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jmp #43546 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:35 PM
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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


MikeL #43547 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:43 PM
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Quote
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???


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

AC. #43548 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:43 PM
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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


Pilgrim #43550 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:46 PM
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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


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
AC. #43551 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:53 PM
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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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MikeL #43553 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:56 PM
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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


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
jmp #43554 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:58 PM
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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

Pilgrim #43555 Tue Oct 20, 2009 4:59 PM
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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

Last edited by jmp; Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:00 PM.

"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
MikeL #43556 Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:02 PM
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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!


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
MikeL #43557 Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:03 PM
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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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jmp #43558 Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:06 PM
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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

MikeL #43559 Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:29 PM
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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



"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
Pilgrim #43560 Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:29 PM
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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

jmp #43561 Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:48 PM
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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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