Hi Fred. You said, “Yet, he did fall, and contrary to your last sentence, in your system God did force him to commit the first sin if he in deed decreed the circumstances that led to it.”

What I said was that God did not directly cause Adam’s choice and that God decreed the circumstances that influenced Adam’s choice. I think most five-point Calvinists would agree with me about God not being the direct cause and about God decreeing the circumstances that influenced Adam’s choice. Pilgrim has eloquently stated that Scripture does not give us all the answers about why and how Adam committed the first sin. That being said, Scripture plainly indicates that God does not directly cause any sin, and yet He has decreed all things that happen. That paradox leaves us with the dilemma that you have mentioned. I think there is only one way to solve the dilemma. We must first realize that we are not like mechanical robots. A robot’s actions can only be explained in two ways. First, the robot’s actions may be completely deterministic. In other words, everything the robot does is due to its programming. Every response to stimuli is pre-programmed. Second, the robot’s actions may be due to chance glitches in its programming (indeterminism). In other words, sometimes the robot does something unexpected because an outside force has somehow “mutated” its programming. I think you agree with me that these explanations are not satisfactory to explain the first sins of Adam and Satan. There was a mysterious spiritual dimension to Adam and Satan that mechanical robots do not have. I’m not sure that we will ever be able to fully understand this dimension, but it provides a third option. Adam and Satan self-caused their sinful bias, but God still influenced their choice by circumstances and was able to know in advance exactly what their choice would be. So, in some sense God decreed their fall just as He has decreed everything else that happens. Adam and Satan, however, are prime examples of the fact that God can utilize human freewill decisions to accomplish His sovereign plan for the universe. As previously stated, Pink, Calvin, and Augustine all stated that Adam was in equipoise. I think all three of them would agree with me that Adam’s equipoise was not a threat to God’s sovereign plan for the universe.

You said, “You are just assuming that they were opposite of being totally depraved as the Bible teaches how all men exist now post fall.”

The opposite of being depraved (inclined toward sin) would be “inclined toward good.” I don’t believe that Adam and Satan were inclined toward good before their first sins.

You said, “A second problem to your objection is your notion that their responsibility must be preserved. Why?”

God punished Adam because God held Adam responsible for his sin. If there had been no responsibility, then there would have been no punishment.

You said, “What makes a person ‘responsible’ is whether there is a lawgiver over him who has declared that he will require that a person to give an account to him for his thoughts, words and actions. Hence, if the lawgiver determined that he would require every human being to give a personal account to him for his thoughts, words and actions, then every human being is a ‘responsible’ agent whether free in the Arminian sense or not.”

I think that free will does impact responsibility. Imagine a scientist at a robotics factory who has always programmed all his robots to do bad things. After the robots do bad things, he punishes them. We would ask, “Why do you punish them? They are only doing what you programmed them to do. They were never allowed to have a choice in the matter. You are at fault, not them. They are not responsible for their pre-programmed actions.” On the other hand, if the first created robot had somehow made a true freewill decision to do a bad thing and represented all the future robots, then we could hold the other robots responsible for their bad behavior even though such behavior is pre-programmed.

You said, “You then follow up by quoting from John's commentary on Hebrews. Hopefully you do not think he is supporting your position?”

I fully realize that John MacArthur is a five-point Calvinist. I quote frequently from five-point Calvinists for a reason. When I post on a forum where I am the only non-five-point Calvinist, I fully realize that my lone voice carries very little weight. I’m a nobody in the eyes of five-point Calvinists. Some on this site have in fact called me a heretic. I have found nuggets of truth in the writings of famous five-point Calvinists. Since their writings have more credibility in the eyes of five-point Calvinists than do mine, it is only logical to quote them when I am in agreement with them on a certain point. Many times these nuggets in some way support my position, and I want to share them with five-point Calvinists to help build my case. I think it’s okay to quote them to make a certain point even though I don’t agree with them about all five points of Calvinism. I realize that John MacArthur does not agree with my concept of equipoise, but we are in agreement in regard to the points he made when I quoted him. He clearly related Hebrews 6 to salvation, and I am in agreement with the points he made in the quotes. I have simply been trying to clarify the pieces of the puzzle. At the end of our discussion of all the passages I mentioned at the beginning of this thread, hopefully all will understand how the pieces fit together to form the whole.

You said, “In sum, John holds to one of the main understanding of this passage, that being how there are lost people who have a knowledge of Christ, but are not saved.”

But what he said goes beyond that. Notice again what he said:

“Eternal life comes from eating, not simply tasting, God’s gift of salvation in Christ. One of the presalvation ministries of the Holy Spirit is that of giving the unsaved a taste of the blessings of salvation. This is part of His ministry of drawing men to Christ. But tasting is not eating. The Holy Spirit will give us a taste, but He will not make us eat.”
(John F. MacArthur, Jr., “Hebrews,” The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Chicago: Moody Press, 1983, page 144)

“But Christians are not being addressed, and it is the opportunity for receiving salvation, not salvation itself, that can be lost.”
(Ibid., page 146)

“When one rejects Christ at the peak experience of knowledge and conviction, he will not accept at a lesser level. So salvation becomes impossible.”
(Ibid., page 148)

You had said the following about Hebrews 6: “Moreover, Hebrews 6 really doesn't have anything to do with a person's individual salvation.” I think you can see that there is a rather large difference. MacArthur’s comments indicate that the people were tasting salvation. He would probably agree with John Calvin that this “presalvation” ministry was common grace, not special grace, but it still helps me make my point that the passage is talking about non-Christians tasting salvation. He also said that this was part of the Holy Spirit’s ministries of “drawing men to Christ.” I doubt that all five-point Calvinists agree with that statement. Many of them see the “drawing” of John 6:44 as regeneration only. Finally, MacArthur made the point that rejection during this type of conviction is the unpardonable sin, and salvation thus becomes impossible. This statement, of course, is in agreement with my thinking. I know that I have zero credibility on this forum because I am not a five-point Calvinist. Thus, when a respected five-point Calvinist like MacArthur agrees with me on such crucial points, I think it makes sense to quote him even though he would not agree with my entire soteriological view.