Jul 31, 2008
"I just thought I should point out that John Piper hasn't been inconsistent on this issue. He believes that regeneration precedes faith, but teaches that faith is an instantaneous response. There isn't a lag between regeneration and faith. Faith is the immediate response, much like turning on a light switch or lighting a match.
In this 1981 sermon, he says, "Why do I say to you that no one can come to me without the Father's enablement? I say it to explain why there are some who do not believe. Those do not believe because it has not been given to them by my Father. He has not drawn them like he has drawn the others. Therefore it follows that saving faith does not precede and cause the new birth. But rather God the Father, by the agency of his Holy Spirit, regenerates freely whomever he pleases and by this draws a person to the Son enabling him to believe in the Son and be saved."
And in this 2008 sermon, "We can say, first, that regeneration is the cause of faith. That's plain in 1 John 5:1: 'Everyone who believes [that is, has faith] that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God.' Having been born of God results in our believing. Our believing is the immediate evidence of God's begetting.""
Yes, brother Shelton, I am familiar with these citings, and others like them, from Brother Piper. I knew he made statements like this. The question is, did he ever make any statements that seem to contradict such as you cite? Notice these citations from Piper. (emphasis mine - SG)
"Another reason for this series is that there are others that I want to help be born again. I want to show them what must happen to them. And I, with your prayers, would like to be a means of many being born again in these weeks. The new birth, we will see, is not a work of man. You don’t make the new birth happen, and I don’t make the new birth happen. God makes it happen. It happens to us, not by us."
"Being Born Again Happens Through the Gospel"
"But it always happens through the word of God. Listen to1 Peter 1:23 and 25:
“Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God. . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”
So even though God is the one who begets his children, the seed by which he does it is the word of God, the gospel that we preach. So pray with me that one of the great effects of this series will be that miracle. And bring your friends and family who need to hear about the necessity of the new birth."
"Would those of you who are born again, and have the Holy Spirit in you, and love God and care about lost people, pray with me that the effect of these messages will be to awaken the spiritually dead..."
"When There Is Fire, There Is Heat"
"The way this happens (as we have seen in the first seven messages in this series) is that the Spirit of God supernaturally gives us new spiritual life by connecting us with Jesus Christ through faith. The new spiritual life that we receive in the new birth is not separate from union with Jesus, and it is not separate from faith. When God in the riches of his mercy and the greatness of his love and the sovereignty of his grace chooses to regenerate us, he gives us new life by uniting us to Christ. “God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:11). Our first experience of this is the faith in Jesus that this life brings. There is no separation of time here. When we are born gain, we believe. And when we believe, we know we have been born again. When there is fire, there is heat. When there is new birth, there is faith."
"How Are We Born Again?"
"So we have spent seven messages on two questions: What is the new birth? and Why do we need to be born again? Now we are turning to the third question: How are we born again? or What is the way we are born again? Here I am asking the question from God’s side and from our side. What is the way God does it? And what is the way we do it? How does God regenerate us? How do we take part in it?"
"God’s Part in the New Birth—And Ours"
"You might think I would say that we don’t take part in it, because we are spiritually dead. But the dead do take part in their resurrection. Here is an example of what I mean. When Jesus stood before the grave of Lazarus who had been dead for four days, Lazarus had no part in imparting his new life. He was dead. Jesus, not Lazarus, created the new life. In John 11:43, Jesus says to the dead Lazarus, “Lazarus, come out.” And the next verse says, “The man who had died came out.” So Lazarus takes part in this resurrection. He comes out. Christ causes it. Lazarus does it. Christ brings about the resurrection. Lazarus acts out the resurrection. The instant Christ commands Lazarus to rise, Lazarus does the rising. The instant God gives new life, we do the living.
So that’s why I am asking two questions and not just one question when I ask How are we born again? Or, What’s the way we are born again? I mean: What does God do in our new birth? How are we born again from God’s side? And I mean: What do we do in our new birth? How are we born again from our side? And it’s the first question I am asking today: How are we born again from God’s side? What is the way God regenerates us?"
"How Does God Regenerate Us?"
"The answer is given in at least three ways in 1 Peter 1:3-25..."
"The seed that comes through the word of God is imperishable, and therefore the life that it generates and sustains is imperishable."
From the T4G Conference (2006)
"We affirm that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s means of bringing salvation to His people, that sinners are commanded to believe the Gospel, and that the church is commissioned to preach and teach the Gospel to all nations.
We deny that evangelsim can be reduced to any program, technique, or marketing approach. We further deny that salvation can be separated from repentence toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."
"We affirm that salvation comes to those who truly beleive and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We deny that there is salvation in any other name, or that saving faith can take any form other than conscious belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving acts."
"We affirm that sinners are justified only through faith in Christ, and that justification by faith alone is essential and central to the Gospel.
We deny that any teaching that minimizes, denies, or confuses justification by faith alone can be considered true to the Gospel. We further deny that any teaching that separates regeneration and faith is a true rendering of the Gospel."
"We affirm that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers by God’s decree alone, and that this righteousness, imputed to the believer through faith alone, is the only righteousness that saves.
We deny that such righteousness is earned or deserved in any manner, is infused within the believer to any degree, or is realized in the believer through anything other than faith alone."
"Together for the Gospel (T4G) began as a friendship between four pastors.
The four long-time friends, Mark Dever, Ligon Duncan, C. J. Mahaney, and Albert Mohler, also asked their friends Thabiti Anyabwile, John MacArthur, John Piper, and R. C. Sproul to join them for these conferences, since each of these men has been contributing so valuably to the church today."
"The Gospel is the joyous declaration that God is redeeming the world through Christ (Matt 1:21; Luke 1:68; Eph 1:7; Col 1:20), and that he calls everyone everywhere to repent from sin and trust Jesus Christ for salvation (Mark 1:15; Acts 2:38; 17:30).
Each of us has sinned against God (Rom 3:23), breaking his law and rebelling against his rule, and the penalty for our sin is death and hell (Rom 6:23). But because he loves us, God sent his Son Jesus (John 3:16; Eph 2:4; 1 John 4:10) to live for his people's sake the perfect, obedient life God requires (Rom 8:4; 1 Cor 1:30; Heb 4:15) and to die in their place for their sin (Isa 53:5; Mat 20:28; 26:28; Mark 10:45; 14:24; Luke 22:20; John 11:50-51; Rom 3:24-25; 4:25; 1 Cor 15:3; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 5:2; Heb 10:14; 1 Pet 3:18). On the third day, He rose bodily from the grave (Mat 28:6) and now reigns in heaven (Luke 22:69; 24:51; Heb 8:1), offering forgiveness (Eph 1:7), righteousness (Rom 5:19), resurrection (Rom 8:11), and eternal blessedness in God's presence (Rev 22:4) to everyone who repents of sin and trusts solely in Him for salvation."
Now, brother Shelton, it is due to all these statements, either made directly by Piper or endorsed by him, as contradicting the other statements that put regeneration before faith.
So, I am not wrong in my statement to the Arminian about Piper (and others too) who contradict themselves on the matter of faith and its relation to regeneration or the new birth.
Jul 26, 2008
I am glad to republish it here, especially for brothers like Billy and other Arminians who think this is the traditional view of Baptists, and also for those in the SBC who also attempt to pawn off their aberrant views as being the traditional and confessional view of Calvinistic Baptists.
ABRAHAM BOOTH VS. "PRE-FAITH REGENERATION" [04/15/04]
ABRAHAM BOOTH VERSUS THE "PRE-FAITH REGENERATION"THEORY OF "HYPER" AND "HYBRID CALVINISTS" [04/15/04]
"One of the Baptist champions of the past was ABRAHAM BOOTH ((1734-1806), well-known for his great book, The Reign of Grace. He also wrote a great work entitled, Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners, in which he refutes the view of "pre-faith regeneration." It is one of the works which helped Baptists of that age avoid the pitfalls of hyper-Calvinism.
C. H. Spurgeon said of Booth and his book: "I have read with some degree of attention a book to which I owe much for this present discourse a book, by Abraham Booth, called Glad Tidings to Perishing Sinners. I have never heard any one cast a suspicion upon Abraham Booth's soundness; on the contrary, he has been generally considered as one of the most orthodox of the divines of the last generation. If you want my views in full, read his book" (The Warrant of Faith, page 539, Sermon #531, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 9, year 1863).
Here are excerpts from Booth's book, which is now out of print:
"It is objected, 'Though it be not necessary for a sinner to know that he is born again, before he believe in Jesus Christ, yet regeneration must precede faith. For the heart of a sinner being naturally in a state of enmity to the Divine Character, he will never turn to God, while in that situation, for pardon and acceptance.' In answer to which, the following particulars are proposed for consideration.
Before this objection can be justly considered as valid, it must be evinced, not only, that regeneration precedes faith; but also, that it is necessary to authorise a sinner's reliance on Jesus Christ: than which, few sentiments are more foreign from the genuine gospel.
[Theory:] Regeneration must precede faith. This, though assumed as a certain fact, may be justly doubted: for the page of inspiration does not warrant our supposing, that any one is born of God, before he believe in Jesus Christ; or, that regeneration is effected by the Holy Spirit, without the word of grace. For we are taught, by the sacred writers, to consider the word of truth, with regard to adults, as the means of regeneration, and of many other happy effects. They teach, for instance,
That it is the instrument of enlightening the mind, of awakening the conscience, and of softening the heart.
"The entrance of thy word giveth light" -- Psalm 119:130.
"The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" -- Ephesians 6:17.
"Is not my word like as fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer, that breaketh the rock in pieces?" -- Jeremiah 23:29.
Compare 2 Corinthians 1:4, 5; Revelation 1:16, 2:12, l16; 19:15, 21. That it is the instrument, or seed, of regeneration.
"The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live" -- John 5:25.
"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life" -- John 6:63.
"In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel" -- 1 Corinthians 4:15.
"My son, Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds" -- Philemon 10.
"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures" -- James 1:18.
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" -- 1 Peter 1:23.
See also 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:4.
That they only, who believe in Christ, are the children of God.
"As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" -- John 1:12.
"Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" -- Galatians 3:26.
"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God" -- 1 John 5:1.
That it is the mean, in the hand of the Spirit, of conversion, of sanctification, and of salvation.
"The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul" -- Psalm 19:7.
"He called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" -- 2 Thesssalonians 2:14.
"He that received seed into the good ground, is he that heareth the Word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit" -- Matthew 13:23.
"Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" -- John 15:3.
"Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" -- John 17:17.
"That they also might be sanctified through the truth" -- John 17:19.
"God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed, from the heart, the model of doctrine into which ye were delivered" -- Romans 6:17.
"The new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" -- Ephesians 4:24.
"The gospel, which is come unto you, as it is in all the world, and bringeth forth fruit" -- Colossians 1:5, 6.
"The word of God, which effectually worketh in you that believe" -- 1 Thessalonians 2:13.
"You have purified your souls in obeying the truth, through the Spirit" -- 1 Peter 1:22.Of Salvation:
"The gospel of Christ -- is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth" -- Romans 1:16.
"The gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved" -- 1 Corinthians 15:1, 2.
"The word, or doctrine of the cross, is to us who are saved the power of God" -- 1 Corinthians 1:18.
"The engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" -- James 1:17."
Booth continues on page 122:
"Such is the language of inspiration, relative to the high importance of revealed truth, in the great plan of salvation by Jesus Christ! Hence, it appears, that few things are more evidently contained, or more strongly asserted, in sacred scripture, than the INSTRUMENTALITY OF DIVINE TRUTH IN RENEWING THE HEARTS OF SINNERS.
For it is there described as the honoured mean, as the seed of God ((1 Peter 1:23-25), by which the Holy Spirit effects regeneration, the sanctification, and the consolation, of those that are saved.
But it is impossible for us to conceive of the mind being enlightened, of the conscience being relieved, of the will being regulated, and of the affections being purified by the word of truth, any further than it is believed. It may therefore be concluded, that regeneration is not, in order of time, prior to faith in Christ, and justification by him. To contend, indeed, that regeneration must be prior to faith, and to justification, is like maintaining that the eldest son of a nobleman must partake of human nature, before he can have the filial relation to his father which constitutes him an heir to the paternal estate, and entitles him to those honours which are hereitary in the family. For the human nature, derived from his parents, and the relation of a son, being completely of the same date; there is no such thing as priority, or posteriority, respecting them, either as to the order of time, or the order of nature. THEY ARE INSEPARABLE, NOR CAN ONE EXIST WITHOUT THE OTHER.
Thus it is, I conceive, with regard to regeneration, faith in Christ, and justification before God. For, to consider any man as born of God, but not as a child of God; as a child of God, but not as believing in Jesus Christ; as believing in Jesus Christ, but not as justified; or as justified, but not as an heir of immortal felicity; is, either to the last degree absurd, or manifestly contrary to the apostolic doctrine.
Consequently, as they are the ungodly whom the Spirit regenerates by the truth, so persons of that character are warranted to believe in Jesus."
Mr. Booth then gives the quotes from Charnock to which we have often referred, contained in Stephen Charnock's A Discourse of the Word, the Instrument of Regeneration.He follows the Charnock quote with one from Dr. John Owen:
"This [regeneration] is wrought by the word. We are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God. Wherein, not only the thing itself, of our regeneration by the word, but the manner of it also, is declared. It is by the collation of a new spiritual life upon us, whereof the word is the seed.
As every life proceeds from some seed, that hath in itself virtually the whole life to be deduced from it, by natural ways and means; so the word in the hearts of men is turned into a vital principle, that, cherished by suitable means, puts forth vital acts and operations. BY THIS MEANS WE ARE BORN OF GOD, and quickened, who, by nature, are children of wrath; dead in trespasses and sins. So Paul tells the Corinthians, that he had begotten them, in Jesus Christ, by the gospel. It is the INSTRUMENT OF GOD for this end; and mighty and powerful, through God, it is for the accomplishment of it. (Owen on Hebrews 2:2, 3, 4, Vol. I, page 178).
Abraham Booth goes on his book to consider some of the objections and arguments of the hyper-Calvinists of his day who taught "pre-faith regeneration." It is noteworthy that some of the same thought is expressed today by hypers, Hardshells, and hybrid Calvinists.
I looked in the index of James White's book, The Potter's Freedom, and noticed he has no reference to great passages used by Mr. Booth which teach the necessity of the means of the Gospel or Word in regeneration. No reference to John 6:63; 1 Corinthians 2:4, 4:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14; 1 Peter 1:23. The absence of such passages in White's books is consistent with his "pre-faith regeneration" theory."
(Some highlighting and emphasis are mine - Stephen)
"Well . . . all I know is that the Calvinist professors and students on campus at Southeastern BAPTIST Theological Seminary also believe that regeneration precedes faith. Whether or not that has been held by Baptists historically is one matter, but many more are adhering to it today.
The BF&M states, "Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace."
Did you catch that phrase, "to which the sinner RESPONDS in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ"? And this happened as a result of being Regenerated.
Did you also catch that they called Regeneration grace? That is the typical Reformed view of grace: it is tantamount to regeneration.
Though I certainly admire your stance that faith precedes regeneration and agree with you wholeheartedly, you must admit that Baptists are divided over the issue, and that in modern times Baptists are siding with the Presbyterians on this issue.
"...you must admit that Baptists are divided over the issue, and that in modern times Baptists are siding with the Presbyterians on this issue."
I do admit that and that is why my baptist gadfly blog, together with others, like calvinistflyswatter.blogspot.com, fight this erroneous view and the idea that this is historic calvinist baptist thinking. These men like White are almost Hardshells, which I know much about. Edwards, did not hold this view. The great Baptists like B.H. Carroll, Dagg, Boyce, Broaddus, and many others, repudiate the born again before faith heresy.As far as the interpretation of the BF&M statement, the Hypers misread what that confession is saying. The calvinist flyswatter has some writings showing what is meant by that statement. That statement was never meant to imply that men can be regenerated without or apart from faith.
Lately I have posted some blog discussions I have had with some Arminian brothers. One I published recently here in this blog.
Recently I have had another minor discussion, in the comment section, with some Arminians at http://classicalarminianism.blogspot.com/
I had said, in response to their saying that Calvinists all believe that regeneration precedes faith, these words:
"It is false to think that Calvinists all believe that regeneration precedes and produces faith. These are the Hyper Calvinists. Traditional Calvinism, at least among the Baptists, have held to the view that regeneration includes faith and repentance."
One respondent said:
"Whether or not YOU believe that regeneration precedes faith is one matter, but IT IS a primary tenet of Calvinism, so says R. C. Sproul and James White. Perhaps you define things a bit different than the typical Calvinist. But Sproul, White, MacArthur, Piper, etc. ALL agree that a person would never have faith in Christ without first being regenerated. So, you must be a modified Calvinist."
I then responded with these words:
"James White does hold the view called "reformed" that has regeneration prior to faith. So does Sproul and many of the Presbyterians. But, this is not the traditional view of the Baptists or leading Presbyterians as Edwards. Why not cite Baptists other than Piper and White? Spurgeon did not believe in regeneration before faith and he was a five point Calvinist. The great Baptist confessions do not put regeneration before faith. You brothers have listened to White and Sproul too much. Piper is inconsistent on this point, however. He has statements that reflect that regeneration precedes faith and statements that it comes simultaneous with faith."
Another discussion point concerned the work of "conviction of sin," a thing that Arminians and many Calvinists (those who are not "hyper")believe precede regeneration or the new birth. I had brought up the issue of "conviction" in response to things said by Arminians against the doctrine of "irresistable grace" and in favor of their "free will" theology.
I have pointed out an inconsistency in the Arminian free will scheme as it relates to being "regenerated" or "born again." I showed how no Arminian (yet) has ever taken the position that the work of the Spirit in "convicting" of sin was a work that could only be done in conjunction with the "free will decision" of the sinner. They all admit that this pre-regeneration work of the Spirit is "irresistable." The Spirit convicts, and does not ask the sinner for permission to do this work. He does not come to the sinner and give him a choice whether he wants to be convicted or not. They all believe that this pre-regeneration work of the Spirit is done irresistably and without the consent or free will decision of the sinner!
My point then is simply this:
If one can be "convicted" irresistably, why can one not be "regenerated" the same way?
Another discussion ensured relative to I Cor. 4: 7.
I believe this verse by itself destroys Arminianism. I have never brought this passage up in discussions with Arminians without seeing them on the proverbial "hot seat." Those at the above website have thought that I paid no attention to the context in saying what I have said about God being the one who "makes the difference" in each sinner, answering the question why one believes and one does not. These Arminian brothers think that I go against the context in my interpretation. But, I don't think so.
James said "every good and perfect gift is from above," from God. (James 1: 17). Thus, everything a man receives is owing to God alone. (See also John 3: 20) So, the fact that one receives faith, repentance, and salvation, is owing to the Lord, and not to the sinner, fundamentally speaking.
Finally, here is the final comment I left this morning.
James White does hold the view called "reformed" that has regeneration prior to faith. So does Sproul and many of the Presbyterians. But, this is not the traditional view of the Baptists or leading Presbyterians as Edwards. Why not cite Baptists other than Piper and White?
Spurgeon did not believe in regeneration before faith and he was a five point Calvinist. The great Baptist confessions do not put regeneration before faith.
You brothers have listened to White and Sproul too much. Piper is inconsistent on this point, however. He has statements that reflect that regeneration precedes faith and statements that it comes simultaneous with faith.
I think you all have admitted that many sinners have been brought under conviction of sin by the gospel and by the Spirit and who had this work performed on them without their choice.
As far as the Spirit convicting the world of sin, this is done through the gospel, is it not? If so, we cannot make "world" mean every human being, for every human being has not heard the gospel.
Notice also that the Spirit convicts the world without the world's decision to be convicted.
I don't believe all who are convicted are born again. Do you?"
Jul 15, 2008
"THE DECREES OF GOD"
by Thomas Boston
EPHES. 1:11 -- "According to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."
"There is the certainty of the efficacy of predestination. It is according to his purpose; that is, his firm purpose and peremptory decree to bring such things to pass. And this certainly in particular is evinced by a general truth, "Who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will." Wherein we may notice.
The manner how God works. The plan and scheme according to which his works are framed, is the "counsel of his will." His will is his decree and intention; and it is called the "counsel of his will," to denote the wisdom of his decrees, his most wise and free determination therein. As God's decree is an act of his will, and so most free, considered in relation to the creatures; so his decree and will are never without counsel; he willeth or decreeth things to be done with the greatest reason and judgment, most wisely as well as freely.
The object of his working after this manner, "all things." This cannot be restricted to the blessings which the apostle had been speaking of immediately before, but must be understood of all things whatsoever, and of all their motions and actions as such; which therefore are the object of God's decrees.
The text plainly affords this doctrine, viz Doct. 'God hath fore-ordained, according to the counsel of his own will, whatsoever comes to pass.' I am to explain the nature of a decree. The text calls it a purpose, a will. For God to decree is to purpose and fore-ordain, to will and appoint that a thing shall be or not be. And such decrees must needs be granted, seeing God is absolutely perfect, and therefore nothing can come to pass without his will; seeing there is an absolute and necessary dependence of all things and persons on God as the first cause. But there is avast difference betwixt the decrees of God and men; whereof this is the principal: Men's purposes or decrees are distinct from themselves, but the decrees of God are not distinct from himself. God's decrees are nothing else but God himself, who is one simple act; and they are many only in respect of their objects, not as they are in God...To say otherwise is to derogate from the absolute simplicity of God, and to make him a compound being. It is also to derogate from his infinite perfection; for whatsoever is added to any thing argues a want, which is made up by the accession of that thing, and so introduces a change; but God is absolutely unchangeable. Neither could God's decrees be eternal, if it were not so; for there is nothing eternal but God. I proceed to consider the object of God's decrees. This is whatsoever comes to pass. "He worketh all things," says the text. God has decreed whatsoever comes to pass; and nothing comes to pass but what he has decreed to come to pass. We may consider the extent of the divine decree under the three following heads.
1. God has decreed the creation of all things that have a being.
2. He has decreed to rule and govern the creatures which he was to make.
3. He has decreed the eternal state of all his rational creatures.
Not only good things, but evil things fall within the compass of his holy decree. Evils of punishment are truly good, being the execution of justice, as it is good in a magistrate to punish evildoers. God owns himself to be the author of these evils, Amos 3:6. 'Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it ?' And yet he has decreed the effecting of these. As for the evils of sin, these also fall within the compass of the decree of God, as is clear in the case of crucifying Christ, Acts 2:23. 'Him (says the apostle to the Jews) being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.' And says the apostle, Acts 4:27. 28. 'For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.'
This appears also in the case of Pharaoh refusing to let Israel go, and pursuing them when they had gone, whose heart God hardened, Exod. 14:4; and in the sin of Joseph's brethren in selling him into Egypt; of which Joseph says, Gen. 45:8. 'So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.'
And not only necessary things, as the burning of the fire, but the most free acts of the creature, and the most casual things, fall under the divine decree. Free acts, as Prov. 20:1. "The King's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." To this purpose are the foresaid instances of the Jews, Pharaoh, and Joseph's brethren. The most casual, as in the case of the casual slaughter mentioned, Exod. 21:12, 13, and Deut. 19:3. where mention is made of the Lord's delivering the person slain into the hands of the slayer, though he had no intention to slay him. Such also is the case of lots, Prov. 16:33. 'The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.' This holds also in the case of sparrows, and the hairs of the head falling, which cannot be done without God, Matth. 10:29, 30. And thus not only great things, but small things fall within the compass of the divine decree.
God has decreed every thing relating to the lot and condition of particular persons.
He has decreed the time and place of their birth, whether it should be under the law or gospel, in a land of light or darkness; whether among the savage Indians in America, or among the more polite and civilized people of Europe; whether among mahometans, Papists, or Protestants. All this was decreed by the Lord, "who hath made of one blood all nations of men, to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation," Acts 17:26.
He hath decreed every man's lot and condition, whether it shall be high or low, rich or poor, noble or ignoble, learned or unlearned. He hath determined the trade and employment they should follow, the particular business they should betake themselves to. Many times God's providence over-rules men's purposes and designs, for fulfilling his own counsels. Matters are sometimes strangely wheeled about, so that not what we or our parents designed, but what God hath purposed shall take place. Amos was meanly employed at first, but God designed him for a more honorable calling: he was taken from the office of a herdman, and gatherer of sycamore fruit, and invested with a commission to prophesy to the people of Israel, Amos 7:14, 15. David followed the ewes, and it is like never raised his thoughts to higher things in the days of his youth; but God made him the royal shepherd of a better flock, Psal. 78:70, 71. The most part of the apostles were fishermen; but Christ called them to a more high and eminent station, even to be extraordinary officers in his church, and fishers of men.
God hath decreed what relations men shall have in the world. Their wives and children are appointed for them. Hence said Abraham's servant, Gen. 24:44. 'Let the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed for my master's son.' That such a woman rather than any other, should be wife to such a man, is by the appointment of Heaven. Men's children are also decreed by God. Hence said Eve, Gen. 4:24. 'God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.' And says the Psalmist, Psal. 127:3. 'Lo children are the heritage of the Lord:' God determines the numbers and names of every man's children.
The time of every man's life in the world is appointed. Hence says Job, chap. 7:1. 'Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth ? are not his days also like the days of an hireling?' And says the same great man, chap. 14:5. 'His days are determined: and the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.'
The term of our life is fixed and limited, our days are determined, and our months numbered. Hence David prays, Psal. 39:4. 'Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.' Our days are measured; they are as the days of an hireling.
Thirdly, God hath determined the eternal state of all his rational creatures, both men and angels. Our Confession of Faith tells us, agreeably to scripture, chap. 3. art. 3. that 'by the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life, and others are fore-ordained to everlasting death.' More particularly,
We read of the elect angels, 1 Tim. 5:21. The perseverance and standing of the holy angels in the state of their primitive integrity, and their confirmation therein, was determined by the purpose of God. In the morning of the creation heaven shined with innumerable glittering stars, the angels of light, of whom a vast number are, by their rebellion against God, become wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Now, the good angels are in a supernatural state, without the least danger of change, or any separation from the blessed presence of God in glory, flowing from the continual irradiations of divine grace, which preserves their minds from errors, and their wills from irregular desires; and consequently they cannot sin, nor forfeit their felicity.
It was by an eternal decree of God, that he passed by the angels that fell, and doomed them to everlasting misery. The apostle tells us, 2 Pet. 2:4. that "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved into judgment." And saith Jude, ver. 6. 'The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.' Mercy did not interpose to avert or suspend their judgment; but immediately they were expelled from the Divine Presence. God hath likewise appointed the final and eternal state of men and women. It is said, Rom. 9:21, 22, 23. 'Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor ! What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory?'"
Jul 12, 2008
Edwards argued from the nature of causality. He reasoned that since the principle of causality demands that all actions are caused, then it is irrational to claim that things arise without a cause. But for Edwards a self-caused action is impossible, since a cause is prior to an effect, and one cannot be prior to himself. Therefore, all actions are ultimately caused by a First Cause (God). "Free choice" for Edwards is doing what one desires, but God gives the desires or affections that control action. Hence, all human actions ultimately are determined by God.
If God is sovereign, than all acts must be determined by Him. For if God is in control of all, then He must ultimately be the cause of all. Otherwise, He would not be in complete control.
Some determinists argue from God's omniscience. For if God knows everything, then everything He knows must occur according to His will. If it did not, then God would be wrong in what He knew. But an omniscient Mind cannot be wrong in what it knows."
Of course, I fully agree.
Jul 11, 2008
That was a good "tit for tat." However, I never said that we should "value" determimism. I certainly never put any "value" upon "free will." What I do "value" is the sovereignty, omnipotence, and omniscience of God. What I devalue is giving such attributes to creatures.
Yes, God's will and decree "got us into this mess." But, for the elect, there is a determined decree to "get them out of the mess." But, it can also be said that Adam got us into this mess. Further, it could be said that Eve and Satan got us into this mess. It can be said that we get ourselves into this mess also. All these persons are "causes" for us being in this mess, yet in different senses of "causality."
But, granting that "free will" got us into this mess, it certainly cannot get us out!
Many Determinists believe that Adam acted freely, as did Christ, but all other men now act passively, being now unpossessed of "free will," as it was given to Adam and Eve. These Determinists would avow that "free will" got us into this mess but only predestination (determinism) gets us out. Very few deny that Adam had free will, although this is not my view; of course, this depends on how we are defining "free will." But, these same people, while admitting that Adam had "free will," believe that he and all men now do not have that same freedom.
"He caused the fall of man and brought sin and destruction into the world and then punished his creation for the sins that God caused them to commit?"
Yes, this is what the bible teaches. It teaches that God willed every event to occur. It teaches that God willed the fall of Adam and yet held Adam accountable for the fall.
Both God and Adam willed the fall. Adam intended it for evil, but God for good. (Gen. 50: 20)
Before Pharoah, Esau, and such "vessels of wrath," were born, or created, they were hated and rejected by God. It was not based upon "any evil" they had done. It was "before" it, and could not therefore be a reaction to it. (Romans 9)
Also, scripture is very clear, saying - "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil." (Proverbs 16: 4 KJV)
"And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go." (Exodus 4: 21 KJV)
"And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said...And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said." (7: 13, 22, etc.)
"And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen." (Exodus 14: 17 KJV)
"But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day." (Deuteronomy 2: 30 KJV)
"There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses." (Joshua 11: 19, 20 KJV)
"O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants' sake, the tribes of thine inheritance." (Isaiah 63: 17 KJV)
"He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them." (John 12: 40 KJV)
It seems that "free will" theology will not let God get his "honor" from the destruction of Pharoah, the Egyptians, and with Sihon! They must affirm that their understanding of God makes it impossible for God to do as he has done in these verses! And notice how the end, God's "honor," certainly "justifies the means"! Can God not use a creature for such ignoble ends? Does he owe the creature anything?
As far as "cause" and "effect" goes, who can read these verses and say God was no cause at all? That he was not in any way "responsible"? God is responsible for all things, but he is not accountable to anyone, nor to any law outside of himself. I use the term "responsible" in the sense of "cause" here. Many things are "responsible" for other things but are not "accountable," blameworthy, or guilty, in a social and legal context.
I will have a few more comments to offer on "causality" forthwith as I address some of your other comments along this line.
But, notice how even the holy and godly prophet, Jeremiah, also asks God why his heart has been hardened by God! Was he blaspheming God?
"I never said that we would one day be fully determined. I only said that we will be unable to sin in Heaven. That does not mean that God will determine all that we do."
Yes, and I see this as a contradiction, and you do not. We will not have free will in heaven and neither will we be fully determined!
If we are unable to sin in heaven, then God took some "ability" away from us? That taking away of ability does not determine or guarantee future choice and activity? Does not fully determine it?
Besides, where did this "ability" to sin come from? You say it is part of free will ability. You define free will as having both the power to do do good and the power to do evil. And you admit that "free will ability" is what God gives (imparts) to man (without man's permission, I might add!) Thus, you admit that God gave man the power to do evil. Why would he do that? Would you create a machine or robot that had the power to do evil? If you did, would you be "responsible" and "accountable" by the laws of society?
Thus, you admit that God gave "A" (power or ability or free will) knowing that the giving of "A" would cause "B" (mess of sin, etc.), but yet you refuse to allow that this in any way makes God, in any sense, a "cause" or one "responsible" for "B."
God either determines an event will occur or it will not occur. By your own confession and definition of things, you admit that God "permits" things to occur. You also imply that this "permission" is necessary for the event to occur. If event "A" cannot occur without the permission or will of "B," then "B" can be said to be a "cause" of "A."
If I am holding a rock in my hand, it cannot fall without me "letting" or "permitting" it to fall.
Notice these words of scripture:
"Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not? Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?" (Lamentations 3: 37, 38 KJV)
It is also true that God will remove all those things which pull us toward sin in heaven. We sin on earth because of:
1) The pull of the sinful nature
2) The pull of the corrupt and sinful world system
3) Temptation form demonic forces
In Heaven there will no longer be a sinful nature, a corrupt world system, or demonic forces."
If the presence of the things itemized are causes to our being able to sin, as you admit, then you must admit that these things are in our world by the will of God, for he could remove them even now, and thus make him a cause. You admit that a sinless existence will come about when God "removes" these things. Therefore, God not only has the power to stop these things, and thus stop all sinning, but will actually do so in the future.
You admit that God "allowed" or "permitted" Satan to tempt us, and also admit that he will remove this temptation in the world to come. Thus, you admit that the presence of the temptor in our world is the result of God willing or causing it.
"There is really nothing in the Bible that tells us what our wills will be like in Heaven. It does seem that there will be no sin in Heaven and I am content to believe that this results from the lack of opportunity to sin coupled with the fact that God makes us incorruptible in accordance with our will (and His) to be completely free from sin and conformed to the image of His Son."
I do not agree that the scriptures are silent on the state of our wills in Heaven. If you really believe it says nothing about it, then you ought not to be taking any dogmatic stands on the topic.
You speak of "opportunity" to sin as being something God is in control of, in these words, but you will not allow him to be a cause. I find that grossly illogical.
Is God making one "incorruptible" that which fully determines the individual to every future right action? You seem to affirm this and if you do, you have come over to Determinism to a great degree.
"However, if God irresistibly determines our choices then our choices are not ours but his. In that case, when we love God, God is really just loving Himself. He is not receiving love from His creatures but receiving love from Himself. Worse yet, when a person hates and rejects God, he is not really hating and rejecting God because he is not in control of his decisions, God is. Therefore God is just hating Himself and rejecting Himself. It really does reduce to a cosmic puppet show where God causes puppets to love Him and causes puppets to hate Him and then punishes them forever for doing what God caused them to do. That is why hard-determinism is absurd and the history of Christianity has never accepted it as orthodox."
"In your view people are little more than machines. They do not make moral decisions. They are entirely passive and God makes decisions for them. God punishing us for what we do in hard-determinism is as absurd as punishing an engine for breaking down."
Again, what do the scriptures say? Why do you think Calvinists believe this? Is it not what Romans 9 and other verses plainly teach? Notice also how you cite no scripture that says "man is not a puppet or a machine." This proposition is simply an enthymeme of yours and one that is not scriptural. In fact, the bible does picture man as God's product, his machine, his creation. Certainly our bodies can be called "machines" can they not?
I think you have a problem in denying that man is, in any sense, a machine or a puppet. Was the Assyrian not a puppet in God's hand? (Isaiah 10)? What is the essential difference in saying we are the clay and God is the Potter or saying God is the puppeteer and we are the puppets? Does God have any "strings" attached to his creation, whereby he controls them? Maybe we disagree on how many strings God controls versus the puppet himself?
It is a non sequiter to say that if God causes our choices then the choices are not ours. Does God cause our resurrection? If so, then by your logic, we cannot say that such a resurrection is "our" resurrection! Does God cause our breathing? If so, then by your logic, it is not "our" breathing!
I must also ask you if you believe God has ever caused or determined a single choice anyone ever made? Has he ever compelled or constrained a man to think, will, or do anything? If you do allow any cases where God caused a choice, then that choice, by your definitions and logic, is not the creature's choice. That is not logical, a non sequiter.
Calvinist do not have any problem with the concept that praises given to creatures are, in essence, God's praise of his own work in us! You Arminian free will advocates, however, believe that God gets no "credit" or "praise" for our choices! He is no "cause" at all! We are the sole causes of all our good choices and deeds!
Calvinists do not believe that the will of God in regard to the non-elect is the same as the elect. We do not say that the individual evil choices and acts of men are God's working in the non-elect for the purpose of God rejecting or discrediting himself.
It is really an old argument from the Libertarians to argue that any praise God gives to his creatures cannot be valid praise unless the creature do the praiseworthy deed without God, without his causation, i.e., by "free will." Again, where is this scriptural? Where is the verse that says praise can only occur when the creature acts out of his own free will and ability? That is another enthymeme that is not scriptural. If one reads the New Testament epistles, one sees how the apostles praised Christians for every virtue and spiritual grace, and yet, at the same time, did not hesitate to avow that these virtues and graces were the sovereign free gifts of God.
From what you are arguing, God is not to be praised for our virtues and graces, for our good deeds! He gets no credit or praise at all!
Also, you are wrong to think it absurd for God, a Potter, to create a vessel, then to purposefully destroy it, so that he might remake it! Why can't a Potter make a vessel with the intent of destroying it? Do we not do that even ourselves? Suppose I wanted to teach a child the meaning of the word "destruction." I want to do this by acting out the meaning of the word for the student. So, I create a vessel out of clay, then, before the face of my students, I break it. I tell them, that is what it means to "destroy" something. By your logic, however, a Potter never would create something for the purpose of destroying it.
People destroy things all the time also to demonstrate their rights of sovereignty, and their strength to do so. In other words, people say, "it belongs to me. I will prove it by destroying it!" Or, "I will break this concrete block to demonstrate my power."
Further, you put limits on the Potter! You say he cannot make it into whatever he pleases! You deny him his right and sovereignty to make the clay into something ignoble and with inferior ends or a low destiny! What law exists that limits the heavenly Potter from making creatures to either high or low destiny? Why do you put rules upon the Potter?
Nearly all free will advocates say God CANNOT make any creature without the intent of making that creature's ultimate happiness and well being the highest or "prime objective." But, where is this rule that God must abide by when he creates a living being? Who wrote the law that says to God - "God, you cannot create any creature simply to destroy him, but you must only create a creature with his ultimate happiness as the end"?
"Herein lies the basis of much of your confusion. Our relationships with each other are not always analogous to our relationship with God. Our relationship with God and our interactions with God are different because God is our Creator and He has certain rights over us that we do not necessarily have over each other."
This is really ironic that you should argue this way. First of all, it was not I that tried to make our relationships with each other analogous, in every respect, to our relationship with God? It was YOU, not I! I was the one who rebutted your doing so by saying that you Arminians err in doing this very thing! You make the wooing of a spouse the only type of analogy that is used for the conversion or salvation experience! I showed you how that lone analogy is insufficient, and if taken by itself, yeilds the kind of Arminian perversions you parrot.
This paragraph of yours is what Calvinists are saying, and you contradict what you elsewhere say. In fact, if I only had the above words of yours to read, I would think you were a Determinist or Calvinist. It is you who deny God superior rights to do what he pleases. You certainly deny him the right to make "vessels UNTO dishonor"! Or, the "wicked for the day of evil"!
"Allowing us to act and holding us accountable for those acts does not violate His nature."
Neither does his creating vessels to destruction violate his nature, as you suppose. God raised up Pharoah in order to do with him as he did. The destiny of Pharoah was decided by God before he was born. God hating Esau before he was born, and not for any evil thing he did, also does not violate the nature of God.
"In your view God creates us without the ability to do anything that God does not make us do and then holds us accountable for actions that He irresistibly determines us to do."
You keep saying that such teachings are my teachings, but I have shown that I am saying nothing that scripture does not plainly say.
I believe no man can "do" anything without "power." Do you agree or disagree? If it takes "power" to "do" anything, from whence comes "power"? Did I not cite Colossians 1: 16-18 wherein God is said to create all things? I will address this more fully later, but for now, let me say that the passage clearly puts "powers" in the category of "all things." You want to limit "all things" to all material things. But, "all things" is not limited, in this passage, nor the other passages where the term is used, in the New Testament, to "all material things." Your adding of the adjective "material" to the apostolic statement regarding "all things" is an addition to the word of God and puts a limit upon what was intended to be unlimited. You could also "interpret" "all things" to mean "all good things," or all "holy things," etc. But, Paul used no such adjectives, did he? In fact, clearly your use of the adjective "material" is not warranted, for Paul lists some of the categories included in the "all things," mentioning "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers." Are these material things? Are there only good powers but no evil powers? Are there only material thrones? Are there only only heavenly dominions?
It seems you have the same problem that you attempt to impute to the Determinists! You say that Calvinists believe that God determines to create a man for an evil destiny and imply that it is not "just" for God to do so or to hold him accountable for his predetermined deeds. But, again, that is a non sequiter. Did you not say that you believed that God had absolute foreknowledge of all future events? Then, let me ask you these rhetorical questions, assuming God's foreknowledge.
If God foresees an event will occur, can it fail to occur? Or, if God says that something will occur in the future, can if fail to occur? If God foresaw that Ben would die without having been converted, and yet goes ahead and creates him anyway, knowing his destiny, how have you "exonerated" God from all causality? How have you escaped your own dilemma?
Besides the other scriptures I have cited that show what you deny and abhor, let me cite this other verse that destroys your unbelief and your unfounded enthememes.
"But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed..." (II Peter 2: 12 KJV)
"I believe that God created the universe and nothing happens that God does not either cause or permit. You call my knowledge of “causality” little, but I am trying to work with normal definitions. If you want to expand and stretch a definition to the point that includes things that are contrary to it, then we are not going to be able to have an intelligent conversation. If you want to say that permission is the same as causality then you need to demonstrate that and not just assert it or appeal to what Aristotle thought on the matter."
You have here come much closer to Determinism than you think! Nothing can happen without either God causing it or permitting it! Thus, all we really have to do then is discuss honestly the nature of this divine permission, a thing I have been trying to do in a "here a little, there a little" manner. I have already demonstrated many instances where "permission" is a kind of "causation." I have also demonstrated where inaction is a cause of things, and therefore worthy of condemnation as sin, as in the case of the "priest" who "passed by" the wounded soul and was eventually helped by the "good Samaritan." Yes, we have discussed this, but the parable demonstrates that inaction is a sin in certain cases. That is why we have "good Samaritan laws," to punish such inaction. In such cases "inaction" is a cause of blame and punishment.
You promote the idea that somehow God's permission cannot in any way be equated with his "will." Is permission not a man's will? If I permit a man to enter my house, have I not willed it? Could the demons have gone into the herd of swine without the permission of Christ? Here I might carry forward what I said about the "but for" argument used to prove "responsibility" (causality, contributing, or otherwise).
Arminian free willers, and non-determinists, argue that God creates evil and sin by simply "withdrawing" his gifts, or his restraints, etc. They say God is not "at fault" or a "cause" of the sin because he did not directly or efficiently cause it, but simply withdrew something from the sinner that ultimately made him sin. Then, they try to do the impossible by saying, "but this does not mean God in any way caused the sin." Any philosopher or logician knows how absurd and illogical is such reasoning. Who will avow that the removal of restraints and powers did not, in some sense, cause the sin? Such logic would be equivalent to a man who argues before a judge - "your honor, I did not cause the man to fall off the ladder, I merely removed the ladder from under him."
I think what you say about permission and causality, in the above last words of yours on this subject, simply verifies my charge that your knowledge of the laws of causality are a cause (pun intended) for your confusion.
But, again, I will have a few more words on causality shortly as I address some of your other words on this topic, from your last writing.
"But, then again, you seem to believe that ability has nothing to do with responsibility."
Here again, we see how the "devil is in the definitions." If we define "responsibility" as being synonymous with "ability to respond," then I will affirm that no man has ability to respond unless God give him that ability. As I said, Paul taught that all "powers" are the creation of God. I believe, like all Calvinists, that Adam had an ability to respond to God that we do not have as fallen sinners of his corruptible seed. We have lost that ability to respond. Yet, we are still responsible because we were once responsible in Adam. I therefore think that people are rather thinking of the term, morally speaking, as meaning the same as "accountability" or "guilt" or "blame." The question then, for bible students, is - "what are the elements of accountability?" In what does it consist? On what basis?
If we look at the verses referred to by me already, it is clear that a man is accountable to God by decree, by the intention or designation by the Potter. Besides, there is vicarious responsibility, as we see in Christ and in Adam.
"That God foreknew that we would choose to disobey Him does not make Him culpable for our disobedience since God did not cause that disobedience. God’s foreknowledge is not causative."
I have already addressed this and shown it to be illogical and unscriptural. I haved shown how God's foreknowledge does make him the cause of all things, but you are the one who adds the idea of "culpability" in regards to God, a thing I find impossible. Further, you have not shown how the bible or logic proves that God is not, in any sense, the "cause of all things." In fact, you have virtually admitted that God is the cause of all things, for you have said that nothing comes to pass without God either directly causing it or permitting it. And, I have shown that this kind of divine permission, being essential to the occurrence of any event, must therefore be viewed as a cause of the event.
God allows things and is not culpaple, true. Men permit things also and are, however, culpaple, as I have shown. God allows things and he is responsible. But, this is not an "either or" situation, as you wrongly imagine. You seem to think that either God is responsible or the creature is responsible, and that they cannot be both responsible, yet in differing senses.
God's foreknowledge is indeed causative. The scriptures demonstrate this abundantly. But, as this is already quite long, I will not flood you with scripture citations, but favor you only with this sampling.
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1: 5)
That foreknowledge of Jeremiah did not cause his existence? Did not God cause his existence? Also, does not the Greek word for "foreknowlege" mean more than bare prescience, and includes the idea of foreordination?
"Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." (Acts 15: 18 KJV)
The question really is this - "does God foresee any events or effects of which he is not the ultimate first cause?" And, -"can anything come into existence apart from the will, foreknowledge, and predestination of God?
You also favor the idea of two wills with regard to the will of God by your belief in the "permissive" will of God. You have decretal or non-permissive will, and permissive will. When you give reluctant permission, are you not one possessed of two wills, one of which is superior? You do not want your child to do something, but, you give them permission anyway, for you think that they need their freedom, thus you are conflicted in your will regarding them when you give reluctant permission, correct?
"Actually, Paul goes on to explain this further in a way that perfectly conforms to Arminian theology:
“For who makes you different than anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7)
So the reason they cannot boast is because they have only received what they have. They did not work for it or earn it. In the same way, we cannot boast in our salvation because we have only received it as a free gift from God. Faith excludes boasting because it is the receiving of a free gift that is not deserved or earned. Paul does not say that they have no basis for pride because the gift is received irresistibly."
But, you fail to apply Paul's rhetorical question as to why one "received" the gift and another did not. I offer two men a gift, and one actually receives that gift, but, "who or what made the difference?" You still attribute the ultimate reason to the creature himself, making him the author of his own salvation, a "first cause" of things, a thing that can only be said of God himself, and the one who makes himself different from another. Don't you see? Besides, you seem to imply, by your logic, that no one can "receive" something both passively and actively. When you "received" your name, or your first breath, was it comparable to "receiving" an offered gift?
"I have no problem setting myself up against them (Aristotle and writers on causality) since the Word of God contradicts them. They are wrong. Why are you so certain that they are right? Because it seems to support your beliefs? Do you also believe that science has proven that we are just a cosmic accident and the results of random mutations which took place over millions of years? Do you dare “set yourself against” the atheistic evolutionary scientific community?
And let us suppose that they are right to let people off the hook because their wills are not free due to the control of social, psychological, and environmental factors. How then could we ever condemn anyone for any crime at all? And if divine determinism is correct then there is no difference between the Harvard grad with good parents who murders someone and the kid who grew up in Harlem in a broken home surrounded by drug pushers who murders someone. In both cases their will was determined by God, and so neither of them should be responsible."
I will address causality further in just a minute when I notice your rebuttal of the passages I brought up to prove God was the cause, the only first cause, of all things. But, I do wish to say this; I do not believe that the scientific community has "proven" that this world is a cosmic accident or that evolution is a fact of history. But, science, or more properly perhaps, philosophy, has demonstrated that every effect must have a cause, a fact which you seem to deny, affirming that choices have no determining causes. But, I will address this point shortly.
The word of God is our guide in judging effects by their immediate or instrumental causes, not human logic. Thus, as a jurist, sitting in trial for a violation of the law, I should take notice of the various "causes" that brought about the violation. And, we do show leniency based upon an analysis of these causes. God's secret will is not a consideration in such cases, but only his revealed will in scripture which prescribes our duties in these cases. Further, our ability to condemn a person is not the same as God's ability to condemn them.
"Not at all. The free-agent is free to use his powers however he decides. But he is the cause of his actions. His actions are not “uncaused.” They are caused by him. You have misunderstood how Arminians understand free-agency. That, unfortunately, is not uncommon among Calvinists."
The man controls the will and the will controls his actions - this is what you are avowing. What part of the "man" controls his will? His flesh and blood? His body? His understanding? His affections? Besides, who causes the man? Is man a first cause of himself and of his own actions? Are there two "first causes" then in the universe? Rather, many?
"I believe that God did create us to love Him. That is our purpose. It is to love and worship Him and give Him glory. God is best glorified when His creatures freely love and worship Him. How is God glorified by making His creatures love Him? However, if love is defined as something that one must freely do, then God cannot make us love Him."
You have me confused here. When God made Adam, did he make him with love for him, or did he make him without this love, and then, after making him, win him over to love him? If you take the former view, then it destroys all you said about God not being able to create love for him. From your statement above, you seem to believe that when God made Adam, he put him in a state of indifference and equilibrium, at first, without either love or hate for God, and then later brought him to love him.
About God not being able to make us to love him, I have already shown how this is false, in many ways.
You ask - "how is God glorified in making his creatures love him?" However, I have already shown you how this is the only way he can be glorified, for any man loving God. You think God is glorified when a sinnner, on his own, comes to love God? Is this not rather the glorification of the sinner?"Romans 11:36- God created all things and everything that has been created owes its existence and allegiance to Him. It is not saying that God made sin."
Again, "all things" does not mean "some things." Is sin not a "thing"? Besides, what does it mean for a thing to be "of" or "from" something else? I believe Paul teaches that all things are "of God" in that God is the material, formal, or first cause of all things, that Paul is affirming what Jeremiah affirmed, that nothing can come to pass apart from God's will and secret counsel or decree. "Through him" would mean God is also the instrumental cause, and is similar to the verse in Colossians one that says "by him all things consist" or "are held together." "To him" indicates also that God himself is the "final cause" of "all things." Thus, I am only affirming what Paul clearly taught in this verse.
"1 Cor. 8:6 - Again, everything is created by God and owes its existence to Him. But God created all things “good” and created nothing evil. This passage is not speaking of decisions to rebel against God and corrupt His goodness. Rather, it is speaking of how God created and sustains His universe. “All things” has reference to created things and the passage is speaking of those things’ existence and not their actions. That you call this passage into service demonstrates how weak your position is."
But, is evil not included in "all things"? Why do you take away from the word of God with such additions and "interpretations"? God created nothing "evil"? Why do the scriptures say otherwise? (See Isaiah 45: 7 & Amos 3: 6) Again, you seem to believe there are a category of "things" that are not created, or at least, not created by God. Do you believe in more than one Creator, then? Are powers created things? Are thoughts and actions? Events? Are principalities and thrones and dominions created things? Are they all good?
"Col. 1:16-18- Same as above. The context is even more obvious than that in 1 Cor.8:6 and Rom. 11:36 with regards to what is being described: creation and its existence, not the sinful actions of God’s creatures. Weak."
Same as above also for me! Further, the "context" shows that the "all things," the all things created, are not things confined to the material world!
"Of course not. I must not be correctly understanding it because it doesn’t fit with your determinism. I gave you an alternative interpretation for Rev. 17. You don’t accept it, and that is fine, but at least I tackled the passage instead of waving it off as you have."
Your "alternative interpretation" was no interpretation at all, but a twist on the obvious meaning of the text. I still affirm that you refuse to believe in a God who can do what he did there and still be just and holy and good.
"James makes it plain that we should never imagine that God tempts us because to think such of God is improper and impossible. Yet, your determinism is even worse than accusing God of temptation since at least temptation can be resisted. In your view God just causes us to sin in a way that is irresistible and then punishes us for it."
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1: 12-15 KJV)
This verse is not denying that God is the cause of all things. This verse is not denying that God never, in any sense, tempts a man. "God did tempt Abraham." "Then was he led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." Was the Spirit of God involved in the temptation of Christ? Yes, it was the will of the Spirit of God for Christ to be tempted. You also affirm that it was the will of God that Adam and Eve be tempted, for you allow that he was there by the will of God.
Thus, what James is saying is that all succomb to temptation because of something residing within the man, what is called his "lust" or sinful nature and passions. A man sins, not because he is tempted, for Christ was tempted and did no sin, but because he succombs to the temptation. I will give an example, of cases dealing with lawful setups or entrapments set for criminals by the police. Police departments routinely will have an undercover cop pretend to be a prostitute in order to catch those who pay for prostitution. They tempt these kinds of criminals. Now, when a person succombs to the temptation, who or what was the cause of the man giving in to the temptation? Was it the temptation itself? Was the intent of the cops, in tempting these criminals, to get these criminals to do these crimes because they want these crimes committed? No, they are doing it to expose and to catch them. The man who succombed to the temptation of the prostitute, put there by the cops (God), is not the reason or the condemnable cause of the crime. Don't you see?
"It may be that our happiness can only come when we freely choose to love and obey God. If that is the case then happiness would be contingent on free-will and Adam could not have been happy. Though Adam could still be happy in Eden if he had not decided to rebel against God. Either way, God did not cause Adam’s sin and is not responsible for it. Adam could not have sinned if God did not create the universe, and yet God declared that all he created was “good.” God did not intend for Adam to sin and He did not cause Adam to sin. Therefore, God is not responsible for Adam’s sin."
Some of the these things I have already addressed. However, let me address the other things you mention. By your view of things, Adam was not happy the moment God created him, for God cannot create happiness in a man. Happiness with God can only come for Adam later, after he is created, according to your view, by his free will decision.
"The difference between me and you, IMO, is that you blaspheme God by making Him the cause of sin, something Scripture plainly contradicts, and I do not."
If I blaspheme God, then so did the prophets and apostles. I say nothing other than what the scriptures plainly say and demonstrate.
"I do not believe that God treats everyone equally. I do not believe that circumstances cannot limit our freedom, or that God cannot limit our freedom by circumstances. I do not believe that everyone gets the same exact opportunity to hear or respond to the gospel. I do believe that God holds us responsible for what we can do and how we do respond to Him in whatever circumstances God puts us in. I even believe that God sometimes overrides man’s will to accomplish things. I do not, however, believe that God ever overrides man’s will to deliberately sin against Him. So, I, like most Arminians, believe that God gives us a measure of free-will and allows us to make moral decisions and judges us accordingly. I do not believe that God gives us unlimited free-will as you seem to think."
It is amazing that you cited no scripture to prove all your conjectures. I again see you make many statements here that are Deterministic and contrary to your other statements. You talk about degrees of free will! God gives some a "measure of free will"? God does not treat all alike! Well, welcome to the Calvinist camp!
"Not sure what “position” you have uncovered. I don’t preach salvation apart from the gospel and faith as I said, “It may be that if they respond to the grace given that God will work things out so that they will eventually hear the gospel.” All of it is speculation and it is unwise to build doctrines on speculation and “secret decrees” of which the Bible says nothing. That is a backwards and dangerous hermeneutic, as your conclusions that God causes sin plainly demonstrate."
The "position" was the Arminian position that says that God must give everyone an equal chance for salvation, that he equally desires the salvation of all men! If men must hear the gospel to be saved (they do), then all those who died without the gospel died without opportunity for salvation, and this dispoves much of what Arminians write upon the justice, fairness, and equality of God's dealings, when battling the Calvinists.
I rather think it is the Arminian who routinely gets into conjecture and unbiblical definitions. Where, for instance, does the bible say the will of man is free? Where does it say that God is not the cause of all things?
Yours sincerely and for the truth,
I plan to write a concluding reponse with the third and final entry on this issue.
This exchange is getting very long. Let me just address a few things as briefly as possible and then I will probably not be able to continue going back and forth with you.
Regarding your back-peddling some things need to be cleared up as you seem to have thrown quite a bit of smoke on the situation.
Here again is what you wrote initially:
If free will got us into this mess, why do we value it so highly?
Here is what I deduced from that statement: free will should not be valued highly because it got us into “this mess.” I understand that you are a determinist and that you were arguing from my point of view and not yours. All of that is really irrelevant. The point was that I, as a believer in free-will, should not value free-will because if it wasn’t for free-will then we wouldn’t have gotten into this “mess” (sin, the fall of man, etc.). In other words, if something gets us into a mess, especially the mess of sin and the fall of man, it shouldn’t be valued. I then turned that around on you and made the point that from a determinist point of view it would mean that we should not value God since in the determinist view God and not free-will got us into this mess.
You then back-peddled and try to say that all you meant was that free-will gives us no guarantee or security, but that is not what you said and if there was some misunderstanding it did not stem from me failing to understand that you were assuming my perspective when you made that statement. I knew that you were and returned the favor. So again, according to determinist theology, why should we value God so highly seeing as how He caused the fall of man and brought sin and destruction into the world and then punished his creation for the sins that God caused them to commit?
You then wrote:
Being a logical statement, rather than a statement of my own belief, I was, in fact, only attempting to show that “free will” theology offers no real security and that it is a contradiction in such theology to speak of being one day fully determined, without ability to choose evil, and yet having free will or the ability to fall. Such is an indeterminate system and can never be determinate.
I never said that we would one day be fully determined. I only said that we will be unable to sin in Heaven. That does not mean that God will determine all that we do. As I have plainly explained our incorruptible state in Heaven is rooted in free-will and is therefore a genuine love relationship. If we surrender our will to God then we have done so willingly. There is no contradiction in saying that the genuineness of our relationship with God is proved while on earth and sealed in Heaven. It is also true that God will remove all those things which pull us toward sin in heaven. We sin on earth because of:
1) The pull of the sinful nature
2) The pull of the corrupt and sinful world system
3) Temptation form demonic forces
In Heaven there will no longer be a sinful nature, a corrupt world system, or demonic forces. There is really nothing in the Bible that tells us what our wills will be like in Heaven. It does seem that there will be no sin in Heaven and I am content to believe that this results from the lack of opportunity to sin coupled with the fact that God makes us incorruptible in accordance with our will (and His) to be completely free from sin and conformed to the image of His Son.
Besides, you seem to favor loss of free will by a free will decision, a thing, as I have said, is incongruous.
I favor the ability to surrender our will to God just as Jesus surrendered His will to the Father. If we make the free-will decision to surrender our will to the Lord and desire for that surrender to be permanent and God makes that decision permanent, then the relationship that results is still genuine because it was based on the free-will decision of the free-agent. However, if God irresistibly determines our choices then our choices are not ours but his. In that case, when we love God, God is really just loving Himself. He is not receiving love from His creatures but receiving love from Himself. Worse yet, when a person hates and rejects God, he is not really hating and rejecting God because he is not in control of his decisions, God is. Therefore God is just hating Himself and rejecting Himself. It really does reduce to a cosmic puppet show where God causes puppets to love Him and causes puppets to hate Him and then punishes them forever for doing what God caused them to do. That is why hard-determinism is absurd and the history of Christianity has never accepted it as orthodox.
If genuine love cannot exist without free will, and you admit that we lose free will in heaven (the loss of which makes sin impossible), then love to God is not genuine when in heaven.
Genuine love must be based in free-will. If we do not have free-will in Heaven it is because we have freely surrendered that will to God. As long as our relationship with God in Heaven is based on our free-will decision to love God (and it is) then that relationship is genuine even if the ability to sin no longer remains.
Christ went to the cross to make provision for our salvation. That provision, once made, was permanent. Christ had the freedom to choose all the way to the cross and He chose to go to the cross freely. Once He died, however, that freedom also died. His death made that decision permanent. That does not mean that it was not a genuine act of love after the cross because the affects of the cross were permanent.
In a similar way, death makes our decisions permanent, but that permanency does not make those decisions any less real or genuine prior to death. That is why we are judged, rewarded, etc. after death. That is how God wanted to do things and I respect His sovereign right to it that way.
In your restricted view, God cannot demand love nor condemn a man for not loving him, no more than I can condemn a woman for not loving me when I want her to!
Herein lies the basis of much of your confusion. Our relationships with each other are not always analogous to our relationship with God. Our relationship with God and our interactions with God are different because God is our Creator and He has certain rights over us that we do not necessarily have over each other. I have no right to take the life of another person, but God, as Creator, does have the right to take life. I do not have the right to seek vengeance while God alone has the right to avenge, etc. I cannot condemn a woman for refusing to love me because I am not her Creator. I do not have absolute rights over her. She does not belong to me. That is not the case with God. We owe allegiance to God because He is our maker. It is wrong for us to rebel against our Maker, and yet God allowed for that possibility because God wanted us to do what was right freely. God created us as moral agents and treats us accordingly.
Again, God has the sovereign right to create us as free moral agents and hold us accountable for our actions. He does not have to prevent those actions. He has the right to decide how to deal with us as His creatures as long as it does not contradict His nature. Allowing us to act and holding us accountable for those acts does not violate His nature.
In your view God creates us without the ability to do anything that God does not make us do and then holds us accountable for actions that He irresistibly determines us to do. As I said before, He commands us to love Him and causes us to hate Him and then punishes us for doing what He caused us to do. It would be similar to you punishing your child because she has blond hair. Such behavior is not consistent with His nature as He has revealed Himself. It makes the God of truth contradictory. It makes the most holy One the only true sinner in the universe. It makes the God whose essence is love into a puppet master who does not value real relationship and demonstrates His power by proving He can do whatever evil thing He wants to with His creation. God is sovereign, but his sovereignty is directly related to His holy nature.
Your knowledge of “causality” is little. Don’t you know there are different kinds of causes and that there may be varied causes to an effect, or what is called “contributing causes”? Do you or do you not believe that God is the “first cause of all things”?
I believe that God created the universe and nothing happens that God does not either cause or permit. You call my knowledge of “causality” little, but I am trying to work with normal definitions. If you want to expand and stretch a definition to the point that includes things that are contrary to it, then we are not going to be able to have an intelligent conversation. If you want to say that permission is the same as causality then you need to demonstrate that and not just assert it or appeal to what Aristotle thought on the matter. Perhaps I do not want to swim where you are swimming if that means that you can just assert whatever you like. Most people understand the difference between permitting something to happen and making something happen. That is the definition I am working with.
True, the hammer could not be “blamed” or “faulted” in a legal sense, as humans are, but if we use the term “cause” in the sense of “responsible,” we use it in regard to both things human and non-human. So too with the words blame and fault, we use it in regards to things. For instance, “a faulty engine was to blame (at fault, or responsible) for the wreck.”
I am glad your are bringing the conversation back to responsibility and I think this illustration is helpful. If the faulty engine was to blame for the wreck then the faulty engine was responsible. Would we charge the driver with a crime if the fault lied with something beyond his control? No, we would not. It was mechanical failure that was to blame. If someone in another car was killed as a result, the driver of the first car would be innocent.
People are not machines that cannot help but to do what they do. People are free-moral agents and are held responsible for the decisions they make for that very reason. In your view people are little more than machines. They do not make moral decisions. They are entirely passive and God makes decisions for them. God punishing us for what we do in hard-determinism is as absurd as punishing an engine for breaking down. In your view (since you like appealing to the courts) one should never be exonerated due to mental deficiencies, etc. For if determinism is true then no one is any more or less responsible since none of us are really in control of our actions. Yet, the courts do show mercy to those who are deemed not to be in control of their actions. But, then again, you seem to believe that ability has nothing to do with responsibility.
If I make a hammer, and I know in advance that the hammer will kill a certain person, and I nevertheless make that hammer, and give it to the person, am I, in any sense, a “cause”? You know our legal system would say I was at fault, responsible, or to blame, or the legal cause.
God did not give us free-will so we could sin. It was not His intention when He gave it to us. That God foreknew that we would choose to disobey Him does not make Him culpable for our disobedience since God did not cause that disobedience. God’s foreknowledge is not causative. We do not do things because God foreknows what we will do. God foreknows what we will do because we will in fact do them (freely).
Again, our interactions with each other are not always analogous to God’s interactions with us. We owe allegiance to God as our Creator, but God does not owe allegiance to us. God does not have to stop us from abusing the gifts He has given us. And the fact that God does not stop us from abusing His gifts does not make Him responsible for that abuse. The one who freely abuses the gift is responsible because He is perverting God’s gift and using it in a way that God did not intend for it to be used. In your view, however, God does intend for sin and then punishes the sinner for what He intended and caused them to do.
He does not have to rescue us from the consequences of our behavior either. God will, however, make things right. He has provided for forgiveness and restoration through the cross and will judge the world in perfect justice.
Sure, God gives ability. Who denies that?
You do. How can I have the ability to resist temptation if God irresistibly determines that I will not resist temptation? If something is impossible for us to do then we do not have the ability to do it. That is a very basic use of normal human language and no appeals to Aristotle or claims of shallow thinking will ever change that. In this passage God says that we can resist temptation. Many do not. Therefore, either God is not faithful as He claims or your determinism crumbles.
In your system, in the end, you must credit yourself for overcoming temptation, not God. “For who made you to differ from another” as regards the use of this ability?
Actually, Paul goes on to explain this further in a way that perfectly conforms to Arminian theology:
“For who makes you different than anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7)
So the reason they cannot boast is because they have only received what they have. They did not work for it or earn it. In the same way, we cannot boast in our salvation because we have only received it as a free gift from God. Faith excludes boasting because it is the receiving of a free gift that is not deserved or earned. Paul does not say that they have no basis for pride because the gift is received irresistibly.
Brother, you are just ignorant of modern behavioral sciences which are mostly deterministic in the matter of human choice and behavior. In fact, many criminals are found not guilty because the attorneys in their defense proved that sociological, psychological, or environmental factors brought about the choice and behavior. I guess you set yourselves against them all. I think you should look up articles on “free will” as it is discussed by psychologists.
I have no problem setting myself up against them since the Word of God contradicts them. They are wrong. Why are you so certain that they are right? Because it seems to support your beliefs? Do you also believe that science has proven that we are just a cosmic accident and the results of random mutations which took place over millions of years? Do you dare “set yourself against” the atheistic evolutionary scientific community?
And let us suppose that they are right to let people off the hook because their wills are not free due to the control of social, psychological, and environmental factors. How then could we ever condemn anyone for any crime at all? And if divine determinism is correct then there is no difference between the Harvard grad with good parents who murders someone and the kid who grew up in Harlem in a broken home surrounded by drug pushers who murders someone. In both cases their will was determined by God, and so neither of them should be responsible.
But here you contradict what you said above! If there are causes to choice, then choice is not “free” by common Arminian and Libertarian definitions.
Not at all. The free-agent is free to use his powers however he decides. But he is the cause of his actions. His actions are not “uncaused.” They are caused by him. You have misunderstood how Arminians understand free-agency. That, unfortunately, is not uncommon among Calvinists.
But, you think that if God create or cause us to love him, then the love is of no use. You think self created love is what God desires more than any love he would cause or create!
I believe that God did create us to love Him. That is our purpose. It is to love and worship Him and give Him glory. God is best glorified when His creatures freely love and worship Him. How is God glorified by making His creatures love Him? However, if love is defined as something that one must freely do, then God cannot make us love Him. He could make us act and feel like we love Him, but it would not be real love. Nor would it be real worship. We are not God’s equals. We owe Him love, but love is not love if it is caused irresistibly. If God wanted to cause us to love Him, then we should never see God pleading for the love of His people (not because God needs us but because we need Him, and God wants what is best for His creatures). Yet we see that all throughout Scripture.
Brother, if you will look at all the other places in the bible where this and similar language is used - “put it in their hearts,” then I think you could talk about this more intelligently. If I put into the heart of my son to commit murder, no court in the land would hold me wholly blameless, or not in any way a “cause” or “responsible,” and you know that!
And of course, the passage does not say anything about God putting it into their hearts to murder.
I will give you just a few. Romans 11: 36; I Cor. 8: 6: Colossians 1: 16-18.
Romans 11:36- God created all things and everything that has been created owes its existence and allegiance to Him. It is not saying that God made sin.
1 Cor. 8:6- Again, everything is created by God and owes its existence to Him. But God created all things “good” and created nothing evil. This passage is not speaking of decisions to rebel against God and corrupt His goodness. Rather, it is speaking of how God created and sustains His universe. “All things” has reference to created things and the passage is speaking of those things’ existence and not their actions. That you call this passage into service demonstrates how weak your position is.
Col. 1:16-18- Same as above. The context is even more obvious than that in 1 Cor.8:6 and Rom. 11:36 with regards to what is being described: creation and its existence, not the sinful actions of God’s creatures. Weak.
No, James 1: 13 does not make that impossible. You are not correctly understanding that passage if you think it denies God being the first cause of all things, and the cause of all other causes.
Of course not. I must not be correctly understanding it because it doesn’t fit with your determinism. I gave you an alternative interpretation for Rev. 17. You don’t accept it, and that is fine, but at least I tackled the passage instead of waving it off as you have.
James makes it plain that we should never imagine that God tempts us because to think such of God is improper and impossible. Yet, your determinism is even worse than accusing God of temptation since at least temptation can be resisted. In your view God just causes us to sin in a way that is irresistible and then punishes us for it.
Sorry about the mistake on the term. If God create a personality, then it cannot be a personality? What kind of logic is that? Or, are you saying that God does not create personality? Not even the personality of Christ? Who created yours then? Yourself? Somebody else?
If God controls our every thought then our thoughts are not our own. They are God’s thoughts. Therefore, our thoughts, actions, and personality are just expressions of who God is (panentheism). God allows us to mold our own personality. Our personality is shaped based on how we use our God given powers of self-determination. That does not mean that God does not influence us for good and play a part in shaping our personality, but we are distinct from God. Your view dissolves that distinction and panentheism results. Christ’s personality was uncreated in His divinity, and shaped by His own power of self-determination in His humanity, which Christ perfectly exercised in full submission to the Father’s will. So, in a real sense Christ’s personality was indeed the perfect expression of God’s personality. And since Christ never sinned nor caused anyone to sin, then we can conclude that God never sinned nor caused anyone to sin.
The bible teaches that God does control every action, from the bird falling to the ground, to the number of hairs on a man’s head. That is intense or minute control or governorship!
Actually, it says that no bird falls to the ground without God being aware of it, and that the hairs of our head are numbered. No one ever said that we control the number of hairs that will grow on our head (If that were the case I would surely have more hair on my head!). These examples do noting to prove your determinism and your wild claims that God causes our sinful actions.
It is valid to say, for instance, “but for” God creating Richard with free will, he would be happy in Eden now”! Do you deny this is valid?
Maybe, and maybe not. It may be that our happiness can only come when we freely choose to love and obey God. If that is the case then happiness would be contingent on free-will and Adam could not have been happy. Though Adam could still be happy in Eden if he had not decided to rebel against God. Either way, God did not cause Adam’s sin and is not responsible for it. Adam could not have sinned if God did not create the universe, and yet God declared that all he created was “good.” God did not intend for Adam to sin and He did not cause Adam to sin. Therefore, God is not responsible for Adam’s sin. Your courtroom analogies fail to reckon with the unique creature/ Creator relationship between man and God, and deny God the sovereign right to create free moral agents and hold them morally accountable for their actions.
So, Richard, how would you respond? Suppose you put your name up there instead of “God.” In other words, “Richard could have kept my client from doing this evil”?
You see, the difference between you and me is simply this. You try to do the impossible, by scripture and reason, to exonerate God of all causality in evil, but I acknowledge his causation.
See above regarding the difference between our interactions with each other and God’s interactions with us. BTW, I am not Richard. Later, you chide me for not paying close attention to what you write, yet you cannot even keep straight who you are addressing.
The difference between me and you, IMO, is that you blaspheme God by making Him the cause of sin, something Scripture plainly contradicts, and I do not.
It makes no difference as to my argument as to whether Abimelech was “innocent.” God kept him from a sin. But, in your Arminian system, God can’t do this!
I never said that God cannot prevent us from sinning in certain situations. I did say that God cannot cause sin. He is holy, just, perfect, and non-contradictory. In fact, we are to pray that God will not lead us into temptation, which essentially means to protect us from situations where we may be tempted to sin. That is what God did with Abimilech. That God intervenes at times for specific reasons, does not mean that He must always intervene. Nor does it mean that if He could intervene, but does not intervene, then He is responsible for what His creatures freely do.
Just so we understand each other I need to make a few things clear. I do not believe that God treats everyone equally. I do not believe that circumstances cannot limit our freedom, or that God cannot limit our freedom by circumstances. I do not believe that everyone gets the same exact opportunity to hear or respond to the gospel. I do believe that God holds us responsible for what we can do and how we do respond to Him in whatever circumstances God puts us in. I even believe that God sometimes overrides man’s will to accomplish things. I do not, however, believe that God ever overrides man’s will to deliberately sin against Him. So, I, like most Arminians, believe that God gives us a measure of free-will and allows us to make moral decisions and judges us accordingly. I do not believe that God gives us unlimited free-will as you seem to think.
My main concern is the genuineness of a love relationship with God and avoiding the blasphemous charge of making God the author of sin. If it wasn’t for those things I wouldn’t give a rip about free-will.
It is unbelievable to me that Arminians preach salvation apart from the gospel and faith in Christ when they see how to believe such puts them into the position I have uncovered!
Not sure what “position” you have uncovered. I don’t preach salvation apart from the gospel and faith as I said, “It may be that if they respond to the grace given that God will work things out so that they will eventually hear the gospel.” All of it is speculation and it is unwise to build doctrines on speculation and “secret decrees” of which the Bible says nothing. That is a backwards and dangerous hermeneutic, as your conclusions that God causes sin plainly demonstrate.
There is much more that I could say, but I cannot devote any more time to this exchange. It is not that it is not important, or that I do not think you are worth my time, it is just that I do not have the time. If I do respond to something you write, it may not be for quite a while. It seems clear that we are not going to agree.
I am, however, genuinely concerned for you regarding your belief that God is the author of sin. I hope that you will reconsider that belief. I believe that it is truly a blasphemous charge to lay at the foot of a holy God, but I do not think you intend to blaspheme God. May God bless you as you continue to seek Him, and may His Spirit guide you into all truth.
Thank you for the engagement on this issue.
I, like you, do not have time for the continuation of this discussion. I commend you for defending what you believe, although I disagree with it.
It is not true that those who believe that God is the cause of all things believe God therefore delights in wickedness. Many supralapsarians have been very godly men.
I do commend you also for a point or two you made. Perhaps you too were helped some by this engagement?
I pray you well.
I also appreciate the discussion. You are the first hard-determinist I have debated with so you have forced me to think more clearly about the issue, which is never a bad thing.
I admire your desire for consistency. Many Calvinists abandon consistency for the sake of trying to sound more orthodox. I only wish that your consistency would lead you to realize that Calvinism has serious problems since it does make God the author of sin. Instead, you seem content to affirm that God authors sin for the sake of being consistent and remaining a Calvinist.
Again, I hope that you will re-consider this. I do believe that you are an honest seeker and that you are trying to be true to the word of God, and I respect that. That is all that I am trying to do.I do need to make a small correction. I wrote:
"Actually, it says that no bird falls to the ground without God being aware of it"
I did not check the reference on that one because I thought I remembered it clearly. The passage actually says that no bird falls apart from “the Father” (Matt. 10:29). It does not say “apart from the Father knowing”. A few translations add “Father’s will”, but that seems to be interpretive and not demanded by the text. Even if that is the correct rendering I think it still makes better sense to understand that within the framework of permission and not causation (and even if it does relate to causation it is not a problem for my view, since I believe that God causes many things).
Anyway, thanks again for the enlightening discussion. I appreciate that we could maintain a civil dialogue even though we took some small shots at each other along the way. May God bless you as you continue to seek His truth.
Oh, and one more thing...
"It is not true that those who believe that God is the cause of all things believe God therefore delights in wickedness. Many supralapsarians have been very godly men."
I never thought or suggested that supralapsarians, because they believe that God authors sin, cannot live godly lives. I only suggested (and truly believe) that to think such things about God is unBiblical and blasphemous.
But again, I do not think that any supralapsarian means to or believes that they blaspheme God with their beliefs. Like you said, they are mostly godly men who are trying to be faithful to what they believe the Scripture teaches. I only think that they are very wrong about how they understand Scripture and come to some very unfortunate conclusions based on that misunderstanding.
I do plan to write some more on this topic in my baptistgadfly.blogspot.com blog.
I have already posted the exchange between us there.I have studied theistic and non-theistic determinism all my life. I wrote papers on it in college. I dealt with the issue of cauality and responsibility. I believe absolute predestination of all things is scriptural and I believe it is the only view that satisfactorily deals with the "problem of evil," being the best "theodicy."
Sin does serve God's purpose or else it would not be suffered to exist in any world he created. I do not believe that God created Adam as an end, but that he created Adam, willed the fall, in order that he might reveal himself in the second Adam.
Had Adam not fallen into sin, there would be no second Adam, no redemption, no understanding of the love, grace, and mercy of God, nor would we know the meaning of pain, suffering, rest, etc.
I will let you know when I have found time to write some on this topic in my Gadfly blog.