Is Sovereignty An Eternal Attribute of God That Non-Calvinists Deny?

August 12, 2015

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.
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The attribute of God’s Sovereignty is not an eternal attribute. Sovereignty means complete rule or dominion over others. For him to be in control over others there has to be others in which to control.  He can’t display His power over creatures unless the creatures exist.  Therefore, before creation the concept of sovereignty was not an attribute that could be used to describe God. An eternal attribute is something God possesses that is not contingent upon something else.

The eternal attribute of God is His omnipotence, which refers to His eternally limitless power. Sovereignty is a temporal characteristic, not an eternal one, thus we can say God is all powerful, not because He is sovereign, but He is sovereign because He is all powerful, or at least He is as sovereign as He so chooses to be in relation to this temporal world.  As Dr. Ach put it, “Sovereignty is the expression of God’s power, not the source of it.” 

If the all powerful One chooses to refrain from meticulously ruling over every aspect of that which He creates, that in no way denies His eternal attribute of omnipotence, but indeed affirms it. It is the Calvinist who denies the eternal attribute of omnipotence, by presuming the all powerful One cannot refrain from meticulous deterministic rule over His creation. In short, the Calvinist denies God’s eternal attribute in his effort to protect the temporal one.  Additionally, an argument could be made that the eternal attributes of God’s love and His holiness are likewise compromised by the well meaning efforts of our Calvinistic brethren to protect their concept of deterministic sovereignty over the temporal world.

No one is denying that sovereignty is a current attribute of God, but only in part given that He has not yet taken full sovereign control over everything on earth as it is in heaven. Passages throughout the Bible teach that there are “authorities” and “powers” which are yet to be destroyed, and that have been given dominion over God’s creation.

Isaiah 24:21On-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven
A time is coming when the Lord will punish the powers above and the rulers of the earth.

Ephesians 6:12 
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Colossians 2:20
You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the evil powers of this world.

1 Corinthians 15:24
Then the end will come; Christ will overcome all spiritual rulers, authorities, and powers, and will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father.

Don’t misunderstand my point. I affirm that God is greater than these powers and authorities. He created them after all.

Colossians 1:16
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

And one day God will strip them of that authority:

Colossians 2:15 
God stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority. With the cross, he won the victory and showed the world that they were powerless.

But, if God has chosen to allow created beings to have dominion and power over something, even for a time, how is His “sovereignty” (as defined by some being “complete and total control/determination over every single thing” eternally) not compromised?

God is certainly more powerful than any evil.  He could stifle it at any moment with a word. I don’t think anyone is denying that. And I think we all agree that there’s a sense in which it is proper even to say that “evil is part of His eternal decree.” (Permissively)

He planned for it, obviously. It did not take Him by surprise. He declared the end from the beginning, and He is still working all things for His good pleasure (Isaiah 46:9-10), but isn’t there a difference in working evil out for good and unchangeably determining evil yourself? It’s one thing to help my child grow from being bullied, its another for me to hire the bully so as to make my child grow.

Most say that God’s role with regard to evil is never as its “author,” but few define the distinction between “predetermining,” “ordaining,” “decreeing,” as contrasted with the concept of “authoring.”  Ask the next Calvinist you speak with to give example of God authoring evil and then an example of God decreeing evil and see if you can find a distinction with an actual difference. Only if he affirms the concept of bare permission (God allowing men to be free and make their own choices) can any real distinction be drawn between those terms.

1 Tim 6:15, Isa 48:11, Isa 42:8. Isa 44:24, Heb 1:3, Rev 19:6, 1 Cor 8:5

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Les Prouty

Thanks Leighton. Definitions are important. Would you agree with this definition?

“The Sovereignty of God is the biblical teaching that all things are under God’s rule and control, and that nothing happens without His direction or permission.”

Thanks brother.

    Jerry Rothauser

    Thanks, Les. It would seem God’s sovereignty can viewed as even greater when considering that He allows choice by His creatures.

    Leighton Flowers

    Yes, Les, that definition is fine if one accepts “premission” to mean “to permit” or “to allow” rather than “to determine through causal means.”

    Calvin is quoted as saying a theologian should never use the word permit because it concedes human autonomy (contra-causal free will).

    In our view when God “allows” something it is not equal to His “wanting it” or “approving of it.” God gives Mankind control over their own choices and He is more than qualified to still bring about His good purposes despite and sometimes even through men’s autonomous evil choices. Our HOLY God should never be described as having anything to do with the origin of immoral desires and choices.

    Les Prouty

    Thanks Leighton. So we can agree then that we may mostly agree, based on the definition I cited, if we Reformed accept that permission does not mean to determine by causing. If I have summed it up properly than we are closer. Reformed folks do not believe that God causes all things. One of our major standards for definitions of our position is the WCF and there it is clear that we do not believe that God actually causes all things.

    I’ll skip the Calvin thing you referenced since my standard is not Calvin but rather that WCF (as is the case with many others).

    “In our view when God “allows” something it is not equal to His “wanting it” or “approving of it.” God gives Mankind control over their own choices and He is more than qualified to still bring about His good purposes despite and sometimes even through men’s autonomous evil choices. Our HOLY God should never be described as having anything to do with the origin of immoral desires and choices.”

    I think where we can agree here is this. When you say, “In our view when God “allows” something it is not equal to His “wanting it” or “approving of it” we can agree. Take for example murder. God certainly allows it and does not approve of it in the sense of “to judge favorably.”

    Here, though (God gives Mankind control over their own choices and He is more than qualified to still bring about His good purposes despite and sometimes even through men’s autonomous evil choices) I can agree except that I don’t think man is autonomous.

    “Our HOLY God should never be described as having anything to do with the origin of immoral desires and choices.” Agreed. We believe given man’s fallen nature God does not have to.

    God bless.

      Scott Shaver

      Les:

      If man is not autonomous (I understand you to mean free-willed by this) then God by default (and in line with the perspective of deuteronomic historians) is responsible for both good and evil since man, lacking free will, is predisposed by the sovereignty of God to do both good and evil. However, in the same post we also find comments from you like this:

      “Our Holy God should never be described as having anything to do with the origin of immoral desires and choices.”

      This gives the impression that you’re arguing against your own preferred theological template. Which is it, A or B?

      Les

      Scott,

      By autonomous I understand that to mean one is operating outside the control or influence of anyone or anything else. I do not believe man is autonomous. Maybe our difference is in definitions.

      So, see the original definition I gave sor sovereignty and you will see that it says that all things are ubder God’s rule and control.

      Thanks.

        Scott Shaver

        Does this include the acts of the wicked in defiance of the will of God?

          Rhutchin

          In the commission of any wicked act, no matter how evil, God is present and watching as the perpetrator of that evil engages in that evil action from beginning to end. It is always God’s prerogative, as sovereign, to intervene at any time to prevent the wickedness from proceeding. As sovereign, God chooses what He will do. God’s choice (His decree) determines what happens. If God chooses to do nothing, as with the crucifixion of Christ, then wicked men can carry out their wicked deeds. If God choose to intervene, as with the three men in the furnace, then the wickedness of evil men is constrained. In the end, God determines the outcome by choosing the extent to which He will involve Himself in the actions of evil people.

            Scott Shaver

            Rutchin:

            Based on your “It is always God’s perogative, as sovereign, to intervene at any time to prevent the wickedness…” (note: God is not bound by time or space, mine).

            I see no difference, from that perspective, between the God of the Lord Jesus Christ (whom the Book of Hebrews declares to be the exact representation of His glory) and the arbitrary capriciousness and pettiness which characterized the gods of the Greek and Roman pantheons. Maybe that’s just me. Perhaps I want God to be more divine than human in His attributes.

            Nevertheless, its just not the spirit and attitude nor the teaching I see reflected in the earthy example and ministry of the “exact representation of His glory.”

            Your proof texts to convince me otherwise or of no avail….just saying in advance.

              Rhutchin

              Nobody says that you have to believe that God is sovereign. You can water down God as much as you want until you get the god you want.

                Scott Shaver

                Rutchin:

                I believe the more accurate scenario unfolding here is that you want us to add the appendages of deterministic theology in order to arrive at “the god YOU want”.

        Les Prouty

        Scott,
        I wrote: “So, see the original definition I gave for sovereignty and you will see that it says that all things are ubder God’s rule and control.”
        You ask: “Does this include the acts of the wicked in defiance of the will of God?”

        Yes it includes all things. One quick example is the Chaldeans in Habakkuk 1.

        “2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
        and you will not hear?
        Or cry to you “Violence!”
        and you will not save?
        3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
        and why do you idly look at wrong?
        Destruction and violence are before me;
        strife and contention arise.
        4 So the law is paralyzed,
        and justice never goes forth.
        For the wicked surround the righteous;
        so justice goes forth perverted.
        The Lord’s Answer
        5 “Look among the nations, and see;
        wonder and be astounded.
        For I am doing a work in your days
        that you would not believe if told.
        6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
        that bitter and hasty nation,
        who march through the breadth of the earth,
        to seize dwellings not their own.
        7 They are dreaded and fearsome;
        their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
        8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
        more fierce than the evening wolves;
        their horsemen press proudly on.
        Their horsemen come from afar;
        they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
        9 They all come for violence,
        all their faces forward.
        They gather captives like sand.
        10 At kings they scoff,
        and at rulers they laugh.
        They laugh at every fortress,
        for they pile up earth and take it.
        11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
        guilty men, whose own might is their god!”

        Now obviously the actual acts of violence against God’s people are against God’s revealed will in the law. Nevertheless they are happening according to God’s purposes and under His control. Often in the OT we see God using the free acts of wicked people, fully under h=His control, to carry out His purposes. Unwittingly to those wicked people at the time of course. They are just going about their wicked ways murdering, enslaving, etc. (all things that are not according to God’s revealed will in the law) all the while carrying out God’s purposes without a clue as to how God is controlling their acts for His purposes.

          Robert

          One of my former professors, J. P. Moreland, had a nifty concept for when people say something and what they say depends a lot on the definition of the words they are using with the words unfortunately being so ambiguous as to mean anything: “weasel words”.

          Les presents a good example when he writes:

          “Now obviously the actual acts of violence against God’s people are against God’s revealed will in the law. Nevertheless they are happening according to God’s purposes and under His control. Often in the OT we see God using the free acts of wicked people, fully under h=His control, to carry out His purposes. Unwittingly to those wicked people at the time of course. They are just going about their wicked ways murdering, enslaving, etc. (all things that are not according to God’s revealed will in the law) all the while carrying out God’s purposes without a clue as to how God is controlling their acts for His purposes.”

          Most would agree with the first line, these actions “are against God’s revealed will in the law.”

          The problem is that in some versions of Calvinism, and Les holds this view, there are two wills of God (the revealed will, what God does or does not want to happen, but which gets violated and acted against all the time, and the secret or sovereign will which is God’s total plan that includes every event including those acts against the revealed will, these two wills contradict each other because God says one thing in the revealed will but he ordains/purposes/predetermines something that is opposite the revealed will as part of the sovereign will, such as the acts of violence described in this passage).

          But that is still not the weasel words here that I am concerned about.

          The first occurrence of these weasel words is the second sentence: “under His control”.

          What exactly does it mean to say that God controls these events?

          Does he control them the way a puppet master controls his puppets (direct, continuously, completely)?

          The third line has “fully under h=His control”.

          Again what exactly does it mean to say “control”?

          Les says these wicked people have no idea of how they are being controlled by God: “without a clue as to how God is controlling their acts for His purposes.”

          What exactly does it mean that God controls their acts?

          Is He controlling their arms and legs and minds like a puppet master to ensure they do the wicked acts that he wants them to do to fulfill his secret/sovereign will?

          Or is it the case that he foreknows what they will freely choose to do, allows or permits them to do it (with “control” meaning that he could intervene to prevent them from doing something, but chooses to allow them to do the action)?

          As one friend of mine puts it you know these are weasel words because the Calvinist will sometimes sound like the non-Calvinist (i.e. God does not control them like a puppet master controls his puppets, but he foreknows what they will do and allows them to freely choose to do it, because it accomplishes some purpose(s) that he has, e.g. the best example of this is the crucifixion) and at other times when they speak of control they sound like God really is a puppet master directly controlling the person (e.g. I had a Calvinist tell me once that the reason I rejected Calvinism is that I was afraid of God completely controlling me, I responded, No, actually as a believer to be completely controlled by God would make things much easier as you could just sit back and watch as he controls you and you live a perfectly obedient life! God does not control the believer in that way, or we would never have choices, there would never be actions for us to do such as pray, repent, share the gospel with others, trust God, etc. etc.)

          Les never defines what God “controlling” people involves, so it means whatever he wants it to mean, and that is ambiguous, hence a good example of weasel words.

            Lydia

            “The problem is that in some versions of Calvinism, and Les holds this view, there are two wills of God (the revealed will, what God does or does not want to happen, but which gets violated and acted against all the time, and the secret or sovereign will which is God’s total plan that includes every event including those acts against the revealed will, these two wills contradict each other because God says one thing in the revealed will but he ordains/purposes/predetermines something that is opposite the revealed will as part of the sovereign will, such as the acts of violence described in this passage).”

            Thank you for pointing this out. I was going to bring up their continued use of “revealed” will in comments but did not want to sidetrack things. At some point, non Cals need to say, “stop”. I cannot get past revealed will as an agreed upon concept concerning God. I don’t think non Cals should ignore it use. It is a “framing” word.

            Les Prouty

            Lydia,

            So, you don’t believe God’s will (as in do not murder for example) has been revealed? That’s all that is meant by the revealed will of God. Now I know that that also means that there is the unrevealed will of God, right? Unless you believe that all of God’s will has been revealed. Do you think that?

              Lydia

              “So, you don’t believe God’s will (as in do not murder for example) has been revealed? That’s all that is meant by the revealed will of God. Now I know that that also means that there is the unrevealed will of God, right? Unless you believe that all of God’s will has been revealed. Do you think that?”

              Les, Do you not see how you communicate? You are trying to force the idea of two wills by the way you frame accusatory questions. Obviously I have to be a heretic if I don’t answer you right. See how you set it up for that?

              The bottom line is I do not need “two wills” of God because I believe in human responsibility and volition. And add that to the mix of living in “relationship” to Jesus Christ , God in the flesh and His full representation and I don’t need a god with a secret will. Some mystery, yes. Have you ever read Piper’s view on the two wills of God? Sheesh!

              It is so sad to me that because of determinism being your foundation you have to somehow explain away that God desires for all to be saved and is love but yet has chosen not to regenerate all. Because you have to be chosen before you were born. Viola! Some clever guys came up with the idea that God has two wills! His revealed self and His secret self. Because he is controlling everything 24/7, some things have to have very complicated explanations. Sounds like some Greek pagan gods as they could never be sure either. And there are some clever proof texts to trot out for it, too!

              Yes, I realize that the problem of evil is often trotted out to put folks in their place who dare to question. But seriously, if we are honest the large percentage of evil comes from humans in their dealings with each other. . The evils of tornados and such have been better dealt with by human ingenuity of early warning systems, better buildings, etc. Unlike Piper, I do not think God makes bridges collapse or sends tornados to punish us….because God is controlling everything that happens 24/7. I take into consideration the trajectory of the Old and New Covenants differently than you do.

                rhutchin

                It seems obvious that God’s will can be expressed in two ways. God expresses His will through His actions – He creates the world, floods the world, destroys Sodom, impregnates Mary, raises Christ from the dead, confronts Saul of Tarsus on the road. God also expresses His will in the actions of people – Satan tempting Adam/Eve, Cain murdering Abel, David numbering Israel, the Jews/Romans putting Christ to death, the stoning of Stephen. God knew everything that He had ordained to happen when He created the world, and we then witness the unfolding of His will in the course of time. It was God’s will that Christ be crucified but this was hidden from the OT prophets and revealed in the course of time.

                God also expresses His will through the commandments. Here it is understood that God has given people the freedom to disobey His will.

                I do not understand the problems that some have with the “will of God.”

                  Lydia

                  “I do not understand the problems that some have with the “will of God.”

                  First of all your comment response focused on two wills and how they are “expressed”. What you left out is “God’s will” for the damned who are “chosen” for either salvation or damnation before they were born , the world was created, etc. Remember, in your deterministic construct they are “unable”

                    rhutchin

                    We cannot deny that God is omniscient. When God created the world, He knew those whom He would save and those whom He would pass over. That is His will. That will become clear at the day of judgment if not before. Are you suggesting that God is not omniscient and is ignorant of the destinies of the creatures He creates?

                Les Prouty

                “Do you not see how you communicate? You are trying to force the idea of two wills by the way you frame accusatory questions. Obviously I have to be a heretic if I don’t answer you right. See how you set it up for that?
                The bottom line is I do not need “two wills” of God because I believe in human responsibility and volition. And add that to the mix of living in “relationship” to Jesus Christ , God in the flesh and His full representation and I don’t need a god with a secret will. Some mystery, yes. Have you ever read Piper’s view on the two wills of God? Sheesh!”

                Yes Lydia I see how I communicate. I try to take the non sensical (no offense intended) statements people make and demonstrate how non sensical the statements are. Your system of interpretation and bias won’t even allow you to acknowledge the obvious-that there are distinctions when we talk about the will of God. Perhaps it’s because some Calvinist somewhere also acknowledges it and you have a bias allergy to ever agreeing with a position Calvinists hold. IDK.

                It’s a plain as the nose on our faces that distinctions must be made about God’s will else you collapse the concept of the will of God into meaningless. He has revealed His perfect will in His law. Do not murder. Plain. It’s His will that no man does that. It’s also plain that it’s His will that it occur (see the murder of Jesus and Acts where it is revealed that the murder of Jesus was His will to occur.

                See, you set up a false choice. Calvinists also believe in human responsibility and volition. You do not allow that we can believe that and at the same time believe that God wills that the murder occur according to His plan (the murder of Jesus). God did not commit the murder. Man did. But it was God’s predetermined plan all along. And yes, there’s some mystery there. We all agree there is and neither of us is hiding behind that when we acknowledge it.

                “It is so sad to me that because of determinism being your foundation you have to somehow explain away that God desires for all to be saved and is love but yet has chosen not to regenerate all.”

                It is equally sad to me that because of your bias you refuse to acknowledge that your position leaves you hanging out there with God desiring for all to be saved but having chosen not to regenerate all. Same thing Lydia. In your system of interpretation you have God desiring for all to be saved and choosing not to regenerate all.

                “Some clever guys came up with the idea that God has two wills! His revealed self and His secret self.”

                Well Lydia, do you believe that all of God’s will is open and out there and we do or can know it all? I would love to see others of your system come out here and agree with what you apparently are saying-namely that there is no such thing as God’s revealed will. Others? Step up if you agree. And do you all agree with Lydia that there is nothing secret about God’s will? Do we know all that He wills?

                Have a blessed day.

                  Lydia

                  Les, what I think is you constantly reframe positions and move goal posts in order to win an arguement. Not to seek truth. In order to do this you seem to over complicate everything. One minute we are totally unable and the next we have free will and volition within all sorts of complicated explanations and proof texting.

                  Let me just say that Jesus was/is the Triune God. I don’t think He lost his power (or was lesser) but willingly put it aside to come as a lowly person and to be a sacrifice for our reconciliation with God. I do not think He had to force anyone to murder Him in order to carry out his plan. They were behaving exactly in response to what was already were in their thoughts and behaviors. . In fact, I believe the exact time in history was chosen because it was perfect. The perfect storm of Roman rule, controlling corrupt Priests and oppressed Jews. Zealots were the name of the game. Young Jewish men were being crucified before and after Jesus Christ. The cross loses its meaning without the resurrection showing us new life is possible. A new identity is possible….IF we repent and believe as in we are ABLE to repent and believe.

                  God was not endorsing murder in this instance or willing some to murder as you seem to suggest with that tortured illustration. He went along with what was already in their minds to give us the opportunity to change the world. Just a simple example is John 5 where it is written the religious leaders wanted to kill Him because they saw He was claiming to be equal with the Father. God did not make them “think” those thoughts and act on those thoughts. You present a god who makes people act on evil. You just won’t admit it and have lots of fancy words to direct people away from that response like most serious Calvinists do now that pew peons are starting to question it.

                  Again, I will say we don’t communicate in this day and time the same way the ancients did so we tend to over look some genres like hyperbole, peoetry, etc when reading the OT. I say there are major themes better to focus on like God’s Wisdom and Rescue.

                  Determinism simply gets in the way of our being able to view God through understanding that He wants us to seek His wisdom and He wants to rescue us. He always has from the beginning. But because He is not an insecure God (like the Islamic Allah) He wants actual “relationship” with us and created us with the ability to choose His wisdom or not. And we can see that even though many did not choose His Wisdom, still , He provides rescue.

                  I will have to bow out. You are just too clever for me when it comes to changing meanings or reframing the discussion, etc. At some point, after years of commenting back and forth since the Trad statment thread, I guess we will have to agree that we will never agree. And it is my fault for responding! I should know better! :o)

                    Robert

                    Lydia,

                    You gave us a perfect example of the problems with Les Prouty’s postings:

                    “Just a simple example is John 5 where it is written the religious leaders wanted to kill Him because they saw He was claiming to be equal with the Father. God did not make them “think” those thoughts and act on those thoughts. You present a god who makes people act on evil. You just won’t admit it and have lots of fancy words to direct people away from that response like most serious Calvinists do now that pew peons are starting to question it.”

                    Lydia you are correct, if Les Prouty’s determinism/Calvinism is true, then the religious leaders’ thoughts were all ordained, preplanned by God. God wanted them to have these exact thoughts, that is what he planned for them to have. If God ordains everything as the Westminster confession states (i.e. “He ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass”) then whatever evil thoughts any human person has (including the religious leaders), are the thoughts that God desired for them to have, preplanned for them to have and “ensures” that they have. God preplans all of these evil thoughts and desires for them all to happen according to his “secret/sovereign” will. They have no choice, they have to have these thoughts, they have to act upon these thoughts so as you say about Prouty’s position “You present a god who makes people act on evil”.

                    And Lydia you are also correct they “just won’t admit it”. That is why the weasel words like “control” come in. They will speak of how God “controls” these evil people. When you ask them exactly how does he control these people, then it becomes he does so by “ensuring” that they act upon their evil thoughts and desires (while the Calvinist leaves out that it is God himself who preplanned all of these evil desires and wanted them to have them and act upon them, while supposedly they acted on these evil desires “freely”).

                    Lydia when you stated: “and have lots of fancy words to direct people away from that response” you are correct again.
                    You mean “fancy words” such as “compatibilism”. by means of a word like this People are directed away from the fact that under Calvinism God preplans and desires for these evil thoughts and actions to occur because the calvinist refocuses things on the evil desires of the people, and then speak of how God just “allows” or “permits” them to act on THEIR evil desires (though if all is ordained, nothing is merely permitted or allowed it is all ordained without exception and no one is ever acting freely as ordinarily understood). So it **sounds like** it is just evil people freely choosing to do evil, so of course they are at fault for the evil (but again what is left out, covered up, hid in the closet, is that it is God who preplanned all of these evil desires and actions as part of his “sovereign will”).

                    It is like watching a magician doing close up sleight of hand tricks, they divert your attention and get you to look one way (the calvinist focusing on God “allowing” evil people to act according to their evil desires) while the trick is being done somewhere else (the calvinist does not tell you that God ordains the specific evil thoughts these evil people have and act upon). So it **sounds like** they are doing these things freely, on their own, by their own choice, when in reality they are just puppets being controlled and manipulated by the divine puppet master. And because they are like puppets they never have a choice, they only and always do what the divine puppet master “controls” them to do (while they tell us he is of course not really controlling them in that way, he is merely permitting them to act freely on their evil desires :-) ).

                    Rhutchin

                    “…ordained and preplanned by God.” But not caused by God.

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    “ordained and preplanned by God. But not caused by God.”

                    Would you say this similar to Hitler? He ordained and preplanned the elimination of the Jews, but didn’t himself cause their deaths. It was others who carried out what was ordained and preplanned. Have we been blaming the wrong guy all these years?

                    rhutchin

                    Hitler planned to kill the Jews and surrounded himself with people who thought the same way and who then obeyed his orders. If Hitler were like God, then he would be faced with Jews seeking to kill themselves (assisted suicide, for instance, where Hitler had commanded that no one murder another) and he would let them willingly disobey him.

                  Les Prouty

                  Lydia,

                  “Les, what I think is you constantly reframe positions and move goal posts in order to win an argument.”

                  I see why you might think that. You can’t handle what I’m saying so you resort to the accusation above.

                  I agree Lydia with this though, “I guess we will have to agree that we will never agree.”

                  Have a blessed day.

            Les Prouty

            Weasel words. Nice!

            But I notice no one has even attempted to deal with the text I quoted. Anyone want to explain the Habakkuk passage other than I did? Or maybe try to weasel out of such an attempt?

              Robert

              Les,

              You obviously misunderstood my post and even the concept of “weasel words”. They are “slippery” words that need to be more carefully defined. There is an extremely easy way for you to fix this: just give us your definition of “control”. What do YOU mean when you say that God **controls** us, or in the Hab. passage, how does he control these evil people and cause them to bring about their evil acts???

              By the way, J.P. caught us using “weasel words” in class and would immediately have us define the words in such a way as to eliminate them as “weasel words”. It is really about clarity of thought and avoiding ambiguity in the use of expressions and terms.

              Regarding interpreting the Hab passage, the non-calvinist believes that God foreknows what actions evil people will freely choose to do and allows them to do these actions in order to accomplish some good purpose. The best example of this of course being the crucifixion of Jesus which scripture explicitly states is a result of God’s foreknowledge and purpose combining and God using the evil actions evil people would choose to do. As these actions were freely chosen by the evil people involved, they could have and should have done otherwise, and yet God knew what they would in fact choose to do. So they, not God are responsible for their evil choices, as they could have and should have done otherwise, but instead chose to sin. God uses these evil choices to accomplish the crucifixion of Jesus and the positive purposes conneted to that event. It is similar in the Hab passage and in the passage where God uses the evil Assyrians as His “rod of discipline” on Israel.

              Another great example of this is Joseph in Genesis, where God alllows evil choices by his brothers, Medianite travelers, Potiphar’s wife, etc. to get Joseph in the position where he could help deliver his family from a major famine (we know that God could miraculously provide food, as He did with the Manna in the wilderness, and yet not only did he want to deliver His people from a famine, he also wanted to develop Joseph’s character and character is only developed through handling trials in a faithful way as Joseph did).

              This is an important principle as often the righteous go through trials because God is more concernend about our developing godly character, not just about sparing us difficult circumstances. He values our character more than gold so we get to go through the refining fires of trial so that the dross is eliminated and the gold is refined.

              Andrew Barker

              Les: I did note another c&p exercise, but I can find no evidence of any serious attempt to give areasoned explanation. I quote …
              ” obviously the actual acts of violence against God’s people are against God’s revealed will in the law. Nevertheless they are happening according to God’s purposes and under His control”.

              Your comments reveal how you think, but there’s no explanation in them.

                Les Prouty

                Andrew,

                “I can find no evidence of any serious attempt to give areasoned explanation. I quote …
                ” obviously the actual acts of violence against God’s people are against God’s revealed will in the law. Nevertheless they are happening according to God’s purposes and under His control”.
                Your comments reveal how you think, but there’s no explanation in them.”

                Well they are what they are. Perhaps you could explain the passage and how this passage and the overall theme of Habakkuk fits into your system of theology.

                Have a blessed day.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Les: I’ve nothing against the Habakkuk passage, but I don’t think it’s particularly relevant to the discussion in hand and you haven’t explained how it’s meant to prove whatever point it is you’re trying to make. All you’ve done is copy & paste and then say that proves your point. It doesn’t! :)

                  Les Prouty

                  Andrew,

                  “I’ve nothing against the Habakkuk passage, but I don’t think it’s particularly relevant to the discussion in hand and you haven’t explained how it’s meant to prove whatever point it is you’re trying to make. All you’ve done is copy & paste and then say that proves your point. It doesn’t! :)”

                  Can’t help you then. Maybe consult some commentaries to help you understand the passage and message of Habakkuk better.

                  Have a blessed day (or evening in your case).

                    Andrew Barker

                    Well that’s true Les. From everything you’ve posted so far, you certainly are unable to help! :)

              Scott Shaver

              I believe, Les, I pointed out earlier in this thread that it would be useless to discuss major/minor prophets, Old Testament with you because you have the same perspective as “Deuteronomic History” with a 5-point template. God preordains both the wicked and evil that men do.

              Have tried to suggest that the lens of deuteronomic history is bettered by the revelation of Christ.

              Guess this keeps going over/under your head.

            Scott Shaver

            Straight-up outstanding Robert. Les, no slight intended, this is purely logical, theological and spirit-scripture inspired as opposed to 1500 years of theologians/treatises ex post facto. You guys wanna do real theology, have the nerve to question the evolution of theology including Calvin post-Pentecost :0

            Les Prouty

            Robert,

            I certainly may have misunderstood what you were saying but I don’t think so. I get that you were talking about using words that may be seen as slipping around ideas and not defining terms.

            “Regarding interpreting the Hab passage, the non-calvinist believes that God foreknows what actions evil people will freely choose to do and allows them to do these actions in order to accomplish some good purpose.”

            Then we agree. The Calvinist believes that God foreknows what these evil people are going to do (and for clarity, that’s exactly what they will in fact do) and He allows them to do these evil actions and has planned ahead of time to use them to accomplish His purposes. Your example of the cross is indeed a perfect example. They had no idea that the were unwittingly carrying out His predetermined plan for the crucifixion of Jesus.

            “What do YOU mean when you say that God **controls** us, or in the Hab. passage, how does he control these evil people and cause them to bring about their evil acts???”

            Simply that God ensures that the evil intentions and actions of people in Habakkuk, that they do according to their sinful desires and not in any way forced like puppets to do, are directed to accomplish His purposes.

            Robert, we can go around and around about this probably. But speaking for myself, I see some mystery here. And it on no way lessens God for me to say that He can plan, predetermine and such these actions of say the Chaldeans while at the same time NOT be pulling strings on them like puppets. He can allow their sinful desires and their personalities as mean and evil people to run their course (against His revealed will in the law I might add) while at the same time superintending all these actions to ensure that His purposes for His people are carried out according to His desires (His secret, to us, will). As you know, this is compatiblism. But it’s mystery too.

            I liken it to how we got the scriptures. Not a jot or tittle was originally written but what God wanted written. Yet, evangelicals who take the bible seriously and as inspired by God agree that the writers were not simply mechanical scribes (puppets if you will). No. God used their differing styles and personalities in their writing while at the same time not using them as puppets or mind numbed robots to put down exactly what He wanted put down. We see man’s actions according to their wills and God superintending those actions for His purposes in a similar way.

            Have a blessed day.

              Robert

              Les,

              “I certainly may have misunderstood what you were saying but I don’t think so. I get that you were talking about using words that may be seen as slipping around ideas and not defining terms.”

              Good then why don’t you eliminate the “weasel words” and tell us what YOU mean by the use of the word “control”????

              In your original post bringing up the Hab. 1 passage, you brought up the passage and then wrote a whole paragraph repeating the weasel word “control” three times:

              [[“Now obviously the actual acts of violence against God’s people are against God’s revealed will in the law. Nevertheless they are happening according to God’s purposes and UNDER HIS CONTROL. Often in the OT we see God using the free acts of wicked people, FULLY UNDER H=HIS CONTROL, to carry out His purposes. Unwittingly to those wicked people at the time of course. They are just going about their wicked ways murdering, enslaving, etc. (all things that are not according to God’s revealed will in the law) all the while carrying out God’s purposes WITHOUT A CLUE AS TO HOW GOD IS CONTROLLING THEIR ACTS for His purposes.” EMPHASIS MINE]]

              And I will repeat my earlier questions again:

              The first occurrence of these weasel words is the second sentence: “under His control”.
              What exactly does it mean to say that God controls these events?
              Does he control them the way a puppet master controls his puppets (direct, continuously, completely)?
              The third line has “fully under h=His control”.
              Again what exactly does it mean to say “control”?
              Les says these wicked people have no idea of how they are being controlled by God: “without a clue as to how God is controlling their acts for His purposes.”
              What exactly does it mean that God controls their acts?

              And I repeat there is a simple way to eliminate this occurrence of weasel words:

              You obviously misunderstood my post and even the concept of “weasel words”. They are “slippery” words that need to be more carefully defined. There is an extremely easy way for you to fix this: just give us your definition of “control”. What do YOU mean when you say that God **controls** us, or in the Hab. passage, how does he control these evil people and cause them to bring about their evil acts???

              Les has yet to explain what he means by “control”.

              In a separate post I want to make some observations about Les’ claim that we interpret the Hab. 1 passage the “same way” (this is an impossibility as we operate from two opposite meanings of free will).

                Robert

                I had written:

                “Regarding interpreting the Hab passage, the non-Calvinist believes that God foreknows what actions evil people will freely choose to do and allows them to do these actions in order to accomplish some good purpose.”

                When I use the words “freely choose to do” I am speaking of libertarian free will, and Les has said multiple times and explicitly that he DENIES that this kind of freedom exists.

                Les quotes me and writes:

                “Then we agree. The Calvinist believes that God foreknows what these evil people are going to do (and for clarity, that’s exactly what they will in fact do) and He allows them to do these evil actions and has planned ahead of time to use them to accomplish His purposes. Your example of the cross is indeed a perfect example. They had no idea that the were unwittingly carrying out His predetermined plan for the crucifixion of Jesus.”

                No we do not and cannot agree as we are operating from two very different presuppositions. It is as if I were painting the wall with the color white and Les is coloring the wall with the color black, and he claims that we are painting the wall the same color! :-)

                When I speak of free will (WHITE) I mean libertarian free will, which Les denies that it ever exists.

                Les holds to determinism, that we never have a choice, we make choices but all of these choices are predetermined by God (BLACK). In Les’ view of reality, we only and always do God’s will (the secret sovereign will, in which God decided every event that would occur before it occurs and then ensures that every detail goes as preplanned). In such a world we never have a genuine choice (i.e. WHITE never exists) where we could choose to do this or choose to do that (because if all is ordained, then that includes every choice, which means if God ordained that we choose this, then it is impossible for us to choose that, or likewise if God ordained that we choose that, then it is impossible for us to chose this, only BLACK paint exists). Non-Calvinists do not believe that every choice is ordained in this way, we believe that at least sometimes, we really could choose to do this, or choose to do that. So we cannot be agreeing as we operate off different conceptions of what free will entails.

                I wrote:

                “What do YOU mean when you say that God **controls** us, or in the Hab. passage, how does he control these evil people and cause them to bring about their evil acts???”

                Les responds with:

                “Simply that God ensures that the evil intentions and actions of people in Habakkuk, that they do according to their sinful desires and not in any way forced like puppets to do, are directed to accomplish His purposes.”

                Well Les has not explained what he means by “control”, ADDITIONALLY he has added another weasel word here: “God ENSURES”. Ok so God “controls” by ENSURING that a person does X. What does it mean that he ENSURES that they do X? One weasel word, ensure, is simply replacing the original weasel word “control”.

                Les continues:

                “Robert, we can go around and around about this probably.”

                Actually that is true, as long as Les engages in weasel words like “control” and “ensure” he can mean anything by these terms and anyone who tries to talk with Les will “go around and around” in useless circles.

                But it gets worse as not only does he engage in weasel words he now appeals to mystery:

                “But speaking for myself, I see some mystery here.”

                Well now we have a “double whammy”, weasel words AND an appeal to mystery at the same time!

                  rhutchin

                  Robert writes, “When I use the words “freely choose to do” I am speaking of libertarian free will, and Les has said multiple times and explicitly that he DENIES that this kind of freedom exists.”

                  I think you fail to understand Les’ position. Les says that the unsaved do not have libertarian free will because they are slave to sin. As slaves to sin, the unsaved are free to express and pursue their desires for sin but cannot choose other than to sin. This is reinforced by Jeremiah (the heart is deceitful) and Christ (Out of the heart proceed the actions of a person and a bad tree only gives bad fruit). I think the burden is on you to show that the unsaved possess “libertarian” free will in any sense of “libertarian.”

                  On the other hand, I think Les would agree that God grants libertarian free will to those He is saving (and that libertarian free will is conveyed during regeneration) and those to who God conveys libertarian free will then exercise that new found freedom to accept God’s salvation.

                Richard Thompson

                Why can’t folks understand that the word “mystery” means just that? Ultimately, we now see as through a darkened glass, and we’re constantly trying to force the Ways of the Lord into neatly closed boxes that are understandable to us with our pitiful little time/space oriented intellects. Let God be God (and every man a liar)!

              Les Prouty

              Robert you use a lot of words to not say much new.

              “Les has yet to explain what he means by “control”.”

              My answer was there for you to see: “Simply that God ensures that the evil intentions and actions of people in Habakkuk, that they do according to their sinful desires and not in any way forced like puppets to do, are directed to accomplish His purposes.”

              No weasel words Robert. Plain and simple for those willing to see. Now the rest of what you wrote in both posts is irrelevant.

              Have a blessed day.

                Robert

                Not so fast Prouty.

                You have merely substituted one weasel word “ensure” for the earlier weasel word “control”. In fact you have “defined” control by means of the use of the word “ensure”. It is “plain and simple for those willing to see” that you have not defined control not explained how God controls evil people and their actions. Evaded and avoided my questions and now your definition of control is that God ensures that . . . . Ok, how does he ensure these things occur? What is involved in “ensuring” these things occur? Does God “ensure” some events and not others?

                My posts were not made irrelevant by your latest evasions, they merely exposed what you are doing for all to see (i.e. engaging in weasel words and appealing to mystery without explaining anything).

                Andrew was right “Your comments reveal how you think, but there’s no explanation in them.”

                Exactly correct.

                Les Prouty

                Yeo, just that fast Robert. Jimmy Johns fast.

                “You have merely substituted one weasel word “ensure” for the earlier weasel word “control”.”

                Sorry bro. Your definition of “weasel” is just that. Your definition. Non Biased people can see that I explained it just fine. And now you AND Andrew are wrong, together.

                Have a blessed day brother.

                  Robert

                  Les claims my definition of weasel words is just my definition. No, Les, I was actually in that class with J. P. Moreland. It is his term and helps understand why some debates become so useless and confusing. And Moreland has written some very good books in the area of apologetics and had debates with some famous atheists. He knows all about debating tricks and methods dishonest debaters will resort to. He is much more credible on this concept and its place in debates than you are.

                  Instead of simply defining the weasel words you have been using and so eliminating them as weasel words, you just keep evading this simple solution. That means you want there to be obfuscation, unnecessary ambiguity, and confusion.

                  Apparently you feel that is good for your purposes. That is sad but shows yet again you are not really here for clear and open communication and discussions. If you were you would not hesitate to eliminate the weasel words that make for less than effective communication. We all do that when our intent is clear communication.

                  As a Presbyterian who has rejected your past Baptist beliefs in favor of false Presbyterian beliefs and the Westminster confession apparently you are only here as an apologist for Calvinism, to defend and protect and rationalize your false Calvinistic system and its false doctrines. Since that is your agenda, weasel words have a definite place in your approach here and so sadly you will continue to use them with no hesitation.

                    Les Prouty

                    Robert,

                    Nice try. My words are not weasel words. Your saying they are repeatedly will never make it so.

                    “He knows all about debating tricks and methods dishonest debaters will resort to.”

                    I’m glad you’re not talking about me when you refer to his knowledge of these things. In he words of Col. Nathan R. Jessup, “You can’t handle the truth.” :)

                Rhutchin

                I think we can put more meat on the bones of “God’s control.”

                As Robert agrees, God knows beforehand that which people desire to do – even before those people act on those desires, even before they have those desires. So what Can God do? God can restrain the person from acting on his desires or God can turn a person’s desires in a different direction. Example’s would be God giving the king a dream to prevent his violation of Abraham.s wife or to influence the Pharoah to put Joseph in a position of power. Satan can only act towards Job within the constraints imposed by God. Similarly, God can make a person to be at peace with his neighbor.

                Gid is sovereign and always has the final say on what happens, whether a sparrow falling to the earth or a wicked people invading Israel. Believers are grateful that God restrains Satan from entering us as he did Judas who then betrayed Jesus.

                God is sovereign – an absolute sovereign – and is thereby able to control all that happens.

          Scott Shaver

          Les:

          Feel free to read and interpret the entire bible from the perspective of deuteronomic history and through the filter of Calvin if you wish.

          I believe we’ve got a fuller, more exhaustively complete revelation in Christ.

            Les Prouty

            Scott,

            Not even an attempt to refute how I explained the Habakkuk passage?

            And, Jesus’ teaching and fuller revelation in His person does not differ from the OT.

          Lydia

          Les, Your questions make no sense in light of the fact your religion believes that man is UNABLE to respond to God whether it was the Isrealites or the Pagans.

            rhutchin

            The conclusion that man is unable to respond to God was held by both Calvinists and Arminians. It was opposed by the Pelagians. So, we basically have two unique “religions” based on an interpretation of the Scriptures as to the depravity of people.

              Lydia

              ” The conclusion that man is unable to respond to God was held by both Calvinists and Arminians. It was opposed by the Pelagians. So, we basically have two unique “religions” based on an interpretation of the Scriptures as to the depravity of people.”

              I am curious how you know this about Pelagius. Isn’t most of what we know based upon the explanations of his detractors who had a love of control and power like Augustine with his Greek Pagan philosophical bent of determinism and dualism? We are talking about people who despised the concept of freedom for the peasants.(and the Donatists) which made guys like Pelagius an enemy.

              And bringing in the word depravity does not help. Depravity does not have to mean “unable”.

                Rhutchin

                Calvinists, Arminians, and others define depravity such that it means unable to respond to the gospel until enabled to do so by God. The Pelagians, as they have come to be known, believe that a person can respond to the gospel without help from God so they would define depravity to be less pervasive that the Cals, etc.

              volfan007

              Rhutchin,

              There’s also another group, which holds to man being able to respond to God…..Christians, who just believe the Bible, instead of holding to some philosphical framework, and trying to make the Bible fit into their little box.

              BTW, Pelagians went way beyond just believing that man can respond to God, they believed that man made the first move towards God. Big difference.

              David

                Rhutchin

                Calvinists, Arminians, Pelaogians, etc. identify as Christian. Each claims to believe the Bible; the issue, then, is what does the Bible tell us.

                I agree on Pelagians, Pelagians believe that man can make the first move to God (although I think the response would follow from hearing the gospel). Calvinists, Arminians and others believe that man is so depraved as to preclude any response to God or to the gospel except as God enables them to do so.

              Lydia

              “The conclusion that man is unable to respond to God was held by both Calvinists and Arminians”

              And Muslims, too.

                Scott Shaver

                I agree Lydia:

                Albeit determinism seems to be the theological standard across the board with Islam as opposed
                to a more sectarian manifestation within sub-sets of Christianity (i.e. “high calvinism”).

                  Lydia

                  “lbeit determinism seems to be the theological standard across the board with Islam as opposed
                  to a more sectarian manifestation within sub-sets of Christianity (i.e. “high calvinism”).”

                  Oh true. But the degree of determinism, from my experience with Neo Cal/Reformed, tends to be directly related to how convenient or inconvenient it is to their current argument/position.

              Andrew Barker

              You forgot the open theists! Was that deliberate/determined or what?

                rhutchin

                Chalk it up to ignorance. I do not know the Open Theist position on depravity. I presume that God, in His wisdom, did not think it worthwhile to prompt me to study up on that and thereby left me wallowing in my ignorance of Open Theism.

                  Andrew Barker

                  rhutchin: “. I presume that God, in His wisdom, did not think it worthwhile to prompt me to study up on that and thereby left me wallowing in my ignorance of Open Theism”

                  Well this is an interesting development because in the past you have commented on people’s posts and accused (if that isn’t too strong a word) them of being or taking an Open Theists’ stance. So either you do know something about Open Theism and your comment is false or you are quite prepared to comment on other people’s posts from a position of ignorance. Which is it? Are you telling falsehoods or are you displaying your ignorance for all to see? Or maybe a bit of both?

                    rhutchin

                    Only with regard to the issue of omniscience. There have been times when some have explained God’s foreknowledge as derived when God learns from looking into the future to observe what people do. If God knows things because He learns about them, then He cannot be omniscient.

Lydia

“If the all powerful One chooses to refrain from meticulously ruling over every aspect of that which He creates, that in no way denies His eternal attribute of omnipotence, but indeed affirms it. It is the Calvinist who denies the eternal attribute of omnipotence, by presuming the all powerful One cannot refrain from meticulous deterministic rule over His creation. In short, the Calvinist denies God’s eternal attribute in his effort to protect the temporal one. ”

I had not thought of it in that way. I had always thought it a terrible insult to God and even blasphemous (attributing something to Him that is not from Him) to suggest that He “determines” all things . My view from the descriptors throughout scripture is that He seeks to work through/with His creatures to put the world “to rights” as one scholar put it.. Which is why He wants us to mature and grow in wisdom. That is a whole different way to view the Triune God than determinism. It brings in our responsibility and obedience. It is more about relationship.

    Scott Shaver

    …..”a whole different way to view the Triune God than determinism. It brings in our responsibility and obedience. It is more about relationship.

    Bingo and thank you Lydia.

    Determinism by its very nature deemphasizes relationship in favor of “decree”. The antithesis of the earthly example of Christ.

Bill Mac

It is the Calvinist who denies the eternal attribute of omnipotence, by presuming the all powerful One cannot refrain from meticulous deterministic rule over His creation.

Some Calvinists perhaps, but not all. Let’s narrow the brush just a little. Not all Calvinists are micro-determinists.

    Scott Shaver

    “Not all Calvinists are micro-determinists” according to Bill Mac.

    Perhaps not….but I don’t think anyone can deny that an inclination toward 5-point Calvinism is certainly fertile ground for breeding “micro-determinism”. Proof is in the pudding.

    Kyle

    No calvinist would say He cannot refrain. He just does whatever He pleases, not whatever man pleases.
    If you believe in God’s omniscience, you already believe in determinism. If God knows absolutely everything that will happen, then everything He knows will absolutely happen down to the molecule.
    If God knows with absolute certainty you are going to xyz, guess what you cannot do?…abc. If you respond to this post, God knew it from eternity past and you cannot do otherwise. If you decide not to respond, the same is true, you cannot do otherwise. The only way to get out of determinism is to be an open theist.

      volfan007

      Kyle,

      There’s a HUGE difference in omniscience and CAUSING everything to happen; a tremendous, big, humongous, gigantic difference.

      David

      Scott Shaver

      Once again the abilities and limitations of Eternal God are limited by the finitude of man.

      The world and the hope of the cross would be dreary things indeed, Kyle, if what you say is true.

        Scott Shaver

        typo correction.

        meant to write …..”defined by the finitude of man”.

      Andrew

      Foreknowledge does NOT equal causation… or in this case, determinism. I see two cars heading towards one another. I notice both drivers are looking at their phones, probably texting. I know they are going to hit. I neither caused it nor determined that it would happen… I just saw it before they did.

        kyle

        You are slightly limited in your guess so comparing our knowledge to God’s is not in the same universe. God knew you were going to write exactly that from eternity past. Before he created, it was determined you would be born and write that very thing at that very moment. The problem with most so called Christian theology is that people think of God on a ladder. One may have a worm at the bottom and so on, then go up a step and you might get a dog and so on, then up the ladder is man, then up at the top is God. God isn’t even on the ladder. He made the ladder. I understand God isn’t allowed to interfere in many people’s theology. If every single atom movement was known to God when He created, He determined it to be that way when He created. There is no way out of it unless one becomes an open theist.

          Robert

          Kyle in the “CALVIN AND HOBBES” by Rick Patrick thread brought up this exact same argument that foreknowledge equals determinism.

          He wrote:

          [[ kyle 08-08-2015, 00:47
          If you believe in God’s omniscient attribute you cannot be an arminian. If God knows all things before He even creates, that would include a person’s salvation. If God knows with absolute certainty you are going to “A”. Guess what you can’t do…”B”. If God knows from eternity passed you are going to be saved, guess what you can’t do..reject repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, from you cannot go have libertarian free will. If God knew from eternity past, you could not reject through Gospel.”]]

          Since he is bringing up the same argument here despite the fact I showed the problem with it already I will repost what I said in response a week ago:

          [[ Robert 08-08-2015, 11:25

          Kyle,

          Your first line here is totally false, one can be an Arminian, Traditionalist, or other non-Calvinist and hold to omniscience. Apparently you are not very well read on this subject or you would never have made such a false claim. Since you made this point in two separate posts I will deal with it here. You may not like or agree with how non-Calvinists hold to omniscience and free will, but that does not matter. You seem to argue that if God knows that I will do X (say go to a Mexican restaurant tomorrow for dinner), then because this will happen with certainty (and it will happen with certainty if that is what in fact I will freely choose to do tomorrow) then I could not do otherwise and so my action is determined. We believe that God foreknows what we will in fact choose to do (if we will not in fact choose to do X then God would not foreknow us doing X). We also believe in free will as ordinarily understood (which does not mean that I can do other than I will in fact choose to do, but means that before the choice is actually made if I am acting freely then I could choose to do X or Y or . . .). If I will in fact choose to go to the Mexican restaurant tomorrow then God foreknows that I will do that. He is forekowing what I will freely choose to do. If instead of choosing to do X tomorrow, I will in fact choose to do Y, then God foreknows that I will choose to do Y tomorrow. Whatever I freely choose to do tomorrow is what God foreknows that I will choose to do. I cannot do otherwise than I will in fact freely choose to do, but that is not an argument against free will, that is the nature of free will (i.e. that I will in fact choose to do something). Whatever that something is, that I will freely choose to do is what God foreknows that I will choose to do. God’s foreknowledge does not cause my choice.

          You are failing to distinguish between certainty and determinism.

          It does not follow from the fact that God knows I will freely choose to do X tomorrow that my action is determined, what it means is that I will choose to do this action with certainty. But certainty is not the same as determinism and certainty does not eliminate free will. If I act with libertarian free will tomorrow when I make my choice, then I will with certainty make some choice. That choice that I will make with certainty is what God foreknows I will choose to do. But the fact that I will choose to do X with certainty does not mean that my action is determined: if I will choose to do Y with certainty, then that is what I will freely choose to do. If you were more well read in the abundant literature on this subject written by non-Calvinists you would know this. Since you don’t know this you make the false claim that the non-Calvinist cannot believe in omniscience. Non-Calvinists have believed in and affirmed both omniscience and libertarian free will throughout church history. You may not like this, you may not agree with it, but it is false to claim that we cannot affirm both.

        kyle

        Foe example, Do we think God was surprised when Adam and Eve sinned? Jesus was slain before the foundation of the earth. God created a world in which He knew Adam and Eve would sin and Christ would have to die for sins. It sounds like His creation was pre-determined to me. Revelation 17 has believers names in the book of life before the foundation of the world. That would be pre-creation. Therefore, God created a world in which it would be determined for some to be saved and some to be lost. That can’t be simple foreknowledge can it. Our is our God that simple minded?

          volfan007

          Kyle,

          It’s foreknowledge and omniscience mixed with the purposes of God for the world. Is God so simple-minded that He can’t know the future, and plan to carry out His plans and purposes, and yet let man be free to choose? Is God really that simple-minded and weak that He can’t accomplish His will, and give man a free will? Is He so weak and simple-minded that He has to control and cause everything?

          David

            Scott Shaver

            Very nicely put David… with an economical use of words to boot. Thumbs up.

              volfan007

              Scott,

              Thanks.

              David

          Robert

          Kyle continues to intentionally or unintentionally neglect the longstanding distinction between **certainty** and *determinism**. Take this post as an example:

          “Foe example, Do we think God was surprised when Adam and Eve sinned?”

          No, God is not surprised in the sense of not knowing that something would happen as he foreknows all events that occur. He may be morally outraged at something, finding it hard to believe that humans could be so sinful, but that is not like being surprised because he did not know before it occurs that it would occur.

          “Jesus was slain before the foundation of the earth.”

          God knew that the crucifixion would occur with certainty.

          “God created a world in which He knew Adam and Eve would sin and Christ would have to die for sins. It sounds like His creation was pre-determined to me.”

          It may “sound like it was predetermined TO YOU”, but again all non-Calvinists (excepting open theists) have always believed that God knows everything that will happen before it happens. It is because he has foreknowledge that He is able to sometimes disclose prophecies of future events that will occur with certainty.

          “Revelation 17 has believers names in the book of life before the foundation of the world. That would be pre-creation.”

          Again, non-Calvinists believe that God knew who would be lost and who would be saved, before those outcomes occur in time. But knowing those outcomes is not the same as determining those outcomes: especially if people sometimes experience libertarian free will (they could choose this or choose that, either option is genuinely available to them before they make their choice).

          “Therefore, God created a world in which it would be determined for some to be saved and some to be lost.”

          No, it does not logically follow that since he knows everything that will happen that therefore he determined everything that will happen.

          That these future events will in fact occur with certainty does not mean they are all determined by God. You are conflating foreknowledge and determinism. Determinism is about ***how they come about***. If they come about in such a way that the person has to do what they do, has no genuine choice, then their action is determined. But again if free will as ordinarily understood is sometimes present then not everything is predetermined. Foreknown, Yes, predetermined No.

          “That can’t be simple foreknowledge can it. Our is our God that simple minded?”

          Actually it can be foreknowledge. You have apparently not read much in the literature, if you had then you would know that the “simple foreknowledge” view does not mean that God is “simple minded” because to know every possibility and every actuality (which is what advocates of “simple foreknowledge” believe God has) is to know a vast amount of information. It means that He knows every possible way things could go or not go as well as every event that will in fact take place. It means he knows all possibilities, whether realized or not, and all actualities, what will in fact occur in billions of situations over all of history. A “simple minded” person could never know all these things.

          You should do some further research on this topic (instead of repeatedly making your false claim that foreknowledge equals determinism) it is a fascinating subject and some of the sharpest Christian minds have considered these issues (which is why in addition to Calvinism you have Molinism, Thomism, Ockhamism, Simple foreknowledge, etc. etc. all views that affirm that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of all future events that will take place).

            Rhutchin

            Simple knowledge is “simple” because it never asks the question, How does God obtain His foreknowledge? The Calvinists explain that God foreknows everything because He ordains everything. As no one else can figure out another way for God to have foreknowledge while preserving His omniscience, the simple foreknowledge view will remain “simple.”

              kyle

              You seem to ignore the element of creation. If God created knowing exactly who would believe and not believe, then He created this world in which it is determined at creation what the outcome of salvation would be. Try not to take creation out of the equation, if at all possible.

                volfan007

                I like the way Dr. J. Vernon McGee illustrates these truths. He said that God is coming out of eternity past like a steamroller carrying forth His plans and purposes for this world. And, man can either jump on the steamroller, and go with God, or else, man can stand in front of it, and shake his rebellious, little fist, and get run over and flattened. Because, we can’t stop the plans and purposes of God, but we can choose whether to get on and go with God, or else reject and face the consequences.

                David

                  rhutchin

                  God incorporates all the sinful acts of people into His plan. Thus, Cain murders Abel and Stephen is stoned and these events plus all other evil of people is, and has always been, part of God’s plan.

        kyle

        Did anyone on this site decide if and when they would be born? Where is our autonomy from the get go?

          volfan007

          Kyle,

          No, I didn’t choose to be born. But, let me ask you something. What about birth control? a whole lot of people are not having as many children as they once did. So, they are choosing to not have as many “people” in our world. When my wife and I had 3 children, we CHOSE to have no more. I imagine that we could’ve had 15, if we would’ve wanted to have that many. And, back in the day, before birth control, people would have 7 to 15 children. In fact, Mama Wesley had 22 children, or more….if I remember right.

          David

          Lydia

          “Did anyone on this site decide if and when they would be born? Where is our autonomy from the get go?”

          I was not old enough to make that decision. :o)

          doug sayers

          Kyle, Jesus was clear with Nicodemus that the spiritual re-birth was not altogether identical to our physical birth. (John 3). Thus, you should not assume that the two births are identical in every aspect.

          When we take into consideration Col 2:13 and Titus 3:5 we find that the washing of regeneration/quickening comes about as the result of our sins being blotted out. Not vice-versa. A careful search of Scripture reveals that there are no biblical texts which teach explicitly that irresistible regeneration precedes irresistible faith, which is the essence of the Calvinistic assumptions.

          Beware of building your doctrine on inferences that may be logical but not biblical.

          The biblical order is “Turn and Live” (Ezek) whereas the Calvinist order is “Live and Turn.”

            Rhutchin

            The Biblical command is “turn and live.” Calvinists conclude from the Scriptures that all refuse that command and none turns so none lives. Thus, it is God who chooses those to whom He gives life and then He commands, Turn (repent of your sin) and those, having received life, now obey.

              Don Johnson

              rhutchin,

              If only you had some Scripture to back that up, I’d believe it as well.

              doug sayers

              Rhutch, I appreciate your tenacity but you simply don’t have strong biblical proof of your theory. Your textless reply serves to illustrate what I was trying to say to Kyle:

              1. The Reformed order of salvation may be, for the most part, logical but lacks strong biblical support.

              2. I could take your positions more seriously if you could provide explicit texts which clearly teach that irresistible regeneration precedes irresistible faith, which is the essence of real Calvinism.

              I understand, and agree, that you are standing on some pretty impressive shoulders (Augustine, Calvin, Edwards…) but you just don’t have the texts. You have *inferences* that must be read into the Bible rather than clear texts to take from the Bible.

              As you search out proof texts to support your assumptions, ask yourself this question, “Does this text really support the point or am I just wanting it to?”

              You will either begin to question your Calvinism or you will (like others before you) begin to attack the need for “proof-texting” your pre-disposed conclusions.

              Keep studying, brother

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Well stated and laden with truth.

            Preach!

          Jim P

          Kyle,
          You’re right. There are some things completely outside our control, like being born, like getting hit by lightning, like winning the lottery (except you have to by a ticket here).

          And I agree, the ‘new birth’ mentioned to Nicodemus does have a mysteriousness to it that needs to be respected by Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. Disrespecting that mysteriousness, which belongs only to God, ends up laboring frustratingly to pin down things that may not have mathematical proofs for.

          Jesus Words, “the wind blows where it will, you neither know where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with the Spirit of God.’ Trying to pin down the works of God in a person’s life is like trying to lasso the wind.

            Lydia

            “And I agree, the ‘new birth’ mentioned to Nicodemus does have a mysteriousness to it that needs to be respected by Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. Disrespecting that mysteriousness, which belongs only to God, ends up laboring frustratingly to pin down things that may not have mathematical proofs for.”

            No, not mathmatical but certainly cultural. During that time one got their identity from the “womb”. (one reason arranged marriages were so important) What tribe, caste, group, etc were you born into was extremely important and pretty much decided your life for you. When Jesus spoke of being born again that was a challenge to Nics identity and he could only think in terms of his “womb identity” culture. Jesus was turning that thinking on its head. You can be born again another way with a whole new identity. Some of the very early baptistries were even shaped to look like wombs. (Don’t ask. Just look at the pics). Thing is we simply do not think or communicate like they did back then in metaphors, allegory, chiasms, etc.

            A great resource on this subject and what the early Christians understood about “born again” and practiced it in baptism ,is this work:

            http://www.amazon.com/Baptismal-Imagery-Early-Christianity-Theological/dp/080104832X

              kyle

              I apologize if I was ambiguous. My intent in using born again was to clearly state regeneration. I john 5:1 would make that clear that born of God is regeneration. Some take a non grammatical approach and flip 1 john 5:1 backwards but that is a discussion for another time.

              Jim P

              Lydia,
              I agree, they thought and communicated in metaphors, allegory, and chiasms. For anyone to get ‘cultural certainty’ again, without offense, is like trying to ‘lasso the wind.’ But it always should be worked at but all scripture is ‘cultural contexted,’ particularly Jewish context. One of the reasons the discussion are so intense is most of us are very unfamiliar with that context.

              But that ‘certainty’, I believe is an allusion. Again, the ‘mystery of the wind’ is comparable to the ‘mystery of God’ working in the lives of peoples. To pin it down to ‘certainty,’ is very Greek culturally and philosophically ‘contexted.’ They loved that certainty. As I believe most western Christianity does.
              I will look into the book you suggest.

                Lydia

                “But that ‘certainty’, I believe is an allusion. Again, the ‘mystery of the wind’ is comparable to the ‘mystery of God’ working in the lives of peoples. To pin it down to ‘certainty,’ is very Greek culturally and philosophically ‘contexted.’ They loved that certainty. As I believe most western Christianity does.
                I will look into the book you suggest.”

                “Certainty”? That is your response? I used “certainly” with the idea that cultural context was important in this passage about being born again and Nic asking about going back into the womb. Seems rather ridiculous, right? I never once mentioned “cultural certainty”. You chose to read that into it. My experience is Neo Cals totally leave out cultural context because their religion starts in the 1500’s and scripture is pretty much interpreted from that Greek Pagan influenced construct and the church state mentality passed down from Augustine.

                AS to the Holy Spirit blowing where it will: Big news to a Pharisetical Jew, eh?

                BTW: Be sure and give your brothers a Holy Kiss. :o)

                  Jim P

                  I made a mistake in responding to you. Thanks for making that clear.

                    Scott Shaver

                    Boy, I’ll say. When it comes to clarity and a handle on history/theology, that lady carries a pretty darn big stick.

          Scott Shaver

          Nice….but widely overused deflection.

          Robert

          Kyle wrote:

          “Did anyone on this site decide if and when they would be born? Where is our autonomy from the get go?”

          First, Kyle why don’t you define “autonomy” for us? What do YOU mean by this word?

          Second, a mistake that I have seen many Calvinists make (and perhaps Kyle is doing so here as well) is to define free will as autonomy.

          This is a mistake as the claim that we sometimes have free will is much more modest than claiming we have “autonomy.”

          Autonomy means “self- rule”. In the thinking of some calvinists they take this to be synonymous with being omnipotent. So they will say things such as “Whoa you believe you are autonomous, so you think you can choose to do anything?” Well if we could choose to do anything that we want without limitations, we would possess the attribute of omniscience. If we had full autonomy we would have no limitations, no laws stopping us from doing whatever we wanted to do.

          “Autonomy” is an illusion as no human person is autonomous. We have all sorts of limitations. A person can jump off a cliff trying to fly, but the law of gravity will make him hit the ground hard (like the Wiley Coyote when he misses the roadrunner goes off the cliff and you see a puff of smoke at the bottom of the cliff :-)) Most of us don’t feel very autonomous when we are really sick so we are confined to our beds! We can make the simplest plan (I will drive down this street to go to that store) and find out the street is under construction so we can’t take that street or the store is being remodeled so we can’t go to that store or even get in a car accident and not get there. So many things in our experience depend on other factors completely outside of our control. Instead of claiming this nonexistent trait of autonomy, I think we should go with Clint. As he said in an early “Dirty Harry” movie: “ a man’s GOT to know his limitations!” :-)

          http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=a+man's+got+to+know+his+limitations&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=0659E770EB7CA34B4B480659E770EB7CA34B4B48

            kyle

            Autonomy literally means self law. As most folks who believe in autonomy would state, it means free will. Man has a free will to choose or not choose between any given elements in life. In particular, as it relates to salvation, man can choose to believe or not believe.

              rhutchin

              Autonomy – if its intent is to convey the idea of free will – cannot mean that one is independent of God. A person exercise his will freely only to the extent that God allows it. For example, Joseph’s brothers first sought to kill Joseph, but God would not allow it and only allowed them to sell him as a slave. Free will, autonomy, can only be exercised within constraints imposed by God.

        kyle

        If God knows all things from eternity past and a person is eternally born again on this blog right now, then they were predestined to eternal life. It could not be autonomously otherwise unless God’s omniscience were to be invalidated. They could not have done otherwise, unless God is not all knowing.

          Lydia

          How can you know if you are really born again if you have no autonomy?. You could be decieved by evil forces. You do not have the autonomous ability to respond.

          Robert

          Kyle misses what non-Calvinists believe here. We believe that foreknowledge refers to what will in fact take place, whatever that ends up being. God does not foreknow possibilities (Kyle may or may not go to the game on Friday night). No, foreknowledge refers to what WILL IN FACT TAKE PLACE. If Kyle chooses to go to the game on Friday night, God foreknows that he will choose to do that. If Kyle chooses not to go to the game on Friday night, God foreknows that He will not choose to do that.

          If God foreknows that ” a person is born again on this blog right now” God foreknew that would be the case. Kyle then speaks of a supposed possibility that the same person “could not be autonomously otherwise unless God’s omniscience were to be invalidated”. But that is not possible, because his foreknowledge refers to what will in fact take place. If this person is born again and posting on this blog right now, God foreknew this to be so, because in fact this person is born again and posting on this blog right now. If that person was not born again, then God foreknows they are not born again. God’s foreknowledge cannot be invalidated because it always concerns what will in fact take place. If X will occur and will occur with certainty, will in fact occur, God foreknows that. If X will not occur, and will in fact not occur, God foreknows that. What God foreknows cannot be invalidated because it refers to what will in fact take place. We cannot do otherwise than what we will in fact choose to do. If we could, that would mean that we have the ability to actualize a contradiction (e.g. God foreknows that Kyle will choose to go to the game on Friday and AT THE SAME TIME Kyle could choose not to go to the game on Friday, Kyle cannot do that, he will either choose to go to the game on Friday or choose not to go to the game on Friday, he cannot choose to do both at the same time, which is what would have to happen for him to invalidate God’s foreknowledge).

      Eric Cook

      I want to believe what you just said is true, but God has predetermined me to believe you are wrong and He won’t let me change my mind.

        Lydia

        Eric, you only have free will to be wrong. :o)

        Andrew Barker

        Eric, I thought a bit of compatibilism was all that was needed to introduce some free will. But no libertarian free will even after regeneration then? Oh dear, the Reformed offer is losing its shine day by day.

Bill Mac

For the sake of discussion rather than argument, I would have said that Sovereignty means control over all that is, rather than just people. That would make the attribute eternal, but that definition is pretty low on my list of things to worry about.

doug sayers

Thanks Leighton, I confess that I am not entirely on board with your first line:

“The attribute of God’s Sovereignty is not an eternal attribute.”

Maybe you can help. Having trouble seeing how any attribute of an eternal God could be anything but eternal, as well. I don’t think Scripture would lead us to the conclusion that the attributes of God are mutable, that is changeable.

God could change the way He deals with His creation from one righteous option to another but His character would be the same for as long as He exists.

I am surely on board with the notion of a limited autonomy given to (fallen) man that is always subordinate to God’s ultimate autonomy. If we don’t understand the delegation of authority then we will struggle with the biblical revelation, starting in Genesis, in the Garden.

A Sargent has authority but it is subordinate to that of the Captain, which is subordinate to the General’s rule, which is, in turn, subordinate to the Commander in Chief. (God help us get a good one next year!)

God, if sovereign, has every right to delegate some measure of authority, responsibility, and ability to His creation, as He sees fit. Calvinists tend to see this as all authority or none. We are not worshiping at the shrine of human freedom; we’re just trying to take our “talents” and use them properly for His glory.

    Rhutchin

    God can delegate. God gives people the freedom to disobey His commands. Nonetheless, God still has ultimate control so Joseph’s brothers cannot kill Joseph but are allowed to sell Him. Jesus could be nailed to the cross but could not be killed – He voluntarily gave up His life.

    Regardless that God can delegate, He is still sovereign and delegation does not negate that sovereignty. Thus, God always has the final say in what people do with the freedom God delegates to them and God constrains the evil that people do with that freedom.

      Scott Shaver

      Rutchin:

      “God can delegate, God gives people the freedom to disobey his commands”.

      Now you understand why some of us perceive your personal theology to be schizophrenic in nature.

      You’ve spilled tons of digital ink previously declaring that both the good and wicked acts of man are directed by the hand of God….now you’re telling me God “delegates.”

      How can he delegate freedom of choice to something which has none? (i.e no autonomy/free will)

        Scott Shaver

        Which leads me to another question for Rutchin:

        If you’ve ever convinced yourself (we all have) that something you previously held to be true about God’s nature or operation was incorrect and you changed your mind or perspective…….Was God in his soverignty responsible for the original erroneous perspective?

          Rhutchin

          God in His omniscience knows the thoughts of a person before the person thinks them. God in His sovereignty can redirect a person’s thoughts if He chooses to do so. God has told believers to study to show oneself approved unto God and it is the pleasure of a person to search out the things of God. As the Scriptures are the source of faith, God has believers studying the Scriptures to strengthen their faith. Such is the wisdom of God to know the laziness of men.

            Scott Shaver

            Sigh.

            O.K. Rutchin, you’ve given your answer…..but it certainly did not address my question. If God is the primary mover in even the wickedness you practice, why don’t you SIN harder, so that grace may more abound?

              Rhutchin

              Believers do not sin harder for obvious reasons as Paul expounds in Romans 6.

              unbelievers do not sin harder because they are restrained by God.

                Scott Shaver

                But under your deterministic template it would make no difference whether the righteous or the wicked practice good or evil, the elect have a pass from eternity past and the condemned have no hope from the beginning.

                God directs both the evil and wicked men do for His ultimate glory so “sin” in the elect or sporadic “righteousness” from the wicked have no consequence in eternity. The meals been eaten and the check’s already been paid.

                What Paul says or doesn’t say in Romans 6 becomes irrelevant because his words have to be reinterpreted by the gnosis of Calvinism.

                Paul’s words from Roman 6 are cancelled out by the “orthodoxy” of your theology which, after all, is job one.

        Rhutchin

        Directed by God but not caused by God.

        Freedom to choose does not require that one be independent of God. The greatest limitation to full freedom to choose is ignorance;people are only free within the context of their feeble abilities. To speak of people being autonomous is to speak in the most general sense, so general as to be devoid of any real meaning.

          Lydia

          “Freedom to choose does not require that one be independent of God. The greatest limitation to full freedom to choose is ignorance;people are only free within the context of their feeble abilities. To speak of people being autonomous is to speak in the most general sense, so general as to be devoid of any real meaning.”

          Give us a real life every day example of this tortured and vague explanation.

            rhutchin

            Pretty much any decision a person makes during the day. All decisions are made within the limitations of information; from ignorance of all options to ignorance of the impacts of particular decisions. A person is never really independent of his abilities and the environment in which he operates. Hard to understand for some.

            Scott Shaver

            Lydia:

            Can you imagine the anguish this poor soul must experience daily just trying to figure out whether or not tying his shoelaces is within either the “perfect” or “permissive” will of God?

              Lydia

              Scott, they always avoid actual situations. They talk in plaititudes and proof texts. Actually that is probably what keeps them sane. Never applying it in any practical life way. They live life as if they have all the volition in the world! However, I am around more and more 20 somethings who are abandoning determinism because it is so fatalistic they cannot stand it. Sadly some become atheists because they were introduced to the deterministic god when their brains were developing as teens. So they think their choices are a mean cruel god or no god.Sadly, they find more freedom to be responsible for their actions with no god. Mind boggling.

                Steven

                The beauty in all this is that the power of God works in His timing not your temporal timing.
                John 6:37
                “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.
                John 6:39
                “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.

                God’s elect will be regenerated with a new heart and cling to Christ.
                Some of those you talk about may for now move away, some will return.
                This is the power of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.
                Your conclusion above is short term at best.

              kyle

              Lydia, it is very interesting the shoe string analogy you used. It reminds me of brian borgman. He uses a very similar illustration in one of his messages on introduction to reformed theology. Whether a brother or sister agrees with reformed theology doesn’t matter in respect to listening to excellent exegetical teaching and preaching. Brian borgman in my opinion is one of the most clear, understandable and solid exegetes in america. His messages are on sermon audio and some of the series like the one mention above is on mongerism.com maybe .or not sure.

                Lydia

                Kyle,

                I was not aware I had a shoe string theory. :o) Now, I am familiar with the shoe string theory of frugality and have even heard of string theory. Worse, I have never heard of Brian Borgman but am familiar with mongerism.com. No thanks. I have already done my time there.

                I am reading a hint of something that concerns me and sounds eerily like forms of totalism/totalitairianism:

                “Whether a brother or sister agrees with reformed theology doesn’t matter in respect to listening to excellent exegetical teaching and preaching.”

                And there is the rub. The foundational filter from which your guru Borgman interprets scripture is of the utmost importance to me. If he believes in a deterninist god then his exegetical outcome will be determinism. So yes, it does matter.

                Just as it matters when listening to policy debates or lectures whether the prof is a collectivist or not. History and truth looks much different to them than it does to one who believes in individual rights. These sorts of foundational filters are all important. I wish more paid attention to them so our discussions would be more profitable.

    Scott Shaver

    Cryin shame:

    Not only does Atonement have to be limited, now “autonomy” as well.

      rhutchin

      Either God can be autonomous or man can be. Both cannot be autonomous at the same time (relative to each other) because the one who is autonomous is God.

      kyle

      Autonomy has always been limited. If we don’t think so, stop sinning right now and never sin again.

        Lydia

        “Autonomy has always been limited. If we don’t think so, stop sinning right now and never sin again.”

        What a fantastic goal to strive for! Be perfect like your heavenly Father is perfect.

          kyle

          Was that a viable answer?

            Lydia

            Kyle, you keep trying to convince us you have no control over your actions and cannot stop sinning. Your sins may not be harming others but it absolutely floors me that this message is taught to child molesters, adulterers and so on. It is not “Good News”.

            It is actually considered pious and fashionable in your system to remain wicked and sinning all the time.

            We are also told to imitate Christ, renew our minds, take thoughts captive, repent and belive and on and on.

rhutchin

Pastor Flowers writes, “If the all powerful One chooses to refrain from meticulously ruling over every aspect of that which He creates, that in no way denies His eternal attribute of omnipotence, but indeed affirms it. It is the Calvinist who denies the eternal attribute of omnipotence, by presuming the all powerful One cannot refrain from meticulous deterministic rule over His creation.”

Calvinists agree that God, in the exercise of his sovereignty, “chooses.” Calvinists say that God chooses with regard to everything under his sovereign control and thus exercises meticulous deterministic rule.

    Scott Shaver

    That would mean the only modification to Flower’s statement about “Calvinists” denying the eternal attribute of omnipotence by presuming God cannot refrain from (or is limited to) meticulous deterministic rule would be the addition of Rutchin’s “thus exercises meticulous deterministic rule”.

    All you’ve given us here, Rutchin, is the fact that what Flowers says about the theological inability of hyper-calvinism to refrain from deterministic rule is TRUE…..regardless of how you personally wound up boxed in the theological corner he describes.

      rhutchin

      Determinism should not be an issue as God, “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”

        Scott Shaver

        Determinism should not be an issue says rutchin.

        It’s not…….in Islam.

Roger Moncus

If in fact God’s Sovereinty is not eternal because there would not be any creation to be sovereign over, would it not follow that God’s eternal love, referenced in the article, would also not be eternal, because there would be no object for the love?

I suppose one could consider the love within the Triune God to be eternal but is that not a different type of love than his love for his creation?

    Andrew Barker

    Roger Moncus: I think the onus is on people who think God has different categories of love to actually prove it from scripture rather than just say it and assume it to be the case. If one starts from “God is love” and related versus in John’s epistles there is no hint of this categorization, is there? I don’t take my theology from songs but this one comes to mind:
    How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that he should give his only son …. Couple that with Rom 8:22 would suggest that the Father’s love for us matches that for his son! Incredible though that may sound.

      Andrew Barker

      The sharp eyed will note that the ref in my last post should be Rom 8:32 :)

      rhutchin

      Paul in Ephesians 2 identifies God’s “great” love for His elect – “…because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.” We do not read that God loved the reprobate in this way such as to make them alive in Christ.

Dr James Ach

For those who are aware, JD Hall slandered Leighton Flowers for quoting one sentence from an article I’d written on this subject http://calvinismsotherside.freeforums.net/thread/86/word-sovereignty.
We have responded to Hall’s attacks and offered a slight defense of Flowers’ position here https://dorightchristians.wordpress.com/2015/08/18/the-dictionary-sovereignty-jd-hall-and-soteriology-101/ I say slight because Leighton has proven he certainly doesn’t need my help-or anyone elses-to articulate his position, and he’s proving to be quite a headache for James White (who is far better at “adjectifiying” his opponents than demonstrating the ability to engage their actual positions).

One additional note is that the Calvinist uses “sovereignty” as an intimidation tactic. If you don’t agree that sovereignty is the key element in salvation, then you are by proxy denying that God is omnipotent. Calvinists do this with Total Depravity as well: if you reject what they REALLY mean by depravity i.e., total inability, than you are actually denying man’s inherent sin nature, People don’t want to be accused of denying man’s sinfulness, so they cave to the Calvinist argument and accept their view of depravity by default. Since nobody wants to be accused of denying God’s eternal attributes, the Calvinist successfully uses an emotionally-driven argument for sovereignty to intimidate their opponents into capitulating to their view as the starting point for Reformed pressuppositional theology. If you agree with their view of sovereignty, than deterministic election will follow, with the freedom to switch gears when being confronted with the inconsistencies between man’s ability and God’s ‘election’: you’ll often hear it as “that’s hyper Calvinism”, or as most Calvinists view obedience to the gospel, “that’s man-centered”.

    rhutchin

    Dr. Ach writes, ” If you don’t agree that sovereignty is the key element in salvation, then you are by proxy denying that God is omnipotent.”

    To be correct, you should say “omniscience” rather than “omnipotence.” No one has issues with God’s omnipotence of which I have read. There are significant problems with omniscience as evidence by the methods people have developed to deal with it – Open Theism being the most recent. With omniscience, God created the world and thereby, God determined all that was to happen in the course of time.

    Dr. Ach writes, “if you reject what they REALLY mean by depravity i.e., total inability, than you are actually denying man’s inherent sin nature,”

    More than that. Total depravity says that the unsaved have no faith unto salvation and this faith is then conveyed through the preaching of the gospel. They also say that unsaved man cannot have Libertarian Free Will, as again it is through the gospel that one comes to know the truth and is thereby set free – including the will. Many seem to agree with Total inability concluding that a person cannot be saved of his own volition without being drawn by God and convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit, among other things. It’s not the inherent sin nature but the manner in which the sin nature affects the unsaved in terms of ability to be saved.

    Dr. Ach writes, “…most Calvinists view obedience to the gospel, “that’s man-centered”.”

    I have never read this. It is the manner in which a person comes to salvation that can be “man-centered” and the Calvinist objects to some philosophies on this account. Where one is saved, obedience is the product of faith – and this James explains: faith without works doesn’t exist.

    Andrew Barker

    I’m not so sure that there is a difference between the Calvinist view of sovereignty and omnipotence is there? I’m sure someone will elaborate but as it stands it appears to be firmly in the category of a ‘distinction without a difference’.

    Lydia

    “ne additional note is that the Calvinist uses “sovereignty” as an intimidation tactic. If you don’t agree that sovereignty is the key element in salvation, then you are by proxy denying that God is omnipotent. Calvinists do this with Total Depravity as well: if you reject what they REALLY mean by depravity i.e., total inability, than you are actually denying man’s inherent sin nature, People don’t want to be accused of denying man’s sinfulness, so they cave to the Calvinist argument and accept their view of depravity by default. Since nobody wants to be accused of denying God’s eternal attributes, the Calvinist successfully uses an emotionally-driven argument for sovereignty to intimidate their opponents into capitulating to their view as the starting point for Reformed pressuppositional theology. If you agree with their view of sovereignty, than deterministic election will follow, with the freedom to switch gears when being confronted with the inconsistencies between man’s ability and God’s ‘election’: you’ll often hear it as “that’s hyper Calvinism”, or as most Calvinists view obedience to the gospel, “that’s man-centered”.”

    Well this has certainly been my experience the last 10 years of conversing with Neo Calvinists. Good assessment.

Les Prouty

“One additional note is that the Calvinist uses “sovereignty” as an intimidation tactic.”
“Calvinists do this with Total Depravity as well”
“the Calvinist successfully uses an emotionally-driven argument for sovereignty to intimidate their opponents into capitulating to their view”

Well we are found out. Someone has picked up on our tactics. Maybe there was a spy listening in on our worldwide monthly “Calvinist Tactics” strategy conference call.

    Scott Shaver

    Les:

    Really wouldn’t think spies necessary for discovering something so painfully obvious to begin with.

    Ach does a good job of succinctly describing the modus operandus.

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