Great Quotes: Daniel Gracely

As long as people embrace contradictory premises that abandon logic it is impossible for them to arrive at the truth. Consequently, in theology it can be exasperating to show a person the contradiction of their Calvinism, because they embrace the contradiction. You are only pointing out what they already admit to. In fact, they do not even believe their contradiction is a real contradiction, but only a ‘seeming’ one. This is why a great division in Christian theology has continued to exist for centuries despite proponents from both sides appealing to the Bible….

My own personal experience, years ago, in embracing the doublethink of Calvinism was a frustrating one. I would liken it to riding a rocking horse. As a rider, I would throw my weight forward toward my belief in the absolute sovereignty of God until I could go no further, whereupon I would recoil backwards toward my belief in human freedom. Thus I would go back and forth in seesaw motion, lest on the one hand I find myself accusing God of insufficient sovereignty, or on the other hand find myself accusing God of authoring sin. All the while, there remained an illusion of movement towards truth, when in fact there was no real movement at all. Calvinist riders still ride out this scenario. This is why, among the Calvinistic writings of Van Til, Sproul, Boettner, etc., there are no unqualified statements about the absolute sovereignty of God or the free will of man.  If one reads long enough, all forthright statements about them are eventually withdrawn by qualifying each statement with its exact opposite thought. This explains why every book and article advocating the absolute sovereignty of God ends with its terms unconcluded…..

The tension of qualifying coils always limits the movement of the horse from going too far in either direction, and because the horse cannot stop to rest at either of its polar positions it must stop in the middle. Thus, the Calvinist continues his ride ad infinitum until he has exhausted his energy in trying to ride out the contradiction. Finally, he declares the polar positions of the horse to be reconciled by tension, brings the horse to its synthesized (dialectical) center, and gets off.  These long rides of to and fro motion is why Calvinistic treatises on the subject of predestination tend to be so repetitive. With the problem of evil, then, readers go back and forth while Boettner tells them that “we have removed blame from God” even though four sentences earlier he said that “God is ultimately responsible for it”!

From: Divine Sovereignty

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41 Responses

  1. Love the great quotes series!

  2. That is a great quote from Gracely. Have you read his book on Calvinism and the problem of evil? I got a copy for Christmas, but haven’t gotten to it yet. His post on your “X-Cavlinist Corner” is very insightful.

  3. Good thoughts. Especially Boettner at the end: “remove blame from God” and “God is responsible” is an apt example of Calvinism’s double-talk. It starts with a contradictive basis and ends up in contradictory ensnarements without end. I think the only thing that is appealing to some about Calvinism is its boldly proclaimed counter-cultural mindset, an aspect Calvinists don’t deny. That makes it attractive to some. The truth of course falls by the wayside.

  4. Having read a good bit of Van Til while attending Westminster Seminary as an Arminian, I would have to disagree with the quote. Well, I agree they talk out of both sides of their mouth contradicting themselves. Van Til and others though who follow his thought (Frame, Poythress) don’t have a problem doing this because they do not accept logic as the judge of truth, but scripture. Scripture affirms God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom. Therefore, they claim they are two different perspectives to be held in tension intentionally, that neither perspective on reality should be forced over the other. I think however that Van Til is disingenious in this as he states that his viewpoint is Calvinistic and that it is the Calvinisitic confessions that drive his view of scripture. Same with Frame. They play with language saying man is free “in a certain sense” and can end up saying almost anything. This is how they can say that God ordains everything that comes to pass, and that he is not the author of sin. It’s not logic that determines what is true, nor contradicition that would invalidate truth. Instead, the scriptures are the judge of what is true or not.

  5. I think the question is not whether one system is contradictory and the other is not. Both systems are coherent and logical. The question is which comports with the content of the bible the best and which coheres with our experience the best, in that order. Calvinism begins with a certain definition of God’s sovereignty and defines man’s “freedom” accordingly. Arminianism can be said to begin with a certain view of man’s freedom, and defines God’s sovereignty accordingly. Both camps have their scriptures they begin with and scriptures that don’t fit so well that they have to work hard to fit their system. They push all scripture through their system of interpretation.
    Frankly, I think the scriptures should be read through a redemptive-historical or biblical-theological, lense, not a systematic theological one, as this is how the writers of the NT read and handled the old testament and how Paul handled the old, which informed how he understood himself and Christ in relation to the church, the individual, and the individual in relation to one another and informed all his counsel to the churches he wrote to.

  6. Hello Greg,

    “Having read a good bit of Van Til while attending Westminster Seminary as an Arminian, I would have to disagree with the quote.”

    I kinda know that feeling as I attended a dispensationalist seminary and I wasn’t dispensationalist! 🙂

    “Well, I agree they talk out of both sides of their mouth contradicting themselves.”

    I think this is the main point that Ben is attempting to make. And it is a valid point.

    “Van Til and others though who follow his thought (Frame, Poythress) don’t have a problem doing this because they do not accept logic as the judge of truth, but scripture.”

    This is unfortunate because in interpreting scripture properly you have to use logic. It is not that scripture is superior to logic, it is that the two are supposed to work together to arrive at truth. God created us with minds and the capacity to reason (cf., Plantinga’s cognitive design plan concept) with one of the purposes for creating us to be rational being that that would give us the capacity to properly interpret His revelation.

    “Scripture affirms God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom. Therefore, they claim they are two different perspectives to be held in tension intentionally, that neither perspective on reality should be forced over the other.”

    Scripture affirms that God is sovereign (which does not mean that He has exhaustively predetermined every event as the necessatarians want us to think) and that we sometimes have the ability to choose in the libertarian sense (though that can be suspended if God wants to do so because His sovereignty trumps our freely made choices).

    “I think however that Van Til is disingenuous in this as he states that his viewpoint is Calvinistic and that it is the Calvinisitic confessions that drive his view of scripture.”

    The interesting thing I have observed is that the proper hermeneutical principles (such as interpret the text in context) are valid principles for everybody and everybody who interprets well uses them. Where the disagreements come in is because some allow their pre-understandings or presuppositions to determine what the bible says (rather than vice versa, developing their presuppositions upon what scripture properly interpreted presents).

    “Same with Frame. They play with language saying man is free “in a certain sense” and can end up saying almost anything. This is how they can say that God ordains everything that comes to pass, and that he is not the author of sin. It’s not logic that determines what is true, nor contradiction that would invalidate truth. Instead, the scriptures are the judge of what is true or not.”

    Actually it is not even “the scriptures” that are the “judge of what is true or not”, for them, I would say it is their theological system. Their system drives their “exegesis” so they just happen to always end up with necessitarian conclusions! (I saw exactly the same thing with dispensationalists and eschatology verses: if you knew their presuppositions and system then you knew exactly how they would interpret a particular bible verse even when the text seemed to clearly be going against the system! That taught me that for some people the system they hold determines their interpretations rather than vice versa)

    Regarding playing with language, you must mean those who espouse “soft determinism” or compatibilism (what Kant called “a wretched subterfuge, and James called a “quagmire of evasion”). The compatibilist carefully defines words so that they fit his determinism. Hence acting freely does not mean really having a choice, rather, it means doing what you want to do (but that is insufficient for having choices/having free will, because someone else could control or in their case predetermine what desires you are going to have).

    “I think the question is not whether one system is contradictory and the other is not. Both systems are coherent and logical. The question is which comports with the content of the bible the best and which coheres with our experience the best, in that order.”
    Exactly. I believe everybody, especially intelligent people can develop logical arguments and conclusions from premises. The problem is if and when you start with the wrong presuppositions. As Van Til well pointed out, the reasoning and the conclusion is all wrapped up with the controlling presuppositions/starting points. If those are wrong then the whole house is corrupted by its own foundations (or as Van Til memorably put it, everything is yellow to the jaundiced eye, :-)).

    “Calvinism begins with a certain definition of God’s sovereignty and defines man’s “freedom” accordingly. Arminianism can be said to begin with a certain view of man’s freedom, and defines God’s sovereignty accordingly. Both camps have their scriptures they begin with and scriptures that don’t fit so well that they have to work hard to fit their system. They push all scripture through their system of interpretation.”

    What you state here is one reason why I personally try to avoid some formal man-made theological system. Instead, I want to interpret the bible correctly first (using logic and proper hermeneutical principles), then develop my controlling presuppositions from that. Regarding Calvinistic presuppositions, they were invented by men and contradict the bible and so are false. Arminians tend to have less of a formal system, but seem to hold some common presuppositions in common.

    “Frankly, I think the scriptures should be read through a redemptive-historical or biblical-theological, lenses, not a systematic theological one, as this is how the writers of the NT read and handled the old testament and how Paul handled the old, which informed how he understood himself and Christ in relation to the church, the individual, and the individual in relation to one another and informed all his counsel to the churches he wrote to.”

    Sounds good.

    Greg as an Arminian are you aware of the Society of Evangelical Arminians? That might be an interesting organization for you to be involved in, especially as you are surrounded by necessatarians at Westminster! 🙂

    Robert

  7. Well I always thought that the formulation of The Trinity is Scripture based, but is it Illogical? Nope. (on that note, i firmly believe Arminianism is the Same).

  8. Greg,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

    You wrote:

    I think the question is not whether one system is contradictory and the other is not. Both systems are coherent and logical. The question is which comports with the content of the bible the best and which coheres with our experience the best, in that order.

    Right. Calvinism works as a stand alone system but contradicts both Scripture and reality. So as a Biblical systematic it is riddled with inconsistencies (and is in that respect incoherent). Even Calvinists admit to this, and some even try to spin it as a positive.

    Van Til and others though who follow his thought (Frame, Poythress) don’t have a problem doing this because they do not accept logic as the judge of truth, but scripture. Scripture affirms God’s sovereignty and man’s freedom. Therefore, they claim they are two different perspectives to be held in tension intentionally, that neither perspective on reality should be forced over the other.

    To push inconsistencies as Biblical truth makes truth rather meaningless. Truth becomes whatever the C says it is because it cannot be ruled as false even in the face of contradictions. Very often it seems to me that the Calvinist is essentially saying, “So what if Calvinism doesn’t make sense, neither does the Bible.”

    Rather than look at their systematic and re-evaluate their theology, they affirm and embrace contradiction and try to pass it off as divine truth. I think Gracely does a fine job of pointing this out. The irony is that while embracing contradictions (and falsely calling them “mysteries” or “antinomies”) the Calvinist works hard to falsify opposing theologies through logic and reason and by pointing out what they believe to be inconsistencies in those opposing systems. The moment they embrace contradiction as truth, they lose all rights to criticize opposing systems on the grounds of logical consistencies. Yet they continue to do so.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  9. rex,

    You wrote:

    Well I always thought that the formulation of The Trinity is Scripture based, but is it Illogical? Nope. (on that note, i firmly believe Arminianism is the Same).

    This is a good point. The Trinity is a true Biblical mystery. We cannot fully conceive of a single being existing in three persons but it is not illogical to say one God in three persons. It would, however, be illogical to say three Gods and one God at the same time.

    Sometimes Calvinists try to appeal to the Trinity in an attempt to paint inconsistencies in their system as divine mysteries, but the parallel cannot be accurately drawn.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  10. Kevin,

    I can’t afford any books right now but it is on my wish list. While he is a non-Calvinist, I am not sure Gracely would call himself an Arminian. I am not sure but I think he would not hold to the Arminian/Calvinist doctrine of total depravity, and I am not sure what his thoughts are on eternal security. I really liked the articles he submitted at SEA (this one and two others). I think they are all excerpts from his book so I am sure the book must be good. His testimony on X-Calvinist Corner is great. Let me know how you like the book when you get around to reading it.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  11. Well, Van Til actually got into trouble by stating that the trinity is an apparent contradiction that cannot be made to be noncontradictory, but that we shouldn’t shy away from that reality. One God, three persons…incomprehensible, contradictory. So what. Scripture IS above reason.
    “Rather than look at their systematic and re-evaluate their theology, they affirm and embrace contradiction and try to pass it off as divine truth. I think Gracely does a fine job of pointing this out. The irony is that while embracing contradictions (and falsely calling them “mysteries” or “antinomies”) the Calvinist works hard to falsify opposing theologies through logic and reason and by pointing out what they believe to be inconsistencies in those opposing systems. The moment they embrace contradiction as truth, they lose all rights to criticize opposing systems on the grounds of logical consistencies. Yet they continue to do so.” -Yeah, this used to make me really angry.
    “To push inconsistencies as Biblical truth makes truth rather meaningless. Truth becomes whatever the C says it is because it cannot be ruled as false even in the face of contradictions.” Well, I disagree with this. That’s just the point. Scripture stands above and judges our forumulations and cogitations. It sets limits on how far we might go with our reasoning. Scripture declares what is true. There are inconsistencies in the bible. How would you differentiate between an inconsistency and a mystery? I think the error the calvinist makes is in declaring contradictions from their systematic thelogy as a mystery presented in scripture when that is not so.

  12. Greg,

    I think you are overlooking the fact that in order to understand what Scripture says at all involves logic, at the very least, the law of non-contradiction. Otherwise, anything Scripture says could be construed to mean its complete opposite, and the very idea of meaning collapses. There is some truth to saying that Scripture “stands above and judges our forumulations and cogitations”, but its judgment about these or anything can only be accessed through the use of logic/reason. So I whooehertedly affirn what Ben said: “To push inconsistencies as Biblical truth makes truth rather meaningless. Truth becomes whatever the C says it is because it cannot be ruled as false even in the face of contradictions.” Because they embrace contradiction practically (I don’t think that C’s generally admit to it, though a few might, which may be a small difference with Ben), Ben comments are right on IMO.

  13. Because they embrace contradiction practically (I don’t think that C’s generally admit to it, though a few might, which may be a small difference with Ben), Ben comments are right on IMO.

    Indeed, few if any Calvinists would admit to real contradictions in their theology. However, they do admit to “seeming” contradictions. But why admit to that? Because they cannot explain how the contradiction is not in actuality a contradiction. So rather than re-evaluate the systematic which leads to such difficulties, they just call them “seeming” contradictions. But unless they can show that they are not actually contradictions there is no reason to see them as anything other than real. This is a plain case of special pleading and makes their system impossible to falsify, even if it is, in fact, false.

    Now we might call something an apparent contradiction when it takes a little careful thinking to see why that thing is not really contradictory. But often that is not what C’s mean when speaking of apparent contradictions. What they are saying is that despite the fact that the contradictions is by all accounts real, they will accept it as not real simply because the reality of the contradiction would falsify their entire systematic, and that cannot be allowed under any circumstances.

    Greg,

    I think Van Til is wrong in viewing the Trinity as illogical as I explained above.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  14. Regarding the Trinity, I see it as a mystery (because we cannot comprehend how it is true, though we affirm it to be true) but not as a contradiction. We affirm that God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo creation) and we do not grasp or understand how that could occur, so it is a mystery, but it is not a contradiction. The categories of being (God is **one** being) and person (God is *three** persons) are different. Contradictions would include: if the bible said in one place that there was only one being that is God and in another said there is no being that is God; if the bible said in one place that God is three persons and then in another place said that he is not a person, etc. Etc. What the necessatarians sometimes do is to present two claims that when placed beside each other, do seem to be contradictions, and yet in an attempt to justify these claims they will then say that it is a mystery how the two claims can simultaneously be correct. An example is claiming that God predetermines every event and so every event is necessitated and it is impossible that any event be otherwise, AND at the same time claiming that people act freely (in this example what they tend to do is redefine terms like “free will” and “choice” so that it fits their belief in exhaustive determinism, though some end up merely claiming it to be a mystery).

    Regarding logic and the authority of scripture. Another category mistake is being made. God designed and created us with minds that when operating properly will use the laws of logic to arrive at rational and true conclusions and beliefs. God designed our minds to use logic in all of our thinking. So the use of the mind and the laws of logic are inescapable truths for us. Certain realities are **inescapable realities** or truths (by that I mean they are givens, they are true whether you want to accept them or not, they are true and if you argue against them you necessarily involve yourself in them and so they are inescapably true for all of us: e.g. if someone claims that minds do not exist, in formulating his argument he will be using his mind, likewise the person arguing that minds exist will also be using their minds to formulate their arguments, example two = anyone making an argument, whether for or against a proposition will be using the laws of logic in developing and presenting their arguments, example three = we often both have and make choices, if someone claims that we never have free will/that we never ever have a choice, in making their arguments against the reality of free will/having choices, they will have and make choices regarding the language they use [what words they use, what sentences, what mood interrogative or indicative, when they will speak, when they will be silent, etc.] in presenting their arguments as well as what arguments they will use [will they use bible proof texts, will they use appealing to famous theologians or philosophers, will they appeal to their experiences, etc.], etc. Etc. Having and making choices is thus an inescapable reality even for those who deny this inescapable reality! :-)).

    Regarding the **authority** of scripture we are speaking about how much authority it has over us and our decisions and actions. And our submission to the authority of scripture is choice that we make. Arminian wrote: “There is some truth to saying that Scripture “stands above and judges our formulations and cogitations”, but its judgment about these or anything can only be accessed through the use of logic/reason.” When he speaks of how it “stands above” he is referring to the authority of scripture. When it comes to evaluating truth claims or ideas, we take the Scripture properly interpreted (not just willy nilly, and not apart from proper interpretation, and that proper interpretation will itself include applying the laws of logic) as having higher authority than other sources of information. For example, in my experience and observation, I have never seen a dead person come back to life. So if I limited my conclusions to my own experience alone, I would claim no dead person ever comes back to life. But scripture, properly interpreted presents cases where people did rise from the dead (e.g., Jesus’ raising of Jairus’ daughter). So in evaluating the truth from my own experience and the truth from scripture, I give Scripture greater authority, so I conclude that people can and do raise from the dead. Or take a human made tradition, theological system, or confession. If the confession says one thing and scripture properly interpreted says another, than we choose to go with scripture. So I would emphasize there is no conflict between the laws of logic and the authority of scripture. Logic has its place, but scripture properly interpreted has (or should have if we choose to submit to it) greater authority than any other authority in our lives.

    Robert

  15. Hey all. I’m personally persuaded of Calvinist soteriology, and would like to offer some input.

    There i alot of talk about inconsistencies, and yess on the surface they appear to be, but if one would just take the time to learn the deeper parts about the topic at hand, it would make perfect sense. In fact, its misconceptions like this that prevented me from embracing Reformed theology for the longest time.

    Onto the topic at hand, the problem of evil.

    Does God decree all things that come to pass, even sin and evil? Yes

    Does this make God morally responsible for evil, sin, or that God is the author of sin? Absolutely not.

    If you can hang in there with me for a second, I can explain this profound yet simple paradox.

    God is God, and this is His creation. He uses it in whatever way He deems fit. He uses it to bring himself glory and to realize His ultimate plan and purpose for creating in the first place: The demonstration and glorification of his attributes: mercy, grace, love, and justice, hatred, wrath.

    God is so amazing and powerful that even sin and evil have a purpose in the universe. God allowed into the universe the thing He hates most, sin, and evil, because obviously the inclusion of it is ultimately better for His glory than its absence. This means that everything has a purpose, and nothing is *purposeless*.

    Can you imagine evil with no purpose? Sin with no purpose? If evil things happened that have no purpose, then God is a monster. If what Hitler did in the 1940’s happened for no ultimate purpose, when God could have stopped it, then what does that say about God? The only answer is that God allowed it, permitted it, even ordained it, for some purpose that is only obvious to Him and Him alone.

    This mindset gives Christians comfort in that even the evils and trying times in our own lives are ultimately for a purpose, so that when times are tough, we can look heavenwards and ultimately give God the glory and thanks for them.

    My challenge to all is this: does your theology allow you to look to God and give him thanks and glory for the hard lives that we all live?

    Have you ever considered that sin and evil have a purpose for God’s people, in that God uses them as a means to sanctify His church through discipline, chastisement, etc?

    All of that being said, when we consider God’s absolute sovereignty, there is a tendency for our natural minds to shift the moral blame to God for sins and evils, because we cannot completely comprehend them with our finite minds.

    But the Baptist confession 1689 as well as the Westminster Confession (Both Calvinistic), outright say the following:

    “God ordains whatsoever comes to pass….yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin, nor is violence done to the will of the creature”

    Do you see? God is never the author of sin, while simultaneously being the ordainer of it. How can this be? The answer is simple.

    The type of free will taught in the Bible, Calvinists adhere to, is “Compabalist free will”, which means that man’s free choices can never thwart God’s plans, as Job states “No purpose of yours can be thwarted”

    Paul writes “Who can resist His will?”

    Daniel writes “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and none can stay your hand”

    The Psalms says “Whatever the Lord pleases, that He does..in the heavens and on earth”

    We adhere to compatiblist freedom because it’s the type of freedom found in the Bible, namely that men make free choices, yet God is still absolutely sovereign over all things. The God of the Bible must be pretty powerful to have set up the universe that way!

    To contrast, libertarian free will, which is what non-Calvinists adhere to, allows that man’s choices can frustrate and thwart the plans and desires of Almighty God. Such power the Bible never attributes to the creature.

    That being said, it is, ironically, through a proper understanding of free will that we can understand the mysteries of predestination as well as sin and evil in the world.

    God can decree evil, while simultaneously not being morally responsible for it . Here are Biblical proofs/examples:

    Acts 4:28 says that Christ was predestined to die at the hands of Pilot, Herod, Judas, etc.

    Does this mean that God is morally responsible for killing Christ, when God Himself says “thou shalt not kill” ? Absolutely not. It is obviously the evil men who are to blame for the sin: Judas, herod, and Pilot.

    God can ordain something to take place while not being morally responsible for it. It is Judas’ fault and his own sin that is to blame for his betrayal of Christ, not Gods, even though Acts 4:28 tells us that it was God’s plan from the beginning!

    Another example, Josephs brothers threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery. It’s obviously the brothers that are responsible for this sinful act. Yet Joseph tells them later “It was not you who sent me here, but God”.

    Astounding! God was behind all of that, and used Josephs brothers to carry out his plan, yet God himself is not responsible for the evil and sins of the brothers’ actions. It is the brothers who are held morally accountable for what they did.

    This is how God works. God can ordain evil acts yet not be morally responsible for them. God is perfectly holy, and He is so amazing that He can work through His creation in this way.

    When God decrees sin or evil, his intentions are always ultimately good, yet when men realize or bring to pass God’s decree, they do so out of evil intentions and purposes.

    God’s purpose for ordaining the evil and sin against Joseph was ultimately for Josephs’ good as well as the Good of Israel, and of course, for God’s glorification….yet the men who carried out this plan – joseph’s brothers – had evil and sinful intentions.

    God’s ordaining of Christ’s death was obviously with ultimately good intentions: salvation. Yet Judas’ sin and intentions for carrying out that decree was sinful and evil.

    God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was ultimately for good: to rescue Israel, and to make an example out of Pharaoh to glorify God’s name (Rom 9), yet Pharaoh’s hardening of his heart was with evil and sinful intentions.

    Do you see a pattern here? Do you understand? God can decree and ordain evil and sin without being morally responsible for them and without being the author of sin.

    This is exactly what the Calvinistic confessions of faith say, and I will quote them again:

    “God has decreed in Himself from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely and unchangeably, all things which shall ever come to pass.

    Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. ”

    I hope this helps somebody. It only takes a little bit of time to understand more clearly the reformed position of God’s sovereignty. There is no contradiction. There is no double talk.

    Every single Calvinist author would agree with what I have written here, because it is from them that I ultimately learned these things! It does no good to remove a single quote that an author has stated, and use it out of context, with no regard to other works that the author has produced or other areas where he has expressed his beliefs.

    Thanks for your time, God bless you all!

    Joe

  16. You’re quite correct Arminian about the scriptures involving logic, to deny the importance of logic in interpreting them is akin to denying the importance of language when reading them. Could you imagine someone arguing, “Oh no, the scriptures supersede language, therefore what it says can’t be interpreted at all by human language”? That’s just quibbling nonsense. The Bible is constructed in a logical and linguistic framework, and should be read and interpreted as such.

    If we allow for the idea of direct contradictions being taught in scripture, then we’ve opened the door for any crazy doctrine that claims to be part of that set of contradictions. So Reverend Moon contradicting the Christ being the only way isn’t a problem, and Mary being a second ‘one mediator’ would be perfectly acceptable.

    Secondly, the writers of scripture themselves use concepts like logical deduction the way normal, rational people do. Paul puts down the belief that the dead don’t rise by pointing out the obvious ramifications and contradictions with Christian belief produced by such a doctrine:

    12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)

  17. Joe,

    Good ends don’t justify evil means. We understand the Calvinist position perfectly. It’s pointless to say that God isn’t the author of sin if He’s got marionette strings on the hands that are authoring it. Exhaustive determinism requires that every evil thought, motive, intention, and desire ultimately be the desire, invention, and (traced back to the source) invention of God, which contradicts His primary attribute: His Holiness.

    Sovereignty does not necessitate micro-management, God’s turning mens’ wicked actions around does not necessitate that He caused their wicked actions, and God Himself does not necessitate sin. That idea can only lead to the inescapable conclusion that the sum total of what God hates, ultimately and intentionally proceeds from within Himself.

  18. No one is denying the use of logic in reading and comprehending scripture, just the extent of it’s authority.

    “My challenge to all is this: does your theology allow you to look to God and give him thanks and glory for the hard lives that we all live?

    Have you ever considered that sin and evil have a purpose for God’s people, in that God uses them as a means to sanctify His church through discipline, chastisement, etc?” Sure. Read DT 8, Heb12, 1 Peter 1 . God uses suffering to refine us.
    “We adhere to compatiblist freedom because it’s the type of freedom found in the Bible, namely that men make free choices, yet God is still absolutely sovereign over all things. The God of the Bible must be pretty powerful to have set up the universe that way!” This is not compatabilistic freedom defined. Compatabalistic freedom states that men are free to act according to their nature, but God determines their nature. This just makes God’s determinism one step removed in the chain of causation and does not logically exclude him from responsibility in that chain as he determines men’s natures.
    You are actually closer to an Arminian who would affirm libertarian freedom and God using those free choices to accomplish his plan.

  19. As an aside, Arminius went pretty far in stating that God removes the restraint from evil men allowing them to do what comes naturally. Is that any different than him determining their nature? Seems to come pretty close to me. When I read that, I almost junked the whole thing.

  20. Thanks for the replies guys. Can you answer me a question? What do you do with these verses:

    “I make peace, and create evil, I form the light and create darkness, I the Lord do all these things”

    “I kill, and I make alive, I wound, and I heal”

    “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”

    This is just a small handful. The question is, if God did not ordain these things, or, using your phrasing, “control them as puppet strings’, then how does God bring to pass all of the things the above verses imply? Namely, evil (calamity), death, and the hardening of men’s hearts?

    A mere adherence to permissive will is not sufficient to answer the question. The only possible answer is God’s decretive will, is it not?

    If God says “I kill”, does that not imply that ultimately, God was Sovereign over Hitler’s Holocaust? Who killed those men? Hitler, or God?

    Compatiblist freedom’s answer is: Both
    Arminianisms answer is: Hitler

    Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    To say that God did not ordain Hitler’s Holocaust is to say that God had no purpose in it, and that it happened for no reason, and that God chose not to stop it, when He could have, or that it totally caught God offguard.

    Is that how you view sin, as something that caught God offguard and totally messed up his plans for Creation?

  21. A quick followup:

    A simple “permissive” will of God is not sufficient to answer the question of the fall, nor any other sins and evils. This is why:

    A striking example of this is seen in Abimelech, king of Gerar. Abraham came down to Gerar and fearful lest he might be slain on account of his wife he instructed her to pose as his sister. Regarding her as an unmarried woman, Abimelech sent and took Sarah unto himself; and then we learn how God put forth His power to protect her honor

    And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against Me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her” (Gen. 20:6)

    God has access to the hearts of all men and He softens or hardens them according to His Sovereign purpose. The profane Esau swore vengeance upon his brother for the deception which he had practiced upon his father, yet when next he met Jacob, instead of slaying him we are told that Esau “fell on his neck and kissed him” (Gen. 33:4)!

    “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Prov. 21:1)

    I paste all of that from AW Pink’s book to say this:

    If God has access and control over men’s hearts, which is irrefutable according to the above scriptures, and God can prevent sin, also irrefutable according to the above scriptures, then why did the Fall happen?

    Ultimately, the only answer is that God ordained it to happen. If God can “prevent” Abimelech from sinning, why did God not “prevent” the fall? He obviously has the power to do so.

    This ultimately proves that The fall – a sinful, evil thing – was purposed and ordained by God. This flies in the face of your responses that God is not ultimately behind sin and evil, does it not?

    Looking forward to your responses.

  22. Joe,

    God creating calamity in retribution for wickedness is not sinful. God hardening Pharaoh’s already evil heart to all reason does not imply that God engineered his wickedness, that was Pharaoh’s own, independent doing.

    A mere adherence to permissive will is not sufficient to answer the question.

    Yes, it is in fact. If mens’ hearts are bent on evil, then how wicked acts come about with God’s permission is trivial.

    The only possible answer is God’s decretive will, is it not?

    No, that answer contradicts the scriptures directly, as this would make every wicked idea ever conceived out to be God’s idea originally. God tells Israel plainly,

    ‘And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’ (Jeremiah 32:35)

    God permits men to do wickedness for a time, He has a purpose in doing so, and no, they don’t ‘catch Him off guard;’ but the decrees of a Holy God are not intended to necessitate their blasphemous actions; yet such an absurdity is the only conclusion that exhaustive determinism can lead to.

  23. If you have time, I would like your thoughts on my other post, where the scriptures say that God turns men’s hearts wherever He will, and that He can prevent sin. (And how this relates to the Fall)

  24. joseff,

    I noticed your comments in another thread and I intended to answer them but I don’t have the time right now. I intend to address what you have wrote here as well, but I want you to understand that I don’t have to answer all of your questions. Many (if not most) have already been answered here on this site. Really, I have already had this conversation numerous times. But I will still take the time to address your concerns when I am able.

    I am not willing to get into a protracted debate. If that is what you are looking for then you will probably be disappointed. I also wonder if you will be willing to answer numerous questions from me concerning passages that are not friendly to your position either. That only seems fair, wouldn’t you agree? It is easy to say, “how do you handle these passages?” without being willing to “handle” passages that are problematic for your own position.

    If you are honestly seeking answers then I would love to help, but if you are just looking for an opportunity to push your Calvinism then this discussion will go way down on my priority list right now.

    Let me just briefly say that I don’t find those passages you have cited to teach all that you are trying to pull from them. I will get to explaining why later.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  25. I don’t have time to comment much either. But I wrote something elsewhere about the Gen 20:6 passage, so I figured I would paste it in here. It also should go to show how the type of rapid-fire proof-texting Josef is doing, often perpetrated by C’s, masks alot of eisegesis and wrongly interpreted Scripture citations. As ben said, “Let me just briefly say that I don’t find those passages you have cited to teach all that you are trying to pull from them.”

    Ok, let me paste in the comments on Gen 20:6. These were originally written to someone else, so please make allowance for that in reading it:

    I just saw such a striking mistake in your understanding of Gen 20:1-6 that I figured I should mention it. You take Gen 20:6 completely oppositely to what it means, as more than one translation shows. Your problem is probably that you have used the KJV, which translates the Hebrew conjunction “w” as “for”, but which is a very unlikely translation. The conjunction is usually translated “and”. That is its basic meaning, though it is a flexible conjunction. Still ,it is most often translated “and”. But then very importantly, the grammar there is in what is known in Hebrew grammar as a consecutive sequence (using what is called the waw consecutive) that makes the second verb consequent on the one before it, either chronologically or logically. The upshot is that what the text is actually saying is that God kept the king from sinning against him because he was innocent in the matter. So the NIV tanslates the verse this way:
    “Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.”

    And the NET Bible translates it this way:

    “Then in the dream God replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience. That is why I have kept you from sinning against me and why I did not allow you to touch her.”

    Most other translations simply use the common word for “and” for that conjunction I mentioned. So the NASB has:

    “Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.”

    And the ESV has:

    “Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.”

    The idea is that God knew the king was innocent and therefore kept him from sinning against him by actually touching Abram’s wife, the very oppiste of your understanding. Not only does the grammar support this, but that is the most natural reading of the context. Check out a good scholarly commentary like Gordon Wenham’s in the Word Biblical Commentary.

    So very interestingly, a close look at the text shows God acting contingently here on the king’s attitude and action here, in line with Arminian thought and in opposition to a specific Calvinist interpretation of the passage.

  26. If God has access and control over men’s hearts, which is irrefutable according to the above scriptures, and God can prevent sin, also irrefutable according to the above scriptures, then why did the Fall happen?

    Because He chose not to stop it. Of course God can stop people from sinning, and sometimes does so out of kindness, but He’s in no way obligated to keep us from our own devices. It’s an absurd leap of logic to conclude that God not stopping something must mean that He exhaustively predetermined it. Necessitarianism requires that the evil motive itself originate with and be the design of God, making Him the supreme architect of all evil in creation, which is plainly unscriptural.

    This ultimately proves that The fall – a sinful, evil thing – was purposed and ordained by God.

    Only if we reinterpret ‘not stopping’ to mean ‘ordaining.’

    This flies in the face of your responses that God is not ultimately behind sin and evil, does it not?

    Not in the least. Then there’s that whole thing about God being Holy….

  27. Oh I’m certainly not intending to “push Calvinism”! I’m always open minded and though I am a Calvinist, that does not disclude my desire to learn from the other perspective. (It helps to know fully all the ins and outs of differing theological views, does it not?)

    My mentioning of Bible passages is only as a topic starter, as we are all fleshly creatures who cannot even begin to understand the mysteries of God.

    My main argument right now is the scriptures clear teaching about God’s power to prevent sin, and how that fact relates to the initial fall as well as other forms of sin and evil in the world.

    It has been said by some above posters that God does not “purpose” these things, but rather, simply sees that they will happen, and allows them.

    This begs the question, why did the Fall happen? If God can prevent Sin, certainly he could have prevented the fall.

    My argument is that God purposed the fall, he “ordained it” or “decreed it”, and this is precisely what some posters above have denied that God does: Ordain sin and evil.

    They say that for God to decree sin is “contradictory to the scriptures”, yet we know from Acts 4:28 that the murder of Christ and the evils against him by Herod, Pilot, etc, were “predestined to occur”.

  28. Christ’s death was not only prearranged by God’s counsel, but foreknowledge as well.

    Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death….” (Acts 2:23)

    God foreknowing the wicked motives of His enemies did not need to implant them Himself for Christ to be offered up.

    Now, if you’re so convinced that the most Holy God is ultimately behind all sin and evil, care to explain why He unequivocally states the exact opposite concerning idolatry in Jeremiah 32:35?

  29. joseff,

    BTW, Gracely has a very good article regarding one of your proof texts (Proverbs 21) here:

    http://www.evangelicalarminians.net/node/183

    Really, the rest of the proverb renders the C interp absurd. While Gracely dives into the context much more in depth, my basic take is that this is simply an admission of submission to God on the part of Solomon. He is saying that his heart is in God’s hands and God can do as he wants with it since he is fully surrendered to Him. This comports well with the next verse which states,

    “All the man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.”

    What does God weigh? If I am right God weighs whether or not our hearts are truly submitted to Him so that He can turn it wherever He pleases. This is reinforced in verse 4,

    “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked are sin.”

    The proud heart is contrasted with the surrendered and submissive heart (that which God can control for good).

    But what if the verse means what you seem to suggest; that God controls our every thought and intention? What sense would it make for the king to speak of God weighing the heart when God is the one who controls the heart in the first place?

    The C interp just doesn’t work and leads to even more absurdities when context is considered. The A interp, however, fits the context perfectly and avoids making God the cause of turning our hearts to perform evil and then condemning us for the evil He irresistibly controls us to do.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  30. “God foreknowing the wicked motives of His enemies did not need to implant them Himself for Christ to be offered up.”

    Very important statement there.

    I never said that God “implants” evil into people. No Calvinist would ever say that God “implanted evil” into Hitler which led to his evil acts. No Calvinist would say that God “Implanted fresh evil into Pharaoh”.

    They would all say, rather, that God used the evil that was already there. After all, I keep repeating this, but the confessions say:

    God is not the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

    This is how we understand Romans 9. When it says that God created vessels of honor and dishonor, it was “from the same lump”. Or, a singular, big lump.

    That “lump”, Calvinists would argue, is the entirety of sinful humanity. Out of that already guilty and sinful humanity, which already contains evil, some are created for honorable use, others for dishonorable use.

    The question is, how did that evil get into the “lump”, and consequently into each individual vessel that God uses to decree evil and sin? The answer is, the Fall.

    The next question is, why did God not prevent the Fall when He had the power to do so? The only answer, which I keep arguing for, is that God “willed” the Fall to happen, in some sense. Worded another way, God ordained it, and this is precisely what is being denied on this board.

    if God ordained the Fall, then it stands to reason that He also ordained all of the consequences of the fall – all the post-fall evils and sins that exist because of the “lump of sinful” clay.

    As for Acts 2:23, good point. God both “determined it by His counsel” as well as “foreknew” it would happen.

    But let me ask you this. Does God only determine to happen what He foreknows? Or is His knowledge based on His determination/His decree?

    If His decree relies on His knowledge, could God not have determined to have Christ killed if the creatures exerted their libertarian free wills and choose not to carry out their plan? What then? We would have no Saviour and men’s choices would have thwarted God’s plan, or at least, would have changed God’s plan, since God cannot decree without the knowledge of future events.

    In other words, if there’s a 2-car train, is God’s decree the caboose and His knowledge the Engine, or vice versa?

    Calvinists adhere to the idea that God’s decree is the Engine, which pulls the caboose.

    I simply cannot read that verse to be saying that God only decreed Christ’s death as a result of His knowledge that it would happen..but rather…God’s knowledge that it would happen was founded upon the fact that He decreed it would happen.

  31. Further, the verse:

    “God works all things after the counsel of His will”

    Does this not alone disprove that God rules the universe with a permissive will?

    Note that God “works” all things. He is active. He is working.

    When is the last time you worked by…doing nothing but observe?

    Ok, maybe we as humans “work” at our daily jobs that way, lol ! 🙂 But God doesn’t.

    He *works*. Not only that, but he works *all things* according to His will.

    What falls in the category of “all things” ?

    Does “all things” contain everything except sin and evil? If so, then how can we explain the Fall and the murder of Christ? We cannot.

    That God “actively works all things, including sin and evil” is the only way to explain how sin and evil serve God’s purposes and give him glory, is it not?

    Does God only get glory by “reacting” to what foresees?

  32. Ben, you said:

    “The A interp, however, fits the context perfectly and avoids making God the cause of turning our hearts to perform evil and then condemning us for the evil He irresistibly controls us to do.”

    I would urge that these verses are a stumbling block to the mindset you have proposed:

    Isa 63:17 O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.

    It is painfully clear that God did precisely what you say he will not do: cause men to sin, ie (Why do you MAKE US to wonder from your ways so that we do not fear you?)

    Jos 11:20 For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.

    Again, it was the Lord’s doing, His active involvement, to harden men’s hearts, and the latter half of the verse says that God devoted them to destruction, refused to show mercy, and purposed to destroy them.

    Where is there room for the ideas you have put forth above in light of passages like this?

    I am not saying that we should base theology on cherry picked passages, but shouldn’t we see the broad scope of the Bible and what exactly it says God does, what exactly He purposes, and how exactly He governs the universe?

    We’re not even talking about C vs A at this point, we’re talking about theology proper, the study of God Himself. How Sovereign is He?

    Just who is the Potter and who is the clay exactly?

  33. They would all say, rather, that God used the evil that was already there.

    You’re not getting it. If Necessitarianism is true, the evil was not ‘already there,’ but its ultimate source could only have been God.

    The only answer, which I keep arguing for, is that God ‘willed’ the Fall to happen, in some sense. Worded another way, God ordained it, and this is precisely what is being denied on this board.

    He ‘willed’ in the sense that He permitted it, but permission is not the same thing as ordination.

    As for Acts 2:23, good point. God both “determined it by His counsel” as well as “foreknew” it would happen.

    Your view requires contorting the text: it does not say “being delivered up by the determinate counsel, which was therefore foreknown by God,” but, “being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” God’s foreknowledge was instrumental in sending Christ as the propitiation for the sins of the world.

    But let me ask you this. Does God only determine to happen what He foreknows? Or is His knowledge based on His determination/His decree?

    As opposed to what? God not knowing what He decreed? (?!?) God’s knowledge of actions performed exclusively by libertarian agents (such as sin) is not based upon divine decree.

    If His decree relies on His knowledge, could God not have determined to have Christ killed if the creatures exerted their libertarian free wills and choose not to carry out their plan? What then? We would have no Saviour and men’s choices would have thwarted God’s plan, or at least, would have changed God’s plan, since God cannot decree without the knowledge of future events.

    That’s an absurd question, which requires assuming that God’s foreknowledge isn’t exhaustive.

    “God works all things after the counsel of His will”

    Does this not alone disprove that God rules the universe with a permissive will?

    What falls in the category of “all things” ?

    Does “all things” contain everything except sin and evil? If so, then how can we explain the Fall and the murder of Christ? We cannot.

    Give me a break. First thing, God ordering all things doesn’t imply exhaustively crafting every aspect of every person’s will, that’s a huge leap of logic. But if you’re trying to counter-contextually extend it that far because of the term ‘all things,’ would you also contend that the ‘all things’ we will be taught according to John 14:26 includes a unified field theorem?

    Again, it was the Lord’s doing, His active involvement, to harden men’s hearts, and the latter half of the verse says that God devoted them to destruction, refused to show mercy, and purposed to destroy them.

    Where is there room for the ideas you have put forth above in light of passages like this?

    Perhaps it would help if you could show something that conflicts with our theology.

    Just who is the Potter and who is the clay exactly?

    And being the Potter, is He not free to allow some degree of autonomy, or is He simply not allowed?

    All your questions have fairly simple answers provided by the context of scripture. Why can’t you answer one simple question I’ve posed? God states:

    ‘And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.’ (Jeremiah 32:35)

    God is plainly stating that this is not His doing. If it did not enter into His mind that the should offer their children to idols, then how can you say He in fact decreed it before the world began?

  34. joseff,

    Just a few comments here. First, as you will remember I asked if you thought it was fair if we challenged you to “handle” some passages just as you have challenged us. You didn’t reply but I assume you think that is fair. We need to point out then that JC has three times asked you to address Jeremiah 32:35 and you have continually ignored it. I think it is time you “handled” that passage.

    Second, you often quote the confessions as your authority. The problem with the confession is that it affirms contradictions and never explains how its contradicting messages can really hold together. Gracely does a great job of exposing this very thing in the article linked to in the OP above. Have you read that article yet? So when you appeal to the confessions you are really only proving my point that you happily embrace contradictions and pretend they are not real.

    Third, you often speak of “permitting” and “allowing”. Such language does not fit determinism. It is the language of LFW because to allow something suggests that you do not control it and are leaving control to another. That doesn’t work in Calvinism and you prove why when you say things like,

    The next question is, why did God not prevent the Fall when He had the power to do so? The only answer, which I keep arguing for, is that God “willed” the Fall to happen, in some sense. Worded another way, God ordained it, and this is precisely what is being denied on this board.

    First, you speak of not “preventing” something (which smacks of LFW) and then you quickly qualify that statement with God “willing” it. That would be fine if you meant that God “willed” to permit Adam to make a choice to either obey or disobey and then hold him accountable for his action, but that is not what you mean. You mean God willed for Adam to sin and Adam could not do anything other than what God willed for him. Big difference. This is obviously your position considering these next comments of yours,

    If His decree relies on His knowledge, could God not have determined to have Christ killed if the creatures exerted their libertarian free wills and choose not to carry out their plan? What then? We would have no Saviour and men’s choices would have thwarted God’s plan, or at least, would have changed God’s plan, since God cannot decree without the knowledge of future events.

    Here you seem to say that God can only foreknow what He decrees. In other words, God can only know what He will infallibly bring to pass (make happen). This would then have to include everything, else, according to you, there would be things that would happen that God could not foreknow. This means that God would have to control our every thought, desire, and action to make it perfectly conform to His decree and “foreknowledge”. Could you produce a thought or action that God did not foreknow? Surely you will say “no”. But according to your understanding of foreknowledge (God can only foreknow what He decrees), God must control your every thought. God doesn’t even really foreknow your thoughts (according to this view). He foreknows what He will make you think. You basically affirmed this earlier when you tried to use Proverbs 21 as a proof text (and the way you seem to understand the potter and clay metaphor as well).

    And yet you continue to speak of “allowing” and “not preventing” and “permitting”. These are word games and what Gracely calls “double think”. If I control your every thought and action so that you can’t possibly do anything other than what I control you to do, how can it truly be said that I “allow” you to do something? If I control your every thought and action so that you think and do those things of necessity, how can it be said that I did not “prevent” you from doing something?

    Really, you have provided us with some perfect examples of what Gracely talks about in his article.

    There is much more that I would like to point out but I don’t have the time right now. For now, you have some questions to answer regarding the way you are using language here and you still need to address Jeremiah 32:35.

    I highly suggest you read the Gracely article linked to in the post and the one I linked to in the thread concerning Proverbs 21 (and BTW I noticed you didn’t deal with my comments on Proverbs 21; you just made some comment about stumbling blocks and then “cherry picked” some other verses that you seemed to think might work better for you. So why don’t you address how I “handled” Proverbs 21 before trying to press other passages into service?)

    God Bless,
    Ben

  35. Ben,

    Yes, of course I think it’s fair to exchange passages. I did not mean to ignore you, sorry for not responding to that particular question.

    I’m all for exchanging exegesis.

  36. I will take a look at the passage when I get some time. I apologize for not doing so, but please know I was not in any way ignoring his request.

    See you guys soon.

    Joe

  37. Sounds good. And please think about the rest of what I said in my post as well.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  38. hey, great discussion, I think this is still a related question:

    “Did God foresee Adam sinning and then make his plans around Adam’s choice?”

    the thing that is in question now is God’s Sovereignty. I think somehow, Calvinists Logic tells us that “just because God “just reacts” means that He is not sovereign at all”.

    Is that Biblical?

    Anyway, i hope you understand this post. thanks.

  39. rex,

    I don’t think it is Biblical. God absolutely responds to His creatures. The Bible is filled with examples of God reacting and responding to His creatures. God is primarily a relational being and relationships involve influence and response. God does react to His creatures but nothing takes Him by surprise. Still, His reactions and interactions are genuine. God not only foreknows our responses but His responses and interactions with us as well. God’s knowledge is exhaustive but does not make the actual events in time (His interactions) any less meaningful (nor does it have a causitive effect on those events).

    The idea that God cannot respond or react is based on philosophical understandings of what “perfection” must entail. However, we must define perfection as the Bible does and the Bible is clear that God is a perfect being who interacts with His creatures.

    To say that God can’t react because He is sovereign difines sovereignty in a very strange way. We do not define sovereignty in our world with meticulous control or non-reactive behavior, and the Bible doesn’t either. Calvinists define sovereignty as exhaustive determinism and then tell anyone who rejects their strange definition of sovereignty that if they do not believe in exhaustive determinism, then they do not believe in sovereignty. But Arminians can’t see biblically or even in our common experience (the way the word is typically used and defined outside of the arbitrary Calvinist definition) why sovereignty should be equated with exhaustive determinism. Hope that helps.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  40. good morning joseff!

    God is not the origin of sin and did not predestine man to transgress the law. Read Gen. 3, it was Adam that sinned by his own volition. If you disagree here and claim that God predestined him to do so, then the burdern of proof is on you.
    However, you’ve already been given enough homework here, I guess 🙂

  41. Hi Joseff,

    I read through most of your comments, and I think I understand where you’re coming from. Also, though it looks like you’re the only Calvinist on this thread at this point, I hope you won’t feel my jumping in is “ganging up” on you.

    First, I think I speak on behalf of all the guys, when I say that we hope your study of these matters will lead you into a deeper relationship with God. I know this study is not an easy one. And often these matters are not easily understood precisely for the reason implicit in your argument, i.e., that the Scriptures so often appear to support the Calvinist side of argument. Furthermore, I see with dismay that even when one revises his book from 450pp. to 730+pp. to the wearying of himself (and doubtless to everyone else!) to address the type of questions you raise, my book still fails, because of a selection process that inevitably leaves some desirable information out, to answer specifically each one of your objections. Nevertheless, I just finished putting most of my book online at x.Calvinist.com, and I think, even if you find yourself not agreeing with my views (which are essentially sympathetic to the other posters here) you will find some additional information re: Pharaoh and the hardened heart, the Lamentations 3:37 citation you mentioned, Acts 4:28 (under my chapter 17, I think), the idea of the greater good theodicy in the Fall (as argued by Reformed thinker and professor, James Spiegel), A.W. Pink’s arguments supporting Calvin on Reprobation, the judgment context of Romans 9 as expressed in the Potter/Pot metaphor of Is. 29, (esp.) Is. 45, and Jer. 18, as recycled by Paul in Romans 9, Brethren seminary professor Tim Geddert’s view of the translation of Rom 8:28, etc., the context of Eph. 1 and the meaning of God working all things according to His purposes, etc.

    Second, while I understand your desire to express what you believe is right, I confess that I have lived long enough to personally rue the times I went public with my Calvinist views. I did so in a graduate English class on American Transcendentalists at SUNY Binghamton, in a Final paper re: Robert Frost’s view of Job in poet/Prof. Sam Hazo’s class at Duquesne University, and (while probably in other circumstances not immediately coming to mind) especially in a private discussion with a former Eastern seminarian, to whom I replied, once he backed me into a corner with sound arguments, that God had “made me” to believe. Trying to track down this last individual [fellow Duquesne student-composer Steve Walighur (sp.?)] to tell him of my changed position has so far proved fruitless. Why I am telling you all this? Because I think the more one commits himself publicly to a position the less likely it is he will change from that position. And so before you commit yourself fully to the Calvinist position, if that is what you will do, I encourage you to take more time to learn all you reasonably can to answer your questions as the opposition would answer them. I am not saying that further study will change your mind, but I do think, regardless of which side you come out (after further study), you will feel even more strongly about these matters than you do now, whether Calvinist or not.

    Third, as there are a handful of guys on this thread, I think I could afford to give a softcover copy of my book to any one of you that would find that medium more convenient than reading my book online. (Just now I am still trying to settle on the sale of a property that will allow me to go forward with the printing costs, and I have only one last, personal copy.) Certainly it would be at least a little easier to use the Indexes with a real book in hand than to navigate them online. In fact, the online version is still absent the Indexes, but I hope to interject the chapters with page numbers corresponding to the softcover edition, so that the Scriptural and Topical Indexes can be used. For now, the Table of Contents should somewhat help you to zero in on certain of these topics. Anyway, if you want a book, just leave me your address at the bottom of one of the chapters, and I’ll plan on sending you a complimentary copy as soon I get them printed up. Please at least read my Preface first to make sure the book would interest you sufficiently.

    God bless,
    Daniel

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