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#43026 Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:39 PM
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I posed a question one day at a church that I was attending. It was a Calvary Chapel. I asked if there was any such thing as a free will. The answer I got was of course.

I then stated, if there was a free will then we are not bonded by sin, because a free will would mean that there is absolutely nothing influencing our decision. The response that I got from an individual was. It all depends on how you define free will. (This brought me back to the Clinton years). I left wondering how one could manipulate language and words instead of looking at the possibility of an error in their theology. I was later asked by someone If I was trying to think too much instead of being led by the spirit. In other words I should just drink the cool aid.

I have not returned to that church since after two years in attendence. Still not able to find a good Christ centered church to attend.


MrDon #43029 Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:27 AM
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Dr Don,

Welcome to The Highway! Six years ago, I too was in a similar position as I could not find a faithful church in SW New Hampshire. So, I posted a query on the Church Locator Forum and was directed to the church I am in now. I might suggest you do the same. It is difficult to find faithful churches these days but there are some and perhaps other members of the board could make suggestions.



The Chestnut Mare
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost.
- - - -JRR Tolkien "Lord of the Rings"
MrDon #43030 Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:28 AM
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Have you looked at the Church Locator here in the forum? That might be a good starting place.

-Robin

MrDon #43031 Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:30 AM
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Originally Posted by MrDon
I have not returned to that church since after two years in attendence. Still not able to find a good Christ centered church to attend.
Well, MrDon... then you should jump right down to the Church Locator Forum and put in a request. wink

It helps if you give some particulars of the type of church (Calvinistic only of course) you are looking for, e.g.,:
- Credo/Paedo Baptist
- Worship style (hopefully traditional) giggle
- Location
- Any other information you deem helpful

There has been a very good success rate for those who have used that forum to find a church. BigThumbUp


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Pilgrim #43278 Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:03 PM
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Hi MrDon, I don't think that human freedom can be defined as the absence of outside influences, since men were created to be in a relationship with the Trinity.

If we are truly "partakers in the divine nature", then we must partake in God's freedom. Cf. 2 Pt 1:4.

Here is something the Council of Trent said about human freedom:

[CCC#1993] Justification establishes cooperation between God's grace and man's freedom. On man's part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent: When God touches man's heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God's grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God's sight.42

Last edited by patricius79; Wed Sep 16, 2009 6:06 PM.
patricius79 #43390 Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:25 PM
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So you asked the Calvary Church members a question as if they had the freedom to answer correctly. Obviously, God predestined them to answer in the way they answered, and some here might find is blasphemous to assert that they had the free will to answer correctly.

MikeL #43391 Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:28 PM
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The funniest thing about a Calvinist evangelist is the fact that he or she will spread the gospel and end the sales pitch as if some kind of decision could or should be made. Again, all decisions are made by God, so to assume the person being evangelized has the ability to respond or make some kind of choice is absurd....according to Calvinism.

Or is it possible to be scriptural about free will, and illogical about he implications of that belief? In other words, aren't Calvinists offering a philosophy that, when taken seriously, that is to say, logically, ends up defeating itself?

MikeL #43398 Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:15 PM
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Quote
The funniest thing about a Calvinist evangelist is the fact that he or she will spread the gospel and end the sales pitch as if some kind of decision could or should be made. Again, all decisions are made by God, so to assume the person being evangelized has the ability to respond or make some kind of choice is absurd....according to Calvinism.

Sorry, Mike, you've got it wrong. Calvinists don't deny that men have wills with the ability to make decisions. What Calvinists deny is that men have wills that are equally free to choose good as to choose evil. The Lord has ordained means by which He draws His elect unto Himself, & one such means is the indiscriminate preaching of the gospel. The Holy Spirit changes the heart such that the elect will hear & receive the gospel news, and in the hour in which the Spirit does this work in them, the elect will choose to repent & serve God. Those whose hearts the Spirit does not change will be hardened against the truth; they will choose to remain in bondage to sin. It is the Spirit's act of regeneration which is the turning point from spiritual death to spiritual life. Those who are spiritually dead cannot help but remain dead and will walk in the manner of dead men apart from the Spirit's work.


Kyle

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CovenantInBlood #43420 Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:33 PM
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Hi Kyle,

"Those whose hearts the Spirit does not change will be hardened against the truth; they will choose to remain in bondage to sin."

Can you please read this again, slowly. Read it one more time. Better yet, let someone who is not involved in these little debates read it - i.e. someone with an unprejudiced mind (hey, I'm prejudiced, too. I think Calvinism leads to insanity).

This is where Calvinism leads - the end of thought.

Perhaps Chesterton had it right - religion has had a secondary function throughout time, and that is the defense of a man's right to think for himself.

I'm serious, though. Can you please print this off, and read your sentence to someone. I'm curious to find out what they think.

Best wishes,
Mike

MikeL #43424 Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:38 PM
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Mike

Actually what Kyle said makes perfect sense. However perhaps your problem is that you haven’t fully grasped what he has said.
I thought you might benefit from reading the following two articles.
http://www.the-highway.com/depravity_Boettner.html
http://www.the-highway.com/Irresistible_Murray.html

By the way, I was Arminian for over half of the 30 years I was a Christian.
I only started to embrace the doctrines of grace, other wise known as Calvinism, after a lot of prayer and study on the issues.
In more than one way, it cost me a lot to change my Arminian belief system. Those studies caused things like sleepless nights, depression, marital friction, and a few family members openly hostile against Calvinism. Some of these things several members of these boards know about.
Yet I can honestly say that although those things were not in anyway pleasant, it was worth it in the long run.
One of the things I now realize is that although I didn’t know it back then, my Arminian beliefs made me view Scripture and God through the eyes of man. I now look at Scripture and God, through the eyes of our sovereign God.
I am not sure if that makes sense to you, but I have heard many Calvinists say this very thing. I guess it might be something that can only be recognized once it is experienced.
Perhaps, that could be put in a more coherent way. If anyone else reading this wants to do that be my guest.

I will also say that all this didn’t happen over night either. So if it happens to you, only the Lord knows how long it will take.

Tom

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Mike at the risk of overwhelming you with too much information (which is not my intention). I thought I would add what I consider to be my favorite article on Calvinism.
http://www.the-highway.com/Death.html
It is a little too long to actually be called an article, but in my opinion it is a masterful work.

Tom

Tom #43430 Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:56 AM
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Mike,
Welcome to The Highway.I think you'll find the folks here to be quite friendly.
I also agree with Kyle's statement conserning the hardening of the non-elect.A person will always make choices according to their nature.
I hope you will read the articles that others here have directed you to.They were helpful to me in coming to understand the doctrines of grace.Like Tom, I spent more than half of my christian life as an Arminian before the Holy Spirit led me here where my spiritual eyes were opened.


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I like Paul's words that Augustine (the forefather of Calvinism) always hamered home and what should keep every believer humble and to give God to glory...




"For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?"

Last edited by AC.; Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:53 AM.

The mercy of God is necessary not only when a person repents, but even to lead him to repent, Augustine

AC. #43437 Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:20 PM
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"A person will always make choices according to their nature." This falls into the category of nonsense about not having free will, it's just stated a different way.

It's a great way to justify using force rather than persuasion, because if reason - the ability to think and make decisions - is subservient to this unconscious nature - then trying to persuade a group of people against their will (read: nature) is hopeless and illogical.

Perhaps that's why instead of inviting people to church, Calvin made it a law in Geneva to attend church.

But how was this driving force that makes all our decisions found in the first place? Did someone choose to read it in the Bible? Weren't they driven there by their "nature"? Wasn't their interpretation simply an unfolding of their "nature"? And if so, what makes their interpretation - their nature - any better than mine?

Because I don't see any evidence for this in Scripture. But you would say that's my nature - it's blinding me to the truths - of your nature.

So what makes your nature any better than mine, seriously? If you try to explain it to me, aren't you just saying what your nature chose you to say? And I'll say what my nature says I'm supposed to say. Nothing will get done!


Tom #43438 Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:24 PM
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Yes, if I simply mature a bit, then I'll begin to understand that I have no free will.

Sorry, as long as God gives me the ability to reason, I'll keep thinking, praying, and testing the spirits. I feel sorry for you, Tom, because you've obviously been taken captive by a philosophy that is superficially unpopular for a reason - it's wrong.

Tom #43443 Thu Oct 15, 2009 5:16 PM
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Tom,
I checked out the total depravity link. It seems to conflate doing things with deciding to do things.

Would you agree that I can decide to ask for both directions and a ride to the nearest convenience store, and still be unable to either find the store or get there myself?

Mike

MikeL #43446 Thu Oct 15, 2009 7:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
Hi Kyle,

"Those whose hearts the Spirit does not change will be hardened against the truth; they will choose to remain in bondage to sin."

Can you please read this again, slowly. Read it one more time. Better yet, let someone who is not involved in these little debates read it - i.e. someone with an unprejudiced mind (hey, I'm prejudiced, too. I think Calvinism leads to insanity).

This is where Calvinism leads - the end of thought.

Perhaps Chesterton had it right - religion has had a secondary function throughout time, and that is the defense of a man's right to think for himself.

I'm serious, though. Can you please print this off, and read your sentence to someone. I'm curious to find out what they think.

Best wishes,
Mike

Mike,

I have said it to many, many people, Mike, and you are not the first to react with disbelief. There is no such thing as an "unprejudiced" mind. But pray tell, what it is that you find so unbelieveable about the statement?


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
MikeL #43447 Thu Oct 15, 2009 7:17 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
"A person will always make choices according to their nature." This falls into the category of nonsense about not having free will, it's just stated a different way.

You haven't demonstrated why it is "nonsense" to deny that men have a free will. Nor have you demonstrated why the lack of a free will would lead to a complete lack of volition. Again, we do not deny that men make choices. What we deny is that they will make choices which are contrary to their nature. "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:5-8).

Quote
It's a great way to justify using force rather than persuasion, because if reason - the ability to think and make decisions - is subservient to this unconscious nature - then trying to persuade a group of people against their will (read: nature) is hopeless and illogical.

Ultimately, God must change the heart of the sinner. But as I previously stated, God uses means. One of those means is by believers reasoning with unbelievers in the hopes that the Spirit applies the truth of the gospel to them.

Quote
Perhaps that's why instead of inviting people to church, Calvin made it a law in Geneva to attend church.

Calvin was not a dictator. Why don't you find yourself a legitimate biography of the man instead of relying on his destractors? If it was a law in Geneva to attend church, it can hardly be supposed unique to that city in that time. There were similar laws all over Europe with respect to religious duties and beliefs. This is not to argue that such laws are good. But to attribute to Calvinism some inherent favorability toward force is absurd.

Quote
But how was this driving force that makes all our decisions found in the first place? Did someone choose to read it in the Bible? Weren't they driven there by their "nature"? Wasn't their interpretation simply an unfolding of their "nature"? And if so, what makes their interpretation - their nature - any better than mine?

Because I don't see any evidence for this in Scripture. But you would say that's my nature - it's blinding me to the truths - of your nature.

Yes. Your mind is set on the things of man rather than the things of God - at least in this particular matter.

Quote
So what makes your nature any better than mine, seriously? If you try to explain it to me, aren't you just saying what your nature chose you to say? And I'll say what my nature says I'm supposed to say. Nothing will get done!


What indeed makes your nature different than anyone else's, Mike? Were you more holy or more intelligent or more humble than the rest of the sinners around you that you decided, of your own free will, to choose Christ?


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
MikeL #43456 Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:05 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
"A person will always make choices according to their nature." This falls into the category of nonsense about not having free will, it's just stated a different way.

It's a great way to justify using force rather than persuasion, because if reason - the ability to think and make decisions - is subservient to this unconscious nature - then trying to persuade a group of people against their will (read: nature) is hopeless and illogical.
Once again you have erected or at least introduced the proverbial "Straw man" which has no relationship to what the Bible nor Calvinism teaches. No man is "forced" to do anything he does not desire to do. Man ALWAYS chooses that which is most important to him at any given moment. And God never forces a man's will either. In the case of a natural man, i.e., one who is unregenerate, all he ever desires to do is sin. There is no way you can force a man to do that which right in the sight of God in his natural state. His will is fixed on hating God and all that is good. Does that sound absurd to you? The Bible is far more explicit in describing man's natural state than what I just wrote. Take for example the following passages:

Genesis 6:5 (ASV) "And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." (prediluvian)

Genesis 8:21 (ASV) "And Jehovah smelled the sweet savor; and Jehovah said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, for that the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done." (postdiluvian)

Job 15:14-16 (ASV) "What is man, that he should be clean? And he that is born of a woman, that he should be righteous? Behold, he putteth no trust in his holy ones; Yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight: How much less one that is abominable and corrupt, A man that drinketh iniquity like water!"

Ecclesiastes 9:3 (ASV) "This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that [they go] to the dead."

Jeremiah 13:23 (ASV) "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."

Matthew 7:16-18 (ASV) "By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit."

Matthew 12:33 (ASV) "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by its fruit."

Mark 7:21-23 (ASV) "For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, covetings, wickednesses, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, railing, pride, foolishness: all these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man."

John 3:19 (ASV) "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil."

John 6:44 (ASV) "No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day."

John 8:44 (ASV) "Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof."

Romans 3:9-18 (ASV) "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we before laid to the charge both of Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not, so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ASV) "And you [did he make alive,] when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:--"

Ephesians 4:17-19 (ASV) "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; who being past feeling gave themselves up to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."

I would say that is clearly a grim picture of the nature of man. So, the answer to how it is that anyone is converted; to repent of their sin and believe on Christ is NOT that God forces men to do so against their wills but rather He recreates the will. A new disposition/nature is created which is inclined to love God and to yearn for holiness but first in embracing Christ as the only hope of being reconciled to God. There is no violation of man's will in taking that which is evil and creating that which is good. This is morally acceptable and glorifying to God as He only is good.


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CovenantInBlood #43463 Fri Oct 16, 2009 11:15 AM
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"If it was a law in Geneva to attend church, it can hardly be supposed unique to that city in that time. There were similar laws all over Europe with respect to religious duties and beliefs. This is not to argue that such laws are good. But to attribute to Calvinism some inherent favorability toward force is absurd."

If? It sounds like you don't know for sure. Similar laws? Please let me know which cities and which Protestant leaders you are referring to.

I never realized this before, but I now see a very strong link between Calvin, Marx, and Freud...possibly Darwin, too. They all wanted to blame their lives on something else. Calvin's "nature" is Freud's "unconscious" is Marx's "ideology" based on "class structure", which is like Darwin's "environmental constraints."

Each philosophy attempts to bind man. The Bible says we should beware we are not taken captive by hollow philosophies.

"Yes. Your mind is set on the things of man rather than the things of God - at least in this particular matter."

And what if I say your mind is set on things of one man, Calvin? How do we argue these things, if our arguments are said to spring from this unconscious "nature" you have somehow been able to detect from simply books?

Oh, if you were able to rise above the situation and detect your (now previous I presume) nature, you'd say it was due to God's sovereign will.

To which I respond: your nature made you say that. And I think your nature is focused on the things of man, especially John Calvin.

Do you see how this regress into nature destroys thought?


Pilgrim #43464 Fri Oct 16, 2009 11:22 AM
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"No man is "forced" to do anything he does not desire to do. Man ALWAYS chooses that which is most important to him at any given moment."

But every man is forced to choose according to his greatest desire, right?

Pure nonsense. I have a better idea of man: he's a rational being, capable of weighing options and making decisions. Is he prejudiced? You bet. If unsaved is he leaning away from God? Uh, yeah. That's pretty obvious to anyone who reads the Bible, or the daily paper.

The question is this: Is man totally unable to respond to the gospel when it is preached to him?

Now, you can text-trade all you like - there aren't any verses that answer this question in the affirmative.

In fact, you have to assume man can respond for any of the NT to make any sense whatsoever!

I've posted it elsewhere, but I'm not sure it's been addressed yet, but there is a *difference* between being able to do something and choosing to do it.

That distinction sweeps away most if not all of these verses you've cut and paste from blueletterbible.com.

Mike

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Originally Posted by MikeL
Originally Posted by Pilgrim
"No man is "forced" to do anything he does not desire to do. Man ALWAYS chooses that which is most important to him at any given moment."
But every man is forced to choose according to his greatest desire, right?

Pure nonsense. I have a better idea of man: he's a rational being, capable of weighing options and making decisions. Is he prejudiced? You bet. If unsaved is he leaning away from God? Uh, yeah. That's pretty obvious to anyone who reads the Bible, or the daily paper.
Nonsense, indeed, re: your response. Man is never "forced" to do that which he does not want to do. EVERY choice is made freely; never forced although it may be done under external compulsion. Thus men sin most freely (naturally) and love to do so. This is everywhere attested to in Scripture as it is in life itself, never mind the newspaper. If it is the 'greatest desire' that determines the will, then how could anything done said to be 'forced'? [Linked Image]

Originally Posted by MikeL
The question is this: Is man totally unable to respond to the gospel when it is preached to him?

Now, you can text-trade all you like - there aren't any verses that answer this question in the affirmative.

In fact, you have to assume man can respond for any of the NT to make any sense whatsoever!
1. nope no man is capable of responding to the Gospel in his natural (unregenerate, spiritual dead, fallen) state. Yet, he is wholly responsible to do so and fully refuses to comply because he hates God by nature.

2. Text-trade? Did you actually READ [Linked Image] those passages I provided which clearly show the fallen, sinful spiritually dead condition of the natural man and his inability to do anything good. He doesn't even seek God... NO ONE says Paul. And what would your suggestion be in this regard, that we dispense with using God's inspired, inerrant and infallible word for some quip from the pen of C.S. Lewis or perhaps we should restrict our source of truth to your own personal musings? igiveup

3. No verses that say man is unable to respond to the Gospel, you say? I beg to differ and I did provide one that teaches such explicitly. Here it is again,

John 6:44 (ASV) "No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day."

a. No man (Grk: oudeis) = Universal negative, aka: none, zero, nobody, not even one, no exception, Ningún hombre, kein, Никакие.
b. can (Grk: dunatai) = power, ability, possibility
c. come to me (Grk: elthein aor. inf.) = become a disciple of Jesus, believe savingly upon Him
d. except (Grk: ean me) = unless, not without, if not
e. the Father (Grk: ho pater) = God, God the Father
f. draw (Grk: helkusa) = drag, haul, pull; cf. Jh 12:32; 18:10; 21:6,11; Acts 21:30; Jam 2:6
See also, Jh 1:12, 13; 3:3,5, et al

Originally Posted by MikeL
I've posted it elsewhere, but I'm not sure it's been addressed yet, but there is a *difference* between being able to do something and choosing to do it.

That distinction sweeps away most if not all of these verses you've cut and paste from blueletterbible.com.
Wrong! rolleyes2 In regards to God and all things good, unregenerate men cannot because they choose not. And they choose not because of their corruption of nature; they love sin and hate God thus they will only and always choose that which is contrary to God and righteousness. What's so difficult to understand? The difficulty is and always has been, you simply cannot take the insult. Your fictitious autonomy is ripped from under you and your pride is crushed under the just judgment of God. The charge is, in your natural state, you and every man, woman and child are born spiritually DEAD, not sick, not terminally ill, but DEAD.


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"If it is the 'greatest desire' that determines the will, then how could anything done said to be 'forced'?"

You just answered your own question. Man's choices are determined by his desires.

That's how we describe the animals, only instead of desires, we call them "instincts."

Man is not determined by desire. Man is influenced by desire. Man is also influenced by reason. Man has a brain, and that brain is supposed to control his desires. I think a complete picture of man includes his desires, his will, and something else - call it his heart. It's the place for stable sentitments, and a liaison between logic and desire (brain, and stomach if you like). Patriotism, for example is often both illogical and inconvenient. But it keeps the soldier in the battle when he wants to run away.

CS Lewis give a great example of what I'm trying to say. Say you're walking near a lake, and hear some splashing and a cry for help. Two desires should immediately well up: desire to help the person, and desire to stay safe on dry land. There may be more, but the point is that the greatest desire is probably to stay safe. Yet the right thing to do would be to overcome that desire.

The thing that stands above these desires cannot be a desire itself.

Mike

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(ASV) "No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day."

Pilgrim,

Coming to God is not the same thing as choosing to come to God. Again, choosing to do something is not the same thing as doing it. I think they are different, and there are numerous examples delineating this difference; but I think you just don't want to see it. If you ask the average person, is there a difference between choosing to go somewhere and actually going there, they'd say: Um, yeah?.....

Jn 6:44 doesn't say all who are drawn come to Him. That's kind of beside the point, but maybe it will save time.

"The difficulty is and always has been, you simply cannot take the insult. Your fictitious autonomy is ripped from under you and your pride is crushed under the just judgment of God."

No need to get personal, Pilgrim. I am neither insulted nor crushed. You ought to be careful though; it was the Pharisees who loved to pronounce judgment on others, and lawyers prevented the honest folk from coming to God by their manipulation of words.

Calvin was a lawyer.....who said we couldn't come to God.......Hmmmmm.

"The charge is, in your natural state, you and every man, woman and child are born spiritually DEAD, not sick, not terminally ill, but DEAD."

But when you're dead (to sin), you're still able to do things - even the things you're "dead to".

Mike

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Originally Posted by MikeL
Man is not determined by desire. Man is influenced by desire. Man is also influenced by reason. Man has a brain, and that brain is supposed to control his desires. I think a complete picture of man includes his desires, his will, and something else - call it his heart. It's the place for stable sentitments, and a liaison between logic and desire (brain, and stomach if you like). Patriotism, for example is often both illogical and inconvenient. But it keeps the soldier in the battle when he wants to run away.
I nor anyone else has even hinted that "man is determined by desire."! nono Man basic elements consist of mind, emotions and will. The intellect (mind) and emotions (desires) are what determine what the will does. The will is not an autonomous element that does what it wants especially anything contrary to the intellect and/or the desires. This is a popular misunderstanding. Even a cursory consideration of this idea will conclude that it is ludicrous on its face. Thus, according to Scripture, the desires of the natural man are evil only and continually. And Scripture also explicitly states that a man's mind is at enmity with God and opposed to all that is good (aka: the Law). Thus, the will ONLY chooses that which is evil. It's elementary my dear Watson.

Originally Posted by MikeL
CS Lewis give a great example of what I'm trying to say. Say you're walking near a lake, and hear some splashing and a cry for help. Two desires should immediately well up: desire to help the person, and desire to stay safe on dry land. There may be more, but the point is that the greatest desire is probably to stay safe. Yet the right thing to do would be to overcome that desire.
Now Mike, could you please help me find that book in the Bible that C.S. Lewis wrote? If there is no such book, it is because he was not divinely inspired and thus what he wrote must be judged in the light of that which was and is inspired.

Not that it would come as any surprise, but could you please state what you believe in regard to the noetic effects of the Fall? I do know what Scripture says and I also know what The Thirty-nine Articles says. They are in full agreement. In fact, all the major Confessions and Catechisms of the Church agree on this article of doctrine, to which I also will add my agreement. So, fess up... what happened at the Fall? scratchchin


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Mike

I have yet to see even one reply from you that actually dealt with what others have said to you. What you have done is try (maybe unintentionally, I don’t know?) to distract away from what has actually been said.
That kind of conversation gets no where fast and doesn't contribute to a fruitful conversation.

I am not telling you have to agree with us, but for the sake of fruitful conversation, deal specifically to the conversation at hand, before moving on.

Are you aware that John Wesley the famous Arminian believed in Total Depravity?
Like Calvinists, he believed because of man's sinful nature he will never choose to believe. However, to get around that he believed in what is referred to as Prevenient Grace (I think that is what it is called), which basically means that God opens All men's hearts for a time, that makes it possible that they will use their free-will to come to Christ.

Although I see nothing in Scripture that God gives every man prevenient grace to believe; At least Wesley recognized that if man could indeed choose to believe on his own terms, salvation could not be all of God. It would be God +man= salvation.

By the way, Calvinists (I am beginning to hate that term) is just an unfortunate nickname. It does not mean that we are followers of John Calvin. Most of us who are known as Calvinists have a lot of respect for the man, mainly because of his works such as his Institute for Christian Living and a few other things. But no Calvinist that I am aware of is a follower of Calvin the man. We are quite aware that all of us have feet of clay.
Are you a follower of Jacob Arminius?

Tom

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Originally Posted by MikeL
Tom,
I checked out the total depravity link. It seems to conflate doing things with deciding to do things.

Would you agree that I can decide to ask for both directions and a ride to the nearest convenience store, and still be unable to either find the store or get there myself?

Mike

Mike

Sorry I am not sure what you are referring to. Perhaps you can give me example from the article.

Am I the only one who is confused?

Tom

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Originally Posted by MikeL
Yes, if I simply mature a bit, then I'll begin to understand that I have no free will.

Sorry, as long as God gives me the ability to reason, I'll keep thinking, praying, and testing the spirits. I feel sorry for you, Tom, because you've obviously been taken captive by a philosophy that is superficially unpopular for a reason - it's wrong.

Who said anything about giving up the ability to keep thinking, praying, and testing the spirits?

In fact, it was only after I really started to do those very things, rather than just accept what I had been taught, that I slowly began to see the truth of Calvinism.

I haven't read one thing in what you have said that proves that Calvinism is wrong.
Until then, I would rather believe in something that many don’t like, than believe something that both my heart and head believe is error.

By the way, one of the reasons why Calvinism is unpopular is because most people haven’t taken the time to check what Calvinists actually teach.
One of the most common accusations against Calvinists; is that they believe in a God who is the author of sin. Although in a way, this is fairly understandable, if they actually took the time to study what we actually believe, they would see that this isn’t the case at all. On that note, I have even heard a few honest Arminians who have acknowledged this.

Another reason is that most can't stand the insult to their pride. Yes, pride was something I had to fight against to believe in what Calvinism taught.

Tom

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MikeL,

The suggestions you are making are definitely interesting, and I understand your worries about Calvinistic teachings. I want to say something about free will.

There is the claim that humans have a free will. What it is to have a "free will" is very difficult to understand. Some philosophers think that having a free will involves (i) having some sort of ability to do otherwise than one does while others think that (ii) it simply involves having a certain kind of control over one's actions (whether one could have done otherwise or not). Surprisingly, Calvinists can endorse either of these positions. For instance, suppose a Calvinist wants to believe that someone exercises her free will only if she could have done otherwise than she does. Now, suppose we individuate "options" in a fine-grained way. For instance, here are Bill's options when he hears the gospel (we could think of many more, but we don't need to):

1) Outright reject it because it annoys him.
2) Choose to ignore it.
3) Lie to himself and say that he has already believed it.
4) Receive it.

Relative to Bill's sinful nature, any of options 1 to 3 are legitimately available to Bill. Accordingly, if he chooses option 2, it is true of him that he could have done otherwise than choose to ignore the Gospel. After all, he could have simply lied to himself (option 3) or outright rejected it (option 1). So, he has a strong sense of freedom on this picture.

Furthermore, according to the Calvinist picture, it is also possible for Bill to choose 4--not relative to his being a child of Adam, but relative to his being a human being. Humans are the kind of beings that can believe propositions and trust persons. Bill, therefore, is the kind of being that can believe the Gospel and trust Jesus Christ. (Dogs, for instance, cannot do this.) Accordingly, relative to his being a human being, he could have chosen any of options 1 to 4. Accordingly, when Bill in fact chose 2, he is morally responsible for not receiving the Gospel (option 4).

Now, endorsing this kind of picture is open to the Calvinist, and in fact this kind of picture of human freedom is plausible given our common sense understanding of humans. Consider the following common sense case:

Jim is a very arrogant person, and he has done something very bad (say, he had an affair). Jill confronts him about this, and says, "Did you do have an affair?" He has these options (among others):

1') Become enraged and offended at the question, thus redirect blame to Jill.
2') Lie, tell Jill that he would never have an affair, and give her a sympathetic hug.
3') Hedge a bit, and ask why she might think that he had an affair?
4') Confess that he had an affair, and attempt to work it out.

Now, since Jim is a very arrogant person, option 4' is in some relevant sense impossible. He would first have to lose his arrogance a bit before it was within his power to confess his affair. Given his character, however, any of options 1' to 3' are realistically on the table for Jim. Suppose he chooses option 2' and lies. When it is discovered that he lies, people will still blame him for not choosing option 4' and confessing his affair. Why? Because he, as a human being who has the responsibility to be humble and honest, "should have" chosen option 4'. Furthermore, despite Jim's bad character, if he was receiving counsel from a friend, it wouldn't have been stupid or unreasonable for his friend to counsel him to choose option 4'. (Analogously, preaching the Gospel to Bill in the above case is reasonable, too.)

Now, when someone resists Calvinism, what they are resisting is that humans since the Fall are universally bad enough that they can't choose to repent and believe the Gospel without first having a relevant character transformation. (We call this 'relevant character transformation' by the following name: 'regeneration', and we believe the Holy Spirit causes it.) Notice, you should not be worried about whether or not deliberation is relevant. It clearly is in the above cases. In fact, deliberation regarding one's options is necessary, and an unwillingness for Bill to consider seriously option 4 or Jim to consider seriously option 4' is an indication of very bad character which needs to be removed before one can 'have a chance'.

In fact, your own case at present is similar to the above cases insofar as, realistically, there is an option that you probably consider impossible to choose. Consider a simplified version of your case. (This is not intended to be offensive.)

You are confronted with the teachings of Calvinism and its teaching concerning the depravity of humanity. You have these options (this list isn't exhaustive, and it probably doesn't include the actual option you took):

1*) Get enraged and offended, and yell at Calvinists.
2*) Try to vent your frustration with Calvinists by engaging them in a closed-minded way.
3*) Ignore the teachings of Calvinism.
4*) Accept Calvinism as the truth.

Now, my suspicion is that you could realistically see yourself choosing options like 1* to 3*, even if not any one of them in particular. (If you don't typically get angry, then option 1* may be 'impossible' or almost impossible for you.) On the other hand, you probably don't view 4* as something you could conceivably do right now. Why? Because it is so opposed to your personal character and background beliefs about God, the Bible, the world, human freedom, etc., that it is impossible for you to choose 4*. Of course, this impossibility is relative to your character and background beliefs. These could change, though, and then 4* would be possible. (This is what happened to most people on this board, and this is probably what happened to your sisters.)

I say all of this in order to show that Calvinism is not only theoretically possible, it is psychologically plausible. It is compatible with our experience.

I hope you found this helpful. In case I don't get back to the board for a while, though, I should clarify something for the other Calvinists on the board. I am not claiming that, relative to God's providence, we have lots of options when acting. Relative to our character, though, we do. There are various different ways to explain God's providence so that it entails (1) that we can only do whatever it is that in fact do, yet (2) what we do isn't coerced and is truly free. The understandable stumbling block to Calvinism, however, is the character issue, and that is what I am addressing in this post.

Regards,
John P.


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Originally Posted by MikeL
"If it was a law in Geneva to attend church, it can hardly be supposed unique to that city in that time. There were similar laws all over Europe with respect to religious duties and beliefs. This is not to argue that such laws are good. But to attribute to Calvinism some inherent favorability toward force is absurd."

If? It sounds like you don't know for sure. Similar laws? Please let me know which cities and which Protestant leaders you are referring to.

The Roman Church levied taxes across Europe for the support of her priesthood & other ecclesiastical institutions. Many Protestants in Catholic domains were persecuted to the point of death. Or look at the treatment the Anabaptists received in Zwingli's Zurich or in any number of Lutheran states. Look up "crypto-Calvinism" & see how the Lutherans would treat the Calvinists. You might also consider the causes of the Thirty Years' War. Religious toleration was not widely practiced until after the Reformation, and it would be another 100 years or so before the concept of a separation between church & state become a widespread idea. The civil enforcement of religious law was not unique to Geneva.

Quote
I never realized this before, but I now see a very strong link between Calvin, Marx, and Freud...possibly Darwin, too. They all wanted to blame their lives on something else. Calvin's "nature" is Freud's "unconscious" is Marx's "ideology" based on "class structure", which is like Darwin's "environmental constraints."

Each philosophy attempts to bind man. The Bible says we should beware we are not taken captive by hollow philosophies.

You are quite mixed up. Our sinful nature does not absolve us of guilt, but rather establishes our guilt before God. And have you ever read Calvin? The idea that Calvin was trying to "blame his life on something else"! The way you so insolently & ignorantly babble on about him should embarrass you.

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"Yes. Your mind is set on the things of man rather than the things of God - at least in this particular matter."

And what if I say your mind is set on things of one man, Calvin? How do we argue these things, if our arguments are said to spring from this unconscious "nature" you have somehow been able to detect from simply books?

Oh, if you were able to rise above the situation and detect your (now previous I presume) nature, you'd say it was due to God's sovereign will.

To which I respond: your nature made you say that. And I think your nature is focused on the things of man, especially John Calvin.

Do you see how this regress into nature destroys thought?


All I see is that you have an unthinking devotion to your so-called "free will" & ignorant disgust of Calvin and the scriptural doctrines which he championed. The idea that you are not in ultimate control of your destiny seems to trouble you. Why is that? But if you want to know how we shall resolve this dispute, let us make recourse Scripture, and not your vain philosophical objections to Calvinism on the supposed grounds of a predilection to force, a desire to pass the buck, or mental ineptitude.

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Pilgrim,

"Man ALWAYS chooses that which is most important to him at any given moment. And God never forces a man's will either. In the case of a natural man, i.e., one who is unregenerate, all he ever desires to do is sin."

You argue that God does not force man to choose, because man chooses according to his nature.

Who gave man his nature?


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"I nor anyone else has even hinted that "man is determined by desire."! "

You wrote this:

"No man is "forced" to do anything he does not desire to do. Man ALWAYS chooses that which is most important to him at any given moment. And God never forces a man's will either. In the case of a natural man, i.e., one who is unregenerate, all he ever desires to do is sin."

And this:

"If it is the 'greatest desire' that determines the will, then how could anything done said to be 'forced'?"

So I'm thoroughly confused as to whether you think the greatest desire determines a will or not.




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Tom,

Are you acknowleding that Calvinism teaches God is the author of sin? I'm not sure I understand this last point: you say Arminians (honest ones) acknowledge this. Acknowledge what?

"One of the most common accusations against Calvinists; is that they believe in a God who is the author of sin. Although in a way, this is fairly understandable, if they actually took the time to study what we actually believe, they would see that this isn’t the case at all. On that note, I have even heard a few honest Arminians who have acknowledged this."

If this is an admission, you're the first I've heard to make it. I guess that makes you an honest Calvinist!

But if misunderstood you, I still have to ask: If God didn't create sin, who did? The common accusation exists because it's very logical to point the finger at God, given the basic assumptions of Calvinism.

Mike


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"Man basic elements consist of mind, emotions and will. The intellect (mind) and emotions (desires) are what determine what the will does. The will is not an autonomous element that does what it wants especially anything contrary to the intellect and/or the desires. This is a popular misunderstanding."

I don't think so. These are concepts that you can't simply find by dissecting a human specimen. You don't open up a man, and say, "Oh, there is his pancreas, there is his liver, oh and there's his will."

So please forgive me if I don't exactly agree with your picture of man.

I disagree based on the very definition of will! The will is a will, because it is something SEPARATE from mind and appetite.

What you've written here is simply doesn't make sense. If mind and emotions determine will, then will doesn't exist!

It would be like saying, "The legislative and executive branches of American govnt determine all the judicial branch does." If that were the case, what would be the point of a judicial branch in the first place!

The will is INFLUENCED by logic and emotion. It is not determined at all.

So let me recap: you think man is composed of 3 "elements", which are mind, emotions, and will, the last of which is a "ludicrous idea" that is not "autonomous".

Then why say man is composed of this element?

What is your no-kidding definition of will? I understand you think it is determined by the other two, but what *is* it?

I think that in trying to define it, you'll end up defining it away, which again is begging the question about including it in the first place. I could be wrong, I'm interested to see how you do it.

Mike

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Originally Posted by MikeL
You argue that God does not force man to choose, because man chooses according to his nature.

Who gave man his nature?
It would appear once again that you are refusing to acknowledge that something radical happened at the Fall and to distinguish between Adam's nature in its prelapsarian state and Adam and all his posterity in his postlapsarian state.

Since you choose to be selectively ignorant of what has been written on this subject, e.g., whatever C.S. Lewis wrote is compulsory reading along with now Aquinas, the best way to refute your error is to quote inspired writers, which I have already done but you dismissed them too, e.g., all the texts I provided for your perusal beginning with Gen 6:5, 8:21, Jer 3:13, etc., etc. But because I believe that Scripture stands on its own since it is God's infallible and inerrant revelation I shall continue to quote His Word to either your salvation or damnation:

Quote
Romans 5:12 (ASV) "Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned:--... (18) Romans 5:18 (ASV) So then as through one trespass [the judgment came] unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness [the free gift came] unto all men to justification of life."
God created man (Adam and Eve) very good, upright (Gen 1:27,31; Eccl 7:29) but they transgressed God's law. I'm sure you are familiar with the historical account of the Fall, correct? Thus, in the beginning, man was created with the imago dei. But after the Fall, all Adam's progeny were created in his (Adam) image (Gen 5:3). The spiritual death which God had promised in the curse for disobedience fell upon Adam, Eve and all men, thus this spiritual death, aka: corruption of nature was inherited by all as Paul clearly teaches in Romans 5:12-18.


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Originally Posted by MikeL
I disagree based on the very definition of will! The will is a will, because it is something SEPARATE from mind and appetite.

What you've written here is simply doesn't make sense. If mind and emotions determine will, then will doesn't exist!
Typically, you are misconstruing what I and others have written in our replies. I suspect this is willful on your part. It should be obvious from the CONTEXT of what I wrote that I clearly meant that the intellect and emotions determine the will in its exercise. In short, the will does not, indeed cannot act on its own.

Originally Posted by MikeL
Then why say man is composed of this element?
Are you suggesting that man does not have a will?


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Originally Posted by MikeL
Tom,

Are you acknowleding that Calvinism teaches God is the author of sin? I'm not sure I understand this last point: you say Arminians (honest ones) acknowledge this. Acknowledge what?

"One of the most common accusations against Calvinists; is that they believe in a God who is the author of sin. Although in a way, this is fairly understandable, if they actually took the time to study what we actually believe, they would see that this isn’t the case at all. On that note, I have even heard a few honest Arminians who have acknowledged this."

If this is an admission, you're the first I've heard to make it. I guess that makes you an honest Calvinist!

But if misunderstood you, I still have to ask: If God didn't create sin, who did? The common accusation exists because it's very logical to point the finger at God, given the basic assumptions of Calvinism.

Mike

Mike,

You either haven't taken the time to carefully read what Tom actually said, or you've willfully miscontrued it. It is clear that Tom is saying that Calvinists are frequently accused of believing that God is the author of sin, but it is untrue that Calvinists believe this, and honest Arminians admit that Calvinists do not believe that God is the author of sin.

God did not create sin. Satan was the first being to sin, and Satan, like Adam soon after, sinned willfully without compulsion & without the implantation by God of any sinful desire.


Kyle

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Pilgrim,

Please stop attributing "willful ignorance" to my character. Let's stick to the issues, and leave the ad hominem for those not filled with the love of Christ.

To say the will cannot act on its own is not to say it's determined. Influence and dependence are not the same as determination. Are we agreed on this, or would some examples help?

I believe in the will. I'm saying you do not. The will is by definition something that chooses. That's my definition, what's yours?

Because right now you've given me the impression that will is something determined and not autonomous.

Mike

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Kyle and Pilgrim,

Did Calvin write that God decreed the Fall.

Mike

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yep He certainly did and so affirms ALL who embrace the biblical God and biblical Calvinism. To deny that God foreordained, decreed, the Fall is to embrace Atheism, i.e., non-determinism, chance, randomness, etc.

Do you believe that God decreed the crucifixion of Christ? Or, was it something which happened outside of God's sovereign determination and control?

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Kyle wrote that men choose to remain in sin. You wrote that no one is forced to choose anything other than what they desire to do.

If our natures are determined by God, we don't choose to remain in them.

If what we desire is determined by our natures, which again are determined by God, then our desires are not free.

So I think asking where our nature came from is very topical to a discussion on free will.

Let me spell it out even further.

So God decreed the Fall. He foreordained it. (Yes, that is what Calvin wrote, thank you for admitting this.)

Since he foreordained the Fall, Adam was determined to disobey Him.

Okay, so this is how it relates to the topic, which is free will:

You believe we have freedom to choose as determined by our nature.

I questioned this, and suspected our natures were also determined, according to Calvinism.

Now, if God foredordained the Fall, and our sinful nature came about through the Fall, then God foreordained our sinful nature.

God foreordained our nature, which determines our choices, which means none of them are free in any sense of the word.

So believing we have freedom to choose according to our nature isn't compatible with Calvinism, which teaches that even our natures were determined by God.

And believing our desires are freely chosen or followed within our nature is also untenable.

Mike

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MikeL,

The fact that God ordained the fall doesn't tell you anything about the relevant causal story that explains Adam's initial sin. For instance, consider the following story:

Before God created anything, He knew all possible worlds and universes that he could have created. The list of possible worlds and universes was infinitely long. In some of these worlds, humans had antlers, in other worlds, humanoids had biological structures that were like receivers and angels directed them with remote-control-like powers, etc. In many of these worlds, however, humans had the power to control themselves. Let's think about two of these worlds in particular. In one of these worlds, Adam freely chooses to sin. Let's call this world 'FALL'. In another one of these worlds, Adam freely chooses not to sin. Let's call this world 'NO-FALL'. When God was evaluating which world to create, FALL and NO-FALL were options. These are worlds where Adam was free to do whatever he wanted, but he freely chooses to sin in FALL and not to sin in NO-Fall. In both worlds, however, Adam was free even in your strong sense. God, out of His infinite wisdom, chose to create FALL--the world where Adam sinned freely. In so choosing, He thereby decreed that Adam would FREELY choose to sin. Adam could have done otherwise than sin--he was free, after all. Relative to God's instantiating FALL (the world with a fall), however, Adam couldn't have done otherwise. I tell this story only to show that it is perfectly possible both for God to decree the fall and for Adam to have freely chosen to sin. It wasn't as though God instantiated a world in which an angel shoved the forbidden fruit down Adam's throat, after all, and it isn't as though God was the mad scientist who pushed Adam's brain in such a way that he couldn't help but choose to eat that fruit. Adam chose it because He wanted to, and that's the whole story.

Whether or not I endorse this particular picture of God's decrees is irrelevant. What it does, though, is demonstrate that that God's decreeing the fall is compatible with a strong sense of liberty--even a 'Pelagian' sense of liberty PRIOR to the fall. Accordingly, when the Westminster Confession of Faith was written (this is a classic Calvinist confessional standard), it included the following discussion in a chapter entitled "Of Free Will":

"I. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that is neither forced, nor by any absolute necessity of nature determined to good or evil.

II. Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which is good and well-pleasing to God; but yet mutably, so that he might fall from it.

III. Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto."

In the first two points, you see that historical Calvinism affirms that God created the humans with a will that is naturally free, not coerced, not necessitated by nature, and genuinely contingent--that is, it had the ability to do otherwise. Furthermore, in the third point you see that the only thing man lost in the fall was the ability to will spiritual goods accompanying salvation due to bad character. This is compatible with an ability to choose freely between different bad options. In other words, traditional Calvinists believe in a free will, and they believe that Adam's fall was a robustly free decision. They also, however, believe that God decreed this robustly free fall in a way that is compatible with this robust freedom. What I suggested in the above paragraph was a concrete attempt to show how this might be possible.

I hope this helps,
John


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Are you asking where sin & evil came from?

Do you have a system that explains that any better than Reformed thought? If so, I'm all ears...because that's a dilemma that every sect of Christianity is faced with.

God is beyond and above our criticisms. If He allows sin and evil to exist for a greater good that is His prerogative, no? His eternal perspective is much different than the view from down here. But I'm only an amateur of these matters...I'll let Pilgrim articulate these truths more properly.


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Originally Posted by MikeL
Kyle wrote that men choose to remain in sin. You wrote that no one is forced to choose anything other than what they desire to do.

If our natures are determined by God, we don't choose to remain in them.

If what we desire is determined by our natures, which again are determined by God, then our desires are not free.
1. Kyle is 100% correct that men freely choose to remain in sin.

2. I stand firm that no one is FORCED to choose anything other than what they desire to do. There is no contradiction between these two truths. If you don't like being a human being, then why not use your "free-will" to change that, e.g., grow wings and fly like a bird. Your consternation and objections are a judgment upon God's perfect wisdom in creating men as He willed for His glory. The postlapsarian condition of man's nature; corrupt, evil, wicked, sinful, anti-God, etc., is man's doing and not God's, even though it was decreed by God. Man FREELY chose to disobey the explicit command of God to not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam was told by his Creator that he would suffer the penalty of death if he failed to obey. He FREELY chose to disobey. There was no compulsion on God's part to force Adam to sin.

3. I asked you to consider the crucifixion of the Lord Christ and explain how you think that came about, either by the determinate council of God or outside of God's determinate council, which would mean that billions upon billions of prior events leading up to the crucifixion happened by sheer chance. So, tell me which you believe is the way it happened. Here is how God has explained what happened:

Acts 2:23 (KJV) "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:"

Acts 3:18 (ASV) "But the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled."

Acts 4:27-28 (KJV) "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."

Acts 13:27-29 (KJV) "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled [them] in condemning [him]. And though they found no cause of death [in him], yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took [him] down from the tree, and laid [him] in a sepulchre."

Now, please tell me who among the thousands of people who were involved in Christ's crucifixion did so against their will? Was there even one who screamed in protest against their crying out, "Crucify Him!"? Which of the Roman soldiers tried with everything within themselves to not pound the nails into Christ's hands but were not able to overcome an alien force that compelled them to do so?

Originally Posted by MikeL
Now, if God foredordained the Fall, and our sinful nature came about through the Fall, then God foreordained our sinful nature.

God foreordained our nature, which determines our choices, which means none of them are free in any sense of the word.

So believing we have freedom to choose according to our nature isn't compatible with Calvinism, which teaches that even our natures were determined by God.

And believing our desires are freely chosen or followed within our nature is also untenable.
1. Yes, God foreordained the Fall. How else could it have happened? Did it happen due to mere chance? Is there anything that occurs which God has not ordained according to His good pleasure? (cf. Ps 135:5,6; Isa 14:24,27; 46:9,10; 55:11; Dan 4:35; Rom 11:33-36) Can you comment on these inspired texts?

2. There is no incompatibility between God's absolute sovereignty and man's freedom/responsibility. God didn't create man's fallen nature, i.e., he did not take a sinless man and by some magical deitistic morphosis transform him into something evil against the man's will. Have you ever taken the time to read Jonathan Edward's "The Freedom of the Will"? scratchchin


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Originally Posted by jmp
Before God created anything, He knew all possible worlds and universes that he could have created. The list of possible worlds and universes was infinitely long. In some of these worlds, humans had antlers, in other worlds, humanoids had biological structures that were like receivers and angels directed them with remote-control-like powers, etc. In many of these worlds, however, humans had the power to control themselves....Whether or not I endorse this particular picture of God's decrees is irrelevant. What it does, though, is demonstrate that that God's decreeing the fall is compatible with a strong sense of liberty--even a 'Pelagian' sense of liberty PRIOR to the fall.
John,

In all honesty, I was shocked to read the above. I acknowledge that you did not say you actually endorsed the scenario presented. However, it is so alien to the very nature of God that I shuddered to think that one would even posit such a thing; one who professes the Reformed Faith. This is something that an Pelagian/Arminian would posit. There were no possibilities, possible worlds, in the mind of God. ALL that God has decreed was present with Him instantaneously and perfectly. There can be nothing less than perfect thought in the Godhead. God's "knowledge/foreknowledge" of all things flows from His eternal and infinite council. The scenario above contradicts God's attribute of perfection. Secondly, this scenario mitigates against God's Omniscience in that He had to consider that which He did not create nor intend to create, aka: possibilities that existed outside of Himself. I would sincerely ask you reconsider using this line of reasoning in the future. grin


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John, thanks for the response. That is definitely an interesting way of looking at things.

I'm glad we agree that Adam had free will.

"In other words, traditional Calvinists believe in a free will, and they believe that Adam's fall was a robustly free decision. They also, however, believe that God decreed this robustly free fall in a way that is compatible with this robust freedom."

I don't know what you mean by "robustly free decision." How is this different than a free decision?

You realize that some here, like Pilgrim, don't believe in free will at all. They don't even believe that God has free will, because God is not free to sin.

In response to your scenario, I agree with you that God knows all things. But I don't believe we have any evidence that there were infinite worlds up for the choosing, and that one of them involved what you call a "No-Fall" universe.

It may very well be that Adam fell, in all of them. But it's speculative to assume there were other ones at all.

This is the universe we live in, and as far as we know there isn't another one with radio-controlled humans with antlers.

So it was a fact that God foreknew the Fall; I don't think it's safe to say it's a fact that he foreordained it.

Mike


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So it was a fact that God foreknew the Fall; I don't think it's safe to say it's a fact that he foreordained it.

How could God knowing the Fall and foreordaining it be mutually-exclusive, in fact, God being God, I don't see the difference???


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I agree that God is above all these discussions, but from He has revealed to us I know that He is love. I know that he did not create evil or sin. I know he is omniscient, and I don't think his omnipotence prevents man from having a free will.

I never said He didn't allow evil to exist. That is different than foreordaining it. I suppose this is a "permissive will" type argument, but it holds together, and allows for man't freedom and God's righteousness.

I believe God created the world; I don't think we have evidence that he chose this created world from an infinite number of possible worlds. And He knew that in creating it he would allow men to make decisions freely. We chose poorly, and His desire has been to redeem the world since.

Mike


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Thanks, Pilgrim, for your concern.

A couple quick thoughts:

First, God is eternal. Of course it follows from this that there is no deliberation on God's part when 'deciding' to create the world. As an eternally omniscient being, however, He has eternally known all of the ways that He could have created the universe, and He only chose to create one of them. As I was talking about it, a "possible world" is simply one way God could have made things. For instance, God is omnipotent. Accordingly, He is powerful enough to create a world where humans have antlers. As a result, there 'are' "possible worlds" where humans have antlers. These worlds aren't, however, actual worlds that exist independently from God, and God did not have to discover 'them'. God eternally knows all the ways He could have done things. Christian philosophers often call these "worlds" for short, and it didn't occur to me to eliminate academic philosophical jargin. You can reframe the story I told like this:

God knows His own infinite power and all the ways that He could have made the world. One way that He could have made the world involved Adam freely choosing to sin, and another way that He could have made the world involved Adam freely choosing not to sin. God eternally willed to manifest His power of creating a world in which Adam freely chose to sin, but He did this in such a way that Adam's free choice to sin was immutably decided long before Adam actually sinned.

So you see, if I eliminate the technical philosophical jargin, what I said looks a lot more like what traditional Calvinists say. The use of "possible world language" is useful for philosophers and logicians because it allows us to specify truth conditions for claims about necessity, possibility, among other things. Accordingly, the claim that "God is necessary" is true if and only if God exists in all possible worlds. That is, it is impossible that God doesn't exist because there is no possible world in which there is no God. Etc. Alvin Plantinga has entire book on this topic entitled "The Nature of Necessity". No need to be alarmed! claphands

Note: God eternally knows all of these "possible worlds" if He eternally knows all of the things He is capable of doing. So, nothing I said was inconsistent with God's omniscience.

Second, what I suggested isn't something that an Arminian or Pelagian would posit because the fall, on the picture I presented, is devastating and strips away from humans any ability to choose anything good without God's grace. Pelagians and Arminians think that fallen man can contribute at least something to his own salvation. The picture I suggested is purely Calvinistic.

I apologize for any confusion. I'll try to be more clear in the future.

Cheers,
John


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Knowing and decreeing are just different things, by definition.

If we have free will, then God knowing that we will choose to sin is not the same thing as God causing us to sin.

I'm not sure what you mean by "mutually exclusive". All I'm saying is that foreordaining and foreknowledge are different things.

God foreordains because he foreknows. For example, he can give special blessings to believers based on his foreknowledge of their decisions to accept Christ.

But I think Calvinism teaches that God foreknows, because he has foreordained everything. So the two are conflated.

They aren't mutually exclusive; I'm arguing that foreknowledge is not an effect of foreordaining - the idea is kind of odd when you think about it - why say God can foreknow things, if it's assumed he caused them to happen in the first place?

If we go to Scripture, it's clear that foreknowledge and predestination are different.

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans 8:29

To me this says foreknowledge and predestination are not the same thing. It also says that one follows another: predestination is based on God's foreknowledge. If God foreordained everything, then foreknowledge would actually make no sense: God foreknew what he had already predestined?

Mike


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Originally Posted by jmp
Alvin Plantinga has entire book on this topic entitled "The Nature of Necessity". No need to be alarmed! claphands
Oh contrare, IF you are reading and assimilating Alvin Plantinga's philosophical musings, then there is much to be alarmed about, IMHO. We know from SCRIPTURE that there are no "possible worlds" He could have contemplated for the world/universe He created is perfect according to His infinite wisdom. Anything other than what was created would have been inferior and thus outside of the possibility of God to contemplate them.

Stick with the inspired revealed Word of God and do not get caught up with the vain philosophies of this world, e.g., with the likes of Alvin Plantinga. wink


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Sorry for the confusion, Mike. It didn't occur to me that my possible world talk would be as confusing as it is. Please see my above response to Pilgrim's similar concerns.

Please take a look at my earlier post on this thread (page 1 of 2) where I explain the very limited (but important) sense in which Calvinists think that a human's will is not free. I'm afraid you and some of the Calvinists on this board are talking past one another--at least a little bit. Here's what I mean:

You seem to think that someone who can't choose salvation on their doesn't have a free will. Because you use this definition of free will, others respond by saying, "Humans don't have free will!" You then interpret this as meaning that Human decisions are not up to the humans. There is a middle position where people are free to do lots of different things, but they simply can't--due to character issues--choose to be saved without special help from God. I explain this middle ground position in the post I just mentioned. Please take a look at it and let me know what you think. As it turns out, it isn't just the Calvinist model of free will, it seems to be the view humans use on a regular basis when we engage in morally evaluating others.

Take care,
John


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John,

I think I understood the argument: God created a world with the Fall, but he didn't have to. Therefore, he foreordained the Fall.

Is that it in a nutshell?

Mike

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I agree with you that Plantinga's theology is lousy. Don't get me wrong.

As it turns out, I think we (that is, you and I) agree, but you just hate the philosophical jargin. Here's a question that should help us:

Relative to God's power, is it impossible for God to have created a world where humans have antlers?

Regards,
John

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MikeL,

Not quite, but close: God created a world with a freely chosen fall. By so doing, the freely chosen fall is determined, but still free. This is different from saying that God created a world in which Adam was coerced into eating the forbidden fruit, etc. Calvinists affirm the free fall of Adam.

Back to work, though!


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Originally Posted by MikeL
Knowing and decreeing are just different things, by definition.

If we have free will, then God knowing that we will choose to sin is not the same thing as God causing us to sin.
1. Knowing and decreeing are different things... agreed.

2. Again, God has never caused anyone to sin. That would make God the author of sin; a pernicious and damnable heresy which we all categorically deny.

Originally Posted by MikeL
God foreordains because he foreknows. For example, he can give special blessings to believers based on his foreknowledge of their decisions to accept Christ.

But I think Calvinism teaches that God foreknows, because he has foreordained everything. So the two are conflated.
1. IF God foreordains because He foreknows, where did this foreknowledge originate? (more after you answer)

2. Correct, God foreknows because He has foreordained.

3. Scriptural support along with your answer to #1 please. grin

Originally Posted by MikeL
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans 8:29

To me this says foreknowledge and predestination are not the same thing. It also says that one follows another: predestination is based on God's foreknowledge. If God foreordained everything, then foreknowledge would actually make no sense: God foreknew what he had already predestined?
CONTEXT, context, context... why ignore verse 28 which precedes verse 29 and is the origination of the foreknowledge.

Secondly, "foreknowledge" as found in Romans 8:29 is to be defined as "fore-loved", a concept and truth I have afore shown to be true from Scripture.


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"There is a middle position where people are free to do lots of different things, but they simply can't--due to character issues--choose to be saved without special help from God."

John, I think our views are very similar. The problem with a middle position, in my opinion, is that you run into an infinite regress.

Say you're right, and you got saved on such and such a date in a certain place with certain people present. You were regenerated, and able to believe and have the Holy Spirit come live inside of you.

Did you choose to go to the place?

Did you choose to interact with those people?

Did you choose to start a friendship with one of those people?

Did you choose go up and start talking with this person?

Did you choose to go to the place where you met this person?

Did you choose to go somewhere at all that day?

Did you choose to wake up that day, at that time, which allowed you to meet that person at a specific time and place and start a friendship that would eventually lead to your salvation?

Well, if you answer yes to any of these, aren't you "contributing" to your salvation?

Mike

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Great question. Before I answer it, I should say that I'm glad to hear that you believe we need to be regenerated in order to believe.

That said, here's how I would answer your regress objection. Each of your steps in the regress needs to be given a more complete description in order to evaluate it. Here's what I mean.

Consider part of the the case you presented:

Quote
Say you're right, and you got saved on such and such a date in a certain place with certain people present. You were regenerated, and able to believe and have the Holy Spirit come live inside of you.

Did you choose to go to the place?

Did you choose to interact with those people?

Did you choose to start a friendship with one of those people?

Did you choose go up and start talking with this person?

I need to know more about why a person choose to go the the place, why s/he chose to interact with those people, why s/he chose to start a friendship with one of those people, etc. Suppose, for instance, Jane was regenerated and believed the Gospel, and God used Sam to tell her the Gospel. Now, somehow, Jane had to become acquainted with Sam. Suppose she became acquainted with Sam because she lusted after him and hoped to seduce him. She may have freely chosen that. But Suppose she saw that he was a Christian whose life was better than her own, and she wanted to hear how God changed His life. In order to do approach Sam in this way, she needed God's special grace. The idea, here, is that her actions--insofar as they are her own unaided--always have mischief and evil in them. Insofar as they are good, however, God gets the credit. This is why Christians can't boast about their own good works, or the good decisions they make. It would be sinful and proud if I said, "God saved me, but I'm the one who picked the good friends who would show me the Gospel." No, the natural thing for the Christian to say is that God "guided" or "led" me to the right place and to the right friends, "thanks be to God."

Does this help?

--John



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My original question had to do with God foreordaining the Fall. After going through John's alternate universe synopsis, I have lost track of your answer. You seem unconvinced, though, that John's picture of pre-Creation (if we can use temporal words here) is accurate.

Can you please bring me up to speed: Did God foreordain the Fall?

If so, doesn't that mean he foreordained man's nature?

And if so, doesn't that mean He foreordained his desires as well?

I see you have argued that God has never caused anyone to sin.

Did God foreordain sin?

Mike

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John, I'm not sure I do believe in regeneration, I was describing the process from the point of view of a Calvinist.

The "means" to salvation seem every bit as important as the moment of regeneration itself. Otherwise, God could just regenerate people irrespective of hearing the gospel.

So you seem to be saying that any decision which is good is determined by God.

Looking back on your own life, can you safely say that such and such a decision was wholly your own, and had no goodness to it?

For example, a Calvinist might say, "I got into an extra-marital affair, but through it I was able to meet a counselor who shared the gospel with me. So all thinks work together for good."

Where and how do you draw the line between actions which are good and actions which are bad when we discuss the "free" decisions of people?

Mike


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God is definitely merciful to the convicted sinner who realizes they cannot keep His commandments and are driven to Christ for mediation. God sent His Son, He is merciful! We have His revealed will, and once we understand that all our righteousness is as filthy rags we can turn to Jesus and He will not turn us away!

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Where and how do you draw the line between actions which are good and actions which are bad when we discuss the "free" decisions of people?

I suspect the answer to this question is simply that an action is good insofar as it has right motives and a good objective, and a person can only act for a good objective with right motives if God gives him the special grace to do so. Anything less than these properly motivated good acts might be within sinful man's power, depending on how 'good' or bad this sinful person's character really is. (Not everyone is equally bad, obviously. No one, however, is truly good without God's grace.)

Of course, this means that I need to revise slightly my answer to your regress objection. Reconsider the Jane and Sam case. Jane is converted after hearing Sam proclaim the Gospel. Now, suppose Jane wanted to hear Sam proclaim the Gospel because she wanted to be as happy as he is. If her interest in happiness was improperly motivated (say, not for the glory of God), then her action was still a sin. It wasn't praiseworthy in any strict sense. This is something within her power, but isn't something 'good' that contributes to her salvation. When God saves her, he saves her despite her sinful approach to Sam.

Now, there is still an appropriate sense of God leading her to Sam. After all, God decreed even her free sinful acts in some way that is compatible with her freedom. (I'll try to avoid possible world talk again! smile ). But it is also appropriate for her to repent of the sinful motives that she had even when approaching Sam. Consequently, both of these prayers would be valid:

1. "God, thank You for saving me despite my sinful motives even when approaching Sam. I didn't merit this favor, but I thank You for it," and,
2. "God, thank You for mercifully guiding me to hear Sam's proclamation of the Gospel."

Both of these are valid prayers because both of them are true, depending on what part of God's ways one is focusing on.

I hope this was clear enough. I wrote it quickly.

Regards,
John


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Originally Posted by MikeL
Can you please bring me up to speed: Did God foreordain the Fall?
Already answered in the affirmative. ALL THINGS have been foreordained by God.

Originally Posted by MikeL
If so, doesn't that mean he foreordained man's nature?
Already answered in the affirmative with the added understanding that God is not responsible for man's fallen nature.

Originally Posted by MikeL
And if so, doesn't that mean He foreordained his desires as well?
Already answered in the affirmative. ALL THINGS have been foreordained by God.

Originally Posted by MikeL
I see you have argued that God has never caused anyone to sin.

Did God foreordain sin?
Already answered in the affirmative. ALL THINGS have been foreordained by God with the added understanding that God is not the author of sin.

Now, I've answered a plethora of your questions but it seems you have been rather lax in answering many of mine, e.g., but not exclusively as there are several others which you have also chosen to gloss over or totally ignore:

1. What have you actually read of John Calvin?
2. What do you make of the verses provided in regard to the crucifixion of Christ?
3. Was the crucifixion an event that occurred by chance or by divine decree?
4. What is the origination of God's foreknowledge and more. See HERE.
5. How do you reconcile your initial statement that you came here to learn what Calvinism teaches yet flatly refuse to read anything that historic Calvinists have written, including my writings?


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Originally Posted by jmp
As it turns out, I think we (that is, you and I) agree, but you just hate the philosophical jargin. Here's a question that should help us:

Relative to God's power, is it impossible for God to have created a world where humans have antlers?
1. It's not so much the "philosophical jargon" I object to but rather the content and the implications of what that jargon is suggesting. It mitigates against the being and nature of God as He has revealed himself. (off-topic)

2. I cannot bifurcate God's sovereignty (power) from His other attributes; the simplicity of God, although we can distinguish their differences. However, God's sovereignty does not function independently of His other incommunicable attributes. Thus to answer your question, I would have to say, "No!" it not possible for God to have created a world where humans have antlers. God created man after His own image (imago dei), the pinnacle of His creation. Therefore, man as created was perfect in that he reflected God perfectly as God had purposed that he should. Anything less would be imperfect and that is antithetical to the very nature of God. Again, I reject any and all propositions that suggest that God contemplated an infinite number of other "worlds" or "universes". All that God created was a perfect reflection of His being and glory.

3. The question is akin to asking: "Is it possible that God could create a rock so heavy that even He couldn't lift it?" [Linked Image]


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Originally Posted by MikeL
Kyle and Pilgrim,

Did Calvin write that God decreed the Fall.

I don't have a quote handy for you, but certainly Calvin would agree that God decreed the Fall.

Originally Posted by MikeL
Kyle wrote that men choose to remain in sin. You wrote that no one is forced to choose anything other than what they desire to do. If our natures are determined by God, we don't choose to remain in them. If what we desire is determined by our natures, which again are determined by God, then our desires are not free. So I think asking where our nature came from is very topical to a discussion on free will.

No creature can decide its own fundamental nature. Human beings aren't first granted the choice to be some other kind of thing than human beings: they are created as human beings, and are necessarily subject to the limitations thereof. As a result of the Fall, all humanity has fallen under the dominion of sin. Therefore, all human beings that have been created since the Fall are born under the dominion of sin. Being born in such a state - as sinners - all human beings desire sin rather than righteousness.

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Let me spell it out even further. So God decreed the Fall. He foreordained it. (Yes, that is what Calvin wrote, thank you for admitting this.) Since he foreordained the Fall, Adam was determined to disobey Him. Okay, so this is how it relates to the topic, which is free will: You believe we have freedom to choose as determined by our nature. I questioned this, and suspected our natures were also determined, according to Calvinism.

Now, if God foredordained the Fall, and our sinful nature came about through the Fall, then God foreordained our sinful nature. God foreordained our nature, which determines our choices, which means none of them are free in any sense of the word. So believing we have freedom to choose according to our nature isn't compatible with Calvinism, which teaches that even our natures were determined by God. And believing our desires are freely chosen or followed within our nature is also untenable.

This is why we deny that men have "free will," when you assert that they do: because you have a peculiar definition of "freedom" which requires that there be no determining factors which lead up to or cause the choices which men make of their own volition. John (jmp) has, I believe, briefly addressed this elsewhere in response to you. But essentially, your view of "freedom" entails that the decisions that men make are purely indeterminate, which means they are irrational, random, completely arbitrary choices, which is fundamentally at variance with any belief in an omnipotent God, much less a morally responsible human being.

A great irony of so many proponents of (libertarian) "free will" is that they destroy the very foundation of morality in an attempt to ensure that humans can be held accountable for their actions. The truth of the matter is that, without God determining all things, men cannot be responsible for anything they do, since they simply would be acting at random.

At any rate, the freedom which Calvinists attribute to the choices of men has regard to the fact that no man's will is forced to act against itself. The choices men make are not coerced or under any external compulsion. Men always choose in accordance with their own desires.

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It may very well be that Adam fell, in all of them. But it's speculative to assume there were other ones at all. This is the universe we live in, and as far as we know there isn't another one with radio-controlled humans with antlers. So it was a fact that God foreknew the Fall; I don't think it's safe to say it's a fact that he foreordained it.

Even with what you are saying, Mike, God chose to create this world, with the knowledge beforehand that Adam would sin. God decided to act & establish this world in which all of the choices which are unfolding before us would invariably come to pass. In the very act of creating this world, rather than not creating at all, God ensured that Adam would definitely sin.

So if you say that Calvinism takes away the free will of man, since God determined all things, the same accusation can be levelled at your proposal by expanding upon its logical conclusions. The only escape-hatch is to assert that God is not omniscient - He could not know what the outcome would be - or that God is not omnipotent - He had no power to change the character of the world which he decided to create. In other words, to avoid the problem you must redefine God in such a way that He is no longer, in any meaningful sense, the God revealed in Scripture, indeed, the God revealed in the very creation which He made & sustains with His own hands.

Originally Posted by MikeL
God foreordains because he foreknows. For example, he can give special blessings to believers based on his foreknowledge of their decisions to accept Christ. But I think Calvinism teaches that God foreknows, because he has foreordained everything. So the two are conflated. They aren't mutually exclusive; I'm arguing that foreknowledge is not an effect of foreordaining - the idea is kind of odd when you think about it - why say God can foreknow things, if it's assumed he caused them to happen in the first place?

One wonders where God got His foreknowledge if not from His foreordaining all things. Surely God is the one who creates & directs the future - how did He get a view of it without Himself determining what it would be? On the other hand, if God did foreordain whatsoever comes to pass, He no doubt has exhaustive foreknowledge of everything that will happen because He has already determined what will come to be. Thus foreknowledge, in this limited sense of having knowledge of events yet to occur in time, is meaningless apart from foreordination.

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If we go to Scripture, it's clear that foreknowledge and predestination are different.

"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." Romans 8:29

To me this says foreknowledge and predestination are not the same thing. It also says that one follows another: predestination is based on God's foreknowledge. If God foreordained everything, then foreknowledge would actually make no sense: God foreknew what he had already predestined?

Pilgrim has already pointed out that the sense of "foreknowledge" here is not that of having knowledge of events yet to occur in time. Rather, "foreknowledge" in this passage has referrence to God's love for those whom He predestined to salvation. Predestination is based on God's love. For further reading on this subject, see "The Foreknowledge of God," by A. W. Pink.

Last edited by CovenantInBlood; Tue Oct 20, 2009 9:12 PM. Reason: Added link.

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CovenantInBlood #43572 Tue Oct 20, 2009 10:37 PM
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Thank you Kyle, that is exactly what I meant.
I read what I said again and to be honest, I am not sure how he misunderstood me, other than maybe (to give him the benifit of the doubt) he read what I said too fast.

Tom

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There are too many messages on this discussion, I hope this will encapsulate the issues. (Pilgrim, I'm sorry I've missed your questions, I'll try to get to them here.) I wanted to make sure I understand what I see as two positions on the issue of the Fall.

I understand John as saying that God chose this universe out of an infinite number of other universes, meaning anything that happens is foreordained in the sense that it was chosen and the others were not. This one happens to include Adam freely choosing to disobey God, so God has in that sense foreordained the Fall.

I understand Pilgrim as saying that God did not do this (have infinite worlds to choose from), but that Adam still freely chose to disobey God in this world, which led to the Fall. God did foreordain the Fall, because everything is foreordained - there is nothing that happens that is not foreordained by God.

If these are correct:

John, if God created a world where everyone had free will, not just Adam, wouldn't that still allow us to say He foreordained everything in it? I believe we all do have free will, but I see your point about how it might all be foreordained nonetheless. Is this a fair conclusion?

Pilgrim, you say God foreordained ALL things, which gets to the root of the problem for me: because, like you, I can't say that God is the author of sin. However, that is where logic will lead us if we take this belief seriously. If God foreordained all things, then he foreordained sin. He foreordained the Fall. He foreordained the murder of Abel. He foreordained multiple genocides. He foreordained the 4,000 or so abortions that were committed today.

I'm sorry, but you can't just wave your hands about and say, "But let's not forget, that God is not the author, of sin." That God is the author of sin is the most logical conclusion to draw from the belief that He foreordains all things.

When I encounter a philosophy that leads to something like that, I don't keep the entire system, and add at the end a disclaimer. I discard the philosophy and find another one. If a philosophy ends up contradicting an aspect of God I know to be true - That God is not the author of sin - I don't keep the philosophy; instead, I get rid of it, becuase it contradicts the character of God.

So tell me, why do you think God is not the author of sin?

Now for your questions:

I have not read all that Calvin has written. I have read certain things that put up huge red flags, and I stopped reading. Likewise, I have not read all of Aquinas. Or CS Lewis, for that matter. Mainly because not everything they write interests me, and if it it did, I wouldn't have time to read it all.

I believe that God foreknew man's rebellion, and came up with a plan that involved the crucifixion of Christ.

The crucifixion was not a surprise to God - He foreknew it - but it was not decreed in the sense that God really wanted to crucify His Son. It was necessary to deal with man's sins, which were committed freely. Jesus willingly offered himself, in obedience.

I haven't had a chance to view your link - have about 5 more minutes here - so don't know what "more" means. I believe God is all-knowing, so what we call foreknowledge, He has.

I hope you don't think I'm not reading your posts - I am. This one has gotten extremely long and due to time constraints I don't always have time to check out your links and articles on first sitting. But I think the arguments, in this case, are pretty plain. I think we can all see that I'm trying to pin your thoughts down, two in particluar: that God foreordains all things, and that God is not the author of sin. Then there are related topics, like what you mean by "free choices" as related to what you mean by "nature" and how you relate them to our different views of what God foreordains.

Hope that answers all the questions, thank you for being patient.

Mike


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Originally Posted by MikeL
Pilgrim, you say God foreordained ALL things, which gets to the root of the problem for me: because, like you, I can't say that God is the author of sin. However, that is where logic will lead us if we take this belief seriously. If God foreordained all things, then he foreordained sin. He foreordained the Fall. He foreordained the murder of Abel. He foreordained multiple genocides. He foreordained the 4,000 or so abortions that were committed today.

I'm sorry, but you can't just wave your hands about and say, "But let's not forget, that God is not the author, of sin." That God is the author of sin is the most logical conclusion to draw from the belief that He foreordains all things.
YOUR logic says that the Scriptural teaching that God foreordains all things leads to the conclusion that God is the author of sin. And that is 99% of your problem with not only this particular issue but with ALL of Calvinism which exalts God as God in all things. You agree that God is not and cannot be the "author of sin", i.e., God is responsible for sin which would also logically mean that no one can be held accountable for sinning. And we both agree that this is certainly not taught in Scripture. So, the only bone you have to pick is railing against God foreordaining all things. Scripture and not your logic is the final arbiter of who God is and what He has done, is doing and will do. I have given you a long list of passages which indisputably show that God has decreed, ordained, foreordained all things.

I have also challenged you on this matter in various ways including the crucifixion of Christ which the inspired apostle Peter wrote that the crucifixion happened by the determinate council and foreknowledge of God (note the order). From this I have asked you more than once to please tell me if you think that any of those who were involved in Christ's crucifixion said what they did or acted in the manner they did under a compulsion which they resisted but could not overcome. I would still like to know your answer for it goes to show the biblical truth that God is 100% sovereign and man is 100% responsible.

If God has not foreordained all things than there could be no infallible prophecy. Nothing could be determined with any degree of certainty unless all things have been decreed. You must be familiar with the ancient poem which is estimated to come from the 14th century:

Quote
For want of a nail a shoe was lost,
for want of a shoe a horse was lost,
for want of a horse a rider was lost,
for want of a rider an army was lost,
for want of an army a battle was lost,
for want of a battle the war was lost,
for want of the war the kingdom was lost,
and all for the want of a little horseshoe nail.
The universe functions on the basis of "cause and effect". Even pagan science has learned this axiom: "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." All things are contingent upon prior events. As R.C. Sproul, Sr. once said, "If there is even one rogue molecule out there, then nothing is certain." The above poem demonstrates this truth.

Further, if God hasn't foreordained all things, then one cannot affirm He is Omnipotent, nor that He is Omniscient while affirming that there are creatures who possess "free-will". What you are left with is "chance". And what is chance... nothing more than "no thing." You would be better off worshiping "mother nature" who does have some control over at least the weather, or so it is said.

Lastly, and again... Does Scripture teach that God has foreordained all things? Put in the negative, does Scripture teach that there are things which God has not eternally decreed and of which He is not knowledgeable of since at least one of the variables is the unfettered free-will decisions of man?

Originally Posted by MikeL
When I encounter a philosophy that leads to something like that, I don't keep the entire system, and add at the end a disclaimer. I discard the philosophy and find another one. If a philosophy ends up contradicting an aspect of God I know to be true - That God is not the author of sin - I don't keep the philosophy; instead, I get rid of it, becuase it contradicts the character of God.
It may contradict your idea of what God's character should be. But Calvinism hardly contradicts the character of God for it is the ONLY system that upholds the very definition of deity. Do I need to lay it out once again for you? SCRIPTURE is God's self-revelation to which men are to submit, embrace and live by. Are you familiar with this? It's one of my favorite ditties: "In the beginning, God created man in His own image. And, every since that day, man has been trying to return the favor."

Originally Posted by MikeL
So tell me, why do you think God is not the author of sin?
1. It is impossible that God could be guilty of that which He hates and will judge all men.
2. The very nature of God is holiness. Everything about God is holy (not love btw); His love is holy but His holiness is not love.
3. Scripture clearly teaches that sin originated with Satan in the heavenly realm and with Adam on the earthly realm. No where does Scripture even hint that God is responsible for any creature's sin. But yes, Scripture everywhere teaches that God ordains the sinful acts of men which they freely think, feel and do.
4. A succinct refutation against the charge that Calvinism (eternal predestination/foreordination) leads to God being the author of sin can be found Objections Answered.

Originally Posted by MikeL
I have not read all that Calvin has written. I have read certain things that put up huge red flags, and I stopped reading.
WHAT certain things have you read of John Calvin? Let me relay to you a little anecdote which I was privy to. I attended a lecture on John Calvin many years ago sponsored by a theological seminary (not a conservative one, ironically). The guest lecturer was none other than Ford Lewis Battles, who translated Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion; Westminster Press edition, John T. McNeil editor. Most of the attendees were fascinated not only with Dr. Battles' depth of knowledge of Calvin, his works and life, but of the accomplishments which Calvin did in such a short life span. However, there was one young man there who took exception to what Dr. Battles said and so much so that he stood up and loudly proclaimed, "Calvin was confused on that!". Well, Dr. Battles stopped his lecture, leaned forward sliding his glasses further down his nose and glared at this young man for what seemed ages. Finally, Dr. Battles spoke in a very gentle but firm voice and asked this lad if he had read through Calvin's Institutes. The young man replied, "No, I haven't read all of the Institutes. "Very well then", Battles replied. "Then surely you have read his Tracts & Treatises, correct?" The reply came with less confidence this time as he said, "Well, no. I haven't read those." Battles continued to name books, articles, sermons, and other writings that belonged to John Calvin and each time asking if this man had read them. And, each answer was the same, "No, I'm afraid I haven't read that one either." Finally, Dr. Battles looked sternly in this young man's eyes and said, "Young man, I would like to inform you that John Calvin was a lot of things. He was a brilliant biblical scholar, an incredible theologian, a faithful pastor, a man of compassion, zeal, a loving husband and father, a lover of God and much more. But one thing he wasn't,... he wasn't confused! YOU are confused, young man. Now, sit down and be quiet."

Originally Posted by MikeL
I believe that God foreknew man's rebellion, and came up with a plan that involved the crucifixion of Christ.
I've asked this question more than once and I shall have to ask again. Where did God's "foreknowledge" (prescience) originate? You firmly reject the view that says that God's foreknowledge necessary follows foreordination (eternal decree(s)). So, how did God foreknow what to ordain? This, de facto of course, denies the very word "predestination" found in Scripture for it turns it upon its head to become, "postdestination"? evilgrin

Originally Posted by MikeL
The crucifixion was not a surprise to God - He foreknew it - but it was not decreed in the sense that God really wanted to crucify His Son. It was necessary to deal with man's sins, which were committed freely. Jesus willingly offered himself, in obedience.
This is not an answer to the question whether God foreordained the crucifixion AND all that took place to bring it to pass, not excluding the chants of the multitude, "Crucify Him!", those who beat Him, those who drove the nails in His hands, those who mocked Him, etc., etc. Are you suggesting that God only foreordained what should have taken place but nothing more, i.e., none of the details were foreordained? (see above re: the necessity of God foreordaining ALL THINGS).


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Pilgrim

That was a very good post, I like the way you answered Mike's queries, I am going to try to remember this post for when I have occasion to answer similar queries.

Mike

If you are going to understand what Pilgrim is saying, you are going to have to pay close attention to the detail Pilgrim is using.
I am not saying that you will necessarily agree with everything he said, but if you decide to answer his post, try and make sure you understand his post first.
Questions for clarification are welcomed.

Tom

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Hi Mike,

You asked:

Quote
John, if God created a world where everyone had free will, not just Adam, wouldn't that still allow us to say He foreordained everything in it? I believe we all do have free will, but I see your point about how it might all be foreordained nonetheless. Is this a fair conclusion?

You got it. It is possible to foreordain all of our genuinely free actions, and this foreordination is not simply foreknowledge, either. It is more than that.

That said, with the fall, humans became sinners. Consequently, there are some things that they are unable freely to do. This inability, however, is simply due to the fact that we have naturally bad character. If God changes our character and gives us His Spirit, then we can again freely choose to do good--God gets all the glory, however. He was at the back of our free choice.

One more thing: the picture I've suggested also means that God has foreordained in a strong sense sinful actions for which He is not responsible. They were, after all, genuinely free sins.

Regards,
John


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Pilgrim,

Your understanding of God's power isn't orthodox. You are effectively claiming that God's omnipotence consists in His ability to do all and only exactly what He has done. God was not powerful enough to create Adam with an extra hair, nor powerful enough to create an extra angel; God couldn't part the Red Sea at two places, and God couldn't make the North Star shine brighter in the third year of the world's history; etc. After all, if God didn't do these things, then God couldn't have done these things.

Of course, divine omnipotence doesn't mean that God can do anything without exception. He can't create a square circle, for instance. Nor can He create a married bachelor. These things are contradictory. Nevertheless, He can do otherwise than He did, at least relative to His power. Relative to His other attributes, there might be a legitimate debate about whether God could have done otherwise. Relative to His power, however, there is no debate. Orthodox Christianity--including the Reformers--affirm my view of divine omnipotence.

Just to quote one statement of the orthodox view, namely, that expressed by Francis Turretin in his Institutes of Elenctic Theology:

"I. The power of God (the executing principle of the divine operations) is nothing other than the divine essence itself productive outwardly (through which he is conceived as able to do whatsoever he wills or can will). Here (before all things) this comes to be distinguished from such a power or exousia as implies the right and authority to do anything, while the power of which we speak indicates in its conception only the force and faculty of acting....
III. The question [regarding divine omnipotence--JP] does not concern the actual and ordinate power according to which God actually and irresistibly does whatsoever he wills to do, yet in the time and manner which seems best to him: "our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he pleased" (Ps. 115:3). With regard to this, it is well said that from the actual power to the work or effect the consequence holds good, but concerning the absolute (through which he is conceived as able to do more than he really does, viz., those things which are not repugnant to his most perfect nature or imply no contradiction, through which God could have raised up from stones children to Abraham [Mt. 3:9] and sent twelve legions of angels to Christ[Mt. 26:53] ). With regard to the latter, we must remark that from the absolute power to the work, the consequence does not hold good because God can do many more things than he actually does." (Bold font emphasis added. See the Twenty-First Question ('The Power of God') in Volume 1.)

Notice that he endorses a view that God, according to His absolute power, "is conceived as able to do more than he really does." This is orthodox, and this is what I am claiming. It is not heretical, unorthodox, or anything like that to affirm that God is powerful enough to have done otherwise than He did. Your view is not expressing the standard Reformed position regarding divine omnipotence.

Kind Regards,
John P.


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Originally Posted by jmp
Your understanding of God's power isn't orthodox. You are effectively claiming that God's omnipotence consists in His ability to do all and only exactly what He has done. God was not powerful enough to create Adam with an extra hair, nor powerful enough to create an extra angel;
I reject your erroneous charge that my understanding of God's power is unorthodox.

1) I never said that God is incapable of doing things which He hasn't already done. This is a very general statement of God's providence and Omnipotence. God can do ALL that He purposes. You asked a specific question concerning the creation of man. That God could send 1002 angels rather than 1000 is another matter.

2) Since what God has created was that which pleased Him, was that which He purposed in Himself, which was evidently that which best glorified Him, anything other than what He has created would then of necessity be inferior.

3) It is impossible that God could create anything that was not in perfect harmony with His being and nature and which He willed to do according to His eternal council and good pleasure.

4) Since God created man after His own image and Christ took upon Himself the form of man, Who is the express image of the Living God, the effulgence of His glory, within Whom the whole Godhead dwells, it must be true that a human with antlers was decidedly not something which God considered to be the perfect representative of His glory, and thus He could not have created such a creature as it would have been incapable of glorifying Himself perfectly.

The argument is not dissimilar to that of Total Depravity where a depraved sinner cannot because he wills not. And He wills not because he cannot. God cannot create that which is less than perfect for God all that is pleasing to God is that which glorifies Himself and thus He only does that which is His good pleasure. The most well-known expression of this truth is that God cannot sin because it is contrary to His nature. This same truth applies to your philosophic musing. I'm not about to try and second-guess what God could have done. For to do so is to make oneself equal with God. We are to think God's [revealed] thoughts after Him and not to try and think God's secret thoughts with Him. (Gen 3:5)

2 Corinthians 10:5 (ASV) "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ;"


Bottom line, I am in full agreement with Turretin's statement. I am however, in disagreement with your statement(s) that God considered other universes, worlds and scenarios within them before deciding upon the one we have and that could have created man with antlers.

Lastly, and contrariwise your use of "character" to describe why fallen man is without the ability to do good is not exactly "orthodox". Character is the outward expression of a man which even a fallen man can change. A business man can be said to be unethical in his business practices and he is known as having an unethical character, i.e., he is known to be unethical. However, this man is certainly capable of changing the way he does business and in so doing change his character.

The historic/traditional description of fallen man is that he has a depraved nature and not a bad character. The former speaks about the root of man and not the fruit of man as being the causal agent. Thus, what is needed is not a change in the quality of the fruit but the tree itself needs to be changed; bad trees ONLY produce bad fruit vs. a good tree produces good fruit. Thus, a man with a depraved/corrupt nature is unable to remedy his situation for the corruption prevents one from doing so or from even desiring to do so. That men hate the consequences of their sins, they do not hate themselves for being sinners, even on the human level. What is needed is not a cosmic psychologist who can mold the man's character but rather a sovereign God Who can perform radical spiritual surgery whereby the corrupt nature is removed and a new spiritual nature is implanted (created) which then produces a change in character.


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Hi Pilgrim,

Two quick things:

1. We're talking past each other on omnipotence. I said that God "considered" these other options, but language is limited when trying to discuss God's decrees. Strictly speaking, this is false of course. (Strictly speaking, lots of things we say about God's decrees are false. For instance, it was false that they were made "before" the creation of the world. They were only "logically prior" to the creation of the world. Most people are willing to give others a break when they talk loosely like this.) The idea is, as I expressed more fully in my clarifications about "possible worlds", that God knows all the things He "can do" in His absolute power, and He chose only to create the actual world. There is a sense in which God can do anything that is not contradictory. Accordingly, if it is within his power to make antlers and to make humans, and if it is within his power to make antlers grow out of a human skull, then there is a sense in which it is possible for God to make humans with antlers. Of course, that isn't what most glorified Him, but neither is raising up from stones children to praise Him--He could do that, though. All those things that God could have done in His absolute power are described by many Christian philosophers as "possible worlds". Whether you like the language or not, I'm not saying anything theologically shocking.

2. As for the word "character": this is a fine word for a Calvinist to use. "Nature" is equivocal. It means more than one thing. In some senses it means "essence". Human nature in this sense is not sinful--it was created by God. Sinful homosexual acts, for instance, are "against nature" in this sense. These same homosexual acts, however, are in accord with "nature" in a different sense, namely, in accord with the deep and unchangeable (without God's grace) dispositions to do what is sinful. It is perfectly fine to call these deep and general dispositions to sin a person's "character". In fact, Webster's Dictionary even defines (the first definition listed, too!) a person's 'character' in terms of a person's 'nature'. Consider:

"the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of a person or thing." (From Random House Webster's College Dictionary)

So, while I am using language that is more familiar to contemporary ears, I have not departed from an orthodox, Calvinistic understanding of human nature/character: it is deep, it is bad, and it can't be changed without God's grace.

Regards,
John

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[3. Scripture clearly teaches that sin originated with Satan in the heavenly realm and with Adam on the earthly realm. No where does Scripture even hint that God is responsible for any creature's sin. But yes, Scripture everywhere teaches that God ordains the sinful acts of men which they freely think, feel and do.]

What is the difference between foreordaining and "originating"? Between originating and "being the author of"? To me they are the same.

It seems to me like you take one idea - omnipotence - and try to view every other aspect of God through this lens.

I really don't think God has to have absolute control over every aspect of the universe to know what it will do.

He is also omniscient.


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John,

I understand your position, and I'm afraid I can't engage it because it's speculative. It does free up space for free will, which I can agree with. But you get so far behind the actual goings-on of the world, that I'm left to conclude that it might be possible to envision God as a man turning on the projector in a movie theatre, and then leaving to have a bite to eat while the drama takes its course - after all, he's already seen the show.

But isn't Pilgrim saying he also directed the movie?

I tend to think it's less like a movie, and more like the stage - God may visit in character at any time - already did so, in fact. And will do so again. This makes God an artist - he built the stage and made the actors - a participant, and makes Him therefore separate from creation but also able to act within it in a real sense.

Mike

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[I've asked this question more than once and I shall have to ask again. Where did God's "foreknowledge" (prescience) originate? You firmly reject the view that says that God's foreknowledge necessary follows foreordination (eternal decree(s)). So, how did God foreknow what to ordain? This, de facto of course, denies the very word "predestination" found in Scripture for it turns it upon its head to become, "postdestination"?]

Where did the aspect of God we call foreknowledge originate? Um, God didn't originate, so neither did his abilities?

How did God foreknow what to ordain? Because he....has foreknowledge?

I really don't know how to answer these. We agree God has foreknowledge. We agree that he foreordains things. Romans 8:29 clearly separates the two, and places foreknowledge as the basis for predestination.

Do you not see this in Romans 8:29?

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Mike,

Great comments. Here's how I interpreted your post.

"Sure, John, you've shown that God could have decreed (in a plausibly Calvinistic sense) genuinely free actions. But the view you've suggested seems to make God some sort of Distant, Cosmic Observer. Isn't that a serious problem for the view? It almost sounds like it leads to a form of Deism."

If the view that I have proposed had the implications that, as I have understood you, you suggested, then that would definitely be a problem for it. Happily, though, it doesn't have those implications. Here's why:

The world God chose to create is a world in which God is actively involved. He performs miracles, becomes a man, reveals His will in Scripture, sends plagues, scatters the Jews among the nations, etc. In other words, God created a world in which He is very intimately involved--a world about which He cares very much. Accordingly, God doesn't walk away from this world and allow the "drama to take its course because He has already seen the show"--He is in the show as he directed it from eternity.

Regards,
John

Last edited by jmp; Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:07 PM.

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From Pilgrim's link about objections:

[But while God permits sin, His connection with it is purely negative and it is the abominable thing which he hates with perfect hatred. The motive which God has in permitting it and the motive which man has in committing it are radically different. Many persons are deceived in these matters because they fail to consider that God wills righteously those things which men do wickedly. Furthermore, every person’s conscience after he has committed a sin tells him that he alone is responsible and that he need not have committed it if he had not voluntarily chosen to do so.]

If that person was "dead in sin", how would they be able to have a good conscience that told them these things?

I agree with a good deal in the first part of this article, mainly because it obviously isn't Calvinism being described.

For example, the article seems to indicate sin has a will of its own:

[We may rest assured that God would never have permitted sin to have entered at all ...]

And confirms the existence and benefit of free will (I thought you didn't believe in free will?):

[In regard to the problem of evil, Dr. A. H. Strong advances the following considerations: “(1) That freedom of will is necessary to virtue ... Fairbairn has given us some good thought in the following paragraph: “But why did God create a being capable of sinning? Only so could He create a being capable of obeying. The ability to do good implies the capability of doing evil. The engine can neither obey nor disobey....]

Permissive will? Foreordaining and permitting are two very different things. You permit wills other than your own; you predestine individuals who have no free will.








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[One wonders where God got His foreknowledge if not from His foreordaining all things. Surely God is the one who creates & directs the future - how did He get a view of it without Himself determining what it would be?]

Romans 8:29 says God has foreknowledge. Do you need any other evidence?

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Originally Posted by MikeL
I really don't think God has to have absolute control over every aspect of the universe to know what it will do.

He is also omniscient.
1. If God is not in total control of everything then it is impossible that He is omniscient. Think about it! wink

2. If God is not in total control of everything, i.e., He has not decreed ALL THINGS and providentially controls ALL THINGS, then nothing can be said to be sure. I have replied elsewhere with several proofs including a number of biblical references, good and necessary consequence and even including an ancient poem, all which show the vanity of denying one of the fundamental elements which define deity from the biblical perspective.

3. Bottom line: if you deny that God has decreed all things and providentially governs all things, then all you have left is the philosophy of Atheism where the universe is subject to chance. Personally, that is not an option for me.


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Originally Posted by MikeL
[I've asked this question more than once and I shall have to ask again. Where did God's "foreknowledge" (prescience) originate? You firmly reject the view that says that God's foreknowledge necessary follows foreordination (eternal decree(s)). So, how did God foreknow what to ordain? This, de facto of course, denies the very word "predestination" found in Scripture for it turns it upon its head to become, "postdestination"?]

Where did the aspect of God we call foreknowledge originate? Um, God didn't originate, so neither did his abilities?

How did God foreknow what to ordain? Because he....has foreknowledge?

I really don't know how to answer these.
That's unfortunate. Then why the angst against God's foreknowledge following foreordination if you are unable to comprehend the question which addresses your rejection of this biblical truth? You are adamant that foreordination follows God's foreknowledge. And I am simply asking where this foreknowledge (prescience=knowledge of facts) originated? You say that God saw men believing before He determined to foreordain their creation and end. So, please explain where these individuals existed and from whom God derived His knowledge. And this impacts the very definition of Omniscience as well, which I explained in some detail elsewhere. For, if God's knowledge is derived from the acts of free-will creatures, then it cannot be said that He is Omniscient in His being. God cannot know what any particular individual will decide until that person actually exercises his/her will. Thus, it necessarily follows that that which the creature decides is unknown to God beforehand, vis-a-vis ignorance; lack of knowledge.

Originally Posted by MikeL
We agree God has foreknowledge. We agree that he foreordains things.

Romans 8:29 clearly separates the two, and places foreknowledge as the basis for predestination.

Do you not see this in Romans 8:29?
I've also addressed the place of foreknowledge and its meaning in Rom 8:29 elsewhere. Verse 28 precedes verse 29 and is inseparable as to its context. "According to His purpose" is foreordination. Verse 28 begins with the conjunction "For", i.e., result. Therefore, Those whom God had purposed, those He foreknew and then predestinated to salvation.

Secondly, "foreknow" in verse 28 is to be properly understood as "fore-loved". The object of foreknowledge isn't "what was seen", i.e., former prescience [facts about] but rather the text clearly says, "whom". God fore-loved them and predestinated them to be saved in Christ. And then Paul spells out the "ordo salutis" of that loving predestination; calling, justifying, glorifying. Their salvation is fixed, immutable, infallible as is clearly seen from the verb tenses Paul used. This is in full accord and harmony with what Paul wrote in Eph 1:4-13.

One of best articles written on the subject of Foreknowledge was penned by Arthur W. Pink which you can find here: The Foreknowledge of God.

And finally, one of the most edifying books one can read on this subject of foreknowledge and election was written by Kenneth Johns, published by P&R Publishing. I am unsure if it is still available or not. It is a little paperback book written in a style which most can understand but which succinctly deals with these issues. I happen to have the first chapter online, which at the end he delves into the Romans 9 passage in some detail. You can read it here: Something is Wrong Here.

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The Kenneth John book Election: Love Before Time (Paperback) is available Here


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The old that is strong does not wither,
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[If God is not in total control of everything then it is impossible that He is omniscient. Think about it!]

I'm sorry, but the belief that God is even in absolute control of everything seems to come from Calvinism, and not Scripture.

Where in scripture do we find the phrase "absolute control"? We find sovereignty - and kings are sovereign.

Absolute control is not the fare of kings, but of tyrannical dictators. God is sovereign, not absolutely sovereign, as it's sometimes put.

And foreknowledge redefined as fore-love seems quite a stretch to me. Sorry, but I really don't think anyone would find that convincing were they not committed to re-defining basic terms of scripture in order to back up or remove obstacles to their theology.

We've been going back and forth on this foreknowledge issue, and I thank you for the links to Pink and others. I'll probably take a look.

Mike

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["According to His purpose" is foreordination.]

Let me give both verses

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose." v. 28

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." v. 29

The "For" in v. 29 seems to me like it's setting up an explanation for the phrase "according to his purpose", and not the other way around. And in explaining what v. 28 means, I get the impression that it works like this: foreknowledge comes first, followed by predestination.

So this is primary to any discussion that follows, whether it be about foreknowledge as fore-love, or how free will affects foreknowlege.

Mike





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John,

While the possible worlds view is interesting, and convincing, I wonder if we have scriptural evidence for it? It seems to be based on speculation.

Plantinga's name was mentioned. Was his purpose in forming/revising the argument about possible worlds to uphold Calvinism, or defend free will?

Mike

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Tom, sorry I missed one of your questions about one of my questions about total depravity. You gave me two links (listed below). One of them dealt with total depravity.

[Actually what Kyle said makes perfect sense. However perhaps your problem is that you haven’t fully grasped what he has said.
I thought you might benefit from reading the following two articles.
http://www.the-highway.com/depravity_Boettner.html
http://www.the-highway.com/Irresistible_Murray.html]

After reading the link, I decided to ask you a question: If I am unable to get to the store, am I still able to accept a ride when offered?

Obviously a way to look at total depravity.

Another question left by the way-side (unless it's hiding somewhere else): The phrase "dead in sin" is taken literally, why not "dead to sin"? So far I've heard the argument that the former is a state of being, while the latter involves a process of sanctification. However, both are meant to describe different states: unregenerated are dead in sin, the regenerated are dead to sin. Sounds like two different states to me.

In the first, the phrase is interpreted to mean that those dead in sin have no way of even responding in a good way to the message of salvation. Dead means dead - totally unable to respond.

But believers are said sin, while being described as "dead to sin." The word is there again, but it's somehow diluted when we're confronted with the realistic idea that we still sin.

As a final question: if election is unrelated to our physical and mental activities, why is it that every Calvinist I encounter, who has mentally assented to Calvinist beliefs, considers themselves elect? Wouldn't there be at least a few Calvinists, who, convinced of the truth of Calvinism, realize that they are reprobate? Does understanding Calvinism save you, or does being regenerated indepent of your mental activities?

Mike


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Originally Posted by MikeL
After reading the link, I decided to ask you a question: If I am unable to get to the store, am I still able to accept a ride when offered?

Obviously a way to look at total depravity.

A better analogy would be: I have no desire to go to the store. In fact, I hate the shopkeeper & will do everything within my power to keep out of the store. Am I going to accept a ride to the store when offered?

Quote
Another question left by the way-side (unless it's hiding somewhere else): The phrase "dead in sin" is taken literally, why not "dead to sin"? So far I've heard the argument that the former is a state of being, while the latter involves a process of sanctification. However, both are meant to describe different states: unregenerated are dead in sin, the regenerated are dead to sin. Sounds like two different states to me.

Yes indeed. Those who are dead to sin are fundamentally lovers of God. Sin does not have controlling power over them. They are living lives that are being continually renewed in the grace of God. Their new nature hates sin and is constantly warring against the remnants of the old nature within. They can never again fall from God's grace. Those dead in sin, by contrast, are fundamentally enslaved to sin. They are living lives in which they continually sin & rebel against God. They hate God and they resist whatever godly influences they may encounter. They will not, and cannot, leave this state except by God's regenerating grace.

Quote
As a final question: if election is unrelated to our physical and mental activities, why is it that every Calvinist I encounter, who has mentally assented to Calvinist beliefs, considers themselves elect? Wouldn't there be at least a few Calvinists, who, convinced of the truth of Calvinism, realize that they are reprobate? Does understanding Calvinism save you, or does being regenerated indepent of your mental activities?

No, understanding Calvinism does not save you. Salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. While a basic understanding of the gospel is necessary (e.g., I am a sinner worthy of death, I can be saved only by placing my trust in Christ alone, who by His death has paid the penalty for my sin), assent to Calvinism (as a fuller articulation of biblical truth) is not necessary for salvation. I suppose there may be some out there who assent to the truth of Calvinism while regarding themselves as reprobate; this is not theoretically impossible. But such a person could not be a "Calvinist," anymore than someone who assents to the basic truths of Christianity while considering himself headed for hell would be a "Christian."


Kyle

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In the work I mentioned, Plantinga was doing metaphysics of modality. I don't believe his primary concern was theological, although I could be wrong. He has some confused theological ideas, but his work on the metaphysics of modality is well-respected among professional philosophers.

That said, I don't think the possible world talk is as speculative as it appears. Here's why.

Consider the following definition. As I've used it, a 'possible world' just is a way, given God's omnipotence, He could have created things. (NOTE: There are other uses of 'possible world' talk in the technical literature. These aren't important for our discussion, however.) With that definition in mind, that there are "possible worlds" is not speculative. After all, saying that there are "possible worlds" is equivalent to saying that there are other ways God could have made things, given that He is omnipotent. This seems theologically uncontroversial and nonspeculative.

Second, since it isn't a speculative claim to say that God is eternally omniscient, it isn't speculative to claim that eternally knew every way that He could have made things. Using possible world jargon, this just means that it isn't speculative to claim that God eternally knows all possible worlds.

Third, since it isn't speculative to claim that God's omniscience is logically prior to His act of creation, it isn't speculative to claim that God, in creating, had to select one possible world to create over the others. Or, to eliminate possible world jargon, it isn't speculative to claim that God had to choose to make things one of the ways the He knew He was capable of making them. (By 'logically prior', I simply mean this: God's omniscience comes first in the order of nature. Or, it was necessary for God to be omniscient in order to be the divine Creator.)

As it turns out, it is perfectly plausible to claim that God eternally decreed free human actions, and, in fact, it would be surprising if He didn't. After all, when God created, it seems as though it was necessary for Him to create things only one of the ways that He knew He could make them. Furthermore, since there is moral responsibility in this world, it seems pretty clear that He chose to create a world where Adam sinned freely.

If one were to accept this picture, then one is almost a Calvinist with respect to the doctrine of unconditional election. The only thing left to be convinced of is this: the fall was so devastating that we need God's grace to change our sinful character so that we can freely receive Christ.

(Note: Calvinist confessions of faith say that God "persuades and enables" us to believe the Gospel. He "enables" us by changing our character or 'nature', and he "persuades" us rather than "coerces" us to believe. This persuasion is perfectly efficacious, but really good persuading is compatible with free action. In other words, Calvinists can even say that there is a sense in which we freely chose to believe the Gospel. After all, we weren't coerced, and our faith sprung from our own (newly regenerated) character. So, we can get freedom from top to bottom, but we still have a very strong, anti-Pelagian dependence on God's grace for everything good.)

I hope this post helps you!

Regards,
John


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Originally Posted by MikeL
After reading the link, I decided to ask you a question: If I am unable to get to the store, am I still able to accept a ride when offered?
Yes, IF you are alive you might be able to accept a ride when offered. No, if you are dead and buried in a cemetery for then you would be totally unable.

Originally Posted by MikeL
Another question left by the way-side (unless it's hiding somewhere else): The phrase "dead in sin" is taken literally, why not "dead to sin"? So far I've heard the argument that the former is a state of being, while the latter involves a process of sanctification. However, both are meant to describe different states: the unregenerate are dead in sin, the regenerated are dead to sin. Sounds like two different states to me.

In the first, the phrase is interpreted to mean that those dead in sin have no way of even responding in a good way to the message of salvation. Dead means dead - totally unable to respond.

But believers are said sin, while being described as "dead to sin." The word is there again, but it's somehow diluted when we're confronted with the realistic idea that we still sin.
In Jh 5:21; Rom 6:2; Eph 2:1-5; Col 2:3; 3:1-4; 1Jh 3:14, for example, which passages are germane to this discussion, "dead" means just that... DEAD, no life, non-existence, without life. Notice when the reference is to those who are not regenerate, a term in itself full of meaning re-animate, the descriptions are full as to one's spiritual state. Further, notice that those who were "made alive" are also referred to as those who have been "resurrected". There is no possibility that any form of spiritual "life" can be attributed to these. Now, as to the latter reference (Rom 6:2) where Paul wrote: "God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?", dead (Grk: apethanomen) still means dead. It's just that it is not referring to one's spiritual state but the believer's experience. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes on this text:

Quote
What the Apostle is saying, therefore, is that at the moment we were regenerated, or at the moment of our justification -because it then becomes actual in our experience - the moment we become Christians, we are dead, completely dead, to the reign of sin. We are out of sin's territory altogether. That, I suggest, is what the Apostle is saying in this second verse. In the following verses he works it all out and explains it in detail; he shows us how it happens. But here we have the general statement and proposition, that because we are what we are in Christ, being what we are as the result of what has happened to us, we are dead to the reign and to the rule of sin.

But now I imagine somebody putting forward an objection: 'How can you possibly say such a thing? We still sin, we still feel the power of temptation and the power of sin; how therefore can you say honestly that you are dead to the rule and to the reign and to the whole dominion of sin ?' I answer in this way. We must differentiate between what is true of our position as a fact and our experience. There is all the difference in the world between a man's status and position on the one hand and his experience on the other. Now here the Apostle is concerned about our position; and what he says is that every person in the world at this minute is either under the reign and rule of sin or else under the reign and rule of grace. What he says about the Christian is, that whereas once he was under the rule and the reign of sin, he is now under the rule and the reign of grace. It is either one or the other, he cannot have a foot in each position. He is either under sin or else he is under grace. And I repeat, that what Paul says about us as Christians is that we are dead completely to the rule and the reign of sin and of evil. That is no longer true of us; once and for ever we have been taken out of that position.
He goes on to prove from a number of texts that this is the correct understanding of the phrase.


Originally Posted by MikeL
As a final question: if election is unrelated to our physical and mental activities, why is it that every Calvinist I encounter, who has mentally assented to Calvinist beliefs, considers themselves elect? Wouldn't there be at least a few Calvinists, who, convinced of the truth of Calvinism, realize that they are reprobate? Does understanding Calvinism save you, or does being regenerated indepent of your mental activities?
Sorry, Mike but this is not a true statement regarding your experience. No one here, hopefully, will say they consider themselves "elect" because they have "mentally assented to Calvinist beliefs." What is true is that most everyone, regardless of their theological system, who professes to be a Christian considers themselves to be elect. What is unfortunate is there are many who are self-deceived. [Linked Image]

Why would any believer consider themselves reprobate? That's illogical... since if one professes to have been given faith, then they can't be reprobate.

Lastly, re: 'does understanding Calvinism save you?'... not in and of itself. That the embracing of truth is essential is without question admitted as a biblical truth, for it is the Spirit of Christ Who opens the eyes of dead sinners to see the truth of God, Christ, sin, repentance, salvation by grace, etc. But mere mental assent saves no one. Unfortunately, this is more the mindset of Evangelicalism than Calvinism, although it is to be found in some extremists. The theological term that describes this falsehood is Sandemanianism, aka: "Easy Believism".

Regeneration is the work of the Spirit of God whereby a new nature is created in a spiritually dead sinner. Regeneration affects the whole man; mind, emotions and will. A cursory reading of Scripture will bear this out. wink Or, if you don't want to take the time to read through the entire Bible, comparing Scripture with Scripture, then you can simply take advantage of what someone else has already done. giggle Go here: Regeneration or the New Birth.


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MikeL #43622 Fri Oct 23, 2009 7:48 PM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
While the possible worlds view is interesting, and convincing, I wonder if we have scriptural evidence for it? It seems to be based on speculation.

Where is the scriptural evidence for the idea that the future existed somehow apart from God's decree & that God merely observed this future to determine whom He would predestine?

Quote
Plantinga's name was mentioned. Was his purpose in forming/revising the argument about possible worlds to uphold Calvinism, or defend free will?

Plantinga uses "possible worlds" primarily in his reformulation of the ontological argument for the existence of God, from what I recall. But he does use "possible worlds" somewhat in formulating his "free will defense" against the problem of evil. The purpose of his defense is to show that it is logically possible for an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God to create a world in which there is moral evil. Plantinga says that a world with free creatures is better than a world with no free creatures. God can possibly create a world with free creatures, but He cannot determine that they always do what is right, or else they are not significantly free & are therefore not capable of moral good. In order for there to be moral good, there must also exist the possibility of moral evil. God could possibly have desired to create a world with moral goodness, but in order to do so He would logically have to create that world with the possibility of moral evil. Thus the only way in which God could have created a world without moral evil would be if He created a world without moral good. His concern is not with Calvinism per se, but his defense is not really Calvinistic.


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
CovenantInBlood #43625 Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:43 PM
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Kyle,

Happily, the possible world approach doesn't suggest that there was a reality that existed independent of God. If you would have read any of my explanations of how I am using the expression 'possible world', you will have seen that the position I have suggested does not even come close to endorsing the silly ideas that you have used to characterize it.

That said, it is true that Plantinga uses his possible world semantics for modal language in reformulating the ontological argument and (if I recall correctly) in his 'free will defense'. One does not need to be convinced of either of these arguments (or argument and 'defense'), however, in order to employ possible world semantics. (Note: these arguments--his reformulated ontological argument and his 'free will defense' are, I believe, found in the book I mentioned earlier. I, however, have not taken the time to read The Nature of Necessity, but only other works which cover some of the same ground. Either way, I don't want to get sidetracked trying to defend Plantinga. As long as you don't read more into my use of "possible worlds" than I have explicitly said I intend by the expression, then the discussion can remain manageable.)

Incidentally, the use of possible world semantics is simply a part of modal logic today, whether someone accepts Plantinga's, David Lewis', or someone else's metaphysics of possible worlds. Using possible world language, therefore, is now as commonplace as talking about affirming the antecedent, etc. Things get complicated, though. I'm not using possible world talk in a loaded metaphysical sense. (If you want to see what that kind of 'possible world' talk would be, you would have to read up on David Lewis's theory. It is ridiculous. For our purposes, just focus on how I defined the term. It is as simple as that.)

Regards,
John


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
jmp #43628 Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:42 AM
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Originally Posted by jmp
Kyle,

Happily, the possible world approach doesn't suggest that there was a reality that existed independent of God. If you would have read any of my explanations of how I am using the expression 'possible world', you will have seen that the position I have suggested does not even come close to endorsing the silly ideas that you have used to characterize it.

John,

I am merely repeating Plantinga's argument as best I can. If you find his ideas silly, I can't say I blame you! But I don't believe I've made any comment so far one way or the other regarding your use of "possible worlds." From what you've written thus far, I would say that in essence I agree with you, with the stipulation that these "possible worlds" be understood strictly as logical possibilities in light of God's omnipotence & not as anything which God actually considered before deciding to create the world - to which stipulation I believe you have already assented.

Last edited by CovenantInBlood; Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:58 AM. Reason: Typographical correction.

Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
MikeL #43629 Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeL
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One wonders where God got His foreknowledge if not from His foreordaining all things. Surely God is the one who creates & directs the future - how did He get a view of it without Himself determining what it would be?

Romans 8:29 says God has foreknowledge. Do you need any other evidence?

Deal with the actual argument, Mike. Two items have been presented to you: 1) the meaning of foreknowledge in Rom. 8:29 is not bare prescience, for the objects of God's foreknowledge are persons & not merely their actions (you have yet to read A. W. Pink's article on this subject - I strongly suggest you do so); 2) God cannot have infallible knowledge of the future without Himself having determined the future, or else you posit that the future exists independently of God & thus deny God His omnipotence.

Last edited by CovenantInBlood; Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:36 AM. Reason: Clarification

Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
CovenantInBlood #43630 Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:19 PM
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I apologize, Kyle, for uncharitably misreading you. Thank you for the clarification.

Regards,
John

Last edited by jmp; Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:19 PM.

"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
jmp #43633 Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:11 PM
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I accept your apology, John. This discussion has been long & involved and it is not impossible to misread what someone has written!


Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
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