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Pilgrim #43511 Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:11 PM
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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.




Tom #43513 Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:26 PM
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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

MikeL #43515 Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:39 PM
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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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MikeL #43516 Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:43 PM
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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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MikeL #43518 Mon Oct 19, 2009 8:03 PM
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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

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified.
Pilgrim #43533 Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:24 PM
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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

MikeL #43535 Tue Oct 20, 2009 1:07 PM
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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?

But once again, this is [Linked Image]

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Pilgrim #43537 Tue Oct 20, 2009 1:24 PM
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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

MikeL #43538 Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:11 PM
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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


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
MikeL #43540 Tue Oct 20, 2009 2:31 PM
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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.


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

MikeL #43543 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:04 PM
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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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jmp #43544 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:15 PM
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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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