The Fallacies of Calvinist Apologetics – Fallacy #2: Arminianism entails salvation by “inherent ability”

Related Fallacies:
Strawman
“Bait and Switch”

“Why are you a Christian and your friends aren’t? … Is it because you are smarter than your friend?” (The Pelagian Captivity of the Church, R.C. Sproul)

…I believe it can be demonstrated with finality that prevenient grace merely begs the question and that under such influences the final decision to believe the gospel still does come from a persons’ “natural capacity” and innate “moral ability”. (typical mischaracterization from John Hendryx)

It’s been pointed out more than once that Calvinist theologians, in general, do not even remotely understand Arminian theology. In response, many of them appear to be in quite the rush to prove such an assertion to be absolutely correct. Many times it seems their arguments are based not upon actual study of Arminian beliefs, but on sources that heavily misrepresent it or just miss the point entirely. Calvinism’s promoters try very hard to squeeze Arminianism (and really, all Synergistic theology) into their own mold of ‘merit-based’ salvation. Often when they write on the subject, they’ll fling around terms like ‘inherent ability’ in an attempt to frame Arminian soteriology as a system based upon human merit or some inherent ability.

One of the worst offenders I’ve seen thus far is an essay by Nate Harlan, in which he argues that due to a belief in salvation by an inherent ability, Arminianism must be heresy. Similar to Hendryx’s “why does one choose and not another” fallacy, Harlan puts forth the similarities between 2 sinners (one who accepts Christ and another who doesn’t):

“1.) Both possess a free will
2.) Therefore, both are equally capable of coming to Christ
3.) Both are lost in sin
4.) Therefore, both are in need of Christ
5.) Both were convicted by the Spirit via hearing the Word
6.) Therefore, both are aware of their need for Christ”

Then lists the differences in their reactions (along with an ill-conceived attempt at a syllogistic conclusion),

“1.) Joe trusted in Christ
2.) Bob rejected Christ
3.) Therefore, Joe’s smarter than Bob (?)”

He poses the dilemma in mathematical terms,

“Contained within the synergist’s recipe for salvation is a secret ingredient that must be ‘added’ for salvation to occur. Let’s look at it from an algebraic perspective: hearing the Word + conviction of the Spirit + X = a response of faith in Christ.

Joe possessed this trait “X” while Bob did not.”

and concludes,

“Clearly, within the framework of Arminian theology, we must conclude that those who do trust in Christ possess within themselves a trait (not endowed by God) that enables them to trust in Christ; those who reject Christ, although they hear the Word and are convicted by the Spirit, do not possess this trait and thus remain dead in sin.

The first two parts of the recipe are common to all men, while only those who are saved possess the third and final ingredient.

Yet, it is not inherent within all individuals, for not all trust in Christ. So, only some people possess this special trait. This is a problem. Why? Because it ultimately leads to merit-based salvation: the work of Christ is rendered powerless to save until the individual adds to the mix the mysterious, inherent trait X, completing the recipe for salvation….”

Problems With This Logic

To solve his ‘equation,’ the short answer is: X = ‘receiving the word of God (Mark 4:20) and not resisting the work of the Spirit (Acts 7:51).’ Notice that these constitute freely performed action or lack thereof, not traits or attributes as Mr. Harlan incorrectly concludes. In the libertarian view of free will, a person doesn’t need to be possessed of different traits (such as greater intelligence, wisdom, strength, charisma, dexterity, mana, armor class, etc.) to make a decision different from another. If such a choice were necessarily produced by some set of inherent traits or attributes, then one placing trust in Christ would not be free in the libertarian sense at all, but predetermined by one’s nature.

Additionally, Mr. Harlan’s conclusion contradicts his original premise.

Compare:

2.) Therefore, both are equally capable of coming to Christ

to,

Clearly, within the framework of Arminian theology, we must conclude that those who do trust in Christ possess within themselves a trait (not endowed by God) that enables them to trust in Christ; those who reject Christ, although they hear the Word and are convicted by the Spirit, do not possess this trait and thus remain dead in sin. [emphasis mine]

Notice that he states that this trait ‘enables’ one to trust in Christ. It can then be logically inferred that if the one who rejects Christ didn’t possess this mystical trait which is so vital to salvation in Mr. Harlan’s imaginary view of Arminian soteriology, then he or she would be utterly incapable of coming to Christ at all, which contradicts his second premise that both the repentant and unrepentant were capable of coming to Christ.

This is a classic bait-and-switch tactic, he frames both people as equally capable of coming to Christ (the libertarian view), then effectively asserts that one is in fact incapable because he lacks a certain trait (a determinist conceit). The fact that he goes on to frame this rather ridiculous strawman as properly representing Arminian theology is beyond absurd.

Actual Arminian soteriology teaches that men are by nature in bondage to sin, but God calls men to repentance and faith in Christ by His grace, by which men are able to believe.

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace…. (Galatians 1:15)

When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:25-26)

Faith in Christ doesn’t require being smart or wise, but does require that sinners incline their ears at His gracious call and humble themselves under the Spirit’s conviction. Besides being fairly obvious, these realities of Arminian theology are public knowledge and well-defended by many scholars and writers. Yet for some inexplicable reason, Calvinistic apologists persist in their wildly accusatory claims that Arminians must believe they possess more of some innate ability than those who don’t believe. Apparently thinking themselves the Dungeon Masters of divinity, they continue weaving this ‘salvation by enough stat points’ fantasy about Arminian theology that has no more basis in reality than dual-scimitar-wielding drow elves.

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44 Responses

  1. I would like to hear from Harlan what “X” factor determined who God would unconditionally elect and who he would reprobate. I suppose he would say there was no such factor. Does he then mean that God’s choice was arbitrary? What makes one person the right choice for divine election and the other person the wrong choice? Just what is that “X” factor? Oh, wait, I remember now, it’s “inscrutable” (i.e. you can’t go there- how convenient).

  2. My question based on these words in your article here:
    “….are able to believe….”

    Are you “able” to believe or are you “enabled” to believe?

    Which would you say best reflects your belief?

  3. I’ll let J.C. answer that, but I would say “both”. We are enabled in the sense that prior to that enablement, we were unable. We are “able” once enabled since enablement necessarily entails that we are able to do something.

  4. Kang,

    that’s a good enough answer for me.

    The “enable” part is what God does. Just consider what happens when you try to stop breathing on your own? 🙂

  5. Yes, I would agree with Kangaroodort’s assessment. We are not naturally able to be saved, but are enabled by grace, hence I wrote,

    …men are by nature in bondage to sin, but God calls men to repentance and faith in Christ by His grace, by which men are able to believe.

  6. If a Calvinist apologist tries to dismantle Arminianism with item #2, then the argument is flawed from the get go.

    Nowhere in the Bible it says:
    2.) Therefore, both are equally capable of coming to Christ

    There is no human capable of coming to Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit through the bloodshed of Christ on the cross at the will of God the Father.

    I, too, thought Arminianists thought that people had something in them that was good enough to be saved. But let us go beyond the theology team you play for, if you claim to be a Christian and have studied the scriptures intently and pray earnestly, then every Christian would know no one seeks God, goes after God and understands God with the Holy Spirit (Romans 3:10-12, 1 Corinthians 2:12),

    Anything beyond that is healthy soteriology debate between the two camps (namely, -ULIP).

  7. … or “understands God without the Holy Spirit”

  8. Hey guys, very helpful series.

    “no more basis in reality than dual-scimitar-wielding drow elves”.

    That’s because they were decreed to be drow elves. If they were rangers they could wield two scimitars. 😉

  9. Yes, that’s true Kevin. Maybe we could call that doctrine ‘Sola Drizzt.’

  10. This series is very helpful, this post especially so. Very good explanation.

  11. Haha! I was playing Neverwinter Nights again, then I read this article. (stat points, armor class lol)

  12. Joseph, I concur with you about healthy debate. In my experience, sadly, Calvinists who actually do go beyond such cheap rhetorical devices are the exceptions, not the rule. Notice that Harlan is not the only one I cite committing this fallacy. It’s the latter sort of Calvinists and those dealing with such polemics that these posts are addressed to specifically.

    Rex, I liked NWN as well, a good play along that same line is Knights of the Old Republic.

  13. The great irony of Calvinism is the notion that to be Arminian diminishes God and the Gospel. To believe that sinful man plays any part in his salvation exalts man and shrinks God according to Calvinists.

    Here is the great irony. My God is not diminished by the existence of my free will. My God can give me a free will and STILL be…God. The application of Calvinist theology disagrees, hence the irony. In their desire to magnify the glory of God and His plan of salvation and reprehensibilaty of depraved man, they have actually restricted God’s glory and diminished his Omnicience.

    Simply put, my God is bigger than my free will, therefore the two can co-exist without the Universe imploding. I can choose to reject Him and His plan, oh and it is HIS plan. My ability to accept or reject it does in NO WAY diminish the Gospel, nor it’s Creator, nor it’s Deliverer to Whom be all the glory forever!

    If I am invited to dine with the world’s greatest chef, enjoy the glorious feast that he prepared, I do not claim the honor for the great feast simply because I chose to digest it and therefore have ownership of it due to the fact that is now resides in me and working it’s way through my lower intestines. Such a notion is foolish, about as foolish as the notion that the same chef prepares the same great feast sends out the same invitation to me and then ties me down, grabs the fork and proceeds to force feed me the wonderful meal he prepared then asks me to tell the world about the great meal I just ate as he unties the bonds from my wrists.

    This resurgence of Calvinism puts me in quite the dilemma, however. I find myself identifying with the presentation and the reformation of doing “church” differetly that the likes of the Driscoll’s and the Chandler’s are doing, but I cannot stomach this embrace of Calvinism that seems to accompany it.

    We need men and women to rise up and challenge the conventional church of today who aren’t so aligned with heretical, murderers like Calvin. We need some new Finney’s and Wigglesworth’s!

  14. No more Finney…PLEASE!! there is someone who was blatantly a believer that man had the ability in himself to come to God.

  15. <<>>

    I would say: All men are “enabled” by God’s grace to believe, and all men are “able” to reject that same grace and not believe.

  16. Titus 2:11 (English Standard Version)

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people

    John 12:32 (English Standard Version)

    And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself

    THIS IS HOW WE ARE ABLE (we accept Christ’s free gift of grace by faith and receive forgiveness and justification or we reject it and stand before God naked on or own “goodness”………and see where that will get ya)

    I would not call myself a “Calvinist” but for ten years I believed in predestination and much of the Reformed theology………I was convinced by many “Calvinists” in a subtle way that “Arminians” are kind of silly and simplistic (bless their hearts!………or they were “damnable apostates” that seemed to be a favorite phrase) and don’t have a good grasp of theology and for ten years I lived under that delusion with nothing to show me otherwise (and I looked, trust me but I didn’t happen to find people who had a good enough grasp of scripture or critical thinking to poke even a single hole in this system)……until this website (AND in less than a week of reading) I really didn’t think anyone could convince me otherwise but I see people here who KNOW the scriptures and God’s character and I have been convinced that man can have free will and it really is not a threat to God’s sovereignty. God isn’t insecure so he can allow his creatures freedom while He himself is still King over and above all and not the least bit threatened by free will. Makes me think of the definition of love in 1 Cor. and that is the summation of Him and to be perfectly those things is the essence of strength and vulnerability which I think Calvinists wish to deny in God……he COULDN’T be vulnerable or He isn’t sovereign…….but He’s BOTH and that’s what makes Him WONDERFUL! Man! I’ve lost sight of this stuff! My eyes are opened to the circular thinking and the word plays and bait-and-switch games that Calvinism really is based on. The above two scriptures were two that were explained away when I brought them up to a Calvinist couple I knew back when I was still in the process of accepting this doctrine. “Arminians” really DO have brains, and pretty darn good ones at that! 😀

  17. Theresa,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. We are very glad that this site has been of some help to you. Would you mind posting this story (you could just copy and paste it) on the “X-Calvinist Corner” page?

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/x-calvinist-corner/

    You could just use what you wrote here, or elaborate even more. It is up to you. I am sure it will bless someone who is also struggling with Calvinist teaching.

    Also, if you haven’t gone there yet, be sure to check out SEA (The Society of Evangelical Arminians).

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  18. Sure Ben I’d be happy to. Let me just add some more to it and I’ll put it on there once I’m done. I’ll check out SEA as well (I’m not sure if I’ve gone there or not as lately I’ve been to so many different sites).

    Thanks!

    Theresa

  19. Thanks Theresa. May God bless you as you continue to seek Him.

  20. Ben,

    I just checked out SEA and I realized (to my embarrassment) that I have been on it quite a bit this past week and it is the site that led me here and the site (along with this one) that helped to open my eyes. I just have been doing so much reading that I’m getting confused as to what’s what!

    Great stuff!!! 🙂

  21. J.C.
    I guess I’m several months behind on this one, but here goes . . .

    First, I don’t think Mr. Harlan contradicted himself as you contend. In the first quote, he was referring to what Arminians actually hold, while in the second quote he was referring to the implications of the Arminian belief system. Calvinists know that Arminians don’t think that people believe because they are smarter or more innately righteous; however, many feel that the Arminian understanding of free will logically entails that this must be true. It seems you misrepresented *him*, rather than vice versa (this is based on what you quoted, not the entire article of Harlan).

    Second, you’ve had a couple of shots at answering the question of why some believe and others don’t, and you’ve yet to offer a solution. Your arguments have largely dealt with how the Calvinists’ question is framed. Let me frame it differently:

    1. Who has the final say in salvation, God or man? Put another way, who is the final determinative factor in salvation, God or man?

    The familiar second question is:

    2. Why do some men believe, and not others?

    When you have attempted an answer, you write:

    “Faith in Christ doesn’t require being smart or wise, but does require that sinners incline their ears at His gracious call and humble themselves under the Spirit’s conviction.”

    Okay, let me frame the second question differently to accommodate your answer:

    2b. Why do some men “incline their ears and humble themselves under the Spirit’s conviction” and other men do not?

    J.C., you have not answered the question, but merely restated the question posed by the Calvinist. I know full well that Arminians do not think that it is a man’s inherent righteousness that propels him to accept Christ. But I do think that Arminian theology demands such an understanding. Prevenient grace does nothing to solve the difficulty, for it merely brings people to a point where they can accept Christ. Even with this understanding, we must ask:

    2c. Why do some men enabled by prevenient grace, believe, and other men equally enabled by prevenient grace, not believe?

    The answer *must* be that some men have some inherent ability/righteousness/holiness within them to believe. Please explain how this is not case, without merely restating the question.

  22. “I would like to hear from Harlan what “X” factor determined who God would unconditionally elect and who he would reprobate. I suppose he would say there was no such factor. Does he then mean that God’s choice was arbitrary? What makes one person the right choice for divine election and the other person the wrong choice? Just what is that “X” factor? Oh, wait, I remember now, it’s “inscrutable” (i.e. you can’t go there- how convenient).”

    ~~ The above comment made me laugh. 😀

  23. Jason,

    “…you’ve had a couple of shots at answering the question of why some believe and others don’t, and you’ve yet to offer a solution.”

    “Why do some men “incline their ears and humble themselves under the Spirit’s conviction” and other men do not?”

    Why do some men enabled by prevenient grace, believe, and other men equally enabled by prevenient grace, not believe?”

    Yes I have, here and here.

    “It seems you misrepresented *him*, rather than vice versa”

    Let’s see if your hypothesis holds: when he says,

    “Therefore, both are equally capable of coming to Christ”

    and others,

    “do not possess this trait [that allows them to come to Christ]”

    that is an indefensibly outright contradiction in Harlan’s reasoning. If he’s only spouting off what he thinks our view entails when it doesn’t actually entail that, then it’s he that’s misrepresenting us (and incoherently at that).

    “Who has the final say in salvation, God or man? Put another way, who is the final determinative factor in salvation, God or man?”

    Final by way of authority or in sequence? If salvation hinges upon both God’s grace and man’s acceptance, then man’s faith can only come after God’s grace, making man’s choice the last in logical sequence. If you mean ‘final’ as in ‘highest authority,’ then God obviously.

    “The answer *must* be that some men have some inherent ability/righteousness/holiness within them to believe.”

    That’s a combination non-sequitur/strawman, because ability doesn’t necessarily drive action. If God gives two men the ability to believe, and one doesn’t, then it’s not for lack of ability, but simple lack of willingness. Ability does not amount to action.

  24. From what I’ve read, J.C., you have answered the question neither here nor there nor anywhere. You have merely restated the question, which is really no answer at all. The rest of your “answer” has to do with misunderstandings of Arminian theology and how the question is put forth.

    Let me state the question again, for the sake of argument assuming the doctrine of prevenient grace:

    “Why do some men have faith in Christ and not others, considering that all have been enabled to believe by prevenient grace?”

    The only viable option for the synergist is to assert that some have faith because they have some inherent righteousness within them that others do not have. If there is an alternative explanation I have yet to hear of it, including here. But we should also examine more closely what it means to reject Christ. It is an immoral act of the will to reject the one who died for your sins, is it not? We’re not talking about any old preference-based choice (red over blue, Celtics over Lakers, etc.), but rather a well thought out, intentional act of the will to spurn the Son of God. It must therefore be praiseworthy *not* to so reject Christ. The “why” question is equally important when considering the rejecters, as it is when considering the acceptors. Merely asserting that some just decided to choose answers nothing.

    We are left with two possibilities for why some men accept Christ and others do not:

    1. “Some men have faith in Christ because they have been irresistibly drawn to Christ. Others reject Christ because they are left in their sin and therefore have no desire for him.”
    2. “Some men have faith in Christ because they have more innate righteousness within them that, combined with prevenient grace, causes them to desire Christ. Others reject Christ since mere prevenient grace alone did not cause them to desire Christ.”

    The second possibility is problematic for the synergist for two reasons. One, it leads to the idea of a works-based salvation, since it would then depend upon one’s one righteousness in addition to Christ’s righteousness. Second, it’s a problem because of the inevitable follow-up “why” question: “How did these men get this ‘innate righteousness’ that produced faith when combined with prevenient grace?” God is the one who made us, who knew from the beginning how our spirits and mind would interact and choose, who chose our very habitation – in other words, both nature and nurture have been used by God to form us into who we are. But to go this route leads to a more Calvinist understanding of salvation, since it is only God who has created us.

    It would be much easier to go with the first possibility. But the synergist cannot accept it because, well, he would no longer be a synergist but a monergist, and monergism leads to all kinds of unsavory ideas. But given the amount of Scripture that speaks to this very subject (Mat 24:24; John 6:37; John 15:16; Act 13:48; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:10-24; Rom 11:5-7; Eph 1:3-6; Eph 1:11-12; 1The 1:4; 1The 5:9; 2The 2:13-14) it seems best to let these verses rule our understanding of “why” some men believe.

  25. Jason,

    “Why do some men have faith in Christ and not others, considering that all have been enabled to believe by prevenient grace?”

    Because some freely embrace it while others freely reject it. If you’re asking what caused him to do so, that’s begging the question of determinism; or as I clarified here: “…if something ‘made’ him choose what he did other than his free will, his choice by definition would be non-libertarian. A contrary choice cannot be broken down more atomically with repeated ‘whys,’ since there is nothing that irresistibly causes the will to make its decision.”

    So the very question is logically flawed on a fundamental level.

    “The only viable option for the synergist is to assert that some have faith because they have some inherent righteousness within them that others do not have.”

    Your statement is utterly false, since both have opportunity, and their decisions aren’t driven or absolutely determined by inherent abilities (which would again, be assuming determinism to prove determinism), therefore this precludes inherent righteousness being the determining factor; otherwise those who don’t receive wouldn’t have genuine opportunity to. Since they do, this plainly rules out your leaps of logic.

    “It must therefore be praiseworthy *not* to so reject Christ.”

    Nope. Haven’t you read?

    “In the same way, when you obey me you should say, `We are not worthy of praise. We are servants who have simply done our duty.’ “” (Luke 17:10)

    “Merely asserting that some just decided to choose answers nothing.”

    Yes it does, since from a libertarian standpoint, it can’t be broken down further than agent causation. If you’re arguing that it contradicts your Calvinistic understanding, then that’s already a given.

    “…it seems best to let these verses rule our understanding of “why” some men believe.”

    “But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)” (John 7:30)

    Indeed, which is why I’m no monergist.

  26. Jason,

    “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

    People that come to Christ do so because of the preaching of the gospel, God’s power to save.

    There are tons of biblical answers as to why some do not come to faith in God. None of which leads to determinism.

    1. The cares of the world choke out the word, or Satan removes the word before it can take root (Parable of the Sower)

    2. The message of the gospel seems foolishness to the wise and noble of the world

    3. Money keeps people from taking up their cross, and following God (Rich young ruler)

    4. Fear of groups of people keep some from confessing Christ openly

    I could go on and on. Any barrier to the gospel is a barrier to some coming to Christ. Those are documented in Scripture.

  27. J.C.

    “. . .since there is nothing that irresistibly causes the will to make its decision.”

    You are tacitly appealing to mystery with some of your statements – but not quite. What you state here is interesting, however. Would you deny that we choose based upon the strongest inclination or motive within us? If you disagree, can you cite some decisions that are not based upon that strongest desire?

    A word about Luke 17:10. This verse is about workers who already belong to the Lord, and how they should view their own works on this earth. Contrast this with the parable of the talents, where the master praises his subject’s good use of their talents (Matt. 25:21). The first verse is how we should view ourselves, the second how the Lord will reward us. The choice for salvation must be praiseworthy, since that choice is not made on a whim, but rather from a strong desire within us. That desire, that yearning for salvation that some have, must come from some place. Is there anyone who places their trust in Jesus Christ who did not do so because of an overwhelming love and desire for him?

    And a note about Luke 7:30. This verse does nothing to tell us why some believe, but only tells us the Pharisees rejected God’s purpose for them. The question not answered in this verse is *why* these men rejected Christ, which Jesus answers in John 10:25-26.

    Steven (2)

    The question is (and remains): Why are some good soil and others bad soil – if both are granted prevenient grace? Why is the gospel wisdom to one and foolishness to another? Why do some “take up their cross” and others cast it asunder and follow the world? Yes, there certainly are barriers to coming to Christ, but why do some overcome those barriers, while others do not? That’s the question I’m asking. You have not resolved the underlying issue.

    This “why” question is important, as I’ve said, because I firmly believe Scripture tells us *why* some believe. It is God who grants some repentance (2 Tim. 2:25-26); It is God who draws some without fail (John 6:44).

  28. Jason,

    J:You are tacitly appealing to mystery with some of your statements

    Really? Explain.

    J:Would you deny that we choose based upon the strongest inclination or motive within us?

    I would maintain that our strongest inclination is often decided by us; we can prioritize what’s important to us, ergo choosing according to one’s strongest inclination, even if true, says nothing about the choice being predetermined.

    J:The choice for salvation must be praiseworthy, since that choice is not made on a whim, but rather from a strong desire within us.

    Non-sequitur. Strong desire establishes nothing about praiseworthiness. Simply doing what God commands us is itself not praiseworthy on our part as Luke 17 shows, which includes believing.

    J:Is there anyone who places their trust in Jesus Christ who did not do so because of an overwhelming love and desire for him?

    If by ‘overwhelming,’ you mean ‘absolutely irresistible,’ then yes.

    J:The question not answered in this verse is *why* these men rejected Christ

    Actually, it does indicate why. The the sheep Christ speaks of in John 10 are those who heed God and learn from Him (cf. John 6:45). The Pharisees having not believed Moses (John 5:46) and rejecting John, are not His sheep. What Luke does positively answer is from where their rejection didn’t stem. It wasn’t due to God’s not wanting their repentance, they in fact rejected what God wanted for themselves as it states (see also Luke 13:30). So their rejection was rooted in themselves, not God’s will.

    J:It is God who grants some repentance

    Agreed, though this says nothing about the conditionality thereof.

    J:It is God who draws some without fail (John 6:44).

    If by ‘without fail’ you mean that some believe, this says nothing about determinism. If you mean ‘irresistibly,’ then that’s eisegesis, as the passage’s context indicates nothing of the sort.

    J:The question is (and remains): Why are some good soil and others bad soil – if both are granted prevenient grace?

    Given prevenient grace, because of their own choices. This has already been answered.

  29. Jason,

    Those are all Bible reasons and answers to your question. Why does someone love money less than someone else?

    Because they was taught that life is a vapor, and you can’t take anything with you.

    Anything we have of faith comes by hearing, and that by the message of the gospel. Some do not LISTEN to the preaching. Why do they not listen? Because they do not desire to have any other master than themselves.

    How is this not a logical, biblical answer, that doesn’t include determinism?

  30. because they were** taught, sorry for the typo.

    haste makes waste 🙂

  31. Jason,

    Otherwise, the issue you run into is this:

    If God irresistibly calls some men and willingly excludes others, then the power of God is NOT in the gospel, but in His personal hidden working on the wills of some individuals APART from the gospel. That is not biblical.

    If the Bible is true, and the power of salvation is in the message preached, then anyone who hears that message can be affected by its power. That’s why evangelism is so important in the Bible. People need the message.

  32. J.C.

    “I would maintain that our strongest inclination is often decided by us; we can prioritize what’s important to us, ergo choosing according to one’s strongest inclination, even if true, says nothing about the choice being predetermined.”

    I believe it’s well established that we do choose according to our strongest desire or inclination (SDI). If not true there should be plenty of examples demonstrating its falsity, but I’ve yet to hear even one. What you have proposed is that our SDI itself is a product of the will. Though the will is determined by our SDI, it is the same will that determines SDI, which gets rather circular. You said that we “prioritize what’s important to us” yet that prioritizing must itself have a SDI as well. I really don’t think you’ve answered how we choose what we choose.

    Regarding John 6:44-45

    Those who are drawn, come. This is made clear by the second half, where Jesus states that those who are drawn are also “raised up in the last day.” Since not everyone is “raised up” (in final salvation), then not everyone is drawn. Jesus also says: “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” We have a good example of this taking place in Matt. 16:17, where Jesus tells Peter upon his confession: “blessed are you . . . for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” The revealing is an internal enlightenment; it must be or the “flesh and blood” statement is virtually without meaning. What Jesus is saying is that men can preach the gospel to us, but unless God works in us, we will never receive it. The fact that it goes beyond mere prevenient grace is indicated by Jesus calling Peter “blessed.” He was blessed because faith is a gift and it isn’t given to all.

    Getting back to John, these verses are strong evidence of the following:

    a. no person is “able” to come to Christ unless drawn by God
    b. all those drawn are also “raised up in the last day” – salvation from beginning to end is of God.
    c. there is an internal teaching in conjunction with the outward teaching of the word. It is this internal instruction by God that so creates a desires in us to love Christ that we can do no other but come to him.

    Limiting this passage to 1st C. Jews— who are given by the Father to Christ because they were already faithful under the old covenant—is problematic for the following reasons. First, it’s hard to see why those already enabled by prevenient grace to believe under the previous covenant, were now unable to respond to Christ without being effectually drawn and “granted” the ability (v. 65) to come. Second, limiting the passage to the faithful does an injustice to what we see throughout the Bible, in that many previously unfaithful persons were brought to faith (ex: Saul of Tarsus).

    One more thing. I think that you should consider compatibilist freedom as a viable option, since it better answers many Scriptures than does libertarian freedom: 1 Sam. 19:20-24, Ezra 1:1, Rev. 17:17

    Steven (2)

    You have listed some very relevant biblical facts regarding why men reject Christ. There’s really nothing to disagree with in that list. What I’m saying is that it’s our sinful nature – 100% of humanity – to reject salvation for these very reasons. If that is true, why do some men overcome these obstacles and believe? Why do some have this “desire” to trust Christ, while others do have this same desire? Given that Arminians believe prevenient grace places everyone in a position to freely choose, what is the deciding factor? This “desire” must come from within the person himself. Those who choose Christ do so because of an overwhelming love and desire for him. But why do some have this love and desire, and not others? It must come from God.

    “If God irresistibly calls some men and willingly excludes others, then the power of God is NOT in the gospel…”

    It is the power of the gospel to save, yet most are not saved upon hearing the gospel, which means that the deciding factor *must* either rest with God or man. I’ve been arguing for the former.

  33. Jason,

    J:Though the will is determined by our SDI, it is the same will that determines SDI…

    You’re equivocating, you were referring to choices, now you refer to the will itself which produces choices.

    J:You said that we “prioritize what’s important to us” yet that prioritizing must itself have a SDI as well.

    No, it doesn’t. You’re again begging the question of determinsm. That we do prioritize our own choices is well-established in scripture:

    Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation… (1 Pet 2:2)

    Do not trust in oppression, Nor vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, Do not set your heart on them. (Ps 62:10)

    J:Those who are drawn, come. This is made clear by the second half, where Jesus states that those who are drawn are also “raised up in the last day.”

    It would help you immensely if you’d actually read context. This is part of a larger description of those who are saved throughout Christ’s exposition in the chapter, which includes seeing and believing (vs 40), coming (44), and metaphorically eating and drinking Christ (54). To claim “drawn=raised” is myopic proof-texting.

    J:Limiting this passage to 1st C. Jews— who are given by the Father to Christ because they were already faithful under the old covenant—is problematic

    I said nothing about limiting it to the Jews.

    J:…limiting the passage to the faithful does an injustice to what we see throughout the Bible, in that many previously unfaithful persons were brought to faith (ex: Saul of Tarsus).

    Not at all, since they were also among those who heard and were taught and drawn by God.

    J:…since it better answers many Scriptures than does libertarian freedom: 1 Sam. 19:20-24, Ezra 1:1, Rev. 17:17

    (?) What does Saul prophesying have to do with whether he had free will? God stirring one’s spirit to do a thing doesn’t contradict free will in the least. Rather, it’s the determinist fallacies that can’t square with scripture. A major example we’ve shown is 1 Cor 10:13:

    “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:13)

    If exhaustive determinism (incl compatibilism) is true, then this is completely false, since believers in fact are irresistibly predetermined to sin with no way of escape.

    J:Given that Arminians believe prevenient grace places everyone in a position to freely choose, what is the deciding factor?

    Whether we receive or not.

    J:This “desire” must come from within the person himself.

    Through grace, for without grace it could not exist. But since all freely can desire this, then the desire doesn’t spring from some inherent righteousness as you’ve erroneously claimed.

    J:I really don’t think you’ve answered how we choose what we choose.

    When you actually can read what’s been written, you might understand why your “what makes free will choose the way it does” question is entirely fallacious.

  34. J.C.

    “(?) What does Saul prophesying have to do with whether he had free will? God stirring one’s spirit to do a thing doesn’t contradict free will in the least.”

    Read the 1Samuel 19 passage again, considering Saul’s state of mind prior to his encounter with the sons of the prophets, and considering that there were also dozens, if not hundreds, of others who had the same experience, and then tell me if Saul (and these others) still had libertarian freedom in light of your own definition: ““if some external principle coerced, impelled, or simply necessitated a specific decision, then the choice could no longer be called ‘libertarian.’”

    “You’re again begging the question of determinsm.”
    When you actually can read what’s been written, you might understand why your “what makes free will choose the way it does” question is entirely fallacious.

    You’re misapplying question begging. First off, my belief that some choose Christ is because God has effectually called them. Therefore, it is perfectly legitimate to question why some believe (and some don’t believe) to someone who rejects effectual calling. Second, my more recent argument has taken the following route: a) I’ve first tried to show that we choose because of the SDI within us; and b) If true (and I’ve yet to hear a good argument against it) then it’s circular to assert that we choose the very things that determine our choices, since even that choice would have to have a SDI. I only assumed (b) in my previous statement because of how you answered my initial (a) argument.

    By the way, yes I can read, I have read, and I have read again your first post on question begging. It’s misapplied (at least to my argument) and is otherwise a clever way of dodging a difficult question.

    “Rather, it’s the determinist fallacies that can’t square with scripture. A major example we’ve shown is 1 Cor 10:13:”

    And how does this verse not square with Calvinism?

    “Through grace, for without grace it could not exist. But since all freely can desire this, then the desire doesn’t spring from some inherent righteousness”

    First, I don’t think Scripture teaches that “all freely can desire” grace. But even assuming preventing grace brings everyone up to speed, it is still quite a mystery as to why some accept grace and others reject it. We choose Christ not on a whim or as something worth trying out, but because we have strong desire and love for him. Most simple have no desire or love for him, and have never and will never have any desire to trust him. That’s a huge difference and it cannot be whittled down to merely “they chose to receive it” and others just chose not to. *It’s an issue of the heart*. As I’ve said, simply saying “they freely receive it” answers nothing but only restates the question being asked. And stating that LFW cannot go there is a copout and should make you realize its insufficiency in answering what Scripture already teaches about the “why” questions.

    “It would help you immensely if you’d actually read context. This is part of a larger description of those who are saved throughout Christ’s exposition in the chapter, which includes seeing and believing (vs 40), coming (44), and metaphorically eating and drinking Christ (54). To claim “drawn=raised” is myopic proof-texting.”

    This passage simply does not square with Arminian theology, for neither prevenient grace nor libertarian freedom can exist comfortably here. Jesus does indeed talk about people believing and seeing, but he doesn’t leave it there, for he actually tells us *why* these same people believe and see and come to him. First he says no one “can” (dunamis, literally “able” or “capable”) come to him unless drawn. Second he makes the remarkable statement that those drawn are also “raised up at the last day.” We now have two choices about what Jesus meant: universalism or a more limited and effectual election. This isn’t “myopic proof-texting,” nor am I failing to “actually read context” as you so condescendingly put it. I’m reporting what the text says. It is specifically because of passages like this that I find it necessary to engage those who think that the final determining factor in salvation rests in human decision rather than God’s effectual call (Rom. 8:30).

  35. Jason,

    J:…tell me if Saul (and these others) still had libertarian freedom in light of your own definition

    Not in that circumstance; LFW implies a general ability to choose between options, there’s no principle saying that God can’t simply override it if He sees fit. I’m surprised you would resort to such a weak argument.

    J:You’re misapplying question begging.

    Nope, I’m not. You’re assuming that our prioritizing choices must be based upon some ‘strongest inclination,’ which is essentially assuming what you’re trying to prove.

    J:…it is perfectly legitimate to question why some believe (and some don’t believe) to someone who rejects effectual calling.

    Which is essentially asking what predetermines our choices. Case in point: You’re still begging the question.

    J:…it’s circular to assert that we choose the very things that determine our choices

    Incorrect, since prioritizing wouldn’t necessarily be the same sort of act of will as a ‘choice’ proper.

    J:It’s misapplied (at least to my argument)

    So far it applies perfectly. You’re just rewording the same fallacious reasoning.

    J:and is otherwise a clever way of dodging a difficult question.

    Only ‘difficult’ in the same sense as “have you stopped beating your wife yet?” is, which also carries a hidden premise. Stupid/loaded questions sometimes are designed to be difficult to answer, but it in fact is an answer to point out that it’s logically unsound to even ask. To review: You’re essentially asking “What (besides his own will) causes a person to make libertarian choices as he does?” Clearly, determinsm is being assumed a priori in this question supposedly pertaining to free will.

    J:And how does this verse not square with Calvinism?

    Simple: If we’re irresistibly predetermined to commit every sin that we (as Christians) commit, then there really is no way of escape from their accompanying temptations, contra what scritpure tells us. Necessitarianism really isn’t an option for me as a Bible-believer.

    J:That’s a huge difference and it cannot be whittled down to merely “they chose to receive it” and others just chose not to. *It’s an issue of the heart*

    Yes it can. What’s in the heart is in some ways up to the individual (2 Chr 12:14, John 14:27, Acts 5:4, Eph 6:6, Prov 16:1).

    J:As I’ve said, simply saying “they freely receive it” answers nothing-

    Nor need it, since you’re asking what predetermines it.

    J:should make you realize its insufficiency in answering what Scripture already teaches about the “why” questions.

    LFW does adequately address the why in conjunction with other concepts scripture propounds; and in fact does so much better than exhaustive determinism which winds up necessarily making God the author of sin. We don’t know everything about its internal mechanisms, but we do know that God has free will to make choices that aren’t externally necessitated, thus there’s no tenable objection to the concept as an option.

    J:First he says no one “can” (dunamis, literally “able” or “capable”) come to him unless drawn.

    I agree.

    J:Second he makes the remarkable statement that those drawn are also “raised up at the last day.”

    The context of Christ’s reference to the person being drawn already assumes the case of a person who comes, so it’s expected in the libertarian view that he will be raised subsequent to being drawn. So then contextually, it’s those who come after being drawn who are raised at the last day, which says nothing about whether such drawing is irresistible or not.

  36. J.C.

    What’s in the heart is in some ways up to the individual (2 Chr. 12:14, John 14:27, Acts 5:4, Eph. 6:6, Prov. 16:1).

    Great point, I especially liked the 2 Chronicles reference. Just a quick question could a Compatibilst use those references?

  37. Jason,

    You said, in your last comment to me:

    “It is the power of the gospel to save, yet most are not saved upon hearing the gospel, which means that the deciding factor *must* either rest with God or man. I’ve been arguing for the former.”

    I don’t think that statement is true. That’s like saying,

    Not everyone listened to Jesus’ preaching. Jesus’ preaching must not have had something to do with people believing.

    It’s just not true. The deciding factor rests in the hands of the individuals to either accept it or reject it. Otherwise, why were the Jews punished for the rejection of Jesus? If God is the one who put the rejection of Jesus into their hearts?

  38. J.C.

    “Not in that circumstance; LFW implies a general ability to choose between options, there’s no principle saying that God can’t simply override it if He sees fit. I’m surprised you would resort to such a weak argument.”

    I’m not yet done with my “weak argument.” If Saul and the others didn’t have LFW since God overrode it, then what type of freedom did they have during those hours, if any?
    a) they had no freedom at all. Instead they were prophesying with their mouths while their minds were warring against God, hating every second of it.
    b) they still had freedom, but in a more compatibilistic sense. Thus Saul & co. were willing while prophesying since God changed their disposition toward him for that period of time.
    Which of these is correct in your opinion? Or is there another option?

    Regarding 1 Cor.10:13: “If we’re irresistibly predetermined to commit every sin that we (as Christians) commit, then there really is no way of escape from their accompanying temptations, contra what scritpure tells us. Necessitarianism really isn’t an option for me as a Bible-believer.”

    That’s a strawman. Calvinists hold that irresistibility applies to salvation, but not sin. You’re arguing against Calvinism’s alleged implications rather than what Calvinists actually believe. And in saying this verse cannot work in Calvinism you are assuming that compatibilist freedom isn’t true freedom, thus begging the question of LFW.

    “We don’t know everything about its internal mechanisms,”

    Not to sound facetious, but do you know *anything* about its internal mechanisms?

    “but we do know that God has free will to make choices that aren’t externally necessitated, thus there’s no tenable objection to the concept as an option.”

    I’m not talking about our choices being “externally necessitated.” Rather, the internal compulsions are in view. Scripture consistently ties our choices to our heart (cf. Mt. 12:34-35). Our heart (the desires within us) leads us to choose Christ or reject him. Those who reject Christ make that choice because their heart is wicked. It is therefore most reasonable to ask these questions: In light of the idea that prevenient grace brings all humanity to a place where they can choose, does this not also assume that God also enabled the hearts of all to desire him? And since some reject him anyway, does this not mean that the difference is not with God’s efforts but within the persons themselves, meaning that they reject him because their hearts are wicked? And that those who accept him do so because their hearts are less wicked (than the rejectors) and thus they choose him? This is just another way of saying that the difference maker in why some accept Christ is that they must have a desire within them, produced by them, that drives them to Christ.
    Let me be clear about something. Even though I’m saying that it’s some inherent moral ability that is the deciding factor, I’m not linking this to merit in salvation. I know some Calvinists argue this way, but it has never really convinced me. Instead, I would argue that this innate strength of heart would inevitably lead us back to God’s sovereignty – in determining our parents, our culture, our genetic make-up, our education, and who formed us intimately in the womb interweaving mind and spirit in such a marvelous way that only he can unravel its mysteries. In other words, either way you go with the “why” question – compatibilism or prevenient grace – God is still the *final* determiner of that moral ability to respond.

    “The context of Christ’s reference to the person being drawn already assumes the case of a person who comes, so it’s expected in the libertarian view that he will be raised subsequent to being drawn. So then contextually, it’s those who come after being drawn who are raised at the last day, which says nothing about whether such drawing is irresistible or not.”

    There are several difficult hurdles to overcome before such an interpretation is even viable.
    First, and most telling, the personal pronoun clearly identifies those who are raised up with those who are drawn (elkuse auton “draws him” – anasteso auton “raise him”). Everyone who is drawn is raised.

    Second, there is the connection with v37: “all that the Father gives to me will come to me.” The most typical Arminian response – and if I’m not mistaken the view you seem to hold—is that the Father gives to the Son those Jews (and some God-fearing Gentiles) who had been faithful under the Mosaic covenant (thus v45). Yet if this is the case it hardly makes sense that they would be “unable” to come to Christ unless drawn by God in v44. If the teaching of the Law, along with prevenient grace (I’m assuming) was enough for them to be faithful under Moses, then why the sudden need for this “drawing” and “granting” (v65) because of inability? The better explanation is that the inability is universal in v44, and that the drawing is effectual in light of v37.

    Third, the “raise him up on the last day” in v44 is closely connected to v39: “this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” Who is raised on the last day? Those who are given to the Son by the Father. How are they given in light of the fact that they are incapable of any desire to come? They are effectually drawn. God draws and gives to the Son and the Son preserves them for the last day when they shall be raised.

    This passage essentially answer the “why” questions. Why do some come to Christ and other not? Those who come are effectually drawn. Those who do not come have no desire for God because their hearts are wicked.

  39. Steven (2)

    “I don’t think that statement is true. That’s like saying,

    Not everyone listened to Jesus’ preaching. Jesus’ preaching must not have had something to do with people believing.”

    I’m not saying that at all. We are most definitely saved by the preached word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). I’m only saying that some hear the message and believe because they are drawn by the Father to Son (John 6:44).

  40. Jason said: “First, and most telling, the personal pronoun clearly identifies those who are raised up with those who are drawn (elkuse auton “draws him” – anasteso auton “raise him”). Everyone who is drawn is raised.”

    **** I don’t have much time to participate in this discussion, so I should leave JC to carry on the conversation. But since Jason identied the point quoted above as the ost important about John 6, and it is easily shown to be false, I fugured I would chime in, basically underscoring the point JC already made, but perhaps making the point more fully and forcefully.

    The crucial thing is that the personal pronoun–both “him’s”– refer to the person that has been drawn *and* comes. So while the two “him’s” are indeed the same, both refer to him who has been drawn and come. Think about the statement: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” The “him” is clearly speaking about someone who has been drawn and comes. So when Jesus goes on immediately to say, “and I will raise him up on the last day”, he is speaking about someone who has been drawn and come. Those who are drawn and come will be raised up. But the former statement was only affirming that drawing is a necessary condition. It in no way states that it is a sufficient condition (i.e., it does not state that drawing necessarily causes coming, only that it enables it). It does not at all say that all who are drawn come. It says this is necessary to come. But in saying no one can come unless such and such happens to him, “him” is now understood to have both come and been drawn without any affirmation that whoever is drawn comes. One cannot throw away the first half of the sentence (“no one can come to me unless”) and pretend it is not also comprehended in the “him” referred to at the end of the sentence (“the Father who sent me draws him”). Another way to get at this would be to ask, who is the “him” in that statement? I think it would have to be admitted that it is the person who has been drawn and comes. But then we must ask, does it say that everyone who is drawn comes? And the answer is undeniably no. It neither says nor implies this. (This could be demonstrated by any number of practical examples of statements with the same form by the way; but the point is clear and obvious in itself).

  41. Mitch, I’m sure Compatibilists would have some response to/interpretation of those verses, but I’m not so sure they could reasonably use them to promote their views. I think the hardest for them to reconcile Prov 16.

    Jason,

    J:Which of these is correct in your opinion? Or is there another option?

    It’s not really clearly indicated, nor would it be relevant to proving the nature of the will.

    J:Our heart (the desires within us) leads us to choose Christ or reject him.

    And that those who accept him do so because their hearts are less wicked (than the rejectors) and thus they choose him?

    Which if we have any control over the desires of our heart as I made reference to, these concepts are irrelevant for refuting free will.

    J:In other words, either way you go with the “why” question – compatibilism or prevenient grace – God is still the *final* determiner of that moral ability to respond.

    Only assuming ability to believe is contingent upon inherent ability, which I don’t believe if you’ll note the post title and my argument from what prevenient grace necessarily constitutes.

    J:In light of the idea that prevenient grace brings all humanity to a place where they can choose, does this not also assume that God also enabled the hearts of all to desire him?

    Prevenient grace would enable one’s heart to desire Him, but doesn’t compel one to do so.

    J:First, and most telling, the personal pronoun clearly identifies those who are raised up with those who are drawn (elkuse auton “draws him” – anasteso auton “raise him”). Everyone who is drawn is raised.

    Not if context is accounted for (as I’ve argued and Arminian has expounded), since the person[s] described by said pronoun are those who are drawn, come, see, learn, believe, eat and drink who are raised according to Christ’s words. Those who are drawn but resist the will of God for their being gathered unto Christ (e.g. many of the people in Jerusalem -Luke 13:34) obviously wouldn’t be raised in like manner.

    J:If the teaching of the Law, along with prevenient grace (I’m assuming) was enough for them to be faithful under Moses, then why the sudden need for this “drawing” and “granting” (v65) because of inability?

    Seeing the vast difference between the covenants, the burden would be upon you to establish why there wouldn’t be a need.

    J:How are they given in light of the fact that they are incapable of any desire to come? They are effectually drawn.

    That’s a leap of logic unsupported from the context.

    J:That’s a strawman. Calvinists hold that irresistibility applies to salvation, but not sin. You’re arguing against Calvinism’s alleged implications rather than what Calvinists actually believe.

    No, it’s quite correct. Calvinists who believe in exhaustive determinsim hold that sin is wholly and irrevocably decreed by God, and thus the beings decreed to commit it are powerless to do contrary. When applied to Christians, this would directly contradict 1 Cor 10:13.

    J:And in saying this verse cannot work in Calvinism you are assuming that compatibilist freedom isn’t true freedom, thus begging the question of LFW.

    Not really, Compatibilist freedom being actual freedom or not has no bearing on whether LFW exists. The Compatibilist also denies that any creature has power of contrary choice, which still would contradict the passage in question regardless of how ‘freedom’ is redefined, since there literally is no truly possible means of escape for believers from predetermined sin.

  42. Arminian (& J.C.)

    Wasn’t sure I’d have a chance to respond, but here goes . . .

    I totally understand the point you are making. In this understanding v44 means: “No one can come to unless the Father woos him, and the one who responds to this wooing will be raised on the last day.” The central problem is that you are supplying some things that are not in the text. First is the idea that “draw” is in some way related to prevenient grace and therefore more in line with a “wooing” or “beckoning” than a more strong meaning. In this understanding everyone is drawn. Second, and building on your Arminian presuppositions, you are assuming that v44 is conditional, when in actuality the text does not demand this. I suppose it *could* be understood this way, but that understanding must either be indicated in the present text or, possibly, context (and it’s not), or supplied by the reader based upon previous theological ideas.

    It is helpful to examine the sister verse of v44, namely v65. Here Jesus states: “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” First, the use of “grant” suggests a much more strong understanding of “draw” than you are suggesting. The same idea is found in (2 Tim. 2:25) to indicate those who, it is hoped, will be “granted repentance.” It indicates absolute certainty because it rests in the Father’s hand. Second, why did Jesus say “this is why I told you”? It was because some did not believe (vv63-64) and Jesus was explaining why. If the “drawing” and “granting” are merely the Father’s action provided to all, yet dependent upon human response, Jesus’ words “this is why I told you” make little sense. It also tells us that v44 means the same thing. In fact, Jesus states it after many of the people were “grumbling among themselves.”

    If you come to the text assuming LFW and prevenient grace then it will be tailored to fit those ideas. However, letting the text speak, it clearly indicates that God effectually draws those who are his. Everyone drawn comes (believes), and is subsequently raised on the last day. You might be tempted to say that I’m coming to the text with my own monergistic assumptions coloring my interpretation; but it is precisely this text (along with Rom. 8 & 9) that caused me to have those monergistic beliefs.

    J.C.

    Regarding my 1 Sam. 19 question: “It’s not really clearly indicated, nor would it be relevant to proving the nature of the will.”

    You say this, yet you have no trouble reading compatibilism out of 1 Cor. 10:13. Evidently this verse “clearly indicates” it to be so. Be that as it may, I’ll answer my own question: it’s (b) and the implications are actually quite profound.

    “Calvinists who believe in exhaustive determinsim hold that sin is wholly and irrevocably decreed by God, and thus the beings decreed to commit it are powerless to do contrary. When applied to Christians, this would directly contradict 1 Cor 10:13.”
    “. . . since there literally is no truly possible means of escape for believers from predetermined sin.”
    “. . . thus the beings decreed to commit it are powerless to do contrary”

    After reading through such comments, J.C., I really don’t think you are demonstrating a good grasp of the Calvinist arguments regarding compatibilism and determinism. Degreeing ‘A’ does not *necessarily* entail bringing about ‘A’ by direct, manipulative means – which is what you are implying; otherwise those comments bear little weight. Again, this is a strawman. The Calvinist understanding of these issues is much more intricate and nuanced than you seem to think.

    Undoubtedly you will have a response, and I will definitely read it. But this is likely the end of the road for me here – at least for now. Too much going on right now. Let me say that these discussions have been enlightening in many ways and I’ve enjoyed being able to discuss them with you. I appreciate your commitment to the gospel. God bless.

  43. Jason,

    J:The central problem is that you are supplying some things that are not in the text.

    Its conditionality is implied in context, as we’ve already been over.

    J:First, the use of “grant” suggests a much more strong understanding of “draw” than you are suggesting. … It indicates absolute certainty because it rests in the Father’s hand.

    Granting indicates that one is allowed to do a thing, not that he/she necessarily will.

    J:If the “drawing” and “granting” are merely the Father’s action provided to all, yet dependent upon human response, Jesus’ words “this is why I told you” make little sense.

    I read over it again… not seeing why you claim it wouldn’t make sense.

    J:However, letting the text speak, it clearly indicates that God effectually draws those who are his.

    Incorrect, since nothing about ‘irresistibility’ is implied in the text.

    J:Everyone drawn comes (believes)

    But the text doesn’t say that everyone who is drawn believes. Kind of odd that you appeal to a somewhat isolated reading of the text, yet assert it means what it doesn’t actually state. Sorry, in exegesis, context is king, and context dictates that Christ is stating that those who are drawn and believe are raised, not merely that all who are drawn are raised.

    J:You say this, yet you have no trouble reading compatibilism out of 1 Cor. 10:13.

    Yep, because the point that God doesn’t let Christians be tempted beyond what we’re able is quite relevant to the issue (as this contradicts the idea of God having immutably predetermined our sin). The idea that God apparently subverted Saul’s free will for a time isn’t, since whether God has power over our wills isn’t even an issue.

    J:I really don’t think you are demonstrating a good grasp of the Calvinist arguments regarding compatibilism and determinism. Degreeing ‘A’ does not *necessarily* entail bringing about ‘A’ by direct, manipulative means – which is what you are implying

    I wasn’t implying anything about “direct, manipulative means.” What I was saying was that if a thing is irrevocably and irresistibly decreed by God, then no one can do other than what is decreed. So if a believer is so decreed to fall to temptation by God, then he has no way of escape, which would contradict 1 Cor 10:13.

    J:Again, this is a strawman. The Calvinist understanding of these issues is much more intricate and nuanced than you seem to think.

    I’ve discussed this with quite a few deterministic Calvinists and the bottom line is always the same: For any sin that a believer commits, high Calvinists will consistently affirm that there was no way that such a sin could truly have been avoided, and thus that there was no actual way of escape from the temptation. All such sin, in their view, is absolutely settled by the secret decree of God.

    J:I’ve enjoyed being able to discuss them with you.

    Same here Jason. God be with you.

  44. Jason said: “I totally understand the point you are making. In this understanding v44 means: “No one can come to unless the Father woos him, and the one who responds to this wooing will be raised on the last day.” The central problem is that you are supplying some things that are not in the text. First is the idea that “draw” is in some way related to prevenient grace and therefore more in line with a “wooing” or “beckoning” than a more strong meaning. In this understanding everyone is drawn.”

    **** It is not a matter of presuming anything, but of detertmining what the text itself says and what can be claimed from the text. First, you have not really responded specifically to my comments that show pretty definitively that the actual wording ot the text supports the Arminian view, and does not demand the Cavlinist view in the least (which is often the Calvinist claim, that the wording of the text demands the Calvinist view; this is demonstrably false per my comments in my earlier post; the Calvinist typically sets a high bar for this text, claiming it demands the Calvinist position. The Arminian does not make such grandiose claims and can be content to show that the Calvinist claim is false and that the text is quite compatible with Arminian theology.)

    Second, there is no claim that this text teaches a universal drawing. It does not address that issue. It does not deny a universal drawing and is compatible with the idea. And indeed, John 12:32 explicitly teaches a universal drawing!

    It is odd that you accuse us of assuming “drawing” means wooing here, when that is the definition of the word provided for such contexts in the most authoritative Greek lexicon for NT Greek! Do you not see that you are accusing us of assuming it means wooing when you are apparently assumingh it means “irresistibly cause to come”?. You frame it as if our interpretation bears the burden of proof but yours does not. The ironic thing is that “attract, woo” is objectively the most likely meaning of the word according to the scholarly lexicons.

    Jason said: Second, and building on your Arminian presuppositions, you are assuming that v44 is conditional, when in actuality the text does not demand this. I suppose it *could* be understood this way, but that understanding must either be indicated in the present text or, possibly, context (and it’s not), or supplied by the reader based upon previous theological ideas.”

    **** Your comments here are even more suprising and ironic. For the word Greek words translated “unless” are precisely a conditional construction! The text literally reads “if not”. Indeed, even in English “unless” is normally a conditional. So while you are accusing us of reading our presuppositions into the text, it is actually the text that objectively upholds our view and shows that you are approaching it with such strong Calvinistic presuppositions that you don;t even see objective grammatical features of the text.

    Jason said: “It is helpful to examine the sister verse of v44, namely v65. Here Jesus states: “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” First, the use of “grant” suggests a much more strong understanding of “draw” than you are suggesting. The same idea is found in (2 Tim. 2:25) to indicate those who, it is hoped, will be “granted repentance.” It indicates absolute certainty because it rests in the Father’s hand.”

    **** The use of “grant” does not support your case at all. When speaking of one person granting an action to another that the other performs, the most natural and normal meaning of granting/giving in such contexts is the giving of opportunity or abilty for the person to perform the action. Analysis of biblical usage bears this out. For God to grant repentance is for him to enable someone to repent, not irresitibly cause them to repent. It’s the same with faith. That is even shown in this passage. What is given to the person Jesus speaks about? The ability to come to Jesus (no one is able to come unless it is granted; what is granted? the ability to come). v. 65 supports what we have already said about v. 44.

    Jason said: “Second, why did Jesus say “this is why I told you”? It was because some did not believe (vv63-64) and Jesus was explaining why. If the “drawing” and “granting” are merely the Father’s action provided to all, yet dependent upon human response, Jesus’ words “this is why I told you” make little sense. It also tells us that v44 means the same thing. In fact, Jesus states it after many of the people were “grumbling among themselves.”

    **** To the contrary, the Arminian view makes excellent sense of the passage and provides a strong answer to why Jesus spoke to them as he did. Ironically again, it is the Calvinist view that does not make good sense of the text. Jesus appears to be reminding them that they must submit to the Father’s drawing and be in line with the father to believe in him. Let me give you an example: Said to students who were failing a course: “You are failing the course. ‘That is why I said to you, no one can pass this course unless the
    instructor teaches them.” The point would not be that the instructor did not teach them; that would not be implied. But the point would be, pay attention to the teacher’s instruction. That is what Jesus is doing here, encouraging them to pay attention to the Father’s drawing/instruction, and emphasizing
    again a prominent theme in the Gospel with respect to the Jewish people/then covenant people of God, that those who heed the Father, who are in
    right relationship with him, trust in him, will then follow his lead and trust in Jesus. Otherwise, what would Jesus be doing, mocking them? “God has
    not chosen you and so you can’t believe in me. Ha, ha, ha! Suckers!” It seems to be the Calvinist view that has trouble answering why Jesus would tell them tha tthey cannot come to him unless drawn by the Father. On the Arminian view, he is urging them to look to the Father to be drawn. On the Calvinist view, there is not much point to telling them this except to perhaps rub their helpless state in their face. It seems far more likely that Jesus is encouraging them to seek the Father and submit to his drawing. Cf. the verse immediately following the similar statement of John 6:44, John 6:45 “It is written ain the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” (NASB)

    Jason said: “If you come to the text assuming LFW and prevenient grace then it will be tailored to fit those ideas. However, letting the text speak, it clearly indicates that God effectually draws those who are his. Everyone drawn comes (believes), and is subsequently raised on the last day. You might be tempted to say that I’m coming to the text with my own monergistic assumptions coloring my interpretation; but it is precisely this text (along with Rom. 8 & 9) that caused me to have those monergistic beliefs.”

    **** As you are aware, the charge of tailoring the text to fit our presuppositions applies equally to you. I think I have shown definitively in my earlier post that the actual wording of the text does not say what you claim it clearly says, and you have not reallyu responded specifically to those points of grammar and logic. And while may have been led to your Calvinistic beliefs by your reading of this text among others, we are letting you know that we believe you have misread this text (and the other texts as well!), and explaining why.

    May God lead you and all of us in his truth.

    God bless brother.

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