Sovereignty – What Do We Mean?

July 7, 2015

by Jacob Mitchell

Jacob Mitchell is a third-year M.Div. student at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, VA. He is a member of Forest Baptist Church in Forest, VA and an online instructor in Apologetics for Liberty University.

Sovereignty. There are few more misunderstood terms in conservative evangelical Christianity today. Now, more than ever, the faulty assumptions many have when they use the word “sovereignty” need to be challenged. This is particularly true within Southern Baptist churches, where debates over Calvinism have become a dominant topic of discussion. Our language should be precise, and the term’s usefulness has been damaged by our lack of precision when throwing it around.

Non-Calvinists are often accused of not believing that God is “sovereign,” as the Calvinist typically defines it. To deny that humans are totally depraved (defined by the Calvinist as total inability), that the form of election taught in the Bible is unconditional and limited, that Christ died only for those elected, and that salvific grace is irresistible, is to deny that God is either omniscient or omnipresent. When the Calvinist frames the debate in this way, being allowed to define the term sovereignty, the orthodox non-Calvinist is immediately suspected of denying God’s clearly revealed attributes. The term sovereignty, as a general word outside of Christianity and as a theological concept outside of Calvinism, has never meant what the Calvinist claims it means (a synonym for their doctrines). Considering the fact that Christians do not have the right or ability to serve as the authority on the English language, and that Calvinists (as a minority throughout church history) do not have the right to define theological terms for non-Calvinists, non-Calvinists should not cede this important term.

If it has not become clear, I am not a Calvinist. I don’t define total depravity as total inability, I believe that election is not strictly unconditional (or if it is, it is the unconditional election of Christ), I agree with every biblical passage which speaks to the extent of the atonement (that it is substitutionary on behalf of all of humanity), and I completely reject the concept of irresistible grace as foreign to Scripture. Perseverance is the section most open to interpretation as affirmed in the Canons of Dort (Dort’s denials are much more clear). Still, as defined there, it teaches things which I would reject, since it is grounded in Calvinist definitions of election. The Baptist Faith & Message’s definition of perseverance or security is much more agreeable: “Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” Room is left open for non-Dortian interpretations of perseverance and security. Do those who reject these Calvinist doctrines deny sovereignty?

First, let’s look at how that word has been defined within our language generally before going to the Bible. The first English dictionary, Robert Cawdrey’s A Table Alphabeticall, published in 1604, defines sovereign as “chief, or highest in authority.” Samuel Johnson’s third edition of his Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1768, defines sovereignty as “supremacy; highest place; highest degree of excellence.” How do modern dictionaries compare? Currently the Oxford Dictionary of English defines sovereignty as “supreme power or authority.” It defines sovereign as (adj) “possessing supreme or ultimate power” or as (n) “a supreme power, especially a monarch.” Collins English Dictionary defines sovereign as (n) “a person exercising supreme authority, esp a monarch,” or (adj) “supreme in rank and authority,” “excellent or outstanding,” and “independent of outside authority.” Cambridge defines sovereign as (n) “a king or queen” or (adj) “having the highest power or being completely independent.” Sovereignty is defined as “the power or authority to rule.” In 400 years, the definition remains the same.

So where does the Bible, our measuring stick of truth, mention sovereignty? Does it define it? The writers of the Bible clearly did not use the words sovereign or sovereignty, since they did not speak English. The translators of the King James Version used neither of these terms when producing their translation though, as mentioned earlier, the word was a part of the English lexicon. Neither did the 1599 Geneva Bible make use of the word. The Wycliffe Bible does indeed use the word sovereign 130 times, almost always in the Old Testament and always in reference to humans (for instance, the Hebrew word “rosh” is translated in the KJV and the NASB as “captain,” where TWB uses “sovereign”). Other Wycliffe uses of sovereign are from Hebrew and Greek words which are variously translated “firstborn,” “head over,” and “ruler” in other translations. The NASB translates the Hebrew word “malkuth” as “sovereignty” seven times, but again, this word simply means a “kingdom” or “rule.” It contains one use of “sovereign” as a translation for “dunastes,” in 1 Timothy 6:15, which simply means “ruler or officer.” The ESV also translates this word as “sovereign,” along with two other instances of “despote?s” (usually translated Lord), but does not once use the word sovereignty. The words of Scripture which have been taken to mean sovereign or sovereignty in our Bible translations have been in keeping with the general English definitions.

So which of these definitions does the non-Calvinist Southern Baptist deny? Do they deny that God has power and authority, or is the supreme power over the universe? Do they deny that He is independent of outside authority? Do they deny that He is Lord or king? Clearly not. To say that God has power and authority says nothing of how He uses and applies that power and authority within a given context. I have the power and authority to do many things which I choose not to do. Not doing those things does not negate my power and authority to do them. If I choose to shop at Target rather than Wal-Mart, I have not surrendered my right or authority to shop at Wal-Mart. If God chooses to allow sinners to reject His offer of salvation, has He forfeited His right to send all to hell without offering them salvation? Of course not. No orthodox evangelical Christian denies that sinners deserve hell, and that God could have sent humanity to hell for their sin without His propitiation on the cross in the person of Jesus.

The beauty of God’s sovereignty is that He has the right to do whatever He chooses, choosing to send Christ to the cross to die in our place for our sins so that we might accept that sacrifice and come into relationship with Him. The Calvinist, on the other hand, undermines sovereignty by conflating the term with “meticulous providence,” or the idea that everything at all times is the will and work of God. John Piper, as akin to a modern Calvinist pope as anyone, writes that “God controls all things, including evil,” “God purposefully governs the sinful choices of people,” and “God wills that what he hates come to pass.”[1] By taking the word sovereignty and limiting it to one aberrant view of how providence works, they deny God’s ability to choose to create a world in which His creation can freely interact with Him. They have consigned God and His redemptive plan for mankind to mechanical determinism. Traditional non-Calvinist Southern Baptists should heartily affirm the actual definition of sovereignty, that “God is in control of all,” but not a Calvinist definition, which really means that “God is actively controlling all, including causing people to sin and reject Him.”

 

 

[1] John Piper, “Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be?”, http://www.desiringgod.org/conference-messages/is-god-less-glorious-because-he-ordained-that-evil-be.

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Jon

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Well stated but I do have some points of disagreement.

“The beauty of God’s sovereignty is that He has the right to do whatever He chooses,”

Your post makes it sound as if there should be an “unless” at the end of this comment. What I mean is that you do not demonstrate that God can choose whomever He wants and leave it at unless because that choice conflicts with your position.

“choosing to send Christ to the cross to die in our place for our sins so that we might accept that sacrifice and come into relationship with Him.”

I can agree with this but it is possible, we define “we” differently.

Rick Patrick

Amen and Amen! Well done, Jacob Mitchell! These two nuggets are especially quotable: (a) “To say that God has power and authority says nothing of how He uses and applies that power and authority within a given context,” and (b) “The Calvinist, on the other hand, undermines sovereignty by conflating the term with “meticulous providence,” or the idea that everything at all times is the will and work of God.”

It has been observed that Calvinists and Traditionalists have the same Thesaurus but different Dictionaries. Your clear and perceptive writing style is perfect for this task. Would you consider following up “Sovereignty—What Do We Mean?” with sequels such as the following? “Grace—What Do We Mean?” “Depravity—What Do We Mean?” “Gospel—What Do We Mean?” “Glory—What Do We Mean?” “Election—What Do We Mean?”

Our Calvinist friends have been persuasive in this debate precisely because they have successfully redefined these terms in their writing, preaching and teaching. Like a neighbor who has borrowed some garden tools, they have been keeping our terminology in their garage, and it is time for us to pay them a visit and, politely but firmly, retrieve them.

    Jacob Mitchell

    Rick,

    Thank you for the kind words and your insights into the issue. I would be honored to write more pieces for the site, as I have benefited so much from the articles here (including your own).

rhutchin

Jacob Mitchell says that everyone is defining the term, “sovereignty,” in the same way(at least, he does not distinguish a Calvinist definition that is unique from the dictionary definition). His quibble is “…To say that God has power and authority says nothing of how He uses and applies that power and authority…” So, as far as “use and application,” what is the issue? Certainly not that God is sovereign and it is His choice as to the exercise of His sovereignty (“The beauty of God’s sovereignty is that He has the right to do whatever He chooses,…”).

Mitchell then says, “The Calvinist, on the other hand, undermines sovereignty by conflating the term with “meticulous providence,…” This is certainly Mitchell’s opinion but is it true. We don’t know because Mitchell does not elaborate, instead he just makes random comments that prove nothing.

    Andy

    “Mitchell then says, “The Calvinist, on the other hand, undermines sovereignty by conflating the term with “meticulous providence,…” This is certainly Mitchell’s opinion but is it true. We don’t know because Mitchell does not elaborate, instead he just makes random comments that prove nothing.”

    Did you miss where he quoted a prominent calvinist who said “God controls all things, including evil” ?

      rhutchin

      That is not an issue of the “definition” of sovereignty – thereby conflating sovereignty with “meticulous providence.” It is an issue of the “use and application ” of sovereignty. From what he wrote, he has no real disagreement with the Calvinist on the definition of sovereignty.

      As God is sovereign, God can thereby – in use and application – control all things, including evil. What was your point by highlighting this?

      So, Mitchell advances an opinion and just muddles the whole issue. I think he needs to elaborate if he really thinks the issue is one of definition – conflating sovereignty with meticulous providence – or if he really means something else.

Ron F. Hale

Great article Jacob — I think I will put that last paragraph in a frame and hang it on my wall, excellent!

doug sayers

Thanks Jacob, it is heartening for me to see young Bible teachers pushing back and exposing the flaws of the Calvinistic system.

Speaking from past experience, “sovereign” grace is the more palatable term used by Calvinists, who wish to avoid using the term “irresistible” grace, which is too clear and exposes the startling implications of their system.

I offer one qibble, here, that I hope you will take to heart. We can do without the ad hominem reference to John Piper being akin to a pope. It doesn’t strengthen your point, in fact it weakens your point and it does not reflect well on you as one so young. In spite of his Calvinism, Piper deserves our respect as a man of God. He bears little resemblance, in terms of doctrine or feigned authority, to any Pope.

Keep pressing on.

    Max

    “… it is heartening for me to see young Bible teachers pushing back …”

    Amen! It is indeed encouraging to know that not all our youth have been swept away in popular church movements of the day.

    Brother Mitchell, you have clearly pointed to the proper balance needed in our understanding of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. Stay the course, young man … shut out the temporary noise of your peers and keep your mind and ministry focused on the eternal. A lot of otherwise intelligent churchmen do not see what you see.

    Jacob Mitchell

    Doug,

    I appreciate the correction and will take it as such. I can only say that my intention was not to impugn Dr. Piper with the title of “pope,” but was only referring to his position as arguably the most respected and widely agreed upon spokesperson within the modern baptistic Calvinist movement. I intended for this to be taken in the same vein as those who used to refer to Billy Graham or John Stott as being the “evangelical pope.” It was a recognition of stature more than anything. Still, I should have more carefully chosen my words. given the negative connotations the word can carry. John Piper has never sought to make himself a pope over anyone. Thank you for your kind words and for pointing this out to me.

    Blessings,

    Jacob

    Johnathan Pritchett

    I got a good chuckle from the John Piper quote personally. What he said was kind of true in the sense he offered it. I’ve heard sermons with more Piper quotes than Bible verses.

    By the way, the comment wasn’t ad hominem. Ad hominem has a specific definition of attacking the man rather than the argument. If one criticize the argument, then making a little sport of the person who gave it is not ad hominem. Otherwise, in Matthew 23, we would have to accuse Jesus of being fallacious, which we ought not do. ;)

    This conflation with sovereignty and determinism has not gone unnoticed. Some of the Calvinist-leaning comments seem to indicate that this post appeared in a vacuum or something. However, many people have noticed this conflation.

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/sovereignty-not-determinism/
    https://lordsdisciple.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/does-divine-sovereignty-require-determinism-calvinists-seem-to-think-so/
    http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/Articles/Sovereignty.html

    And, of course, as a shamelss plug, my on comment (the fifth one) on this post back in June of last year.

    http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2014/06/are-southern-baptist-traditionalists-losing-appreciation-for-viable-historical-options-dealing-with-gods-sovereignty-and-h.html

    God is absolutely, maximally, supremely, and completely sovereign.

    What in the world does that have to do with free will, or determinism, or any philosophical construct.

    Ready for the answer?

    NOTHING.

    God would be that sovereign over a cosmos whether it was a deterministic on or a libertarian one. The issue is what kind of cosmos we exist in that God created.

    If all a Calvinist means by saying “God is sovereign” is simply “the cosmos is deterministic,” then the Calvinist is simply being deceptive and misleading with the language at best, or attributing words and phrases about the Creator to the created, which according to Romans 1:18-32,smacks as the height of abhorrent idolatry.

    So um, yeah, this topic is important. Words and their meanings do matter and people ought to have more care when using them. Unless, of course, Calvinists, like the LGBT community, believe words have no meaning and thus they can make them mean what they want. If that is so, then there is no sense in a Calvinist complaining about marriage being redefined to include “gay marriage.”

    Just saying.

    Oh, and if people want examples, go read “Still Sovereign” edited by Thomas Schreiner and Bruce Ware. In it, they use sovereign (or sovereignty) quite often as a synonym for determinism. Schriener’s Romans commentary is another good example, as is Piper’s book on Romans 9. In most instances, on can replace “sovereignty/sovereign” with “determinism/deterministic/deterministic God” and the sentences and meaning would read the same.

      Lydia

      “I got a good chuckle from the John Piper quote personally. What he said was kind of true in the sense he offered it. I’ve heard sermons with more Piper quotes than Bible verses”

      True. And my view is a bit different since I have family who went to work and study with Piper after Wheaton about 14 years ago and came back to announce that their entire family did not know the “true Gospel”. It was astonishing. Especially since their parents paid for the whole shebang…from Wheaton to Minneapolis. Evidently knowing the true Gospel has nothing to do with taking the money. Knowing Piper’s Gospel was more important than the basics of honoring parents who sacrificed for them.

      So I view him as more of a “thought reform” leader than a pope. I won’t even get into all the horrors he teaches about women taking abuse for a season or claiming that a wife’s biggest concern when her husband asks her to engage in a threesome is maintaining his leadership while she begs off politely. (not much concern for the husbands soul– just her maintaining his headship over her) Oh, and women were not allowed to read scripture aloud in worship during his time there. It was considered that her reading scripture was teaching men.

      I think the man has serious problems and they are now showing up even more in many of his tweets. There is a creepiness there that is inexplicable. A sort of sickness. I would hope that sort of stuff is not “respected” as mere differences.

      rhutchin

      Johnathan writes, “If all a Calvinist means by saying “God is sovereign” is simply “the cosmos is deterministic,” then the Calvinist is simply being deceptive and misleading with the language at best,…”

      When the Calvinist says that “God is sovereign,” he means that God is in complete and perfect control over His creation. In the exercise of His sovereignty, God makes decisions that exhibit His perfect wisdom and God’s decisions necessarily involve everything that happens in His creation; from this is the conclusion that God decrees/determines everything that happens in His creation and thus, “the cosmos is deterministic.”

      If Schreiner and Ware use sovereign (or sovereignty) as a synonym for determinism, my suspicion is that it follows from the above – thus, there is an argument underlying the conclusion they draw and you state. You just left out the qualifying argument and went straight to the conclusion. Of course, I don’t think that anyone has yet developed an argument to show that sovereignty does not lead necessarily to a deterministic cosmos. Have you come across someone who has?

Pam knight

Good Word….we do need to stop letting Calvinist define what we believe….
Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so…and…
Preach The Word…..
In Christ
Pam Knight

Rick Mang

“Do they deny that God has power and authority, or is the supreme power over the universe? Do they deny that He is independent of outside authority?”

If God has to peer down the corridors of time in order to see who will choose Him before He elects them, this is a denial of supreme power over the universe and that He is independent of outside authority.

    Robert

    Rick,

    You wrote: “If God has to peer down the corridors of time in order to see who will choose Him before He elects them, this is a denial of supreme power over the universe and that He is independent of outside authority.”

    Where does Jacob say in his article that: “God has to peer down the corridors of time in order to see who will choose Him before He elects them”??

    Jacob never says this anywhere in his article.

    Seems you are trying to put something on him that he does not hold to: that is not right nor is it fair.

    And let’s examine your statement that “God has to peer down the corridors of time in order to see who will choose Him”. That statement presupposes that God IS IN TIME just like us, that he looks ahead to see what future events will occur. THAT is a denial of foreknowledge.
    The view of foreknowledge of Jacob and other non-Calvinists who are orthodox and not open theists is that God knows all things, he knows the past, the present and the future exhaustively.

    In fact He knew all of these things before he created the world.

    And another thing regarding this misrepresentation that God looks down the corridors of time to see what will happen. Not only does it **place God in time**, so he is in time just like us (which is one of the errors of open theism) it also fails to take into account that God as creator created the universe ex-nihilo (out of nothing). Time, space, and matter are created realities, that did not exist prior to God creating everything out of nothing. As God created these things (including time) He transcends time, He is above and beyond it.

    If you want to speak of metaphors, a closer one than God looking down the corridors of time is that God sees everything at once (what C. S. Lewis called an “eternal now”). Or picture a parade, the participants within in see what is immediately in front of them and immediately behind them (as they are in the parade). But is someone else were viewing the parade from much higher they could see the entire parade at once, they would see the front of the parade, the middle of the parade and the end of the parade, all of it. This is admittedly a metaphor but this pictures God’s knowledge of all events at once much better than the metaphor that he is at the front of a corridor and looks down it to see what is happening at the end of it. The bottom line is that non-Calvinists including Jacob are not denying that God has foreknowledge: to claim that he does with your corridor metaphor just misrepresents his view.

    Rick you also appear to be unaware of a common distinction among non-Calvinists regarding God’s plans for the universe (plans made in eternity before the creation was created) and his carrying out of those plans (i.e. providence) in time. This is the distinction between God’s antecedent will (what He wills in eternity) and his consequent will (what He does in time). So God desires for the salvation of all men (this is explicitly stated in scripture though denied by calvinists/theological determinists): that is His antecedent will regarding salvation. His antecedent will also includes that those who are saved are saved through faith. So in time God reveals himself to men, works through the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin, reveals Christ to them, reveals the plan of salvation to them, etc. etc. And only those who respond with faith are saved (that is the consequent will, not that all will be saved, but that only those who trust Him will be saved).

    As the non-Calvinist denies determinism, the antecedent will of God includes that people will have the capacity to have and make their own choices. Because they can choose, they can choose to accept Christ and also choose to reject Christ (this is the consequent will). I share this only because Rick if you are going to critique or challenge the non-Calvinist view you need to be actually dealing with the non-Calvinist view, not merely creating a caricature, a straw man like the God looking through the corridors of time metaphor. I don’t have a problem if a calvinist disagrees and attacks or challenges the non-Calvinist view: I do have a problem if they misrepresent our view, attack it and claim they are attacking our view when they are not. They are just attacking the straw man they themselves created! :-)?

    Rick Patrick

    Hi Rick,

    It sounds like you may be assuming that most Traditionalists are operating on the “foreseen faith” interpretation of God’s election. A more common view among Traditionalists, in my opinion, is the corporate view of election—that God’s election was not of certain individuals to save or to condemn, but rather the election to have a people of His very own, whom He would identify based on their free acceptance or rejection of His offer of salvation. Ephesians 1:4 says “God chose US in Him,” not “God chose ME in Him.”

    Even still, I do not believe that the “foreseen faith” view is remotely capable of denying God’s Supreme Power over the universe. Assuming for a moment that God chose to set things up this way, He would not be denying His own power, but rather he would simply be operating within the boundaries that He established for Himself. Would you not agree that God is sovereign and powerful enough to make man totally free if He so chooses?

      Rick Mang

      Hello to you Rick!

      You are correct, I am replying to those who hold to foreseen faith. I am also aware of the concept of corporate election. However, I believe that I heard Prof. Flowers say that individuals are elect also. I guess that is what I am not understanding.

      Thank you,
      Rick Mang

        Robert

        Rick,
        Apparently you do not fully understand Leighton Flowers’ view on election. He (like many other Baptists) takes a corporate election position regarding election. He has written more extensively on his own blog (Soteriology 101) on his view. Check out what he says for yourself.

          rhutchin

          The idea of corporate election is just a way to escape reality. The reality is that God knew, as individuals, each and every person who would come to salvation at the beginning – Genesis 1. God’s purpose in creating the world was to bring to pass that which He already knew. There is nothing wrong with taking the corporate election view so long as one understands that individual election was settled from the beginning (the reality some people do not want to think about) – thus, corporate election really says nothing substantive and as a doctrine is worthless.

            Les Prouty

            “The reality is that God knew, as individuals, each and every person who would come to salvation at the beginning…”

            Exactly. NCs think their view somehow relieves God of what they mistakenly assign to Cs…that God creates people whom He knew he would not choose and thus they attempt to show that our view somehow makes God cruel. But of course they are wrong. And here you demonstrate they are trapped by their own supposed indictment of Calvinism.

            As someone else on here said earlier,

            “He could in eternity decide (as He is sovereign) to create people to be free creatures (“make free creatures”) while foreknowing every choice they would make in history (“even while knowing what they will choose”). Not only is this the position of SBC traditionalists…”

            and…

            “This is the distinction between God’s antecedent will (what He wills in eternity) and his consequent will (what He does in time). So God desires for the salvation of all men (this is explicitly stated in scripture though denied by calvinists/theological determinists): that is His antecedent will regarding salvation. His antecedent will also includes that those who are saved are saved through faith. So in time God reveals himself to men, works through the Holy Spirit to convict them of their sin, reveals Christ to them, reveals the plan of salvation to them, etc. etc. And only those who respond with faith are saved (that is the consequent will, not that all will be saved, but that only those who trust Him will be saved).”

            See here the NC acknowledges (because he must) that God has more than one will (something Cs are routinely criticized for even on this site by Trads) and in fact knows as He creates humans that they will perish…yet creates them anyway.

              Robert

              In my experience having worked with Walter Martin in counter cult ministry, I regularly experienced having cultsts twist my words in an unfair and unethical manner. They loved to take your words written or stated in one context and then quote them in another context “demonstrating” that you contradicted yourself of affirmed something they believed. So I expert this kind of thing from a nonbeliever. I don’t expect it from a professing believer such as Les Prouty. And yet that is precisely what he does, exaclty what the cultists used to do with my words or statements. I do not appreciate this, which is why I point this out publicly.

              He begins by quoting me when I said that the non-calvinist who believes that God knows all things and so foreknows all future events. My point when I said these words was to affirm that non-calvinists do in fact believe in God’s foreknowledge. Prouty then says that non-calvinists cannot escape the charge they make towards calvinists that the calvinist view makes God cruel. Odd, my statement had nothing to do with the calvinist view or the charge that the calvinist view makes God cruel.

              Prouty then quotes me where I talked about the distinction between the antecedent and consequent wills of God. What was my point here? To explain that in noncalvinist thinking when it comes to God’s planning he makes some plans in eternity (e.g. a plan of salvation that could save all people) which are then carried out in time (e.g. God planned in eternity that He would save all those who trust Him alone for salvation). I was not talking about “two wills” of God as calvinists claim (they make a distinction between the sovereign will in which everything that happens is decided beforehand, and the moral will, what God says in scripture). The problem among many of the calvinist view of God’s two wills is that their view leads to two contradicting wills of God (e.g. in the sovereing will of God, God ordains every act of adultery, but in the moral will of God, God says that adultery is a sin and wrong, so you have God ordaining one thing, every act of adultery, desiring every one of them to occur in the sovereing will but then contradicting what he desires by saying in the moral will that it is wrong and people ought not to do these things).

              With the antecedent and consequent will there is no contradiction because the antecedent will is not always carried out in history/time as people can choose not to fulfill the antecedent will. Example, according to God’s plan in eternity/the antecedent will, he desires for all believers to become mature in Christ. And yet in history, not every believer does become mature in Christ. Put another way, God has some plans that people will deny by their choices. The antecedent/consequent will then, is not God having “two wills” as in calvinism but is a description of how God’s plans may be made in eternity and yet in history not be completely fulfilled.

              Finally, Prouty combines my comments about the antecedent and consequent wills and adds a common calvinistic argument regarding the non-calvinists view of how people end up not being saved. Again in my comments I was not speaking about this at all, my words are being taken out of context and twisted to fit a topic I had not even discussed. As I have already said enought in this post I will write a separate post to discuss this instance of twisting my words and taking them out or context.

                Robert

                In my ealier post I was affirming that non-calvinists believe that God has foreknowledge. I affirmed that God has plans in eternity/the antecedent will which are then carried out in time/the consequent will with various degrees of fulfillment (God plans in eternity for all believers to be mature in Christ, in time he works with believers and not all reach maturity in Christ). In my comments I did not discuss what the non-Calvinist believes about how people become and end up as lost persons who are lost for eternity. Les Prouty quotes me on forknowledge and my comment that if foreknowledge is true then God knew from eternity who would end up as believers. He does so in order to argue that non-calvinists have the same view that calvinists have (i.e. that God creates people for damnation). In calvinism this is true because if God ordains all events, then He ordains every thought and action and decision of every person. This means that God ordains the nonbelief of the nonbeliever in its every facet. He ordains that they rebel against Him, he ordains that they have every evil and sinful thought that they have, he ordains their rejection of Him, their rejection of the gospel, their every thought and action that resuls in them ending up in hell. In this deterministic scenario, the nonbeliever never has a chance to believe because the only hope of him/her being saved (i.e. being given irresistable grace) is intentionally withheld from him/her by God. If your every act, thought, movement, belief is decided beforehand by God and he decides that they be unbelievers and he decides they will never receive irresistable grace, they are CREATED TO BE lost individuals.

                Prouty suggests that for the non-Calvinist the situation is the same because the non-Calvinist believes that God has foreknowledge, that in non-Calvinism the lost person is created for damnation, as he puts it: “and in fact he knows as he creates humans that they will perish . . . yet creates them anyway.” Note that according to Prouty here, he is claiming that God foreknows that some will be eternally lost, and yet he creates them anyway (implying that if God had decided for these people whom he foreknew to be people who will end up in hell, not to go to hell that he could simply prevent this from occuring by not creating them and thus preventing them from going to hell). Prouty’s “reasoning” here is dubious because he is playing God’s forkenowledge (He foreknows that certain people will end up in hell) against God’s sovereignty (He could choose to prevent these people from ending up in hell by not creating them). The fact is that whatever Foreknows will occur will in fact occur: if God could prevent his own foreknowledge from being correct then it would not be God’s foreknowledge! It would better to speak of God knowing a possibility that might occur and then preventing that possibility from occurring. But God’s foreknowledge does not involve what might or might not happen, but what will in fact happen. God cannot invalidate his own foreknowledge and it is absurd to claim that he can (which is what Prouty claims that he could do: he foreknows Joe will end up in hell, but he can prevent this from happening by not creating Joe; but if God did not create Joe then there would be no Joe whom God foreknows will end up in hell!). Prouty’s “reasoning” is very similar in its irrationality to the classic claim made in introductory Philosophy classes: could God create a rock so heavy that he could not lift it? This plays off God’s power as creator (that he could create whatever He wants) against God’s omnipotence (that it would be a rock so heavy that he could not lift it). Some trying to appear intellectual may bring up such absurd claims, but logically they fall apart. Similarly to Prouty trying to pawn off his irrational reasoning on the non-Calvinist. He takes a true premise (that the non-Calvinist believes that God foreknows everything, including that some will be lost eternally and who they are) and then plays it against a false premise (that if God wanted to, he could invalidate his own foreknowledge, he could prevent an event that he foreknows will occur from occurring). Non-calvinists hold the first premise but not this second premise. Prouty tried to use my affirmation of the first premise against me by combining it with his irrational second premise (that God could prevent something he foreknows from occurring).

                What Prouty also leaves out is that in non-calvinistic thinking, the nonbeliever is someone whom God desires to be saved and God makes efforts to reveal himself to the person so that they could be saved, but that person for their entire lifetimes freely chooses to reject God and the gospel. So in non-calvinistic thinking God does not create a person for damnation, that person chooses to damn themselves by choosing to reject God for their entire lives. A person ending up in hell through their every thought and action being ordained by God, is very different from a person ending up in hell through their freely made and repeated choices to reject God.

                  rhutchin

                  Robert writes, “I was affirming that non-calvinists believe that God has foreknowledge.”

                  Some believe that God has foreknowledge obtained by looking into the future to learn what happens. This position denies that God is omniscient, so let’s ignore that as Robert believes that God is omniscient.

                  Now the question becomes – Can we explain how God can know future events before they occur – how He can have foreknowledge. At this point, Robert falls silent and has no explanation. His appeal to antecedent and consequent will does not explain God’s knowledge.

                  The Calvinist offers an explanation for God’s knowledge of future events – God knows the decisions He has made – God knows what He has ordained. This comes about in two principle ways. (1) God knows what He will do directly – e.g., God had decided/ordained that Satan should enter the garden to tempt Adam/Eve (knowing the outcome of that temptation), that He would flood the world, and that He would impregnate Mary with a child. (2) God knows what He has decided to permit people to do with the freedom He grants them – e.g., Cain would murder Abel, David would commit adultery, the Pharisees would stone Stephan. All this God knows before He creates the world.

                  Thus, God’s foreknowledge is knowledge of all that God has decided/ordained will come about in the course of time. Robert does not like this because He doesn’t like the idea that God ordains all things, especially sin, but he has no argument against the Calvinist position and he has no alternative explanation for God’s foreknowledge.

                rhutchin

                Robert writes, “… God says that adultery is a sin and wrong, so you have God ordaining one thing, every act of adultery, desiring every one of them to occur in the sovereing will but then contradicting what he desires by saying in the moral will that it is wrong and people ought not to do these things). ”

                This situation is not unique to Calvinism. God declares that adultery is wrong and commands that people not commit adultery. Yet, when a person commits adultery, God is present during the act, and God has the power to intervene to prevent the sin if He willed to do so. God makes a decision (i.e., God ordains) not to intervene so that the adultery can proceed – thus, it was God’s will that the adultery occur. When David took Bathsheba to bed, God was present observing all that David did. God had the opportunity/ability to intervene to prevent David engaging in that sin. God chose not to do so and His choice expressed His will. It is God who has the final say – and thereby to ordain – any act of sin/adultery. As God is omniscient, God knew every sin that was to happen before He created the world, and He created the world knowing that He had decided (ordained) these sins to occur. Thus, we have God expressing His will that a person should not commit adultery and then expressing His will that David should proceed to commit adultery if he so desired. The conflict here is not between two wills of God but between the will of God and the will of man – God wills/ordains man freedom to sin even though God wills that man not use that freedom to sin.

            Robert

            rhutchin says about the corporate election view: “The idea of corporate election is just a way to escape reality.”

            rhutchin also says of the corporate election view: “thus corporate election really says nothing substantive and as a doctrine is worthless.”

            First, is he aware that many Baptists hold the corporate election view? If he knew this fact perhaps he might be a bit more respectful of this view and those who hold this view. I mean it is OK to disagree with another person’s view, to believe it ought to be rejected for good reasons including proper interpretation of the scripture, philosophical argument, etc. But to speak of another person’s view in the way rhutchin speaks of the corporate election view here is totally disrespectful.

            Second, as rhutchin writes this way of the corporate election view, I suggest that everyone disregard anything that he says from now on regarding this subject. Again, he has the right to disgree with a view that he believes to be mistaken and to openly state why he believes this. But this kind of total and completely disrespectful way (perhaps even contemptuous manner of speaking of the view) of dismissing the corporate election view is both wrong and merits him being ignored on this subject.

              rhutchin

              Maybe you could have spent time explaining what corporate election contributes to our understanding of salvation. Even you agree that God knows – individually – those that would come to salvation and that He knew these people when He created the world (and not by looking into the future to learn this information). Given that individual salvation is certain because of God’s omniscience, what purpose does the corporate election view have as far as our understanding of salvation? None that I can tell from those who write of it. Are you aware of anything specific that this view offers?

        rhutchin

        Foreseen faith denies that God is omniscient as it has God looking into the future to learn something he does not already know (unless people understand “foreseen” to mean “foreknown” and I am not sure they do). I don’t see Mitchell denying that God is omniscient, so I don’t see him holding to the idea of foreseen faith – the looking into the future version. It seems to me that most people who advocate foreseen faith as looking into the future also hold to omniscience and don’t understand that they are taking a contradictory position.

      Rick Mang

      Also Rick:

      I do believe that God can make man totally free. And he did choose to do that – in Adam. Adam, as you are well aware, died, and in so doing lost that God given ability.

      Thank you,
      Rick Mang

        Robert

        Rick,
        You claim that God can make man “totally free”.

        What does it mean to be “totally free”?

        I believe we have free will, but I don’t believe anyone including Adam prefall has had “total freedom”. As limited and created creatures, we always have limits, therefore our free will is always limited.

        Some mistake free will for omnipotence. These same people take Omnipotence to mean the power to do whatever you want. People never have this kind of power and never will have this kind of power.

        Adam was free but he was not omnipotent.

        Hence it is more reasonable to say that people were created with the capacity to have and make their own choices, but this “free will” is always limited as we are created creatures not gods.

        Rick you seem to believe that free will ceased once Adam sinned. I disagree. If “free will” means that we sometimes have the capacity and opportunity to have and make our own choices. Then we always retain this capacity/ability. The nonbeliever is referred to by the metaphor of them being “slaves to sin” (i.e. they act as if they have a slave owner named “sin” that commands them to sin). But even these “slaves to sin” still sometimes have and make their own choices, thus retaining the capacity for free will.

    Andy

    You have completely failed to interact with the authors point about the USE of power/sovereignty. Could not God CHOOSE to make free creatures, even while knowing what they will choose?

      Max

      “Could not God CHOOSE to make free creatures, even while knowing what they will choose?”

      Hi Andy. That reminds me of an illustration of Free Will / Predestination I heard once:

      Free Will and Predestination are like a door. The side of the door toward us says, “Free Will.” Once you go through the door you turn around and see that the other side says, “Predestination.”

      rhutchin

      William Craig has advanced a logical argument to show that “knowledge” of what one person will do does not interfere with the freedom with which that person chooses to act. Using Craig’s argument, the answer to your question is, Yes.

      If you think that one person’s knowledge interferes with another person’s freedom, then you need to be able to develop an argument to show how this happens. No one else has done this, so if you do it, you would be the first ,and thereby become the darling of the non-Calvinist community.

      Robert

      Andy,
      I like your question here: “Could not God CHOOSE

      Robert

      Andy,
      I like your question here: “Could not God CHOOSE to make free creatures, even while knowing what they will choose?”

      This is precisely the non-Calvinist position. That since God **is** sovereign (i.e. and so He does as He pleases in all situations) He could in eternity decide (as He is sovereign) to create people to be free creatures (“make free creatures”) while foreknowing every choice they would make in history (“even while knowing what they will choose”). Not only is this the position of SBC traditionalists, this has been and continues to be the majority view among Christians throughout church history (it is the view of Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants with the exception of those that are theological determinists/Calvinists and some Lutherans).

      The problem is that so many Calvinists try to pretend or present things as if this were an irrational or unbiblical picture (when in fact the Bible in so many places presents that people have and make their own choices AND that God knows everything exhaustively including the future). If one simply reads the Bible without attempting to prove or support any theological system they will find that God knows the future (which includes freely made choices that people will end up making) and that on numerous occasions a person has and then makes a choice. To take one clear example. We are promised that when we face a temptation that God will always provide a way of escape from that temptation. If that promise is true, then we have a choice with regard to every temptation, we can either choose to give into the temptation or choose to resist the temptation by means of the way of escape provided by God. There are no situations where God ordains that we have to give into that temptation, where we have to sin. We always have this choice of giving in or resisting temptation.

        rhutchin

        Les writes, “We are promised that when we face a temptation that God will always provide a way of escape from that temptation. If that promise is true, then we have a choice with regard to every temptation, we can either choose to give into the temptation or choose to resist the temptation by means of the way of escape provided by God.”

        Just a technicality. I think the way of escape is always to ask God for help. That a person faces the temptation in the first place occurs when, as James says, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” The person in that situation is not really in a position to make good decisions. Thus, the need to cry out to God for help and deliverance – don’t try to do it on your own; call in the big guns right at the get go.

          rhutchin

          Ooops! That was Robert and not Les. Apologies to Les (where is that edit function when you need it??).

Les Prouty

“If God chooses to allow sinners to reject His offer of salvation, has He forfeited His right to send all to hell without offering them salvation?”

This is not even up for debate. Both Calvinists and non Calvinists affirm that God allows sinners to reject His offer of salvation. God is still the ultimate decider of the destiny of all people. If a person ends up in eternity apart from the loving presence of God, it is because God decided that’s where that person should be as payment for that person’s sinful rebellion against holy God. The person rejected God to be sure by an act of his will. But final, ultimate determination is from God. After all, God saves, right? God could have overridden that person’s stubborn rebellion and rejection of Him. But He didn’t. God has the final say.

He does not relinquish one bit of His sovereignty over to man to “allow” man’s free will to be the ultimate decider of his own eternity. Agree? I think we do.

    Robert

    Les Prouty provides a text book example of how misleading theological determinism/Calvinism is.

    First what does the determinist believe? They believe that in eternity before He created the world God selected who would be saved (and at the same time who would not be saved, as it logically follows due to the nature of their theology/system that those not chosen for election to salvation must be lost, it is impossible for them to be saved as only those who receive irresistible grace can and will believe/and they are not chosen to receive this grace). So God actively decided and thus determined who would be saved and who would be lost. Where the theological determinist is extremely misleading is that while this is what they believe, they will simultaneously speak of God “allowing” the nonbeliever to choose to reject Him and so end up in Hell. But this is wrong, it is not the unbelievers rejection that ultimately damns them (because those who are elect may for a time have also rejected the gospel and irresistible grace overcomes their rejection of the gospel, their unbelief is overcome by this grace): it is God not choosing them for salvation which means God not choosing to give them irresistible grace. Any sinner can (and will) be saved if given this irresistible grace: no sinner can be saved if they are not given this irresistible grace (in fact they are assured of damnation if not given this irresistible grace). So God in choosing the elect (knowing full well that they can only be saved if given irresistible grace) simultaneously knows that those who He has not chosen cannot be saved, will not be saved, are assured of damnation. Put simply: if God desired to save all He could do so, by choosing to give all this irresistible grace. But He does not give it to all, He only gives it to the elect: therefore He intentionally and willingly damns all the rest when He easily could have saved them.

    Prouty writes:

    “Both Calvinists and non Calvinists affirm that God allows sinners to reject His offer of salvation.”

    This is misleading in light of the determinist’s doctrine of irresistible grace. God does not merely “allow” sinners to reject salvation: He ensures it by not giving them irresistabale grace.

    “If a person ends up in eternity apart from the loving presence of God, it is because God decided that’s where that person should be as payment for that person’s sinful rebellion against holy God.”

    No, this is misleading yet again, because all engage in “sinful rebellion against a Holy God.” The difference is that for the elect He gives them irresistible grace ensuring their salvation and for the lost he withholds irresistible grace ensuring their damnation.

    “The person rejected God to be sure by an act of his will.”

    And if God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, then God ordained their rejection of God and every other act of their will.

    “He does not relinquish one bit of His sovereignty over to man to “allow” man’s free will to be the ultimate decider of his own eternity. Agree? I think we do.”

    We have been through this before with Les. God is sovereign according to the non-Calvinist, which means that He does whatever He pleases. God decided to set up a plan of salvation in which He desires for all to be saved, makes a provision of atonement for all, and yet God desired that people freely choose to trust Him in order to be saved. So God set up the way of salvation and that way of salvation involves a freely chosen faith. God ultimately decided how people would be saved, God ultimately saves a person, and at the same time those whom God saves are those who freely choose to trust Him. In freely choosing to trust Him, we do not ultimately save ourselves, because God alone saves people (i.e. our faith is not a work, our faith is involved in the process of salvation, but our faith in itself does not save us, God does). God ultimately decided that those who freely choose to trust Him are those whom God will save.

    Andy

    “He does not relinquish one bit of His sovereignty over to man to “allow” man’s free will to be the ultimate decider of his own eternity. Agree? I think we do.”

    Les, you think non-calvinists will agree with this statement? I think they will disagree with the second half…and would put it more like this:

    “He does not relinquish one bit of his sovereignty over man, but does sovereignly choose to create man in such a way that he gives them the ability to choose for themselves where they will spend eternity.”

      Les Prouty

      Andy,

      I think that inconsistently non Cals will not agree with this statement I made. I can only wish. The re-write you show here doesn’t work to differentiate the NC position IMO. It simply says that God sovereignly creates man with the ability to choose where he will spend eternity. Calvinists agree with that.

      The problem as I see it for the non C is that he wants to preserve God’s sovereignty ( a good thing) and yet say that in His sovereignty God allows man to have sovereign control over his final destiny. If nothing else, that places man at, if only at that decision, a position of control over something that God has relinquished control of. So who has control at that point? Man or God?

        andy

        Les, do you feel that a general or a CEO is diminished in authority or control of his army/company when he delegates certain decisions to lieutenants and managers? Is he somehow less of a leader than if he had micromanaged every aspect of a mission/project?

          rhutchin

          A general or CEO must delegate some decisions to his staff because he is not omniscient and cannot know everything that is happening at any one time and even if he did, he could not process that information to make all the decisions required. Such delegation is by necessity. There is not a similar necessity on God to delegate.

          However, God does delegate in the sense that He allows people the freedom to make decisions contrary to His will. God says, Do not commit adultery, yet He allowed David the freedom to commit adultery and just watched David commit the sin when He could have exercised His sovereign rights to prevent that sin – “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” God decided that David should be free to commit adultery when He knew what the outcome would be, thereby God ordained that David commit adultery.

          Les

          Andy, questions for you. Do you think that humans ever at any point in their lives have complete autonomy?

          Or, do believe that in every instance of life for humans God is in control of the situation? And by control I do not mean forcing. I mean by control God is in charge. He could intervene or not intervene.

            Lydia

            “Andy, questions for you. Do you think that humans ever at any point in their lives have complete autonomy?

            Or, do believe that in every instance of life for humans God is in control of the situation? And by control I do not mean forcing. I mean by control God is in charge. He could intervene or not intervene.”

            Watch it Andy. Les is moving the goal posts…again. If God is controlling every molecule 24/7, how is that not determinism? And how is determinism not force? If God is in complete control then He wanted that baby to die of cancer as He did not intervene. He also controlled 6 million Jews being gassed. That is the God of Calvinism.

          Robert

          Andy,

          In this thread you have been making some very good points and asking some very good questions concerning Calvinism. Have you turned over a new leaf and rejected Calvinism? :-)?Your points if valid are strong challenges and attacks of Calvinist theology whether you realize it or not.

          You asked:

          “Les, do you feel that a general or a CEO is diminished in authority or control of his army/company when he delegates certain decisions to lieutenants and managers? Is he somehow less of a leader than if he had micromanaged every aspect of a mission/project?”

          I can speak on this topic having been in leadership for some time now and also knowing lots of “managers” whether they are pastors of local congregations or scientists in their labs or business men in their businesses.

          It is not diminishing of authority for a good manager to delegate to capable people. It is also not an issue of control as good managers not only delegate well they also train and reproduce themselves in others who will become good managers themselves.

          For example, I was talking to a friend who is a manager of a large multimillion dollar lab recently and he made this very point: He said that good managers do not engage in micromanagement, instead they find and select those who are talented, experienced and well-qualified to do what they needs to be done. And he said that such individuals can’t stand being micromanaged! They need to be managed but given some latitude to function their best.

          I agree with him and I also think that God is this way too in some respects. Most of us don’t function well when micromanaged nor do we like it when someone is literally breathing down our neck! :-)

          God wants people to flourish and to freely use their talents for Him (cf. the parable of the talents: in that parable which is a reference to each of us and what we do with what God has given to us, there is no hint of micromanagement at all, it is the opposite, the individual is given lots of leeway and this is shown by the fact that different people in the parable make different choices and different people have different results and different people have different levels of ability, but each is expected to do their personal best with what they have). God wants people to choose to do the right thing on their own, without him manipulating them or controlling them in any way. In this way He is like a good earthly father.

          Micromanagement types tend to be highly insecure persons who mistakenly believe that only if they completely control every detail will things get done “properly”. Again, God appears to be the opposite, he is totally secure and he does not need us, nor is He in any sort of competition with us. So he lets us do things without micromanaging things. He wants to see each of us use our talents in a way that brings honor to Him and blessing to others. Before the fall Adam was given dominion over the world, that definitely was not micromanaging and it was definitely delegation of authority and control on the part of God to man. Micromanaging types can’t delegate a thing, they don’t trust people enough to be able to do that. No micromanagement type in the world could have delegated dominion over the world to Adam! :-) In my own experience I don’t want micromanagement over myself nor do I do it to others. It does not work and is not the most efficient and productive use of available resources and is not the best way to get people to do things.

          Lydia

          Andy, Les starts and ends with determinism. He has the typical Calvinist semantics in between those two poles. The only way he can frame it to back non Cals in a corner is to imply their view elevates man above God simply because God gave humans choice. That choice would be a “love” relationship that Les thinks diminishes God. He has to go back to determinism even though he insists God wills “choice” deterministically. So, he “agrees” and then reframes it within determinism. It is a bit of a bait and switch meant to shame people for thinking they are above God if they don’t agree.

          There is so much cognitive dissonance in Calvinism it is a never ending black hole of circular reasoning. It is fatalism with a fake smiley face.

            Les Prouty

            Wow Lydia. My HS teachers would be impressed to think I could be so good with words. You miss it of course, but still give me way more credit to think I could be so careful in framing and reframing and baiting and switching. And here’s a REAL smiley face. :)

          Les Prouty

          Andy, you’re the dude right now. You have someone congratulating you for attacking Calvinism and Lydia giving you advice and warnings. Man, are you up for all this attention?

        Les Prouty

        Andy,

        “do you feel that a general or a CEO is diminished in authority or control of his army/company when he delegates certain decisions to lieutenants and managers? Is he somehow less of a leader than if he had micromanaged every aspect of a mission/project?”

        No, of curse not. But aren’t you trying to compare apples and oranges? No general or CEO is a sovereign. And the “micromanaged” question is misleading. It implies that God micromanages every detail and decision of humans’ lives. Calvinists do not believe that God DOES everything for humans. Humans have freedom as God allows them to have it (“allows” shows God as sovereign. He still maintains His sovereignty as the one in control of the amount of freedom). God is neither forcing us to do all of our actions nor is He actually DOING the actions we do. We act freely according to our desires.

          Robert

          Les Prouty writes:

          “Humans have freedom as God allows them to have it”

          It is extremely misleading and borders on dishonesty to claim that if God ordains all things that humans have “freedom.” In exhaustive determinism/Calvinism God controls our wills and by doing so controls our choices and controls us).

          “God is neither forcing us to do all of our actions nor is He actually DOING the actions we do.”

          It is true that God is not actually “DOING the actions we do”, but this is again extremely misleading. In a puppet show the puppet master does not actually do the actions the puppets do, he just pulls the strings in such a way as to control their actions and make them do what they do.

          “We act freely according to our desires.”

          And this is where the whole deterministic mess unravels. According to determinists like Prouty we only and always choose according to our “strongest desire” (whatever is the “strongest desire” determines what choice we will make).
          Now what Prouty and others hide from unsuspecting believers, is that GOD ORDAINS EVERY DESIRE that we have (including the “strongest desires”).

          Why is this both misleading and a denial of human freedom?

          Because if God ordains the greatest desire that we have in a situation and we always choose according to this greatest desire, then it is true that God does not do the action (we do) but it is false and misleading to call this acting with “freedom”.

          An analogy may make this clear.

          Imagine that scientists developed a chip that once implanted in a person’s brain allows the scientist to give the person a greatest desire that they then must do. So while the person is the one doing their actions, their thoughts and desires are controlled by another person who determines what they will choose to do. So say the victim of this experiment is named “Joe” and say that Joe and the scientist play a game of chess. With every move that Joe makes, the scientist gives him the greatest desire per each move so Joe in each and every instance makes the move that the scientist wants Joe to make. Say at a critical point in the game, Joe believes that he has a choice to make one good move that would save his queen and prolong the game: and another bad move that would lose the queen and quickly lose the game. The scientist by means of the chip gives Joe the desire to do the bad chess move as his greatest desire: so Joe makes this move and quickly loses the game.

          Now according to determinists like Prouty, Joe was acting freely because he did what he wanted to do, he was not forced against his will to make the move, he acted “according to his desires”, his choice was based upon his greatest desire, and he not the scientist actually made the move.

          Consider this bad chess move by Joe further.

          Could Joe have done otherwise?

          No, because once the scientist gave him the desire to make the bad move as his greatest desire he had to make that choice, it was impossible for him to do otherwise.

          Did the scientist force Joe to act against his will?

          No, because the scientist need not force him to act against his will as (watch this carefully) the scientist controlled Joe’s will.

          If you understand this analogy then you understand why Prouty’s determinism is so misleading and so false.

          Only a determinist would view Joe’s bad chess move as him acting freely (and that only by redefining freedom as doing what you desire to do WHEN SOMEONE ELSE CONTROLS AND DETERMINES YOUR DESIRES).

          If Prouty is right, then all of us are just like Joe. So whatever we do is exactly what God wants us to do, controls us to do, makes us do not by **forcing us against our wills** but by **controlling our wills** by deciding what desires we will have and which ones we will act upon. Now Prouty and other theological determinists may call this acting with “freedom”: but this is highly misleading. This is not “freedom” but makes us like Joe with the chip or like a puppet controlled by a puppet master.

            rhutchin

            Rober writes, “In exhaustive determinism/Calvinism God controls our wills and by doing so controls our choices and controls us).”

            This is a false statement. Either it falsely describes “exhaustive determinism” or it falsely links Calvinism with exhaustive determinism.

            rhutchin

            Robert writes, “Now what Prouty and others hide from unsuspecting believers, is that GOD ORDAINS EVERY DESIRE that we have (including the “strongest desires”).”

            That God ordains every desire does not require that God cause every desire. I don’t see that Robert has grasped that point.

          rhutchin

          Les writes, “And the “micromanaged” question is misleading. It implies that God micromanages every detail and decision of humans’ lives. Calvinists do not believe that God DOES everything for humans.”

          I think God necessarily micromanages every detail and decision of humans as a consequence of being sovereign. God knows every detail and decision of a person’s life before the person does. Before Cain thinks to murder Abel, God knows that Cain will desire it and then act on that desire to kill Abel. It is God who decides whether Cain should be free to desire to kill Abel. God decides that Cain should think it and then God decides that Cain should be free to act in accordance with that desire. Cain’s freedom is subordinate to God’s freedom. God’s freedom to affect the lives of His creation trumps the freedom of God’s creation to act independent of Him – people can act only within the freedom determined by God.

            Les Prouty

            rhutchin,

            I think you are correct. When I answered Andy about micromanagement, I added this, which is what I meant by God not micromanagement: “Calvinists do not believe that God DOES everything for humans. Humans have freedom as God allows them to have it (“allows” shows God as sovereign. He still maintains His sovereignty as the one in control of the amount of freedom). God is neither forcing us to do all of our actions nor is He actually DOING the actions we do. We act freely according to our desires.”

            Micromanagement, as I said, is misleading. I think what some mean by asking is not what I mean in answering. That’s why the added meaning I gave. So I think you are correct when you say, “I think God necessarily micromanages every detail and decision of humans as a consequence of being sovereign.,” using the usual meaning of micromanage (“control every part, however small, of (an enterprise or activity).”

      Robert

      Andy,
      Another very good paraphrase of the non-Calvinist position.

      If God sovereignly decides what the plan of salvation will be (and He does), and if this plan of salvation includes people freely choosing to trust Him (that is part of the plan, the apostle Paul is particularly clear on this point in the book of Romans, where he says repeatedly that justification is through faith), then people will have the freedom to choose to accept or reject the gospel (or as you put it “he gives them the ability to choose for themselves where they will spend eternity.”).

        rhutchin

        Let’s incorporate both Calvinist and non-Calvinist positions.

        1. God sovereignly provides salvation for both Jews and gentiles.
        2. People chose freely whether they will accept the salvation God offers (non-Calvinist position).
        3. From among those who chose freely to reject God’s offer of salvation, God chooses some that He will save and irresistibly draws them to Christ. (Calvinist position).
        4. Calvinists say that the number of people that choose freely to accept salvation under #2 is zero.
        5. In the end, all those whom God knew would be saved before He created the world actually end up coming to salvation not one more, not one less.

          Andrew Barker

          rhutchin: Non-calvinists might say that the Calvinists are all being deceived by God and are damned, whereas all the people under #2 are in fact saved. This deception brought about by The Almighty is great and those who are of a Calvinistic persuasion are sadly dooooomed! But no matter, they can take consolation in the fact that all of this happens for His good pleasure and ultimately it will bring glory to God.

          Please note the use of irony to make a point. It’s not that I really think Calvinists are lost, it’s just that they can’t be assured which group they belong to!

            rhutchin

            God’s word is true and there is no deception. We are exhorted to rely of God and His word and not on our own understanding. Doing so avoids the issues you raise.

              Andrew Barker

              No it doesn’t and these weren’t issues I ‘raised’, they were points you were incorrectly trying to establish. This is precisely what the Calvinist can’t be aware of. If God deceives some into thinking they are ‘elect’ when in truth they are ‘not elect’ then there is no possibility that those who are elect can know that they are elect or if they are being deceived.

              Of course God’s word is true and there is no deception in it. It’s just that Calvinism is not the same as God’s word and there’s plenty of deception within Calvinism.

                rhutchin

                God’s word is true; God does not deceive. Calvinists correctly understand the Scriptures and are not engaging in deception.

                When you write, “If God deceives some into thinking they are ‘elect’ when in truth they are ‘not elect’ then there is no possibility that those who are elect can know that they are elect or if they are being deceived,” it is the “IF” that is important. In this case, “If God deceives” is not true – God does not deceive.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Well, rhutchin, you must have been asleep for the last few years or you’re simply ignoring the elephant in the room. It is your Calvinist friends who constantly come up with this Godly deceit concept.

                  But you are not beyond this either are you! ….”4. Calvinists say that the number of people that choose freely to accept salvation under #2 is zero.” So what is it with all these supposed Christians (#2) who have ‘freely’ chosen to believe? How have these people been deceived into thinking they are Christians? There are millions in this category!

                    rhutchin

                    Andrew Barker writes, “So what is it with all these supposed Christians (#2) who have ‘freely’ chosen to believe? How have these people been deceived into thinking they are Christians? There are millions in this category!”

                    That is why so many pastors today are decrying the “easy believism” that has been promoted over the years and so many pastors are now decrying the Biblical illiteracy of church goers. That is the legacy of the the “‘freely’ chosen to believe” crowd. Pastors have been deceiving people for a long time and making money from it.

                    Andrew Barker

                    rhutchin: It’s the Calvinists who are saying that God deceives, nobody else is saying this. Answer your own questions if you can, if you haven’t been deceived of course!

                    rhutchin

                    Calvinists are not saying that God deceives.

                    volfan007

                    rhutchin,

                    For you to lump all of us, Non Calvinists, in with the “easy believism” crowd, and then worse, throw us in with the Benny Hinn and Kenneth Hagin types is ridiculous and dishonest. I mean, c’mon. You can certainly do a whole lot beter than that kind of ad hominem nonsense.

                    C’mon, Dude.

                    David

                    rhutchin

                    Where do Hinn and Hagin come into the discussion – It is Baptist preachers who have been decrying what is going on in Baptist churches. If you want to expand this to the whole world and include the Hinn’s and Hagin’s, then the problem is even worse, but we do not need to go there for my comment to fit – its an in-house complaint. You have let your imagination run rampant in your mind. C’mon dude! Rachet the rhetoric down a little.

                    Andrew Barker

                    rhutchin: I’m running out of metaphors. You must have your head in the cloud or the sand. Either way, you’re simply ignoring your Calvinist colleagues. There’s no other way Calvinists can explain Calvinists who fall away or indeed non-Calvinists who must almost by definition be placed by you in this ‘deceived’ group since they are convinced that have made a freewill response. If you can’t see the problem you have created for yourself, I would suggest you are deceiving yourself.

                    rhutchin

                    Everybody has the same group of people who are deceived – “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

                    They deceive themselves. Perhaps with help – “…if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

                    Andrew Barker

                    rhutchin: “Everybody has the same group of people who are deceived ”

                    No they do not! You and your Calvinist buddies, Calvin was quite clear on this point, hold that there are sincere Christians who are in fact ‘deceived’ into thinking they have salvation when in fact they do not. This is straight from the horse’s (Calvin’s) mouth!

                    rhutchin

                    What Scriptures did Calvin cite in support of his position? If none, then we have Calvin trying to explain a situation for which the Scriptures provide no answers. Calvin offered his opinion and it is as good as anyone’s opinion – including yours. Calvin, and other people, have devoted much time and effort to studying the Scriptures and have written many things regarding spiritual matters. Some of their writings are excellent involving a sound exegesis of the Scriptures, others not. We should not get exercised over subjects on which the Scriptures do not speak – even when reading Calvin.

                    Les

                    Andrew,

                    “The point is not about a verse, it’s about the fact that rhutchin appears to be totally unaware that his fellow Calvinists claim people are deceived into thinking they are saved…”

                    You are using quite abroad brush here brother. How many Calvinists agree with Calvin here? You do know that the number of Calvinists who agree with him at every point of doctrine must be very small. I’ve been around many Calvinists for almost 30 years and know no one who agrees with Calvin100%.

                    So how many can you identify?

                  Jim P

                  I have a feeling both of you would interpret the verse just quoted
                  “many will say to me on that day…, Depart from me, I never knew you.”

                  The same way,

                  when in fact it is not talking about salvation (Calvinist or non-Calvinist) but talking about fellowship and acknowledgment of that by the Lord, then they are actually deceived not about their salvation but about there relationship with God.

                  If that in fact true, you are both dicussing two sides of the same coin.

                  Thoughts???

                    rhutchin

                    Jesus speaks of salvation here. He begins, ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” Entering the kingdom of heaven has everything to do with salvation. Jesus calls such people “evildoers.” Paul writes of “evildoers” and says, “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

                    In John 3, “Jesus declared, ‘I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again…I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit…You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” A person must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven. To be “born again” is to be saved.

                    Any person who is saved has a relationship with God. To say that one has a relationship to God is to say that they are saved. You are just a little confused with your comment – and in the absence of any Scriptures cited, we might conclude that you are relying on your own personal worldview to develop your comments and not Scripture.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Jim P: Yes, I have thoughts :)

                    The point is not about a verse, it’s about the fact that rhutchin appears to be totally unaware that his fellow Calvinists claim people are deceived into thinking they are saved, when they are not. Should they be excused in doing this? They are simply following their mentor John Calvin, but that doesn’t make it any more correct!

                    rhutchin

                    I am aware that “Calvinists claim people are deceived into thinking they are saved,…” I quoted Matthew 7 to show how such people deceive themselves by reasoning that their works save them. I also cited 2 Corinthians 4 to show that Satan deceives those who are perishing by blinding them to the gospel and some of these may consider themselves saved.

                    It is not Calvinists alone but even Southern Baptists who also hold this position. Ask any Southern Baptist Pastor and he will tell you that not everyone who walks the aisle and gets baptized is truly saved yet if you ask the person, they will affirm that they are – often citing their works as proof.

                    I don’t see an issue here.

                    Jim P

                    Again that is the same coin you (Calvinists and non-calvintists) are caught in endlessly turning over and over and over again.

                    Basically because you’ve (Rhutchin and many others) have been so conditioned about what salvation and God’s work is all about.

                    Hello Andrew,

                    I think it is good Rhutchin introduced a verse. As I pointed, the conditioning ‘system’s’ accomplish basically validates the Lord’s concern ” invalidating the Word of God because of you traditions.”

                    The verse sited points out the real source of misunderstanding what Salvation is and the God’s goal in Christ’s work is.

                    People can be very deceived about their relationship with God in their lives. This is a real and true threat particularly when it has to do with ‘true’ born again believers.

                    The apostle Peter, (I feel) was headed into that direction and was halted by the apostle Paul’s confrontation, which Peter accepted. Having nothing to do with heaven or hell but service. No one would doubt Peter knew his acceptance by the Lord.

                    rhutchin

                    “People can be very deceived about their relationship with God in their lives.”

                    The primary deception concerns whether there is a relationship at all – whether the person is saved. Here, the person can believe that he is saved by his works. The deception is noted by Paul, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all.” This is why the NT writers devoted so much time to “works vs faith.”

                    After God saves a person, “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Paul writes that he is “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” It is God who began a relationship with His elect and who maintains that relationship to the end.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Jim P: At the risk of repeating myself, this is not about the merits of introducing a verse of scripture. Neither is it about the fact that people can deceive themselves and/or each other about their true beliefs. That is a given. What this is about is the clear teaching from Calvin that it is God who deceives some into thinking they are ‘elect’ and are saved when in fact, according to Calvin, they are not.

                    For those who love a bit of copy and paste, I’ve cribbed a bit from the Soteriology101 blog.
                    “Experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected by almost the same feeling as the elect. so that even in their own judgment they do not in any way differ from the Elect… because the Lord, to render them more convicted and inexcusable, steals into their minds to the extent that his goodness may be tasted without the Spirit of Adoption.” (Institutes, 3.2.11).

                    This is also a prime reason why Calvinists/Reformed adherents can and do suffer from lack of assurance. Because whenever anybody exchanges the truth of God’s word for a lie they suffer the consequences.

                    rhutchin

                    Let us recall how Calvin introduces this subject, “I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election…yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.”

                    That there are such people within the church is evidence by Jude, “certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Also, Peter , “there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves….In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.” Paul, ‘the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Such people described in these passages are reprobate, but in their own minds, they are saved and have the same faith as the elect. It is this situation that Calvin addresses.

                    So, how does it come about that such people are deceived to think that they are saved. Calvin offers that God has done this. That’s one explanation. Does Andrew have another explanation?

                    This situation is not a source of conflict regarding God’s elect and assurance despite what Andrew wants to believe. Assurance for the Calvinist or any person who claims to be saved is found in the Scriptures and is that assurance given by God to His elect through His word. Those who lack assurance rely on their works for salvation and this the Scriptures address clearly, should such people read them.

                    Jim P

                    Andrew,

                    I don’t know the intricacies of this topic. Your quote helps and if that is from Calvin then that is a problem of the tradition of Calvin. But I think we would agree that Calvin did contribute some worth in theology.

                    But I do think the verse does give an example the need for anyone, both Calvinists and non-calvinists, to hold to their ‘tradition’ instead of an accurate interpretation. Isn’t that some of your point?

                    Your last sentence also, “Because whenever anybody exchanges the truth of God’s word for a lie they suffer the consequences.” I am convinced that this involves the work of Spirit for the conviction of what is true to take place. But when that subjective element is introduced again, both Calvinists and non-calvinists have a day at it. That is why arguing the correct interpretation of say a bible verse is the most objective way to point out error, what ever tradition. In all of this the Spirit is at work.

                    The verse that was brought up is interpreted in a way that is inconsistent. But I’m sure both camps would agree on that inconsistent interpretation. That just adds to the confusion.

                    Trying not to be argumentative.

                  Les Prouty

                  BTW Andrew, et al,

                  So far the only “evidence” presented by anyone that Calvinists believe that God deceives people into thinking they are saved when they are not and thus cannot have assurance is Leighton Flowers. And his evidence?

                  “This final point is why I believe Calvinism cannot** logically** bring assurance to those who are consistent within it’s systematic.”

                  “Even Calvinists affirm that there are people who sincerely believe they will be saved, but in reality are self-deceived. For instance, John Piper, speaking of the Calvinistic systematic, writes:
                  “You can embrace a system of theology and not even be born again.””

                  Logic? I wish I had a nickel for every time a non Calvinists said something like, “Well we just believe the bible. Calvinists are just all about their logic and philosophical system.” But Dr. Flowers has it pegged because of his logic. No scripture. And the Piper quote? Well we all believe what Piper says in that quote, if we are orthodox.

                  Truth is you all have not even a toe to stand on to make the assertion that Calvinists (broad sweep as has been done here over and over) believe God deceives people and that we can’t have assurance. I think my first comment on that other post was about how silly the assertion is. I stand by that.

                  Les Prouty

                  “What this is about is the clear teaching from Calvin that it is God who deceives some into thinking they are ‘elect’ and are saved when in fact, according to Calvin, they are not.”

                  Ah, much better. It’s about what **Calvin** taught, not what Calvinists teach as asserted before. Very nice correctiojn.

                  And then the quote from Calvin. Good paste. But then you jump the shark.

                  “This is also a prime reason why Calvinists/Reformed adherents can and do suffer from lack of assurance. Because whenever anybody exchanges the truth of God’s word for a lie they suffer the consequences.”

                  You really mean to say that what Calvin taught is the “prime reason?” Nope. Not yet demonstrated. Asserted often, but no one yet has demonstrated it. What Calvin, a man, taught cannot cause anyone to “suffer from lack of assurance.” Unless you can prove me wrong and show these people to us all.

David R. Brumbelow

Jacob Mitchell,

Very good article on the sovereignty of God.

It has always seemed strange to me when a Calvinist claims or implies they are the only ones who believe that God is sovereign.

David R. Brumbelow

    rhutchin

    Calvinists say that there is one definition of “sovereignty” and pretty much everyone uses this definition. Mitchell’s issue with Calvinism is in the use and application of sovereignty.

      Robert

      Rhutchin did you even read the article?
      If you did so, you would never have written that “Calvinists say that there is one definition of ‘sovereignty’ and pretty much everyone uses this definition.” Your statement is completely false. Jacob’s article makes the point that people are not operating from the same definition of sovereignty (“and pretty much everyone uses this definition”). people like rhutchin define sovereignty so that it means exhaustive determinism of all events. But the non-Calvinist rejects this definition and is under no obligation to accept such a false definition promoted by Calvinists. At its most simple conceptual meaning, sovereignty means that God does as He pleases in any and all situations. It does not follow from this meaning that sovereignty means that God ordains all events. What Calvinists do, whether unwittingly or intentionally is to confuse two concepts, sovereignty (which refers to God’s right to do as He pleases in all situations) and providence (which refers to how God exercises His sovereignty over the world). Even if the Calvinist were correct that God does in fact ordain all events that come to pass, that would be referring to his providence not to His sovereignty. Put another way, non-Calvinists and Calvinists do not disagree about the biblical meaning of sovereignty (that He does as He pleases in any and all situations). No, the disagreement concerns the nature of His providence: how does He exercise His sovereignty over the world.

        rhutchin

        As I read the article, Mitchell confused the “definition of sovereignty with the “use and application” of sovereignty.

        Mitchell writes, “Sovereignty is defined as “the power or authority to rule.” In 400 years, the definition remains the same.” and then “The beauty of God’s sovereignty is that He has the right to do whatever He chooses,…” That is the basic definition taht I think all agree to. Then Mitchell writes, “So which of these definitions does the non-Calvinist Southern Baptist deny?…To say that God has power and authority says nothing of how He uses and applies that power and authority within a given context.” He starts one place and then jumps to another. I didn’t even see different definitions in the preceding paragraph, so I couldn’t follow his logic.

        You write, “people like rhutchin define sovereignty so that it means exhaustive determinism of all events.” This is wrong. Calvinists define sovereignty the same way everyone else does; Calvinists then have God exercising sovereignty to exhaustively determine all things – what Mitchell refers to as “use and application” (which no one denies that He can do if He wants).

          Andrew Barker

          rhutchin: “This is wrong. Calvinists define sovereignty the same way everyone else does ”

          If there is one thing we can be sure of, it is this. Calvinists do not define sovereignty in the same way as everyone else does!

            rhutchin

            Everyone defines sovereignty the same way (excepting the Open Theists who figured out that a sovereign God would be everything the Calvinists say and some who are just not engaged in theological matters). The issue is the manner in which God exercises His sovereignty. Here there are largely distinctions without difference.

David R. Brumbelow

Reminds me of the quote:

“I just happen to believe that God is sovereign enough that He can make a man totally free if He wishes to do so.”
-Dr. Paige Patterson, SWBTS.

David R. Brumbelow

    rhutchin

    Even the Calvinists agree with Dr. Patterson on this. Adam and Eve are examples.

    Technically, to be “totally free” one would have to be omniscient, so only God can be “totally free.” Ignorance constrains one’s freedom to act. Still, Dr. Patterson makes a point.

    Jim P

    ‘Totally Free’ is nothing but an abstract and academic idea that makes for good discussion.

    There is only one of two choices that man will live under, neither can be ‘totally free’. One is the rule of sin, the other is the rule of God in Christ.

    The rule of sin is the freedom Adam choose when he ate from the tree. His freedom was freedom from working in harmony with God.
    That is the abstract and academic freedom his wanted and he got. Only one little consequence to that kind of ‘freedom,’ it ends in death.

    Dennis Lee Dabney

    Amen,

    God said “Let Us make “man” in Our image, after Our likeness. Adam’s freedom was granted unto him the day he was created. He was created with a free will to fullfill his purpose in the earth since he was a type of the “One” to come. This statement is crucial to this discussion. When Christ came into the world He said, “I did not come to do His own will but the will of the Father which sent Me”.

    Obedience to the known will of God is how he maintained his freedom. Yet his free will was never in question never in jeopardy. This is one of the reasons the Lord God sent him forth out of the Garden . Why, due to his sinful condition He knew Adam would exercise his free will and take of the tree of life. If he didn’t have a free will God could have left him there with another “command”. Yeah right! Yea rather he and the woman he said God gave him, who later God informed him she was “his” wife. They had to go!

    For it is written,God said “Let Us make “man” in Our image, after Our likeness.

    Preach!

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Correction- When Christ came into the world He said, I did not come to do “My” own will but the will of the Father which sent Me.

volfan007

To believe that God would make a man free to choose, and responsible for his choices, is a much higher view of the sovereignty of God, than that of the determinists and the fatalists.

Non Calvinists have a much stronger view of the sovereignty of God than the Cals do; IMHO.

David

    rhutchin

    That “God would make a man free to choose, and responsible for his choices,” is NOT a much higher view of the sovereignty of God, than that of the determinists and the fatalists. The determinists also hold to that position (BUT it is not a view of sovereignty but an application of sovereignty as Mitchell has distinguished). The determinists then add that every outcome was determined at the point where God created the world and everything is now playing out exactly as recorded in God’s omniscience – an outcome that the Open Theists well understand so consequently, they deny that God has knowledge of all future events – else the Calvinist (determinist) position necessarily prevails.

      Johnathan Pritchett

      rhutchin,

      That is technically incorrect. The decree is logically prior to both God’s free knowledge and the point of creation. In Calvinism, God’s free knowledge is eternally and logically dependent upon God’s formation of the decree. In the formation of the decree (order of decrees, however that is shaken out) is where outcomes were determined, not the point of creation. So, logically prior to and independent of the decree (or formation of it), God has no free knowledge of outcomes, nor could they be determined.

      This is the fatal flaw of it in my opinion. God’s omniscience (an ATTRIBUTE) is logically dependent upon God’s decree (God performing an ACTION).

      This is totally unacceptable. An omniscient being should know absolutely everything by the very nature of the case without logical, temporal, or any other kind of dependence on anything, especially being dependent on “doing something.” God need not have to “do” in order to “be” God.

        rhutchin

        I agree and thought and that was what I was saying. I pointed to the creation not as the point where God made His decrees/decisions but to show that they had been made by that point. God has decreed everything that is to happen in this world and those decrees began to evidence themselves in the course of time beginning with Genesis 1:1. That is the conclusion we draw from God’s omniscience. There is nothing that God does not know and that which God knows is derived from His decrees. I think that is the point you make and I agree with it. We cannot put God’s decrees logically after His knowledge without voiding omniscience – as the Calvinists maintain and the Open Theists have come to agree leading them to void omniscience as the only way to offer an alternative to Calvinism.

        rhutchin

        Where you say, “This is the fatal flaw of it in my opinion. God’s omniscience (an ATTRIBUTE) is logically dependent upon God’s decree (God performing an ACTION).”

        God’s decrees are decisions that God makes. With respect to the particular action involved, that action manifest in the course of time. God decreed that David commit adultery. That adultery then manifests in David’s life.

        Then you say, ‘This is totally unacceptable. An omniscient being should know absolutely everything by the very nature of the case without logical, temporal, or any other kind of dependence on anything, especially being dependent on “doing something.” God need not have to “do” in order to “be” God.”

        I don’t see why this is an issue. The “doing something” that God does is making decisions regarding His involvement in the affairs of the people He has decided to create. Those decisions do not play off the actions of His creation; the actions of people play off God’s decisions.

    Johnathan Pritchett

    David,

    Indeed!

    Traditionalism – God is the greatest conceivable sovereign being.

    Arminianism – God is the greatest conceivable sovereign observer.

    Open Theism – God is the greatest conceivable sovereign anticipator.

    Calvinism – God is the greatest conceivable sovereign schizophrenic screenwriter.

      volfan007

      Johnathan,

      lol

      David

Dennis Lee Dabney

James 1:13-14
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

In Gen 3:12 Adam attempted to redefine God’s sovereignty when he included God partially responsible for “his” sin, when he said, the “woman Thou gavest to be with me”, she gave me of the tree and I did eat. Listen, it didn’t even happen like that. Our Sovereign wasn’t having any part of that nonsense, squashed that new doctrine in Gen 3: 17 when He said, because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not!

All of us in here believe when scripture speaks God has already spoken.

Our Sovereign is not like the little boy who was in the wagon that turned over. When someone standing by asked him, what happened? He said, I don’t know, I’m not “in” it. . . !

There is absolutely no sin or trace of evil in God. Yet for our sake beloved, He did become sin.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Preach!

lydia

“To believe that God would make a man free to choose, and responsible for his choices, is a much higher view of the sovereignty of God, than that of the determinists and the fatalists.”

Yes! God is Sovereign over His Sovereignty. That is the view of love not determinism.

In effect, I cringe at what the focus on determinism does to Jesus Christ Who is the full representation of God. No wonder ESS is so popular in those circles turning Jesus into a sort of lesser God. . Otherwise, determinism makes Jesus Christ look like a bait and switch deceiver.

Greg Schumacher

Great article. What the Calvinist does is conflate the word “sovereign” with the definition of “tyrant”. This is a deception. Truth does not come forth out of deception.

I would disagree with this one statement: “and that God could have sent humanity to hell for their sin without His propitiation on the cross in the person of Jesus.”
My position is that God could not have done such a thing. My reasoning is that God is perfect. Holy and righteous. Righteous means “right-ness”. What God does is right because it is perfect. Since God is perfect, He does what is perfect to do. I do not think that we would say that God weighs alternatives for Himself and “could do” a lesser alternative. Logically I must conclude that God “could not have” sent humanity to hell without possibility of reconciliation, because He didn’t do that. He cannot do what is not perfect to do. He cannot deny Himself. He is faithful and just. Because of who He is, He must provide reconciliation, because He is faithful and true in His character.

God is just to judge. But that is not the point. It is common for Christians to say, God “could have done” this or that. That is a fallacy of thinking and births many doctrinal errors.

Adam was created a son of God Luke 3:38. This reveals the very purpose of the creation of the human race, to have a destiny of being a race of sons. God could not have sent humanity to hell without providing salvation from sin, because that would have been against His own purposes, in addition to the fact that that is not what He did because it would not have been prefect to do so, what He did in providing salvation being what He perfectly did.

I believe that Rom 1:19-20 teaches that everything that can be known about God has been clearly and obviously revealed in the things He has made, which is the estate of our reality, His creation. A father is not justified in destroying a child just because it has a birth defect or misbehaves. A father is just in judging and disciplining that child, and providing a way of reconciliation. This is God revealed in reality.

The claim that God “could have” sent everyone to hell without saving anyone” is a lie, for God cannot sin, and cannot lie, and cannot deny Himself. God is always holy and just. He cannot be otherwise. If condemning the whole human race could have been God’s just decision, then that is what God would have done in perfect justice. Not only is it not what God did, but God went way way the other way, becoming Himself flesh as a man, to Himself take on the election of being the lamb for sin, not counting equality with his Godhood in that flesh as a thing to be grasped, held, embraced, but humbling Himself even to death on the cross. We forget that it was God Almighty, Creator of the heavens and the earth, who shed blood on the cross to propitiate for sin.

For the Calvinist, this is irrational, because their definition of “sovereign” is in juxtaposition to God Almighty on the cross, the lamb of God. But such is His great, great love, which we see in a glass darkly, a glimpse. Something the Calvinist cannot know.

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