Donations for the month of December


We have received a total of "0" in donations towards our goal of $175.


Don't want to use PayPal? Go HERE


Forum Search
Member Spotlight
Posts: 99
Joined: April 2013
Forum Statistics
Forums30
Topics7,320
Posts53,347
Members965
Most Online523
Jan 14th, 2020
Top Posters
Pilgrim 14,071
Tom 4,077
chestnutmare 3,087
J_Edwards 2,615
Wes 1,856
John_C 1,820
RJ_ 1,583
MarieP 1,579
gotribe 1,060
Top Posters(30 Days)
Tom 21
Pilgrim 16
Meta4 5
Robin 2
John_C 2
Recent Posts
Progressive Christianity
by DiscipleEddie - Mon Dec 06, 2021 8:36 AM
Nero
by Meta4 - Fri Dec 03, 2021 5:56 PM
Spurgeon
by Pilgrim - Thu Dec 02, 2021 7:06 PM
Gracious High Priest
by NetChaplain - Wed Dec 01, 2021 2:05 PM
A Discourse on the Cleansing Virtue of Christ's Blood
by Pilgrim - Wed Dec 01, 2021 6:44 AM
Renewed Strength
by chestnutmare - Tue Nov 30, 2021 5:56 PM
Previous Thread
Next Thread
Print Thread
Rate Thread
Hop To
Page 2 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Tom #43443 Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:16 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
Journeyman
Offline
Journeyman
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
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 6:05 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
Persnickety Presbyterian
Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
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 6:17 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
Persnickety Presbyterian
Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
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 8:05 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,071
Likes: 20
Head Honcho
Offline
Head Honcho
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,071
Likes: 20
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.


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
CovenantInBlood #43463 Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:15 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
Journeyman
Offline
Journeyman
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
"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 10:22 AM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
Journeyman
Offline
Journeyman
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
"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

MikeL #43473 Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:05 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,071
Likes: 20
Head Honcho
Offline
Head Honcho
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,071
Likes: 20
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.


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
Pilgrim #43480 Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:26 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
Journeyman
Offline
Journeyman
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
"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

MikeL #43481 Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:35 PM
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
Journeyman
Offline
Journeyman
Joined: Oct 2009
Posts: 67
(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

MikeL #43483 Fri Oct 16, 2009 6:17 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,071
Likes: 20
Head Honcho
Offline
Head Honcho
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 14,071
Likes: 20
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


[Linked Image]

simul iustus et peccator

[Linked Image]
MikeL #43485 Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:23 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 4,077
Likes: 2
Tom Offline
Needs to get a Life
Offline
Needs to get a Life
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 4,077
Likes: 2
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

MikeL #43486 Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:35 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 4,077
Likes: 2
Tom Offline
Needs to get a Life
Offline
Needs to get a Life
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 4,077
Likes: 2
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

MikeL #43487 Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:04 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 4,077
Likes: 2
Tom Offline
Needs to get a Life
Offline
Needs to get a Life
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 4,077
Likes: 2
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

Tom #43490 Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:07 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 68
jmp Offline
Member
Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 68
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.


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
MikeL #43491 Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:18 PM
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
Persnickety Presbyterian
Offline
Persnickety Presbyterian
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 2,040
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.

Quote
"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.

Last edited by CovenantInBlood; Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:21 PM.

Kyle

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
Page 2 of 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Link Copied to Clipboard
Who's Online Now
0 members (), 34 guests, and 11 robots.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Newest Members
DiscipleEddie, atdcross, NetChaplain, winslowlady, Zach
965 Registered Users
ShoutChat
Comment Guidelines: Do post respectful and insightful comments. Don't flame, hate, spam.
December
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31
Today's Birthdays
There are no members with birthdays on this day.
Popular Topics(Views)
1,303,920 Gospel truth