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MikeL #43562 Tue Oct 20, 2009 5:54 PM
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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!

Last edited by AC.; Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:50 PM.

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

MikeL #43563 Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:25 PM
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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


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
MikeL #43566 Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:33 PM
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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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jmp #43567 Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:46 PM
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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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MikeL #43568 Tue Oct 20, 2009 7:53 PM
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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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.

Kyle

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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


MikeL #43586 Wed Oct 21, 2009 8:15 PM
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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.


"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
jmp #43593 Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:55 AM
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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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simul iustus et peccator

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Pilgrim #43594 Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:46 AM
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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

Last edited by jmp; Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:49 AM.

"He that hath light thoughts of sin, never had great thoughts of God." ...John Owen
jmp #43596 Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:00 PM
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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.


MikeL #43597 Thu Oct 22, 2009 2:14 PM
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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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