Extensivism’s View of the Origin of Sin and God’s Offer of Salvation | Part Two

May 10, 2016

Ronnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK

Click HERE for Part One.

The very thing that makes love so romantic, mercy so tender, compassion so endearing, marriage so enchanting, and commitment so noble is the reality that the person could have chosen to do otherwise. The groom could have loved another, but chose this woman; mercy could have been withheld, compassion denied, marriage rejected, and commitment forsaken. Defining free choice in a manner that excludes otherwise choice in the actual moment of decision is almost indistinguishable from animal instinct. The only differences are concepts like the experience of deliberation, which in reality does not affect the choice set by determinative antecedents any more than if one compares it to determined instinct.

I would contend that the Scripture teaches and humans quotidianly act in concert with libertarianism and not compatibilism, a truth that is even inconsistently pervasive in Calvinists’ writings that are reticent to lucidly display the essence of compatibilism. Similar to the aforementioned question, some then ask, why did God not create man so he could not sin? The answer is because to create man in such a way so as to guarantee that he would not sin (so long as sin was within the range of options), or could not sin means that God would not have created man as man.

There are many reasons that the possibility to sin does not exist with God, but suffice it to say, the Scripture teaches this truth (James 1:13), and God’s nature makes such an actual impossibility. To wit, if God sinned, He would not be God, and if God can cease to exist, He was never God; dissimilarly, man can sin and still be man, albeit unrighteous man. God has no part in creating sin, creating a past that inviolably predetermines a desire to sin from which man will freely choose to sin, creating sin’s eternal necessity, or an environment conducive to sin, but rather always desires righteousness (Habakkuk 1:13; Hebrews 6:18; James 1:13 and 1 Peter 1:15–16).

God created man as a free moral agent, in His image, with true freedom to choose righteousness or sin. Therefore, God created freedom, and by every measure, freedom is good. It is the misuse of freedom that birthed sin. That does not make freedom evil or the One who gave it responsible for evil, or even desirous of such eventuality in light of other actual possible eventualities. Man is the efficient cause of sin, which means that from a libertarian perspective it is nonsense to ask who caused man to sin; however it is highly relevant in light of a compatible perspective. Geisler says, “God made the fact of freedom; we are responsible for the acts of freedom.”[i]

Therefore, unlike Calvinism, under the terms of which God must have in some regard desired man to sin, Extensivists would argue that God desired to create man as a truly free moral agent, with otherwise choice as God has; desiring only that he would choose to live righteously. God never did nor does He now desire sin. He is holy and only and always desires holiness. God’s choice to permit sin temporarily was not God’s true desire for man any more than it is His desire for man to continue in sin, but God’s desire for righteousness is not thwarted or overcome by man’s sin.

In God’s desire to create a true holy man, He knew that free otherwise choice was required; to wit, holiness and sin are the result of a choice between two accessible options rather than a consequence of a predetermined free choosing in which man could not have chosen differently. Accordingly, God knew man would sin, although He did not desire for man to sin then nor does He desire him to sin now. However, what He did and does desire for man is that as a free moral agent, man would choose to live righteously rather than sinfully, which is the only real kind of righteousness, i.e. deterministically controlled or merely instinctually driven beings do not choose righteously or sinfully since they have no actual otherwise choice. Therefore, God created man with an eternal redemptive plan in mind that affords fallen man a real free choice between accessible options, whereby man may choose by faith in Christ to be truly righteous, loving, and worshipful or remain in his sin.

Part Three Coming Soon!

[i] Norman Geisler, Chosen But Free, (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1999), 23.

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Jim P

Yes, ‘God cannot sin,’:

1John 3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

The writer of this epistle has one aim, that believers ‘abide in God.’ If they are aim toward that goal the end is they ‘do not sin’ Because in God there is ‘no sin’ those who live in Him become like Him…

Jesus said, “This is eternal life that they may know You the only True God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent…”

Randall Cofield

Pastor Rodgers, you state: “The very thing that makes love so romantic, mercy so tender, compassion so endearing, marriage so enchanting, and commitment so noble is the reality that the person could have chosen to do otherwise.”

Some (most?) would argue otherwise, I think. For instance, when my wife refers to the romance and tenderness of our union, she does so in terms of the fact that I won her heart and she mine. The fact that I “could have loved another” never seems to come up! Indeed, that God ordained our love and our union before he created the foundations of the earth makes our love infinitely more “enchanting,” to use your term. Could I have loved another? I don’t think so. Heck, I even tried. So did she. Neither of us could. Does this make our love ignoble? I think not.

This seems a far better analogy to Christ’s love for us and our love for him than your “otherwise choice” paradigm.

TBC

    Randall Cofield

    You further state: “I would contend that the Scripture teaches and humans quotidianly act in concert with libertarianism…”

    (“quotidianly”–great word!) How would you define libertarianism, how would make the case from Scripture that humans daily act according to libertarianism?

    Also, you state: “Man is a free moral agent with the ability to choose to sin or not to sin…”

    In the entire history of mankind, can you point to any individual other than Lord Jesus who chose never to sin?

    You also stated: “Extensivists believe that being endowed with libertarian free choice is an essential component of what it means for man to be created in the image of God.”

    What Scriptures would you cite in support of the assertion that libertarian free will is an essential component of being created in the image of God?

    Grace to you.

      Randall Cofield

      Pastor Rodgers, I had already posted this and it was still in moderation when you responded in the thread on Part 1. I assumed you had not seen my first posting. My apologies for the double-post.

    Ronnie W Rogers

    Hello Randall
    You said, “Some (most?) would argue otherwise, I think. For instance, when my wife refers to the romance and tenderness of our union, she does so in terms of the fact that I won her heart and she mine.”

    Quite romantic except for the fact that, anyone reading such a statement would rightly conclude that winning one another’s heart indicates the presence of otherwise choice, which would make “won” quite an emotive and victoriously romantic term. Without which, there is no winning, only what was determined to be is—like claiming to have won the ballgame when the other team was not permitted to choose to play.

    More accurately, (and revealingly) you might say; my wife freely chose me, as I did her, but of course given our deterministic past, we could not have done otherwise. Speaking with such revelatory precision is an admirable characteristic that confronts one squarely with the entailments of his beliefs. If otherwise choice plays no part, then I ask that you speak so that all will know what is actually meant. That is all I ask.

    You are a determinist (compatibilist), and I am not because I, along with the vast majority of Christianity, but even if I was alone, do not believe that Scripture teaches such nor is such glorifying to God.

    Thank you, and have a good day

      Randall Cofield

      Ronnie, you state: “Without which, there is no winning, only what was determined to be is—like claiming to have won the ballgame when the other team was not permitted to choose to play.”

      Oh, the other team played. They just didn’t win. Not because I am some Romeo, but because God ordained and kept her for me. You might call that determinism or fatalism, but we see it quite differently.

      You state: “More accurately, (and revealingly) you might say; my wife freely chose me, as I did her, but of course given our deterministic past, we could not have done otherwise. Speaking with such revelatory precision is an admirable characteristic that confronts one squarely with the entailments of his beliefs. If otherwise choice plays no part, then I ask that you speak so that all will know what is actually meant. That is all I ask.”

      Brother, did you miss the paragraph where I stated “Indeed, that God ordained our love and our union before he created the foundations of the earth makes our love infinitely more “enchanting,” to use your term. Could I have loved another? I don’t think so. Heck, I even tried. So did she. Neither of us could. Does this make our love ignoble? I think not.”

      That seems pretty consistent with compatibilism to me. Wherein have I erred?

      Grace to you.

        Ronnie W Rogers

        Hello Randall

        You said “That seems pretty consistent with compatibilism to me. Wherein have I erred?”

        Preliminarily let me say:

        First, I do see your claims that depict determinism, “God ordained and kept her for me,” and “God ordained our love and our union before he created the foundations of the earth.” I am appreciative of such. However, you have done what Calvinists frequently do, and that is to surround such assertions with other statements that are inconsistent with compatibilism because they suggest the presence of accessible options at the moment of decision. This genre of companion assertions leads the Calvinist, and those with whom they communicate, to miss the absolute, micro-determinism of Calvinism and compatibilism, thereby seeming to palliate Calvinism’s actual belief. Thus, rather than clarity for fruitful discussion of the various soteriological approaches, we have confusion.
        Second, for fresh clarity, (not suggestive that you are not familiar with compatibilism), Compatibilism is the position that determinism and moral responsibility are compatible; hence, the name. This compatibility is achieved, not by lessening its determinism to be any less than pure (sometimes called hard) determinism, rather it is realized by defining free choice as choosing what one desires. Thus, while the choosing is free (corresponding to one’s desire or greatest desire), there is no possibility of having chosen otherwise in the moral moment of decision given ones past—the desire is the result of determinative antecedents.

        Accordingly compatibilism involves voluntariness, but not origination—the choosing cannot possibly change the future sequence of events from what the determinative antecedents caused, or predetermined it to be. Therefore, since all free choosing is the result of determinative antecedents, any intimation of the idea of a choice to have acted differently is inconsistent with compatibilism, and therefore, misleading. Such ability only exists within libertarian freedom.

        With that in mind, here are a few places that obscure the inviolable determinism of compatibilism.

        You said, “Oh, the other team played. They just didn’t win. “Not because I am some Romeo, but because God ordained and kept her for me. You might call that determinism or fatalism, but we see it quite differently.”

        The truth is not that the other team “just didn’t win,” (as if a possibility for you to have chosen differently somehow exist”), but given compatibilism, they could not win because you could not have chosen differently, and all experiential sense that you, or your wife could have is phantasmal, and therefore, obscurant.

        Your desire to not see compatibilism as determinism (with free choosing) or theological fatalism is also obscurant since compatibilism does not permit the concept of otherwise choice in the moral moment of decision; thus, this statement means that you are “choosing” to avoid the actual entailment of your position, and that is also obscurant of the micro-determinism of Calvinism.

        You said, “Could I have loved another? I do not think so. Heck, I even tried. So did she.”

        According to compatibilism, it is not that you do not “think” that you could have loved another or not done so (idea of choice); we know that you could not will such. That is the nature of determinism, and perceiving or speaking about compatibilism in such ways that even tacitly intimate, anything less than what is, becomes obscurant.

        It is not that one cannot experience deliberation in the choosing, or a sense of options, but rather it is that such carries with it no possibility of outcomes being different from what has been inviolably determined by the determinative antecedents that produced the desires from which you choose—a predetermined free choosing without an accessible choice. To wit, any sense of the cognitive options that could originate an alternative or new sequence of events is an illusion.

        This determinism is micro-deterministic. That is, as Millard Erickson (a moderate Calvinist) notes in his section on this in Christian Theology, even when you move your finger; although he then speaks rather inconsistently with compatibilism—He claims three times in that section to be one. If compatibilism is true, what you think about my comments is not the result of choosing between accessible options, but rather it is freely choosing the one that is already determined. There is simply no escape. Which does occasion the legitimate question of what are we doing if compatibilism is true.

        As you can see, I am not calling for a renouncement of Calvinism or compatibilism, but rather a consistent clarity. I do not think that is too much to ask. This is the only way we can have meaningful dialogue about the biblicalness of Calvinism and Extensivism. If I am in anyway, misrepresenting compatibilism, please explain.

        When I represent Calvinism, compatibilism, I try to be as precise as possible. When I represent my view, Extensivism, I seek to do the same, and seek to address the tough questions posed by Scripture and Calvinism. My request is, that Calvinists speak and write so as to be clear to themselves and those with whom they communicate that they believe everything (everything means everything) is determined. Unfortunately, I have yet to meet a determinist who actually does this (I did not as a Calvinist; although unwittingly. Something I deeply regret.), and some admit that while they are determinist, they do not live consistently with it.

        In addition, I saw your post on Part I. I will try to respond today or tomorrow if possible. I apologize for my delayed responses, at times, but I have to respond as time permits—I am a pastor. Thanks for your patience.

        I do appreciate these interactions; although our interactions can be quite pointed, please know that I do respect you and all of my Calvinist brothers and sisters, and their great work for the kingdom. I also recognize Calvinism within orthodoxy—just for the record. My quest is that we all speak consistently with our own systematic approach to Scripture so that we and those around us can know what we actually believe and mean by what we say.

        Thank you

          Randall Cofield

          Ronnie,

          Thanks for your thoughtful response. Please know that I share with you a recognition that both Calvinism/Compatibilism and Extensivism fall within the limited pale of human orthodoxy. These are knotty questions, and both positions have been ably advanced and defended throughout history. Obviously, I believe Calvinism/Compatibilism has been more ably advanced and defended, but for those sitting in the stands on this discussion, to deny legitimate articulation of either position is to deny evident history.

          As I understand that compatibilism seeks to reconcile the seeming conundrum of the absolute sovereignty of God and human moral responsibility, my example of God bringing me and my wife together, from my perspective, acknowledged both biblical realities. God ordained, and we pursued and chose that which he ordained in a manner consistent with the sin-limitations inherent to our wills. The choices we made were ours from our perspective in that we chose that which we ultimately desired, but those choices were gloriously and wonderfully superintended by holy God. I don’t see this as inconsistent in the slightest, but if any of you men out there want to contend to the contrary with your wives, send Ronnie and me a prayer request and we will pray for you! :)

          It seems clear to me that Scripture reveals God as the one who causes all things to work together according to the counsel of his will. The Extensivist paradigm tends to label this “determinism,” or “theological fatalism,” but Scripture associates such with the holy decrees, just ordinances, wise counsels, and righteous will of Almighty God. I am, by God’s grace, comfortable with the position that whatever God decrees, ordains, and wills to come to pass is just, righteous, holy, and good–***even when I do not understand.*** For this reason, I reject the labels “theological fatalism” and “determinism” out of hand. Such terms are certainly inconsistent with God’s revelation of himself in his Word, and they are in no way accurately descriptive of compatibilism.

          Which leads me to what I think is an absolutely vital question that arises from the Extensivist’s apparent aversion to God ordaining absolutely everything that come to pass. If God is indeed perfectly righteous, just, holy, good, omniscient, and omnipotent–and I know you agree that he is–is not that which he ordains the absolute best of all possibilities? Why the aversion to his ordaining all that comes to pass? I know that the absolute freedom of the human will seems to hold primacy in the Extensivist view, but does that not elevate the deterministic will of the creature above the ordaining will of the Creator? And does that not subjugate the holy and just will, purposes, and plans of God to the choices of the creature?

          In short, I simply cannot see how man’s will and God’s will can both be sovereign (or determinative, to use the Extensivist vernacular). It seems to me we should default to the primacy and goodness of the will of God–in all things without exception. Anything short of this seems to de-God God, and that is not even a remote possibility.

          How does the Extensivist position answer these questions?

          Grace to you, my brother.

            Ronnie W Rogers

            Hello Randall

            I will seek to be brief, but it will be difficult in light of your response (please forgive grammar….). ?

            You said, “As I understand that compatibilism seeks to reconcile the seeming conundrum of the absolute sovereignty of God and human moral responsibility”

            Technically, compatibilism is as I defined previously (determinism and moral responsibility are compatible via the specific definition of free choice). You are correct that Calvinists adopt that understanding of freedom to resolve your stated conundrum, which they believe is not resolved by libertarian freedom.

            You said, “The choices we made were ours from our perspective in that we chose that which we ultimately desired, but those choices were gloriously and wonderfully superintended by holy God. I don’t see this as inconsistent in the slightest”

            You have stated the essence of compatibilism fairly accurately. Exactly, according to compatibilism, it is not from merely your “perspective” that you chose what you ultimately desired, but rather you, actually, did (really) freely choose each other. To this point your statement can be correct; there is nothing inconsistent with God having superintended such if you mean by superintending that God set in motion predetermined determinative antecedents, so that such an outcome, while leaving your choosing free according to your desire, was from an inviolably unalterable desire.

            However, if you believe, imply to listeners, or infer on your part that you could have willed to do otherwise, then that is an absolute inconsistency because compatibilism does not permit even one point within the history of one’s existence a break in the flow of deciding differently than is determined by one’s past—that would be libertarian freedom. This is the inescapable inconsistency that I challenge Calvinists to speak clearly about. Face the full reality of one’s position, not merely as understood by a libertarian but fully knowledgeable compatibilists as well.

            Great confusion regarding the nature of compatibilism arises when Calvinism pervasively seeks to define it as freedom that is compatible with sovereignty. While it is true that is why Calvinists use that moral freedom perspective, it is not the definition of it. You may even think it solves the dilemma better than libertarian does, but if you understand that as the definition that would simply be inaccurate; Calvinists do this, admittedly it is convenient, but it is not accurate; thus, it produces an extraordinarily fecund arena for inconsistencies within Calvinism—not in comparison with libertarian, but within the system itself.

            Although I understand the problems Calvinists have with libertarian freedom (which involves what and how God foreknows) libertarian freedom is, easily, “compatible” with sovereignty as well. We do not reject, nor minimize God’s sovereignty one whit by embracing libertarianism as we see in the Scripture. Thus, the inconsistency that I often refer to arises if a Calvinist thinks or intimates, even in the slightest degree, there was even the remotest possibility to actually choose differently in any situation, and not just the ones we have mentioned. That includes not only the wonderful things that we mentioned (finding a mate), but also sinful anger, abuse, etc. If you say that such is not what is reflected in the Scripture, you are making the libertarian argument; we agree. Unfortunately, such is absolutely inescapable in compatibilism.

            You said, “It seems clear to me that Scripture reveals God as the one who causes all things to work together according to the counsel of his will.”

            We both agree, but what we disagree on is what He comprehended in His will. Extensivists say the Scripture is pervasively replete with man making choices between options (bless or curse), and Calvinism ultimately says no—this flows primarily from Scripture regarding man, but most importantly God. So it is not a disagreement regarding does God do everything according to His will, but rather the nature of, what is comprehended in, His will.

            You said, “The Extensivist paradigm tends to label this “determinism,” or “theological fatalism….For this reason, I reject the labels “theological fatalism” and “determinism” out of hand.”

            I would classify this statement as inconsistent or at least maybe trivially true but lacking full disclosure. You simply cannot consistently believe in compatibilism and deny determinism because the whole purpose of compatibilism is to reconcile determinism with moral responsibility; hence the name. Thus, it is not I as an Extensivist that identifies you thusly, but rather it is your adopted position, which I am respectfully recognizing and interacting with according to the precise meaning of the concept.

            All terms regarding moral freedom (determinism, compatibilism, and libertarianism) are dimensionally philosophical. Some philosophers, including compatibilists and libertarians, rank this discussion as the foremost philosophical debate of the 20th century, and continuing. While the determinative antecedents involved in compatibilism, vary depending on whether one is a Darwinist, Materialist, pagan or Christian, the degree of determinism does not. All I ask is that Calvinists speak consistently with compatibilism so that you face its entailments and others understand it as well. One simply cannot embrace compatibilism, denounce libertarianism, and yet conveniently integrate libertarianism to palliate compatibilism’s determinism thereby corrupting both; more importantly, such derails substantive dialogue between Christians.

            You said, Such terms (you are referring to determinism and fatalism) are certainly inconsistent with God’s revelation of himself in his Word”

            I agree! Hence, I reject Calvinism and compatibilism.

            You said, “and they (referring to determinism and fatalism) are in no way accurately descriptive of compatibilism”.

            What shall I say? It is as I have defined it, which understanding I arrived at through study of the foremost thinkers regarding such, including the compatibilists. Compatibilism is not just a term for Calvinist. One cannot claim to embrace compatibilism, and then in the face of hash entailments, opt for phrases, palliations etc., that are only consistent with libertarian freedom. This is a massive breakdown in the dialogue between Extensivists and Calvinists.

            You said, “Which leads me to what I think is an absolutely vital question that arises from the Extensivist’s apparent aversion to God ordaining absolutely everything that come to pass. If God is indeed perfectly righteous, just, holy, good, omniscient, and omnipotent–and I know you agree that he is–is not that which he ordains the absolute best of all possibilities? Why the aversion to his ordaining all that comes to pass?”

            There is no aversion to God having sovereignly and freely (and He could have done otherwise) ordaining the state of affairs we know as the time and space continuum. To understand Extensivism or libertarianism as being averse to such is a serious misunderstanding of these concepts. As stated earlier, the difference is precisely in what He comprehended in what He ordained to happen. That is the difference, and I assure you, I have no aversion to God freely and sovereignly choosing to….but I do disagree with Calvinism’s deterministic understanding of such, which eliminates God being capable of superintending beings with otherwise choice. Otherwise choice is a force, created by God, and is therefore, under His sovereignty and according to the best of all possibilities.

            You said, “I know that the absolute freedom of the human will seems to hold primacy in the Extensivist view, but does that not elevate the deterministic will of the creature above the ordaining will of the Creator?

            Each of these statements is inaccurate. Extensivists do not believe in the primacy of the human will, but rather the absolute primacy of God’s will. We simply believe the Scripture portrays God as having freely and sovereignly willed to create man in His image with otherwise choice and therefore, understandably responsible for His decisions. Such ability required creative grace prior to the fall and redemptive grace subsequently. God always knew He would create man thusly, and being essentially omniscient knew what range of options He would permit, what limitations He would impose including what He would micro-determine and what and where He would permit choice.

            You said, “And does that not subjugate the holy and just will, purposes, and plans of God to the choices of the creature?”

            Libertarian freedom never (rightly understood) positions itself, man, or anything God created above, outside of, or contrary to God’s will. If either God sovereignly and freely chose to create man determined or with otherwise choice, neither somehow can possibly subjugate His will and purposes since such does not involve an abdication of His position as God.

            Remember that libertarian freedom does not entail that man is free to do everything He wants, but rather when morally responsible, given the same past, he could have chosen differently. Additionally, whether God created compatible or libertarian beings, He always knew every eventuality; although, the former relies heavily upon micro-determinism and the latter involves His essential omniscience more but not exclusive of determining some eventualities quite apart from permitting man to choose; all at His own discretion. Further, the Extensivist understanding should never be portrayed as God knowing contingencies, or anything for that matter, perceptively—a common error made on both sides regarding libertarian freedom.

            You said, “In short, I simply cannot see how man’s will and God’s will can both be sovereign (or determinative, to use the Extensivist vernacular). It seems to me we should default to the primacy and goodness of the will of God–in all things without exception. Anything short of this seems to de-God God, and that is not even a remote possibility.”

            As stated, as clearly as I know how, man’s will is never sovereign (over God’s rule) or ultimately determinative (contrary to God’s eternal choice to permit such); it is temporally determinative where God decides such can exist. How can man be sovereign or absolutely determinative if it is God who freely and sovereignly created such; as well as decided when, where…man’s will is temporally determinative? Man only chooses to the degree and where God comprehends such in His holy will. Being the sovereign, He can, and biblically does, contravene man’s will (kings come obviously to mind, but can apply to anyone) when He so chooses. Thus, every exercise of otherwise choice is under the reign of God.

            I will try to answer your last response on part I, if able. If not, I have every confidence that we shall meet again. Thank you for the thoughtful discussion.

              Randall Cofield

              Ronnie,

              Thanks for your willingness to discuss these issues with me. I know you are busy, and I am humbled that you would give this much effort to the discussion.

              Your last post gave me a great deal to consider, but I would like to ask for one point of clarification.

              You state: “God always knew He would create man thusly (with otherwise choice), and being essentially omniscient knew what range of options He would permit, what limitations He would impose including what He would micro-determine and what and where He would permit choice.”

              Could you describe briefly what you understand to be the “range of options” God permits,and conversely, what kind of “limitations” he would impose? I’m not looking for an exhaustive description, just a general overview. I think this would help me better understand your position and enable me to respond more concisely.

              Grace to you, brother.

                Ronnie W Rogers

                Hello Randall

                I apologize for this delayed response

                You quoted me saying, “God always knew He would create man thusly (with otherwise choice), and being essentially omniscient knew what range of options He would permit, what limitations He would impose including what He would micro-determine and what and where He would permit choice.”

                Then you asked, “Could you describe briefly what you understand to be the “range of options” God permits, and conversely, what kind of “limitations” he would impose? I’m not looking for an exhaustive description, just a general overview. I think this would help me better understand your position and enable me to respond more concisely.”

                Pre-fall, the range could include many things like what to name an animal, but it did not seem to include the ability for Adam to become a female (cultural example) or fly, limits predetermined by God. Additionally, God determined to place Adam in the Garden apart from any participation from Adam as another example of God determining. Germane to our discussion, the range of options would have included the choice to walk in righteous relationship with God or walk away. This is what I believe a simple reading of the passage conveys (Genesis 1-3)—in the scheme of all the revelation, I would also argue from the nature of God more deeply.

                Post-fall, the range can include many things, like whether to go to the movies or stay home, eat pizza or hamburger—ad infinitum. The range of options is different with different people (D. Trump can buy a resort, easier than I can go to a resort). It also changes with age, most 75-year-old men cannot run fast (or at all) any longer, and toddlers reign over many bigger and stronger people with just a tear or whimper will end. Additionally, God being sovereign, and the One who sovereignly chose to create the force of libertarian freedom, is still over such, and can and does contravene it at any time He wills—most noticeably if someone seeks to use such beyond what He has determined to permit. Kings provide an obvious example in Scripture. Conversely, man has no choice in say, when Christ will return, or that He will in fact return as examples that are clearly apart from the involvement of human choice.

                I believe in TD; consequently, man cannot choose so as to initiate an inherently righteous and/or spiritually restorative desire or act apart from God’s grace-enablements. To wit, to an earlier point of yours, I do believe man is locked in sin, and therefore, can make choices within the realm of sin e.g. murder or not, rob someone or not, but he cannot act righteously. I recognize the distinction between civil righteousness and spiritual righteousness, which theologians have recognized for centuries. Yet, while the Holy Spirit is working, God sets man free provisionally, so that man may experience God eternally (John 12:35-37), or he may walk away with fuller knowledge of what has been rejected.

                Thanks, and again, sorry for the belated response.

Scott Shaver

I admire the Christian diplomacy of Ronnie Rogers, his biblical scholarship and commitment to the text.

Am sympathetic also with his acquiescence to Randall Colfield etc: “I am not calling for a renouncement of Calvinism … I also recognize Calvinism within orthodoxy just for the record.”

Alas, on the plane of reality where most folks live their lives, historical and theological “orthodoxy” are only as good as their accumulative results… whether folks understand the meaning of “orthodoxy” or not.

We live our lives in a definite time-space spectrum, none of us getting any younger. What good is a continuing effort (in a denominational context) to find middle ground with folks you will disagree with theologically, methodologically, and historically until the day they drop you in a grave? I’m 58. Don’t find any biblical justification for Christians who are in sharp theological/soteriological disagreement to live under the same roof. The biblical model and precedent appears to be for them to “part ways”. The years become more precious as you grow older as well the time they contain. “Orthodoxy” by any definition is not nearly as high on the bucket list as Spirit-inspired consolation, encouragement and guidance.

Speaking as a Southern Baptist tracing back to the Anabaptist “tradition” (historical victims of “reformers”) and on the “back-side” of his earthly life I’ll simply agree with what others have stated and leave Ronnie to make his own evaluations the closer to age 60 he comes: Nothing GOOD is coming out of Geneva.

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