Rev. Ronnie Rogers Responds

September 17, 2013

Former Calvinist, Rev. Ronnie Rogers – and author of  “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist: the Disquieting Realities of Calvinism” — is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla. As well, he is a contributing writer for SBCToday.

Rev. Rogers sort-of burst onto SBCToday’s scene about two years ago when we became more aware of him, and particularly of his book. Since that time, he has written numerous posts for this blog, and in our opinion has offered sound responses to that which makes the majority of Southern Baptists uncomfortable regarding Calvinism (“majority” per LifeWay’s survey).

Reading after Pastor Rogers requires (for some) a dictionary nearby so one may learn the meaning of  “elide” and “transmogrify” and a veritable cornucopia of other phrenic argot (or, more hard words). Wordsmiths must delight in words that replace several others, e.g., transmogrify: to transform as if by magic.

On September 13, SBCToday posted Pastor Rogers’ latest submission: “Is Libertarian Free Will Eternal?” The post continues to generate about 60 clicks/day. And it generated some comments that attempted to take Pastor Rogers to task.

One of Pastor Rogers’ responses to someone who took exception to the post, as well as his book, offered answers to the inquisitor that were stunning, outstanding and, frankly, debilitating to the commenter’s objections and apparent positions.

We decided to publish Pastor Rogers’ answers as a standalone post on the blog. We do this not to embarrass anyone at all, and we apologize in advance if that is the perception because it is certainly not the motivation. SBCToday offers this post for three reasons:

1. We want to share info we find valuable to our readers.

2. Similar to 1. We borrow Pastor Rogers’ words in noting that SBCToday “believe[s] the unbridled reality of Calvinism’s teachings and entailments need to be made known to both Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike.”

3. The Calvinism Committee Report, aka T5, calls for continuing conversation about the issues noted below.

Here is the last sentence of Rev. Roger’s response. SBCToday thinks it apropos to begin with it:

 “My concern is that people do not understand enough about Calvinism and alternative options. Consequently, misrepresenting Calvinism is contrary to my purpose and spirit”
– Rev. Ronnie Rogers.


Here is a comment to which Rev. Rogers responded
:
“You were a four-pointer, rejecting Limited Atonement. The starting point for Calvinism is God’s knowledge before He created the world of those who were to be saved (the elect) and those who were not to be saved (the non-elect/reprobate). Non-Calvinists usually ignore this point, so I was confused as to how you could accept it and still reject Calvinism.”

Rev. Rogers’ response:
First, the starting point of Calvinism is not “God’s foreknowledge of those who were to be saved” because non-Calvinists believe that God knows everything. The starting point of Calvinism is that it pleased God to unconditionally elect some to Salvation and predetermined some for damnation (actively, passively or consequently). The position you stated, and Calvinism’s actual position that I stated are very different. Additionally, surely you are aware of the notable Calvinists throughout church and Baptist history who did not accept limited atonement (David Allen has done some important work in this area; for example, see his chapter in Whosoever Will).

As a four-point Calvinist, I recognized, as do other four-point Calvinists, that limited atonement logically fits into the Tulip. However, we also believe, that the clear and ubiquitous teaching of Scripture says Christ meaningfully died for the sins of the world. Consequently, the departure of a four-pointer from limited atonement is not due to his lack of understanding of Calvinism, but rather a decision to depart from the system of Calvinism when they believe it is contradicting the straightforward teaching of a panoply of scriptures. Now, you may continue to opine that four-pointers do not really understand Calvinism, but wouldn’t it be better to recognize that some can disagree with you and other Calvinists because they do understand and believe the clarity of Scripture is superior to the logic of the system? Someone can understand your position and simply disagree, i.e., disagreement does not entail not understanding. They may be right or they may be wrong, but that is a discussion beyond deeming that they do not understand because if they did….well…..

Now, you may want to dismiss me as an obtuse dolt who studied, taught and preached Calvinism for twenty years (I defended the arguments for Calvinism that I now reject) and spent another twelve years in thinking through some conflicts that I found between Calvinism and Scripture (as espoused by both four and five point Calvinists); however, it seems somewhat naive or hubristic for a five-pointer to conclude such about all four-point Calvinists today as well as many of the past. Again, David Allen has done us all a great service in cataloging many of the notables. Here are just a few from his book and blogs, Bullinger, Cranmer, Baxter, Hodge, Shedd, etc. I would suggest that the arguments about Calvin’s position have merit if for nothing more than his averring both sides of the coin in his commentaries, etc.

My dear brother, would it not be better to recognize that some do not reject limited atonement because they do not understand Calvinism (which implies if they did they would really not be so misguided) but simply reject the logic of some Calvinists understanding of the Scripture? Simply put, my rejection of any part of Calvinism, Calvinism’s re-inventions of some very clear scriptures, and the disquieting realities that I do not find reflective of the nature of God or the gospel as revealed in Scripture does not mean that I do not understand Calvinism, or Owen for that matter.

Another comment to Pastor Rogers:
“At the same time, you continue to affirm that God knew the non-elect when He created the world and that they were not to be saved; you also still affirm total depravity; and consequently, you affirm the role of grace to enable a person to accept salvation. People who understand Calvinism (Vance seems to, and Hunt enough to agree with Vance) know that they must reject Total Depravity and ignore God’s knowledge of the non-elect when He created the world. So, you called yourself a Calvinist by affirming TUIP but never grasped the significance of denying L. Then you became disenchanted with Calvinist theology while still affirming T and grace.”

And Pastor Rogers’ response:
I must admit, I find this concern quite baffling, and rather misleading, albeit unintentionally so. I will try to respond; first, of course, whether one is a Calvinist or not, God being omniscient, He has always known who the elect were, and for anyone to deny that God always knew who would be saved seems beyond the pale of orthodoxy. This is the kind of talk that clearly implies that non-Calvinists deny that God knew who the elect are, which is absolutely untrue your citations notwithstanding.

Again, the essence of Calvinism is not the affirmation that God knows who will be saved (the elect), but rather that He unconditionally chose some to salvation and did everything necessary to predetermine that these unconditionally elect would freely choose to believe (although their choosing was not between choices); this freely exercised faith arises from their new nature which was forced upon them; additionally, God simultaneously predetermined to withhold the same (He could have saved everyone) from the vast majority of His creation, even though He told His people to present salvation to them like it was really available. While I do believe you did so unwittingly, your wording is an example of double talk, which elides the actual teachings and disquieting realities of Calvinism and implies even worse for non-Calvinists.

I believe in election because the Bible teaches election, and I believe any true Biblicist must affirm election. Some Calvinists believe that rejecting Calvinism’s definition of election (unconditional) is the exact same as rejecting the biblical passages regarding election — only Calvinists are Biblicists. I would argue that the rejection of Calvinism’s unduly causal sovereignty and compatibilist free will is not the same as rejecting Scripture, some Calvinists claims notwithstanding. Thus, if you can accept that one can believe in election, while rejecting Calvinism’s definition, then you can see how I could have been a Calvinist-Biblicist and now I am simply a Biblicist. If you cannot, then you cannot.

Second, at one time I accepted Total Depravity (TD) as Calvinistically defined (compatibilism, dead with the only possible solution of unconditional election and regeneration then faith). Now, it is that understanding of TD that I reject. I make no pretense of my present views being consistent with the Tulip. I am in no way trying to mimic the TULIP, or define things in such a way that allows me to be a quasi-Calvinist. I reject the TULIP and anything that I say that is consistent with an aspect of it is coincidental. I am seeking to express what I believe the Scripture teaches to the best that I understand it. That being the case, I believe the Scripture teaches TD rightly understood. Again, I am rejecting Calvinism’s understanding as well as the idea that rejection is tantamount to rejecting the biblical teaching. The opposite of TD is partial depravity, which I categorically reject. Would you think I understood Calvinism more if I believed in partial depravity? I believe the Scripture teaches that man is totally depraved (extensively), so that every part of him is so affected by the fall that He will not and cannot come to God on his own—I believe I sufficiently explain this in my book.

Having been a Calvinist, I recognize the difficulty of some Calvinists to accept that one can believe in TD and reject Calvinism’s compatible understanding. Calvinists often chide non-Calvinists for minimizing the depravity of man (in some cases justifiably so), but when I, and others, teach TD (without Calvinism’s compatibilism) based upon incorporating all of the relevant characteristics as laid out in Scripture, it is said that we do not understand Calvinism — strange conclusions to me.

Calvinism is a system of thought that seeks to explore and explain the Scripture. It seeks to do this consistently, comprehensively, emanating from and reflective of a devotion to God, and many godly and knowledgeable followers of Christ believe the system is the best at handling the totality and perplexities of Scripture. It is also true that Calvinism is not Scripture. Nor is it the only consistent, comprehensive, system that reflects a devotion to God from a host of godly and knowledgeable followers of Christ. Having been a Calvinist, your conclusions about me notwithstanding, I understand how difficult it is for some Calvinist to believe that someone else may be right.

Another comment to Rev. Rogers:
“You make several allegations of double-talk by Calvinists (not that individual Calvinists do not say goofy things or not always say what they believe – but what Calvinists say and what Calvinism is can be different things), and I could not make sense of the reasons for your disenchantment with Calvinism from them.”

Now Rev. Rogers:
I have gone to great lengths to define what I mean by double talk (see authorial glossary in “Refections”), which unfortunately for some seems to have done little good. I do not mean espousing inconsistencies that arise from human frailty — goofy or inconsistent positions — of which we are all guilty. Rather, by double talk, I specifically and only mean thinking, praying, writing or speaking in such a way that obscures what I call the disquieting realities of Calvinism (as your earlier explanation of Calvinism seemed to do).

If a person accepts and unabashedly proclaims these realities, then he can be a knowledgeable and consistent Calvinist; but if one is unwilling to face, accept and proclaim them, he cannot be a consistent Calvinist. Additionally, I am not calling anyone a double talker nor is my use of this term intended in any sense to be pejorative. Now I am very clear about this, and if you seriously read my book, I believe it would be difficult not to understand my meaning. I give numerous examples of what I mean by double talk throughout the book. It is the ubiquitous presence of such in theology books, commentaries, and messages of Calvinism that fuels my disenchantment.

You said: “I saw your allegations as straw men.”
I infer that you meant this to be a serious statement, and I take it accordingly. Actually, this one statement indicates that I wrote a book that was not based upon knowledge of the subject and therefore required manufactured arguments. Saying an argument is a straw man and demonstrating such to be the case are two very different undertakings. If you can show me where you think I made a straw man argument, I would greatly appreciate it. Then, either I will clarify, or if it is indeed a fallacious argument, I will disavow it, and then thank you for pointing it out to me. I am very susceptible to saying dumb things. I may have even made an invalid argument concerning problems within Calvinism (which I learned almost entirely from studying and listening to Calvinists), but I am not aware of any. I have no desire to misrepresent Calvinism because I believe the unbridled reality of Calvinism’s teachings and entailments need to be made known to both Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike. I want people to really understand Calvinism as some very knowledgeable Calvinists do and forthrightly declare — which I applaud. My concern is that people do not understand enough about Calvinism and alternative options. Consequently, misrepresenting Calvinism is contrary to my purpose and spirit.  (End of Pastor Rogers’ comments.)

SBCToday neither requires nor expects any busy pastor who may post here to be attentive to this blog either by responding immediately, later, or at all. If Pastor Rogers chooses to respond, then he will do so at his convenience. But after having read this, one may deem that discretion truly is the better part of valor.

 

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rhutchin

Pastor Rogers writes, “First, the starting point of Calvinism is not “God’s foreknowledge of those who were to be saved” because non-Calvinists believe that God knows everything. The starting point of Calvinism is that it pleased God to unconditionally elect some to Salvation and predetermined some for damnation (actively, passively or consequently). The position you stated, and Calvinism’s actual position that I stated are very different.”

These are not different positions. It is true that, “…it pleased God to unconditionally elect some to Salvation and predetermined some for damnation (actively, passively or consequently).” This action occurred before God created the world. Consequently, when God created the world, He knew the identities of the elect and non-elect as I stated.

As non-Calvinists also believe that God knew the identities of the elect and non-elect before He created the world, the issue is then, “How does God know the elect and the non-elect?” Calvinists say that God knows them because He made decisions – to choose the elect to salvation and to pass over the non-elect. That is a legitimate explanation and does not contradict anything the Bible tells us. The non-Calvinists don’t offer an explanation for the source of God’s knowledge. One position they take is that God has a simple knowledge of all things – God just knows and no one knows how (it is a mystery). Some appeal to Molinism but I don’t see that it helps the non-Calvinist cause.

Nonetheless, given that initial condition – God knows the elect and non-elect when He creates the world – the question is posed by John Owen regarding the death of Christ, “What purpose was served by God in having Christ die for the non-elect if they were not to be saved?” Owen’s answer, “No purpose.” Thus, God did not send Christ to die for the non-elect. If the non-Calvinist has come to a different conclusion, why not explain it (non-Calvinists want a different conclusion, but I don’t think they have devised an argument to explain it).

    Norm Miller

    Hutch: Because I know Ronnie is a busy pastor, I want to attempt to shed some light here. I don’t speak for Ronnie. He can do that when /if he chooses.

    Before any satisfaction can be reached on election, it must be more fully defined — beyond the simplistic “action” by God. I know of no SAVABILIST who would say election is not an action of God. That begs the question: What was that action? And before answering that, then we must sort out the variety of positions on election — all of which would claim biblical bases.

    Is election corporate or singular? Is it unto salvation or service? Actually it may be all of the above, and one must determine the different uses of election in the Bible, and then keep them in their categories, and not borrow from one category to satisfy a presumption in another.

    Some months back, SBCToday posted an extended sermon outline on Election as preached by Dr. Paige Patterson when he presided over SEBTS. Here is a portion of his take on this, and I think his focus on God’s foreknowledge is spot-on.

    VI. Election is somehow bound up in the foreknowledge of God.
    A. Clearly in 1 Peter 1.2 “according to the foreknowledge of God….”
    B. This raises the questions for Calvinists: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg? If God foreknows something to be the case, is it conceivable that it be any other way?” And the answer is “No.”
    C. But be careful. Not once, but twice the Scriptures speak of election being bound up in the foreknowledge of God.
    1. Romans 8.29-30 – For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
    2. It cannot be argued or denied that this passage of Scripture is not sequential in nature.
    a. Glorification does come after justification.
    b. Justification does come as a result of calling.
    c. Calling does come as a result of the predestining act of God.
    d. Predestination is based in the foreknowledge of God.

    Here is the link to the rest of the article that bears reading by anyone interested in the topic. http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/10/23/tuesday-post/

    If God’s election is based upon God’s foreknowledge, then one needs to ask what God foreknew as is germane to the two passages Dr. Patterson cited above. And anyone who claims to know the foreknowledge of God had better have nail scars in his hands and feet.

    I would not attempt to speak for *all* Calvinists, but I think I can for all SAVABILISTS in this regard: election does not equal determinism. Just because God knows a thing doesn’t mean he will cause it to happen. Calvinists who may disagree with that point will also be making the case for God being the author of evil. And I think it is reasonably fair to say that some Cals do go that far. Whereas I am not sure how ‘evil’ it was that the USAir flight had to ditch in the Hudson River after plowing through some flying geese, Piper says, per a blog article, that event was designed by God. Wonder what he would say about jetliners flying into skyscrapers?

      rhutchin

      “Wonder what he would say about jetliners flying into skyscrapers?”

      In this event, we know that God is present at every second of the way; God knows what is happening from the beginning We also know that God has the power to alter the outcome. Thus, in the end, it is God’s decision either to intervene to alter the outcome or to allow natural forces to play out to the end. God’s decision in such matters reflects His perfect wisdom. The Calvinist says that God exercises sovereign control over all such situations and that the outcomes necessarily reflect His will – His decisions. This is because God always gets His way and everything that happens is exactly that which God decides should happen – God has the final decision; that decision expresses His will.

      The difficulty for many people (especially Dave Hunt) is the relation of God’s decisions (like allowing a plane to fly into the skyscraper) to His love. I don’t know of anyone who has provided an answer to that. Most, like Hunt, ask, “How could a God, who is Love, decide to let a plane fly into a building?”

        Robert

        Rhutchin provides yet another perfect illustration of how allegiance to the false Calvinistic system and its false theology and teachings leads to DIRECT CONTRADICTION WITH THE BIBLE. The Bible reveals directly and again clearly (unless one has swallowed the Calvinist system hook line and sinker) that not all that happens on this earth is God’s will.

        In fact Jesus who is God and certainly ought to know about God’s will: when speaking about prayer made this point explicitly. He said that we ought to pray that God’s will is done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN. Well how is it done in Heaven? PERFECTLY.

        Jesus tells us to pray that God’s will be done on earth because in fact it is not being done on earth. In Heaven God’s will is being done perfectly. But HERE, there is all sorts of rebellion against God and His authority and His Word. The simple biblical word for this is SIN. Here on this earth God’s will is not done perfectly as it is in Heaven because here people sin. And they sin a lot, and that includes both believers and unbelievers. It could not be more clear based on what Jesus says that God’s will is not done here perfectly; things that happen here are not all God’s will. If they were all God’s will then Jesus’ words become a joke, they are not true, in fact God’s will is being done perfectly here as it is in Heaven.

        So the Bible says that God’s will in not being done here as it is being done in Heaven: Calvinism on the other hand says that all that happens here is God’s will being perfectly done. Should we believe Jesus on this or the Calvinistic system being promoted by Calvinists such as rhutchin who writes:

        “In this event, we know that God is present at every second of the way; God knows what is happening from the beginning We also know that God has the power to alter the outcome. Thus, in the end, it is God’s decision either to intervene to alter the outcome or to allow natural forces to play out to the end. God’s decision in such matters reflects His perfect wisdom. The Calvinist says that God exercises sovereign control over all such situations and that the outcomes necessarily reflect His will – His decisions. This is because God always gets His way and everything that happens is exactly that which God decides should happen – God has the final decision; that decision expresses His will.”

        If “everything that happens is exactly that which God decides should happen” then Jesus words about God’s will being done perfectly in Heaven but not here are not true. On the other hand if what Jesus says is true then Calvinism is false on this.

        “The difficulty for many people (especially Dave Hunt) is the relation of God’s decisions (like allowing a plane to fly into the skyscraper) to His love.”

        No, the difficulty of many people who take their Bible seriously is that Jesus says one thing and Calvinism says another: and we take Jesus’ word for it over the Calvinistic system anytime and every time.

        Robert

          rhutchin

          Robert writes, “The Bible reveals directly and again clearly (unless one has swallowed the Calvinist system hook line and sinker) that not all that happens on this earth is God’s will.”

          Everything that happens is God’s will because He is sovereign and exercises control over all that happens. It is tied to sovereignty which reflects His knowledge of what happens, His power to gain any outcome He wants, His wisdom in making decisions, and His love.

          God expresses His will for people to behave a certain way – Do not murder, steal, lie… However, that expression of God’s will in commandments is conditioned on man’s obedience and man can choose not to obey God. However, man only acts with permission of God as Satan in Job. Thus, the Jews picked up stones to kill Jesus and He walked through them because it was not His time.

          It is God who has the final decision on a plane crash or any other event simply because He is sovereign and nothing happens without His consideration and approval.

            Bob Hadley

            rhutchin,

            You wrote: “It is God who has the final decision on a plane crash or any other event simply because He is sovereign and nothing happens without His consideration and approval.”

            So sin which is an EVENT is the result of God’s final decision because He is sovereign and nothing (including sin) without His consideration and approval.

            rhutchin

            Pastor Hadley writes, “So sin which is an EVENT is the result of God’s final decision because He is sovereign and nothing (including sin) without His consideration and approval.”

            Yes. Consider any sin – for example the violent rape of a child. We know that God is present at that sin having observed the perpetrator all along the way as he plotted and planned that sin. We also know that God has the power to intervene at any time to turn the perpetrator away from his desires. God’s control over this situation is compete and total because God is sovereign. It is God who decides whether to intervene to prevent the sin or to do nothing and let sinful desires play out. God is always an active participant in making His decisions – It is impossible for God to be passive.

            No sin occurs without God’s knowledge and consideration and God must decide that sin should be done without interference from him. That is the burden of sovereignty.

            Some appeal to free will to explain sin. However, a person acts with free will only in consequence of God’s decision directing that such will be the case. Free will does not negate God’s sovereignty or undo God’s control over sin.

            So, what should people do when confronted with living in a world where sin is prevalent? For example, what about the 12 people killed at the Navy Yard in DC. People should be constantly seeking God’s protection. When walking through a neighborhood with danger lurking everywhere, a person should take someone to protect him. If anything, the evil and sin we see in the world should drive us to Christ and not to take anything for granted. We are not safe in anything unless we are calling out to God.

            Bob Hadley

            rhutchin,

            I want to consider two statements you made… first you said, “No sin occurs without God’s knowledge and consideration and God must decide that sin should be done without interference from him. That is the burden of sovereignty.

            Some appeal to free will to explain sin. However, a person acts with free will only in consequence of God’s decision directing that such will be the case. Free will does not negate God’s sovereignty or undo God’s control over sin.”

            So every sin that is committed is done so because God decided it must be done FIRST? If that is the case, that makes God the cause of sin for “sin is done without reference to him (the man committing the sin.) I am sure there are a number of calvinists that will shutter at that comment.

            Your next statement is equally interesting: You wrote: “People should be constantly seeking God’s protection. When walking through a neighborhood with danger lurking everywhere, a person should take someone to protect him. If anything, the evil and sin we see in the world should drive us to Christ and not to take anything for granted. We are not safe in anything unless we are calling out to God.”

            A person should take someone to protect him… really as if that is going to thwart the determined will of God? The evil and sin we see in the world should “drive us to Christ”… I am sure you are talking about the elect… since you do not believe ANYTHING can drive the unregenerate to Christ right?

            Simply amazing.

            rhutchin

            Pastor Hadley writes, “So every sin that is committed is done so because God decided it must be done FIRST? If that is the case, that makes God the cause of sin for ‘sin is done without reference to him (the man committing the sin.)’ I am sure there are a number of calvinists that will shutter at that comment.”

            This does not make God the author of sin because God does not coerce or compel the person to sin not does He have to do so. A person is driven to sin by his personal wants and desires. God has the power to either place impediments before the person to prevent him following his desires or to change those desires such that the person would not pursue sin.

            There is nothing here for the Calvinist to be queasy about. You are not challenging the basic issues here – that God is present when sin is committed (and can never ignorant of any sin), God has the power to intervene to prevent any sin, and God actively decides the action He will take – whether to intervene or not – and God’s decision reflects His wisdom and and His love (it is not an arbitrary decision and has purpose and intent).

            Is there anything here that you have any basis to deny?

            rhutchin

            Pastor Hadley writes, “A person should take someone to protect him… really as if that is going to thwart the determined will of God? The evil and sin we see in the world should “drive us to Christ”… I am sure you are talking about the elect… since you do not believe ANYTHING can drive the unregenerate to Christ right?”

            Ignoring the issue of elect/non-elect, the counsel you, as a pastor, would give any person is that we live in a world in which evil people with evil intent can be anywhere (influenced/compelled by Satan who, like a lion, seeks to destroy) – thus, no one should go anywhere, or allow their children/husband/loved ones to go anywhere without crying out to God for protection. Is this a wrong assessment?

            As to the will of God, there is a synergistic relationship between God and people outside of salvation (salvation not being the specific issue under discussion here) in which God says, “Do not worry; ask of God,” and “Ask and you will receive.” God gives people the freedom to do express their desires and that includes evil people with evil desires. We live in a harsh world ruled by sin; reason demands that a person walk with God at his side in such a world. So, will the unregenerate run to God?

        Norm Miller

        If the murders of 9/11 were God’s will, and murder is evil (and it is), how does that keep God from being the author of evil? You cannot have it both ways despite your deft wording. And if you say God simply allows the evil, not “wills” it, then you must say God allows people to decide to answer His call, and does not “will” it, as in your view of election. One way or the other, I think, but not both.

          Norm Miller

          Also, Hutch, according to Piper’s model, God designed the 9/11 attacks. That is entirely different than “passively” allowing them to happen.

            RD Magee

            For Norm and Robert,
            It seems like you guys and Rhutchin are not necessarily talking about the will of God in the same way (if i am wrong, please let me know). Rhutchin does not seem to be saying that “murder” is God’s revealed will. Scripture is clear about that. He seems to be saying that murder is a part of God’s sovereign will. If it happens, God must have chosen to allow it to happen. If airplanes are flown into two skyscrapers, it is not God’s desired, revealed will for that to happen. It is wrong, sinful. it was something they willfully chose to do. But, was it God’s sovereign will? That is, can something happen in this world without God choosing to allow it to happen? For example, Jesus’ death on the cross was a murder, yet it was the preordained plan of God from before the foundation of the world. Were the Jews and Romans who had Him nailed to the cross violating the revealed will of God in putting to death a sinless, perfect, innocent man? Absolutely! But was it God’s will, His sovereign will, that he be put to death?

              Norm Miller

              I agree that there seem to be discrepancies in this matter. However, Calvinist Piper claims that it was God’s design — yes, he uses those very words — regarding the geese flying into the jet engines. That is intentional and not simply and solely permissive.
              And then I think it is fair to say that Piper’s model blames God for designing the 9/11 murders also. That is my point.
              Also, Roberts point about God’s will as Jesus noted in His prayer is a superb point. And since Jesus didn’t say which or what kind of will (except that it was God’s), then I think it is fair to include God’s entire will in whatever man-defined ways that is understood.
              And about the the discrepancies you, and now I, have noted, I think we will both agree that opposing truth claims cannot both be true.

            rhutchin

            Because God is sovereign, He cannot be passive and just allow events to occur. God must make an active decision for everything that happens whether it is a bird falling from the sky or a rape. This is because God is present at every such event and watches the action from beginning to end and God has the power to intervene at any time to alter any event. God must make an active decision for everything that happens – He cannot look the other way or ignore anything – simply because He is God.

            Piper is essentially correct. People are God’s agents, carrying out His will, whether for good or evil. No one acts except with God’s approval. Thus, all that happens has been designed by God to bring about His ends – which would include the death of Christ and the salvation of the elect.

            rhutchin

            Norm writes, “Then you believe God is the author of evil.”

            Only if you can explain how that is a valid conclusion to draw.

            On what point do you disagree with the Calvinist? Is it that God is not omniscient? or not omnipotent? not wise? not love?

            Perhaps it is that God is not sovereign and does not exercise complete and total control over all that happens including all sin?

            Maybe you see a God of wisdom somehow confused about what He is doing and who makes arbitrary or capricious decisions?

            Or maybe you don’t think God has the final decision in anything that happens and does not approve anything before it can happen?

            What is your objection to the Calvinist?

            In addition, people act from their own desires without having to be prompted, coerced, compelled by God to do so. That being the case, how do you conclude that God is the author of sin? I am perplexed at the conclusion you draw and see no logical basis for that conclusion. Maybe we are not dealing with the same facts here? I don’t understand your argument. Can you explain it?

            It’s not just you. I see this in pretty much all the non-Calvinist writings. And, like you, they make such allegations but are never able to explain how they arrive at these allegations.

              Norm Miller

              You have yet to satisfactorily explain why God is not the author of evil. Fact is, you embrace God’s decreed will, which means that God decreed that 9/11 would happen, etc. I need not offer any more explanations as your own words reveal your beliefs.

            rhutchin

            Norm writes, “You have yet to satisfactorily explain why God is not the author of evil.”

            How so? I said that God is both omniscient and omnipotent. He knows all that happens as it happens and He has the power to intervene to change any outcome that He desires. God exercises complete and total control over all that happens – He is sovereign. We both agree on that, do we not?

            In this environment, people sin. They do so out of their own desires and are not coerced or prompted or influenced by God to do so. Instead, God restrains and prevents people from sin to the degree that He desires. No person can sin (even as Satan could not afflict Job) except God first consider that which the person wills to do and decides that the person be allowed to proceed unhindered and unrestrained by HIm.

            To be the author of sin, God must induce, coerce, compel a person to sin. We both agree that He does not do this. So, on what point are you and I disagreeing? In what sense can you say that the Calvinist makes God the author of sin?

            rhutchin

            Norm also wrote, “…you embrace God’s decreed will, which means that God decreed that 9/11 would happen, etc.”

            And you don’t?? We both know that God was fully aware of the events of 9/11 as they played out. When the planes were 1mm from hitting the towers, God could have grabbed those planes and set them safely down on the runway at JFK airport preventing the damage that ensued.

            It was God who had the final decision. All this was known to God when He created the world. It is not as if God needed more time to consider that which He would do. In the time it took the planes to move the final 1mm and hit the towers was an eternity of time in which God could have acted.

            Because God is sovereign, He had the final and last decision. Either He could reach out His hand and remove the planes to a safe location thereby avoiding the destruction that followed or God could decide to allow natural (and sinful) events to play out to their conclusion. It was God’s decision. God decided based on the counsel of His will which incorporated all His wisdom and love and His decision was His decree – God decreed that events were to play out to their natural conclusion – the planes struck the towers. That decision was made even before God created the world.

            Norm, do you really see something different taking place here?? If you have concluded that God could not have decreed these events, can you explain how you came to that conclusion?

              Norm Miller

              No, I do not believe that God decreed that murderers would murder, rapists would rape, thieves would steal, etc. And, unlike Piper and apparently many other Calvinists, including you, I do not believe the crash of a jetliner into the Hudson River was by “God’s design” (per Piper).
              As I previously posited, if God made a macro decision not to be involved in a sinner’s choice to sin, then to us it still would look as if God was involved on the micro level.
              Further, for the both of us, the basis of the issue gets back to the total inability/free will question. I embrace total depravity, but not as you do. I do not believe that it means total inability as Calvinists do. As I have noted numerous times, and I think you are aware of that, Dr. Allen cites a list of several passages that prove godless people can, have and will respond to God. If Calvinists’ understanding of total inability is debunked, as I believe the Bible does, then the rest of the 4 points fall flat. So, the crucial issue is not whether God is/is not involved as we have been discussing, but whether people are “totally unable” to respond to God.
              And, frankly, Hutch, continuing to discuss this isn’t good stewardship of my time or yours because I think we both acknowledge that neither one of us will change the other’s mind on the matter.
              A good word for all of us is to stop debating soteriology and get out there where lost people are and put what we believe about it into practice. I think we all can agree that orthodoxy is meaningless w/o orthopraxy. Faith equals practice. I illustrate it this way: Baptists don’t believe in backsliding, but they practice it.

          RD Magee

          Norm,
          Here are some questions that are ultimately asking the same thing about God that I am not sure how you guys answer in your understanding of God’s sovereignty? I hope you or others will shed some light for me.

          What are the answers for a grieving mother who lost her child on 9/11 or a wife who lost her husband? They want to know where was God when all this was being planned, discussed, and carried out. Why didn’t He derail the plan at any point along the way? Is He not all-powerful and all-knowing? Could He not have intervened somewhere along the way? If so, why did he not? why would he choose to sit on the sidelines and let this horrible tragedy happen if he is a God of love? Or, are there events in this world outside His knowledge, outside His power and authority?

          What are the answers for why a loving, all-powerful, all knowing God put a plan in place where He knew it would result in people going to the eternal lake of fire, even if it is by their libertarian free will? Why would He design such a plan? Did God not know beforehand, before those in hell were born, that all these people would not believe? It would seem that the most loving thing that God, who is omniscient and omnipotent, would do is choose not to create people who He knows will never believe in Him. And the offer of salvation He gives them through His servants, the Spirit’s work in convicting and drawing, is it really genuine when He already knows this person will never respond. From their perspective, the issue is up in the air on whether they will choose Christ, but from God’s perspective it is settled.

          Hope to hear from you or others.
          Thanks!

      RD Magee

      Norm,
      Thanks for the reference to Paige Patterson’s message on election. I hope to find and listen to it or read it. It seems like it would be very helpful.
      I wanted to respond to your comment above that “Justification does come as a result of calling.” What does being “called” here mean? That is, does it mean that those whom God calls will have the result of those people being justified? I look forward to hearing from you and interacting.

      Thanks!

        Norm Miller

        What does calling mean? Well, may I answer with a question, please? If I send you an invitation to a dinner party, must you come, or do you have an option?

          volfan007

          Norm,

          Exactly. If you are somehow “forced” to come, then is it really an invitation? I don’t think so.

          David

          RD Magee

          Norm,
          Thanks for responding. My conclusion would be that this “calling” by God has to be more than just an invitation whereby the person may come and may not come. Those who are called in this passage are justified. That would seem to go along with Paige Patterson’s comments that “Justification does come as a result of calling.” and, “Calling does come as a result of the predestining act of God.” Whatever this calling is, it results in those who receive it being justified. No one who is called is not justified, just as no one who is justified is not glorified. The ones who get issued this call are those who were predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.

          Below is how I would break it down to explain what the verse is saying about this.
          Those whom God predestined, He also called – the people God calls are those who were predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son
          Those whom God called, He also justified – the people God justifies are those who were called
          Those whom God justified, He also glorified – the people God glorifies are those who God justified
          or
          God glorifies those whom He justifies.
          God justifies those whom He calls.
          God calls those whom He predestines.
          God predestines those whom He foreknows

          Thanks,
          RD

      RD Magee

      Norm,
      After reading through Dr. Patterson’s message, I thought this section was appropriate for this discussion between the different positions being advocated by many different people. He said
      “VII. Although it is all together a healthy exercise to wrestle with the doctrines of election and responsibility, sovereignty and human freedom, the failure of 2000 years of theological reflection to crack the mysteries of God’s electing providence should instill humility rather than hubris in the interpreter.

      A. For 2000 years people have been discussing this and it may be the only reason for building cafeterias and coffee houses on seminary campuses. No one has come up with an explanation to satisfy anybody else.

      1. My explanation doesn’t satisfy you.

      2. Yours for dead sure doesn’t satisfy me.

      B. Under such conditions, is it not better to say, “God, in Your greatness you have done, thought and acted in ways too transcendent for me to embrace”?”

      Thanks again for this resource.

    Robert

    Rhutchin presents unwittingly the perfect illustration of a major problem with Calvinism and Calvinists such as him (i.e. their system of theology takes priority over what the Bible explicitly reveals, their system is more important than what the Bible actually teaches; this is why notwithstanding the ignorance of Calvinists when it comes to church history their view will always be the minority view the view rejected by virtually all other Christians across all of the theological spectrum).

    The Bible explicitly states that God desires the salvation of all people.

    The Calvinists system says that God desires the salvation of ONLY SOME.

    This is a contradiction and will always remain one no matter what arguments the Calvinists invent and construct to overturn the biblical revelation in favor of their false system.

    What this means is that you will often see the Calvinist appeal to the opinions of men and their invented arguments OVER the biblical revelation. Rhutchin presents a PERFECT ILLUSTRATION OF THIS when he writes:

    “Nonetheless, given that initial condition – God knows the elect and non-elect when He creates the world – the question is posed by John Owen regarding the death of Christ, “What purpose was served by God in having Christ die for the non-elect if they were not to be saved?” Owen’s answer, “No purpose.” Thus, God did not send Christ to die for the non-elect.”

    Did you all catch that?

    The opinion of a man, in this case, John Owen, invalidates what the Bible reveals.

    The Bible explicitly reveals that God desires the salvation of all (it cannot be plainer, even so-called 4 point Calvinists acknowledge this to be true): and yet JOHN OWEN argues against the Bible to conclude IN LINE WITH HIS CALVINISTIC SYSTEM that “God did not send Christ to die for the non-elect”. For rhutchin the opinion of a man, John Owen, takes priority over what the Bible reveals. This is why there will always be confusion and division in the church in regards to Calvinism and its false theology and false teachings.

    On one side you will always find those who do take the Bible to be clearly teaching that God desires the salvation of all: and on the other side you will have the Calvinists like Owen and rhutchin who because of their commitment to their system of theology must deny the Biblical revelation and do so by constructing and inventing arguments against what the Bible reveals.

    And this division and confusion will never end as long as these theological determinists continue to argue for their system over the biblical revelation. The devil cannot get Christians divided over the trinity, the deity of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, etc. And yet it sure looks like he has done an extremely good job by means of the Calvinistic system.

    Robert

      Courtney Hill

      Robert, you’ve confused your terms here, I think. You have equated what Owens said, “God did not send Christ to die for the nonelect” with your repeated statement- that God doesn’t “DESIRE” the salvation of all. I don’t believe there is any question God desires the salvation of all. Indeed, God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, yet the wicked die. He is just in sending them to hell. God does not DESIRE that people continually reject him, but they do. There is a difference between God desiring something and God causing something. He desires that all men everywhere repent, but that does not mean that He has chosen them all or, as Jesus stated, that all are His sheep. His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. The reason some did not believe is because they were not His sheep. I do not claim to understand how this all works together, I simply know and believe that God is sovereign over it. Actually, I do not attempt to make Scripture fit into a system. I have not even read all of Calvin’s institutes (bits and pieces, but this came later) and did not come to believe in the doctrines of grace because of reading Calvin at all. I came to it by God’s grace. Sometimes I wonder if people believe this recent movement toward a more reformed view of theology is just a case of everyone reading the Institutes and checking off 5 points. Nothing could be further from the truth, at least in my experience.

      JB

      Robert,

      I think there is a problem with your keyboard. It seems as though your caps lock gets stuck every once and a while.

        Robert

        No problem with the keyboard JB, sometimes in order to emphasize I capitalize. Forgetting to emphasize in a different way, or perhaps just lazy! :-)

        Robert

        Norm Miller

        Yes, Robert, ALL CAPS IS CONSIDERED SCREAMING in nettiquette. Please stop. If you want to emphasize a word, one, and only one of these * before and after is enough.
        I appreciate your point about praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Clearly, since Jesus modeled that prayer, then there must be a difference in God’s will as it happens in heaven and on Earth. Also, clearly it indicates to me that God is not as directly involved in human affairs as some believe. Does He know all things? Most assuredly. Does He cause all things, even evil? No. But Hutch’s position seems to indicate that God is the cause by allowing evil to happen.

          Robert

          Hello Norm,

          “Yes, Robert, ALL CAPS IS CONSIDERED SCREAMING in nettiquette. Please stop. If you want to emphasize a word, one, and only one of these * before and after is enough.”

          Sometimes I forget in what medium I am writing and make these kinds of mistakes. Currently I have been asked to write in three different newsletters and in each of them we sometimes capitalize in order to emphasize something. Then I write an email and carry over this practice! But I will be especially careful about this when posting at SBC today.

          “I appreciate your point about praying for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. Clearly, since Jesus modeled that prayer, then there must be a difference in God’s will as it happens in heaven and on Earth. Also, clearly it indicates to me that God is not as directly involved in human affairs as some believe. Does He know all things? Most assuredly. Does He cause all things, even evil? No. But Hutch’s position seems to indicate that God is the cause by allowing evil to happen.”

          I have always reminded people that the best place to go to find out what is really going on is to see what Jesus says about something. And he spoke clearly to his disciples telling them that we ought to pray that things would be more like Heaven than they are right now.

          I look forward (as I am sure you do too) to being in a place where God’s will is always perfectly done: but it definitely is not this earth, unless you really twist things and start claiming that God desires every evil and sinful action to occur as it does. But if you argue for this you go completely against the Bible. No, we are in a real struggle against the devil, the world and the flesh. There is a real spiritual conflict going on right now and God’s will is most definitely not always being done here.

          Robert

      rhutchin

      Robert writes, “The Calvinists system says that God desires the salvation of ONLY SOME.”

      There are two basic theological systems – Universalism and Not Universalism. Universalism says that God saves all. Not Universalism says that God saves a number less than all (some). Calvinism is one of several sub theologies under Not Universalism that seek to explain how it is that God saves some and not all.

        Robert

        rhutchin is changing the topic here. We were not talking about universalism versus non-universalism. We *were* talking about the fact that the Bible says that God desires the salvation of all and rhutchin’s calvinist system of theology says that God desires the salvation of only some. *That* is a contradiction between the Bible versus the calvinist system. rhutchin wants to avoid this **contradiction** by changing the topic to universalism versus non-universalism hoping we won’t notice. Any system of theology that contradicts the Bible is necessarily false. Calvinism contradicts the Bible regarding what the Bible says about God desiring for all to be saved. Therefore, calvinism is false.

        Robert

          rhutchin

          In Ephesians 3, Paul writes, “by revelation God made known unto me the mystery; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” God has always intended to save gentiles and not just the Jews. This was a tremendous revelation to Paul who firmly believed that salvation was of the Jew. After this revelation, Paul writes his great statement in Romans 1:16,”…the gospel of Christ: is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” “Also the Greek!” “Also the Greek!” What a tremendous revelation given to Paul by the Holy Spirit.

          Thus, when Paul writes of “all men” in his letters, he has this in mind – to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. That is what the Bible tells us; Calvinism is completely compatible with this.

          If you think Paul means something else when he uses the term “all men,” show us your proof from Scripture.

rhutchin

Pastor Rogers writes, “Thus, if you can accept that one can believe in election, while rejecting Calvinism’s definition, then you can see how I could have been a Calvinist-Biblicist and now I am simply a Biblicist. If you cannot, then you cannot.”

Election is difficult for non-Calvinists, so you do not (and I think, cannot) say much about it other than the Bible affirms it, so you affirm it. Let’s take it further.

Election describes an action taken by God. It is God who elects. There is an object of God’s election. Those whom God elects are saved in the course of time. God’s election is not based on anything a person does (e.g., a foreseen faith cannot be the basis of election as this would deny God’s omniscience).

The Calvinist definition of “election” is simple; it is an action by God; it is choosing those He will save. You reject that definition. Fine, what definition do the non-Calvinists offer as an alternative? I have yet to see one. Non-Calvinists will sometimes appeal to free-will but as God knows the elect when He creates the world and God’s knowledge of the elect is not based on foreseen faith, then free-will cannot define election. To say that God chooses to elect those who will believe must deny God’s prior knowledge of the elect if it is to work – it says that God cannot elect people until He learns that they believe.

So the issue for the non-Calvinist is to define election and then show how it would work in a non-Calvinist system. I have not seen this done in my limited readings of non-Calvinists.

    Robert

    Rhutchin writes:

    “The Calvinist definition of “election” is simple; it is an action by God; it is choosing those He will save. You reject that definition. Fine, what definition do the non-Calvinists offer as an alternative?”

    It is not a case of the correct definition but a case of correct understanding of election. The answer to his question here is simple and straightforward: God chooses to elect those who trust in Him alone for salvation. But behind this simple concept are some important understandings. We must understand that God alone saves. That God decided how people would be saved (as Paul makes clear especially in Romans it is **through faith** that people are saved). And that God provided a means of atonement for all so that all who do believe can be saved (i.e. the atonement of Christ for the whole world). Now if you deny these truths as Calvinists do, then of course the simple affirmation that God elects those who trust him to be His people is meaningless.

    “I have yet to see one. Non-Calvinists will sometimes appeal to free-will but as God knows the elect when He creates the world and God’s knowledge of the elect is not based on foreseen faith, then free-will cannot define election.”

    Yet again rhutchin appears to be intentionally dense (I say this because he has been corrected on this point over and over and over again and yet he continues to ignore the correction by others). It is true that God knows before he creates the world who will and who will not end up being saved. This does not vitiate the fact that he desires for all to be saved and provides opportunities for people to be saved even though some of them will reject the opportunity. It also does not vitiate the fact that God chooses to save people on his terms according to the plan of salvation he designed (which He himself says repeatedly involves an individual exercising faith in Him alone for their salvation). It is not that God foresees faith and then elects that person: it is that God sets up a plan of salvation in which he will save those who trust him (and those who trust Him are elected to be His people). This has always been his way both in the Old and New Testaments: God chooses to save those who trust him alone for salvation.

    “To say that God chooses to elect those who will believe must deny God’s prior knowledge of the elect if it is to work – it says that God cannot elect people until He learns that they believe.”

    God’s foreknowledge does not contradict his plan of salvation. God foreknows everything, and yet God also saves people according to a plan of salvation which *****He devises****** (and which involves individual people’s faith). There is no contradiction between God’s foreknowledge and His own plan of salvation (though rhutchin implies that there is).

    Robert

      Courtney Hill

      Robert, why do you continue to speak around rhutchin? Is he not a person? And why the ad hominems? ” rhutchin appears to be intentionally dense” First, you’re saying he is unintelligent- incapable of comprehending the truth (dense) and then you say it is “intentional.” So he’s not only dumb, he’s dishonest as well. You accuse “calvinists” of a good many things but I don’t believe you know what they believe.

        Robert

        Two things Courtney. First, I understand calvinism very well, and it gets old hearing calvinists constantly cliam that those who oppose it just do not understand it.

        Second, regarding rhutchin. Over and over he makes certain points and over and over he is corrected on this. When a person makes a mistake I understand and we should be patient and work with them to work out the mistake and make it better. But when someone does the same mistake over and over even after multiple corrections, that is no longer just an innocent mistake that now indicates their character (or lack of). Someone who is repeatedly corrected and yet shows not repentance and no indication of change appears to be “intentionally dense”. Perhaps you are unaware of how many times he has been corrected, I am not. I can be quite patient with people who have done some really bad things as I work with inmates. But again making mistakes is one thing, intentionally ignoring correction is another, don’t you agree?

        Robert

          Courtney Hill

          Robert, your trouble, it seems to me, is not that Robert won’t listen to and heed an obvious correction of error- one that is plain to all. Your problem is that you demand that he agree with your point of view. You want him to repent of not agreeing with you. I’m sorry my friend, but that isn’t likely to happen, especially when someone is demanding it and calling them stupid in the process. And just for the record, I disagree with your viewpoint on election as well. There is something more going on here than choosing those who will believe. His choice, as Paul told the Ephesians, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” His choice of a people is based on His own will. “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” Romans 9:16 You see, the evidence for that point of view is in the Scripture.

            Norm Miller

            In upcoming days we will have a post titled: “John Calvin Was Wrong About Romans 9.”

            Robert

            What you say here Courtney is not true at all. I don’t demand that rhutchin hold my view, nor do I demand that others hold to my view. I have been around the block a few times and am quite aware that people disagree on things. And I am not very troubled that not all Christians agree with me on everything or hold my exact views. I have friends who are Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, non-Baptists, even Calvinists and I am quite aware that we disagree on some things. No, mere disagreement is not my problem with rhutchin. Courtney you also wrongly claim that I said that rhutchin was not intelligent. I never said that either. What I did say was that he is acting “intentionally dense”. A person is “intentionally dense” when they intentionally ignore correction. You tell the same person something repeatedly and yet they ignore the correction. It is not that they are not intelligent. In fact I have seen some extremely intelligent people who were intentionally dense regarding certain issues. To take a rather blatant example consider the new atheists, folks like Richard Dawkings, Dennis Dennett, etc. These guys are extremely intelligent and highly educated, they have Ph.D’s and teach at prestigious schools. At the same time, in their atheism they are intentionaly dense. They make statements and these statements are refuted and yet they continue to propagate their nonsense. Now if somoene disagrees with me, but fairly represents my view and their own, I don’t assert that they are intentionally dense. I can respect somone who disagrees with me on something if they do so in a reasonable manner. Courtney you must be somewhat naive if you really think that I demand that everyone agree with me on everything. That is just not reality and it certainly is not my reality. And for the record I (and the vast majority of the Christian church including Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, most Protestants, Independents both living and dead) disagree with your view on election.

            Robert

      rhutchin

      Rpbert writes, “God chooses to elect those who trust in Him alone for salvation.”

      If salvation is conditioned on the action of a person – to trust in God – then the person’s decision to trust God is necessary to his salvation and he cannot be saved without his decision. You are wrong to say, “We must understand that God alone saves.” By conditioning salvation on man’s decision, you make God’s part necessary but not sufficient to save. Thus you are saying that God alone makes salvation possible. The Calvinist makes God’s part in salvation both necessary and sufficient and can say, “God alone saves.” You cannot make that claim and still make man’s part necessary to salvation. Of course, if you want to make man’s decision contingent on God’s action, as the Calvinist does, then you can say, “God alone saves.”

        Bob Hadley

        rhutchin,

        You are making an argument that contradicts your own theology; You wrote, “If salvation is conditioned on the action of a person – to trust in God – then the person’s decision to trust God is necessary to his salvation and he cannot be saved without his decision.” Unless I am badly mistaken, the calvinist position is that man MUST repent and believe (trust God) to be saved. So the calvinist system requires the same response on man’s part; you just believe God gives them the ability to do so but man still participates in the process. So calvinism is no more or less God alone than the non-calvinist position since BOTH require repentance and believing faith.

        Even your statement at the end is useless since man still has to repent to be saved. As I see it, man’s repentance and faith are his response to revelation and reconciliation which are God’s initiative where you will say that the two are man’s response to regeneration. You and I will disagree at that point not that man repents and believes to be saved.

          rhutchin

          Pastor Hadley writes, “Unless I am badly mistaken, the calvinist position is that man MUST repent and believe (trust God) to be saved.”

          I understand that to be a wrong conclusion. The Calvinist believes that a person repents and believes as a consequence of being saved. The Calvinist says that the depraved person cannot repent and believe. God must quicken the person, regenerate the dead spirit by bringing it back to life. “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” As the Calvinist says, Salvation is all of God. The person responds to the newness of nature given to them by God by repenting and believing. Saved people repent and believe; unsaved people don’t – by their fruits, the one is distinguished from the other. Repentance and belief are fruits of salvation.

          The issue here is what makes a person “saved”? Is it the action of repenting and believing or is it that which God does to the person that enables the person to then repent and believe? Well, I guess that’s why we have these discussions.

        Norm Miller

        Interesting that no one seems to be interacting much with the foreknowledge point Dr. Patterson made. The starting point for understanding election is to agree with God per his breathed-out word that election comes from the foreknowledge of God. Running to Eph. 1 while bypassing foreknowledge is to start at step 2 of election, not step 1, which is God’s foreknowledge.

        Will anyone here dare to say he knows what it was God foreknew as that pertains to election?

        Also, Hutch, you said God cannot be passive. Do you have a Bible verse or a contextual basis for that claim that limits God? I am loathe to say God cannot do a thing unless it is to act contrary to his word, will and character. Also, if God has determined to give humans free will and determined he would not directly interfere in their sinful affairs, categorically, then that is an apriori decision that to us would look like God was choosing to act on whether to allow or disallow all sinful, evil acts individually, but rather, in fact, would be a function of his categorical decision to let people choose to sin or not.

        If I were to commit murder, and, Hutch, you say I did because God decided not to stop me, and since murder is obviously a sin, as it directly breaks the sixth commandment, then how, according to the Mosaic Law upon which our laws are founded, does that not make God an accomplice? There are people in US prisons who knew a murder would be committed and did nothing about it. Our laws, drawn from God’s laws, are why those people are imprisoned. How, then, can you say that God is not the author of, or is not culpable for the sins of others? In my view, your system makes God liable in some way for sin. Of course, Piper’s view, with which you agree, necessarily makes God the designer of sin, and not the mere ‘decider’ of it.

Robert

RD wrote:
“For Norm and Robert.
It seems like you guys and Rhutchin are not necessarily talking about the will of God in the same way (if i am wrong, please let me know). Rhutchin does not seem to be saying that “murder” is God’s revealed will. Scripture is clear about that. He seems to be saying that murder is a part of God’s sovereign will. If it happens, God must have chosen to allow it to happen. If airplanes are flown into two skyscrapers, it is not God’s desired, revealed will for that to happen. It is wrong, sinful. it was something they willfully chose to do. But, was it God’s sovereign will? That is, can something happen in this world without God choosing to allow it to happen? For example, Jesus’ death on the cross was a murder, yet it was the preordained plan of God from before the foundation of the world. Were the Jews and Romans who had Him nailed to the cross violating the revealed will of God in putting to death a sinless, perfect, innocent man? Absolutely! But was it God’s will, His sovereign will, that he be put to death?”

Two things in response to this.

First, I don’t buy the calvinist’s distinction between the revealed will and the sovereign will. In that scenario the revealed will becomes meaningless. God says that murder is wrong (revealed will) but then he preplans and desires for every murder to occur in exactly the way that it does (the sovereign will). This distinction is invented by Calvinists and leads to all sorts of absurdities and problems.

Second, the fact that God sometimes uses the evil choices of men (the best example being the crucifixion of Jesus) cannot then be extrapolated to **all events**, to **all evils** to **all sins**. God sometimes uses evil to accomplish good but not always. Only the believer is promised that all things work together for good in Romans 8:28: not everyone. And that “working together for good” does not mean that all things are good or that all things are God’s will. It means that God can bring good out of any circumstances for the sake of believers.

Robert

    RD Magee

    Robert,
    Thanks for interacting. The reason I bring up the distinctions in God’s will is my struggles in reconciling different passages that make sense to me if they are talking about different aspects of God’s will. For example, I believe it is God’s will for everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9). Yet, I know from Scripture that never everyone will be saved but that some will be raised and sentenced to the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15). Yet, I try to reconcile God’s desire, God’s will is not fulfilled as spoken of in 2 Peter 3:9 and in all of the commands of Scripture that are continually not kept by mankind with passages such as Isaiah 43:13 and 46:10, or Psalm 115:3 and Job 42:2 that speak of God’s plan never being thwarted. His desires, what he pleases to do will come to be and that no man can stop it. For me to reconcile these passages, it seems that Scripture is teaching distinctions, different aspects to God’s will.
    Thanks.

      Robert

      RD you claim that certain scriptures which you cite say that God’s plan is never thwarted. You have read in your calvinism into each of those verses. None of them says that God’s plan is never thwarted. You assume that God has a total plan which includes all events that comprise human history. You then read in this calvinistic concept into the bible. But none of those verse speaks of God’s total plan never being thwarted. They say that God’s purposes are never thwarted or denied. The point is that not all events are purposed by God. God does not purpose for believers to sin. God does not purpose for women to be raped and children to be molested. God does not purpose for false teachers to teach false doctrine. God does not purpose the false teachings of cults like the Mormons or false religions like Islam. This list could be multiplied but the point is clear: while God most certainly purposes certain things he does not purpose every event that occurs. That is a common mistake that calvinists make. They see verses that speak of how God’s purposes always happen and cannot be prevented from happening. The crucifixion of Jesus is a good example. They then **extrapolate** from these fulfilled purposes of God’s to the conclusion that *God purposes all events*. He does not purpose every event, He does not purpose every sin. If he did so he would contradict both his own nature ( a nature that hates sin and wants nothing to do with sin and commands his people to be holy) and his own Word (where he tells us that he hates sin, punishes sin, that sin results from our choices, etc. etc.). Once you reject the calvinistic doctrine that God purposes all and every event, it is easy to see that there are no contradictions between God’s desires and what actually happens in this world.

      Robert

        RD Magee

        Robert,
        Thanks for the response. After reading through your post a few times, would you clarify for me what is/are God’s purpose(s). And, are you saying that God does not have a total plan which includes all events that comprise human history? Look forward to your response.

        thanks,
        RD

        p.s. these math security questions are getting harder!

Courtney Hill

Just for the record, while I disagree with some of Pastor Rogers’ points, I definitely appreciate his gracious approach. I have a feeling, though I do not know with absolute certainty, that we would agree more often than we would disagree. I would suggest this as well- I think many (most?) people who would fall into the reformed camp are not interested in forcing a system onto the Scripture. I think what you’ll find is that they are just attempting, by God’s grace, to understand and interpret the Scriptures. Now, I’m also sure that some go too far with their interpretations and that some *do* try to fit the square peg of God’s Word into the round hole of calvinism. The truth is that there are times when we’re just doing our best, just like you. The thing that frustrates me at times is the demonization of those who hold a different view. This is unnecessary. The fact is, the reformed viewpoint is a valid viewpoint. But there are times when I feel some are on a quest to defeat it, as though it were an intrinsic evil, like antinomianism or even a rabid hyper-calvinism. Most brothers are not in these camps. When I see or hear such things, I oppose them. So, I appreciate Pastor Rogers for this reason. I don’t feel like he hates reformed theology or that he thinks everyone teaching it intends to lead people astray. I can have a conversation with a brother like that.

    Norm Miller

    I appreciate those remarks, Courtney. I’ve been moderating this blog for a bit more than a year now, and have had to block some brothers whose attitudes were not exactly like yours. And, for the record, people are blocked for their attitudes and not their theology.
    Also, pleasant commentary is so much easier to handle — even if it attempts to controvert my point of view.
    I agree that Ronnie is a peaceable man. He disagrees w/o being disagreeable. He is a model for us all.

RD Magee

Pastor Rogers,

You said, “Calvinism is a system of thought that seeks to explore and explain the Scripture. It seeks to do this consistently, comprehensively, emanating from and reflective of a devotion to God, and many godly and knowledgeable followers of Christ believe the system is the best at handling the totality and perplexities of Scripture. It is also true that Calvinism is not Scripture. Nor is it the only consistent, comprehensive, system that reflects a devotion to God from a host of godly and knowledgeable followers of Christ.” This is an excellent statement I concur with 100%. No system is perfect. Every system has tough questions from Scripture to answer.
Thanks.

RD Magee

Pastor Rogers or anyone who has read his book (I have not),

In his comments, Pastor Rogers states “I believe the Scripture teaches that man is totally depraved (extensively), so that every part of him is so affected by the fall that He will not and cannot come to God on his own—I believe I sufficiently explain this in my book.” It seems as though he is saying that the fall has affected every part of man (mind, will, reasoning, emotions, decision making – his heart) so extensively that he or she in their unbelieving natural state do not desire (“He will not) or have the ability (“cannot”) to come to God through Jesus Christ. What has to happen (or God have to do) for an unbeliever to recover (obtain) this ability and have the will or desire to come to Christ?

Thanks.

    Volfan007

    Man has to be called, convicted, and drawn by the Holy Spirit before he can choose to be saved or not.

    David

      rhutchin

      The issue is whether a person “called, convicted, and drawn by the Holy Spirit ” could actually say, No. If the Holy Spirit (God) is drawing a person to salvation, that person will be saved unless God gives him slack. Thus, the difference between the elect and the non-elect. God draws the elect to salvation; God draws the non-elect to a point short of salvation (if God draws them at all).

        volfan007

        rhutchin,

        What the Non Cal, Biblicist like me believes is that people can say, NO…..when the Holy Spirit is sincerely, truly, drawing them.

        David

          Norm Miller

          Agreed, David. It *all* gets back to depravity. Does its totality mean that no part of us was untouched by the Fall, or that we were so diminished by sin that we are incapable of choosing on our own to answer God’s drawing?
          As we have stated numerous times, here, Dr. Allen has posted a list of verses on this blog that show how godless people have, can, and are able to respond to God. And to date, I think only one person has attempted to rebut that, and anemically so.
          Fact is, one is wasting his time to debate all that flows out of Calvinists’ understanding of depravity, which in my view is faulty, thus rendering the rest of the system faulty.
          See, if you are completely unable to respond to God, and he enables you to do that, then obviously, you were unconditionally elected, and that means the atonement was for you and the elect only, and since God elected you, you cannot resist his grace, and since that is the case, you will persevere to the end. One problem though — does total depravity mean what Calvinists say it does? According to the verses provided by Dr. Allen, the answer is no.

            Courtney Hill

            Norm, with respect, the problem with the man is able to submit to God or man is able to seek for God (aside from the fact that it contradicts Romans 3 and many other texts) is that it leaves the Father unable to promise His Son a Bride. What is free will, after all? It is the freedom to choose what you prefer. And what does a sinful man prefer? Does he prefer sin and self or does he prefer to submit to a Lord? I would argue, as many others have, that if God is not able to choose to draw someone in triumphant grace (not against His will, but consistent with his will) that we are left with the entire mechanism of salvation being placed in the hands of a fallen man who will always choose to reject God. If this were the case, not only could God not guarantee His Son a Bride, He couldn’t guarantee even ONE convert.

              Norm Miller

              “With respect.” Those are words that garner my respect and appreciation. Thank you for using them.

              Below are the verses cited by Dr. Allen that prove unequivocally the *ability* of lost people to respond/react to God.

              I don’t think I accept your statement that human free choice limits God’s ability to fulfill a promise. God promised a Messiah, and sinners murdered Jesus according to the plan of God, as I think RD noted. Was it God’s plan for those exact people to commit that murder? Did they not have a choice in the matter? If they had no choice but to do the crime, then is it right to hold them accountable? If they had no choice, then they were automatons. Similarly, so are those who respond to “irresistible” grace.

              And still, no one is dealing substantively w/foreknowledge. Election begins there. What did God foreknow about the elect?

              Here are the verses from Dr. Allen:
              “According to the Bible, the unsaved who are spiritually dead have the ability to:
              Act in accordance with conscience (Gen. 3:7)
              Hear God (Gen. 3:10-13)
              Respond to God (Gen. 3:10-13)
              Repent of sins (Luke 15:18-19)
              Seek God (John 3)
              Fear God (Acts 10:2)
              Pray to God (Acts 10:2)
              Had prayers and alms recognized by God (Acts 10:4, 31)
              Know the truth about God (Rom. 1:18-20)
              Perceive God’s invisible attributes (Rom. 1:18-20)”

              Norm Miller

              So, you also say that, when the Spirit of God calls, no one can refuse?

            Courtney Hill

            Norm, those first 3 are all prior to the fall. God was still physically present in the world. Of course they could respond to Him. Acting according to conscience is something every human can do- it’s part of being made in God’s image. Paul mention that those who do not have the law will be judged (condemned) by their own consciences. This is not the same as responding to the Gospel call.

            Regarding foreknowledge, Romans 8 speaks of God foreknowing people, not events. “Those *whom* He foreknew, He did also predestine to become conformed to the image of His Son.” God’s foreknowledge, it appears to me, is about knowing people, even as Adam knew his wife. This is an intimate knowledge of a person- and when I say intimate, I do not mean sexual of course. I mean very personal. God knew those people personally. He had not yet created them but they existed in His own mind- and He chose them.

            And by the way, the argument you are making regarding automatons is anticipated by Paul in Romans 9. “19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?”

            Paul has just said that God will have mercy on whom He has mercy and compassion on whom He will have compassion. Why did God choose to have mercy on Jacob and not Esau? Paul goes to great lengths to make his point- “for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” I don’t see how it could be any plainer.

            Now, I know that many explain these verses away. And I will grant you that these verses do not take away man’s will. They simply make mercy a matter of God’s sovereign choice. All are guilty. All are condemned already. No man deserves anything but wrath. The fact that God chooses to have mercy on some but not all is His prerogative. Now, there are times when I do not like that, personally, but there it is. God’s is glorified in His grace by having mercy on sinners. God’s is glorified in His justice by pouring out His wrath on others. God is glorified in all His attributes. But why does this offend us? It offends our humanity- our sense of human fairness and equality. But God is Holy, Holy, Holy and does not answer to our human sense of fairness. Was God just in instructing Israel to destroy all the inhabitants of the Promised Land, men, women, children? Why did He give them only wrath and Israel (who was also a sinful group of murmuring ingrates) He offered grace and mercy? That was God’s choice.

            I’m sorry for going on. Just attempting to make the point. I’ll stop now.

            Courtney Hill

            People resist the Spirit all the time. God’s grace is not irresistible. It is triumphant. That is the way I think of it. When God opens a person’s eyes to see the truth of who they are and who He is, they will always freely choose to follow Him.

            volfan007

            So, Courtney, you believe that God chose for some people to go to Hell with no hope, whatsoever, to go to Heaven? Because, they were not the Elect…thus, God is not calling, convicting, and drawing them to salvation? And, they have no hope of Heaven? You believe in double predestination; right? So, one of your children is the Elect. God chose him/her to be saved, and will draw them to Himself, and save him/her. But, your other child was not chosen by God to be saved. So, that child is going to Hell, because God wants him/her to go to Hell. And, that child has no hope of Heaven….none.

            David

            Courtney Hill

            Hey David, that’s not exactly what I believe. I simply believe what Scripture teaches- that all men are children of wrath (Ephesians 2) by nature and that they are condemned already (John 3). If God has mercy on one person, He’s done more than was required. The only thing God is obligated (by His own nature) to give any person is justice, and there will not be one single person who will be able to say they did not receive justice from God.

            As for double-predestination, that is a complicated subject with certain implications. I do not believe in reprobation- that God works for the bad of those who hate Him even as He works for the good of those who love Him. The fact is, all are destined for hell until God graciously reaches down and offers them mercy. And we are the tools of His mercy, having been given the ministry and preaching the message of reconciliation to all without distinction. As for my own children, I know you’re attempting to illicit a more personal and emotional response, but they are the same as all others. I know their sinfulness better than most. I didn’t have to teach them (I have 5 kids by the way) to be selfish or throw temper tantrums. But I have been teaching them the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the beginning, and I pray that God will be merciful and gracious to them. I do see His hand at work in all their lives and 4 have made a profession of faith and followed the Lord in baptism. The 5th one is only 4 years old at this point but she already knows about Jesus and what He has done. I’ll put it this way David, I trust in the sovereignty of God but I also believe I am a part of that plan, being their Father. I also know and understand my duty as a father, and, though I fail in it too often, I take that seriously. But the short answer is yes, if God doesn’t awaken and draw my children, they will not be saved. What is the alternative? Shall I get them to repeat a prayer after me and pronounce them saved even if there is no evidence of the Spirit’s work in them? Shall I get them to choose Jesus? This is what I was taught growing up, under what I believe is a faulty system that results in more false professions and false assurances than anything.

            volfan007

            Courtney,

            I believe that God desires to save everyone, and that His death is sufficient to save everyone. I believe that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked repent and be saved. I believe that God sincerely wants everyone on this planet to be saved, and He has shed light on everyone…on some more than others…depending on where the Gospel is preached. And, I believe that everyone can really, truly, sincerely be saved. And, that all men can truly make that choice…..if they do, then it’s because the Lord was working in their lives to bring them to salvation. And, if they’re not saved, it’s because they chose …..really, truly chose….to not be saved.

            And, Courtney, if you believe in the TULIP theory, then you have to believe in double predestination….that God chose some people to be saved before time began, and He will make sure that they get saved; and He chose for others to go to Hell, and they have no hope, whatsoever, of making it to Heaven.

            Also, about your children…praise God that 4 of them have been saved. I rejoice with you, and I trust that your last one will also make that choice, one day. All of my children are saved, too. Funny how that works; aint it? It seems like the more we preach the Gospel, and teach people about salvation, then the more God seems to elect.

            David

            Courtney Hill

            David, I do not disagree with anything you’ve said. All of that is true from a human point of view. I think my upbringing and teaching in my home church, Union University, and Southwestern Seminary did an excellent job of explaining all these things, faithfully from the Scriptures. But the problem I have is that I was never told about the other side of salvation- God’s side. That is what is missing, in my opinion, and has been missing for many years. Most of what we say is man-centered. You choose this. You ask Jesus into your heart. You get eternal life. You will never lose it. All these things from man’s point of view. We even made most every story of Scripture about man.

            But what of God’s work? And isn’t Scripture the story of God’s work in redeeming man? And isn’t salvation more than just a choice we make, like the choice of what city we live in or what car we drive? Isn’t salvation primarily about a creative and glorious work of God who first loved us? Aren’t our lives to be lived to glorify God, not ourselves? Aren’t we created to know Him and enjoy Him? And isn’t He also a God or wrath, justice, jealousy, and holiness? Isn’t God totally sovereign? These were the things that I missed growing up.

            I think this is what God is doing David- He’s bringing things back into balance. Yes, man is responsible for His response to the Gospel. Yes, man must repent and believe or there is no salvation. Yes, man must call on the name of the Lord to be saved. But salvation is a work of God. And He must draw. And He must call. And He must be glorified. And all we do must give Him honor and praise. And salvation is not merely a choice we make- it is a supernatural work of God that changes a person forever. This is why I’m so passionate about it. I watched for years as people walked in the church, came forward at an invitation, prayed a prayer to choose Jesus, got baptized and joined the church, were told once saved always saved, and then walked out the door, unchanged, to never or rarely ever return. And so we were told discipleship is the answer- and so we focused on that. But you can’t disciple someone who has not been changed by God. We had the message incomplete. The Gospel is not the Gospel if God is not central in it.

            I guess the bottom line for me is that I feel much of what I was always taught is good, but just incomplete and imbalanced. I think that’s why this reformed movement has happened. God is the Gospel- He must be central, not man.

            volfan007

            Courtney,

            I agree with you that there’s been some weak, man centered, moralistic preaching going on in the SBC in the past, and it still exists, today. But also, Brother, I’ve heard many, many good Gospel centered, Jesus exalting preaching thru out my Christian life in SBC Churches….and, they were not Reformed preachers doing the preaching, either. They were just regular ole, Bible believing Baptist Christians. I’ve heard many, many, many Non Calvinist Preachers glorify God, and lift up Jesus….long before this Reformed movement got going so strong in the SBC. So, I’m not sure what fellas you were listening to, but I heard some great preaching.

            I’m preaching thru the book of Romans at my Church, right now. We’re in chapter 3, at the moment. I preach verse by verse, and I was Gospel centered before beng Gospel centered was cool. AND, I’m not a Calvinist….imaginge that?

            David

    Robert

    The answer ot your question RD is the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit. It is this work of the Spirit which enables but does not necessitate a faith response ot the gospel. The Spirit reveals the sinful condition of a person to that person. The Spirit reveals the identity of Jesus, the work of Jesus on sinners behalf, the fact that Jesus is the only way to God. Unless the Spirit reveals these kinds of things to a sinner they will never desire to trust in Christ alone for salvation. What calvinists miss is that whle this work of the Spirit is absolutely necessary to enable a person to have faith, it does not necessitate faith. This explains why if you evangelize you will see people sometimes become very open to the gospel and yet they still are not believers even hours, days, months or even years later. I know folks who have definitely experienced this preconversion work of the Spirit and yet they are not saved. Jesus alluded to this in the parable where he speaks of differing responses to the sower and the seed. What I find to be particularly troubling about calvinism on this subject is that they give lip service to this preconversion work of the Spirit because instead of speaking of it, they instead emphasize that a person must be regenerated first before they can have faith. The bible does not teach that regeneration enablels people to believe: it does speak of the preconversion work of the Spirit and how the Spirit convicts not just some, or a preselected few, but *the world* of righteousness, sin and judgment.

    Robert

Matt

It’s hard to believe that Pastor Rogers’ comments are being celebrated as so definitive. Here is one example of his mistaken logic:

“whether one is a Calvinist or not, God being omniscient, He has always known who the elect were, and for anyone to deny that God always knew who would be saved seems beyond the pale of orthodoxy…Again, the essence of Calvinism is not the affirmation that God knows who will be saved (the elect), but rather that He unconditionally chose some to salvation and did everything necessary to predetermine that these unconditionally elect would freely choose to believe.”

While affirming God’s infallible omniscience he denies that God has determined from eternity who is elected.

First, consider that in eternity nothing existed except for God. Omniscience requires that God knew perfectly what He, as God, should do and what ultimate purpose His actions should accomplish. He also knew exactly how to act to best accomplish this purpose. What is His purpose in creation? According to scripture I would say it is His own glory. Creation in general declares His glory (Ps.19:1), and when considering salvation specifically He is glorified in both His calling and mercy on the elect (Eph.1:11-12, 14; 1Cor. 1:30-31) and His wrath and judgment on the non-elect (Rom. 9:17, 22-23; Rev. chs. 15 & 19). We know that because God’s knowledge is complete and perfect, His actions to accomplish His purpose will accomplish it perfectly.

No other world could have been created because God’s perfect knowledge dictated this one, but theoretically if God had created differently the outcome of who is and is not saved, or who would hear the gospel, or who would even exist would have been different. Remember though, God knew perfectly how He would create, what His subsequent actions within His creation would be, and every repercussion of His actions from eternity. It is this perfect eternal knowledge that we anthropomorphically* refer to as His “choice” that determines who the elect are. Consider that all internal and external factors that could possibly play into our free choices are causally traced back to God, and He knowingly brought them about.

Any attempt to claim that God’s eternal knowledge was determined by our supposed libertarian free wills is claiming that an effect that did not exist caused its own eternal cause which is logically impossible. So I believe it is clear that Pastor Rogers’ claim that it is true that God is both omniscient and did not determine who is elected is an affirmation of two mutually exclusive ideas that cannot both be true in reality. The compatiblistic freedom of Calvinism is the only view of human freedom that is both scriptural and logical, libertarian freedom is neither.

*I say anthropomorphically because we generally think of “choice” being the result of a thought process. I think that a thought process is an idiosyncrasy of creatures with limited knowledge and cannot be attributed to a Being who knows all things. Election is not the result of God considering whom He will save and arriving at a decision that He didn’t already know; the elect are eternally known.

    volfan007

    Matt,

    So, you believe that God chose some people to be saved, and that He chose for others to go to Hell. It was just an arbitrary decision on God’s part? In other words, you believe in double predestination? Right?

    Again, understand that no one is arguing against the foreknowledge of God…no one. We all believe that God is omniscient. The crux of the matter is “Can man sincerely, truly respoond to God’s calling by making a real choice, or not?” And, a real choice is not God making it so that you have to choose(irresistable grace), and that others cannot choose because they’re not elect….that their choice will always be “No thanks,” because God has not chosen them. I’m talking about real, true choice, which makes man responsible for his choices.

    David

      Matt

      David,

      I totally believe in double predestination in the sense of active election and passive reprobation. I do not believe in equal ultimacy. Compatibilistic freedom allows for a “real choice”. People choose to reject God because that is what they want to do. If God worked unbelief in their hearts, then there might be a reason to say that their choice wasn’t real. We make decisions based on our desires as we determine what we want through our thought process. There’s no need to point out that I believe that God determined that we would come into the world fallen, if you believe in God’s omniscience then you would have to believe that also. He knew that person X would be born into a fallen world with a fallen nature and his desires would surely prevent him from ever wanting to come to God. You think that God overcomes this natural inability for all who hear the gospel, but why did Jesus point out this inability as the reason for unbelief among those who were listening to His own revelation of Himself in multiple places? Those people must not have been given that grace. Why after telling people that “no one can come to me” as an explanation of their unbelief did he say, “unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I WILL RAISE HIM UP on the last day” -Jn.6:44 if the drawing was universal and didn’t necessarily result in salvation? Why did He tell others, “you do not believe because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and THEY FOLLOW ME” -Jn. 10:26-27 if the inward call was given to all and was resistible? It is perfectly just for God to condemn sinners to hell. What’s amazing is that He shows mercy to any, and just because He shows mercy to some doesn’t mean that He is obligated to show mercy to all. We do not serve a God who is pleasing to fallen human sensibilities, and I don’t ever want to be guilty of trying to present Him as people want Him to be instead of how He is. The fact that people sin and reject God because that’s what they want to do is plenty to hold them accountable. Praise God for His justice and His mercy!

        volfan007

        Matt,

        ONly one problem with what you’re saying here…..God does desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Now, is God sincere when He had that written? Does He sincerely desire to save all men? And, when Jesus looked over Jerusalem, and wept, and declared that He would have gathered them under His wings, as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but THEY WOULD NOT….not that He would not….but THEY WOULD NOT; was the Lord being sinicere? Did He truly mean what He was saying, or was He just playing some philosophical word games? And, when we see in Ezekiel that God takes no pleasure in the deatih of the wicked, but they repent, and be saved; did God really mean that?

        Thus, God’s desire to save everyone on the planet is most certainly seen in the Bible. His death is sufficient for every person on the planet. Therefore, His calling is towards everyone on the planet….to go out into the highways and the backroads, and compel them to come to the wedding feast. The Holy Spirit is convincing the WORLD of sin, righteousness, and judgment…..the world!

        David

          Matt

          David,

          You have misquoted Matthew 23:37. It does not say, ” Jesus looked over Jerusalem, and wept, and declared that He would have gathered them under His wings, as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but THEY WOULD NOT” (I know you are paraphrasing it). It says, “I wanted to gather your children together… but you were not willing”. The children are identified as a different group than the ones who are being addressed. From verse 13 till the end of the chapter Jesus is attacking the Jewish religious leaders. Eight times in those verses He says, “woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” He calls them fools, blind, serpents, brood of vipers, the ones who killed the prophets, and the ones on whom all the righteous blood shed on earth was. Verse 13 says that they “shut up the kingdom of God against men… nor do you allow those who are entering to go in”. The “allow” is not an effectual word in the Greek it can mean that they opposed it ineffectually. Verse 37 seems more likely to be a continuing indictment that the Jewish religious leaders opposed (were not willing that people would be saved) when God was willing that they would be saved. I think since it is clearly stated that God always reserved a remnant for Himself from Israel at all times, we should not understand this as the religious leaders effectually preventing people from being saved and it can certainly not be taken in the way you presented it (that God was willing to save a group but that group prevented Him from doing so by being unwilling).

          Your use of 1 Tim. 2:4 is actually begging the question of what the word all is referring to. Is it all individuals or all types of people? Paul is writing to a Jew. Timothy was actually half Jewish, but was clearly considered a Jew by Paul since Paul insisted that he be circumcised and performed the circumcision himself. The Jews viewed the non-Jewish rulers in the Roman empire as illegitimate pagan oppressors. This resentment of pagan rulers would have been especially prevalent in Ephesus where Timothy was, and Paul was instructing him to pray for these Gentile pagan rulers. It is interesting that in Acts 9 God states His mission for Paul as, “to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel”. And in Acts 22 Paul recounts his conversion using the term “all men” to describe his mission to a mob who was angry that he had spoken against the Israelites to Gentiles and had brought Greeks into the temple. If Paul did not have this same Jew/ Gentile all types of men in mind when writing “all men” in 1 Tim. 2:4 then his statement following in verse 7 that he had been appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher to the Gentiles would be a total non sequitur. Even if you want to claim that “all” in this verse applies to all specific individuals (which I don’t believe it does), the word “willing” or “desiring” cannot be taken in the same sense that the same Greek verb is taken in Eph. 1:11 or else everyone would be saved. If you want to take the word to mean that God has deemed it morally right on the part of the people for everyone to come to knowledge of the truth like He wills or desires that we all love one another (even though we don’t always) then I would have no problem with your interpretation, and the verse would not be saying what you are trying to get it to say.

          You seem to make the same assumption about the word “world” even though there are many verses that show this word is used to in the major New Testament theme that the Jewish Messiah had come not to save the nation of Israel in a political sense, but people from every tribe, tongue, and nation in a spiritual sense. And don’t forget the last words of the parable of the wedding feast as someone who was invited was thrown out: “many are called, but few are chosen.”

    Norm Miller

    Pastor Rogers emailed a response to Matt’s comment above. Here is Pastor Rogers’ response:

    Matt 19-09-2013, 02:16

    You said, “It’s hard to believe that Pastor Rogers’ comments are being celebrated as so definitive. Here is one example of his mistaken logic:”

    Then you quote me saying, “Whether one is a Calvinist or not, God being omniscient, He has always known who the elect were, and for anyone to deny that God always knew who would be saved seems beyond the pale of orthodoxy…Again, the essence of Calvinism is not the affirmation that God knows who will be saved (the elect), but rather that He unconditionally chose some to salvation and did everything necessary to predetermine that these unconditionally elect would freely choose to believe.”

    The following statement is apparently your example of my faulty logic, “While affirming God’s infallible omniscience he denies that God has determined from eternity who is elected.”

    You are correct in recognizing that I affirm “God’s infallible omniscience” (thank you), but you overstated your case by saying that “he denies that God has determined from eternity who is elected.” Actually, I affirm the very opposite in the words you cited earlier, “He has always known who the elect were…and for anyone to deny that God always knew who would be saved seems beyond the pale of orthodoxy.” The only sense I can make of your conclusion is that your Calvinistic lenses have caused you to read an emphatic affirmation as a denial. Further, I can only suppose that your thinking allows only one option for denying Calvinism’s unconditional election and compatibilism, which is a denial of God’s sovereignty. Lastly, that I am beyond the pale of orthodoxy since orthodoxy affirms the omniscience of God and denial of such is heterodoxy.

    This is unfortunate, breaks down communication, and is an egregious error in your representation of my statement. Remember, Calvinism is not Scripture. We may disagree about the Scripture, but a disagreement with Calvinism’s espoused doctrines and its lesser known entailments is not equivalent to a denial of Scripture. Rather, that conclusion emanates from your superimposition of Calvinism as the only lens through which to view my words, which actually both affirm what God knows and determines.

    Tomorrow would never come if God would not have determined that it comes; hence, nothing happens outside of God’s purview of knowledge and sovereign rule. Accordingly, the question is not whether God is sovereign in salvation, but rather what is the nature of His creation/salvation plan and the process by which the sovereign incompatible omniscient God accomplishes His plan. We may disagree on the option or process, but that does not actually demonstrate, in and of itself, a Brobdingnagian leap in logic tantamount to denying God’s determination. To wit, did He determine to create efficient causes with otherwise choice, or only those with an ability to freely choose a predetermined outcome? Therefore, I am actually denying Calvinism’s causal compatibilism, and there is no faulty logic or internal conflict between believing that God knows the elect from eternity and a denial of Calvinism. We believe election is conditional (by God’s design), which is neither faulty logic nor unbiblical. Further, we deny that the creation of compatibly free beings is the only way, best way, or more importantly, the way most obviously chosen by Him to accomplish His will as reflected in Scripture.

    I want to briefly comment upon four concepts at the heart of our discussion, and I am painfully aware of how one may misconstrue or even misuse such brevity; however, in order to fairly respond to your comments, I take the risk.

    Compatibilism (including soft compatibilism) argues that freedom and determinism are compatible. It argues that while there are determinative antecedents (God, nature, state of affairs, and/or various conditions within the being), the choice is free so long as it is what one desires and there are no external constraints. Since the present choosing is the result of determinative antecedents, and the previous choosing was the result of its determinative antecedents, ad infinitum, every choosing is a predetermined free choosing without a choice to do otherwise. This is true of any compatibly free being, whether it be man or God.

    Incompatibilism (including soft libertarianism) believes that humans are created with incompatible free will. This means that humans can choose, within the range of choices, to act or refrain, and whatever they do in fact choose, they could have chosen otherwise. While choices are influenced, at times significantly so, by other factors, they are not determined by them. This is true of any incompatibly free being whether it be man or God. Of course, the range of choices available to God is vast in comparison to that of man’s fluctuating range. Lastly, man being so endowed does not exclude God overriding man’s will if He desires. (See my original article that spawned this discussion, Man Both Righteous and Free 9/13/13)

    Divine Knowledge: First, knowing does not entail causation—even certain knowledge does not. To conclude that it does seems to be a confusion of categories. God always knows all. Consequently, foreknowledge is a helper word for us, but God knows the future, past, and present at the same instance and equally comprehensively. He always knows every actuality and potentiality along with perfect comprehensive conditional knowledge. He chooses to actualize certain potentialities out of an unknown number of potentialities that He could actualize, but that does not lead to compatibilism.

    Consequently, the totality of knowledge of anything that has, does, or ever will exist existed in the person of God; hence, no one had to do anything for God to know what would happen, and God had to look no further than Himself to know everything that either could or would be. He chose the perfect plan to accomplish His purpose, which you believe to be compatibilism. We believe the Scripture lucidly and compellingly teaches that He purposed to create beings with otherwise choice, as He Himself is, i.e. in His image.

    Further, God’s choice, or the idea of choice, is not merely something we “anthropomorphically refer to as His choice” (your words). That is to say, it is not an anthropomorphic accommodation to explain the inevitable march of causal compatible determinism in God or man. It is an actual choice of God, and He could have chosen otherwise. Whether one recognizes it or not, this is at the crux of discussions such as ours. Are God and man making choices that they could have chosen other than they did in fact choose (incompatibilism) or not (compatibilism)?

    Predetermination: I see this logically and in Scripture in two ways; first, to predetermine to directly create a series of events, etc., that in sequence, time, actions, and result are all unalterable; second, to predetermine to directly create an environment that involves other aspects of God’s full nature and desire, like efficient secondary causes, which includes humans created in His image with otherwise choice. God exercises His free and sovereign will to create such, and according to His full nature and infinite exhaustive knowledge, He executes His ultimate will without having to resort to such a degrading concept as compatibilism (degrading because it implies that God is incapable of being sovereign over higher level beings). Neither the logical nor the biblical concept of predetermination necessitates nor is best explained by compatibilism; thereby, predetermining everything causally in order for God to accomplish His purpose. I believe that the Scripture ubiquitously demonstrates that God does not actually predetermine people (Adam and Eve, Israel, the lost, etc.) to do the opposite of what He repeatedly commands and encourages them to do.

    You said, “First, consider that in eternity nothing existed except for God. Omniscience requires that God knew perfectly what He, as God, should do and what ultimate purpose His actions should accomplish. He also knew exactly how to act to best accomplish this purpose.”

    Of course, if God is a compatibly free being then He really has only one option, and that is what you seem to be proposing (consistent with compatibilism), something I reject. I would say God knew what He could do, what He desired to do by employing all at His disposal, and then decided what He would do. His purpose would be decided by Him. He would work perfectly to accomplish that end. Consequently, the question is what did He desire to do in order to bring Him glory and put His full character on display? Did He choose to create beings controlled by natures that lead inviolably to freely choosing sin; followed by selecting to forcibly regenerate a group thereby leading them to an equally inviolable and preordained free decision? Or is He capable of demonstrating His love, sovereignty, holiness, mercy, omniscience, omnipotence, wrath, and grace by accomplishing His will through creating beings with otherwise choice? The Scripture seems very clear that it is the latter. Regardless of your belief that Calvinism provides the best framework for understanding the perplexities of Scripture, you should be able to see that there is nothing illogical about God knowing the elect, and predetermining to incorporate and comprehend otherwise choice in that plan if He so chooses.

    You said, “Creation in general declares His glory (Ps.19:1), and when considering salvation specifically He is glorified in both His calling and mercy on the elect (Eph.1:11-12, 14; 1Cor. 1:30-31).”

    For the sake of brevity, let me say that I believe all of the Scriptures you cited. I believe that “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11). The question that we disagree on is, does predestination entail causal determination, or could God have had a choice between causal determination and otherwise choice, and have chosen the latter? That is to say, what is the way that He decided to accomplish His purpose? Frankly, without Calvinistic spectacles, there is nothing in what I have said that is contrary to the verses that you cited, and they neither logically nor hermeneutically inexorably lead only to Calvinism (although Calvinists believe their interpretation is the better of the two).

    You said, “No other world could have been created because God’s perfect knowledge dictated this one:”

    This seems at best exaggeratedly ambitious and at worst very disparaging to God. It seems to limit Him to having only one option (He has a compatible free will). Therefore, what He did in fact choose to do is the only thing that He could do, which is consistent with your unproven compatibilism. Of course, I reject that presupposition; such rejection only seems illogical when one superimposes compatibilism as the only viable assumption, but as a matter of logic or Scripture, it is not illogical.

    You said, “Remember though, God knew perfectly how He would create, what His subsequent actions within His creation would be, and every repercussion of His actions from eternity. It is this perfect eternal knowledge that we anthropomorphically* refer to as His “choice” that determines who the elect are.”

    If you are saying that God knew out of a range of options that He had as a sovereign incompatible free being, then I agree. If you are arguing compatibilism that is consistent with Calvinism, I do not agree, and it is not illogical to disagree with Calvinism or compatibilism. I may be right or wrong (as you may be as well), but to disagree with your argument is not illogical. I actually believe your deterministic view degrades God’s sovereignty and complete nature; although, that is clearly not your intent.

    You said, “Consider that all internal and external factors that could possibly play into our free choices are causally traced back to God, and He knowingly brought them about…. The compatiblistic freedom of Calvinism is the only view of human freedom that is both scriptural and logical, libertarian freedom is neither.”

    Again, one of the greatest weaknesses of Calvinism is its inability to see God as wise and powerful enough to be sovereign over created beings that He sovereignly and decidedly freely chose to endow with otherwise choice; then, to actually employ such otherwise choice in His redemptive plan. In this statement you have stated the essence of Calvinism well, and I appreciate your forthrightness. I hope that everyone will take note. Unfortunately, many Calvinists and non-Calvinists who interact with Calvinism are unaware of how deterministic Calvinism really is.

    You said, “Any attempt to claim that God’s eternal knowledge was determined by our supposed libertarian free wills is claiming that an effect that did not exist caused its own eternal cause which is logically impossible. So I believe it is clear that Pastor Rogers’ claim that it is true that God is both omniscient and did not determine who is elected is an affirmation of two mutually exclusive ideas that cannot both be true in reality.”

    As clarified above, eternal knowledge is neither determined nor enhanced by anything outside of God at any point in eternity or in the time and space continuum. This includes the unfolding of events at a subsequent instance in eternity. Nor is the chronology of events in time and space determining or increasing anything in God. While He distinguishes between the sequences of events, He is not informed by them. Rather, the simple biblically consistent understanding is that God determined within Himself to create a world where He sovereignly endowed man with a choice between accessible options; wherein man would choose sin, and God, corresponding to who He is, would choose to grace-enable man to have the ability to choose to accept the good news of the gospel or not, which choice results in man either being saved or not as determined by God’s plan. Consequently, salvation did not depend upon God looking through the corridors of time to see what man would do.

    All of this was freely and sovereignly comprehended in His coextensive creation/redemption plan that operates according to the counsel of His own will. Rather than being illogical, I would say that it actually pedestals all of the attributes of God consistently by demonstrating that God is, in everything and every instance, sovereign, holy, perfect love and mercy. Those who by grace through faith accept His wondrous grace and mercy experience His eternal love and those and those who do not suffer His eternal wrath.

    If God sovereignly decides within Himself to make salvation conditional, comprehending in His plan all that would involve, then all talk of non-Calvinistic salvation depending upon man, being illogical, challenging God’s sovereignty, being of works, etc., etc., is without merit.

      Matt

      Pastor Rogers,

      Thank you for responding. You seem to use a lot of original terms and possibly some terms like “determined” in unconventional ways. By saying that I overstate my case in saying “he denies that God has determined from eternity who is elected” and then saying that you affirm the opposite in the very words I cited earlier, am I correct in believing that you affirm that God has determined from eternity who is elected? This seems contrary to some of the other statements you make, but not to all. Are you claiming both determinism and libertarian freedom (what you call “otherwise will”)? Either way, your earlier comment which I quoted “He has always known who the elect were…and for anyone to deny that God always knew who would be saved seems beyond the pale of orthodoxy” is hardly an “emphatic affirmation”, as you call it, of God determining from eternity who is elected. How you concluded that I, after noting your affirmation of God’s omniscience, considered you beyond the pale of orthodoxy, I have no idea.

      Let me begin by addressing your ideas of libertarian freedom (“otherwise will”) and “enabling grace” (resistible grace) and then work back to God’s omniscience in eternity to more clearly demonstrate the logical incompatibility of libertarian freedom and God’s omniscience. I will use the affirmation of libertarian freedom instead of the denial of divine determination along the same line of thought since I am unable to be 100% sure what you believe constitutes God determining who is elected.

      To be clear about what I mean by libertarian freedom I will use your own definition of what you have also termed “incompatible free will”: “This means that humans can choose, within the range of choices, to act or refrain, and whatever they do in fact choose, they could have chosen otherwise. While choices are influenced, at times significantly so, by other factors, they are not determined by them”.

      Based on this definition, all the factors that I would claim combine together to determine a choice, do not determine what a person chooses, but can exert some amount of ineffectual influence. First, I would like to categorize these factors into two groups. There are factors that are internal to a person (nature). This would be things like genetic predispositions, mental abilities, and physical characteristics. Then there are factors external to a person (nurture). This would be things like what time period a person is born into, where a person is born and raised, what type of parenting and religious upbringing a person has, and who and what a person comes in contact with in their life. The combination of these two categories of factors shape our dispositions and desires. I would like to point out that none of these things are determined by the person, but are providentially determined by God. Even the previous decisions that a person makes that resulted in change in later experiences were determined by nature and nurture before those decisions. I would guess you are familiar with this based on part of your response. The difference in our positions seems to be that you think that these factors do not determine a person’s choice while I believe they do.
      Continued>>>

        Matt

        Now let’s consider what a choice is. It is a change from one state to another (indecision to decision) so it is an effect and requires a preceding cause. It is also a specific effect. When faced with two or more options one specific option is chosen, so the cause of this effect must determine why this specific effect resulted instead of another.

        Considering now the choice of how a person responds to the gospel, I will introduce our shared beliefs that all people since the fall are spiritually (internally) unable to respond in faith and repentance and that God must bless a person with some kind of internal enabling grace.

        Your view of this enabling grace is that it is resistible. So, is this grace given to all equally or unequally? If it is given unequally then God, being omniscient, knows what amount would be required to bring about a positive response given what you claim are influential but not determining factors (nature & nurture) and gives what He knows to be either a sufficient or insufficient amount of this grace. In this scenario God causally determines the person’s decision to follow Him or not. If this grace is given equally then it is a necessary cause, but not a sufficient cause and cannot be the effective cause that determines why a person chooses to respond this specific way rather than the other. If the internal enabling grace from the external source (God) cannot be the specific determining cause of the specific decision, then the determining cause MUST be found elsewhere in the category of factors internal to a person (nature), the category of external factors (nurture), or a combination of factors from both. Everything in both these categories are intentionally determined by God in eternity if He is omniscient. For example He knows that by creating the way He does, His act of creation will result through a long series of causes and effects in the existence of person X. Person X will have these specific characteristics and will be shaped by these specific experiences before being given the standard issue of enabling grace. In this scenario God also causally determines the persons decision to follow Him. If God is omniscient, which we both affirm He is, then either way a person’s decision of whether or not to follow God is causally traced back to the knowledge of God in eternity.

        If you think that a decision to follow God (or any decision) doesn’t require a cause, remember that it is, by definition, an effect. If you think that libertarian freedom as achieved through enabling grace is some kind of supernatural divine gift that enables a person to choose a specific option or another, remember that if it is not determined by a person’s desires, which are shaped by nature and nurture, and guided by their thought process in weighing those desires then it would be foreign and uncontrolled by the person. They would not have free will; they would be acted upon by a free will. I am just mentioning these things, not claiming that you would espouse these views.

        Now turning to God’s eternal knowledge, it seems that I need to first argue for the correct understandings of time, eternity, and choices. When I speak of time (especially in contrast to the state of eternity), I am speaking of the common sense A theory of time in which time is a word we use to describe a sequence of events. For example, we have uniform measurements of time (years, months, weeks, days, hours…) based on repetitive sequences of events involving the Sun, Earth, and Moon. There is not a thing called time that has actual physical or metaphysical existence or exerts force on physical objects as some cosmologists, who have embraced an epistemology of logical positivism and assigned the name of time to variables in mathematical models, have suggested in the B theory of time. Neither is time an idiosyncrasy of human perception as Immanuel Kant proposed in his “Critique of Pure Reason”. Time is simply a word used in reference to sequences that occur in reality.
        Continued>>>

          Matt

          Eternity is an often misunderstood word. It can be used in reference to the future with the meaning of an infinite series of events. For example, God’s children will spend eternity in His presence. This is saying that no matter how long we are there, eternity (infinite time) will never be realized because infinity is the concept of an unending amount that can never be actualized in reality. I think a common misunderstanding comes from applying this concept to the past in the same way that it is applied to the future. If eternity past is an infinite series of past events (effects), then it is a series that could never be actualized in reality, yet the statement that there is an eternity that has past in this sense is a claim that the amount that can’t be actualized has been actualized. Borrowing a line of reasoning from the way I like to present the Cosmological Argument, I will use a syllogism to demonstrate what eternity past cannot be and what we can know about God in eternity past through the use of reason.

          I will use a reductio ad absurdum style of argument where I will adopt the idea that there is a past eternity in the sense of an infinite series of causes and effects that stretches into the past without end, couple this idea with a generally accepted epistemological truth (the law of logic), and follow the idea to it’s necessary conclusion to demonstrate its absurdity. My first premise will be a logically necessary fact if eternity past is an infinite series of causes and effect. No matter how far back in the series you look you can never find anything that is not an effect. Every effect must have a preceding cause, but if that cause is not itself an effect then the series would stop there and would not be infinite in duration. So, my first premise is: Everything is an effect. My second premise is simply an analytic proposition stating the law of causation: Every effect requires something before it. Where the something required before any effect is its cause. So the syllogism goes like this:

          Everything is an effect.
          Every effect requires something before it.
          Therefore: Everything requires something before it.

          Picture the conclusion in a Vinn Diagram. The species or individual “something” in the conclusion will always fall entirely within the constraints of the genus “everything”. So the conclusion requires that something would have to exist before it existed in order to bring about its own existence, which is a blatant violation of the law of non-contradiction (something cannot be X and non-X at the same time and in the same sense). The syllogism is valid. It violates no rules of syllogisms so the absurdity of the conclusion must be due to the falseness of one of the premises. The choice here is embrace absurdity by denying the law of causation or reject absurdity by denying the idea of an infinite series of events (causes and effects).

          I think it is obvious that the series of events (time) that we see now must have a beginning. If it cannot go back without end, there must at some point be a cause that is not an effect and is itself uncaused. All effects involve some type of change (thus the sequence we refer to using the word time). There is the change from before the effect is actualized to when the effect is actualized. So the First Cause cannot involve any change in His essential existence (the First Cause is God). He is immutable, and He cannot have a thought process because that would be a change in thought. A change in thought would be an effect and would require that the series of causes and effects continue back and God would not be the purely existing First Cause with perfect omniscience. He would be a changing (becoming being) with limited knowledge. Omniscience is a fully comprehensive true knowledge of all. It is simply known simultaneously. It is always consciously in the front of the mind of God.

          This brings us to the knowledge of what eternity past is. It is the state that precedes time. Time began when God acted in His first act of creation. This was the first change (the change from non-action to action), the first effect. Before this first action there was no sequence (time). There was only the existence of pure, unchanging Being. So, if God is truly the pure, immutable, omniscient, eternal Being that we claim He is; eternity past is simply the state of God’s existence before time, and the phrases you use like “at any point in eternity” and “the unfolding of events at a subsequent instance in eternity” are based on a misunderstanding of eternity past.
          Continued>>>

            Matt

            This brings us to the anthropomorphic use of the word “choice” when speaking of God’s knowledge of the elect. Any choice is either the result of a conditioning process where we quickly respond to something without going through a thought process or it is the result of a thought process where we call pieces of information to our conscious consideration to arrive at a conclusion (decision, choice) that we did not previously know to be our choice. Both of these involve change, and cannot be attributed to the eternal God. In addition to this, the claim that God considers pieces of information to arrive at a conclusion that He did not previously know is to say that God did not know His conclusion before the thought process that led to it. That is a flat denial of omniscience and requires at least some lesser form of open theism. I am not calling you an open theist, only pointing out the logical inconsistency between some of the things you have claimed and your affirmation of God’s omniscience.

            Working back through what I have addressed (and there are more angles that can be addressed, but this post is already too long) let’s see what I believe has been established. God existed in eternity, which was the state of His pure existence before time. In this state of eternity God knew everything perfectly and it was simultaneously before His mind’s eye at all times. This would include everything from the size of the universe, to the knowledge of the fall, to the identity of the elect, to the orbit of an electron around the nucleus of an atom in your toe nail. Time began when God acted on His knowledge.

            As I pointed out above, every decision is an effect, and every effect has a cause. In responding to the gospel, if the decision is to follow Christ then there must be a cause that determined that specific effect. If the decision is to reject Him there would have to be a cause behind that effect also. The claim that a person can actually do otherwise than what they chose to do under conditions (internal and external determining factors) that are exactly identical is to say that the cause of that specific effect is not the cause of that specific effect. I know that you do not believe these factors actually determine anything, but as I pointed out, if enabling grace is given unequally in amounts known to God in eternity to be either sufficient or insufficient to effectuate salvation, then God determines through the direct supernatural giving of grace who is and isn’t saved. If enabling grace is given equally, yet people respond differently, then the cause of the different specific effects, unless someone claimed a foreign force not under the rule of the persons thought and desires, must be found in the factors of nature and nurture that you deny have determining influence. These factors are causally traced back to God’s eternal, unchanging knowledge.

            The causal determination of a person’s specific choice to follow or reject Christ is ultimately traced back to God’s omniscience. God could not be omniscient and not intentionally determine these choices. The Calvinist’s Compatiblism claims that God directly and supernaturally caused the decision of the elect to follow Him, while the rejection of the non-elect is determined indirectly through secondary causes. This may not be the story most appealing to sinful man-centered creatures, but it is the testimony of both Scripture and reason. God bless.

Robert

Matt makes claims that are just not true at all. He starts with a claim about Ronnie that is false. He begins by claiming:

“It’s hard to believe that Pastor Rogers’ comments are being celebrated as so definitive. Here is one example of his mistaken logic:”

He then quotes Rodgers as saying:

“whether one is a Calvinist or not, God being omniscient, He has always known who the elect were, and for anyone to deny that God always knew who would be saved seems beyond the pale of orthodoxy…Again, the essence of Calvinism is not the affirmation that God knows who will be saved (the elect), but rather that He unconditionally chose some to salvation and did everything necessary to predetermine that these unconditionally elect would freely choose to believe.”

He then makes the false claim that:

“While affirming God’s infallible omniscience he denies that God has determined from eternity who is elected.”

The reason this claim is false is because Matt quotes Rodgers and Rodgers words contain two separate thoughts within neither of which “he denies that God has determined from eternity who is elected.”

Look at the first part:

“whether one is a Calvinist or not, God being omniscient, He has always known who the elect were, and for anyone to deny that God always knew who would be saved seems beyond the pale of orthodoxy…”

Here Ronnie simply affirms that God is omniscient and knew who the elect were from eternity (no problem with that claim whatsoever).
Look at the second part:

“Again, the essence of Calvinism is not the affirmation that God knows who will be saved (the elect), but rather that He unconditionally chose some to salvation and did everything necessary to predetermine that these unconditionally elect would freely choose to believe.”
Here Rodgers is describing (and correctly I might add) the ***Calvinist understanding*** of election.

How is **that** a denial that ““he denies that God has determined from eternity who is elected.”???

It cannot be a denial as it is simply a description of Calvinism’s view of election.

Matt calls **this** an example of mistaken logic. It is Matt who is being illogical regarding Rodgers words here. In another post I want to point out other errors made by Matt.

Robert

    Norm Miller

    Additional posts are welcome, but more than one of these * on each side of a word is not.
    **** may also be considered screaming.

    Matt

    Robert,

    Is this a serious comment? You rightly identify the second part of the quote I used as Pastor Rogers’ statement of Calvinists’ beliefs, but if the whole point of what he was saying was not a denial of that belief then what was it? If he wasn’t denying that belief then he is a Calvinist (which he is not). If he was denying that belief then your comment makes no sense.

      Robert

      Matt you asked:

      “Is this a serious comment?”

      Yes it is as in your original words you *explicitly* said that he had committed an error in logic. Perhaps you don’t remember that you wrote:

      “It’s hard to believe that Pastor Rogers’ comments are being celebrated as so definitive. Here is one example of his mistaken logic:”

      Anyone reading this and understanding plain English would take this to mean that you were about to present “one example of his mistaken logic”.

      But you *did not*.

      All you presented was his first statement where he affirms the orthodox view of omniscience and then his second statement in which he presents a description of the Calvinist notion of election. In neither statement is there any *”mistaken logic”*.

      “You rightly identify the second part of the quote I used as Pastor Rogers’ statement of Calvinists’ beliefs, but if the whole point of what he was saying was not a denial of that belief then what was it?”

      Now you are changing the subject. The article as a whole may have been a denial of the Calvinist notion of election.

      But again, that is *not* what you said. Not what you claimed.

      You said he had committed a mistake in logic and you then supposedly gave an *example* of it.

      But there is no *example* or *mistake in logic* to be found in either of those two statements that you quoted.

      Again if you are going to *claim* that Rodgers has committed a mistake in logic (which is exactly what you claimed) then you need to back it up and show what mistake in logic that he made. You made the claim but then there was absolutely nothing in what you quoted that was any kind of “mistake in logic.” Perhaps in the future you may want to be more careful with your English. Don’t write here comes an example of a mistake in logic and then *not provide one*.

      Furthermore, you are nit-picking and straining at a gnat while you swallow a camel. :-) I also wrote some posts in which I demonstrated mistakes in *your* logic. I notice you made no response to any of those. Rather than making up the claim that Rodgers is engaging in mistakes in logic: why don’t you take care of *your own* first.

      Robert

Robert

Matt claims that Rodgers engages in mistaken logic but it is Matt who makes this claim:

“No other world could have been created because God’s perfect knowledge dictated this one, but theoretically if God had created differently the outcome of who is and is not saved, or who would hear the gospel, or who would even exist would have been different.”

Look at the illogic in this statement. He first begins with a denial of God’s ominiscience as he claims that “No other world could have been created because God’s perfect knowledge dictated this one”. No respectable Christian theologian maintains that claim. God could have created multiple different worlds if he has so chosen. To claim that this is the only world that he could create is to claim that God’s actions were necessitated, he had no choice, he had to create this and only this world. Again, no respectable Catholic or Protestant theologian maintains this. Instead throughout church history virtually everyone, except exceptions like Matt have maintained that God created this particular world but could have created other worlds as well. In fact a very famous theology which is predicated on God’s ability to create many different worlds (i.e. Molinism) is based on this fact. And there are some really big guns theologically speaking like Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig that hold to Molinism. So it is Matt who is illogical in his claim here.

Robert

Robert

Matt also is illogical regarding libertarian free will as he writes:

“Any attempt to claim that God’s eternal knowledge was determined by our supposed libertarian free wills is claiming that an effect that did not exist caused its own eternal cause which is logically impossible.”

Those who advocate libertarian free will do not claim that God’s knowledge of what people will choose is determined by the choices. This is a category mistake that many Calvinists like Matt make.

They assume wrongly that if God’s knowledge of what a person will choose to do is based upon what the person in fact chooses to do: then the human choice **caused** God’s knowledge.

The mistake Matt makes is that he appears to be ignorant of a key distinction between causal relations and logical relations. A causal relation exists when one thing causes another. For example when Cowlings drove the infamous white Ford Bronco with OJ. in it down the freeways of Los Angeles and millions of us viewed this spectacle: Cowlings foot pressing the gas pedal caused the car to go. So there was a causal relation between his foot and the car going down the freeway. On the other hand, I knew that the car was going down the freeway because in my mind was the thought that OJ is in that Bronco going down the freeway. The thought in my mind was true because it corresponded with the fact that the car was in fact going down the freeway. There was a logical relation between my thought and the event that was occurring. My thought did not **cause** the event, but my thought had a logical relation to the event.

In the same way, God’s foreknowledge has a logical (not causal) relation with future events. God’s foreknowledge does not **cause** these future events to occur, rather his thoughts correspond with what will in fact take place (they have a logical relation with these future events.). It is also true that these future events do not have a causal relation with God’s thoughts (they do not cause God to have the thoughts that he has). So Matt’s claim that if libertarian free will exists then it causes God’s foreknowledge is false and also a misrepresentation of what libertarians believe regarding the relation between God’s foreknowledge and future events. Libertarians like Plantinga do not believe that future events involving libertarian free will choices **cause** God’s thoughts. Instead they believe that there is a logical relation between future events and God’s thoughts/foreknowledge.

To make sure everybody understands this distinction between causal and logical. Consider the fact that 2 + 2 =4. I assume that most of us know this fact. But does our knowledge of this fact cause 2 +2 =4 to be true? No. Does the fact that 2 +2 =4 cause our knowledge of this fact? No. Instead there is a logical relation between our knowledge that 2 +2 =4 and the reality that 2 +2 =4.

Robert

    Courtney Hill

    Robert, the problem I see with rejecting God electing people by His own gracious choice is that Paul states in Romans 8 that God foreknew *people* not *events* or choices.

    For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

    Those whom He foreknew- this is speaking of an intimate knowledge of people, not a knowledge of their choices or being able to actually *see* or witness, through foresight, what their actual choices would be. He is foreknowing people. This is what Paul is saying.

    Consider the entire context of Romans 8. What is Paul’s overarching point? Paul has made a huge statement in verse 28. “God *causes* all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Now, how does he begin to expound upon this truth? The foundation for God *causing* good for His children is found in His first knowing them- and this knowing happened before we were even created. Paul is saying that God is completely sovereign. He causes all things to work together for our good. After all, He knew us (even with our flaws and sins), He chose us, He predestined us, and in real time He calls and justifies us, and some day He will glorify us. It is all in God’s hand.

    And what is the conclusion? It’s not, “so if God sees our good choices, He will watch over us.” His conclusion is “so, if God is for us, who can be against us? And we can trust Him who is sovereign over all things.” That is the bedrock of his argument- that God is sovereign.

Robert

Matt also makes the following outrageous and illogical claim:

“The compatiblistic freedom of Calvinism is the only view of human freedom that is both scriptural and logical, libertarian freedom is neither.”

That is odd, apparently Matt does not know that among contemporary Christian Philosophers (such as Alvin Plantinga, Thomas Flint, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, etc. etc. etc.) the libertarian free will view is the dominant and majority view.

Does he really believe that all of these really sharp people are illogical and unscriptural????

Calvinists are the minority position with their compatibilism view.

And not only is this true regarding Protestant theologians and philosophers, if we also include Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theologians and philosophers, Calvinism and its compatibilism becomes and even more minority view.

If we extend it further to all of church history we see that the **vast majority** of Christians both theologians/philosophers and laymen have held to libertarian free will.

Does Matt really want to maintain that his compatibilistic view “is the only view of human freedom that is both scriptural and logical”??

Does Matt really want to claim that Alvin Plantinga is neither scriptural nor logical?

This is in fact a ridiculous claim being made by Matt. Matt may believe that his compatibilism is correct and that the libertarian view is mistaken. But it is not the case that the libertarian view is not scriptural nor logical.

Robert

Robert

Courtney writes:

“People resist the Spirit all the time. God’s grace is not irresistible. It is triumphant. That is the way I think of it. When God opens a person’s eyes to see the truth of who they are and who He is, they will always freely choose to follow Him.”

Courtney is mistaken here. Those who do a lot of evangelism have seen first- hand cases where “God opens a person’s eyes to see the truth of who they are and who He is” and yet some of those folks do not believe yet and may never believe.

I have seen this with my own eyes. People who started out really hostile to Christianity and spiritual things, who became more open, understood exactly what is needed for a person to be saved (they must have experienced the work of the Spirit to know these things and understand these things) and yet remained in unbelief. I am sure others here who have real experience with real people have seen the same thing.

The Bible says the Spirit convicts the *world* (and that cannot be referring to just those who eventually become believers) of sin and righteousness and judgment. And yet we know for a fact that the entire world does not get saved.

So Courtney’s claim here is contradicted by both personal experience in evangelism AND scripture. Since it is *contradicted* by *both* it is false.
Sometimes I wonder when I see statements like this made by Calvinists if they even evangelize. Because those who evangelize a lot, know these kinds of statements are false.

The rich young ruler came to Jesus and the text says that Jesus loved the man and told him the truth: wasn’t the Spirit working in that situation to give that man understanding? And yet He walked away. And what about the example of Israel? In the OT era didn’t the Spirit reveal things to them and give them understanding and yet they often rebelled and did not believe. Paul talks about this unbelief in response to Jesus, the Jews saw the works of Jesus, had the Spirit working in them and yet for the most part they remained in unbelief. Was it the case that they had no understanding of spiritual truth given by the Spirit or the case they understood but rebelled against what they knew to be true?

Again all of us who preach or teach or evangelize regularly have seen these situations where the man (or woman) heard the truth, understood it, and yet still chose to walk away.

Robert

    Courtney Hill

    Yes Robert, you just soundly defeated that straw man.

    I did not say that the Spirit is always successful in converting someone *the first time they hear the Gospel, every time.* I said “When God opens a person’s eyes to see the truth of who they are and who He is, they will always freely choose to follow Him.” Now it is clear that at times this doesn’t happen in one moment. John Bunyan, in his book “Grace Abounding” speaks of a long time in coming to faith. He experienced great pain and anguish in coming to grips with the depravity of his own heart. It is clear that the Spirit was working in Him that entire time, but it is also clear that the Spirit did not complete the work in a short time.

    Why don’t you speak *to* me rather than *about* me? Am I not a fellow human being and a brother in Christ? I’m right here, reading your comments and commenting back. Who are you talking to? It seems you’re more interested in impressing those who are reading this than in actually helping me come to a proper understanding. Oh well.

    Regarding the Spirit’s work in convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8)… this is not speaking only of the Spirit’s work in conversion, although that is certainly part of it. Why did Jesus say the Spirit will convict the world of sin? He says it in the next verse- “because they do not believe in Me.” Clearly, the Spirit must convict anyone of sin who is to be saved, otherwise they will never come to believe.

    As for your examples from evangelism, I’ve seen the same kinds of things. Yes, people reject the message. Yes, people are often at first intrigued by the message (often the benefits). Yes, people are often convinced in some way by the evidence of Scripture or by the hope that is offered or by what they see as the benefits of salvation. But they will never surrender their lives to a Lord unless they have first experienced a complete working of the Spirit to bring them to it. The parable of the sower speaks of these things- the hardened soil on the path where the message is immediately taken away, the rocky soil where the seed springs up immediately but then wilts with no root, the thorny soil where the cares of this life and the allure of wealth choke the seed, and the good soil which receives the word and produces a large crop. Yes, I see these as well. These do not in any way negate what I’ve said.

    Bottom line: when God decides that He will save someone, He will work in their lives in various ways to bring them to it. And they will not come kicking and screaming into the Kingdom. They will come willingly and joyfully.

      Robert

      Courtney you wrote:

      “I did not say that the Spirit is always successful in converting someone *the first time they hear the Gospel, every time.* I said “When God opens a person’s eyes to see the truth of who they are and who He is, they will always freely choose to follow Him.”

      Hmm, so according to you ( a Calvinist) the Holy Spirit’s preconversion work of converting someone is sometimes unsuccessful?

      You admit here that at times the Spirit is not successful in converting someone (“I did not say that the Spirit is always successful in converting someone”).

      But if you grant *this point* you have just admitted that I was right all along about this. My claim is that while the Spirit may work in many people, opening their eyes giving them understanding about their spiritual condition and about salvation and about Christ: nevertheless, a person may experience this and yet *not be saved*.

      Courtney claims my point was wrong but then he *openly admits* that the preconversion work by the Holy Spirit is *not always successful*.

      But if the Spirit is not always successful, then that proves my point, my point was right after all.

      “Regarding the Spirit’s work in convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8)… this is not speaking only of the Spirit’s work in conversion, although that is certainly part of it. Why did Jesus say the Spirit will convict the world of sin? He says it in the next verse- “because they do not believe in Me.” Clearly, the Spirit must convict anyone of sin who is to be saved, otherwise they will never come to believe.”

      The passage does not say that the Spirit *only* convicts those who *end up believing*, it says he convicts the world (which includes both those who eventually believe and those who never end up believing). This universal preconversion work of the Spirit does not fit your Calvinism at all. If Calvinism were true, and God only desired for some to believe and for some to be converted, then why would God the Holy Spirit be working in everyone/the world? Doesn’t make sense. On the other hand, if God genuinely desires for all to be saved, then this universal work of the Spirit makes perfect sense.

      “Bottom line: when God decides that He will save someone, He will work in their lives in various ways to bring them to it.”

      So in the case of when the Holy Spirit is unsuccessful He/God/the Holy Spirit did not decide to save that person?

      Is God just teasing those who experience a failing work of the Spirit?

      Is he just toying with them and really does not want to save them?

      Lastly Courtney writes:

      “And they will not come kicking and screaming into the Kingdom. They will come willingly and joyfully.”
      This is false as well.

      Talk to different people about their conversion experience and you will find that while some came in “willingly and joyfully”. With some they did come in “kicking and screaming into the Kingdom”. C. S. Lewis ever heard of him Courtney? Lewis makes it clear that he did in fact come in “kicking and screaming”.

      Robert

Robert

One thing that you will often see with Calvinists when their views are challenged is that they launch into attempts at mitigating the horrible and undeniable realities of their view.

Courtney provides a good example of this in response to David.

“Hey David, that’s not exactly what I believe. I simply believe what Scripture teaches- that all men are children of wrath (Ephesians 2) by nature and that they are condemned already (John 3). If God has mercy on one person, He’s done more than was required. The only thing God is obligated (by His own nature) to give any person is justice, and there will not be one single person who will be able to say they did not receive justice from God.”

I believe that we are “children of wrath” before we are saved and condemned and that we all deserve hell and that only by God’s mercy is anyone saved: and I am not a Calvinist.

And this point does not mitigate the Calvinistic doctrine of reprobation whatsoever.

Reprobation is probably the most gruesome and despicable doctrine that is part of consistent Calvinism. I say consistent because not all of them are consistent with their basic premise. And what is the basic premise of consistent Calvinism? The idea, claim, belief that God in eternity decides beforehand who will be saved and who will be lost. The technical term for this is unconditional election.

Check out Courtney’s next statement:

“As for double-predestination, that is a complicated subject with certain implications. I do not believe in reprobation- that God works for the bad of those who hate Him even as He works for the good of those who love Him.”

Double predestination is *not* complicated at all. That claim is an insult to the intelligence of non-Calvinists.

It is actually very, very simple.

If God determines every event of history before it occurs: then part of this history includes who will end up in hell. And note carefully if all is predetermined, then you cannot logically come back and claim that this does not include who ends up in hell. If all is predetermined by God then that has to include both who is saved and who goes to hell. Consistent Calvinists must affirm double predestination or they contradict the logic of their premise that God decides who will be saved in eternity independent of any choice they may or may not make.

If God predetermines everything then he has predetermined who goes to hell before they are born and double predestination has to be true.

This may be the most gruesome Calvinistic doctrine of all. This is the one which Wesley appropriately said: “makes the blood run cold”! This is the one that all other bible believing Christians find to be particularly offensive, odious, hateful and absolutely contrary to the character of the God revealed in scripture.

And again it is not very complicated at all: the minute someone actually posits that God predestines everything, then double predestination necessarily follows.

Robert

    Norm Miller

    Calvin most certainly posited double-p as we have shown several times from his Institutes.

    Courtney Hill

    Robert, your problem is that double-predestination, especially reprobation (which you equate with something else apparently) is not found in Scripture. I defined reprobation above, which would be God working for the damnation of people even as He works for the salvation of the elect. That is not found in Scripture and I do not believe Calvin believed it. This is what most people mean when they say double-predestination, and I do not believe it whether you attempt to force it on me or not.

    Now, you may be right that it seems to flow logically that if God predestines some for eternal life that He must, in the same way, predestine others for hell, but that is not what Scripture says. To make such a statement is to go beyond what is written. Scripture teaches, as I said before, that all men are children of wrath and stand condemned in their natural state. In other words, the *cause* of their pending damnation is not God’s choice but their own. If they repent and believe, that can be remedied. That is the testimony of Scripture. As for what Calvin believed, I do not call myself a Calvinist- you do. I do not follow Calvin. I do not check the Institutes to see if what I’m teaching lines up with it. I check Scripture, as you do.

      Robert

      Courtney you wrote:

      “Robert, your problem is that double-predestination, especially reprobation (which you equate with something else apparently) is not found in Scripture.”

      It’s not my problem, as I do not believe in double predestination.

      It is really *your* problem Courtney as it logically follows from your beliefs.

      This is a glaring admission on your part by the way and you seem completely unaware of it.

      If double predestination is a logically necessary consequence of believing that God predestines everything, then the fact that as you say it yourself this doctrine: “is not found in Scripture” should be a glaring red light to you that your view of election is false.

      If God elects who is saved in eternity then he also elected who is not going to be saved as well. This is an inescapable reality.
      Now you can try to minimize it and play semantic words games such as claiming that with the reprobates “he merely chose to pass over them, he didn’t choose them for damnation”.

      But God according to calvinism knew when he chose some to be elected that the others he merely passed over were going to be damned: didn’t he?

      Or did God not know that by selecting some for salvation and not the others: that he was not selecting the others for salvation???

      Is God really that ignorant?

      “Now, you may be right that it seems to flow logically that if God predestines some for eternal life that He must, in the same way, predestine others for hell, but that is not what Scripture says.”

      You are correct that that is not what Scripture says and there is a very good reason for that: scripture presents the truth, Calvinism and its doctrine of double predestination is false, therefore the scripture does not present double predestination. The fault is not with scripture but with the Calvinist system.

      “In other words, the *cause* of their pending damnation is not God’s choice but their own.”

      No, if God predetermines the thoughts and desires of everyone (which he must if all is predestined) then God is the cause of both belief and unbelief. Put another way, if all is predestined and God decides everything and God controls everything (as you Calvinists are so fond of claiming): then God controls everyone to be and do exactly what they do.

      If you don’t believe this, you are not a consistent Calvinist.

      If you want to see a consistent Calvinist check out rhutchin’s postings in this very thread. Rhutchin has no qualms about affirming that God ordains everything including every rape, that he predestined them all and preplanned them all and that he controls everything to make sure they all happen as preplanned (recall rhutchin said that if God did not want it to happen he could have prevented it, since he did not prevent it he must have wanted it to happen, that is logical and consistent Calvinism).

      Robert

    Courtney Hill

    I’d like to attempt to clarify myself further on the idea of double predestination.

    1. The idea of double predestination implies an equal and parallel type of working in the elect and everyone else.
    2. The idea usually includes the concept of reprobation, which would entail that God causes the wickedness of men to increase, so as to make them more liable and guilty.

    This is not the same thing as God passing over some or leaving them to their devices. That is what I believe. In the case of the elect, God graciously works to draw them to Himself. In the case of the rest, He simply gives them what they want. As Paul said in Romans 1, He gave them over. It’s clear that God does this at times, whether it seems pleasant to us or not. They refuse to give God glory. They refuse to acknowledge Him as God. They refuse to repent and believe. God gives them over to a reprobate mind. Now, is this in Scripture or not? Yes it is.

    Now, as I said before, this is NOT the same thing as God being the efficient cause of their rejecting Him. They reject Him because they are sinners by nature. This is a consequence of the fall. So, there is not a parallel way of God working. With one (the elect), He graciously intervenes. He predestines them to adoption. With the rest He simply lets them have their own way. They are responsible for their own sin, not God. He did not force them to sin. He did not force them to reject Him. They reject Him of their own fallen will.

    You guys love to jump on those who believe in sovereign grace and you usually try to make us out to be making God evil or the author of evil, but that is not the case. Read the Scriptures. That’s what I quoted above. These ideas are not from some man’s head. They are found in Scripture. I can quote chapter and verse more if needed.

      Robert

      Courtney writes:

      “You guys love to jump on those who believe in sovereign grace and you usually try to make us out to be making God evil or the author of evil, but that is not the case.”

      There are two types of Calvinists, those who are consistent with the Calvinist system and those who while espousing the beliefs of the system are inconsistent with the system. Rhutchin is a good example of the first, the consistent Calvinist. Courtney is a good example of the second, the inconsistent Calvinist.

      Both believe that God decided in eternity who the saved persons would be before they were born or had done anything or even existed.
      But only rhutchin is consistent with this premise.

      Courtney believes the premise but refuses to hold what it logically entails.

      If God chose to save some in eternity and knows all things, then he also chose not to save those who will never become believers. And it was this decision in eternity that sealed the reprobates’ fate. But Courtney does not want to admit to this, so he plays the semantic game of saying that God did not choose to work unbelief in them, he just chose to pass over them. But as God knows everything if God did this he had to know that in passing over them he was choosing to damn them. Rhutchin gleefully stomachs this poison pill, Courtney does not.

      And Courtney also does not understand why non-Calvinists assert that Calvinism makes God the author of evil. The consistent Calvinist believes that God ordains all things with no exceptions. If that is the case, then God ordains all evils and sins as well. Just as an author decides everything about his story, the characters, the plot, everything: likewise if God decides everything beforehand then he decides every event including every sin and evil beforehand. But Courtney wants to believe his Calvinistic beliefs without facing the logical implications of those beliefs.

      “Read the Scriptures.”

      We have.

      “That’s what I quoted above. These ideas are not from some man’s head.”

      Actually they are ideas found in someone’s head as they are Calvinistic interpretations of scripture first found in Augustine’s head and later in the heads of the reformers.

      “They are found in Scripture. I can quote chapter and verse more if needed.”

      *The Calvinistic interpretations* are just that *Calvinistic interpretations*.

      They are not found in scripture; if they were then every Christian would believe them and accept them. But the vast majority of Christians do not interpret the scriptures this way, hence they are non-Calvinists.

      One is not a Calvinist simply because it is contained in scripture; one is a Calvinist because one interprets certain verses in a Calvinistic way.

      Robert

        Norm Miller

        Truly, no offense to anyone in the Calvinistic camp, but I have asked before: If Calvinism is so great, why are there so few Presbyterian churches in Geneva?

        Courtney Hill

        Robert, you’ve completed misrepresented me here. I’ve tried to share my heart on these things. I’m well aware of the logical repercussions of saying God predestined and elected a people from before the foundation. I understand that this means He also didn’t choose others. But if anyone should appreciate my unwillingness to go beyond what is written in Scripture, I would think it would be someone like yourself who so hates a system like Calvinism. I’m more concerned with Scripture than a system. Do you get that? Can you see it? Or are you only interested n scoring points with the peanut gallery here as you speak about me in third person? I think I’ve figured out your game and I’m through playing it with you. I’ve stated what I believe clearly. I do not espouse double predestination because of its implications that go beyond what Scripture states. It’s that simple.

Robert

Rhutchin claims that:

“To be the author of sin, God must induce, coerce, compel a person to sin.”

Note that rhutchin claims that in order for God to be the author of sin he “must induce, coerce, compel a person to sin.”

Rhutchin has said repeatedly that with any specific event, God either allows it to occur (if he wanted it to occur) or prevents it from occurring (if he did not want it to occur). So any event that does in fact occur must be one which God desired to occur (had he desired it not to occur he would have prevented it and it would not have occurred). Rhutchin also believes that God controls everything in every situation. Well this leads to a problem. If events can only occur because God allowed them to occur and did not prevent them from occurring and God controls all things: then whatever we do *is* induced, coerced and compelled by God. An example will make this clear.

Say Joe engages in a home invasion robbery and rape of a girl. Rhutchin claims this was all ordained by God and yet Joe was not prompted, coerced or compelled by God to do so. Rhutchin believes that if God desired to he could have prevented both the home robbery and rape, but since he did neither, he ordained and willed for these events to occur. What rhutchin fails to see is that if God directly controls all events and decides whether to prevent or allow all events, then “Joe” *is* prompted, and coerced and compelled by God to do exactly what he does. How so?

If *all things* are ordained. Then God ordained and gave Joe *all of his desires*. Joe had to act according to the desires that God gave him. God gave him the desires to rob the house and rape the girl. Just before raping the girl God gave Joe two different desires. Joe thought about the two desires (one desire to leave the girl alone, the other to rape the girl). God desired for the rape to occur as he ordained that the desire to rape the girl be the one that Joe acted upon. God could have prevented the rape by having Joe act on the desire to leave the girl alone instead. Joe had no choice but to rape the girl as God ensured that he acted on that desire. Joe was *compelled* to act on this desire it was impossible for him to do otherwise as God ordained that he rape the girl by ordaining that he would have the desire to rape the girl and ordaining that he would act on that desire (God could have prevented it but did not). In this scenario, God *is* the author of sin (he preplanned it, he desires for each of them to occur and he could prevent them but does not because he wants to allow them to occur). Here God *is compelling* Joe to do every action that he does (God could control him to make sure he acts on other desires but God controls him to act on the desires that result in the home invasion robbery and rape) and yet rhutchin tries to tell us with a straight face that God is not the author of sin, that God does not compel or coerce or prompt people when they sin! This is absolutely ridiculous. If God controls the person’s desires, decides what desires they will or will not act upon, then their every action *is* compelled, they are forced to do everything that they do and it is impossible that they do otherwise. And yet rhutchin just refuses to understand why non-Calvinists view this as making God the author of sin:

“It’s not just you. I see this in pretty much all the non-Calvinist writings. And, like you, they make such allegations but are never able to explain how they arrive at these allegations.”

The fact is, we do explain why the allegation is true, and have done so repeatedly to rhutchin. And yet rhutchin continues to be intentionally dense about it.

Robert

    Norm Miller

    Robert:
    I think Ronnie Rogers would call what you are exposing one of the “Disquieting Realities of Calvinism.”
    However, we all must agree that God cannot sin. But your point is well-taken that, the logical conclusion of Calvinism makes God the author of sin. Whereas that actually is impossible, then some or all of the factors of the logical conclusions to God being the author of sin must be awry.

      Robert

      Hello Norm,

      Yes this is one of the “Disquieting Realities of Calvinism” (i.e. that consistent Calvinism leads to God being the author of sin).

      And yes we must all agree that God cannot sin.

      If our theology leads to the conclusion that God sins, then our theology has to go out the window, has to be abandoned.

      That is what Calvinists like rhutchin ought to do: faced with the fact their thinking/theology leads to God being the author of sin, that *should* lead them to abandoning their mistaken thinking.

      Instead some like rhutchin just keep holding on to the very thinking that makes God the author of sin.

      This is sad and unnecessary for a Christian as the Bible is clear that when we sin it is by our own choice, not by God coercing and forcing to sin as is true in theologies such as rhutchin’s.

      The major problem with the Calvinism of people like rhutchin is that they believe that God ordains *everything*. But if God ordains everything, then that *everything* must include ordaining *each and every” sin that ever occurs (with no exceptions whatsoever). This is inescapable logic. And yet they will evade this point by appealing to every trick and evasive maneuver in the book. Whether it be appeal to mystery, “you just don’t understand our view”, “it’s beyond human logic and comprehension”, “who are you O man to talk back to God” (misquoting from Romans 9 to attack non-Calvinists), “you are misrepresenting my view” etc. etc. etc. etc.

      It is sad that the Calvinist holds a mistaken view of God’s control, a mistaken view of free will, a mistaken view of sovereignty, and so all of these mistakes combined lead to the conclusion that God is the author of sin.

      Fortunately, while Calvinists make this mistake, when church history is viewed, it is encouraging to remember that the vast majority of Christians across all theological traditions rejects Calvinist theology and specifically rejects that God is the author of sin.

      Robert

Robert

I went back and waded through Matt’s myriad of posts and your posts are just full of assertions all based upon your *assumption* of the truth of determinism. You simply *assume* determinism and then everything you write is based upon that assumption. For those of us who question and even see this assumption as false your words are neither persuasive nor true. I don’t have time to interact with all of your false statements and claims, so I will merely talk about your conclusion because in a way it sums up your errors and problems quite nicely.

Matt wrote:

“The causal determination of a person’s specific choice to follow or reject Christ is ultimately traced back to God’s omniscience. God could not be omniscient and not intentionally determine these choices. The Calvinist’s Compatiblism claims that God directly and supernaturally caused the decision of the elect to follow Him, while the rejection of the non-elect is determined indirectly through secondary causes. This may not be the story most appealing to sinful man-centered creatures, but it is the testimony of both Scripture and reason. God bless.”

First of all, start with your last claim here: the theological determinists’ story is not appealing to Christians who are not man-centered but are God centered and see it as false in clear contradiction to “both Scripture and reason”. I do not reject Calvinism/determinism because I am a “sinful man-centered creature” but because I am a Christian who has studied the scripture and philosophy and theology and conclude it is false.

Second, I reject your infralapsarian Calvinism, but will not go into all the reasons here. I will only note that if God ordains everything as you claim, then the rejection of the non-elect and their damnation is just as direct as the choice of the elect. If all is ordained then double predestination is true. Calvinism and Beza taught and understood this, though many of their followers don’t have the stomach for it so they have opted instead for infralapsarian Calvinism.

Third, the statement that . “God could not be omniscient and not intentionally determine these choices.” Is a false claim and mere assertion by Calvinists like Matt.

Fourth, the key error that you make is found in the first statement of the paragraph: ““The causal determination of a person’s specific choice to follow or reject Christ is ultimately traced back to God’s omniscience.”
The error is to believe that God’s knowledge *is* causative.

You pretend to know philosophy but by making this error you show your ignorance of the subject. You appear to be completely unaware of the distinction between causal and logical relations. You *assume* a causal relation between God’s knowledge and events that occur. Only by making this assumption could you conclude that our choices in real time and history are “ultimately traced back to God’s omniscience.” This could only be true if there was an unbroken causal chain of determining and necessitating causes from God’s knowledge in eternity to our choices in time. But this is precisely what is assumed by determinists such as yourself and has never been proved. In fact if you really knew philosophy as you pretend to, you would know that the *consequence argument* of Van Inwagen as disproved this causal chain nonsense that you espouse. But I note that you nowhere showed Van Inwagen’s consequence argument to be false. In order to demonstrate your causal chain claim you have to disprove Van Inwagen and neither you nor any other determinist has done so. If you knew contemporary philosophical literature you would know that: obviously you do not. You are just blithe fully ignorant of that whole discussion.

But there is a more critical problem to your assumed determinism: you neglect the *distinction between causal and logical relations*. God’s knowledge does not have a *causal relation* to events in time, it has a *logical relation* to these events. This means that events in time do not *cause* God’s knowledge nor does God’s knowledge *cause* events in time. Instead the relation *is* logical not causative. I wrote another post explaining this distinction (which you completely ignored) so I will cite it again (with additional comments) in the following post.

Robert

Robert

Matt in an earlier post you attacked libertarian free will and wrote:

“Any attempt to claim that God’s eternal knowledge was determined by our supposed libertarian free wills is claiming that an effect that did not exist caused its own eternal cause which is logically impossible.”

Those who advocate libertarian free will do not claim that God’s knowledge of what people will choose is determined by the choices. This is a category mistake that many Calvinists like you make.

You assume wrongly that if God’s knowledge of what a person will choose to do is based upon what the person in fact chooses to do: then the human choice **caused** God’s knowledge.

You *assume* that the human choice has a *causal relation* with God’s knowledge.

You also *assume* that God’s knowledge has a *causal relation* with events that happen in history.

*Both* of these assumptions are false as they completely fail to recognize the causal/logical relation distinction.

The mistake you make is that despite your attempts at waxing eloquently about philosophy. You appear to be *totally ignorant* of a *key distinction* between causal relations and logical relations.

A causal relation exists when one thing causes another.

For example when Al Cowlings drove the infamous white Ford Bronco with O. J. Simpson in it down the freeways of Los Angeles and millions of us viewed this spectacle on live television (we saw these events occurring literally as they were occurring). In that situation Cowlings foot pressing the gas pedal caused the car to go down those LA freeways. So there was a *causal relation* between his foot and the car going down the freeway.
On the other hand, I knew that the car was going down the freeway because in my mind was the thought that O. J. is in that Bronco going down the freeway. I and millions of others were watching it on live TV. The thought in my mind was true because it *corresponded with the fact* that the car was in fact going down the freeway. There was a *logical (but not causal) relation* between my thought and the event that was occurring. My thought though it was true and accurate, did not **cause** the event/the bronco to be going down the freeways, but my thought had a *logical relation* to that actual event.

In the same way, God’s foreknowledge has a *logical (not causal) relation* with future events. God’s foreknowledge does not *cause** these future events to occur, rather his thoughts *correspond with what will in fact take place* (they have a logical relation with these future events.). It is also true that these future events do not have a *causal relation* with God’s thoughts (they do not cause God to have the thoughts that he has). So your claim that if libertarian free will exists then it causes God’s foreknowledge is false, it a category mistake (as it confuses a logical relation with a causal relation) and also a misrepresentation of what libertarians believe regarding the relation between God’s foreknowledge and future events. Libertarians like Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Thomas Flint, etc. etc. do not believe that future events involving libertarian free will choices **cause** God’s thoughts (nor do God’s thoughts cause future events). Instead they correclty believe that there is a *logical* (not causal) relation* between future events and God’s thoughts/foreknowledge.

To make sure everybody including you understands this distinction between causal and logical relations. Let’s take an extremely mundane example that all of us ought to have no difficulty in understanding. Consider the fact that 2 + 2 =4. I assume that most of us know this to be a fact. If we know and believe that 2+2 =4, we know and believe a fact that is true. But does *our knowledge* of this fact cause 2 +2 =4 to be true? No. Does the fact that 2 +2 =4 cause our knowledge of this fact? No. This would only be true if there were a *causal* relation between the two and there is not. Instead there is a logical relation, between the two, between our knowledge that 2 +2 =4 and the reality that 2 +2 =4.

If we understand this distinction between a causal and logical relation then we can easily understand why Matt’s claim that ““The causal determination of a person’s specific choice to follow or reject Christ is ultimately traced back to God’s omniscience” is false.

It is false because Matt claims there is a *causal* relation between God’s knowledge and a person’s “specific choice to follow or reject Christ”: when in fact the relation is *not* causal but is a logical relation. It is as if while I was watching O. J. in the white Ford bronco going down the freeways on live TV, Matt was telling me that my knowledge of that event was *causing* that event! Most of us would immediately see this as completely mistaken and in fact quite ridiculous a real whopper of a category mistake. My knowledge of the event did not cause that event to occur, instead the real cause of that event was Al Cowlings foot on the gas petal of the Bronco combined with the operation of that car engine and the laws of physics of the situation. My knowledge did not cause a thing in regards to O. J. going down the freeways in that Bronco.

Robert

Robert

Those who advocate libertarian free will do not claim that God’s knowledge of what people will choose is determined by the choices. This is a category mistake that many Calvinists like you make.

You assume wrongly that if God’s knowledge of what a person will choose to do is based upon what the person in fact chooses to do: then the human choice **caused** God’s knowledge.

You *assume* that the human choice has a *causal relation* with God’s knowledge.

You also *assume* that God’s knowledge has a *causal relation* with events that happen in history.

*Both* of these assumptions are false as they completely fail to recognize the causal/logical relation distinction.
The mistake you make is that despite your attempts at waxing eloquently about philosophy. You appear to be *totally ignorant* of a *key distinction* between causal relations and logical relations.

A causal relation exists when one thing causes another.

For example when Al Cowlings drove the infamous white Ford Bronco with O. J. Simpson in it down the freeways of Los Angeles and millions of us viewed this spectacle on live television (we saw these events occurring literally as they were occurring). In that situation Cowlings foot pressing the gas pedal caused the car to go down those LA freeways. So there was a *causal relation* between his foot and the car going down the freeway.
On the other hand, I knew that the car was going down the freeway because in my mind was the thought that O. J. is in that Bronco going down the freeway. I and millions of others were watching it on live TV. The thought in my mind was true because it *corresponded with the fact* that the car was in fact going down the freeway. There was a *logical (but not causal) relation* between my thought and the event that was occurring. My thought though it was true and accurate, did not **cause** the event/the bronco to be going down the freeways, but my thought had a *logical relation* to that actual event.

In the same way, God’s foreknowledge has a *logical (not causal) relation* with future events. God’s foreknowledge does not *cause** these future events to occur, rather his thoughts *correspond with what will in fact take place* (they have a logical relation with these future events.). It is also true that these future events do not have a *causal relation* with God’s thoughts (they do not cause God to have the thoughts that he has). So your claim that if libertarian free will exists then it causes God’s foreknowledge is false, it a category mistake (as it confuses a logical relation with a causal relation) and also a misrepresentation of what libertarians believe regarding the relation between God’s foreknowledge and future events. Libertarians like Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Thomas Flint, etc. etc. do not believe that future events involving libertarian free will choices **cause** God’s thoughts (nor do God’s thoughts cause future events). Instead they correclty believe that there is a *logical* (not causal) relation* between future events and God’s thoughts/foreknowledge.

To make sure everybody including you understands this distinction between causal and logical relations. Let’s take an extremely mundane example that all of us ought to have no difficulty in understanding. Consider the fact that 2 + 2 =4. I assume that most of us know this to be a fact. If we know and believe that 2+2 =4, we know and believe a fact that is true. But does *our knowledge* of this fact cause 2 +2 =4 to be true? No. Does the fact that 2 +2 =4 cause our knowledge of this fact? No. This would only be true if there were a *causal* relation between the two and there is not. Instead there is a logical relation, between the two, between our knowledge that 2 +2 =4 and the reality that 2 +2 =4.

If we understand this distinction between a causal and logical relation then we can easily understand why Matt’s claim that ““The causal determination of a person’s specific choice to follow or reject Christ is ultimately traced back to God’s omniscience” is false.

It is false because Matt claims there is a *causal* relation between God’s knowledge and a person’s “specific choice to follow or reject Christ”: when in fact the relation is *not* causal but is a logical relation. It is as if while I was watching O. J. in the white Ford bronco going down the freeways on live TV, Matt was telling me that my knowledge of that event was *causing* that event! Most of us would immediately see this as completely mistaken and in fact quite ridiculous a real whopper of a category mistake. My knowledge of the event did not cause that event to occur, instead the real cause of that event was Al Cowlings foot on the gas petal of the Bronco combined with the operation of that car engine and the laws of physics of the situation. My knowledge did not cause a thing in regards to O. J. going down the freeways in that Bronco.

Robert

Matt

Robert,

It is obvious that the content of my reply was totally lost on you. Everything you claimed was explained, but unaddressed by you in your posts. If you understood Calvinism like you think you do, you would know that most Calvinists affirm both double predestination in the classic sense (not equal ultimacy) and infralapsarianism. It is obvious that you understand neither concept. It is also obvious that you didn’t understand what I wrote about God and eternity past, because if you did (and knew much about the question of lapsarianism) you would be able to tell that I am neither infra or supra.

It’s hard to get much out of those philosophical arguments you read if you don’t have a grasp of basic logic. Your idea of a logical relation is a great example. You claim that your knowledge of O.J.’s Bronco going down the highway was not the cause of it going down the highway. Who would say that it was? You claim there was no causal relationship, but a logical one. That you would claim that is almost unbelievable. There was a definite causal relationship. News crews in helicopters filmed it and streamed it to TV stations that broadcasted it to your TV. You watched it and that was the cause of your knowledge of the Bronco. In your 2+2 =4 example, the mathematical equation is something that you were taught. The concept behind the expression in Arabic numerals is something that is learned through experience and the concept of quantities or amounts that you learn through experience. In this case the fact that a quantity of 2 and another quantity of 2 more of the same thing makes 4 of that thing is the cause of your knowledge.

A logical relation is an invention of people like Louie De Molina, who try to establish a causal relationship between two things that must both be eternal. Since there can be no causation in eternity (as I explained in my previous post) they simply change the word causal to logical and say that special knowledge is logically based on middle knowledge instead of causally based, but they want to retain the same meaning of a causal relationship.

I have already explained it, so I won’t waste much time on it, but God’s knowledge is the cause of everything that happens. Knowledge to act in any thinking being precedes the action that is known. As I explained in previous posts, God exists immutably in eternity. God’s knowledge is an essential part of Him, so it is eternal. When God acted in His first act of creation, time began. God’s action started a long series of series of causes and effects that play out to this very day. God knew every last repercussion of His first action and knew every point within His creation that He would intervene to alter the natural course of these causal series. He is the First Cause and is the primary cause of all that happens. There are many secondary and more immediate causes, but all causes must go back to Him. What I mentioned before that set you off on your rant about logical relations was that what happens in time could not be the cause of God’s knowledge, because that would be a claim that something that did not exist was the cause of its own cause which is the knowledge of God.

I can guarantee that this post will not change your mind, and it is all in previous posts. So I don’t see any need to go into more detail. Have a great day!

    Robert

    I am going to post two responses to Matt’s latest.

    First, I personally have problems with what you write. The arrogance and condescending attitude is almost unbelievable. Except that I have come to expect this from calvinists. It is almost their continuous mode of operation. Matt displays it to Pastor Rodgers and he displays it towards me as well.

    Matt I really don’t appreciate your extremely condescending attitude: it is shown in your false and repeated claims that I just don’t understand what is being discussed.

    In such statements as:

    “It is obvious that the content of my reply was totally lost on you.”

    And others including:

    “If you understood Calvinism like you think you do, you would know that most Calvinists affirm both double predestination in the classic sense (not equal ultimacy) and infralapsarianism. It is obvious that you understand neither concept. It is also obvious that you didn’t understand what I wrote about God and eternity past, because if you did (and knew much about the question of lapsarianism) you would be able to tell that I am neither infra or supra.”

    How many times can you claim that I don’t understand anything?

    It is this type of arrogant attitude of Calvinists like yourself that highly motivates me to contend against this erroneous theology publically.
    They say the proof is in the pudding: just look at Calvinists posting on the internet like you, the arrogance is staggering and sometimes overwhelming. You are not the first, nor the last that will claim that non-Calvinists who challenge and refute your false and unbiblical ideas “just don’t understand”. This has happened innumerable times on this blog.

    And then you make yet another condescending and arrogant claim:

    “It’s hard to get much out of those philosophical arguments you read if you don’t have a grasp of basic logic.”

    I have taught logic at places that I am guessing you would be unqualified to teach, so don’t make this false claim that I “don’t have a grasp of basic logic.” Again the arrogance of Calvinists like you is astounding.

    So my first problem with what you say is personal. My second problem is your comments show a real ignorance of contemporary discussions of philosophy. I will discuss that in the following post.

    Robert

Robert

You falsely claim that:

“A logical relation is an invention of people like Louie De Molina”

Only someone completely ignorant of modern philosophical discussions of this concept/distinction would make this statement.

Molina did not invent the distinction.

But since you don’t know that, you falsely impute it to Molina.

You then actually say something that suggests that you do understand the distinction between a logical and causal relation and its validity:

“You claim that your knowledge of O.J.’s Bronco going down the highway was not the cause of it going down the highway. Who would say that it was?”

You are right that there is no causal relation between my knowledge and that Bronco going down the freeway. This shows that you do understand the logical versus causal relation distinction. Your comment even suggests that this is obvious to you (cf. “Who would say that it was?”). What you fail to see though is that this is analogous to God’s knowledge causing events as well.

Just as there is *no* causal relation between what God knows and what happens in real time and history. His knowledge has a correspondence or *logical relation* with what happens, it does *not cause* these events to occur (and no reputable theologian or philosopher says so).
“You claim there was no causal relationship, but a logical one.”

And there isn’t between my knowledge of the Bronco going down the freeway and the Bronco going down the freeway caused by Cowlings foot on the gas pedal, just as there is no causal relation between God’s knowledge and events in time.

God’s knowledge in itself does not cause any event to take place.

That is a truth that has been affirmed throughout church history across all theological traditions (both Catholics and Protestants agree on this point).

And yet you keep repeating your *personal* and *false* mantra that God’s knowledge causes events to take place:

“I have already explained it, so I won’t waste much time on it, but God’s knowledge is the cause of everything that happens.”

If God’s knowledge is the cause of everything that happens as you claim, then that would mean that whenever anyone sins, their sin *is* caused by God’s knowledge. What a heretical thought and declaration? The Bible is clear, sinners cause their own sins. God does not cause sin: we do. His knowledge does not cause sins to take place: we cause sins to take place. Nowhere in scripture will you ever find the cause of sin to be God’s knowledge. This is one of the most ridiculous claims frankly I have ever seen. I have read a lot of both theology and philosophy and I have not seen others claim that “God’s knowledge is the cause of everything that happens.”

Most philosophers and theologians grasp the basic logical point that there are real and genuine secondary causes that cause most events that take place in history.

You yourself ought to know this basic logical point as you allude to it yourself:

“There are many secondary and more immediate causes, but all causes must go back to Him.”

So you are “without excuse”, you know the distinction between ultimate cause and secondary cause and yet you collapse the distinction and deny this distinction in your false claim that *God’s knowledge causes events to take place in history*.

You did get one thing right though:

“I can guarantee that this post will not change your mind,”

Right about that.

A post that starts with arrogant and condescending comments towards me and then just reiterates the false and ridiculous claim that God’s knowledge causes all events, is not going to be very persuasive.

You need to stop pretending to be philosophical and theological and do some further study and research. Hopefully, further research will disabuse you from your false idea that God’s knowledge causes all events to take place.

Robert

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