Too often, God gets blamed for what He did not cause.

October 29, 2012

A Biblical Critique of Calvinism

Part 9: The Theodical Aspect of the Gospel Invitation

by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor of First Baptist Church in Pryor, Oklahoma, and author of Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism


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This is the twelfth of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child. All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted.
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I remember hearing from one of my seminary professors how a very close friend of his had been electrocuted while working on an air conditioner. After the funeral, many of the man’s closest friends gathered at his home for food and fellowship. During this time, several of the men commented that it must have been God’s will for the man to die, to which the rest agreed; except for my professor. He told us that he had listened to about all of this nonsense that he could stand and he finally spoke up and boldly asserted, “I think it was probably God’s will that he not work on the air conditioner with it plugged in.” The silence in the room was deafening.

Too often, God gets blamed for what He did not cause. Let me explain, from Scripture, the best biblical representation I have ever seen regarding causes of death. The text is 1 Sam. 26:10, which, I believe, does a marvelous service of describing three primary sources which can bring about death to people. These three are acts of God, acts of nature, and acts of man.

David was on the run from King Saul, who, in his madness, was intent on killing Israel’s future king. In one particular encounter, David’s military companion, Abishai, was sure that God had orchestrated things such that David would be Saul’s executioner and effectively end this fiasco once and for all. But, again and again, David wisely declined to kill the troubled king. Instead, David explained to Abishai that there were at least three causes of death for man. My exposition of David’s words is both an attempt to use them to help explain the problem of evil and suffering in the world and an attempt to defend the righteousness and goodness of God, which is known as a theodicy, hence, my categorization as a theodical weakness.

The first thing I notice that David said concerning death is that the Lord may strike one down. This I describe as an act of God. Such an act suggests the direct divine intervention of God in a matter. Usually, this sort of death is seen to be punitive. The chilling examples of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-3) as well as Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) are biblical accounts which appear to fit the category of death being orchestrated by a direct act of God.

The next possibility that David mentioned is that Saul’s day will come that he dies. This suggests death by way of what I call an act of nature (see also Num. 19:16, 18). No direct divine intervention is mentioned. No divine punishment is implied. The deaths of Abraham (Gen. 25:7-8) and Jacob (Gen. 49:33) serve as biblical examples of those who simply die of natural causes. Heart attacks, strokes, and other causes related to aging and worn out bodies fit into this category. Usually, tornado, hurricane, and flood victims also fit into this category, although I readily acknowledge the fact that evil powers may use nature to kill, as can be seen in the case of Job’s family (Job 1:18-22). I also believe that the number of deaths by way of natural causes can be reduced by using caution regarding eating habits and taking cover when storms arise.

The third statement David makes is quite intriguing. David asserted that Saul may go down in battle. This I label as a death being caused by an act of man. One may be killed in battle, killed in a car wreck, killed in a shooting, and so forth. The biblical examples of the deaths of Saul (1 Sam. 31:1-4) and Uriah (2 Sam. 11:14-17) illustrate death brought about by an act of man. Similarly, some diseases can be traced to man, like AIDS, tobacco related cancer, radiation (sun) exposure, and more. And, I once again acknowledge that evil powers may use people to kill people (Job 1:13-17).

Not everything that happens is caused by God. There are acts of God, acts of nature, and acts of man. We would do well to remember these categories when it comes to explaining evil and suffering in the world. God is good and has man’s best in mind; yet, the human mind and demonic forces seek to raise a barrier between God and man by questioning the goodness of God and making Him responsible for all evil and suffering, when He, in fact, has allowed man to sow what he wishes. But with sowing also comes reaping. Man wants to sow evil and then blame God for reaping suffering. The true culprits are people and demonic forces. Faith in Jesus Christ can protect us from demonic forces, but what will protect us from us? We must cease saddling God with all the ills of the world and assume the responsibility for our own demise. David clearly described three different possibilities and refused to lump them all together as acts of God, so neither should we. Calvinism has no answer other than “the sovereignty of God in predestination” when it attempts to explain causes of death. Such a defense is lame as well as blasphemous, in that it is shallowly ambiguous, untrue to Scripture, as I have sought to demonstrate in 1 Sam. 26:10, and is an affront to the righteousness of Almighty God. God (theos) is righteous (dike) and in Him there is no unrighteousness. These two Greek words brought together render the transliteration theodicy, or, more precisely, “Godrighteous.” Calvinism has an appalling theodical weakness.

 

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The next article in this series will explore the repentance weakness of Calvinism.

 

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Steve Martin

Calvinism is no answer. It sends us inward. There’s no external Word at for us to accomplish the assurance of our salvation. So why even have a Reformation?

Free-will, on the other hand, is NO better. It too, sends us inward and ascribes to man attributes which only the Living God has…freedom.

We sinners are bound in our sin and need the One who is truly free. Truly free to forgive bound sinners. The kind we know that we are.

Thanks.

r smith

MY QUESTION IS AT THE BOTTOM.

***400 prophets had declared success to King Ahab.

1Ki 22:13 ¶ And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets [declare] good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak [that which is] good.

1Ki 22:14 And Micaiah said, [As] the LORD liveth, what the LORD saith unto me, that will I speak.

***Micaiah says the king will die.

1Ki 22:17 ¶ And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.

1Ki 22:18 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?

***Micaiah tells why the 400 prophets had said Ahab would succeed and how God had arranged it.

1Ki 22:23 Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.

***Ahab imprisons the prophet.

1Ki 22:27 And say, Thus saith the king, Put this [fellow] in the prison, and feed him with bread of affliction and with water of affliction, until I come in peace.

1Ki 22:28 And Micaiah said, If thou return at all in peace, the LORD hath not spoken by me. And he said, Hearken, O people, every one of you.

1Ki 22:29 ¶ So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramothgilead.

***Ahab disguises himself to avoid being recognized.

1Ki 22:30 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, I will disguise myself, and enter into the battle; but put thou on thy robes. And the king of Israel disguised himself, and went into the battle.

***The king of Syria says, “don’t kill Ahab”. So, the death of Ahab was not at the instigation of the king of Syria.

1Ki 22:31 But the king of Syria commanded his thirty and two captains that had rule over his chariots, saying, Fight neither with small nor great, save only with the king of Israel.

****A man shoots an arrow into the air with no particular target in mind.

1Ki 22:34 And a [certain] man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded.

1Ki 22:37 ¶ So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.

YOU SAID:

“Too often, God gets blamed for what He did not cause. Let me explain, from Scripture, the best biblical representation I have ever seen regarding causes of death. The text is 1 Sam. 26:10, which, I believe, does a marvelous service of describing three primary sources which can bring about death to people. These three are acts of God, acts of nature, and acts of man.”

MY QUESTION:

Was the death of Ahab an act of God, nature or man?

    r smith

    I said: ***The king of Syria says, “don’t kill Ahab”. So, the death of Ahab was not at the instigation of the king of Syria.

    I misread the verse. It says the exact opposite of what I thought it said. The main one the king of Syria wanted killed was Ahab. But that really changes nothing as to my point.

    1. God instigated the whole thing. He had control over the 400 lying prophets. “Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets”

    2. A man was active in shooting the arrow which path of travel was foreordained by God to hit a very unlikely place (small opening in the armor of Ahab).

    3. The wind (nature) would have affected the travel path of the arrow. But, you know that the “winds and the waves obey His voice.”

    So my conclusion is that God planned the act and carried the plan out by use of means which he controlled such as the wind and the archer, etc.

rhutchin

God is both omniscient and omnipotent. God was well aware of the man working on the AC and watched as the man decided to work on the AC and then as he was electrocuted. God could have intervened to prevent that outcome; God chose not to intervene. Calvinism ascribes such knowledge to God as well as the freedom of God to act or refrain from acting to alter an outcome. Thus, nothing occurs without God’s knowledge and God ultimately decides whether to intervene to alter an outcome or to allow natural events to play out without interference from Him. Consequently, we conclude that God exercises sovereign control over all outcomes and thereby ordains all outcomes. Somehow this conclusion is blasphemous and against Scripture. Are we to degrade God and take away His omniscience and/or omnipotence in order to satisfy our human wants and desires?

    Robert

    In your first line you affirm that God is both omnicient and omnipotent. And this is true. Not only is it true, it is objectively true, that means that no matter what we make think or feel about God’s attrubutues, they remain true. Humans may doubt or deny God’s attributes but that does not change a thing. God is who and what He is, and that never changes. If God is omniscient and knows everything, then that was always true and will always be true. Even is some like the open theists deny it or doubt it. Siince it is objectively true that God is omnipotent and omniscient, nothing can ever change those facts or diminish or change them in any way. That is why rhut
    chin’s question at the end up his post makes no sense. He asks: “Are we to degrade God and take away his omniscience and/or omnipotence in order to satisfy our human wants and desires?”

    Fact is there is nothing we can do whatsoever to “take away” God’s attributes. As they are objectively true, nothing we can do or say or think will change or take away or modify God’s attributes in any way. So the question makes no sense.

    But there is a bigger problem with rhutchin’s post. He says that Gold controls and ordains all events (i.e this is a typical calvinistic claim, that God predestinesz every thing without exception). Rhutchin then wonders why this may lead others to view the claim as somehow blasphemous. and against scripture??? I believe that he already knows the problem and that he just puts this problem under the rug in order to maintain his calvinism. One of the problems with the claim that God controls and predestines every even that occurs is that this would then include every evil and sin that occurs. God says in His Word that He is holy, hates sin, desires for people not to sin, to avoid sin, to resist temptation, to obey his Word. But if God really does control all events and predestine all events, then the same person who claims he is holy, hates sin, etc. etc. PREDESTINES AND DESIRES FOR EVERY SIN AND EVIL THAT OCCURS TO OCCUR EXACTLY AS IT DOES!!! This is a contradiction. You could not trust someone who says one thing but then secretly does another thing. Say you came across someone who claimed to hate divorce, be against spousal abuse, be against chld abuse, etc. You then find out that this persons plans and devises all these circumstances that result in adultery, spousal abuse, child abuse. So they SAY ONE THING but then they bring about outcomes that are directly opposite their claims!! This is what results if calvinism is true and God predestines all events, causes all events, brings about all events. God says he hates adultery and yet if calvinism is true he predestines and desires and brings about every adultery that ever occurs! God says not to mistreat children that he loves children, but if calvinism is true, then he predestines every case of child abuse that occurs. Just go down the line, name any evil or sin that occurs and if God predestines every outcome then he predestines them all. Noncalvinists hear this kind of thing and so find calvinism reprehensible or even blasphemous and certainly against scritpure. In scripture in contrast to calvinism, sin and evil is brought about by angelic beings and human persons and so they are responsbile for the evils and sins they commit. Angels and humans who sin are not controlled by God to do so. God does not bring about these sins, angels and humsns do so. God does not predestine adultey and control people to make sure that the preplanned adultery occurs. And again we can take any evil or sin, and conclude that if calvinism is true if its claim that God controls, and predestines all outcomes is true , then God desires and preplans every evil and sin that occurs. That is objectionable and it is against scripture and it is false.

    Robert

      r smith

      You said:
      “But if God really does control all events and predestine all events, then the same person who claims he is holy, hates sin, etc. etc. PREDESTINES AND DESIRES FOR EVERY SIN AND EVIL THAT OCCURS TO OCCUR EXACTLY AS IT DOES!!! This is a contradiction. ”

      “God says he hates adultery and yet if calvinism is true he predestines and desires and brings about every adultery that ever occurs! God says not to mistreat children that he loves children, but if calvinism is true, then he predestines every case of child abuse that occurs. Just go down the line, name any evil or sin that occurs and if God predestines every outcome then he predestines them all.”
      ………..
      ” In scripture in contrast to calvinism, sin and evil is brought about by angelic beings and human persons and so they are responsbile for the evils and sins they commit. Angels and humans who sin are not controlled by God to do so. God does not bring about these sins, angels and humsns do so. God does not predestine adultey and control people to make sure that the preplanned adultery occurs. ”
      ………
      My questions:
      1. Was the act of killing Christ on the cross a sin? YES
      2. Did humans crucify Christ? YES
      3. Was the crucifixion of Christ foreordained by God? YES
      4. Were humans held responsible for doing the act? YES, VS 23,36 GOD BLAMED ISRAEL WHICH USED GENTILE IN THE DOING OF IT.

      I think these verses answers all those questions and the answers don’t fit your conceptions. Let God be true and every man a liar. Does not the sin of crucifying the holy Son of God make any other sin, including the ones you mention, pale by comparison? God foreordained the worse sin ever.

      Act 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands [gentiles] have crucified and slain:

      Act 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

        Robert

        Smith in his post asks four questions. The problem is that these four questions do not establish what Smith wants to believe. He asks four questions that all involve the crucifixion of Jesus. First, did the crucifixion involve sinful actions? Both calvinists and noncalvinists will agree that it did in fact involve sinful actions. Second, did humans do the crucifixion? Again, both calvinists and noncalvinists will agreee that humans did it. Third, was the crucifixion of Jesus foreordained by God? Again, calvinists and noncalvinists would answer Yes. This is because that is what the bible explicity states and reveals. The bible clearly says that the crucifixion of Jesus was foredained by God. And we know why: it was part of the redemptive plan of God. Lastly, the fourth question was whether humans were responsible for the crucifixion? Again calvinists and noncalvinists agree that those who did it were responsible for it. So where exactly is the problem here? There is none as all bible believing Christians whether they are calvinists or noncalvinists agree regarding these four questions.

        But I don’t think that is why Smith brought the crucifixion of Jesus up: just to show where calvinists and noncalvinists agree. No, his plan is much bigger. He wants to argue from the fact that the crucifixion of Jesus was foreordained by God to the CALVINISTIC CONCLUSION THAT ******ALL****** SINS ARE FOREORDAINED BY GOD. And in this he is wrong. You CANNOT logically infer from the fact that God ordains an outcome that does in fact involve sin (the crucifixion) to the conclusion that God ordains all sins that occur. Smith tries to bolster his weak argument by asserting that the crucifxioon of Jesus was the worst sin. It still does not follow from the fact that the crucifixion of Jesus is the worst sin to occur, to the conclusion that therefore God ordains all sin. All you can legitimately infer from the fact that God ordained the crucifixion of Jesus, the worst sin, is that in fact God ordained the sin that was the worst sin. That still does not get you to the conclusion that God ordains all sin. I call this the “one to all” error of calvinists. They wrongly reason from one instance to the all instances. But you cannot logically argue that sine one sin is foredained, that all of them are. That does not logically follow. We have to also seriously take into consideration that the sin involving the crucifixion of Jesus involved God using the sins of people to achieve a good purpose. But it does not follow from this that in every case of sin, God is using the sin to achieve a good purpose. The bible never says that God ordains all sin. Nor does the bible ever say that God ordains all specific and particular sins wu in order to achieve a good purpose wutg each of them. Calvinists may want to believe these things, but none of them is stated by the bible. Simply bringing up the crucifixion of Jesus as Smith does, only brings up what all Christians already agree upon. But you cannot go from what we all agree upon to the false calvinistic conclusion that God ordains all events.

        Robert

      rhutchin

      Robert starts out well affirming that God is both omniscient and omnipotent. Then he forgets what he said and writes his last paragraph. I could not determine the point he was trying to make in light of his first paragraph. He closes by saying, “And again we can take any evil or sin, and conclude that if calvinism is true if its claim that God controls, and [ordains] all outcomes is true , then God desires and preplans every evil and sin that occurs. That is objectionable and it is against scripture and it is false.” Here he necessarily denies that God is omniscient and/or omnipotent. I think that position is against scripture.

      Minor notes: Consistent with the Scriptures, God ordains all things – not predestines. To say that God ordains all things does not mean that God causes all things.

        Robert

        rhutchin claims that I deny the omniscience and omnipotence of God: “Here he necessarily denies that God is omniscient and/or omnipotent.”

        I’m from Missouri the show me state: rhutchin show me where I deny omniscience and/or omnipotence. You make this claim but it is baseless and false.

        What I deny is your belief that God preplans all events/outcomes. I deny that God preplans all sins that occur. I believe that he knows all sins that will occur (that is God being omniscient). BUT KNOWING THEY WILL OCCUR IS NOT THE SAME AS PREPLANNING THE EVENTS OR DESIRING FOR THE EVENT TO OCCUR. And this is a major difference between calvinists and noncalvinists. Calvinists believe that God not only knows the future, he preplanned all of it and desires for it all to occur just as he plans. Noncalvinists agree that God knows the future, but do not believe that he preplanned all events that occur. Noncalvinists do not believe that God preplanned and desires for every sin that occurs to occur as it does.

        Robert

          rhutchin

          Robert says, “I deny that God preplans all sins that occur.” You also agree that God is omniscient and omnipotent? If God knows all sin that will occur and has the power to intervene to prevent any sin, then where God allows sin, shouldn’t we think that such sin advances God’s purposes and plans and is thereby preplanned by God? Sin is never occurs randomly or hidden from God, does it?

            Robert

            Rhutchin claimed that I do not believe in either omnicience or omnipotence. His claim is false and based on absolutely nothing but his imagination.

            He now writes:

            “Robert says, “I deny that God preplans all sins that occur.” You also agree that God is omniscient and omnipotent?”

            Yes, definitely, I have been arguing against the false view of open theists for years now. Perhaps you don’t know the thinking of open theists rhutchin. They deny that God can know what a person will freely choose to do in the future. One of their arguments, which they borrow from calvinists by the way, is that if God foreknows a future event this eliminates free will as ordinarily understood. But this claim is false and the majority of Christians have always believed BOTH that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of the future AND that people have what is ordinarily understood to be free will.

            Regarding omnipotence, apparently rhutchin believes that God is incapable of actually creating a being capable of having and making its own choices (i.e. and yet both angels and men have this ability to have and make their own choices, what most of us simply call free will).

            “If God knows all sin that will occur and has the power to intervene to prevent any sin, then where God allows sin, shouldn’t we think that such sin advances God’s purposes and plans and is thereby preplanned by God? Sin is never occurs randomly or hidden from God, does it?”

            These questions bring up the issue of theodicy (i.e. how do we explain the nature of the world that God made and how that relates to issues such as free will, the existence of evil, the amount of evil, etc. etc.).

            Let’s start with your second question first: does sin ever occur randomly or is it ever hidden from God?

            Nothing is hidden from God as God sees everything and knows everything. He knows sins that have occurred in the past, are occurring now and will occur in the future (he knows them all). Nothing can be hidden from God since God knows everything including men’s motives, their beliefs, their circumstances, everything.

            Do I need to present scripture to establish this fact or can we just assme it to be true???

            Sin never occurs randomly as it occurs when persons (angelic and human) intentionally commit it. In order to sin you have to have a certain amount of knowledge and understanding, have a mind, have the ability to choose to do it or refrain from doing it. These things are all true of angels and humans who have the necessary mental ability (I say necessary because some human persons, babies and the mentally disabled lack the necessary mental ability to sin).

            Rhutchin’s second question is a loaded question as it includes some assumptions that need to be disentangled from the question:

            “If God knows all sin that will occur and has the power to intervene to prevent any sin, then where God allows sin, shouldn’t we think that such sin advances God’s purposes and plans and is thereby preplanned by God?”

            Start with the first phrase “If God knows all sin that will occur”, this is true and without controversy (unless you deny that God is omniscient and knows the future exhaustively, which I do not deny).

            The second phrase is not as simple: “and has the power to intervene to prevent any sin.”

            If God preplans and controls everything (in a way like a puppetmaster preplans and controls all of the actions of the puppets under his control) then there will never be a case where he has to prevent anything. This is true because the puppets will do no more or less than the puppet master controls them to do.

            If I had total control over a person, their thoughts, beliefs, desires, plans, motives, everything, then I would never have to prevent anything they do or try to do, because there is nothing they do or try to do which I have not conrolled them to try do or try to do.

            If God preplans every sin as rhutchin and other calvinists believe, then he never needs to “intervene to prevent any sin”. Or take another analogy, suppose an author writes a story. As the author of his own particular story, he decides everything that will happen in his story (every character, every event, every action, every outcome, every thought and desire and intention of every person in that story, whatever happens in that story the author decides beforehand). If the author decides everything that will occur in the story there is no instance where the author will have to prevent something in the story from occurring (e.g. to do so he would be contradicting himself, say he had already decided that Joe would be killed by a car at some point in the story, the author is the one who decided that Joe would be killed and how he would be killed, the author is not later as the story is going, gonna come along and prevent Joe from being killed by the car). Calvinists often forget the nature of their own theology, if all is preplanned by God, then nothing needs to be prevented or will be prevented in the story, instead everything goes according to plan (now for the characters within the author’s story, if they had a perspective from their perspective it might appear that somehow Joe being hit by the car could have been prevented, but that is an illusion, it is not real, it is not possible that Joe not be hit by the car in that story). And that by the way is a major problem with calvinism and its claim that God preplans everything. If he does so, then free will is an illusion as we never ever have a choice, we just make the choices that God already preplanned for us to do.

            Decision making is also an illusion as you might think you could decide this or that, but in reality God already decided you would decide how you decide. Persuasion also goes out the window as the person holding one view has to hold that view, they have no choice, and the person who holds a different view has no choice, they have to hold the view they hold (which means that whenever someone is in error, they have to be, they have no choice, they hold the beliefs, even if false that God preplanned for them to hold). If calvinism is true we are just puppets whose entire thought life and lifetime is prescripted and set and fixed. We are like characters in a story (and you just hope you get lucky and are one of the “good guys”, because you could easily have been one of the “bad guys” and in fact you have no control whatsoever of whether or not you will be good or bad, you will only be what you were prescripted to be).

            The concept of God preventing something does not make much sense in a fully preplanned and predestined world.

            On the other hand, if instead God created us with free will and if he allows free will to exist, now talk of prevention makes sense (and persons and God himself can choose to do something, say prevent something or choose not to do something say not choose to prevent something). In a world where free will actually exists, talk of preventing things makes sense.

            But even here we have to be careful regarding speaking of God preventing things. If God is a competent designer than the way he originally designs the world is the way it is supposed to funciton and the way it is going to be. The better he is as a designer the less tweaking the creation will need. Now here is where it gets real interesting and fun.

            God does not contradict his own design plan and purposes.

            So say that God decides to create human persons to have two legs, two arms and one brain. Is God later going to start having human beings who have say four legs and two brains? We answer of course not, he is not going against his own design plan in this way. People started with two legs and one brain and throughout history they will continue to have two legs and one brain. Would we claim that God is somehow weak or not powerful for not later making humans who have two brains and twice the brain capacity? No, we would say it is not a question of power, it is a question of design (i.e. God planned to design humans with two legs and one brain and that is the way it will remain because that is God’s design plan). People do not expect later humans to have four legs or three arms or two brains, and nobody is disappointed by that or questions that.

            But then when it comes to free will determinists refuse to accept that God designed us with free will and that since that is part of the design plan he will not later change it or eliminate it.

            If free will is part of the original design plan (and the biblical evidence is clear that it is, just look at Adam and Eve before the fall, when they were as God intended them to be and see whether there is any evidence that they had and made their own choices/had the capacity for free will). God is not going to CONTRADICT HIS OWN DESIGN PLAN in regards to free will. People were designed to have free will, and they have had free will throughout history. We also have it today, as we all daily experience having and making our own choices (unless we really are in a puppet world where we never ever have a choice, where our every choice is preplaned by the divine puppet master). Since God does not contradict his own plans and purposes, he will not later take away free will. And the issue of God preventing things goes to this issue of God not contradicting himself and his own design plan.

            Now some people would love to have a world like Alice in Wonderland where things are whimsical and disorderly. In such a world, God could turn bad words into meaningless sounds as soon as they left a person’s mouth (thus preventing things such as slander and gossip). Whenever someone tries to hurt someone else, God could take over their bodies and prevent them from hitting others (or turn hammers into grass as they came down, turn bullets into harmless water bubbles).

            And that brings up another issue about God’s design plans. He created a world that is extremely orderly and regular and predictable (hence the success of science in studying and understanding the natural world). In other words God created a world very opposite Alice in Wonderland where whimsical things can happen. Instead we have a very real world where if you break the laws of nature they will break you. Jump off a cliff and see what happens, see whether or not God intervenes and prevents your fall. Try to say some gossip and see if those sounds become nonsensical or if they are the sounds you intended and others understand them just perfectly.

            Now one important caveat needs to be mentioned. While God created an extremely orderly and regular and predictable world, he did not create a world where miracles can never occur. Miracles can and do occur, they just do not occur often. And usually they are clustered around certain important periods of time in which God is revealing himself (eg. there were much more miracles occuring when Jesus was in the flesh, then after he went back to heaven). So miracles happen, we just cannot expect them to happen all the time.

            Now many more things could be said regarding theodicy, but I have mentioned some important considerations when it comes to discussing whether or not God will prevent sins from occurring. Seems to me that since free will is part of the design plan (just as much so as the laws of nature, the laws of physics of this world) God preventing people from doing things is not a consequence of a lack of power or lack of concern on the part of God but from God operating in line with his own design plan. Just as there are not a lot of miralces that we would say appear to be a suspension of the laws of physics, similarly there are not a lot of instances where God prevents choices from occurring. And I cannot emphasize enough, this has nothing to do with God’s power, but has everything to do with His design plan for this universe.

            Rhutchin appears to take none of this into account and so writes: “then where God allows sin, shouldn’t we think that such sin advances God’s purposes and plans and is thereby preplanned by God?”

            Rhutchin ****assumes**** that if God allows a sin to occur he could have just as easily prevented it, since he did not prevent it, therefore he wanted it to occur (that he has a purpose for it). But if I am correct and free will is part of the design plan, and God does not contradict his own design plan, then when sins occur it is not because God could have prevented it but did not since he had a purpose for it.

            Instead, sins occur because God created humans and angels with the capacity to have and make their own choices. As they have this capacity, they can choose to sin. And when they choose to sin, it is not because God purposed that particular sin, it is because the human person made that choice. God does not commit sins we do. And usually we do them for a reason. And after we do them and they involve a crime and we are caught and convicted for the crime: we can blame no one else but ourselves. And the judge will say you should have done otherwise (as will the family members of the victim whom we hurt in some way).

            If a rock flies threw the air and it was not thrown by someone, we don’t blame the rock or hold it responsible. On the other hand, if someone intentionally picks up a rock and then intentionally aims and hits someone in the head with the rock: we blame them and hold them responsible. Usually we do not get into discussions about why God didn’t prevent the rock from striking the person’s head. Usually we just take it that we live in a certain kind of world where people really can freely choose to throw rocks at each other. And we don’t blame God for the rock being thrown we blame the individual who intentionally did so.

            Robert

        Daniel Wilcox

        rhutchin,

        According to Webster’s 9th Collegiate Dictionary, “ordain” means to “order,” to “appoint,” to
        ‘enact.”

        If the God of Calvinism “orders” and “appoints and “enacts” all sin,
        how then is this not “causing”?

        The second time I encountered Calvinism so many years ago, the famous Calvinist leader claimed that God
        “plans every rape and murder”!

        Sounds “blasphemous” to me, too. Such horrid theology maligns the Goodness, the Love, the Holiness– the character of God.

        Often the Bible emphasizes that God acts on the basis of his “foreknowledge.”

        If God instead concocts all evil first (for his “mere pleasure and glory” as Calvin and so many Calvinists claim),
        then, pray tell, where is the Good News?

        Daniel

          rhutchin

          That’s fine Daniel as far as it goes. Now go back and incorporate God’s omniscience and omnipotence into your questions and see what you get.

            Daniel Wilcox

            rhutchin,

            You say,
            “Now go back and incorporate God’s omniscience and omnipotence into your questions and see what you get.”

            If you “incorporate” all of God’s essence, his character (God is love, truth, goodness, holiness, all-knowing, all-powerful, etc.),
            and his good creation of beings in his image who “miss the mark” but all of whom he loves,
            you get John 3:16.

            Daniel

Debbie Kaufman

God is God. He can do whatever He wants whenever He wants. In Genesis Joseph said “What you meant for evil, God meant for good. ” You mention Job in this post, yet Job 42:10 reads: “10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him,and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.”

    Robert

    Debbie you start in your first two lines with a biblical truth: i.e. that God is sovereign. Your first two lines basically present a very good description of God being sovereign. I agree with this declaration that God is sovereign, that he does as he pleases in any and all situations. I would only add that He does not exercise his sovereignty in a vacuum. He exercises his sovereignty in line with his perfect character, his plans and purposes and his promises.

    You then try to make a really big logical leap from the truth/reality that God is sovereign (which all believers will agree with) to the calvinistic conclusion that the Lord brings about/causes everything that occurs (which is false and which was the subject of this article). And how do you attempt to make this jump? By an argument from Job 42:11, a statement made by people who were attempting to comfort Job. THEY tell Job that God has brought about all the bad things that happened to him. Debbie you even emphasize some words in bold to make your point. Problem is, your point is mistaken. If we read Job carefully we discover that Job was a righteous man. The devil comes to God and says that the only reason that Job is rigthteous is because things are going well with him, that if things were not going well with him that he would even curse God to his face! God responds by saying OK you can mess with Job and do whatever YOU want to do to him, just don’t kill him. This is all explicitly stated in the biblical texts. The DEVIL then goes and brings all this affliction upon Job. The bible is absolutely clear and explicit that it is the DEVIL who directly causes evil things to happen to Job. After this affliction by the DEVIL Job’s friends then try to comfort him and in fact virtually everything they say to him is mistaken and false! None of them attributes the affliction correctly to the devil. None of them is privy to the conversation between God and the Devil. So they are all speaking from limited and false information. To quote v. 11 then as proof that God brought about and caused Job’s affliction, as Debbie does, is to miss what the biblical text explicitly says: that it was the DEVIL who brought about his afflictions. To then attribute the actions of the devil to God is to make a really big mistake. Jesus himself said that the devil comes to destroy and bring death. The devil does in fact bring affliction to people at times, does oppose God and his people. To attribute the devil’s actions that bring death and destruction to God is a real mistake. The fact is, spiritual warfare is real, we have a real adversay, he does seek to kill and destroy. When he engages in these things he is not merely a puppet being controlled by the divine puppetmaster, rather he is a personal and spiritual agent doing his own actions. So Debbie your attempt to attribute the afflictions of Job to God based upon a mistaken opinion expressed by Job’s friends and family fails. Other texts in Job clearly and explicitly reveal that it was the devil not God who brought about/caused Job’s afflictions.

    Robert

      Daniel Davis

      Robert, your comments do not do justice to the Book of Job.

      In the first two chapters, as you point out, Satan is explicitly responsible for the troubles that befall Job. You are correct that God clearly gives Satan the freedom to perpetrate those troubles, first with his children and possessions, then with his health. Satan is clearly responsible. But then Job says, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord” (1:21). He also says, “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” (2:10). Job himself, without being privy to the conversation between God and Satan, attributes his afflictions to God. By your comments above, it would seem you think Job made a big mistake, but the Spirit-inspired evaluation of Job’s two comments is that he did not sin in what he said. Nor did He blame God for anything, affirming his description as “righteous.” So he attributed his afflictions to God yet he did not blame Him, nor did he sin in what he said – he rested in God’s sovereignty over all things, both good and adversity.

      How do you explain Joseph’s comment in Genesis 50:19-20, which Debbie brought up? Joseph rested in God’s sovereignty as well (“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people.”). The evil perpetrated against him, of which his brothers were clearly responsible and for which they even felt guilty, actually fulfilled God’s good plan to get Joseph to Egypt in order to preserve His chosen people.

        lydia

        Who planned evil against Joseph? Are you suggesting the passage is communicating that God “planned” it?

          r smith

          Isaiah 45:6-8

          King James Version (KJV)

          6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.

          7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

          8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.

            Daniel Wilcox

            r smith,

            1 Jphn 1:5
            This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

            James 1:16
            16Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

            John 1:4-9
            4In him was life,a and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

            John 1:6-
            6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

            9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

            Many more Scripture verses can be cited.

            One needs to consider the Good News message of the whole Bible, especially the New Testament, not pick out a few verses from the Old Testament and use them to support a false theology that denies the Good News and blasphemes the good character of God who is love.

            Daniel

          Daniel Davis

          Lydia, as my comment reflects, the brothers planned evil against Joseph. And the Scripture says the act carried out by Joseph’s brothers was part of God’s good plan with the good result of preservation of God’s people.

          Debbie Kaufman

          Lydia: What exactly does this Holy inspired passage say? That will answer your question. I’m saying I believe every jot, tittle, punctuation mark and word of the Bible.

            Lydia

            Okay Debbie, Thanks for your input.

        Robert

        Hello Daniel,

        Debbie made the claim that God brought about Job’s afflictions: that contradicts the texts of Job which clearly present the devil as to blame and the devil as the one who actually afflicted Job.

        You then respond:

        “Robert, your comments do not do justice to the Book of Job.”

        This is not true, as I established my point (that the devil not God was responsible and to blame for the afflictions done to Job) and you even admit it in the following words:

        “In the first two chapters, as you point out, Satan is explicitly responsible for the troubles that befall Job. You are correct that God clearly gives Satan the freedom to perpetrate those troubles, first with his children and possessions, then with his health. Satan is clearly responsible.”

        If as you admit “Satan is clearly responsible” then I was correct my point was established, Satan, not God is to blame for the things done to Job. God didn’t to the evil things to Job, Satan did. That is what the text states and you admit to be true.

        You seem to miss the very point that you seemingly just granted, that Satan ****was responsible**** for the afflictions of Job ****not God****.

        If a disgrunteld ex-employee comes into an office and shoots and kills people in that office, we say that shooter was responsible and to blame for what happened. We don’t blame God nor should we. I work with inmates and in the case of those who did commit the crime and were convicted and then imprisoned for the crime: in every instance they are to blame and they are responsible for their crimes with no exceptions. Daniel you say that Satan **is** responsible, but then you want to shift the responsibility to God for Job’s afflictions. You can’t do that, the person responsible is the person to be blamed. Now the game you calvinists want to play is to claim that God is responsible for everything that happens since he preplanned it all, and yet others including Satan, fallen angels, humans are to blame for sin, while God is not.

        You cannot have it both ways: the one to blame for an evil or sin is also the one responsible for the evil or sin. And in the bible there are declarations that God is holy, hates sin, tempts no one, etc etc. all meant to convey the idea that when it comes to sin and evil, God is neither responsible nor to blame. In the book of Job it is the same thing: Satan not God is both responsible and to blame for the afflictions done to Job. God did not do these things, Satan did. Parents know this principle well too: whomever they hold responsible for some bad thing they also blame for the bad thing (the trick for parents is to figure out correctly who is really responsible for what happened, especially when the kids themselves are trying to shift the responsibility/blame to others! :-) ).

        Daniel you then went on to change the topic and wrote:

        “How do you explain Joseph’s comment in Genesis 50:19-20, which Debbie brought up? Joseph rested in God’s sovereignty as well (“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people.”). The evil perpetrated against him, of which his brothers were clearly responsible and for which they even felt guilty, actually fulfilled God’s good plan to get Joseph to Egypt in order to preserve His chosen people.”

        First of all, God sometimes uses the sinful choices of men to accomplish a good purpose.

        God knows (i.e. foreknowledge) what some people will do, makes no attempt to prevent it from occurring (though people are definitely doing evil) and allows it to play out. An outcome then results that God wanted to occur though he did not cause the people to do the evil that they did. The *****best example***** of God using people’s sinful actions to accomplish a good purpose is of course the crucifixion of Jesus (God knew that if Jesus became flesh and said and did what he said and did that the people would then have him crucified). Actually God precipated the crucifixion with the incarnation! And who is to blame for the crucifixion? Those who did it. Could they have done otherwise? Yes, they could have chosen otherwise. And yet God since he can foreknow even freely made choices, knew what they would **in fact choose to do**, and so God planned on their evil choices. They were to blame, and yet God got an outcome that he wanted (i.e. the crucifixion of Jesus was the very heart of God’s plan of salvation). So this idea that God can accomplish his plans via foreknowledge of evil choices people will make is easy to understand.

        It is also what was going on in Genesis with Joseph and his brothers. God knew there would be a severe famine and he came up with a plan via his foreknowledge in which he could deliver his people from the famine. People made lots of evil choices in regards to Joseph (all of which God foreknew them all) and God knew exactly what the outcomes would be of each evil choice. The combination of these evil choices resulted in Joseph being in Egypt and interpreting Pharoah’s dream and being given responsibility for handling the food supply. Genesis 50:19-20 is really not hard to explain at all from a noncalvinist perspective as long as you believe that God can and does foreknow all future events including those involving freely made choices.

        As God can foreknow future evil choices of people, he can use them to accomplish his purposes. The best examples of this are the crucifixion of Jesus, the story of Joseph and his brothers, and the use of Assyria to discipline the nation of Israel (in each case God foreknew future evil choices of men, used these evil choices to accomplish a good purpose and yet in each case those who perpetrate the evil are fully responsible for the evil actions they committed).

        Robert

          Daniel Davis

          Robert, thank you for responding. It is clear we have different presuppositions about Scripture’s teaching regarding God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.

          Your argument from Genesis is reasonable, obviously I reconcile the two phrases differently, but you overlooked the crux of my point with Job when you shifted to address my “change of topic.” Job attributes to God without blame the evil actions of Satan. And in this he does not sin. It would appear that it is possible to ascribe God complete sovereignty over the happenings of this world, both good and evil, and still not blame God for evil or accuse Him of sin (which respects the teaching of James 1:13).

          I am affirming your point that Satan is guilty and to blame for the evil acts against Job; to move this conversation forward, I think you need to address Job’s statements. How do you reconcile Job’s statements and the positive evaluation of them?

            r smith

            I think it’s significant that God, not Satan, brought up the subject of Job indicating that God had planned the ensuing problems that Satan put on Job. God instigated the whole thing.

            present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also
            among them. {1:7} And the LORD said unto Satan,
            Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and
            said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking
            up and down in it. {1:8} And the LORD said unto Satan,
            Hast thou considered my servant Job, that [there is] none
            like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that
            feareth God, and escheweth evil? {1:9} Then Satan
            answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for
            nought? {1:10} Hast not thou made an hedge about him,
            and about his house, and about all that he hath on every
            side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his
            substance is increased in the land. {1:11} But put forth thine
            hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee
            to thy face. {1:12} And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold,
            all that he hath [is] in thy power; only upon himself put not
            forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of
            the LORD.

          Debbie Kaufman

          Robert: All I did was quote the scripture. That’s all I did. :)

    Daniel Wilcox

    Debbie,

    You say, “God is God. He can do whatever He wants whenever He wants.”

    This is NOT true. For example consider that Scripture says it is impossible for God to lie, to tempt, etc. (the Book of James).

    It’s impossible for God to commit evil…

    Daniel

      Debbie Kaufman

      Daniel: I stand by my statement. Not getting into the ridiculous. I said specifically God can do what He wants when He wants. I trust God in that. I don’t think you are saying God wants to do evil but can’t. But…if I didn’t know that I would think that was exactly what you were saying. I don’t think that’s a valid argument for you to make. That’s not having your Bible in front of you making your argument.

        Daniel Wilcox

        Debbie,

        You say,
        “God can do what He wants when He wants.”

        If you mean that God who is ultimately love, goodness, and truth can do anything that is loving, good, and true, I would agree.

        But you seemed to be defending the horrid idea that God can do anything in the sense that Calvin and most Calvinists mean–that God has a secret will, secret decrees where he wills/foreordains evil, where he contradicts his own holiness! Where as a famous Calvinist told us, “God plans every rape and every murder:-(.

        No, God, can’t do that as the book of James, the Gospel of John, 1 John, I Corinthians 13, etc. so clearly teach.
        In God is no darkness at all.

        Or he wouldn’t be God, but would be the Devil.

        Daniel

          Debbie Kaufman

          Daniel: He is God and can do anything He wants at anytime. I stand Biblically by those words. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD” (Proverbs 16:33, NKJV). I think the question is, do we trust God no matter what the situation or not?

          Your argument is straw man and one I won’t entertain.

            Daniel Wilcox

            Debbie,

            You say,
            “Your argument is straw man and one I won’t entertain.”

            ? The quote I gave of how Calvinists think God plans evil is a direct statement from a famous Calvinist!

            How can that be a straw man?

            The Calvinists say this, not me.

            Calvin, and the famous Calvinist lectured us, and all who subscribe to
            TULIP claim God foreordains/plans
            evil, including every rape, every murder, even the Holocaust!!

            Where is the “straw man”?

            You lost me.

            Daniel

lydia

Never mind the immutable laws. Like Gravity. Reaping and sowing, etc. And never mind the enemy roams this earth to interfere on a daily basis because we live on a corrupted earth. It seems the tornados, bridge collapses are God’s specific warnings to groups like the ECLA and others.

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-tornado-the-lutherans-and-homosexuality

One wonders why Las Vegas has not been obliterated?

Jesus had the perfect opportunity to tell them that God made the tower to fall in Luke 13 but He does not. He even says they were not worse sinners than others in Jerusalem. He simply says, repent and be ready.

There are times God decides not to control the wind and waves even though He can. How does Piper or Robertson know exactly when those times are and to whom they are directed?

What I find alarming is when certain celebrity pastors such as Piper or Robertson proclaim to others “God did it” for this or that reason when a bridge collapses or a tornado comes. And because they have a Christianese title and are celebrities, many people believe it.

    rhutchin

    You say, “What I find alarming is when certain celebrity pastors such as Piper or Robertson proclaim to others “God did it” for this or that reason when a bridge collapses or a tornado comes. And because they have a Christianese title and are celebrities, many people believe it.”

    When a bridge collapses, etc. God is watching and it is God’s decision not to intervene to prevent that outcome. The bridge could not collapse without prior permission from God (i.e., God’s decision not to intervene to prevent its collapse). Thus, we should say that God ordained the final outcome. I am surprised that Piper would say, “God did it!” as if God caused it, as I find this language confusing, also.

      lydia

      Let us just hope that the folks who are hired to design, build and maintain bridges are not Calvinists. (wink) It seems man is never responsible for anything in that world view.

        Debbie Kaufman

        Wrong Lydia, the Bible says we are responsible and yet God is in control of everything. Both are true. This has been stated that this is what Calvinists believe and I for one would greatly appreciate it if Christians who disagree would present the argument as we believe it, not whatever it takes to make your point.

          Debbie Kaufman

          (wink)

        Robert

        Hello Lydia,

        You made what in my opinion is a mistaken comment about calvinism:

        “It seems man is never responsible for anything in that world view.”

        Actually Lydia, what is more surprising is that the calvinists want to affirm both that man **not God** is responsible for sin AND that God completely, directly and continuously controls everything. They want to say that God is not to blame for sin, man is, though God controls everyone in such a way to ensure that they commit the sins that he preplanned they would commit.

        This is irrational because when it comes to responsibility a simple principle is in operation: whatever you control, you are responsible for. If you do not control something then you are not responsible for it, you should only be held responsible for what you control. Most people in management understand this principle though for some reason calvinists reject this principle when engaing in their theologizing.

        But watch them in real life, away from the web and you will observe they operate by the same principle as well. Watch them holding their kids responsible for things they have done and you will see that in real life they believe that we are only responsible for what we control. They don’t hold their kids responsible for the weather cause the weather is outside the control of their kids. But they do hold their kids responsible for words they say to siblings (especially words they know will provoke the other siblings though seemingly innocent). They do hold their kids responsible for what they do with objects (whether it is throwing a rock or cutting someone else’s paper with scissors). The problem is that they will claim that God completely controls everything and everyone but then try to hold these human puppets responsible for what they do. That is irrational.

        It is like if we were observing a puppet show and the puppet master who completely controls the puppets on the stage (they cannot do anything unless the puppet master controls them to do it). The puppets do nothing unless controlled by the puppet master to do so. Put simply the puppets are completely controlled by the puppet master. Say we are watching this play and one of the puppets while being completely controlled by the puppet master then murders someone in the audience! Do we then hold the puppet responsible for the murder? Or do we hold the puppet master responsible for the murder? Most of us who are not calvinists and also have some common sense hold the puppet master responsible for the murder and blame him. But not calvinists, they want us to believe that the puppet is responsible for the murder, the puppet is to blame, NOT THE PUPPET MASTER!!! But the puppet really had no control over its actions, it could only do what the puppet master controlled it to do.

        The same is true with us. If calvinists are correct then the divine puppet master controls us and we do nothing that the puppet master does not control us to do. So the puppet master controls us to commit various sins, but then who is to blame according to the calvinist? We are, though we had not control over our actions, though our actions were completely controlled by God.

        Calvinists are really into control and yet when confronted on it, back away from what their view of control entails. I had one of these calvinists once tell me that God controlled us all and that I was afraid of this kind of control. Two problems with that. First, in a way I wish that were true, as if God completely controlled me, it would eliminate all personal responsibility and I would always be doing God’s will. Whatever I did if controlled in this way would always be God’s will. That’s pretty cool, to be assured that you always do God’s will perfectly. Secondly, if I was controlled in this way and this control included everything about me, my beliefs, my desires, my thoughts, my choices, my actions, then I could not help doing anything or thinking anything that I do or think. If I am afraid of this kind of control, it is only because God controlled me and made me afraid. If I was not afraid of this kind of control, it is because God controlled me and made me unafraid. To chastize me for being afraid is pointless as whatever I do I am being controlled so that I have to do it.

        Actually if I am totally being controlled by another person, then praise or blame makes no sense, don’t assign it to me assign it to the one who controls my every action. The flip side of all of this is that if this is all false, if God does not control us in this way, then this theology becomes a great cop out to excuse anything and everything. Instead of personal responsibility where you take responsibility for what you control, you simply abdicate responsibility to God who is controlling you. I believe this is one of the reasons calvinists are so weak in the area of sanctification (why would you be strong on personal responsibility if you believe that you are totally controlled by another person?).

        Lydia if you doubt what I am saying about the calvinist view of control, you need look no further than Debbie’s immediate response to your post where she writes:

        “Wrong Lydia, the Bible says we are responsible and yet God is in control of everything. Both are true.”

        Do you see that Lydia, according to this calvinist, both are true.

        She wants to believe simultaneoulsy that man is responsible for his/her actions while at the same time God controls our actions.

        Debbie wants to believe that while the puppet at the puppet show was completely controlled by the puppet master and murdered someone in the audience, the puppet, not the puppet master is responsible for the murder.

        It is actually hard to believe that anyone actually believes this nonsense until you see a real calvinist claiming that God completely controls us and yet we are responsible for our actions not him. What is equally puzzling is that while their view of God’s control amounts to us being puppets when you bring this up with them they get very upset and angry and claim it is not like that at all. We really are not like puppets, we have a mind, they don’t. But that misses the point of the analogy, we are talking about a kind of control. If we want to stay with the puppet analogy we need only say that the puppets have minds, beliefs, desires, wills, which are all controlled by the puppet master. And that is just it, the kind of control posited by calvinists is God controlling everything about us, our minds, our beliefs, our desires, our thoughts, our deliberations, our choices, everything without exception (and yet God then blaming us for things we do wrong, though he controlled us so that we had to do the wrong things that we did!!!!).

        Robert

          lydia

          “The flip side of all of this is that if this is all false, if God does not control us in this way, then this theology becomes a great cop out to excuse anything and everything.”

          Robert, this is why I think Calvinism is ultimately antinomianism.

          1 John 3

          “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

          7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

          How could anyone lead a Calvinist astray if God is decreeing and determining their actions?

          The reason they say man is responsible while declaring the converse saying God directs every movement is an attempt to let God off the hook while using a form of gnosticism to explain it. Had the internet been around 500 years ago, this would have been torn to shreds before it took root. And another reason why burning Servetus was not a sin. Nor all the drownings, persecution,torture, imprisonments, banishments from the Reformed movement where God directs all the actions ….all in the Name of Jesus, of course.

          But you are right…it makes no sense and one reason it we see throughout history Calvinist filter rise up, go liberal or die out. Shampoo, rinse and repeat.

            Debbie Kaufman

            Thank you Lydia, accusing me of antinominanism, although I deny the charge, means that you are very close to actually understanding what I believe. You aren’t totally there yet, but closer. :) I say this because to a non-Calvinist I am sure that it appears aninominist compared to what the anti-Calvinist believes which is more humans have more control and God less control.

            lydia

            Debbie, We simply use different interpretive grids. Therefore we come to different conclusions.

            lydia

            “I say this because to a non-Calvinist I am sure that it appears aninominist compared to what the anti-Calvinist believes which is more humans have more control and God less control.”

            I don’t think it is that black and white. And I fear many NC present what I see as a false dichotomy.

            There are obvious examples of God intevening to force things to happen. But there are other examples of the opposite. There are even admonitions to do certain things. Jesus’ first sermon was “Repent and believe” as if we could “do” such a thing.

            I simply think God is Sovereign over His Sovereignty. I think he created us with brains, reason and other abilities that other created beings do not have. The fall obviously marred that but I do not believe it was taken away completely. I do not think that means that people who believe this elevate themselves over God as they are so often accused of doing. However, I can see how people who are immersed in that belief do think in that way.

            I do believe I am responsible for what I do and believe. I do not believe God forced me to write this comment. :o)

      holdon

      “I am surprised that Piper would say, “God did it!” as if God caused it, as I find this language confusing, also.”

      I am not surprised. Because especially in the case of an all knowing and all powerful God, the not doing equals the doing. For humans we would call it negligent homicide if people die because of a negligent act, but with God knowing all things and capable of all things, it’s definitely willful manslaughter.

      So, if you say God “ordained” it and by that I assume you mean it could not happen otherwise, then that means God is the ultimate cause: God is to ultimately to blame for every sinful act. That is Calvinism for you.

      God warned Adam not eat of that one tree. But Adam did. Did God ordain something He did not want? Can God ordain something He doesn’t want?

        Debbie Kaufman

        I have no problem with Piper saying God did it, where else could it have come from? Or at the least to say God allowed it, who else has such great power but God according to scripture? Where I have a problem with Piper is that he says it was done in judgment. We have no way of knowing why God allows or does things such as this, but we cannot for certainty say it is judgment. If that is the case, some good and faithful Christians in New Orleans or even New York got a raw deal and it’s saying that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to Christians or good people and that is simply wrong and not found in scripture.

    Robert Vaughn

    Lydia: “There are times God decides not to control the wind and waves even though He can.”

    Is there a scripture for that? Thanks.

      lydia

      Robert, there is also not a scripture for how to mend a broken arm. God seems to “allow” them to happen.

        Robert Vaughn

        Yes, but the Scriptures do attribute control of the wind and waves”to God. So I was wondering if there is a Scripture that shows that He decides not to. I’d say you are correct that there is not one.

        Thanks.

          lydia

          “Yes, but the Scriptures do attribute control of the wind and waves”to God.”

          “Having control” and “exercising that control” every single minute/second throughout history are not the same, are they?

          I think the insurance companies agree with you, though. :o)

            Robert Vaughn

            “Having control” and “exercising that control” every single minute/second throughout history are not the same, are they?

            IMO, that’s a biblical question rather than a semantic one. That’s why I asked if you have scripture to support your statement.

            Re the insurance companies, I guess they get something right once in awhile. ;-) I think our policy even has a lower deductible for “acts of God”!

            Robert

            Interesting discussion about God’s control of nature between Lydia and Robert Vaughn (my abbreviation for him will be “RV”).

            Lydia wrote:

            “There are times God decides not to control the wind and waves even though He can.”

            RV asked in response:

            “Is there a scripture for that? Thanks.”

            Lydia responded with an answer/counter example:

            “Robert, there is also not a scripture for how to mend a broken arm. God seems to “allow” them to happen.”

            RV then responded with:

            “Yes, but the Scriptures do attribute control of the wind and waves”to God. So I was wondering if there is a Scripture that shows that He decides not to. I’d say you are correct that there is not one.”

            Lydia then brought up a distinction:

            “Having control” and “exercising that control” every single minute/second throughout history are not the same, are they?”

            Now I have a lot of friends who happen to be engineers and also scientists. They view God as an awesome and extremely competent designer. What this means for them is that God designed nature to be a certain way (he achieved this very well). This also means that he does not have to have a “hands on” control of every element of nature at all times.

            Take the water cycle for example. He set it up, designed it at the beginning. And it works without deviation or disruption and needs no tweaking to keep it going. Now I don’t think he has to exercise direct and continuous control over the water cycle. I also believe that if he wanted to he could miraculously intervene and disrupt or suspend the water cycle if he desired to.

            My scientific friends tell me that the universe is exquisitely designed and fine tuned to allow for human life, that there are physical constants that are just that constants (if they deviated at all we would not survive). This is sometimes called the anthropic principle. My point is that the better designer the less the designer has to tweak or modify or change or discard his design as time goes on.

            In the case of God as he is an awesome designer, whatever he designs will operate in an extremely orderly and predictable way. It is precisely because the universe is well designed that science is possible and so successful in its explanation and predictions (e.g. astronomers can tell us exactly when an eclipse or other event will occur). I believe that in the bible the biblical writers sometimes spoke of God’s relation to the universe as him controlling it. Today we speak of him as an extremely competent designer. As believers we believe that God can and does intervene in the universe in any way that he wants. Since he is such a good and competent designer I don’t see it as necessary for him to directly and continuously control nature.

            And while there are no biblical texts that state he does not control nature, there are biblical texts that suggest he is not directly and continuously intervening on the natural world.

            For example, take the story when Jesus fell asleep on the boat and his disciples (who were actually professional fishermen quite familiar with wind and water conditions) were alarmed and thought they might die and so woke him up and begged for him to deliver them. Recall that he “rebukes” the wind and storm and immediate calm results. This obviously shows he could “exercise control” over the weather. But was he also controlling the weather to cause that strange storm that alarmed the disciples/professional fishermen? Did he cause that storm while he was asleep and then wake up to calm the very story he caused? Or is it possible as some commentators have suggested that this was actually a satanic attack? Did the devil stir up this storm in order to attack Jesus (and try to kill him) and then Jesus showed his power by immediately calming the storm and eliminating the threat? If this is the case, Jesus went to sleep relying on the normal conditions of weather obtaining (he didn’t have to control the wind and waves for those ordinary conditions to obtain). The devil then tried to mess things up by messing with the normal conditions and stirring up this strange storm and Jesus then showed he has control over the weather by instantly calming the storm.

            Robert

            Robert Vaughn

            Robert, thanks for your detail and input that you added to the conversation. I can agree with much of it while not agreeing with your apparent conclusion.

            The reason I answered the way I did in my last reply to Lydia is because without biblical or theological underpinning, discussing “having control” and “exercising control” becomes a semantic sidelight. It, void of any scripture or scriptural principle on whether God “decides not to control,” is a distinction without a difference.

            I agree with you and engineers and scientists who believe God is an “awesome and extremely competent designer,” as far as that goes. Perhaps you would agree with me that God is not only designer but also sustainer and upholder of the universe? The universe depend upon God for its existence. He is the “constant” which if deviated from we would not survive.

            Your contribution, imo, shifts the discussion somewhat from whether God controls toward how God controls. Observing water cycles or other natural phenomena which operate in designed and continuous patterns or cycles, though, ultimately only recites our human observation, telling us little about the power behind it or just how that power operates. I do not profess to know how all God works. But I do not think that the presence of design proves or disproves anything in particular about God’s control (e.g. “hands-on” vs. “autopilot”). It can only postulate possibilities.

            Finally, I do not believe that the story of Jesus calming the sea yields any viable principle that “God decides not to control the wind and waves.” It may seem ridiculous to some folks that Jesus would “prepare” the storm that He would “rebuke.” Yet there is a precedent for such in Psalm 107:25-29, where God calms the storm that He raises. I would not be inclined to think that the “devil stirred up the storm to attack Jesus” without seeing further biblical support that he (the devil) intervenes in the weather. To me, this text, in context of a discussion on whether or not God exercises complete control of the weather, supports that He could exercise control, and did so on this occasion. Beyond that, we have what we (on either side) read into the text rather than what we take from it.

Daniel Davis

Dr. Cox, as evidence of your third category of “act of man,” you point out that Saul’s death came at the hand of man to illustrate that this should not be ascribed to God’s responsibility. Yet the spirit of Samuel called up by the medium at Endor described Saul’s impending death as “The Lord will also hand Israel over to the Philistines along with you. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me, and the Lord will hand Israel’s army over to the Philistines” (1 Sam. 28:19). The subsequent act of man that led to Saul’s death, then, should also be seen simultaneously as an act of God since He declared what was to come as a result of Saul’s sin in not carrying out God’s wrath against Amalek.

It seems to me that your reading of three very distinct categories from David’s words may not be as clear cut as you argue. I welcome your thoughts.

    Robert Vaughn

    In addition to Daniel’s thought could be added 1 Chronicles 10:13 “So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD…” and Hosea 13:11 “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.” These suggest, at the least, that going down in battle does not have to be exclusively “an act of man” but could also be an act of God. They are not mutually exclusive categories. In Saul’s death, God is bringing punishment and removing a disobedient king.

Robert

Hello RV,

“I agree with you and engineers and scientists who believe God is an “awesome and extremely competent designer,” as far as that goes. Perhaps you would agree with me that God is not only designer but also sustainer and upholder of the universe? The universe depend upon God for its existence. He is the “constant” which if deviated from we would not survive.”

Yes God is both the designer and sustainer as the bible explicitly states he sustains the universe.

“Your contribution, imo, shifts the discussion somewhat from whether God controls toward how God controls. Observing water cycles or other natural phenomena which operate in designed and continuous patterns or cycles, though, ultimately only recites our human observation, telling us little about the power behind it or just how that power operates.”

I don’t now how familiar you are with scientific study or findings, but many phenomena that earlier were attributed to spirits or gods, have with time been given rational and correct explanations through scientific study. So with many things in nature we now do know how they operate. One of the reasons science is a threat to some people is that it has been so successful in providing explanations of natural phenomena (some are threatened that this means there is no place left for God to operate, this is false, others, usually materialists, try to use the success of science against theism, this also fails as theism alone makes rational scientific study possible).

“I do not profess to know how all God works.”

None of us really knows how God works. I mean, how does a universally present spiritual being without arms or legs or a brain, do things? :-)

“But I do not think that the presence of design proves or disproves anything in particular about God’s control (e.g. “hands-on” vs. “autopilot”). It can only postulate possibilities.”

It may not “prove” in the sense of a mathematical proof, but it does strongly suggest that God put certain things in place and so does not need to micromanage everything.

“Finally, I do not believe that the story of Jesus calming the sea yields any viable principle that “God decides not to control the wind and waves.” It may seem ridiculous to some folks that Jesus would “prepare” the storm that He would “rebuke.” Yet there is a precedent for such in Psalm 107:25-29, where God calms the storm that He raises. I would not be inclined to think that the “devil stirred up the storm to attack Jesus” without seeing further biblical support that he (the devil) intervenes in the weather.”

Martin Luther for example saw it as describing a satanic attack. One of the indications is that Jesus “rebukes” the storm, this langauge in the Greek is identical to the language used when Jesus rebukes demonic spirits. Normally you also do not **rebuke** things that are not conscious, you rebuke persons. I don’t rebuke my car for not starting, but I might rebuke someone who messes with my car.

Regarding “seeing further biblical support that he (the devil) intervenes in the weather”, how about explicit scripture that says that he does?

Recall in the book of Job that God tells Satan that you can do whatever you want to Job, just don’t kill him. Satan then goes and afflicts Job. Look at Job 1:18-19:

“While he was still speaking, another also came to him and said, ‘Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and A GREAT WIND CAME FROM ACROSS THE WILDERNESS (my emphasis) and struck the four corners of the house and it fell on the young people and they died: and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

So Satan afflicted Job by killing his kids with a great wind. If that is not satanic intevention in the weather, then there is no such thing!!!

“To me, this text, in context of a discussion on whether or not God exercises complete control of the weather, supports that He could exercise control, and did so on this occasion. Beyond that, we have what we (on either side) read into the text rather than what we take from it.”

I disagree with Luther on some things, but not his view on this passage. It totally fits the description of a satanic attack. Just as in Job, Satan intervened in the weather and tried to kill someone with a storm. In this case, Jesus rebuked it and showed his power over both nature and the devil’s attempts at messing things up.

Robert

Robert Vaughn

Robert, I’ve little disagreement with you that scientific findings have corrected various misguided ideas attributed to spirits or gods. Yet I have two caveats. First, to attribute “correct explanations” to scientific study we must always understand that they are “correct” until we learn more, and observable things/events can only be correct to the extent we can observe. Since we can neither see nor study spirits, nor dissect them nor put them under a microscope, there must be some limit to what we say cannot be attributed to spirits or “gods”. What unobservable lies beneath the observable? We don’t know; we can’t observe it. Second, I can travel this road with you if you are talking about men’s ideas. If you mean that the Bible incorrectly attributes things/events to spirits or God that are really just rationally explained some other way by science, I’ll have to turn and go in the other direction.

Interestingly (to me at least) after noting “spiritual” ideas have been corrected by scientific explanations, you go on to attribute the “natural phenomenon” of the storm on Galilee to a spiritual being. While the use of “rebuke” in Matthew, Mark and Luke may be the same Greek word, it is notable that the context works against the idea of the storm being the devil, or the devil in the storm. When Jesus rebukes the devil or evil spirits, those text tells us so. In this case it says he “rebuked the winds and the sea” (Matt. 8), not the devil or his minions.

As to the great storm in Job 1 (and also the fire from heaven), our conclusions must be tempered by the fact that Satan was laboring under the supervision and restrictions of God – so much so that Job, not foolishly and without sinning, said that God had taken all these things away, including the sheep and servants that kept them, and the house and all his children in it. Further, these things are so intimately intertwined that they can be described as God moving against Job (2:3), God putting forth His hand (2:5,10) and what God brought upon him (42:11).

At the most, we would be limited to the Job passage suggesting this could be a satanic attack. The text does not directly support it, and our conclusions will no doubt be tempered by what we bring to the text with us. Even if it were, where does that leave us with it proving or disproving that God controls the weather 24/7? In Job’s life the series of events were subject to God’s control, as in the Galilee storm incident. I don’t see enough indisputable information there to form a principle that God decides not to control the winds and waves.

    Robert

    RV regarding your two caveats. The first seems to involve a misunderstanding of science as only involving what is observable. While it is true that observation plays a part in science, by means of scientific study we are also able to understand non-observable natural phenomena. A good example is our ability to split an atom and produce atomic bombs. The Oppenheimer group that developed the first atom bombs never observed the atoms nor the splitting of atoms that they were able to accomplish. With your second caveat, I was not speaking of attempts at using science to explain away phenomena mentioned in the bible that involves more than just physical phenomena.

    Regarding the storm at Galilee I never attributed a solely natural phenomena to a spiritual being. I suggest that a spiritual being engaged in supernatural activity that resulted in that storm.

    You stated that you needed evidence of the devil intervening in nature and I gave it to you. The book of Job gives two frameworks or perspectives. One is the behind the scenes perspective in which we find out (thougfh unknown to both Job and his friends):in which the bible tells us that the devil not God was doing the actions that were afflicting Job. The other perspective is the human perspective that was unaware of any spiritual warfare of satainic involvement in Job’s suffering. According to the behind the scenes perspective the devil was indeed involved in intervening in nature. So I gave evidence of direct satanic involvement in nature. You discount this evidence by appealing to the human perspective found in Job. But the human perspective was inadequate as it did not include the fact that satan was involved in Job’s afflictions. This is the major reason why Job’s comforters told him all this stuff that was simply not true. They attributed his afflictions to God pnnishing him for sins he committed. And yet the behind the scenes perspective has God himself commending Job as a righteous man. The humans who attributed Job’s afflictions to God were mistaken as we are clearly told in the behind the scenes perspective that the devil, not God was the one doing the affliction of Job. I think our discussion is pretty much over because if you ask for evidence and I provide it and you just ignore it in order to hold onto your views and presuppositions. Your mind is made up and you are allowing your presuppositions to dictate the meaning of the evidence rather than allowing the evidence to speak for itself. I am not going to go around and around with you on this, that would be a waste of time (yours and mine).

    Robert

Robert Vaughn

Robert, a few quick comments.

In “observable” I am speaking in layman’s terms, not scientific terms. So far as I can see you do not comment on whether we can scientifically “observe” the spiritual realm, or if we could know whether or not we were.

I do not disagree with you that there is are two perspectives in the book of Job. In fact one of the fascinating things I find about the book is that Job, never made aware of what happened behind the scenes as we are, acquiesces completely to the glory of God.

Though I agree with you about the fact, I do not agree with all your interpretation of these facts. For example, Job saying that God took away is the human perspective. But the inspired writer commenting that Job did not sin or charge God foolishly is the divine perspective. Job’s comment to his wife in 2:10 is human perspective, but God’s own statement of moving against Job is divine perspective.

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