The Image of God in Man:
A proposed working definition

September 7, 2012

By Dr. Ronnie Rogers

Author of the book, “Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist,” Ronnie Rogers is senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Norman, Okla.

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I believe the most important conviction that a person can have is his belief about God, and second to that is his supposition about man. These two beliefs influence all other ideas and actions. By beliefs about God and man, I do not mean what one claims to believe, but rather what one actually believes to be true about each. My focus in this article is the image of God in man. In our quest to be consistent Christians, our view of the image of God in man should affect our theology, ministry, philosophy, evangelism rubric, politics, pedagogy, penology, criminology, parenting, sociology, psychology, jurisprudence, etc. In reality, these discussions are, whether stated or unstated, pedestaled upon one’s view of man.

For example, most of us are aware of the battles in jurisprudence between those who view criminals as responsible for their crimes (while other variables may have influenced them, they did not make them commit their crimes) and others who portray them as victims of irresistible antecedents. These two perspectives are based upon opposing views of the nature of man. The former is historically known as the classical view as formulated by Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794), and the latter is known as positivism, a school that was composed of several Italians that is now most associated with Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909).[1] Beccaria emphasized things like the free will of man and punishment should fit the crime whereas Lombroso argued for a biological theory of crime; therefore, he replaced the theory of man being both material and immaterial with a more naturalistic view of man (no image of God), and replaced free will with determinism. Consequently, punishment should fit the criminal rather than the crime, i.e. indeterminate sentences.

Similarly, we see the medicalizing of morality based upon the same biological view of the nature of man, so that man is viewed as neither right nor wrong but only as either healthy or sick. Thus he needs to be treated as one who is sick rather than wrong, evil, or sinful. Hopefully, it is easy to see how this not only destroys culture, but hardens people to the gospel since they are not really responsible for their actions, which of course means they do not deserve judgment nor need forgiveness but only a rather large aspirin. This also taints their view of God, for what kind of God would send someone to hell for merely having a sickness like cancer? This is just one example of how our view of man must be clearly biblical in our discussions in every area of life and ultimately impacts our communication of the gospel.

It sometimes appears that what are offered as characteristics of the Image of God (Imago Dei) in man are also characteristics of either animals, angels, or both. Consequently, if there is nothing unique to man, then we are actually left without a description of the image. This left me seeking to develop a working definition of the image that recognizes some similarities with angels or animals but also some essential categorical or degree dissimilarities as well.

Systematic theologians like Charles Hodge, John Calvin, and Millard Erickson offer very helpful insights, surveys, and thoughts regarding the image of God. My intent is not to replace those, but rather to suggest a working definition that enables Christians to apply this essential truth in everyday life and to be equipped to answer some difficult questions regarding Scripture and life. The reason for various conclusions about what constitutes the Imago Dei is that, as Erickson notes, “there are no direct statements in Scripture to resolve the issue.”[2]

Please consider the following. First, within Christianity, some claim that the image was destroyed in the fall of Adam and Eve, while others believe that it is corrupted, but not destroyed or eradicated. The explanation that I offer, at least for me, seeks to incorporate each of these opinions. Second, I believe that an essential component of the Imago Dei is libertarian free will with contrary choice. As far as the fall of man, this means that whatever choice Adam did in fact make, he could have chosen otherwise. Now, I realize that my Calvinist brothers and sisters believe in a compatible view of free will, which means that Adam was free to choose to do what he did in fact do, but not free to have done otherwise with regard to eating the forbidden fruit.[3]

While Calvinists will certainly disagree with my inclusion of libertarian free will in my definition, I do pray that you will feel the freedom to insert a compatible view of free will and be able to find other aspects of the definition helpful. Hopefully, the rest of the components of the definition will not prove to be as controversial (please forgive the unfathomable depths of my naivety). Third, this type of working definition is always tentative. The goal is to provide us with a working model. Consequently, please feel free to offer nuances or revisions for all of us to consider. Lastly, I have sought to include various aspects that may be considered essential to the image for some while consequences or manifestations of the image to others because they are not contradictory but merely classified differently. Following is my working definition.

Man was created in the image of God, which means at least this: man is the product of special creation by God, which included God’s bestowal of some of His divine attributes (Genesis 1:26-28, 5:1). This did not make man God or a god, but rather the unique image bearer of God. Infants have these attributes in essence—infant form—and nurturing is to develop this essence as well as the child’s physical being.

This image consists of at least: righteousness; holiness; right relationship with and true understanding of God, man, and the rest of creation; sacredness of all human life; belonging to God as creator;[4] contrary choice (libertarian free will and the ability to act contra-instinctually); a sense of justness (now often evidenced by humans’ quest to justify self); moral and spiritual consciousness; extraordinary rationality (including self-awareness and intricate abstractional ability); relational complexity (need to give and be loved involving more than being instinctually relational); compassionate and merciful dominion (ability to exercise delegated authority); creation of other image bearers (procreation); redeemability; ability to exercise trust (seen within the Trinity and essential to all higher-level relationships); and creative ability (e.g. ability to transform matter  into wealth for survival, pleasure, or beauty as seen in creation and creative production beyond necessities in the Garden).[5]

While some of these are similar to attributes of angels and animals who are created by God but are not created in His image, other attributes are either essentially dissimilar or dissimilar by an unattainable degree. Attributes that are essentially dissimilar are therefore undeniably not from anyone or anything other than the direct creation of God (e.g. Darwinian descent). Some that are not possessed by angels include redeemability, relational complexity, and procreating image bearers. Also, creative ability may not be possessed by angels or may not be possessed in the same degree and complexity as man. Animals do not include those attributes as well as righteousness; true understanding of God, man, and creation; a sense of justice; morals; rationality; spiritual consciousness; compassion; libertarian and counter instinctual choice; and creative ability.

Although man was created in the image of God, man sinned (Genesis 3:1-6), and the image of God in man was changed. The following seeks to explain how the image was changed.

The narrow sense of the image of God includes righteousness, holiness, and right relationship with God. In the narrow sense, the image of God was destroyed. These attributes of the image did not remain in any sense after the fall of man. If man was to ever posses them again, God would have to recreate them through a redemptive and creative act, which He now offers though faith in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:9-10).

The extensive sense of the image of God includes the rest of the attributes of the image of God. In this extensive sense, the image was not utterly destroyed in the fall and therefore still exists in man (Genesis 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9); however, these attributes are severely corrupted and beyond human repair. Consequently, these still exist in man albeit in disfigured, diminished, and perverted form.

In these areas, we still imitate God, albeit in a very diminished and distorted way. For example, in the area of cognition, Alvin Plantinga reminds us that, “We resemble God not just in being persons, who can think and feel, who have aims and intentions, who form beliefs and act on those beliefs, and the like; we resemble God more particularly in being able to know and understand something of ourselves, our world, and God himself.”[6]

Now this cognitive ability is corrupted, not totally reliable, and can be used for evil, but it is still real and not imaginary. The same can be said of the other extensive attributes of the image of God. Therefore, fallen man still bears the image diminutively and correspondingly manifests the attributes of the image. Redemption in Christ is the only path to full restoration of the image of God (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

With a biblical view of man made in the image of God, with some of the image destroyed and some corrupted, Christians can speak most accurately and comprehensively about the destructiveness of man (murder, rape, lying, narcissism, personal sinfulness, blasphemy, etc.,) thereby helping people to see not only the truth of the gospel, but their personal need as well. Christians can do this without ignoring the magnificent accomplishments of man (technology, music, medicine, etc., which many seek to hide man’s sinfulness behind) that evidence being created in the image of God rather than merely being a product of Darwinian common descent.


[1] Sue Titus Reid, Crime and Criminology, (New York: CBS College Publishing, 1985), 72-76.

[2] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, vol. 2, (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Book House, 1984), 513.

[3] Subsequent to the fall, both views recognize that man’s freedom to choose is not capable of restoring his relationship with God, nor does he so desire to according to God’s standard.

[4] Mark 12:17

[5]Matter becomes a resource when it comes in contact with humans; before such creative contact it is just raw matter.

[6] Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 4.

 

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Steve Martin

There’s no doubt that we were made in the image of God, and capable of a great deal of ‘good’.

However, the fall was a deliberate act of disobedience an an assertion of our will, over and above God’s.

We do have a “free-will” in so many areas of life. But when it comes to the things of God our wills are bound to sin.

That is why St. Paul tells us in Romans, that “no one seeks for God”, and that “no one is righteous, no not one.”

And why the gospel of John tells us that “we are born not of the will of man (ourselves) but of God.”
And why Jesus straightened out Nicodemus, telling him that “the Spirit of God blows like the wind, where it will.”
And why Jesus told Peter, “blessed are you Simon Peter, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father in Heaven.”
And why Jesus told them, “no man CAN come to me, except he be drawn (compelled is a better translation) by the Father.”

When you start with a free-will (when it comes to matters of faith), you’ll end up in bondage.

When you start with bondage to sin, as the Bible does, then you’ll end up with real freedom.

Thanks, very much.

    Ron Hale

    Steve,
    Were you “bound” or “free” in writing your?

      Ron Hale

      ….comment?

      Sam

      Mr. Hale,

      Did you not read Steve’s comment carefully? He said “We do have a “free-will” in so many areas of life. But when it comes to the things of God our wills are bound to sin.”

      That should answer your question. But if you are still unsure, let me explain further: Steve is a believer in Christ. So he has already been “unbound”, which makes your question irrelevant, since Jesus has already made him free: “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (Jn. 8:36) The fact that the Son of God needs to make us free shows that the opposite is true for all men: they are all “bound” until Christ makes them “free”.

      But as Steve indicated. There are all sorts of areas where unbelievers are free, even in typing blog entrees. But when it comes to spiritual things, such as receiving Christ, they are bound to sin and need to be made free by Christ in order to enable them to come to Him (Jn. 6:44; 8:36; etc.)

      Sam I am

        Steve Martin

        Nice job, Sam.

        You explained it very well.

        I just got home from a long day at work, so I’m going to relax a bit (my brain is like jelly).

        Hopefully, I’ll check in later.

        Thanks.

        Lydia

        “But when it comes to the things of God our wills are bound to sin.”

        What things in life have nothing to do with God? Is writing a comment on a baptist blog a “thing of God”?

    holdon

    “When you start with a free-will (when it comes to matters of faith), you’ll end up in bondage.

    When you start with bondage to sin, as the Bible does, then you’ll end up with real freedom.”

    I think Paul says it better:

    Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves bondmen for obedience, ye are bondmen to him whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
    But thanks be to God, that ye were bondmen of sin, but have obeyed from the heart the form of teaching into which ye were instructed.
    Now, having got your freedom from sin, ye have become bondmen to righteousness.

      Steve Martin

      Paul does it better.

      He says, “Faith is a gift of God.”

      It’s not something that we do, or a deal that we close.

        Robert

        Steve you claim that the apostle Paul said that faith is a gift of God. I am guessing that you get this from your understanding of Ephesians 2. Are you aware that in the Greek text **faith** is not the gift, **salvation** is?

        Steve you also said regarding faith that “It’s not something that we do, or a deal that we close.”

        So who has faith then? Does God have faith instead of us? Is it the faith of our parents or friends?

        How in the world can you claim that we are not the onese who have faith. Aren’t we the ones who choose to trust the Lord to save us???

        Robert

          Sam

          Robert, you have got it all wrong. See the second paragraph below:

          Ephesians 2:1-10 opens up to us a deeper understanding of grace than the common definition “unmerited favor”. The passage unveils a transforming grace. Unbelievers are portrayed as “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Hope for transformation hardly lies in the human will since people take pleasure in doing what the flesh desires. Thus, they are by nature under the sentence of God’s wrath. Yet, God, because of his indescribable mercy and deep love, has not left all human beings in this state. Those who were dead in trespasses and sins, those who had no inclination whatsoever to turn to God, “He made alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5). Significantly, Paul immediately comments, “by grace you have been saved.” This explanation is imperative for defining grace in Paul’s writings. Grace is certainly unmerited favor–though it is not merely unmerited favor in the sense that one may choose to receive or reject a gift. Grace is also a power that raises someone from the dead, that lifts those in the grave into new life. Grace is both an undeserved gift and a transforming power.

          Once we grasp this notion of grace, it is clear what Paul means when he says ‘by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). The power of God saved us by raising us from death when we were utterly unresponsive to God. This raises the question is faith included in God’s gift, or is faith our contribution to God’s saving work? The demonstrative pronoun this (touto) is neuter, and thus it cannot be the specific antecedent to grace or faith since the words grace (chariti) and faith (pisteos) are both feminine. Nor can it refer specifically back to saved, for the participle saved (sesomenoi) is masculine. Indeed, no word in the preceding context is neuter. What, then, is the significance of the neuter? Paul wanted to communicate that everything said in Ephesians 2:8 is God’s gift. If he had used the masculine or feminine form of the pronoun, some might have concluded that some of the elements contained in this verse were not part of God’s gift. By using the neuter he emphasizes that the whole is God’s gift. Thus faith too is the gift of God.

          Now, it is your choice, Robert, to continue to dig your heels in and believe what your heart tells you or to believe the Scriptures.

            holdon

            Sam,

            You quote Schreiner’s interpretation. It would have been nice to state that, so that people don’t think it came from you.

            But to infer from that passage that faith is the gift of God (because “the whole is a gift”) is simply wrong.
            The “and that is not or yourselves” absolutely excludes that it is faith tat Paul is speaking about as gift, because to believe is something that people do. Paul is speaking about “salvation by grace” and grace means gift.
            By the way, to believe (faith) is something we do, but Paul makes it clear that faith is not a work; that it excludes boasting of any kind. Because F.A.I.T.H. means Forsaking All I Trust Him.

            Sam

            Yes. It is almost word-for-word from Schreiner. Sorry I didn’t point that out. …I’ve mentioned in the past that I do not know original languages, so when you see something with this much about the original, be well aware that I needed someones help!

            Sam

            I know you need that interpretation, Holdon, but it doesn’t line up with the grammer. Sorry.

            Sam

            “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
            -Jesus (John 6:29)

            Either faith is God’s work in us (as this text indicates) or it is our work.

            holdon

            ““This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
            -Jesus (John 6:29)

            Either faith is God’s work in us (as this text indicates) or it is our work.”

            Where does it say in this text that “faith is God’s work in us”???
            I think you need to put that into the text for your theology, but it simply isn’t in there so you can’t get it out of there.

            Let’s look at the verse.
            A. What is it that God is doing: He sent Jesus.
            B. What is that we are doing: we believe that.

            Look at the context. They had traveled a long distance: a lot of work. Jesus tells them not to do that to fill their own satisfaction, but to work for eternal satisfaction; to recognize the stamp that the Father had put on the Son. Then they ask how they could do such a work. And Jesus tells them to believe that the Father had sent Him so save them from eternal hunger. This meant they were lost; could not boast on the religion of Moses, but needed to receive the true bread of life that the Father gave.

            Robert

            Hello Holdon,

            You are doing a great job of refuting Sam’s claim that Ephesians 2 teaches that faith is a gift. The greek text clearly indicates that the gift referred to there cannot be faith. Holdon (or anyone else interested) if you would like to read an excellent article on this topic do a google search type in “George Zeller what is the gift of faith”. That will bring up Zeller’s excellent article on this issue.

            Holdon you are making excellent points on this topic. Unfortunately Sam just has his mind made up and is not listening to you.

            Sam said to me that “Robert, you have it all wrong.” I don’t have it all wrong because I know the Greek on this text and it does not support his interpretation that faith is the gift referred to in Eph. 2. Sam then pulls a real no, no which fortunately you recognized Holdon: he cited someone without giving proper citation. That is really wrong and definitely not what Christians ought to be doing. If you cite someone you need to give credit and properly cite your sourcel

            It is humorous that Sam says himself that he does not understand Greek, so why is he then citing Shreiner on the Greek when he does not even understand it??

            And if you look at Schreiner’s words, he also admits that the Greek does not say the gift if faith. Schreiner then reads in his interpretation and argues that Paul is talking about the totality of things mentioned which includes faith, so that faith is a gift.
            but that is not what the Greek text says.

            Sam also wrote: “Now it is your choice, Robert, to continue to dig your heels in and believe what your heart tells you or to believe the Scripture.”

            That’s a false dilemma as my heart is to believe what the scripture properly interpreted means. And properly interpreted the Greek text clearly does not say that the gift being referred to there is faith.

            Robert

Rick Patrick

One of the things I appreciate about the writing of Dr. Rogers is that, as a former Calvinist, he speaks their language. Formerly, I never felt the need to qualify the term “free will” by means of the term “libertarian,” which always sounds to my ear like the kind of free will embraced by Ron Paul and Bob Barr.

While Calvinists are fond of quoting Scriptures saying none are righteous or seek God, they conveniently ignore Scriptures specifically telling us to “Seek…His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and to “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” (Isaiah 55:6)

If God endowed humans with the Total Inability to seek Him, why would He command those same humans to do exactly that?

Along with Rogers, I believe our depravity does not extend so far as to eliminate our genuine free will to respond to the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit through the gospel.

Thus, “libertarian free” will is redundant term, insofar as “free” means “free.” Once one views depravity as including human inability, the result is a salvation process which is no longer open ended and offered to all who will receive, but is rather a closed system only available to those who have been chosen, a fatalistic perspective that ultimately eliminates man’s choice, and fundamentally changes the task of the evangelist in this way–instead of pleading with a man’s soul to be saved, he should plead only with God to choose that man’s soul and save him.

Should we not address our preaching to the one who is actually making the decision? I believe God, in His sovereignty, has chosen to give man, made in His image, both the freedom and the responsibility to make that decision.

    Robert

    Hello Rick,

    I wanted to piggyback on some of your comments and give additional support for what you stated.

    You wrote:

    “While Calvinists are fond of quoting Scriptures saying none are righteous or seek God, they conveniently ignore Scriptures specifically telling us to “Seek…His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and to “Seek the Lord while He may be found.” (Isaiah 55:6)”

    Steve who is Lutheran but holds Reformed ideas repeatedly likes to quote from Romans 3 where Paul quotes some OT scripture including the phrase “and no one seeks after God” to claim that the nonbeliever will never ever seek after God under any circumstances. Put another way, Steve, like many calvinists tries to argue the doctrine of inability from Romans 3. But Romans 3 was not talking about **inability of people to come to God without being regenerated first”. Instead Paul in the early chapters of Romans is building a case against the human race aiming to demonstrate that both Jews and Gentiles are equally guilty of sin. Paul’s point in Romans 3 is not to argue for inability but to argue for the universality of sin. You have to know you are a sinner before the righteousness of God through faith in Christ will mean anything to you. We cannot take Paul’s statements in Romans 3 too absolutely. Paul quotes the OT where it says that “no one seeks after God”.

    But he did not mean that absolutely, he could not have meant that absolutely as later in the Romans 9-11 section when he discusses first century Jewish unbelief he says: “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:2-3). Paul does not say here that none of them were seeking after God. He says they were ZEALOUS about God and spiritual things. Their mistake was that rather than accepting Christ and obtaining the righteousness apart from the law, they were seeking to obtain their own righteousness by keeping the law (cf. Rom. 9:30-33).

    “If God endowed humans with the Total Inability to seek Him, why would He command those same humans to do exactly that?”

    I believe that something forgotten or minimized by calvinist types is that whenever God’s Word goes out it is accompanied by the work of the Holy Spirit which enables people to understand and respond to the Word. Put another way, whenever Jesus spoke the Spirit was simultaneously drawing people to Jesus. The Spirit always works in conjunction with the Word. So when God says something, that word is not spoken in a vacuum but the Spirit is always present enabling people to understand and respond to that word.

    “Along with Rogers, I believe our depravity does not extend so far as to eliminate our genuine free will to respond to the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit through the gospel.”

    This is a key point that again calvinist types miss about the thinking of “Traditionalists” and other non-calvinists. We believe that in ordinary life people have and experience free will constantly (i.e. people have genuine choices about what they will eat, wear, where they will go, how they will spend their time, etc. etc.). We also believe that APART FROM THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT no one can have a faith response to the gospel. We also believe that the preconversion work of the Spirit enables but does not necessitate a faith response. So Rick when you speak here of “the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit through the gospel” that phrase packs a lot of punch. It says that the drawing is required for a person to be enabled to have faith (cf. Jn. 6:44, Jn. 12:32). It says that this drawing involves the Word of God specifically the gospel. And it says that as the gospel goes out the Spirit is working in people enabling them to have faith. So depravity properly understood means that sin has effected every aspect of mankind. So that on our own, apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit we cannot come to Christ in faith. And yet if the Spirit works in the nonbeliever, that person is enabled to have a faith response.

    “Thus, “libertarian free” will is redundant term, insofar as “free” means “free.” Once one views depravity as including human inability, the result is a salvation process which is no longer open ended and offered to all who will receive, but is rather a closed system only available to those who have been chosen, a fatalistic perspective that ultimately eliminates man’s choice, and fundamentally changes the task of the evangelist in this way–instead of pleading with a man’s soul to be saved, he should plead only with God to choose that man’s soul and save him.”

    The problem with this what you describe as a “closed salvation process” is that it takes an extreme view on depravity. According to this view, a person is depraved meaning that under no circumstances can a nonbeliever have a faith response to the gospel UNLESS they are first regenerated. According to this closed salvation process, only those who are regenerated first, can then have a faith response to the gospel. And this regeneration necessitates this faith response. In a word the salvation process has been made completely deterministic. Besides the fact that scrpture does not teach this scheme, my major problem is that it leaves out or ignored or minimizes the preconversion work of the Spirit. It replaces the preconversion work of the Spirit which his very personal with a mechanistic and impersonal deterministic process. I know the Spirit changes people and enables them to believe, enables them to respond to the gospel. I have experienced it myself and seen it in many others who are converted to Christianity. In the mechanistic model none can believe unless regenerated first, and God chooses to regenerate only some though he could regenerate them all. In the biblical model in contrast the Spirit goes out and convicts the world of righteousness, sin and judgment. The biblicla model is much more personal. The Spirit who is God and is a person is working personally in the lives of unbelievers to enable them to have a faith response to the gospel. And yet the Spirit’s work does not necessitate faith as it can (and sometimes) is resisted (e.g. some experience the work of the Spirit and in one hour are converted, others experience His work for days, months or even years before they become believers, and still others experience the enligtening by the Spirit and never do become believers).

    “Should we not address our preaching to the one who is actually making the decision? I believe God, in His sovereignty, has chosen to give man, made in His image, both the freedom and the responsibility to make that decision.”

    Theological determinists are outraged that God could actually leave the decision of whether or not an individual wants to be saved up to that individual. They will argue in various ways against this notion, including that this would mean the person “saves himself” or that the person might boast in his decision, or that their decision ultimately saves them, etc. But all of these arguments by the determinists miss some simple facts.

    First, if God himself decided that the salvation process would include human persons freely choosing to trust Him alone for their salvation, deciding themselves if they want to be saved, then THAT IS THE WAY IT IS GOING TO BE (no matter who does not like it).

    Second, it is not the decision that saves a person anyway, it is the actions of God alone that save a person. The decision to trust the Lord (i.e. the choice to have faith in God to save you) is not what saves you. I often use the illustraton of a person facing a life threatening surgery who gives consent for the operation. Their consent is not what saves them, and their consent is not what does the work of saving them. Instead, it is the surgical team’s skill and work that actually does the saving.

    Third, the choice to trust (i.e. to have faith) according to the bible is of such a nature as to EXCLUDE BOASTING (cf. Rom. 3:27-28). I get tired of hearing determinists argue that if God leaves the decision of whether or not a person wants to be saved to that individual, that it may then lead to boasting. If the bible explicitly says that faith excludes boasting, and if faith is a condition of justification (which is said explicitly and repeatedly in both Romans and Galatians) then why do these determinists ignore this fact and keep arguing that the person may boast in their decision??? I have fortunately been involved in the conversions of a lot of people and not once has any of these people boasted in the way the determinists claim that they will! I have also observed that those who most strongly argue that the decision to trust will lead to boasting have very little or no actual experience in leading others to Jesus for salvation.

    The fact is that God has sovereignly decided to make justification conditioned upon a freely chosen decision to trust Him alone for salvation. And after the Spirit reveals to a person their sinful condition, their lostness, their only hope being to trust in Christ, that Christ died for them, that they need to have their sins forgiven in order to relate personally to a holy God, that Jesus is the only way of salvation, etc. etc. That person is very humbled and ends up **begging** God to save them. This begging nature of saving faith is what excludes boasting because you realize (again through the work of the Spirit) that you cannot save yourself, that nothing you could do is good enough or sufficient enough to save you and so your only hope is to trust that God will save you. Your confidence is completely in Him and not yourself when it comes to being saved. If that is how you are thinking, then you are in a mental state opposite of the mental state you’d be in when you are boasting. But you tell these things to determinists and they ignore it and keep trotting out their argument that a freely chosen faith response may lead to boasting.

    Robert

    Debbie Kaufman

    Rick: He speaks our language? I would disagree with that statement along with his being a former Calvinist. What he thought Calvinists believe and what Calvinists believe are two different things.

      Rick Patrick

      I prophesy that one day, the chosen one will come. He will be the one Non-Calvinist in the history of the world who will, finally, accurately describe the beliefs of Calvinists.

      According to the prophecy, unfortunately, once he truly, truly understands Calvinism, he will of course embrace its doctrines, since that is how you can tell whether or not someone comprehends Reformed theology.

      Robert

      Debbie nornally I just ignore your comments, but this time I will not. You make the statement that “I would disagree with that statement along with his being a former Calvinist.”

      This statement is so patently false that it deserves a response. Ronnie Rodgers is definitely a former calvinist.
      And he knows and understands calvinism very well.

      Debbie have you even read his new book?

      I am guessing No, because you claim he is ****not*** a former calvinist. No one could read that book and reasonably come to your conclusion.

      The only way you could come to your conclusion that he is not a former calvinist is if you claim he is lying about his past. Is that what you are now claiming Debbie??? Seriously do you really think he is lying about his past and just makinhg it up??? If you read his book you will see he has a very comprehensive knowledge and understanding of calvinism.

      Because he knows calvinism inside and out and backwards and forwards he is a real good person to critique it. Debbie why don’t you read his book and then come back here and claim that he is not a former calvinist and does not understand it.

      Robert

        Lydia

        His book is very affordable for kindle. I have been reading it. To say he was not a Calvinist is very strange, indeed, since he wrote a detailed book about why he isn’t anymore!

          Debbie Kaufman

          It’s a detailed book on a straw man version of Calvinism. Big difference. He’s against and turned away from a doctrine that not even Calvinists believe.

            Robert

            What Debbie says here is not true at all. Rodgers is not dealing with a straw man in his book at all.

            Debbie you claim he is attacking a straw man in his book, so tell us explicitly what this straw man is.

            You make the claim so show us the straw man that he is allegedly attacking.

            To the rest of you: Debbie will not be able to do so as Rodgers deals with what calvinists really believe.

            It is sad that people like Debbie just cannot comprehend that an ex-calvinist thoroughly familiar with calvinism could reject it and then write a book sharing his critique. But that is in fact the case here. I commend Rodgers book wholeheartedly as he demonstrates a very thorough understanding of calvinism and also carefully and effectively shows the problems with the calvinism that he once held.

            Robert

            Debbie Kaufman

            Robert: If Ronnie would have written a book based on what Calvinists actually believe(although today’s post is good, in the interest of honesty), I would have less of a problem.

            His book has been quoted from in posts here and discussed. The reasons are in the comment sections.

        Debbie Kaufman

        BTW Robert, that would make us even in that I usually ignore your long comments too.

Ben Simpson

I appreciate this article and the thoughtfulness with which it was written. The image of God in man is a very important and ever-relevant topic.

When I first read that Rogers was going to synthesize the contradictory ideas that the image was destroyed and that the image was corrupted, I thought it would be an exercise in futility, but he seems to have succeeded by giving a very general definition of the image of God (“man is the product of special creation by God, which included God’s bestowal of some of His divine attributes”) and then by giving an expansive list of these share divine attributes, some of which were destroyed and the rest only corrupted.

I would categorize the attributes Rogers mentioned in this way: moral attributes (righteousness, holiness) and the functional attributes (true understanding of God, man, and the rest of creation; contrary choice; a sense of justness; moral and spiritual consciousness; extraordinary rationality; relational complexity; compassionate and merciful dominion; creation of other image bearers; redeemability; ability to exercise trust; and creative ability). He also mentioned some positional attributes (right relationship with God, man, and the rest of creation; sacredness of all human life; belonging to God as creator) that I would wouldn’t include in an actual description of the image of God. These positional attributes are not the image itself but rather products of the image.

I do think it’s interesting that Rogers focused only on the moral attributes and the functional attributes in his explanation of the image of God. I believe he’s missing a very important category, which might be called ontological attributes. Attributes such as being male/female (which Genesis 1 links directly to the image of God); having eyes that see, ears that hear, mouths that speak, and so on (of course, God does these things without a body); and the fact that part of our constitution is spirit. These need to be added to his working definition.

Overall, the article was helpful.

Ben Simpson

One matter from the article that does need reconsideration, I believe, is the idea that God has libertarian free will with contrary choice, which Rogers posits that God passed on to mankind in the image of God. God does not have this sort of freedom. Can God sin? Can God deny himself? Can God cease to love, be just, be wrathful, be merciful, etc? No, no, and no. I could go on with examples. God is free to act according to His nature and is free to do what He wants to do.

It’s one thing if one wants to argue that man has libertarian free will with contrary choice in this age (I wouldn’t but some certainly do), but it’s an altogether different thing to argue that God has libertarian free will with contrary choice and that we’ll have it in the age to come.

    Sam

    Exactly Ben!

    If God had true libertarian free will, He could go from being a good, holy and just God who loves all people to an evil, unholy God who hates all mankind. And since He is all-powerful, it would be a frightful universe to live in. Thankfully, Dr. Rogers is wrong. God does not have libertarian free will.

      Robert

      Sam presents a really dubious argument:

      “Exactly Ben!
      If God had true libertarian free will, He could go from being a good, holy and just God who loves all people to an evil, unholy God who hates all mankind. And since He is all-powerful, it would be a frightful universe to live in. Thankfully, Dr. Rogers is wrong. God does not have libertarian free will.”

      So let’s see Sam’s “logic” here.

      It appears that he is claiming that if a person (including God) has “true libertarian free will” then that person can CHOOSE TO DO ANYTHING no matter what that anything is.

      So that would mean according to Sam that while God presently is a “good, holy and just God who loves all people” HE COULD CHOOSE TO BECOME “an evil, unholy God who hates all mankind” at any time he chose to do so.

      So God is going to change his nature?

      Is that what people mean by having free will?

      That you can just change your nature anytime that you choose to do so?

      So for example, I like dolphins, so I could by simply choosing, change myself into a dolphin?

      Or a young girl likes mermaids, so by simply choosing, she can change into a mermaid or a comic book character, or anything else she wants to become?

      Sam’s reasoning here is awful. And he caricatures and misrepresents what people mean by free will.

      My first thought upon reading this attempted argument against the existence of free will was that Sam must *****really, really***** hate free will to be making such a ridiculous attempt at attacking it.

      My second thought was that whenever you attack reality, you lose! :-)

      Sam can come up with all of these ridiculous arguments and he can mock and ridicule free will all that he wants, but as God created the universe (and that includes creating man with the capacity for having and making our own choices, i.e. free will) Sam’s rants don’t change a thing.

      And Sam presents an argument here that contradicts what he already knows to be true.

      Surely Sam must know that the orthodox Christian belief across the board is that God’s nature does not change.

      This is believed by Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Independents, even Open theists. It is only those who promote some sort of process theology that believe God’s nature can change. So for Sam to present this argument shows real desperation on his part.

      Does he really believe that Traditionalists and other non-calvinists believe that God can change his nature by simply choosing to do so?

      And this claim that free will is the power to do anything you choose to do no matter what that is, is to confuse free will with omnipotence.

      And even this confusion is based upon a mistaken view of omnipotence. Omnipotence does not mean that you can do whatever you want to do, no matter what that is. God is omnipotent but that does not mean he can choose to do anything no matter what. A person’s choices will involve their range of choices. And God’s range of choices does not include the choice of changing his nature.

      Robert

        Ben Simpson

        It’s a bit funny Robert to hear you call Sam’s 59-word comment that attacked no one a “rant” while not classifying your own 530-word comment that attacked Sam and his comment as a rant.

        Reality check, dude!

          Norm Miller

          Ben:
          Definition of RANT — intransitive verb
          1 : to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner
          2: to scold vehemently

          Dictionary check, dude. — Norm

          Ben Simpson

          Norm,

          While you have your dictionary handy, why don’t you go ahead and look up the noun “rant” instead of the verb “rant” since that’s how Robert used it when he said, “Sam’s rants don’t change a thing.” Then perhaps you’ll agree with me that Robert’s comment was much more rant-like than Sam’s.

          Grammar check, dude!

            Sam

            Ben gotta ya, Norm.
            100%

              Norm Miller

              Hardly, Sam. If one engages in a rant (noun), one can’t do that without ranting (intransitive verb). Never argue grammar with a grammarian. Both yours and Ben’s ‘spirit of comeuppance’ got the better of you both. — Norm

            Ben Simpson

            Norm, with all seriousness, Sam simply said the following, “Exactly Ben! If God had true libertarian free will, He could go from being a good, holy and just God who loves all people to an evil, unholy God who hates all mankind. And since He is all-powerful, it would be a frightful universe to live in. Thankfully, Dr. Rogers is wrong. God does not have libertarian free will.”

            In what way could what Sam said be classified as a rant (ie, bombastic extravagant speech) or as ranting (ie, talking in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner; or scolding vehemently)? A rant or ranting he did not!

            Sam

            It takes more than expert grammatical skills to argue against the truth.

            Thanks Ben.

      Jim G.

      This is no rant; it is a serious question.

      If God does not have libertarian free will, then did he HAVE to create? If libertarian freedom is removed from God, then isn’t everything necessary, including creation, fall, sin, and evil? How do we safeguard Christianity from pantheism and / or panentheism? Edwards by all serious observers was at least a panentheist and seems to be the philosophical source for much of the Calvinist revival. How do we safeguard God’s freedom to create if libertarianism is not in his world?

      Jim G.

        Sam

        I don’t know. Become an Open Theist?

        Ben Simpson

        Jim,

        No, God did not have to create. He freely chose to create and could have done otherwise. I’m not sure where you are getting that I removed freedom from God. God is the freest of all beings, but His freedom is constrained by His nature, just like ours is. Before we are born again, we can do nothing but sin because of our nature (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 14:23) and are not able to not sin. Our range of options at that point was sin or sin, which is to say we’ll have only one category option. Once we are born again, we are able to not sin like Adam was in the garden. Our range of options now in Christ in this age are sin or not sin. However, in the age to come when we are glorified, we will be made completely like God who is not able to sin. Then our options will be as God’s, not sin or not sin, which again is to say we’ll have only one category option.

        I’m simply arguing that the philosophical construct of “libertarian freewill with contrary choice” (which is the freedom to act against one’s nature, predisposition, and greatest desires to do the opposite) is a bad construct. In my opinion, it’s absolute nonsense. Freedom must be defined by the ability to not sin and the ability to do within your nature what you want to do without constraint or compulsion. That’s how we safeguard God’s freedom.

        As far as guarding Christianity from pantheism, we simply hold the complete biblical distinction between Creator and creation. As for panentheism, we stand firm that God does not change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. However, I must be frank and say that I’m not seeing how your questions here are connected to God’s freedom.

          Norm Miller

          Ben: Your comment of “Before we are born again, we can do nothing but sin because of our nature” is not new to me, but I have always been curious about that. Does this mean that when a parent teaches a child to share, and that child does share, then that child is sinning when sharing a bite of a cookie, or letting someone else use their color crayons? Of course, this is not a salvific act — the sharing — but is it sin? Pushing that a bit further: What is it that would make a hellbound person stop at the side of a freeway and run to a burning car to rescue a complete stranger? Can this be categorized as sin, too? — Norm

          Ben Simpson

          Norm, glad you’re engaging in the conversation. Dr Harwood was kind enough to let me borrow that cape he was wearing on Friday. ;o) I just can’t get past what the Bible says in passages like Isaiah 64:6, which says “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…” and Romans 14:23, which says, “…and whatever is not from faith is sin.”

          So, in light of the Bible and using your examples, I would have to say that yes, if that child sharing their cookie or crayons did not do it in faith to God, then they would be sinning, and yes, if that unbeliever rescuing a complete stranger from a burning car did not do it in faith to God, that person would be sinning.

          Even as I type it, it seems radical to me to say, but remember, I’m wearing Dr Harwood’s cape. The unmitigated fact is that the Bible reveals that you and I were much more sinful than we ever knew before the Lord saved us! Grace is indeed absolutely amazing!!!!

            Norm Miller

            Not being caddy, here, Ben, but then what would be the point of teaching a kid to share? If we defend that from some sort of reasoning that it is ‘good’ to share, then we are back where we started b/c there is none good, no, not one. So, now, here we go, talking about a definition of what is good (don’t really wanna go there, now). IMHO, sharing is good, but, of course, is not salvific. Here’s the kryptonite question: The next time I see a child sharing, shall I tell that child to stop sinning? — Norm

            Ben Simpson

            Norm, you know good and well that God is not just concerned about what we do. He concerned with our heart, our motives. Cain is a good example. He outwardly shared his offering with God, but he didn’t do it from his heart as worship to God. Therefore, God rejected it. The same is true with you cookie and crayon example.

            You asked, “The next time I see a child sharing, shall I tell that child to stop sinning?” It’s not the sharing itself that is sinful, Norm. It was the lack of faith unto God that made it so. Therefore, encourage the child to keep sharing but to do it along with faith in Jesus unto the glory of God. Help that child understand that God wants their heart, not just their hands.

              Norm Miller

              Let me ask this another way: what is it that motivates an unbeliever to rush to a burning car and rescue another from the inferno? — Norm

    Robert

    Hello Ben,

    You commit an extremely common error when it comes to the subject of free will. I will make it very clear so that you can avoid this error in the future and so that others who believe in free will as ordinarily understood will be aware of how to deal with this error themselves in the future.

    You wrote:

    “One matter from the article that does need reconsideration, I believe, is the idea that God has libertarian free will with contrary choice, which Rogers posits that God passed on to mankind in the image of God. God does not have this sort of freedom. Can God sin? Can God deny himself? Can God cease to love, be just, be wrathful, be merciful, etc? No, no, and no. I could go on with examples. God is free to act according to His nature and is free to do what He wants to do.”

    Ben your claim is that:

    God does not have libertarian free will.

    Your argument is that this is true because:

    God cannot do (or choose to do) certain things (“Can God sin? Can God deny himself? Can God cease to love, be just, be wrathful, be merciful, etc. No, no and no. I could go on with examples.”)

    Your logic does not follow at all.

    Just because an individual cannot choose to do certain things it does not follow that they do not have free will at all.

    That is just a completely unjustified leap of logic.

    Allow me to explain. The easiest way to demonstrate this is to explain the difference between a person having free will and a person’s range of choices. A person (including God, actually God is the best example of free will that we can come up with anyway) has free will when they sometimes have and make their own choices and these choices are up to them. And these choices are not necessitated by some antecedent causal factor (whether inside or external to the person). Take God when he decided to create the universe. He had a choice between creating the world and not creating the world. He could have chosen either way, and the choice was completely up to him. And there were no necessitating factors that made him choose to create the world. He did so freely, and his choice was not necessitated at all.

    [As a humorous aside, even Calvinists believe that God had choices when it came to whom he chose to predestine for salvation and whom he chose not to elect (which means that God had libertarian free will in regards to election! His choices were not necessitated but freely chosen by Him! And yet the same persons who believe THAT will argue that God does not have libertarian free will! That is really funny!!)]

    A person’s range of choices concerns the choices that are within that person’s possibility. And different persons will have different ranges of choices. Take Donald Trump and I, when it comes to making purchases. Now I have much, much less monely than “The Donald”. So his range of choices is much larger when it comes to purchasing, say million dollar buildings than my range of choices is. We have differing range of choices but we both have free will. I may not be able to buy 10 separate million dollar properties in a single day like Trump can: but I can go to the store and walk down that cereal isle and there are lots of choices of cereal available to me. The fact that I cannot buy milllion dollar properties, does it follow then that I do not have free will? Just because I cannot choose to do one thing, does it follow that I have no choices at all regarding anything else? Parents know this very well. The child wants candy for a snack. We take away that choice and substitute something more healthy (say carrots or celery). In that situation that child cannot choose candy, he/she can choose carrots or celery. Just because the child cannot choose the candy does it then follow that the child has no free will? No, they have a choice regarding carrots or celery. The fact is, that people can have b free will (i.e. we sometimes have and make our own choices), but we may have very different ranges of choices.

    A person’s own range of choices may also change depending on changing circumstances. Usain Bolt is the fastest person on the planet. He can run extremely fast, faster than anyone else so far. So presently it is within his range of choices to run fast. But say he has some sort of accident and breaks both of his legs. In that case, then he cannot run and I could run fater than he could!

    Now apply this distinction between having free will and a person’s range of choices to God.

    Does God have and make his own choices? Yes. So he definitely has free will as ordinarily understood.

    But what about God’s range of choices?

    Are there things he cannot choose to do? Sure, the bible even tells us some of them: he cannot deny Himself, he cannot lie. Ben tried to make a big point about choices that God cannot make.

    I can do that with anyone by the way. Take any person that you want to name, and if we examine their range of choices carefully we will find that there are most definitely things they cannot choose to do. Now there may be different reasons for why certain choices are not a part of a person’s range of choices, but the point is that every person has a range of choices that does not include every possible choice.

    Now Ben’s mistake, and this is why I say it is a common error made by determinists.

    Is to argue that because certain choices are not within an individual’s range of choices, THEREFORE that person does not have free wil!!

    But that does not logically follow at all.

    Just because some things are not within a person’s range of choices it does not logical follow that THEY NEVER EVER HAVE AND MAKE THEIR OWN CHOICES.

    There are a million things that I cannot choose to do, but does that mean in other areas that I never ever have and make my own choices? Of course not, and we all know this.

    And yet determinists will trot out this argument as if it proves that God (or others) do not have free will.

    In order to prove that God does not have free will you would have to prove that he never ever has a choice. In logic that is called proving a universal negative and is extremely hard to do. And no one has ever come close to proving that God never ever has a choice!!!!

    And we know that can’t be true, because we know he had a choice regarding whether or not to create the universe. We also know there are other situations where God has a choice. A person has a serious illness and the church prays for their healing. Can God heal that person? Sure. Must he heal that person? No. God has a choice, he could choose to heal that person or choose to not heal that person. We also have a biblical term for this: it is called God’s sovereignty (which means that God can do as He pleases in any and all situations). But if God does as He pleases, then he has and makes choices. The bible also says that God himself says that He has mercy on whomever and hardens whomever. Isn’t that yet another example of both God’s sovereignty and him having and making his own choice?

    What this means is that sovereignty presupposes free will.

    God cannot be sovereign, unless he has free will.

    If his actions were completely necessitated, if he was like a giant computer, then he would not do as He pleases. He would have to do what some sort of necessitating factors force him to do. But has tremendous freedom, he has and makes his own choices. And at the same time, there are also things that God cannot choose to do (i.e. they are outside of his range of choices). So God is the perfect example of libertarian free will: he has and makes his own choices. He is also a perfect example of someone who has a range of choices that does not include certain choices.

    So Ben your argument is actually extremely weak and poses no challenge whatsoever to the reality of libertarian free will.

    One more thing. Some determinists will argue that a person only has free will if they can *******always***** do the contrary of some proposed choice. So a person BY THIS DEFINITION only has free will if they can choose to do good and also choose to do evil. Well of course God cannot choose to sin or do evil, so then God must not have free will then, right? Wrong. This argument again fails to consider a person’s range of choices versus them having free will. Free will does not always mean that you have to be able to do the opposite. God has free will (defined as having and making his own choices) but he cannot choose to sin. Just because sin is not within his range of choices does not mean that he does not have and make his own choices in regards to other things. Again, just because something is not within your range of choices does not mean that you never have and make your own choices. This is not heavy philosophy, parents know all about free will and a person’s range of choices!

    Ben brings up this argument in his concluding paragraph:

    “It’s one thing if one wants to argue that man has libertarian free will with contrary choice in this age (I wouldn’t but some certainly do), but it’s an altogether different thing to argue that God has libertarian free will with contrary choice and that we’ll have it in the age to come.”

    This talk here of “contrary choice” is the argument that in order to have free will you have to be able to do the opposite. But if you understand the distinction between having free will and a person’s range of choices. You realize this argument from contrary choice doesn’t’ wash. You don’t have to be able to do the opposite to have free will. God can choose to do plenty of good things and yet he cannot choose to sin (so he has free will and yet his range of choices does not include sin). This also helps us to understand how we can have free will and yet not sin in the eternal state. In the eternal state we will have and make our own choices, but sin will not be within our range of choices. Take away the world, the flesh, and the devil. Remove all temptations. Have people glorified and you will have a place where people still have free will and yet they cannot sin. I am looking forward to that place because I get tired of the sin in myself and others. At present my range of choices includes both sin and doing the right thing. But that range of choices is not permanent.

    Robert

    Ben Simpson

    Robert

    I’ll overlook your condescending tone. It’s a shame you wasted so much time and key strokes arguing for something that you obviously do not understand. “Libertarian free will with contrary choice,” which is Rogers’ phrase in the OP, is not simply the ability to choose between options. It’s the ability to have chosen the opposite, hence “contrary choice.” In case you don’t have a dictionary nearby, “contrary” means “opposite.”

    Surely there are things that God could have done to the contrary. You bring up two great examples in creation and election. God didn’t have to create or elect anything or anyone, but He did. He could have done the opposite by creating nothing or punishing every person in Hell. However, there are many things to which God does not have contrary choice. He may have a range of options (which I believe by the way is a helpful category that I hadn’t really thought about but is not nearly as big of a trump card as you make it out to be) but He cannot do the contrary. As I said, God cannot lie. You and I can and may choose to or not. God cannot deny himself. You and I can and may choose to or not. God cannot cease to be love. You and I can and may or may not. In these areas, God simply does not have libertarian free will with contrary choice.

    However, God certainly has free will. I never said He didn’t. In fact, He’s the freest of beings even though there are things to which He cannot do the opposite. So, free will is not the ability to do opposite. As I originally said, God is free to act according to His nature and is free to do what He wants to do in respect to His nature. God is constrained by His nature. That, my friend, is an antecedent factor which limits Him from contrary choice in some areas.

    So, once again, God does not have libertarian free will with contrary choice. He has free will that is compatible to His nature.

    Robert, I know that in your paternalistic effort, you wanted to take me to school, but I’ve already graduated… three times.

      Robert

      Ben writes:

      “It’s a shame you wasted so much time and key strokes arguing for something that you obviously do not understand.”

      Why is it that almost always whenever a determinist is challenged they respond with:

      “you obviously do not understand”??????

      If only I had a dollar for every time a determinist says that! Then my range of choices would change and I could buy million dollar properties like Donald Trump can! :-)

      This really gets annoying and manifests the almost ever present arrogance of determinists.But that is precisely what I have come to expect from determinists. If you want arrogance just look for some determinist who wants to argue against free will and claim that it does not exist. Watch the way they mock and ridicule a reality that we all experience daily. Watch how they attack God’s very design plan which included human persons capable of having and making their own choices.

      And note the irony: if as Rodgers correctly maintains, the image of God includes our capacity for free will that God intended and designed mankind to have. Then those who are arguing against the reality of free will as ordinarily understood are using capacities they have that are part of that image which makes free will possible, in order to argue against free will. This is not the pot calling the kettle black. This is the child sitting in her father’s lap slapping her father in the face!

      “ “Libertarian free will with contrary choice,” which is Rogers’ phrase in the OP, is not simply the ability to choose between options. It’s the ability to have chosen the opposite, hence “contrary choice.” In case you don’t have a dictionary nearby, “contrary” means “opposite.””

      Another arrogant and condescending comment, I don’t need a dictionary to look up what opposite means.

      And if you were familiar with contemporary discussions of free will you would know that libertarian free will does not necessarily involve “contrary choice” (i.e. the ability to make one choice or its opposite).

      Here are two good examples of definitions of free will from very famous libertarians, top of the line philosophers:

      “If a person is free with respect to a given action, then he is free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing it; no antecedent conditions and/or causal laws determine that he will perform the action, or that he won’t.”

      Alvin Plantinga, GOD, FREEDOM, AND EVIL, p. 29

      “An agent is free with respect to a given action at a given time if at that time it is within the agent’s power to perform the action and also in the agent’s power to refrain from the action.”

      William Hasker, “A PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVE, IN THE OPENNESS OF GOD, p,136-137

      You will note that in both definitions neither scholar speaks of libertarian free will as having to involve “contrary choice”.
      Both speak of making a choice or refraining from making that choice. That does not involve “contrary choice.” It does however involve that a person has and then makes a choice. So I will stay with my simple definition of free will as sometimes having and making choices. I also will stay with it because it conveys the ordinary understanding of free will that most people have.

      “Surely there are things that God could have done to the contrary.”

      But I won’t grant that definition of free will as being able to do the opposite.

      Some of our choices do not involve opposites, and as Plantinga and Hasker make clear. Sometimes the choice is to do something or refrain from doing something. But the heart of free will is having a choice. Whether that choice involves one thing or its opposite, doing something or refraining from doing that thing, or choosing from two closely related variations. And having a choice is what determinism/calvinism denies. If God predestined everything then WE NEVER EVER HAVE A CHOICE. Does the bible teach that? No. Does our everyday experience teach us that? No. fact is, we sometimes have and make our own choices. And this is true even of determinists who in their professed philosophy argue that we never ever have a choice.

      “ You bring up two great examples in creation and election. God didn’t have to create or elect anything or anyone, but He did. He could have done the opposite by creating nothing or punishing every person in Hell. However, there are many things to which God does not have contrary choice.”

      You keep pushing “contrary choice” as the proper definition of free will, but that is not the best definition of free will as ordinarily understood. You frame it that way because then you can argue that God does not have free will. But God has free will in the ordinary sense, he has and makes his own choices.

      “He may have a range of options (which I believe by the way is a helpful category that I hadn’t really thought about but is not nearly as big of a trump card as you make it out to be) but He cannot do the contrary. “

      The concept of a range of choices is not a trump card, it only shows your original argument does not follow (if you recall your original claim was that God does not have libertarian free will, your argument was that since he cannot choose some things, he therefore does not have free will, this argument has been dismantled and shown to fail).

      “As I said, God cannot lie. You and I can and may choose to or not.”

      We have a different range of choices than God has, no problem acknowledging that.

      “God cannot deny himself. You and I can and may choose to or not.”

      Again we have a different range of choices than God has.
      All you are establishing here is that the range of choices that God has, and we have at present, are different.

      But the critical point is that different people may have differing range of choices and yet they all have free will. And just because a particular choice is not something you can choose does not mean that you don’t have free will. And again God is the perfect example, he has free will and yet he cannot sin or deny himself.
      “God cannot cease to be love. You and I can and may or may not. In these areas, God simply does not have libertarian free will with contrary choice.”

      But God does have libertarian free will if it is properly defined. You want to define it as “contrary choice” that is a common determinist trick (i.e. define something as X the weakest version of something and then blast X thus showing the non-determinist is wrong, but what if the non-determinist does not hold to X, then you are blasting a straw man, Rodgers may hold to free will as “contrary choice” but other nondeterminists like Plantinga, Hasker and myself do not define free will that way, why not take the stronger version rather than the easier version which is easy to attack?)

      “However, God certainly has free will. I never said He didn’t.”

      You said God does not have libertarian free will (if it is defined as always having contrary choice). And that may be Rodgers’ definition, but it is not what most people mean by free will. They mean the ordinary understanding that we sometimes have and make our own choices.

      Ask a child if they have a choice between this candy or that candy, they will not respond: “but do I have contrary choice?”

      Ask a Ceo of a major company if he has a choice between doing business with this firm or that firm, they will not respond: “but do I have contrary choice?”

      Whether it is the child or the CEO they mean do I have a choice between this or that option/alternative/possibilitiy? Under the ordinary understanding of free will, God does have free will. And the ordinary understanding that we sometimes have and make our own choices is designated as libertarian free will.

      Now if you want to play defining games where you define something and then attack it, have fun, that doesn’t prove much. Instead of attacking the weakest versions of something why not go for the stronger versions? If you were concerned about what is true, you would show Plantinga and Hasker’s definitions of libertarian free will to be problematic. But you can’t so you go after the easier version (“contrary choice”). You also fallaciously infer that if you can attack the weaker version you have refuted the stronger version. Check out contemporary discussions of free will and you will find it defined the way Plantinga and Hasker define it, not the “choosing to the contrary” version.

      “In fact, He’s the freest of beings even though there are things to which He cannot do the opposite.”

      So God is in fact the best example of libertarian free will that we can consider.

      I have always said if you want to see what free will looks like, look at God as your best example.

      But God’s free will is not compatibilistic free will (i.e. where all of his choices are determined by antecedent factors). His free will is in fact exactly what the ordinary guy on the street thinks of free will: that God sometimes has and makes his own choices. And these choices are not necessitated but freely chosen.

      “So, free will is not the ability to do opposite.”

      It does not have to be.

      Again, in that cereal isle at the store there are all sorts of variations, they are not all opposites and yet they all involve us having and then making a choice.

      “As I originally said, God is free to act according to His nature and is free to do what He wants to do in respect to His nature. God is constrained by His nature. That, my friend, is an antecedent factor which limits Him from contrary choice in some areas.”

      God’s nature does not make his choices, He does.

      God’s nature does not determine his choices, He does.

      Likewise our nature does not determine our choices, we do.

      At the final judgment, nobody’s “nature” is going to be judged, instead individual persons will be judged for what they freely chose to do.

      “So, once again, God does not have libertarian free will with contrary choice.”

      And once again, libertarian free will need not involve “contrary choice.”

      “He has free will that is compatible to His nature.”

      And so do we since we are created in His image.

      “Robert, I know that in your paternalistic effort, you wanted to take me to school, but I’ve already graduated… three times.”

      Is that supposed to impress us?

      You really needed to tell us all that you have
      “already graduated. . . three times”??

      Are we supposed to quake in my boots because of that?

      And regarding taking you to school, I did take you to school in a sense. I showed how libertarian free will is something that God has (if defined simply as sometimes having and making choices). That one can have libertarian free will and yet at the same time one cannot make certain specific choices (because one can have free will while one’s range of choices does not include certain choices). You came in here trying to refute libertarian free will and you actually gave me a great opportunity to show how an extremely common argument of determinists against the existence of libertarian free will utterly fails.

      Thanks for the educational opportunity Ben.

      Robert

    Ben Simpson

    Robert,

    You obviously have more time than I do since you wrote 5 pages worth of comment. Again, I’ll overlook your condescending tone and will not return it to you in the least as I did a time or two in my last response. Two can play the condescension game, but I’ll just let you going forward.

    Robert said: “And if you were familiar with contemporary discussions of free will you would know that libertarian free will does not necessarily involve ‘contrary choice’ (i.e. the ability to make one choice or its opposite).”

    Robert, you keep taking me to task on the phrase “contrary choice.” Remember, it’s Rogers who framed the discussion that way.

    Robert said: “Here are two good examples of definitions of free will from very famous libertarians, top of the line philosophers,” and then pointed to Alvin Plantinga and William Hasker.

    Robert, are you aware that when you quote Hasker, you are quoting one of the strongest proponents of Open Theism you can find? Not only did he write the book you quoted but also The Openness of God: A Biblical Challenge to the Traditional Understanding of God with Clark Pinnock and others. If you expect me to read heretics like him to keep up with the contemporary discussions over free will, count me out. Just so that are all cards are laid out on the table, are you an Open Theist yourself?

    Now to the definitions you put forth, Plantinga’s quasi-definition actually puts things in contrary choice terms: “he is free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing it.” In Kentucky where I was born and Tennessee where I live, those are contrary notions. Hasker’s definition is a further problem for you because by his definition, God is not free. Hasket posits that “An agent is free with respect to a given action at a given time if at that time it is within… the agent’s power to refrain from the action. At what point can God refrain from acting in righteousness? Your entire paradigm is faulty because it makes God not free.

    Robert said: “But the heart of free will is having a choice. Whether that choice involves one thing or its opposite, doing something or refraining from doing that thing, or choosing from two closely related variations. And having a choice is what determinism/calvinism denies. If God predestined everything then WE NEVER EVER HAVE A CHOICE.”

    Again, I’m drawn to wonder if you are an Open Theist because you seem to assert that we can only be free if the future is not settled (ie, predestined, as you say). According to the Bible, the future is settled and that God knows the end from the beginning, which includes all in between as well.

    Robert said: “Rodgers may hold to free will as ‘contrary choice’ but other nondeterminists like Plantinga, Hasker and myself do not define free will that way, why not take the stronger version rather than the easier version which is easy to attack?”

    Perhaps because I was responding to Rogers in my original comment. You should respond to him as well.

    Roberts said: “You said God does not have libertarian free will (if it is defined as always having contrary choice). And that may be Rodgers’ definition, but it is not what most people mean by free will. They mean the ordinary understanding that we sometimes have and make our own choices.”

    Once again, Robert, you are changing the subject. Rogers introduced the philosophical approach to defining free will. Of course, if you ask a child or some other person who’s never considered the philosophy of free will, they will say “Of course, I had a choice.” I would agree they had a choice, but the question is not whether or not they had a choice. The question is why they chose that choice.

    Robert said: “Under the ordinary understanding of free will, God does have free will. And the ordinary understanding that we sometimes have and make our own choices is designated as libertarian free will.”

    Your definition of libertarian free will is not the definition of the technical term “libertarian free will.” I encourage you to do some more schooling of yourself instead of worrying about me.

    Robert said: “God’s nature does not make his choices, He does. God’s nature does not determine his choices, He does. Likewise our nature does not determine our choices, we do.”

    But, God’s and our natures constrain us so that we cannot do otherwise. God’s and our natures are factors in determining what we choose. Otherwise, God could sin, and I could fly.

    Robert said: “And regarding taking you to school, I did take you to school in a sense. I showed how libertarian free will is something that God has (if defined simply as sometimes having and making choices).”

    If only that were the definition of the idea put forth by Rogers that he called “libertarian free will with contrary choice.”

    Robert said: “You came in here trying to refute libertarian free will and you actually gave me a great opportunity to show how an extremely common argument of determinists against the existence of libertarian free will utterly fails. Thanks for the educational opportunity Ben.”

    Again, I’ll overlook your sarcasm and condescension and not return it since it has no place in Christian dialogue and debate.

      Ben Simpson

      Robert,

      In the comment above, I said:
      “Again, I’m drawn to wonder if you are an Open Theist because you seem to assert that we can only be free if the future is not settled (ie, predestined, as you say). According to the Bible, the future is settled and that God knows the end from the beginning, which includes all in between as well.”

      I should have added on to that the following:
      What God knows will surely come to pass. If he’s known the end from the beginning and everything in between, then those things could not happen otherwise. That’s what drives Open Theists like your boy Hasker (and perhaps you) to say that God doesn’t know the future.

        Robert

        Something to be noted about theological determinists is that they like accusing others of holding ot heresies and being heretics. The two most common accusations are that non-determinists are pelagians/semi-pelagians or open theists. For some reason calvinists have a particular hatred for open theists. My guess is that this is because open theists present strong arguments for free will and against determinism. That makes them a real threat to determinists/calvinists. Ben shows by his comments his hatred of open theists and he tries to accuse me of being one.

        I know who the best proponents of open theism are because I was taught that in past that when dealing with with errors and false doctrine you must first understand the error or false doctrine before you can properly refute the error. I have read the best proponents of open theism including William Hasker, Greg Boyd, etc.

        Now I should also lay out my cards on the table regarding my views of heresy. I only designate things to be heresies if they involve essential Christian doctrines. That is, things which if you deny, bring into doubt whether or not you are a Christian. Essential doctrine includes things like the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation/that God became flesh and dwelt among us, etc. I do not consider some doctrinal disagreements to be essentials such as differing modes of baptism, differing forms of church government, differing millennial views. So what is the error of open theists? In my opinion they have a mistaken understanding of the notion of foreknowledge. I believe that God knows everything including freely made choices that will be made in the future. for various reasons, the open theists deny this. I am firmly convinc ed they are wrong. Just as I am firmly convinced that paedobaptists are wrong. But if a paedobaptist affirms the essentials such as the trinity and deity of Christ and is in a personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ I would not consider them to be heretic. Mistaken about baptism, but not a heretic. Likewise if an open theist affirms essentials such as the trinity and deity of Christ and is in a personal relationship with Jesus I would not consider him to be a heretic. Mistaken on foreknowledge, but not a heretic. Now from my reading of Hasker and Boyd and the others, they all affirmed the essentials of the Christian faith. So if they are in a saving and person relationship with Jesus I would not consider them to be ****heretics*****. I don’t hate open theists though I am convinced they are in error on foreknowledge.

        Ben on the other hand hates open theists and openly declares them to be heretics.

        Ben wrote:

        “Robert, are you aware that when you quote Hasker, you are quoting one of the strongest proponents of Open Theism you can find?”

        Yes, I am fully aware of Hasker’s views. But I did not quote him in regards to the issue of foreknowledge. I quoted him as a well known representative of libertarian free will. And I am perfectly justified in quoting him on free will. Just because I do so does not mean that I agree with his open theism or that I endorse his open theism in any way. The fact is it does not matter if he is the devil himself, he may still be saying something that is true.

        Ben continued: “Not only did he write . . . If you expect me to read heretics like him ot keep up with the contemporary discussions over free will, count me out.”

        NOw that is a statement of both pure hatred and ignorance. Ben hates open theists so much that he has no hesitation in declaring them all heretics. But if they affirm the essentials and are in a saving and personal relationship with Christ can they be simultaneously saved and be mistaken regarding foreknoweledge? Yes. But Ben hates them all so he automatically views them as heretics and hell bound. This is yet another example of how hateful and arrogant calvinists can be.

        And speaking of calvinists they also affirm the essentials like the trinity and deity of Christ, they also can be saved persons. So while I am firmly convinced that calviists are in error regarding certain things, I do not view them as heretics. In fact it is ironic, I view calvinists the same way I view calvinists, Christians who are mistaken about some things, but if they affirm the esentials and are in a personal and saving relationship with Jesus they are saved persons. I don’t hate calvinists or open theists or paedobaptists or . . .. .

        Robert

          Robert

          I have some more things to say about Ben and open theism. I quoted Hasker a prominent open theist regarding the definition of free will. In quoting Hasker on free will I said nothing about open theism and yet Ben apparently would like for me to be an open theist. Ben asked: “Just so that all cards are left out on the table, are you an Open Theist yourself?”

          Considering that I said nothing about open theism or foreknowledge all I did was quotel Hasker who is in fact a prominent advocate of libertarian free will. If I had quoted an atheist philosopher on free will, would Ben then be askingb me if I was an atheist? I quoted Plantinga who is a Molinist, should Ben then ask me if I was a Molinist? Or for that matter are you even allowed to quote a scholar if you don’t agree with him on certain things that he believes. John MacArthur is one of my favorite pastors, though I disagree with him on calvinism. Does that mean that since I disagree with him on some things, that I dare not quote him on other topics. Say that MacArthur made some good statements about the issue of baptism. Should I not be allowed to quote him on baptism because of the fact he is a calvinist and I disagree with him on calvinism???

          Ben quoted Hasker’s definition of free will where Hasker speaks of “the agent’s power to refrain from the action” and then Ben wrote: “At what point can God refrain from acting in righteousness?” Ben is making the same error he made earlier, failing to distinguish a person having free will and their range of choices. God cannot sin, that choice is not within his range of choices. That means that God will not refrain from acting in righteousness because if he did so he would sin. But just because God cannot sin, cannot refrain from righteousness it does not follow that God does not have free will.

          After this flimsy argument Ben then wrote:
          “Your entire paradigm is faulty because it makes God not free.”

          What, where in the world does Ben get this? I made myself clear that God as free will as ordinarily understood. How does quoting Hasker who speaks of refraining from actions make my paradigm faulty and lead to God not being free? That makes no sense at all.

          Ben also wrote: “Again I’m drawn to wonder if you are an Open Theist because you seem to assert that we can only be free if the future is not settled (i.e.predestined as you say).”

          Where did I even talk about whether or not the future was settleld or not? For the record, we need to distinguish between God predestinating everything which means everything that happens he preplanned and ensures that it happens according to plan. And God foreknowing all future events. God foreknows every thing that will occur, but this does not mean that he wants everything to occur exactly as it does. The best example is sin. God foreknows all our sins, but the fact he foreknows them all does not mean he wants them all to happen.

          Ben seems to be unaware that the majority of Christians across all theological traditions have always believed in the reality of both God foreknowing every future event and people sometimes having and making their own choices/i.e. having free will as ordinarily understood. What this means to use Ben’s language of settled events is that the future is completely foreknown by God and settled and yet we also have free will.

          Ben wrote: “According to the Bible the future is settled and that God knows the end from the beginning, which includes all in between as well.”

          True, God knows the end from the beginning because he has the ability to foreknow all future events including those which involve freely made choices. Again that is standard Christian doctrine and is believed by Protestants, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Ironically it is denied by some calvinists who believe that God cannot know a future event unless he ordains it. But that is a denial of the orthodox doctrine of God’s foreknowledge.

          Robert

        Ben Simpson

        Robert,

        Get one thing straight: I don’t hate Open Theists. I will not allow you to bully me by ascribing to me feelings and motives that are not mine. I was using “heretic” in the general, common sense of the word, which is to say that Hasker holds a heterodox doctrine. You were all about the general, common sense of words a moment ago in talking about libertarian free will with contrary choice. What happened?

        Hasker very well might get the gospel right, and praise God if he does, but He gets God and time way wrong. I certainly wouldn’t have him in my pulpit or quote him, but you go right ahead since he’s such a “very famous libertarian, top of the line philosopher” in your opinion.

        I’m elated to know that you are not an Open Theist yourself. Now if you’ll only show yourself to be charitable and not pompous, we’d really be making headway.

          Lydia

          “Get one thing straight: I don’t hate Open Theists. I will not allow you to bully me by ascribing to me feelings and motives that are not mine. I was using “heretic” in the general, common sense of the word, which is to say that Hasker holds a heterodox doctrine. You were all about the general, common sense of words a moment ago in talking about libertarian free will with contrary choice. What happened?”

          Whew! we just need to learn that calling someone a heretic is not considered an insult anymore as per Calvinists usage of the word. It has been redefined to mean “love”. Silly us finding it insulting. We just do not have “common sense” like Ben.

          And the Reformed movement wonders why there is push back.

          Ben I understand the word heretic means dissenter from established doctrine. But then people used to be burned at the stake for being heretics in the Reformed movement. People who did not believe in infant baptism were called “heretics” by the Reformers. So throwing that around as “common sense” usage is a bit disingenuous.

          I think I would cease using it if I were you and did not want to offend your siblings. But then you are a pastor and know better, obviously. I would think the last few months would have dealt a death blow to calling people that name.

          “Unity” means never calling your siblings in Christ, heretics. Especially if you produce a “Unity Resolution” on the convention floor!

            Robert

            Hello Lydia,

            Seems you see the problem with Ben’s usage of heretic as well as his attempted rationalization too. You wrote:

            “Whew! We just need to learn that calling someone a heretic is not considered an insult anymore as per Calvinists usage of the word. It has been redefined to mean ‘love.'”

            Calvinists love to redefine words to suit themselves and serve their interests. So “world” in John 3:16 just means the preselected elect. “whole world” in 1 Jn. 2:2 means all of the preselected Jews and Gentiles throughout the world that God really loves. “Heretic” is just another word for those who hold different beliefs than you do, does not matter if they are Christians. “Free will” means that God predestinated your every thought and action so you end up freely doing what God predestined you to do.

            Kinda reminds me of when I did work with non-Christian cults. They also love to redefine terms to their liking. They also use our words with very different meanings. They also view themselves as having everything right and everybody else has everything wrong.
            They also engage in proof texting taking bible verses to prove their beliefs while ignoring their contexts. They also have a strong “us” versus “them” mentality. They also believe that it is not enough to believe in the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, and have a person relationship with Christ: you have to believe their doctrine to really be one of the elect. They also believe their teachings are the good news the gospel that people ought to believe. The parallels are actually quite disturbing. But it starts with a redefinition of words.

            You wrote: “Silly we find it insulting.” Yes, it is insulting when determinists want to refer to non-calvinists as Pelagians, Semi-Pelagians or even open theists. Anything to put down other believers and establish their preferred doctrines.

            “We just do not have ‘common sense’ like Ben.”

            Right we just don’t get it, none of us understands it. Even scholars and ex-calvinists just don’t understand it. If only we held their beliefs then we would not be heretics, Pelagians, SemiPelagians, open theists. Why then we would be the special ones and we could flippantly call other believers who disagree with us heretics.

            “Unity” means never calling your siblings in Christ, heretics. Especially if you produce a “unity resolution” on the convention floor.”

            Could you clarify this for me Lydia, are you saying that Ben the same guy who flippantly calls other believers heretics, was in someway involved in some sort of resolution that promotes unity? So the same guy who calls for unity among believers who hold differeing beliefs attacks other believers who believe differently as heretics? I guess Christian unity only applies to some believers. Reminds me of Orwell’s statement in ANIMAL FARM that some are more equal than others!!!!

            Sounds a bit hypocritical to me.

            Robert

            Lydia

            “Could you clarify this for me Lydia, are you saying that Ben the same guy who flippantly calls other believers heretics, was in someway involved in some sort of resolution that promotes unity?”

            I was referring to Chris Roberts who presented the Unity Resolution to the convention who used to comment here and imply that we should not be insulted to be called heretics since it could be proven we are. :o)

          Ben Simpson

          Lydia, unless you’re an Open Theist, you should take no offense, but I’m sure you’ll continue to play the pitiful offense card.

            Lydia

            “Lydia, unless you’re an Open Theist, you should take no offense, but I’m sure you’ll continue to play the pitiful offense card.”

            I should not care when I see other believers called heretics or accused of “Open Theism”? What I have seen over the last 7 or so years in person and on the internet is that most in the NC/YRR movement usually regress to these name calling, heretic tactics when discussing these issues. And it is understandable since your leader did it publicly and has taught that NC is the only place for you to go if you want to see the nations rejoice for Christ. It is what you have been taught. It is all you know. And Robert is right that it is trotted out concerning any who are not determinists whether it is SP, P, OT and the heretic word. I have seen it way too many times to count on blogs and in person dealing with the YRR. The cruelest instance was when two YRR SBTS students told a pastor’s teenage children their father was an Open Theist and did not preach the true Gospel. (He was not a Calvinist) They were volunteering with the churches youth group.

            I often thank God it is not the 1600’s and I am not in Geneva. :o)

          Robert

          It’s really sad and pathetic to see someone get caught with their pants down and then see them further the problem by trying to rationalize away their behavior. The fact is, Ben’s comment about Hasker being a heretic was both offensive and unjustified. But instead of apologizing and taking responsibility for it, now he attempts to rationalize it away.

          I knew and worked with Walter Martin, who wrote KINGDOM OF THE CULTS. I am quite familiar with both what constitutes orthodox doctrine as well as what qualifies a person to be, designated as a heretic. No genuine Christian is a heretic, nor should they be called one. I said in an earlier post that if soneone affirms essential doctrine such as the trinity, deity of Christ, etc. and is in a saving relationship with Christ, then they are Christians and ought not be called heretics. The term heretic is also a highly charged word and sometimes is used to attack others who believe differently. This is not a proper use of the term at all. We also should not be calling other Christians who hold dffering beliefs on non-essentials (such as millennial views, differing views on foreknowledge) heretics. It does not help the discussion and only causes division. The term heretic then should not be employed against other christians but ought to be reserved only for those who deny essential doctrine. If someone denies the physical resurrection of Christ from the dead then it is appropriate to view that person as a heretic. Bishop Spong is a good example of this. On the other hand, if someone has a different view of time and foreknowledge than you do, that is not sufficient grounds to call them a heretic. Regarding foreknowledge some hold a Boethian view, that God as C. S. Lewis put it resides in an “eternal now” in which he sees everything at once. Some like Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig, Kenneth Keathley and Thomas Flint hold the Molinist positon. Plantinag also holds the Ockhamist position. Some hold the “simple foreknowledge” view, that God simply has the ability to foreknow the future as He is God. And then some like Gregory Boyd, William Hasker, hold the open theist view regarding foreknowledge and time and the future. While I don’t agree with open theists I do understand their view and their arguments. I also understand that if they affirm essential doctrine and are in a saving and personal relationship with Jesus they are Christians, not heretics. If we are going to be calling open theists heretics because they hold a different view of foreknowledge than we may, should we also call Boethians, Molinists, Ockhamists heretics as well? I believe it was at the council of Orange if I recall correctly that the Catholic church declared that believe in double predestination was unorthodox. So should we call calvinists who affirm double predstination to be heretics? Again, it seems to me to be both reasonable and charitable to reserve the term heretics only for non-Christians who are denying some essential doctrine.

          Ben wrote: “If you expect me to read heretics like him to keep up with the contemporary discussions over free will, count me out.”

          What an offensive thing to say about another Christian!! Hasker affirms the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, etc. etc. Yet he holds a different view of foreknowledge than Ben does, so Ben has no hesitation in calling him a heretic. Does Ben call Plantinga who also holds a differnt view on foreknowledge than Ben does, who also affirms the trinity, the deity of Christ, the incarnation, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, a heretic? And if not why is one a heretic and the other is not? They both affirm essential doctrine, they both seem to be Christians. Seems to me that Ben is being arbitrary here. He enjoys calling open theists heretics.

          Now if Ben had responded with something like: “I am sorry that I called Haser a heretic, it probably was not the best use of the term . . .” That would be helpful. But instead of apologizing, Ben now rationalizes it with:

          “I was using ‘heretic’ in the general, common sense of the word, which is to say that Hasker holds a heterodox doctrine.” Nice try but this fails as the common sense meaning of the term heretics is precisely someone who denies essential Christian doctrine. In common sense usage we don’t call fellow believers heretics.

          It should also be noted that Ben did not say that “Hasker holds to some heretical beliefs”. No, he referred to him as a heretic. You call someone a heretic in that way, if they are a genuine Christian that if very offensive and totally inappropriate.

          And it gets worse, Ben went on to say: “I certaintly wouldn’t have him in my pulpit or quote him, but you go right ahead since he’s such a “very famous libertarian, top of the line philosopher” in your opinion.”

          Play back the tape, I quoted Hasker as a well known representative of the libertarian free will view. That was perfectly justified as he is both well known in this area of philosophy and I was not talking about open theism or even foreknowledge. Ben discounted Hasker’s definition because he is an open theist. But that commits the fallacy known as genetic fallacy. This occurs when you discount something as bad because of its origin. So in Ben’s mind just because Hasker is an open theist you can discount whatever he says. But that is fallacious. If Charles Manson said that E = MC 2 should we discount it because Manson said it? If something is true, it is true no matter who says it. I used Hasker as a reputable example of a scholar who holds libertarian free will. Ben’s response was to discount him as a heretic and even say he would not even read him. People concerned about determining what is true, will not automatically dismiss someon’s comment because they don’t like them. They will instead look at what is actually said and determine whether or not it is true. But Ben appears to hate open theists, he cannot even stomach reading them in their areas of expertise. That is just pure prejudice in action, and again indicative of hatred. Note in Ben’s attempted rationalization he says he would not even quote him. Apparently Hasker and open theists are so detestable to Ben that he cannot even bring himself to quote them even. Albert Einstein was an unfaithful womanizer and yet I have no qualms about quoting him on physics and relativity. Because what he said in these areas was true, regardless of his personal life.

          It is also quite alarming that Ben is a pastor who uses the term heretic in such a flippant manner. You would think that a pastor who is educated (three graduations remember) would have the sensitivity and knowledge to not be throwing around the term heretic so lightly. And if he as the leader of a congregation has no hesitation in referring to other believers as heretics, then what can we expect from the laymen there? Do they refer to others as heretics and then when asked about it reply that they are only using it in a common sense way??

          Perhaps we should coin a new fallacy. Let’s call it the Ben Simpson all open theists are heretics fallacy, BS for short. We engage in this fallacy everytime we call another believer a heretic even though they affirm essential Christian doctrine and are in a saving relationship with Jesus. So if say you don’t like Catholics, you call them heretics. Or say you don’t like SBC traditionalists, you call them heretics. Or say you don’t like Calvinists, you call them heretics. You end up simply calling any Christian who disagrees with you a heretic. All in general of course and according to common sense!

          I find it ironic that Ben ended with: “Now if you’ll only show yourself to be charitable and not pompous”

          Show myself chartiable, who is the one flippantly calling other believers heretics?? Seems to me that I am the one who is charitable here because I refuse to call other Christians who affirm essential Christian doctrine, but who believe differently than I do on non-essentials, heretics. And it seems to me that a pastor who calls other believers who believe differently heretics is the one who needs to be more charitable. Jesus says that the world would know us by our love for one another. Apparently in Ben’s mind that statement is true, except when it comes to open theists. And apparently Ben believes that it is the loving thing to call other believers heretics because they believe differently on non-essentials. But its all in general of course and good common sense to call other believers heretics.

          Robert

            Sam

            Futher, it is interesting, Robert, that you would quote an open theist to support your flawed view of freewill and then get offended when Ben questions whether you are an open theist.

            If you quote someone who supports heretical views, don’t be surprised that we would want to know if you too hold those heretical views. In fact, it sounds like what acually offends you is that Ben would consider open theism heretical– which gives even more concern about your own leanings toward open theism? Perhaps? Since that view supports your own maybe?

            Norm Miller

            Excellent words, Robert. However, since a leader in the SBC essentially called his peers heretics, in so many words, we ought not be surprised to see the practice grow among those who are of the same ilk as that leader. — Norm

            Ben Simpson

            Wow, Robert, another 1,500 words of rant! Pomposity ablaze!

            I will not continue in this back and forth with you, especially as you play the offense card. I’ve spent too much time already on peripheral stuff with you. The OP was on the image of God, remember!

            You do not want to sharpen others. You simply want to berate, bully, and belittle others, which you’ve done since your first comment to me above. You need to take a few lessons on how to attack the content and not the person.

            As I said above, I do not hate Open Theists. I do believe that their position is outside of orthodoxy and based upon that alone would not have one in my pulpit. I cede to you that they are not heretics in the narrow, technical sense of the word which is deserving of damnation, but they are heretics in the broad, common sense of the term in that their teaching is heterodoxy. You’ll not convince me otherwise. Let them fill your pulpit all you want.

            It’s obvious that you have an axe to grind with “Determinists,” as you call them. Why do you hate determinists so much?

              Norm Miller

              Curious that you would end this comment with a question, Ben, but initially stated no interest in continuing. — Norm

        Sam

        Robert: It is true that your teaching on freewill sounds much like that of Open Theists. While I know you reject open theism, so I’m not accusing you of that. Your beliefs and arguements for freewill line up with Open Theism. Consistency is in order.

      Jim G.

      Hi Ben,

      I think it would be best not to call open theists heretics. Although I do not agree with open theism, those that hold to it are trying to make theological sense out of the whole of biblical data.

      As to open theists and their denial of the foreknowledge of God as traditionally understood, I see this as no worse than determinists’ implicit denial of God’s goodness and/or integrity as traditionally understood. Notice I used the word “implicit” because determinism forces Christians to acknowledge the claims of Scripture out of a theological system which unavoidably denies some of those very claims. Because determinism as a system has such holes in its explanatory power, I do not understand why determinists do not abandon that system for one that better explains the biblical data, especially given the fact that “Christian determinism” was imported into the faith by Augustine from his Manichaean and Neo-Platonic past. The first four centuries of Christianity knew nothing of any sort of Christian determinism, despite the horrible attempts at rewriting history by such as John Gill and Steve Lawson.

      Jim G.

        Sam

        Why do people get so bend out of shape about the word “heresy”. It merely refers to doctrines which do not line up with Orthodox Christianity. Certainly, Open Theism does not line up with orthodox Christianity (since the entire Christian church universal has all along held that God knows the future). Thus Open Theism is very properly defined as heresy, since it is outside or Christian orthodoxy. This does not mean that open theists have good intentions. It also does not mean that they are not our brothers in Christ. However, it DOES mean that their beliefs fall outside of Christian orthodoxy. It is as simple as that.

          Jim G.

          Sam,

          I’ll put this as simply as I can. We get bent out of shape at being called heretics because it DOES mean being outside the bounds of orthodox Christianity. Remember, “orthodoxy” comes from two Greek words meaning “right worship.” A heretic either does not worship God rightly or does not worship the right God.

          Also, how can a person be outside the bounds of orthodoxy and be a brother in Christ simultaneously? I would say that is completely and utterly impossible.

          I’ll say it again – open theism is no further from broad, historical “orthodoxy” than Augustinian-Calvinistic determinism is. Both sacrifice an essential characteristic of God in order to make theological sense of the Scriptures. Personally, given the hypothetical choice (gladly one I don’t have to make), I would rather have a God who self-limits his knowledge for the good of his creation than one who self-limits his goodness and integrity for the good of himself.

          Jim G.

            Sam

            Jim,

            Let me make this even more simple, if I can: Would you agree, yes or no, that the church universal all through History has proclaimed that God is omniscient, that He knows the future?

            Yes or no?

            Second question: Do Open Theists deny God is omniscient, knowing the future?

            Yes or no?

            Sam

            PS: Jim,

            Calvinism does not assert that God “self-limits his goodness and integrity”. So all you have done is misrepresent Calvinism.

            Jim G.

            Second verse, same as the first.

            Go up one comment of mine immediately before the one to which you responded. I wrote:

            “I see this as no worse than determinists’ implicit denial of God’s goodness and/or integrity as traditionally understood. Notice I used the word “implicit” because determinism forces Christians to acknowledge the claims of Scripture out of a theological system which unavoidably denies some of those very claims. ”

            Such criticisms of Christian determinism have been made by Cassian, Erigena, Arminius, Wesley, Hart, and scores of others throughout history. Either we are all stupid and/or malicious or it’s not a misrepresentation.

            Second, how many open theists have you read, Sam? Do you know how they nuance omniscience? Have you read the way they interpret the texts that determinists dismiss as baby-talk ( a la Calvin)? Are you ready to seriously engage people like Sanders and Boyd on their handling of Scripture and their formation of theological reflection?

            See, Sam, it’s not as simple as you make it. Every open theist I know of would agree that “God knows the future” and that “God is omniscient.” However, they would qualify it based on several factors, not the least of which are several texts in Scripture. So unless you really want to engage these folks on their level and deal with the nuance of their interpretations, let’s stop oversimplifying and throwing them into the pit of heresy, shall we?

            Jim G.

            Sam

            I know you will disagree, but I personally believe that Open Theists, while they are our brothers in Christ, are outside of Christian orthodoxy in this new teaching. Just as I believe Preterists (the teaching that all end-time prophecy, including the coming of Christ) occurred with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. They are our brothers in Christ, but their belief falls outside of Christian orthodoxy.

            In answer to your question, Jim: I’ve read much of what Open Theists have to say, which is why I consider them brothers in Christ and yet outside of orthodoxy. Moreover, I’ve written doctoral papers on both Open Theism and Preterism. How about you?

            Jim G.

            Doctoral papers? What sort of program are / were you in? I’ve written a few of those myself.

            Our issue here is one of definitions. As long as we see “unorthodox” differently, we will disagree.

            I did not appreciate your response to my question about the necessity of creation, by the way. For a doctoral student, I would have expected more than a smart-aleck answer, as well as a real treatment of the issue.

            Jim G.

            Sam

            Don:

            I’ve got an ATS accredited M.A. but my doctorate is from a legetimate online seminary. It is not a PhD however, so the program was not as rigorous, including not needing orginal languages. Still though, I’m happy to have done all the work. In a few years of down time, I “might” join in a PhD program with Liberty.

            Sam

            I meant to also say, my doctorate is from an unaccredited seminary but a legitimate seminary, nonetheless. If you were to look at all the assignments I had to do to earn this degree over the past few years, you’d agree.

            Sam

            “Jim G.” not “Don”. Sorry again.

            Sam

            BTW: Jim, if you have any doubts for some reason, please give me your email address (or you could probably get mine from Norm Miller). I’ll be happy to send you my paper on Open Theism. Though it was not my best work. My paper on Preterism faired much better. The Prof. said it should be published; very encouraging.

            Sam

            Jim G.

            Hi Sam,

            Some unaccredited degrees are pretty rigorous. I’ve seen a few that were pretty difficult. I wonder why not pursue accreditation, though. It would benefit both the school (to be accredited) and you (to possess an accredited degree). If you are going to put forth all of that effort, you might as well do it and have something that is transferable and recognized.

            I remember when I was looking into PhD programs several years ago. I looked at CES (where James White received his doctorate), but shied away because of their lack of accreditation.

            People pursue higher ed for different reasons. If you are happy with what you received, then that is fine. To be more broadly recognized, you’ll just have to redo the work, which is unfortunate.

            Jim G.

            Sam

            Liberty University (which also has ATS accreditation) accepts credits from the seminary where I studied for my doctorate. That is why I may do a PdD with Liberty down the road.

            BTW: They are seeking accreditation, but it can be a long process. Hopefully they get it. I went with them for financial reasons (about 1/4 the cost of what it would have been at an accredited university). I studied for the biblical education not to become a Prof.

Lydia

“God is free to act according to His nature and is free to do what He wants to do.”

I always find these statements by Calvinists amusing. And in next breath, “. but it’s an altogether different thing to argue that God has libertarian free will with contrary choice” . What is that supposed to communicate? Huh? Choice contrary to what? His nature?

God created everything, including free will no matter how you define it as limited to Adam, etc. So, it is communicated, God is free to act according to His nature? Ok, His nature flooded the earth wiping out all but a few, included a prostitute in the geneology of Jesus Christ and had a woman lead men into battle. :o) (Sounds very contrary to what many teach about Him whether seeker or patriarchal)

Rick wrote:
“I believe God, in His sovereignty, has chosen to give man, made in His image, both the freedom and the responsibility to make that decision.”

I agree and believe that is part of His nature and is NOT contrary to His nature at all.

“It’s one thing if one wants to argue that man has libertarian free will with contrary choice in this age (I wouldn’t but some certainly do), but it’s an altogether different thing to argue that God has libertarian free will with contrary choice and that we’ll have it in the age to come.

“”

    Ben Simpson

    Lydia, did you read Rogers’ article or are you just responding in the comments? I’m simply using Rogers’ phrase when I say “libertarian free will with contrary choice.” So ask him your question about “choice contrary to what?”

    He might not answer. So, let me explain to what he means. When he says “libertarian free will with contrary choice,” he means that man is always free to have done the opposite of what he did. That’s what Rogers means by “contrary choice.” So, the answer to you question “choice contrary to what?” would be: contrary to what he could have chosen.

    Now, does God have this kind of free will? Can God sin? Can God deny himself? Can God cease to love, be just, be wrathful, be merciful, etc? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then God does have libertarian free will with contrary choice, but if the answer is no, then He does not. Just because God supposedly gave humanity libertarian free will with contrary choice do not mean that He has it himself.

      Sam

      Ben +1

      Robert

      Ben wrote:

      “He might not answer. So, let me explain to what he means. When he says “libertarian free will with contrary choice,” he means that man is always free to have done the opposite of what he did. That’s what Rogers means by “contrary choice.” So, the answer to you question “choice contrary to what?” would be: contrary to what he could have chosen.”

      You may be correct regarding Rogers talk of “contrary choice”. But I do not think that “contrary choice” is the best way to talk about free will. This is true because sometimes our choices are not always in regards to opposites (this good choice or this opposite and bad choice). Sometimes our choices involve variations of something. Say I go to the supermarket and I am in that infamous cereal isle (which now seemingy has hundreds of choices of cereal). Sometimes the same cereal has different variations (e.g. you can choose Rice Krispies which is ordinary vanilla, you can also choose a chocalate version of the same thing, Cocoa Krispies). Choosing between variations is not a choice of opposites. Or say I am at the restaurant, deciding which dressing to have for the salad. It is one salad but there are different choices regarding dressings.

      So it is not necessary to posit a total opposite possibility in order for a person to have a choice. To have a genuine choice you only need two different possibilities. Both of those choices could be good or both of those choices could be evil (when we speak of the lesser evil). That is why I try to keep it simple and speak of having and making choices. Every libertarian believes that we sometimes have choices. As far as I can tell that is the common denominator of all versions of libertarian free will, it is also what the majority of people mean when they speak of free will. The ordinary conception is that we sometimes have and make our own choices.

      “Now, does God have this kind of free will? Can God sin? Can God deny himself? Can God cease to love, be just, be wrathful, be merciful, etc? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then God does have libertarian free will with contrary choice, but if the answer is no, then He does not. Just because God supposedly gave humanity libertarian free will with contrary choice do not mean that He has it himself.”

      I dealt with this invalid reasoning in my other post. Suffice to say, again, it does not follow that because some choices are not within a particular person’s range of choices that it then logically follows that they do not have free will.

      We can also think of situations where some choices are not available to a person, while others are. Say you are in prison and so the choice of visiting Hawaii or Europe is not available to you at that time. You still have choices in regards to what you do with your free time (work out with weights, go to the prison library, even get together with others to plot you next scheme). But say the prisoner is confined to his cell. His range of choices is quite limited and yet he still has choices in his cell (read a book, write a letter, lay down and nap, whatever). We all know that just because some specific choice is not available to you at present, it does not follow that you have no other choices in regards to other things.

      And say our prisoner is manacled and immobilized, he still has choices in regards to his ordinary language use (will he speak, what will he say, how will he say it, will he choose not to speak, to whom will he speak, etc. etc.). The only way you could take away his choices completely is if you completely controlled both his environment and his mind. If you don’t exerecise that kind of control, then there are always choices that a person has.

      All of us know these things to be true. that is why so many consider money and education to be so important. More money and better education generally speaking gives you more alternative possibities.

      Robert

        Ronnie W Rogers

        Thanks for your comments to Ben regarding “contrary choice”. I have used that too often, and I very much appreciate your helping me to see that. Generally, I mean “could have chosen otherwise” i.e. to do something or not to do something, what I ofter refer to as “real choice”. Consequently, I think “otherwise” fits my understanding better than “contrary” which may or not be present.

        So, I am in total agreement with your remarks, they were excellent. Thank you for helping me to think more clearly about this.

        Indebted
        Ronnie W Rogers

      Lydia

      ‘Lydia, did you read Rogers’ article or are you just responding in the comments? I’m simply using Rogers’ phrase when I say “libertarian free will with contrary choice.” So ask him your question about “choice contrary to what?””

      what I think I am seeing is more redefining of concepts/words to fit the Augustinian/Calvin filter.

Sam

I believe this article, while good, is incomplete when dealing with the image of God in Man.

Since Genesis does not explain the meaning of the image of God, we must derive its characteristics from three New Testament allusions, where this imagery is found in passages related to the restoration of the image through salvation in Christ:

Ephesians 4:24 indicates that moral qualities of righteousness and holiness are part of the image of God: “…and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Yet, we know that there is no one righteous, not even one (Rom. 3:10). So this part of the image of God in man, if not indeed destroyed has been so marred that it cannot appear in man except as the result of salvation in Christ.

In the same way, the parallel passage is Colossians 3:10. Paul refers here to the knowledge of God being restored in the believer in Christ: “…and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—“. Again however, the Scripture teaches that no one understands (3:11). Therefore, like the above, this part of the image of God has been either destroyed or so utterly marred that understanding God does not take place except as a result of salvation in Christ. Further, this lack of understanding among the fallen man, Paul shows results in no one seeking God (same verse: Rom. 3:11).

The third New Testament clue to the image comes from 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” Can we infer from this that a certain aspect of God’s glory was reflected in the highest example of His earthly creation, mankind? I believe so. We see a pattern emerging from these references. Here is the basis for seeing all of the moral attributes of God are part of His image in man, even if a specific attribute is not explicitly referred to in Scripture. God’s love, holiness and spirit nature must have been a part of the original image (Isa. 6:3; John 4:24; 1 Jn. 4:8). Thus, just as God is a personal God with intellect, emotions, and will, the image of God in man must involve intellect, emotions, and will. However, as we have seen in the references above, His attributes have been so marred in fallen man that though we have intellect, which is like him, nevertheless we do not understand Him nor seek Him. And though we have a will, which is like Him, it has been so marred as to come to know spiritual good, making it necessary for our regeneration to come about completely by the work of the Spirit, apart from any act of the human will (John 1:13). Paul makes it clear that it is not by acts of our wills that we find mercy but by God who shows mercy (Rom. 9:16). Our wills are corrupted by sin and can accomplish no spiritual good. But thankfully God shows mercy upon whom He wills (Rom. 9:18). And we know because He is good, and cannot change, He always does what is right.

    Robert

    Sam presents ***again*** a perfect example of what is wrong with the thinking of calvinist types like him.

    They constantly leave out, ignore, minimize the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit.

    Look at Sam’s comment:

    “Again however, the Scripture teaches that no one understands (3:11). Therefore, like the above, this part of the image of God has been either destroyed or so utterly marred that understanding God does not take place except as a result of salvation in Christ.”

    Note what he says here that due to sin, Sam claims that “that understanding God does not take place except as a result of salvation in Christ.”

    According to Sam, a human person can have no understanding of spiritual things whatsoever UNTIL THEY ARE SAVED PERSONS. He says explicitly that no understanding can take place until the person is saved. That is a completely false.

    The Holy Spirit works powerfully in people before they are saved revealing all sorts of things to them. And if we look at our own conversion experience we know that we started becoming more open and understanding more about the bible and Jesus BEFORE WE ACTUALLY WERE SAVED. Some of us had this understanding as a nonbeliever for months and years before we were saved.
    And yet Sam claims that no one understands anything until they are saved.

    The only way you could legitimately claim that a person has no understanding whatsoever until they are saved is if you completely left out, neglected, ignored, or minimized the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit.

    Sam provides yet another perfect illustration of how calvinists leave out the Holy Spirit.

    You would think that this would be impossible to do considering that the Spirit is God, is powerful and most definitely is active in the lives of nonbelievers before they are saved. But people like Sam do it all the time, because to them a person has to be regenerated/saved first, before they can understand anything.

    Robert

      Sam

      Robert says I left out the Holy Spirit. Really? I recall saying “…making it necessary for our regeneration to come about completely by the work of the Spirit…”

      It is the Traditionalist who adds the work of man to something that is the work of the Spirit alone. Robert again rejects the clear teaching of John 1:13.

      Steve Martin

      One can be religious (look around) without the Holy Spirit…but one is not capable of believing (trusting – even the devil believes) in Christ Jesus until the Holy Spirit grabs a hold of a person.

      That is biblical.

Adam Harwood

Thank you, Dr. Rogers, for your careful treatment of this important subject.

Two years ago, the Journal of Evangelical Theological Studies published this article, John Kilner, “Humanity in God’s Image: Is the Image Really Damaged?” JETS 53.3 (September 2010): 601-617. Dr. Kilner is the Chair of Ethics and Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. In his thorough and heavily-footnoted article, Kilner offers this view: Christians throughout history have taught that the image of God was lost, damaged, virtually or partially lost, or compromised. Kilner questions whether this view has biblical support and suggests that theologians been misled “by mistakenly conflating the image of God with the human being. As a result, they mistakenly assume that if the human being is changed, the image of God is also” (pg. 605). To clarify, Kilner is not suggesting that sin does no damage; rather, he asks whether the Bible explicitly states that the image of God in man has been damaged. He understands that a long list of theologians have made the claim. But Kilner asks whether the Bible makes such a claim. Something to consider.

Blessings, brothers.

In Him,

Adam

    Sam

    Can we see any damage in the image of God in man in our own generation? Perhaps in the extermination of the Jews by Hitler? Or the happy extermination of the unborn in our day?

      Lydia

      Sam, the Lutheran Reformed church went along with Hilter’s Aryan Laws. He took an oath of allegience to him. And Martin Luther’s writings about Jews were used to seal the deal. The Reformed tradition loves rulers and oppressing people.

        Steve Martin

        Not all Lutherans went along with Hitler. Many did, though.

        And Luther, who said many great things, did say some horrible things about the Jews in his later life. He was a real sinner.

        But that does not negate the great things he said and did to stand up for the pure gospel.

          Lydia

          “And Luther, who said many great things, did say some horrible things about the Jews in his later life. He was a real sinner.”

          yes, he suggested we “sin boldly”. I often wonder what “Born Again” really means in the Reformed movement since it does not seem to need to actually “change” anyone.

          A few things about Luther–His advice on and writings on the peasants war were reprehensible. His writings on women were cruel. His writings about Jews were incredibly evil. I realize many excuse these things away but if his beliefs did not move him toward better fruit, I think we should rethink promoting him in any way.

          The first I heard of his writings on Jews was in William Shirers, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Shirer was living in Berlin during that time and reporting for Murrow’s team. He gives plenty of source material for what happened with the Lutheran church and the Nazi party. In fact very few stood up to it in the Lutheran church. A few, yes. And we know their names.

          But think of it “Luther”an church and Luther’s writings on Jews. Luther helped along a great evil and wiping out 6 million with his writings. That is more of the long lasting fruit of the Reformation that “reformed” very little of the oppression of people. It ended up mainly being about the realigning of political power.

      Jim G.

      I don’t know that acts of evil are a result in the damage of the image. It could be but I am inclined to doubt it. I would attribute such acts as the depravity resulting in the workings of the law of sin and death. Saying that the fall fundamentally alters human nature is a scary proposition for the rest of theology.

      Jim G.

Norm Miller

Dr. Harwood:
Your cape has a big ‘B’ on it. It stands for biblicist. And your comment was just super. — Norm

Sam

Robert writes:

“Here are two good examples of definitions of free will from very famous libertarians, top of the line philosophers”

And then he goes on to quote a Open Theist heretic. Well done, Robert. You have suceeded in rubbing mud in your own libertarian freewill eye!

But I will be sure to remind you of the great respect you have for Open Theists and how close your understanding of freewill is with theirs. Thanks.

    Robert

    Sam, Jim G. asked you if you are a student currently, are you?

    I am wondering because having taught logic to students I am finding your logic to be extremely lacking. You say that quoting an open theist “puts mud into my libertarian eye.”

    Seems that you fail to understand that one can agree with others in some things and simultaneously disagree with them on other things.

    Take yourself for example, the open theists that I know believe in the trinity and the deity of Christ, the incarnation and the resurrection of Jesus, and you agree with them. If they are correct about these doctrines, is there any problem with your agreeing with them on these things?

    I agree with them on libertarian free will, that it does in fact exist. If libertarian free will does in fact exist, then agreeing with an open theist about it, is agreeing on the truth. So exactly how is that a problem?

    I agree with atheistic physicists about the speed of light? If they are correct about the speed of light and I agree with them about it, how is it a problem? And if I agree with these atheistic physicists on the speed of light must I then agree with them on their atheism? It seems that a graduate student would understand these kinds of simple logical distinctions but you apparently don’t Sam. So what is your problem?

    Can’t I rationally agree with someone in the areas where they hold the truth whle simultaneously disagreeing with them about other things?

    Robert

      Sam

      Robert, I finished all my studies this year.

      Sorry to hear that you find a lack logic in what I write. Fortunately, however, that was not the case according to my Profs. I have maintained a higher GPA at the Masters level and at the Doctorate level that few could claim to have done. So, I have already proven myself again and again to the complete satisfaction of my professors. I’m not looking for your approval Robert.

Daniel Wilcox

Sam,

You say,
“We should trace how many former KKK members were Traditionalists…”

Actually, what I’ve read is that the KKK’s original members were Calvinists.

And, according to even the Founders’ Blog, the main leaders of Baptists who founded the SBC were from Calvinist churches!

As I pointed out with evidence last week on this site, most Calvinists etc. did support slavery, especially Calvinist Baptists.

That doesn’t automatically mean that Calvinism can’t be true.

But doesn’t it give you pause for thought that all these millions of American Calvinists who have been regenerated by God then use their theology to justify an inherent evil?

Not to mention, what Lydia has already pointed out, that Calvinists and Calvin himself slaughtered other Christians in the name of their theology.

Something definitely is wrong with a theology which justifies the killing of humans who haven’t violated the 10 commandments, even burning them a the stake.

And who claims slavery was instituted by God.

Daniel

    Sam

    Daniel: It doesn’t give me any pause, knowing the utter sinfulness of man. …and of your own tendency to try to make Calvinists look bad at every turn.

      Daniel Wilcox

      Sam,

      Ah, but according to Calvinist theology, all saved individuals have been brought forth from being “dead” in sin.

      How is it that these redeemed individuals then spend their life times supporting slavery in the name of God?

      How do they know God foreordained most humans to eternal damnation, yet they don’t even have enough spiritual sense to know “owning another human being” is evil?

      I am so thankful that Calvinism doesn’t rule now.

      I pray this resurgence will end.

      John 3:16 is the truth not Calvin,

      Daniel

      Norm Miller

      Sam:
      The Calvinists noted by Daniel is not an attempt by Daniel to make them look bad. That such Calvinists supported slavery and murdered their detractors is Calvinists making themselves look not merely bad, but as evil men flailing in spiritual darkness. Assailing Daniel for reciting history reminds me of certain historical events. — Norm

        Daniel Wilcox

        Sam,

        You say, Norm and Daniel have a “distorted view of history when it comes to Calvinism. Historical revisionism comes to mind and forgetting what Calvinists themselves suffered.”

        As an historian, I would ask you to point out how did the Christians opposed to infant baptism hurt the Calvinists? These Christians who were executed by Calvin and other Reformers via being burned at the stake and being drowned, simply because they refused to have their babies baptized!

        They were also attacked because they refused to go to war.

        How did such Christians hurt Calvinists in the 1800’s when many Calvinists enslaved many, and killed many others?

        How did Christians hurt Calvinists when they were imprisoned for simply preaching the Good News contrary to the state church in Geneva, etc.?

        How did Christians hurt Calvinists when they were persecuted for arguing against Calvin’s doctrine of theological determinism?

        I can’t think of a single place or time in history when Christians opposed to infant baptism, Calvinistic TULIP, etc. caused Calvinists/Reformed individuals to “suffer.”

        Please give me a specific historical example.

        Thanks for the dialog.

        Daniel

          Robert

          Hello Daniel,

          I want to say that I greatly appreciate your posts as one of my own interests is history. I love history and find it fascinating. You are doing a great job of documenting the evil actions perpetrated by calvinists in history. One of my friends likes to say that if a rational person studies history he/she will have good reasons to reject calvinism and its main proponents. The historical record is clear these men, like Calvin and Luther had major problems especially in how they dealt with others who disagreed with them (and even the way they sometimes were towards each other). Of course it will be interesting to see how Sam or other calvinists try to spin their way out of the latest facts that you have presented. Daniel keep presenting the facts even if the calvinists attempt their spin control,, because other non-calvinists really need to know these facts of history. It will further innoculate them against the dsease of calvin-ism.

          Robert

          Sam

          Daniel,

          In your entire rant, I don’t hear a word about the various ways in which Calvinists have advanced the Gospel. I don’t hear the good stories with the bad. All I hear is that bad. You should not call yourself a historian, since you only paint one-side of history. It is a terrible historian that no one should listen to who only gives half the story. And that fits you to a tee, I’m sorry to say. But it is the truth.

        Robert

        Sam you claim that Norm and Daniel have a distorted view of history when it comes to calvinism? How so?

        Daniel in particular is extremely knowledgeagle about history and is presenting historical facts. Since these facts show some of these calvinists to have done some very evil things, you don’t want to accept them.

        But facts are facts whether you like them or not.

        What I would like to see is calvinists acknowledging that these things were wrong and cannot be justified. Instead they try to minimize these things, ignore them, put them under the rug, or even in response attack non-calvinists for bringing them up accusing them of revising history. But again the facts are the facts. Luther did evil in his actons towards the peasants. Luther was anti-semitic and hated the Jews. Calvin persecuted and treated others he disagreed with very badly. The Reformers tortured and drowned the ana-baptists for their baptistic views. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

        Pointing these things out is not revisionism of historical facts, these ***are*** the historical facts.

        Again, if calvinists acknowledged these things as evil that would be one thing, but instead they go into spin control like a Politician manufacturing spin to deal with incriminating facts and embarrassing truths.

        Robert

          Lydia

          Sam, If I went around calling my doctrinal beliefs after a KKK who lynched African Americans, you would have a point. Otherwise, you do not.

          If anything, one of my big concerns is how much people are following man these days. There are many we can learn from but we must be Bereans and the Holy Spirit must be illuminating truth to us.

          Sam

          It is accurate to say that Daniel’s supposed history lessons are lies because he only tells half-truths. He looks for the worst in Calvinism, and never shares the best of Calvinist history. Such people are unworthy to ever be called historians, no matter how much they know! I would never dare think of Daniel as real historian because he only paints one-sided history. And THAT your views on Calvinist history are indeed distorted. If you are too blind to see it, sorry I can’t help you more than point the truth out to you.

        Alan Davis

        Brother Norm,

        All founding members of the Southern Baptist were guilty in one way or another of racism. Just because a founder of the SBC was not Calvinistic in no way lessens his guilt. The vast majority of original SB pastors supported racism regardless of their view of soteroligy. If you go along for the ride your guilty with the whole bunch.

        Alan Davis

    Alan Davis

    Brother Daniel,

    I understand what you are saying about Calvin himself and those who actually perpetuated crimes against others. I for one have not read enough about all those facts you present and may read some of it.

    Now as to the Southern Baptist Convention and those founders. It is my understanding that the SBC was founded by some from different camps with some most defiantly being from the Calvinistic camp. However if you are to cast a racist shadow over those who were Calvinistic the same cloud would be over any and all who helped form, become a part of, or stayed with the Southern Baptist Convention until the public apology a few years ago or at least until we as SB made a written public stand against racism and slavery. To go along even in silence to sin is to take part in it. So if Calvinistic leaders and founders are guilty so are those who weren’t Calvinistic if they too helped form and were a a part of the original SBC. In fact most of us writing here attend, pastor or serve on staff in an SBC church that more than likely (unless a recent church plant) was part of the original movement of the SBC, thus according to what and how I read your statement, makes us guilty also. I would point out that even until the late 70’s as far as I know there was no convention wide apology or repudiation of racism or slavery. Also I would point out that Calvinistic baptists were not the only Baptist slave owners in the SBC. It does not lessen the culpability of a Baptist leader who owned slaves if he wasn’t a Calvinist and many did.

    History will point out that the vast majority of the original SB pastors supported slavery in some form even if they didn’t hold slaves regardless of their soteroligy.

    Alan Davis

      Daniel Wilcox

      Alan,

      You say, “So if Calvinistic leaders and founders are guilty so are those who weren’t Calvinistic if they too helped form and were a a part of the original SBC.” and “Also I would point out that Calvinistic baptists were not the only Baptist slave owners in the SBC.”

      I agree. But this wasn’t my point. Yes, we are all sinners. But the difference is that in the case of non-Calvinists racists and slaveowners, they sinned because of their own libertarian free choice.
      In contrast, Calvinists believed slavery was foreordained of God, that most humans are foreordained to eternal damnation (Calvin), and that humans are “dead” incapable of not sinning. But when the foreordained by God, are regenerated, they will gradually become Christ-like. My specific question in a past post, is why, if these Calvinist regenerated individuals are redeemed, why did they then use their theological deterministic theology to justify inherent sin, one of the very worst sins of all, claiming, indeed, that God foreordained slavery?

      I won’t re-post evidence I’ve posted in the past and a lot more so as to keep this short.) But any in depth study of American history shows how Calvinists repeatedly! used (or were “used”) by their theology to justify evil actions. Why is this?

      What I’ve read of Baptists leaders in the 1840 is very depressing.

      And a classic case study is that of Calvinist Stonewall Jackson and his Calvinist chaplain R.L. Dabney.

      Theologian Dabney is very popular even now with modern Calvinists, yet Dabney wrote a book AFTER the Civil War still justifying slavery, still claiming the institution wasn’t wrong.
      How could he possibly do this, and yet also write long, greatly admired theology books in which he knows the decrees of God before the beginning of the universe?

      And as I pointed out last week, I’ve read at least two modern Calvinists, one a famous Calvinist, who still claim that slavery isn’t inherently sinful and evil!

      I don’t know of any other modern thinkers of any other religion or theology who currently justify slavery.

      In my opinion Calvin’s theological determinism casts a long dark shadow over history. I recently finished three biographies on Calvin and one on Stonewall.

      They are intriguing historical figures, but they got their faith so tragically wrong. So wrong that millions of humans have suffered.

      Millions have suffered from other leaders, but those those leaders didn’t claim that their killing was foreordained by God who wills for most humans to be eternally damned.

      As a former teacher of American literature (and history) who very carefully presented to students both the positive and negative aspects and actions of American Calvinists in history, I am also seeking to stick with the facts in these posts of the last couple of weeks.

      I don’t mean to imply that individual Calvinists were all bad, or that non-Calvinists were all good. We’re all sinners needing the love of God in Christ.

      But theology does matter. And Calvinistic determinism scores a very low score. A very good historical study would be one comparing Southern Baptists Calvinists’ sense of unconditional election with the Calvinist Afrikaners’ of South Africa and their Apartheid. Both systems of society and culture came out of Calvinist theology and harmed millions.

      Thanks for the dialog,
      Daniel

        Alan Davis

        Brother Daniel,

        I understand better what you are saying here. I may not agree with the apparent assumption but I see it. Thank you.

        The part Calvinists played in slavery can not be just answered away. However no matter for what reason someone held to slavery if they were a part of it they were just as guilty. Calvinists may well have been a part of the institution but the institution was ultimately (and still is) driven by greed. One can not blame a brand of soterology for wholesale slavery in the world past or present. The original SB founders were just not sinners but all guilty of some of the same sins, namely slavery. None no more guilty than the other for all excused away slavery at that time based on religious texts taken out of context, not just the Calvinists.

        And I am intrigued by your work and studies!

        Alan Davis

          Alan Davis

          Daniel,

          Where could I get some of your work? I am greatly interested as I too am a student of history.

          Thanks,
          Alan Davis

            Daniel Wilcox

            Alan,

            Maybe I’ve not been clear enough?

            While I have taught high school for years including the Calvinists periods twice a year, and studied American history deeply–had a great professor for American Intellectual History who earned his PhD. on Jonathan Edwards, and read church history more than watch football;-),
            I am no authority.

            Wish I were.

            I think a very good book to start the study of the relationship of Christianity and American history is Professor Willard M. Swartley’s Slavery, Sabbath, War, and Women.

            Another book which is very insightful is Albion’s Seed by David Hacket Fischer, which traces the influence of 4 waves of immigration from Britain–the Puritans, the Royalists, the Quakers, and the Scotch-Irish.

            I read a great book on early Baptists in Britain but can’t remember the title right now. Am currently just starting Peaceable Kingdom Lost by Kevin Kenny, the Calvinists versus the Quakers in Pennsylvania.

            I’ve read several biographies of late on Calvin but can’t remember which was the most scholarly and thorough (having a senior moment). Etc.

            And lots of powerful books on the Civil War period; currently also in the midst of Reconstruction by Eric Foner (but it’s so depressing I can only take a few chapters at a time, because the period after the C.W. was in some ways much worse than the C.W. This book won a bunch of history book awards.

            So many books, so little memory…;-)

            But I’m not any authority.

            Hope that gives you a few historical rabbit holes, though you may have already passed through them:-)

            Daniel

holdon

“With a biblical view of man made in the image of God, with some of the image destroyed and some corrupted, Christians can speak most accurately and comprehensively about the destructiveness of man (murder, rape, lying, narcissism, personal sinfulness, blasphemy, etc.,) thereby helping people to see not only the truth of the gospel, but their personal need as well. Christians can do this without ignoring the magnificent accomplishments of man (technology, music, medicine, etc., which many seek to hide man’s sinfulness behind) that evidence being created in the image of God rather than merely being a product of Darwinian common descent.”

We do see that Man after the fall is still called God’s image. With the notion of “image” is linked the notion of representation. Man is still head of creation, representative of the Creator, even after the Fall. To say that this image is destroyed, would mean to upset God’s order and Man’s responsibility.
What we do need to say is that although the structure of Man’s image is still intact; the direction is away from God, or Godless. Man’s grandeur still exists. Also after the Fall he is capable of enormous exploits. The psalmist says it so:

Thou hast crowned him with glory and splendour. Thou hast made him to rule over the works of thy hands; thou hast put everything under his feet.

But he misuses this position constantly after the Fall.

We need to also distinguish a little between “image” and “likeness”. These are two different things. Image means representation. An image represents someone, but does not necessarily have to have resemblance. Likeness means resemblance. Image has to do with position. Likeness with characteristics. Again as to our structure we very much resemble God: thoughts, speech, feeling, etc.. But regarding the use we make of that after the Fall, it is away from God, in a direction opposite to His will. But it doesn’t mean that fallen Man cannot think, speak, reason, believe, love and be loved.

Adam produced descendants after his own likeness. They had not only the likeness that God had bestowed on him in creation, but also the wayward inclinations. But the creation likeness is still there as James 3:9 also confirms.

The image of God as the position that God did put Man in, is still maintained after the Fall. In Gen 9 the judicial argument is based on it.

Christ is said to be God’s image, but not God’s likeness, because He was God.

Daniel Wilcox

Sam,

Sam says, “It is accurate to say that Daniel’s supposed history lessons are lies because he only tells half-truths. He looks for the worst in Calvinism, and never shares the best of Calvinist history….And THAT your views on Calvinist history are indeed distorted. If you are too blind to see it…”

Huh? Where did I present “lies,” “half-truths,” or any “distortions”?

I’ve reminded the SBCToday posters of common historical knowledge available in any scholarly works about the period in Reformed history when Calvin and other Reformers slaughtered other Christians, mentioned facts about Calvinistic Baptists and slavery, etc.

I’ve provided actual quotes from Calvin and other which are horrific and not “Good News” at all. And I can provide much more information.

Sam, as they used to say many years ago, please, “just the facts.”
Give me a list of scholarly books which claim contrary information and I will gladly read them.

Daniel

    Daniel Wilcox

    Sam,

    George Whitfield is the American who petitioned the King to have slavery brought to Georgia when slavery was against the law! Think of the terrible tragedies of the next 100 years of slavery!

    Actually, I have read a little about Lottie Moon and how she changed from being prejudiced, adopted Chinese clothing and greatly sacrificed her own health to share with impoverished Chinese.
    But if she agreed with Calvin that God foreordains most of us to eternal damnation, how tragic. Did she really think there was no hope for most humans because God willed for us not to be saved? Even as Calvin claims “instigated” in us?

    As I’ve asked before, how is theological determinism and the foreordination of most of us to eternal damnation, and where Calvin even claims it was God’s will that Adam and Eve sin!!
    –HOW
    is any of that Good News?

    Adrian Rogers had much better news, as in his famous sermon against Calvinism “Predestined to Hell–Absolutely NOT!”

    And Billy Graham’s Good News that God loves every single human being and wills for everyone to be saved, and that Jesus died for every single human being.

    That is Good News:-)

    Daniel

Ben Simpson

It’s an absolute shame that the discussion here had almost nothing to do with the main thrust of the actual article our comments are attached to, which dealt with the image of God. Perhaps we’ll be better kept on topic next time.

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