations. I can respectfully disagree with a Calvinist who knows this and acts like this is the case. But some Calvinists ignore this reality and try to present it as if they alone have the truth, and everybody else is wrong. But their “truth” is not scripture, it is THEIR INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE.

Lydia

Andrew, I don’t think they understand they end up presenting a God Who is not really Sovereign over His Own Sovereignty. Wrecks havoc with His Character.

Robert

Randall is a sad example of a Calvinist debater. I know some Calvinists to be gracious, well read, logical and not feeling any need to intentionally misrepresent what non-Calvinists believe (e.g. Vern Poythress). But THAT is not Randall. No, he repeatedly and intentionally mispresents what others believe and engages in dumb arguments and comments.

“Again, notice that Robert ignores the copious Scriptural evidence that God sovereignly influences the wills of His creatures.”

We all believe that God influences people in all sorts of situations. But for Calvinists like Randall, “influences” = totally controls. In his mind, God being sovereign can only mean that He directly, continuously and always controls every person’s will directing it as He wills like a puppet master controlling his puppets.

“LFW! LFW! LFW!, cries Robert. ‘Genuine’ believers hold LFW! Adam had LFW because Robert said Adam had LFW. God gave man LFW and “that’s the way it is.” Not because Scripture says God gave man LFW, but because Robert said God gave man LFW.”

This is a really stupid comment in light of what I have now said repeatedly:

if God decided to give mankind LFW, then mankind has LFW.

I did not decide the nature of man, God as creator did.

And the evidence, including those verses I alluded to in Genesis shows that God does not continually control us (if He did He would not have given dominion over the earth to man in Genesis) and at times leaves decisions to us (again God telling Adam to name the animals whatever name He wanted to name them).

Randall repeats his dumb analogy again:

“Robert impugns the character of God by making him a sadistic roulette player. Robert claims God “wills” to save all who come to Him by faith, then ties both His hands behind His back by endowing all with unassailable, autonomous, libertarian free will.”

God desires that all be saved (He says that explicitly in the Word, e.g. 1 Jn. 2:2). God decided that salvation would be through faith (the whole book of Romans and also Galatians). God decided that mankind would have the capacity to sometimes have and make their own choices (i.e. LFW). The evidence for this is all over scripture beginning in Genesis. Every time people have a genuine choice (death versus life, obedience versus disobedience, etc.) this is evidence of LFW.

Every time they are told they SHOULD have done something else in scripture (they did X, they are told they should have done Y, it makes no sense to speak of what they should have done if this choice was impossible to them, the fact they should have done differently indicates they could have done differently, and if they could have made the choice they actually made and also made the choice they should have made, they had LFW).

Neither the terms libertarian free will nor compatibilism are found in scripture so you have to see how does scripture describe choices? Does it describe choices as a person has to make a choice and it was impossible for him to have chosen otherwise (that would indicate determinism/compatibilism)? Or does it describe choices where persons can make one choice or another choice (that would indicate LFW)?

Randall refuses to acknowledge that if God decided that salvation would be through faith and that faith would be freely chosen, then that is the way it is. Instead he mocks this:

[[“That is sadistic.
Such a god is neither sovereign nor good.
Nor is he the God of the Bible.”]]

As I said previously it comes down to God’s sovereign decision (sovereignty meaning He does as He pleases in all situations, including when He creates man and how He intends man to be).

If He decides to create man with LFW, then that is not sadistic, not bad, and it certainly **is** “the God of the Bible” because as creator He sovereignly decides what the nature of man will be.

“Randall is now going to withdraw from this silly exchange and allow Robert to glory in his LFW uncontroverted.”

I am glad Randall is withdrawing from the discussion. He is the kind of Calvinist who only brings darkness to a discussion not light.

Regarding glorying, I will glory in the God of the Bible who is the creator and as such it was His decision what the nature of mankind would be. I am happy that he decided to create us in His image with the capacity to have and make our own choices, rather than as puppets who are totally controlled by a puppet master.

Lydia

Robert, according to Randall your points are moot because you have no last name. He is big on last names. Maybe he thinks Jesus’ last name is Christ? :o)

    Robert

    Lydia,

    “Robert, according to Randall your points are moot because you have no last name. He is big on last names. Maybe he thinks Jesus’ last name is Christ? :o)”

    A few things on Randall’s juvenile attacks of me for not posting by my full name.

    First, as a point of logic, whether I post my last name or not, what counts is whether what I am claiming is true or not.

    Second, I could understand if I was posting with one of those goofy fake names (often used by Calvinist posters such as “Calvin Boy”, “Sola Man”, “Calvinator”, “Geneva fan” etc. etc.). But I am not, I am posting by my legal first name.

    Third, I have said this before, even said it directly to Randall (yet he ignores this). I work in prison ministry, a large prison ministry extended over many states and involving thousands of inmates. In order to protect myself and family, I do not post by full name. Now most inmates could care less what your last name is, unfortunately some will use any personal information that they have in order to attack you, manipulate you, all made possible my means of even just your first and last name. I was speaking to one of our volunteers about this, explaining why I am so strong on confidentiality (e.g. graders who grade Bible Correspondence courses are never to put first or last name on inmates sheets). I took JUST THEIR NAME and within a couple of minutes showed where they lived, their house, address. They were shocked that that could be done so easily and quickly. Unfortunately there are some unscrupulous inmates who will use information like that and send a friend or acquaintance over if they know where you live. In order to avoid any of those problems even when posting at a site like this, I use only my first name. I have very good reasons for doing so, and yet Randall ridicules me for doing so. That shows me he has no class and no understanding. Another believer who understood my situation would simply accept that I post by first name and go from there. But not Randall . . .

Lydia

Robert, that is an excellent reason. I have met too many bullies inside and out church not to take precautions. My view is if the blog owners allow first names then what business is it of mine? If they require more then it is most likely not wise to comment there for some.

Doug Wilson will often demand information so he can call your pastor and have you disciplined for certain opinions/disagreements. I always wondered how that worked out. It seemed to be the normal in his world years ago. Never did I imagine it would be the normal in much of the SBC. Sadly, Doug Wilson became quite popular with the YRR.

    Mary

    Way back when I first started searching about Calvinism on the Internet I made the mistake of posting my real name. It was a site that posted both your name and email address. I told the story about how we were watching a Calvinist deceive a church. I kept getting emails from someone who I think went by the name “Timothy” He kept asking me if I’d done the Christian thing and brought my concerns to the new Pastor who intentionally deceived the church when asked directly about Calvinism and other questions. One of Deceiving Calvinist answers was “Calvinism simply means you believe in the Sovereignty of God. God being Sovereign is biblical and I wouldn’t want anything to do with a church who rejects that God is Sovereign.” and then blah, blah, blah. We had taken our concerns to the Chairman of the Pulpit committee who was an old arrogant fool who couldn’t handle the fact that he’d been duped – the last Pastor had been forced out because he was demanding that either he would leave or the nonCalvinist Music Minister had to go. The church chose to get rid of the Calvinist Pastor. So of course this chairman should have been on alert for a militant Calvinist but he was completely fooled because these people are very deceptive. So anyhoo young Calvinist gets call and one of his first sermons was ranting about people “gossiping on the internet” about things they have no understanding blah blah and how cowards were people who gossip on the internet and don’t bring their concerns to the church because they know they’re idiots and liars blah, blah, Well turns out he was talking about my description of events from blog I posted on. Now you would think after throwing down the “coward” card he would have the courage to confront me or my husband. Nope. Because if he did tham it would all come out about how he deceived people about his intentions for the church and he didn’t want to do that. My husband would get up in his personal space and make comments to him like “Hey Jeremy anything you ever want to talk to me about just give a call.” Then he made up a fake name and stalked me on the internet attacking anything I said. Talk about cowardly. So we left the church, flash forward several years Young Idiot Calvinist thought he finally had enough backing to take over the church and change polity – deacons to elder rule etc – turns out he didn’t have as much support as he thought. He throws hissy fit declaring how much time he’s putting in trying to move church in a “Biblical” direction and the church would do what he wanted or he and the other two staff members would resign. Church refused, all the paid staff resigned. Now you would think after having now had two militant Calvinist Pastors that this church would have learned it’s lesson but nope the “transitional” Pastor is lecturing the congregation weekly on “Biblical” doctrine – Calvinism.

      Jon Estes

      Mary, Most church going people have their horror stories and it is a sad thing. Most pastors have theirs too.

      As a Reformed thinking pastor, I have mine. I’ll keep it short.

      I was asked to resign because to many people were being baptized… The church was growing to fast…

      False accusations (lies from church members) were made about me.

      I saw the church go from 110 to over 200 then to 50 in 7 months. The testimony of Christ was harmed by the gossip. We knocked on doors to evangelize and people would say to me… Oh your that pastor.

      Calvis6s do not cause the problems… Hateful people do… In either camp.

        Lydia

        Jon,

        Why should we believe your story if you don’t prove it?

        (Sorry, could not resist as that is what your movement tells people all the time about arrogant divisive YRR)

        We are starting to see a brand-new tactic out of the YRR move we are starting to see a brand-new tactic out of the YRR movement. It is starting at voices and a few others. The tactic is to start talking about bad congregants and how they have to protect the congregation from these bad members . A deflection from the arrogant YRR divisive pastors who want to rule.

          Mary

          Lydia, socialism/communism didn’t fail it’s just that the people have messed it up when they tried to implement it. It’s what the Calvinist are doing now – it’s not the Calvinist who are bad it’s these darn reprobate church members who mess everything up with their gossip, lies, division and my favorite “CONSPIRACY THEORIES”

          Jon Estes

          “Why should we believe your story if you don’t prove it?

          You don’ t have to believe me. Its been recorded in print. The Florida state mission magazine wrote about it as we were going through it.

          “The tactic is to start talking about bad congregants and how they have to protect the congregation from these bad members. A deflection from the arrogant YRR divisive pastors who want to rule.”

          Or simple facts you hate to admit are true thinking you and all church members could never cause trouble.

          Don’t get me wrong.. there are some hard headed wrong motivated pastors out there but there are to many wrong motivated church memebrs there also.

        Mary

        Oh I got all kinds of stories about the crazy stuff that goes on in churches. But there is definately a pattern with Calvinists deceiving and destroying churches. People from all over the country who don’t know each other have witnessed the same things over and over and over again.

          Jon Estes

          Mary –

          I’m sure you do have all kinds of stories.

          Good pastors across the country get fired each week and many of them do not deserve it.

          It is obvious you have no idea about the life of a pastor trying to serve a people who love to grumble. Yet you know how to criticize and complain about pastors using a broad brush. Sad… truly sad.

            Mary

            Jon, you know nothing about me. My husband did bi-vocational youth work. I’ve served in every capacity in the church – WMU director, VBC Director, Children’s director and on and on. Yes I know how congregants treat pastors and other staff. I am not using a broad brush. Just because congregants treat Pastors poorly doesn’t excuse what the Calvinists have done these last many years. You can bury you’r head in the sand and pretend that Calvinists have not systematcaly gone into churches with the idea they were going to help the church “recover the Gospel” but there are too many people who’ve witnessed it over and over and over.

        Andrew Barker

        Jon: I’m not disputing that you were asked to resign from your position but the reasons you give don’t sound very credible to me. Too many baptisms and new members? There surely must be more to the story than that. Were these new Christians or was this an influx of existing Christians joining from other established churches? If so, were there management issues? And what was it about “that pastor” that these non-Christians had heard? You can’t blame people for not believing you when you post what doesn’t look like a very credible account of goings on. If the truth would be too long and too detailed to explain in a blog post, then perhaps it would be better to defer using it as an example in the first place? Just a suggestion.

      Robert

      Mary,

      “Way back when I first started searching about Calvinism on the Internet I made the mistake of posting my real name. It was a site that posted both your name and email address. I told the story about how we were watching a Calvinist deceive a church. I kept getting emails from someone who I think went by the name “Timothy” He kept asking me if I’d done the Christian thing and brought my concerns to the new Pastor who intentionally deceived the church when asked directly about Calvinism and other questions. . . . .So anyhow young Calvinist gets call and one of his first sermons was ranting about people “gossiping on the internet” about things they have no understanding blah blah and how cowards were people who gossip on the internet and don’t bring their concerns to the church because they know they’re idiots and liars blah, blah, Well turns out he was talking about my description of events from blog I posted on. Now you would think after throwing down the “coward” card he would have the courage to confront me or my husband. Nope. Because if he did tham it would all come out about how he deceived people about his intentions for the church and he didn’t want to do that. My husband would get up in his personal space and make comments to him like “Hey Jeremy anything you ever want to talk to me about just give a call.”
      Then he made up a fake name and stalked me on the internet attacking anything I said. Talk about cowardly.”

      Sorry that you had to go through all of that.

      Thanks for posting your words here, this further confirms I am doing the right think when posting only by my first name. I don’t need inmates trying to use information against me nor do I need Calvinists like those you describe doing so either.

      With Randall he is bothered by the fact that I only post by first name. Seems to me what you are describing is far worse. A person using information from the internet to preach a negative attacking message and using a false name to attack others in the name of Calvinism. Interesting that THAT does not bother Randall at all. Seems that is view is that anything that involves Calvinism including using false names is OK: but if a non-Calvinist posts using only his first name that is not OK. Talk about double standards! ?

    Robert

    Lydia,

    “Robert, that is an excellent reason.”

    Well my wife agrees with me on this, actually that is reason enough. :-)
    ?
    I still think Randall is behaving foolishly in regards to this. I don’t care if someone posts by first name. I don’t appreciate if a person were using a false name (Christians should not be doing that) or if they use these goofy names instead of their real names (e.g. “Calvin boy” if your name is “Joe”) I personally do not view that is fitting for believers either. Let your Yes be Yes and your No be No, likewise let your post name be your real name and nothing more.

    “I have met too many bullies inside and out church not to take precautions.”

    That is wise, especially in a public setting such as a public blog such as this.

    “My view is if the blog owners allow first names then what business is it of mine? If they require more then it is most likely not wise to comment there for some.”

    Agreed.

    “Doug Wilson will often demand information so he can call your pastor and have you disciplined for certain opinions/disagreements. I always wondered how that worked out. It seemed to be the normal in his world years ago. Never did I imagine it would be the normal in much of the SBC. Sadly, Doug Wilson became quite popular with the YRR.”

    That is a bit strange, that kind of behavior can easily turn into a form of witch hunting. Most pastors I know are busy with their own congregations, they really don’t have time to go after others in other groups.

Lydia

Mary, in the early blogging days my kids were targeted by some Neo Cals as fodder against their terrible mother. I know what I am dealing with when it comes to that movement and I don’t buy the excuses. Too many examples from too many quarters since that time.

. And next time we wont hesitate to get seriously legal. Grown ups don’t mess any childs emotional or physical health. we are not dealing with grown ups but ruthless deceptive authoritarian egomaniacs bred in SBC seminaries.

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