Friday, October 28, 2005

Inconsistent Theology

Today I was at the Christian bookstore and I started talking to this sweet lady who is dealing with an unsaved husband who has some big sin issues in his life. I listened as she poured out her heart to me. These situations are awesome because it is an opportunity to love someone and respond to their emotions. To comfort her, I said, "Don't give up hope. If God can save me, a wretched sinner only worthy of his full wrath, than He can save your husband." She kind of interrupted me and said, "Oh, I know I won't be able to do it (change his heart), if God can't, than I can't for sure. " She goes on, "He (God) wants to change his heart, but it won't happen until my husband wants to let him." I was taken aback. Did she really just say that God was not able to change a person's heart until that person wants God to?

What we have now is a god who is not in control, who doesn't get his way, and must submit to the authority of created, fallen man.

What kind of god is this? He is not worthy of my praise. He receives no credit for my salvation, because, hey, I'm the one who gave him permission to "change my heart."

But, wait, it can't be possible for me to want God to change my heart before I let God change my heart because if in fact I want God to come into my heart, that very desire is a sign of a changed heart. Am I right?

He can't be the same God whom Job was talking about in Job 42:2, "I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted [even by man]."

Romans 3:10-11 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God."

So, logically, if we do seek after God and desire Him, our heart has been changed, by God, not ourselves.

This automatically brings up the story of Paul in my memory. How did that story go again? Oh yeah...I remember... so Saul was walking one day to Damascus when he suddenly thought a thought, which was deep inside him, about how wonderful it might be to get to know Jesus as something more than he had. So, he decided, that he wanted Jesus so much that he was finally going to give Jesus what he wanted too. I get Jesus, Jesus gets me. Everyone's happy, everyone wins. Then Saul goes on to praise God for saving him, and thanks his mother for passing on so smart a brain to him. "How clever I am to find within myself that morsel of truth!" Paul states rejoicefully. The End.

But then again, I can't even remember where I put my keys...

101 comments:

Frank Martens said...

Could be either (or both) of these two reasons...

1) Lack of correct sound teaching in the church
2) Lack of Spiritual understanding given from the Father

Pray that she learns the truth! :)

Julianne said...

Thanks, Frank, for the godly comment.

Joanna Martens said...

julianne chica i posted a blog in your honor- check it out!
peace

Joanna Martens said...

and about your post...you could give her those scriptures and talk to her about the precious truth of God's soveriegnty. Give her a John Piper book-
I've heard ppl say that God only chooses people and saves people who have a certain personality that choose Him- but Who gave them that personality? Yes, my God can change the most hardened of hearts. With that I praise His name. :-) Luv ya girl! Focus on the finish line!!

stephen said...

Maybe we should focus on our own shortcomings rather than posting about people who need a good ole teological "learning".

Sorry cuz, I had to say it.

stephen said...

Sorry, I meant tHeological.

stephen said...

I going to get in trouble for that.

Julianne said...

Stephen,

Yes, you are going to get in trouble for that comment. ;)

My point is how too often we form our own opinions about who God is based on unbiblical feelings or emotions. My post is not intended to bash this sweet woman, but to get others to think about what ideas they've formed in their minds about God. This is not just some little side bit of information which has no bearing on our Christian walk, this is essential stuff, cuz. This is important. That is why I took the opportunity to share with her the story of Paul. Thanks for your comment though. See you tonight.

Julianne said...

Thanks, 9digs, for good advice. I hope I run into her again...

stephen said...

I just got blown out of the water. I guess I was a little agitated. Read my new post on my blog, eh?
seya.

Morgan said...

stumbled upon this and LOVED it!! and job 42:2 is one of my favorite verses. i will keep the woman you encountered in my prayers...

Mark said...

Good thoughts! I've encountered fellow believers who say things like: "If we don't want to change, God can't do anything". I think that is very contrary to what the scripture says. God may chose to leave an individual to their own hardheartedness, but God also has mighty power in changing peoples hearts and sovereignly directing human affairs (and if that weren't the case.. no one would be saved)

Jordan said...

juli, what is your interp on spiritual pride

Jonathan said...

Wow this is awesome. Awesome blog. You seem very well-read in Theology. You've read a number of the same books we read here. Have you had a chance to read Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress?

My roommate is currently reading Edwards's Religious Affections. I highly recommend these books if you haven't yet read them.

I'm curious - how did you begin to study Theology to this depth? Who influenced you in this way?

Not Specified said...

I am curious, you seem to speak of sovereignty and freedom as if they were mutually exclusive. Is it an attack on God's sovereignty to say that he desires to change a man, but does not exercise his power? Perhaps this woman was wrong to say that God couldn't, but I think it more likely that she meant that he wouldn't change him. God desires sons, not slaves or puppets. Is it not a greater slander to say that God does not have the the freedom to limit his own power, or the power to create men with their own distinct consciousness or will? You seem to think of grace and free will as exclusive, a man always has the choice to accept grace, man always has the option of choosing God. He may not have the ability to see God or the knowledge of how to reach him, or even the power to accomplish this, but that is what we call grace. To say that God chooses for the man is nonsense, but he does make the choice clear, and he does provide the ability to carry out that choice.
Do you not have the freedom to choose to hold your finger into a candle flame? You may not have the ability to hold it there indefinately, but you can at least hold it until your body's gut reaction to burning and the sensation of pain overpower your will. I don't mean to say that God doesn't influence our choices in a myriad of different ways or that we are not enslaved by our sin, but that there is something left of freedom even in our slavery, that God only made us to be slaves so that we could one day become free, and the beginning of that freedom is our choice to believe and obey his son.

Julianne said...

Minor,

Thank you for leaving a comment. There are many things we could address here. However, I'll just post some Scripture.

Ephesians 1:3-5
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will."

Romans 9:13-16
"As it is written, 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5a
"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."

Romans 8:29-30
"For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."

Ephesians 1:11
"In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will."

These are just a handful of verses which proclaim God's sovereign and divine work in a wretched, sinful, and depraved human being. This is truly amazing grace!

Not Specified said...

I will not try to convince you of anything by argument, because I don't see any purpose in your being convinced of your own will, but I would try and persuade you to see God as father and not king. For we are saved as sons, not slaves.
My point was not to undermine the unlimited ability of the almighty, but instead to champion the cause of freedom which you have chosen to attack from the stronghold of God's sovereignty. I see no biblical basis for the negation of free choice, so I do not accept your pretense of dispelling non-biblical opinions.
You have in argument brought up various clippings from the letters of St. Paul regarding predestination. I see no difficulty in accepting predestination and sovereignty along with the freedom of man's choice. Just because God chose us does not exclude our choosing him, even if we may only choose him as he chooses us. We are not saved by our own will or choice, but I do insist that our choice is crucial to becoming a christian.
Obedience by it's very nature requires choice; would you call a computer obedient or disobedient? Obedience is the bending of one will to another, and by it's very nature requires the possibility of the one will's resistance to the other. If men can do only as God has directly caused them to, then they are neither obedient or disobedient, only complicated machines. But we are created in God's own image, we are conscious, willful, beings, and we can only be called to obedience because we have our own distinct wills.
God could choose to make all men holy, or he could choose to make them all evil sinful monsters, I am not denying his ability to do this, but I don't see how they would be either particularily evil or particularily holy if it was only action done without the consent or existence of their own wills. That's what we call insanity.
Yet even though we have free choice, this does not mean that the will of God is sacrificed because of it, all men conform to the purpose of God, either as disobedient or obedient slaves, or as sons. and the reconciliation between the two comes by the very doctrine you used to pull them apart, predestination. It is by the very fact that God has predestined us that we are able to have separate wills. I was predestined to be born on a certain date, into one particular family, and to have certain particular friends, I was given certain particular favorites, a certain personality, and certain circumstances. I have certain particular jobs that are mine to complete, and I know that if I do not do them, they will be left undone. I have the freedom to obey God and I have the freedom to fail him. God knew every single decision I would make even before he set the foundations of the world, and because he knew me he was able to set me up according to his purpose so that whether I stand or fall, his will be done.
Notice that I am not saying that God did not choose me first or that he only chose me because of my choice. I don't claim to know the plans of the almighty, but if our wills are directly controlled by God, on what basis does he make this choice? By the very nature of being chosen we must have something distinctive about us that he chose, and if everything about us is directly controlled by God, why didn't he make all men to be chosen? Why should he choose the creature he made to be one way over a creature he has made to be another way, or even why would he choose to allow something that is hateful in his eyes if it cannot influence itself or something else in a good way? If men are only moved by God's direct grace why would he allow evil men to go on existing?
therefore I insist that the universe doesn't make sense without freedom. And if your views make nonsense of our world where do they come from?

Righteous Sinner said...

Ultimately we must submit to what scripture says and not to our own traditions. To say that God ordains everything that comes to pass does not (according to scripture) make people robots or unaccountable for their actions. Joseph and his brothers are one example of the same event possessing both human free choice AND God’s sovereign control. God's word holds the brothers accountable ... calling their actions and the intent of their hearts evil, yet the scriptures also say that God meant their very evil for good. God ordained this to occur. It does not say that God chose for them. It says they freely chose what is evil and yet God ordained that very evil for His own good purposes. Certainly the cross is another example of what God ordained before the foundations of the world (no plan “B” - Rev 13:8) and yet the "lawless" actions of those who crucified Him were certainly not seen as either forced by God (the mighty puppeteer) or excused by God because they occurred according to His “definite plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:22-23). This compatiblism is simply what we must submit to because scripture clearly teaches it. To say God determines in such a way that man is forced, misses the mark, and to say that God stands back and watches (modern tradition) because to do otherwise would violate man’s free will and thus be unloving, also misses the mark. I don’t get this definition in light of God sovereignly removing hearts of stone and giving hearts of flesh – Ezekiel 36:26. Certainly this transplant was done without consent. I doubt Lazarus minded the effectual call that brought him to life. This is the furthest thing from “spiritual rape”, and that it is assumed unloving simply baffles me. Again, whether we are able to comprehend or not, we must submit to Holy Scripture, and scripture teaches God ordaining in such a way that man remains free (obviously a freedom less free than God's) enough to still be accountable. I heard Mark Talbot recently say, “We cannot understand how these things can possibly be … Yet we can understand why we can’t understand it. It is because attempts on our part to understand this involve our trying to understand the unique (meaning “nothing like it”) relationship between the creator and His creatures in terms of our understanding some creature-to-creature relationship.” We try to think of such things within the wrong category (creature-to-creature) and we have no frame of reference to compare, and thus understand the category of creator-to-creature. Abandon the modern tradition that assumes an unbiblical definition of love and submit to scripture. You want to emphasize God as Father and not King. God is both Father and King. God certainly is our Father and yet many are confused with this subject because they try to fit this creature-to-creature category on a subject that simply has no earthy comparison. You say, “If men can do only as God has directly caused them to, then they are neither obedient or disobedient, only complicated machines … I am not denying his ability to do this, but I don't see how they would be either particularily evil or particularily holy if it was only action done without the consent or existence of their own wills. That's what we call insanity.” The day I enter heaven God will in an instant glorify me, removing my sin nature. When this occurs I will obediently only be able to do as God commands, and this is certainly loving. By your definition our glorification will be an unloving act and our actions will be like that of a machine … for all eternity!
You keep using the word “slave”. Yet we were slaves, infected at birth with a sin nature, and bent to freely choose our strongest inclination … sin. God set us free. God gave us a new heart, and with that new heart, yes we did choose Him. To emphasize God as king does not eliminate Him as loving father nor does it eliminate our choice. But we must understand how our choice for God was made possible. This is an act of God, we did respond to His choice with ours, and because this is God’s work we cannot boast.

Not Specified said...

I thank you for your attempt, but you again seem to have missed the point of what I was saying. I was actually making basically the same point with which you have just replied, however, I think your inferences from this point are entirely different.
I think you have misunderstood my position, I do not hold onto traditions, but I also do not hold onto my own interpretation of the bible either, when it is opposed to reason. You said yourself that to say God determines in such a way that man is forced misses the mark, I agree with you and because of that we cannot adopt any teaching that incorporates this, i.e. negation of the human will.
I do not understand what you are talking about when you mention modern theology that claims that God stands back and watches. I have never gone in for modern theology, but I can think of no denomination that claims that God simply stands back. The whole idea of christianity is based on the fact that God sent his son, and lives within us; that he gave the law to the hebrews, and all men a conscience, and no one denies this. What they deny is that god has made men so many atomata, who have no freedom.
When you speak of the day you enter heaven you are forgetting two things, first that God will be completing the work that was begun on earth, so you have already chosen to follow him, and second that heaven is eternity. Eternity can only be understood in the sense of a moment, every moment in eternity is all past, all present, and all future. That instant would incorporate the entire history of the world, there is no time, and so no instant, or all instant, time is irrelevant to eternity.
When you speak of our inability to understand our own relationship with God, I also do not quite understand what you mean. you say we have no frame of reference to compare, but the bible itself desribes his love for us in the terms of human love. We certainly cannot understand it before we experience it, and we can't communicate what it means to someone else who hasn't experienced it, but earthly love is the same way. When we usually try to talk about love, we talk about how love makes us feel or what it makes us do. Hearing this does not make you feel the love, but it gives you a sense of understanding. Love cannot be really defined, it can only be described. And when the bible describes God's love, it says that it is like that of a bridegroom for his bride, and of a father for his son, Christ said that all his followers are his brothers, sisters, and mothers. It says that God's love is like man's love but greater, and it tells us what the man will do who is in God's love.
But we are not called to understand it, only to enter into it with joy.
What I was originally speaking out against was the touting of sovereignty as being opposed to personal choice. What did you think I meant when I said that all serve him, either as disobedient or obedient slaves, or as sons? What I deny is that he directly causes sin, I didn't say that he doesn't use sin to his own purposes. When he influences someone it is external to their will, but their will is enslaved to external things. When God hardened the heart of pharaoh why shouldn't it have been simply by sending him a headache, or even better, by sending his wife a headache?
That is what I mean by being a slave. Anything that is lesser than you which you cannot give up, you are in slavery to. If your feelings, or needs, or opinions are the basis for what you do, or cross over the boundary into the will, you are in slavery to them. When you give over total control of your life to Christ, everything, then you are beginning to become a son. As to being a king, I never denied God that, but he is a king even to the demons. When we are slaves we are on a path to either of two extremes, a disobedient slave is on his way to death, and the obedient slave is on his way to becoming a son. everyone knows God as king, but only a son knows him as father, and only a son has a permanent place in the household.

Righteous Sinner said...

This seems a bit arrogant. Have I responded to you before? - “you again seem to have missed the point”.

A similar point we were making is an agreement that sovereignty and man’s free will are not mutually exclusive, but how we say this is altogether different. You say you won’t hold onto your biblical interpretation when it is opposed to reason. To this I would encourage you to humbly admit to the possibility of your reason being less than iron clad. To all, I would (again) say that we must submit to the clear teachings of scripture, and that scripture clearly (see examples from previous post) teaches single events where men freely choose and where also (same single event) God sovereignly ordains the event (involving these choices of men) to occur. We must avoid relativism as it concerns biblical interpretation. Where there may be millions of applications, there is only one correct interpretation. If there are going to be any helpful discussions on this (or any) topic it must remain with arguing for a correct interpretation of scripture and not be an argument of (only) reason. If scripture clearly teaches that men freely acted and are responsible, and that God also (same event) ordained there very actions for His purposes, then we must submit to scripture even though it does not conform to our ideas of “reason”. It is to this mind boggling biblical truth that I spoke of not being able to completely understand, but being able to understand why we can’t understand it. Certainly we are given many anthropomorphisms to help us understand our relationship with God, and these are very helpful. The point I was making is that we become confused (it doesn’t fit our reasoning) with this particular dilemma because we try to use creature-to-creature categories (Father-to-child) when it simply does not fit. If we try to force it (like a square peg in a round hole) we’ll end up ignoring passages of scripture where God clearly determines the “free” actions of men, and hammer it into position by saying God sovereignly limits His sovereignty. This may sound reasonable, but it does so at the expense of ignoring passages that clearly teach to the contrary. We must deal with scripture. This (and not reason alone) is our authority concerning God’s revelation of Himself.

Something else that may be helpful is coming to a biblical definition of free will. What does this mean? Is unregenerate man (apart from God’s intervention) morally neutral and capable of choosing either sin or righteousness? How has the fall impacted every person since Adam? Is he neutral or is he contaminated with a sin nature? What does it mean to have a sin nature? In light of this, define man’s free will. Is free will the ability to do whatever you desire? Does man always choose according to his strongest inclination? Can man, apart from the Holy Spirit, have a truly righteous inclination? How does Romans 1 help us understand God’s negative causation concerning Joseph’s brothers or Pharaoh?

Thanks

Adam Cummings said...

Steve,
You said we should focus on our own shortcomings and not worry about others, and, yet, you were correcting Julianne with those very words (hmmm). Odd, ay? The fact is, 2 Tim. 3:16 very clearly lays the grounds of Scripture being used for reproof and correction. In Galatians, Paul corrected/rebuked Peter in front of the whole assembly. So Julianne, while others are crying, keep correcting... it's the loving thing to do. I tire of hearing "the Bible says don't judge"; it rings in my ears and hurts my head, because the Bible does NOT say that (at least, not in the sense or context that many would like to think).

As for free will, I was too tired to read everything said, but I seem to align more with Brian. I do believe in responsibility, but I do not believe in free will (in regards to salvation). I'm not so sure that I can take as compatiblisitic a view as any of you have, as the burden of proof seems to rest on the one claiming that the Bible speaks anywhere of "free" choices made by men. Sure, it speaks of choices, but where does it speak of "free" choices? Isa. 46:10 clearly shows that God ordains the beginning and the end, and in some instances He even brings about sin without sinning Himself (Isa. 53:10; compare with Acts 4:28). Thus, though I submit to James 1 and am careful to not accuse God of sin, this obviously does not mean that He cannot in some sense ordain certain sinful acts. In Romans 9, He also hardens Pharaoh's heart (and, no, Pharaoh did not "harden his own heart first"; see Ex. 4). However, aside from the issue of predestination and everyday decisions (like touching my hand to a flame), lets talk about a man dead in sin and unable to bridge the gap between himself and God. Romans 8:6-8 says that the sinful mind [b]cannot[/b] submit to God's ways. Could it be clearer? Choices that we make are a result of the choices God has made, although I do not succumb to Hyper-Calvinism and claim any sort of fatalism. We are responsible beings, but responsibility does not necessitate capability. How do every day actions happen, and how do they fit with God's sovereignty? I'm not sure. But, if you ask me how a dead man can raise himself to life, I'll tell you what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3: he can't!

God bless...

stephen said...

Thanks Adam for the comment.

I know Juli real well and the comment I left was more banter than anything else. We go to the same church and are on the same wavelength(I think) theologically. You don't need to explain to me why free will is wrong, as I do not believe it. And how does that relate to my comment?

I believe we should lovingly correct people who we talk with, I am just sick and tired of people using as a means of self-gratification. I know most people don't do this and as God's elect we should be even more humble than people we talk to. I just don't see it very often. And I wholly agree with the judging part. To not judge people just gives us an excuse to passively tolerate the world. But I really think we should consider the Matthew 7:5 passage before and alsways.

"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye."

Thanks for your concern, Adam.

stephen said...

I meant always.

I wish blogger had spell-check.

Righteous Sinner said...

Adam,

This is why I suggested defining terms. Someone may say “free will” and assume the person with whom they are speaking defines it as man’s autonomous ability to choose either sin or righteousness, while they really define it as man’s ability to choose for his strongest inclination. I definitely go with the latter. At one time I would say, “I don’t believe in free will”, but now (even though my view hasn’t changed) I’ll say, “Yes, I believe in free will - free will in the sense that man always chooses for his strongest inclination.” The reason for this distinction is that it forces the person to ask, “What is man’s strongest inclination?” The heart of this issue is total depravity. If fallen man only possesses a sin nature, and not the Holy Spirit, then his strongest inclination will always be sin. Yes, unregenerate man may choose for something that is morally right, but apart from God’s Spirit this moral choice is still sinful because the motivation will always lack what is genuinely righteous, that being to bring glory to our maker. So I absolutely believe that man always freely chooses what he desires. The problem isn’t choice, the problem is desire. Unregenerate man is bent toward sin. He freely chooses what he wants. The problem is he always wants sin. So he’s free within his own ability. Once God removes his heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh, THEN man’s desires are changed and he now possesses the God-given ability to choose for a stronger desire that previously he did not possess. Can man boast in this? No! This is the gift of God.

Compatiblism acknowledges a mystery that is clearly taught in scripture, one that we cannot fully understand. This mystery shows man making a choice in which he is accountable, while God has also ordained that same choice in a way that does not remove man’s accountability. Joseph’s brothers are the classic example. Their decision to sell Joseph into slavery was freely made – in that this is what they desired to do. They acted according to the evil intent of their hearts. They were not coerced or threatened to do this, they desired to do this. Yet scripture reveals that God meant their very evil for good. He ordained this to occur for His own good purposes. Joseph’s brothers are held accountable. They are not seen as puppets on God’s string. Compatiblism acknowledges that they made a real choice according to the evil intent of their hearts – one for which they will be held accountable, while also acknowledging that scripture clearly states God ordaining this to occur.

Now I typically hate the “mystery” card. I don’t like this because too many people use this as an excuse to not use the gray matter God has given them. I have heard helpful explanations on compatiblism, but I also think I may think I have it figured out only because I don’t fully understand the dilemma. Have you heard examples of secondary causes and those causes being either positive or negative? This is very helpful. When you see that God restrains the evil actions of people and then (ala Romans 1) removes his hand of restraint so that they do what they want to do (Pharaoh), you can see how God ordains a person’s evil acts without positively causing them to sin. He ordains it by removing restraint, possessing perfect knowledge of what the person will do, and yet the person actually does what they want to do and are held accountable.

Thanks Julianne for providing a blog that people actually read!

Adam Cummings said...

Steve, my second paragraph on free will had nothing to do with you, sorry for the confusion. As for the fact that you and Julianne are very close, I'm glad to hear that. Yet, why did she have to delete your latest comment? *wonders*

Brian, it sounds like I would agree with most of your soteriology. Thanks for clarifying.

Steve... still concered... ; )

Adam Cummings said...

Steve, question: you also mentioned after the first comment here that you had been agitated... sooo, just banter? I don't think any of us would disagree that truth should not be an end in itself or that Christians should not become prideful about doctrine. Anyway, just wondering. Sorry, Julianne, not trying to pollute your comments page. : )

Magnum Philosopher said...

Here's my two cents: It’s unwise, I think, to suggest that because God is sovereign He is therefore the direct cause of every single event in life. God is not the author of evil! In terms of sovereignty it was God prior to creation who saw it fit to actualize this possible world. He could have created a different world, one with different people and consequences but he saw it good to create the one we know. There are better ways to discuss sovereignty than to attribute all events to God. Sovereignty is not synonymous with causation.

In Hebrew thought they have this extraordinarily strong sense of divine sovereignty in which everything that happens in a sense can be attributed to God. But they don’t see this as antithetical or exclusive of human freedom by any means. A beautiful illustration of this is the story of Saul’s suicide in 2 Samuel and Chronicles. In Samuel it describes Saul as he sees the Philistines about to take him and so in order to avoid capture by the Philistines Saul falls on his own sword and commits suicide. In the Chronicles account we have the same story with Saul committing suicide but the Chronicler adds this commentary, “thus the Lord slew Saul” (1 Chronicles 10:14). And so there is this sense that both Saul and God are responsible for the suicide - Saul more directly of course. What I think needs to be understood is this Jewish understanding of sovereignty. In this account, it was clear the Jews understood it was Saul who committed suicide but it was God who permitted it. And so it seems obvious there is a Jewish understanding of God’s directive will (a will in which he is the effective cause of an event) and also his permissive will (a will in which he permits the acts of his creation).

There are countless Jewish examples of this in scripture. We might remember the Joseph story where he acknowledges both the will of men and God. And I quote, “"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen 50:20). I don’t think we want to interpret the Jewish understanding of sovereignty in such a way as to obliterate human free agency and therefore relieving men from responsibility. The Jews didn’t, why should we? Joseph seemed to understand that it was his brothers who sold him into slavery but that God used it for a greater purpose.

J

Magnum Philosopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Magnum Philosopher said...

A Middle Knowledge Perspective

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. Rom 9:17-18 (NAS)

Probably no passage in the Bible has created more controversy among orthodox Christianity than Romans 9. However, I want to posit that this controversy is the result of a simple misunderstanding rather than Biblical paradox or mystery as some like to call it. Did Pharaoh harden his heart? Did God harden it? Did both? How should we understand this? History and Bible scholarship alone cannot explain the answer to these questions because it is in no way explicit or even implicit in the Bible. Hence, it is the job of the Christian philosopher to construct an adequate hypothesis.

Below is a list of several key verses from the Exodus story, detailing Pharaoh’s dealings with God:

But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” Ex. 5:2

But I will harden Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. Ex. 7:3-4

Yet Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Ex. 7:13

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh's heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.” Ex. 7:14

But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Ex. 8:15

Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Ex. 8:19

But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. Ex. 8:32

And the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses. Ex. 9:12

The question that springs to most readers’ minds here is this: how can the Bible affirm both that Pharaoh hardened his heart and that God did? Did Pharaoh just do what God causally determined him to do? Well, I don’t think so. Such an inference is problematic because it would seem to imply that God is divided against himself. Why would God want disobedience from his creatures? Even more critically, could God determine that his creatures sin? Clearly not!

Now before I begin to explain this conundrum, I want to say that I am only trying to provide a possible model. I am not dogmatizing. That being said, the answer to this question, I think, lies in the doctrine of middle knowledge. Now the reader will need to be familiar with the middle knowledge scheme of God’s omniscience to understand the argument this article posits. For reading on the subject I would recommend William Lane Craig’s, The Only Wise God. In short, middle knowledge essentially accounts for God’s knowledge of true counterfactual propositions. These can be thought of like conditional statements such as when driving your car, you might think, “If I pull out now, I will make it.”

Given God’s knowledge of what free creatures would do in any given set of circumstances, he can accomplish his divine purpose for the world by actualizing just those circumstances. The Bible affirms several times in the passages above that Pharaoh hardened his heart. Now according to divine middle knowledge, God would have known prior to Pharaoh’s even being born how he would react to God’s commands. Wanting to demonstrate his power to the world, God could have utilized that knowledge, bringing Pharaoh to power, knowing he would resist God and harden himself. Hence, it could be said that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

I think further evidence of this can be gained by looking at a similar example. For example, in 2 Samuel, as the Philistines are closing in on Saul. Rather than let them capture him, he decides to fall on his sword committing suicide. The exact same story is told in 1 Chronicles 10:14 but the chronicler adds this commentary: “thus the Lord slew Saul.” How are we to make sense of this apart from middle knowledge? God cannot be held responsible for Saul’s sin. Rather, by God’s actualizing the exact circumstances in which he knew Saul would commit suicide, the chronicler can rightly assert that the Lord slew Saul. Saul remains responsible for his sin, and likewise Pharaoh remained free to harden his own heart.

Middle knowledge seems to provide an enlightening account of the story of Pharaoh. We have both preserved Pharaoh’s freedom, as well as given a strong account of God’s sovereignty and providence. Most importantly, we have left God unaccountable for Pharaoh’s sin.

Bless the Lord!

Magnum Philosopher said...

Hi Julianne you have some really good ideas, although, I’d like to comment on your road to Damscus theory.

You said, “so Saul was walking one day to Damascus when he suddenly thought a thought, which was deep inside him, about how wonderful it might be to get to know Jesus as something more than he had. So, he decided, that he wanted Jesus so much that he was finally going to give Jesus what he wanted too. I get Jesus, Jesus gets me. Everyone's happy, everyone wins. Then Saul goes on to praise God for saving him, and thanks his mother for passing on so smart a brain to him. "How clever I am to find within myself that morsel of truth!" Paul states rejoicefully. The End.”

LOL, I love the way you put that together =) Now, what it seems you’re suggesting is that God therefore coerced Saul into belief? For the record, the conversion of Saul does NOT indicate that the Lord violated his will. Saul simply believed when he saw the revealed Lord. There is no indication whatsoever in the text that Saul couldn't have said "Nah, sorry God, I'm going to take my blindness and go the other way. Forget you!"

God Bless you, Julianne! =)

J

Julianne said...

J. Magnum,

Thank you for reading and commenting on my blog. In previous posts, we have discussed Molinism and Middle Knowledge. I noticed in your favorite authors that you respect Plantinga and William Craig. Recognizing that all of our thought processes come from a central worldview, how would you discribe the thought process of "middle knowledge" in relation to this story we are in?

Julianne said...

J. Mag,

In response to your comment on Paul, when God rips out our heart of stone (without our permission) and puts in us a heart of flesh; one that is able and willing to love and obey God, we can do no other.

Was Saul spiritually blind when the glory of God was revealed to him? Did Saul turn to God in belief in his blinded state? Or, did God make the scales fall from his eyes to see the glory of God and then believe? Or, did Saul, after seeing God with "new eyes" then have a changed heart? Or, was his heart changed right before he saw?

You say,
"There is no indication whatsoever in the text that Saul couldn't have said 'Nah, sorry God, I'm going to take my blindness and go the other way. Forget you!'"

How could Saul "take his blindness and go" if, in fact, God had already taken the scales off?

Many questions, I know, and some which really cannot be answered.

For clarification, what do you mean by "violate his will?" If our wills are naturally against God and for evil, how else do we come to a saving faith?

Adam Cummings said...

Magnum,

God clearly drags wicked hearts from darkness to light, and Julianne's point was right on. Acts 21:30 (which speak of the leaders "dragging" Paul away) and John 6:44 (which speaks of the Father's "drawing" us) both use the same Greek word. Also, you kept going on about how the Hebrews actually understood Scripture back then by saying that Scripture shows God and man involved (e.g. Saul slaying himself); though, you didn't actually say anything Hebrew culture or thinking. Point being, you quickly inserted that Saul was involved in what happened "more directly of course"... where did you catch that part in Scripture. Where is the verse that speaks of God's will being subservient to man's? I will post more later, but I have homework for tomorrow and it's after 12 am already. But, a quick word of advice: before you "LOL" Julianne, you might think about your own exegesis before haphazardly writing out your argument.

Adam Cummings said...

It's late... too many typos... anyway, you get the idea. ; )

Magnum Philosopher said...

Hi Julianne! Thanks for your gentle comments. With respect to your five questions, ultimately what I think we want to say is that Saul responded to God’s call. How’d you like that? =)

You said, “when God rips out our heart of stone (without our permission) and puts in us a heart of flesh; one that is able and willing to love and obey God, we can do no other.”

It’s interesting you quote from Ezekiel here (“and puts in us a heart of flesh”36:26). I’m wondering where you see the connection. Without divulging, that section discusses an eschatological framing of the New Covenant, Christ being the main figure. The phrases, “been written on our hearts;” “written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God;” “tablets of stone” “fleshly tablets of the heart” are nothing more than new covenant terms of the dawning new aeon. In Jeremiah 31.33 the same phraseology is found. I hardly think Ezekiel was referring to the order of conversion (1. born again 2. belief) John would have said otherwise. Regardless, unless I add something to the text, I just don’t see any indication the Lord violated Saul’s will.

God Bless You, Julianne!

Magnum Philosopher said...
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Magnum Philosopher said...
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Magnum Philosopher said...

Adam:

When reading, think Christologically, that is, pay close attention to how Christ identifies himself with the Father. I love this chapter!

Asbury’s, Joseph R. Dongell put together a helpful commentary… I hope you'll enjoy!

Jesus was addressing hostile Jewish leaders who were in fact rejecting the teaching of Jesus. We must conclude, then, that Jesus' claim (that the Father must draw any who would come to Jesus) stands as the precise explanation for why these very hearers had rejected Jesus: the Father had not drawn them! It will not do, therefore, to imagine that the drawing Jesus has in mind here is a universal drawing of all persons toward salvation. (I agree with Calvinists on that point, but the context is so much richer).

Here we have Jesus locked in strenuous debate with religious leaders who claim special knowledge of and standing with God. From this privileged position, they seek to discredit Jesus completely. Their implied charge essentially involves an attempt to sever Jesus from God, affirming the latter but rejecting the former. In doing this, they wish to establish the right to claim, “We know God intimately, but you are utterly alien to us! We stand in right relationship to God, but we completely reject you.”

Jesus’ countercharge strikes at the root of their authority: the presumption that they knew God in the first place! “You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you” (John 5:37-38). Far from knowing God, then, Jesus’ opponents had already rejected not only the testimony of John the Baptist but also Moses: “If you believed Moses, you would have believed me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (Jn 5:46). In this question posed by Jesus we discover the key principle: rejecting God’s first offerings of truth will utterly block further illumination. God will not offer more truth or manifest his full glory (the eternal son) while light at hand is being spurned. In other words, we can’t actively reject the Father and at the same time have any chance of accepting the Son. Since the Father and Son are one in nature, character and mission, the rejection of one necessarily involves the rejection of the other. The fundamental issue of this passage is not that of predestination but of Christology and the unity of the Father and Son.

The Jewish opponents’ inability to come to Jesus did not lie, then, in the hidden, eternal plan of God but in their own track record of trampling prior light, of having already denied God Himself and spurned God’s corrective punishment. Had they received Moses fully, thereby coming to know the Father to the degree possible at that time, they would already have belonged to the Father’s flock, and the Father would have drawn them to the Son. But in rejecting Jesus, they demonstrated that they had never surrendered to God in the first place, that they had set their faces like flint against all of his continued overtures. Since they did not belong to the Father’s own flock, they wouldn’t be part of the transfer of sheep already trusting the Father into the fold of the Son (Jn 6:37, 39). Their spiritual vanity came to full light when they imagined themselves as being qualified to pass judgment on Jesus, the very embodiment of all truth, while persistently spurning God’s lesser lights (e.g., Moses and John the Baptist). Were they willing to drop their pretensions and surrender to God’s teaching, they would have been taught by God and led on to the Lord of life, since Jesus promised that “everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me” (Jn 6:45).

Think Jew and then think Old Testament/Old Covenant for a moment! We might think of a Jew coming to faith in God (Gentile works too!) If the conversion is real, God the Father will drag, draw, whatever you like…the believing Jew to Christ. Hence, if they really knew the Father they would surly know the Christ.

Take care, Adam!

Magnum Philosopher said...

Just to clarify: John 6 is therefore a Christological passage and not so much Soteriological. Now, that’s not to say the Gospel is not implied nor suggested by any means; what I’m saying is that the “drag” reference would refer to already saved Jews who are brought to Christ. I hope that helps.

God Bless You!

J

Magnum Philosopher said...

Adam:

By the way, sorry for the misunderstanding. I “LOL’d” Julianne not out of mockery, but because I enjoyed what she wrote.

I’d like to follow up on your comments about my thoughts on the Hebrew mindset. My conclusion was based on a valid inference from scripture. How else do we make sense of 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles unless the scriptures are in explicit contradiction with one another? Maybe you can offer a better solution..?

God cannot be held responsible for Saul’s sin. Rather, by God’s actualizing the exact circumstances in which he knew Saul would commit suicide, the chronicler can rightly assert that the Lord slew Saul. Saul therefore remains responsible for his sin.

Now, I'm not dogmatizing but only presenting a possible model for understanding. And insofar as I’ve provided a possible model it seems that any objection to it is undercut and defeated. Adam, I think you’ll find socio rhetorical type commentaries quite helpful, especially with respect to early Jewish thought. Witherington and Wright are phenomenal resources.

God Bless You, Adam!

Adam Cummings said...

I wish I had time to respond in depth (maybe this weekend), but let me say that I think your exegesis of John 6 is entirely lacking. I don't mean that as an ad-hominem, but John 6 is clearly soteriological. I'll post more later. Magnum, as a note, it helps to talk about this stuff in short spurts rather than huge comments. I'm not insulting; I'm actually serious. It's just a suggestion; it generally encourages other to jump in and helps keep good conversation going. See you, and thanks for replying.

Adam Cummings said...

Also, before I respond later: be sure to guard against false dichotomies in Scripture (such as saying that something is not soteriological because it is christological). This is a serious danger especially in philosophy... there is a way of wrongly analyzing a text rather than rightly analyzing it and considering its perspicuous reading.

Magnum Philosopher said...

Adam, I appreciate your thought although I’m unsure of your objection. You said, "Be sure to guard against false dichotomies in Scripture..?" Yes, I appreciate that given my philosophical background ;) But based on this context what other inference do you think is probable? It seems very clear that Christ is identifying himself with the Father to unbelieving Jews. Jesus’ polemic is reminiscent of Paul’s letter to the Romans since the condition of religious Jews is revealed. Their rejection of Christ revealed their unbelief of the Father - They never knew Him! Take care, my friend. I encourage you to read these stories for all their worth. They’re very rich indeed! J

Righteous Sinner said...

Julianne,

From an exegetical point of view a structural dynamic analysis orients the serious scholar toward a soteriological point of view. Don't you agree?

Julianne said...

Brian,

I definitely agree. How could it not be so? There can be no doubt that the meaning of major elements is further compounded by considering the unfortunate faux-pas of neo-orthodoxy. Thanks for bringing this up, it's worth consideration.

philosapologist said...

Do you cats just like to throw big words around to impress people? Often, a mark of intelligence is being able to communicate without them unless such special terminology is absolutely necessary to convey meaning. In many of these posts, it is not.

Magnum Philosopher said...

Hi Guys! The problem with John Piper and other “reformed” scholars who read the Bible as if it were written by Augustine or Calvin rather than by early Jews, is that they do not understand how early Jews thought about these subjects. Instead of employing special theory hermeneutics, we should pursue the sections in light of first century Jewish/Gentile audiences not ours. The bible was written to them for us. That’s why I recommended the socio rhetorical commentaries, they explore the “elements” i.e. culture, language, rhetorical speech, people and stories of the time…

Magnum Philosopher said...

Take Romans and Paul’s use of predestination. Now, Predestination is quite uncomfortable especially when our hermeneutic starts with a word. It implies not just that some will be saved (which would be fine) it suggests that God only desired that some would be saved. Personally, I think the sloppy inference is influenced by poor thinking i.e. (classic fatalism) but more seriously the interpretation ignores Paul’s reason for using the word in the first place. We need to read these stories for all that their worth.

In Romans, Paul interprets the Old Testament covenantal passages. Who are the true heirs to the Promise (Rom 9:8; Gal 3:29)? Who are the true people of God? Who is Israel? It is Paul who delivers the verdict when he broadens the scope of election. It is not only ethnic Israel, whom Christ came to redeem, but all of humanity. In other words, Paul is broadening the scope of election here to include all kinds of people, Jew and Gentile. One of Paul’s well known arguments is predestination. Simply paraphrased, don’t think you’re special because of your ancestry, you were predestined anyway. God has always planned to reconcile men who would believe unto himself. Yes! Even before the foundations of the earth. The thought that Paul is discussing God's decision to save only some is completely absurd and fails recognize a broader context. Paul is explaining the covenantal promises of God. It's the Gospel in full effect! On that view, predestination is not a dirty word since it's by no means exclusive but radically inclusive in that God wants all men to be saved! 1 Tim 2:4, 2 Pet 3:9.

Magnum Philosopher said...

My friend, Thomistguy, puts it well!

"You may be aware that the Apostle Paul had a ministry-long battle with both Jews and Jewish-Christians in regard to the salvation of the Gentiles. Many Jewish-Christians believed that Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become Christians. Paul, based on a revelation from Jesus, resisted this idea and proclaimed salvation to the Gentiles by faith. Predestination was one of Paul’s key arguments for the inclusion of Gentiles into God’s family. Put in the vernacular, predestination was Paul’s “battering ram” doctrine against Jewish-Christians who wanted to restrict the salvation message to God’s Old Testament chosen people. In simple terms, Paul was saying that God will have compassion on whom He will have compassion and nobody can argue with God. Your arms are to short to box with God."

I discuss this a bit on my blog. J

Righteous Sinner said...

Sounds funny coming from someone named philosapologist. I'm actually glad for your comment because my post was actually a joke. I have no idea what I actually said. Just wondering if people would actually respond. I think Mr. Selleck is too busy writing his book on Mullinism. You know I did realize Rich Mullins had so much to say? Thanks for making my point with understandable words Phil ;-}

Magnum Philosopher said...

"I think Mr. Selleck is too busy writing his book on Mullinism."

Was that really necessary? Take care, Brian.

Magnum Philosopher said...

Dear Brian,

Real quick...since the Reformers are a credible source for you, keep in mind that even Luther would agree with this post.

I’d like to discuss what I think is a popular belief in the church today. Well… there are a lot of popular beliefs in the church that don’t amount to much. It is the idea that our nature (not in the metaphorical sense) is sinful, the idea that there is a distinction between “human nature” before and after the fall. Now I’m well aware of the transmission of sin after the fall, but that’s not what I’m speaking of (Rom 5:12). I’m speaking specifically about our nature or the essence of who we are. Though the effects of sin after the fall are heinous and affect every part of our being, I would argue that our nature is still intact.

Before we begin, I think it’s important to define some of the terminology. Philosophically speaking, the nature of something is “what makes a thing what it is.” Or as Alvin Plantinga puts it, “an object has a property essentially if it has it in such a way that it is not even possible that it exist but fail to have it.” Since we are made in the image of God we resemble His divine attributes (rationality, intelligence, personal, freedom of the will, etc…). Sin cannot be essential to humanity because were it be, we could not be human unless we were sinful (God did not create sinful beings); that is to say, we do not sin by necessity but by choice. Although we are deeply affected by sin, our nature is still intact. The “will,” for instance, may be bombarded by sin, but we are still image bearers (men made in the image of God; Gen 9:6, James 3:9). It follows from the definition of nature that human nature is essentially the same before and after the fall—that is to say, if human nature undergoes a fundamental change, then it is hard to see why you would not have two different creatures (Human 1/Human 2).

Why is this important? Well, Christians carelessly describe our condition in such a way that they’ve obliterated our ability to do anything good (moral acts or placing our trust in Christ). Paul Copan says, “we do a disservice to the Christian doctrine by emphasizing human wickedness to such a degree that we obscure the goodness of God’s creation. We overlook the goodness of the divine image and focuses only on human sinfulness. While Christian philosophers ought not ignore the painfully obvious fact of human depravity, they must set this against the backdrop of the goodness of God’s creation.”

The obvious result is that we cannot have a sinful nature. As Aphekah said in another post, “sinful nature? I’d like to see that in the Greek!” Copan wisely says, “Using the term “sinful nature” without careful qualification can lead to onto-theological problems! As Christians, we do not literally have both a “sinful nature” and a “new nature.” If we use the term “sinful nature,” I suggest we use it metaphorically but carefully qualify what we mean. Christian confusion stems, I think, from the New International Version’s [NIV] use of “sinful nature.” This reading, though, can lead to misguided theologizing. To cite Thomas Schreiner, “Such an ontological perspective of flesh [Gk. sarx] is reflected in the NIV translation that renders flesh as sinful nature.” Such a rendering is unfortunate since it introduces ontological language precipitously into the Pauline materials and compels readers to understand flesh solely in ontological categories. A more satisfying approach understands flesh in redemptive-historical categories.”

Even the Lutheran Formula of Concord declares: Original Sin is no trivial corruption but a “profound” one, affecting every aspect of our being, like the mingling of wine and poison.” Although sin affects every aspect of our being it in no way obliterates who we are.

We believe, teach, and confess that there is a distinction between the nature of man itself, not only as man was created of God in the beginning pure and holy and free from sin, but also as we now possess it after our nature has fallen; a distinction, namely, between the nature itself, which even after the fall is and remains God’s creature, and Original Sin; and that this difference between nature and Original Sin is as great as between the work of God and the work of the devil.

…this distinction should be maintained with the greatest care, because the dogma that there is no distinction between the nature of fallen man and Original Sin is inconsistent with the chief articles of our faith (of Creation, of Redemption, of Sanctification, and the Resurrection of our flesh) and can not be maintained except by impugning these articles. ... And the Son of God, by a personal union, has assumed this nature, yet without sin; and uniting not other flesh, but our flesh to himself, hath most closely conjoined it, and in respect of this flesh he has truly become our brother. . . . This same nature of ours (that is his own work) Christ has redeemed, the same (inasmuch as it is his own work) he sanctifies, the same doth he raise from the death . . . . But Original Sin he has not created, has not assumed, has not redeemed, doth not sanctify, will not raise again.

I do not intend to create dogma regarding sin or its transmission, but the notion of a “sinful nature” seems obviously untenable.

Thanks Luther!

so long...

Magnum Philosopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TheRuggedGeneral said...

jmag ...thats sick

Magnum Philosopher said...

In other words sin is at best a nonessential property of humanness. We might think of it this way -> Wine with poison, Car axle bent in an accident, Fresh water with bird poop, Human nature bombarded by sin. In each case: the wine, axle, water and nature are distinct from the poison, damage, poop, and sin. The Nature is intact! Though we are totally depraved it doesn’t therefore follow that if God were to initiate salvation we couldn’t respond. Total depravity then means total inability to achieve/obtain the solution to our sin by ourselves not total inability to accept it from God.

Thanks again, Luther!

Magnum Philosopher said...

theruggedgeneral, thanks for that kind comment although "sick" as an endearing term is spelled "sic!" It's a SoCal/XGames thing, hehe.

=)

philosapologist said...

theruggedgeneral: you're beautiful ;-)

philosapologist said...

I've always been fascinated by the Calvinist hermeneutic of isolating a passage and interpreting it based on word studies. Isn't there a better way?

philosapologist said...

"I think Mr. Selleck is too busy writing his book on Mullinism. You know I did realize Rich Mullins had so much to say?"

Now was that nice? Did I walk in here and say calvinism entails stupidism? Your not understanding Molinism does little to undermine its stength.

Righteous Sinner said...

Oh stop being such a sullenist Phil ... I wasn't calling anyone stupid, just having fun. If anything I was making fun of myself for me being so stupid as to equate Molinism with Rich Mullins. I guess I'd never make it in philosophy. I am sorry that my bad humor upset you.

Righteous Sinner said...

Also, I'm trying to help Julianne hit 100 posts!

Julianne said...

So, do any of you guys know each other? rugged, phil, mag??? Just wondering how people find my blog. Thanks for posting.

philosapologist said...

I was just kidding around too brian. Notice the DeNiro-esque style. Haha... now was that nice?

TheRuggedGeneral said...

so j mag are u from SoCal or something?...just wandering...lol

TheRuggedGeneral said...

to julianne,


u have nice blog site, although i cant say that i agree with all of its content. some how i find it incredibly arrogant to suggest that our complete just and all loving God would arbitrarily pick and choose a persons salvation based upon his will. Personally i believe scripture teaches that God loves his creation of human beings(not robots) and is dismayed when we choose not to conform to his will. I mean who am i, that God would choose to save from eternal destruction. Choice!! Initially God warmed my heart with his invitation of Eternal life and i accepted the finished work of Christ. It was Christ who completed the work at Calvery and it was i who chose to be apart of that foundation....Love truly is not genuine if one of the party forces the other to do so....all emotional i know.

words from The Rugged General

Julianne said...

rugged,

What is love? On human levels it might be something like what you say. I feel loved when I am being made much of. When someone cares enough to think my problems are worthy of sympathy or when they fuss over me. This is how it works on human terms. Give and receive.

But, when God is the Giver of love, the most loving thing He can do is give us Himself. It is not love for Him to make much of us, knowing that He is the most awesomest, holy, perfect Being, and that we are so depraved.

Just a question: I believe that God chooses me and that He does ALL the work in saving me (even compelling my will). You believe that God does everything, but that you must choose Him to make that work applicable to you (apart from God's intervention in your heart). Am I right?

My question is this: why would you rather speculate that you get to play a part of "some of the action" by choosing based on your free will (which is independent from God's will?)? Or, err on the side of God's sovereignty in divinely choosing a people for His own?

I don't understand why some are so oppossed to this line of thinking when the whole OT is so full of God choosing a people whom are His own. It's not a foreign concept, in biblical thought.

Thanks for your comments.

philosapologist said...

Julianne,

A few quick comments. First, it seems you are conflating love with expressions of love.

Second, your inferring that our free response to God is us "playing a part" is a typical calvinist mistake. It is not a valid inference at all. Christ does all of the work of salvation. Without libertarian freedom, it is difficult, if not impossible to make sense of the claim that some are damned even though God wishes to save all persons.

Finally, you are correct to say that the in the OT, God chooses people. However, God always assigns people certain tasks. There is not one example in Scripture of God coercing someone's will into salvation. It is a foreign concept imported into the text.

I'd encourage everyone here to think outside of systems. I know you guys believe the system to be true of course, but try to be open minded enough so that when it does have intrinsic problems, you are not committed to it. You don't want a system to color Scripture.

Bless God

Julianne said...

phil,

I only have a second, as I'm leaving for school. One thing: in Romans 9:14? or near that, Paul says that we cannot receive God's promise by choosing it or willing it. What does that mean?

Righteous Sinner said...

rugged,

You said, "some how i find it incredibly arrogant to suggest that our complete just and all loving God would arbitrarily pick and choose a persons salvation based upon his will. Personally i believe scripture teaches that God loves his creation of human beings(not robots) and is dismayed when we choose not to conform to his will. I mean who am i, that God would choose to save from eternal destruction."

Are you saying God is incredibly arrogant, or those who believe God saves in such a way are arrogant? I’m assuming you’re speaking of the people. Think about what you said. I’d like to break this apart and make some points and ask some questions.

You basically said that it’s arrogant that God arbitrarily picks. When we think of the word arbitrarily we tend to think of this definition - "Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle." If this is what is meant, then it’s a poor choice of words because a Calvinist does not believe God’s choice is on a whim, made according to chance, or without reason or principle. I would appeal to Ephesians 1:5-7, which says,

In love He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

God’s choice is not arbitrary. This says that His choice was not a whim or haphazard, but that it had purpose, and that purpose was to demonstrate His grace and to bring about praise.

You also described God as just and loving, and we see that this passage describes God’s choice as loving, and I find it curious that you say "just", because justice apart from grace would require we all go to Hell. God would be just in not choosing any. The point here and also in Romans 9:22-24 is that God’s purpose for choosing some is to demonstrate his grace.

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- even us whom he has called

God chooses in this way in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy. In other words, if He chose everyone to be saved then we would not have a right comprehension of His mercy. We’d expect it because everyone gets it. Without this contrast we do not rightly understand the just punishment we deserve, and the worth of His glorious grace is not understood.

This does not require God to be unfeeling for the loss of those not chosen. It is true that He does not delight in their destruction, but it is not contradictory to say that He wills it to occur because He has a greater delight in the revelation of His glorious grace.

Actually I find it arrogant to believe what distinguishes you from those who will not be saved is your own choice. If the offer is to all and the only thing that sets you apart as a Christian is your own choice, then wouldn’t this be arrogance? You were apparently wise enough or smart enough or insightful enough to make that choice when others were not. That is arrogant. Maybe you think it’s arrogant because you think Calvinists believe God chose the winners – those who somehow stand out to Him as better candidates for His choice. I think this is what people must think (that say it is arrogant), but this is not what a Calvinist believes. Remember total depravity? Remember unconditional election? None is capable of being saved apart from God, and there is no condition that they meet, which draws God’s favor. If so, I agree, that would be arrogant. But a Calvinist believes God chooses purposefully – according to Himself and to display His glorious grace, and not because some stand out as better. Actually, all arrogance is stripped away and God’s grace is proclaimed in understanding that I am saved by God’s choice and not mine. I have nothing in which to boast. Quickly, I might add that a Calvinist does not believe they do not choose God. We are saved by faith through grace. We are not saved by election apart from faith. An expression of faith (us choosing) IS necessary, but I cannot boast in this choice because I know that apart from God changing my heart I would not have chosen Him. Any other way you look at it tends to be arrogant and grounds for boasting on your part.

philosapologist said...

Julianne,

To quickly comment on your Romans 9 question... we have to understand that the context of the situation is Paul addressing a mixed church in Rome (Gentile and Jew). Many Jewish people still had trouble with the idea that God is for the Gentiles as well as themselves. Some Jews even thought believers needed to convert to Judaism - a notion Paul strongly resists (especially in Galatians). What's going on in Romans 9 is God broadening the scope of election, not narrowing it to a few select people. Paul is effectively arguing that it is up to God if he wants to offer salvation to everyone since the Jews blew it, and by the way, it was predestined anyway so don't think your ethnicity makes you special.

For Brian, the critical component of his comments seems to be an inference that grace could not be properly understood if everyone received it. But this just strikes me as whoppingly false. Grace need not be compared and contrasted to damnation. Grace is simply God's favor upon undeserving people. I can't see any reason why people would need to go to hell in order for others to comprehend grace. As for the arrogance issue - I don't think the general is suggesting that we were smarter than anyone else, or that we "got it right." It is as simple as Christ saying "Follow me" and us following or going our own way. The critical flaw in Brian's argument is that it fails to account for human responsibility (which I haven't really heard any satisfactory calvinist answer to).

"He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (NAS emphasis added)

Bless God

Magnum Philosopher said...

This is quintessential wooden literalism at its best! Paul's message is evidently lost in a sea of systematized theology and proof texts. In the words of James White, "I offered exegesis and you offered philosophical bantering and sophistry!" =) I'll give White that much, he sure knows how to drop a pot shot! We need to steer clear from disingenuous and fanciful ice cream illustrations and read these sections for all that their worth. If you need a few good commentaries you might invest in some N.T. Wright or Ben Witherington. Best wishes, J

Amen, Philosapologist! The General too =)

Magnum Philosopher said...

Julianne, one other thing, you meant to quote Romans 9:16, now Phil has already handled that section quite nicely, nevertheless, did you really suppose v. 16 would provide any explanatory scope by it self? There are a lot of mysterious things in scripture from a glance that’s why we need to read these passages. Have you read any of my comments? I’ve addressed so much of this. You sound like a smart girl so I'm expecting more. If you’d like to proof text please be sure you can provide reasons for belief other than simply saying “well, it says so here!”

Righteous Sinner said...

"For Brian, the critical component of his comments seems to be an inference that grace could not be properly understood if everyone received it. But this just strikes me as whoppingly false. Grace need not be compared and contrasted to damnation."

"What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction". Why would God show His wrath on vessels prepared for destruction? Answer ... "in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory"

I don't make this argument, Paul does. Paul says that the reason God pours forth wrath on those who are going to Hell is for the express purpose of making known the riches of His glory to those whom He saves. You may reason that grace does not need to be compared and contrasted to damnation in order to know it, but the fact is, Paul does make this argument whether you like it or not.

As far as the arrogance issue, I understand that you would not say, "I'm smarter or wiser, or more discerning than those who do not choose God". But the fact is, if all have the ability to make this right choice, and it comes down to making this right choice, then the only thing that distinguishes you from those who do not make this right choice is ... YOU. You know better than to admit you're smarter, wiser, or more discerning, because this just sounds horrible, but the fact is YOU are the difference, and this leaves room to boast. Even if you chose not to boast, there still remains room for boasting. The only way that removes possibility for boasting is to see salvation in spite of you, not because of you. And I do not say this as if our choice is irrelevant. The choice must be made. I agree, and this is not the issue. The real issue is how one bent by a sin nature becomes able to make this choice. You would say man is capable apart from God’s intervention, which leaves possibility for boasting, and I would say God enables me to make that choice, thus I have no room to boast because I neither possess something superior nor have I met a condition that caused God to enable me. There is a superior choice made no matter how you look at it. My superior choice did not originate with me, so I cannot boast, while your superior choice originates from you and thus, (whether you do or don’t is not the issue), you CAN boast. So I am always baffled when someone arguing against Calvinism says that it is arrogant, because if properly understood and represented, Calvinism removes the possibility for arrogance.

And to the point of human responsibility, I would again reference Joseph's brothers and the cross (specifically Acts 2:22-23), for to argue for God's sovereign decree does not remove human responsibility. My argument does not ignore human responsibility. I've said numerous times now that God judges all men according to the evil intent of their hearts. This is just and men are accountable, yet we're faced with examples in Scripture that indicate human responsibility AND God's sovereign decree in the same single event, and yet they are not contradictory. The actions of Joseph's brothers are said to be evil, and the actions of those who crucified our savior are said to be lawless. The scripture (for the same account) also says that Jesus was crucified "according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God." This is why I mentioned earlier that there are some CREATOR-to-creature situations that we simply have no creature-to-creature relationship from which to compare and help us comprehend. If you and I (creature-to-creature) have a power struggle, one of us ends up submitting to the other, but apparently in this CREATOR-to-creature relationship it is possible for man to be fully responsible and justly held accountable for his evil actions, AND for God to have ordained this same event to occur. We have no relationship to compare. This is hard to understand. But I submit to what scripture says whether I comprehend it or not. Man is accountable and God ordains.

Magnum Philosopher said...

Brian you said, "What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction". Why would God show His wrath on vessels prepared for destruction? Answer ... "in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory"

Here's me: V 19-21 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? This is a quotation from Jeremiah 18 which I highly recommend reading before interpreting this passage. Some read verses 19-21 and conclude that God mysteriously chose some for glory and others for damnation. The problem is, in doing so they seem to ignore the heart of God we see in Jeremiah 18:8 whereby God wishes Israel would repent. “But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. This is a clear picture of the nation of Israel being spoiled in the hand of the potter; not because God wished they would spoil but because Israel willingly disobeyed. V 8 But God is loving and patient and still wishes that Israel would repent. Jeremiah 18:7-8

One commentator discusses the point further, “Or does not the Potter have the right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?” (Rom 9:21) The implied answer is yes, so Paul continues. “What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?” (Rom 9:22) Such a question demands a reasonable answer. Here Paul argues that the justice and grace of God are displayed in humans, both through the persistent unbeliever (whom he calls a vessel prepared for wrath) and through the believer (a vessel of mercy). Notice that Paul does not say God created one vessel for wrath and another for mercy. The expression “fitted for destruction” is in the Greek middle voice and should be interpreted “man fits himself for destruction.”

V 22-23 God is patient even with evil doers (God was patient with Pharaoh) in order to demonstrate His wrath and to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy. God uses evil acts of men for good.

V 24-29 God considers the Gentiles His own, and not just the people of Israel.

V 30-33 Many Gentiles are saved through faith, and many Jews are lost because of their tradition and works.

The gist of Paul’s letter is that salvation is wholly dependent upon God and His gracious love for humanity. The fact that you are Jewish or that you do “good” is completely irrelevant. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Paul’s message was appropriate for anyone who would have missed the message of the Gospel.

God does not doom some from the womb, but wishes that all would come to repentance. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

Piece-meal theology is of no use to anyone. For more, see my blog =)

J Magnum

Magnum Philosopher said...

You said, "But I submit to what scripture says whether I comprehend it or not."

The problem is, you're misusing the scripture you "submit to."

Righteous Sinner said...

Magnum,

We both agree that some are fit for destruction and some are graciously saved. Arguing for HOW these are fit for destruction was not even my point. My purpose in quoting Romans 9 was because Phil said …

"For Brian, the critical component of his comments seems to be an inference that grace could not be properly understood if everyone received it".

You argue for those fit for destruction to have fit themselves. Fine. The fact is there are some fit for destruction, and my point was showing that Paul specifically gives a purpose for some going to Hell. That purpose being "in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory". I also agree that the heart of God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. The cross is an example of God having the ability to (in one sense) be outraged at the death of His Son, and also for this same event to be the most glorious of all events.

I would agree with you that people fit themselves for destruction. You seem to assume I do not agree. You also assume that because people fit themselves for destruction that God has absolutely no part. Again, I would refer to compatiblism, which shows people responsible and accountable for their actions and yet God also ordaining this very hardening. You've giving examples where the text shows both. I would argue that we do not have a conundrum or contradiction to accept both. This is part of this CREATOR-to-creature relationship that is unique and beyond our full comprehension. Scripture does indicate both (as you have demonstrated). I would simply say that both do not create a contradiction. I would also again refer to Romans 1 as an example of God causing in a way that does do no violence to the will of man. There is a difference between positive and negative causation. If God is the cause in a negative sense (removing his hand of restraint) then man acts freely and is justly held accountable. If God is the cause in a positive sense (which is what happens at conversion) then man is graciously given something that enables him to choose God, and then and then only is he incapable of boasting, AND the contrast he sees (what he deserves) is "in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory".

Righteous Sinner said...

24 more to go!

Righteous Sinner said...

I mean 22!

Magnum Philosopher said...

Hi Brian:

You said, “I would refer to compatibilism, which shows people responsible and accountable for their actions and yet God also ordaining this very hardening.”

It’s curious you appeal to philosophy here. What happened to Sola Scriptura? By chance, would you be willing to explain exactly how compatibilism works? So far I've yet to hear a sufficient compatibilistic argument!

You said, “You've given examples where the text shows both. I would argue that we do not have a conundrum or contradiction to accept both. This is part of this CREATOR-to-creature relationship that is unique and beyond our full comprehension.

Says who? And beyond whose comprehension? It seems like you have this thing figured out =) What’s remarkable is that even you appeal to philosophy with your compatibilism. Seems you’re unsatisfied with the conundrum as well and are looking for a solution. Once again, apart from Middle Knowledge how is it that both Saul commits suicide and the Lord slew Saul? Incidentally, to infer “mystery” from an explicit contradiction in scripture is both disingenuous and of no value! The mystery card simply won’t work here. Insofar as you and I are searching for solutions, it seems to me the Middle knowledge schematic coupled with an accurate understanding of the Hebrew mindset is by far the superior solution to this conundrum.

With respect to the Hebrew mind, the thinking of the ancient Hebrew is not, as ours, concerned with precision. As Marvin Wilson points out in Our Father Abraham, "The nature of Hebrew [the language] is to paint verbal pictures with broad strokes of the brush. The Hebrew authors of Scripture were not so much interested in the fine details and harmonious pattern of what is painted as they were in the picture as a whole. Theirs was primarily a description of what the eye sees rather than what the mind speculates.

Jewish thinking, unlike our own, involved the use of what Wilson calls "block logic." Hebrew "block logic" operated on similar principles. Concepts were expressed in self-contained units or blocks of thought. These blocks did not necessarily fit together in any obviously rational or harmonious pattern, particularly when one block represented the human perspective on truth and the other represented the divine. This way of thinking created a propensity for paradox, antimony, or apparent contradiction, as one block stood in tension -- and often illogical relation -- to the other. Hence, polarity of thought or dialectic often characterized block logic. Examples of this in practice are the alternate hardening of Pharaoh's heart by God, or by Pharaoh himself; and the reference to loving Jacob while hating Esau -- both of which, significantly, are referred to often by Calvinist writers.

Consideration of certain forms of block logic may give one the impression that divine sovereignty and human responsibility were incompatible. The Hebrews, however, sense no violation of their freedom as they accomplish God's purposes. The back and forth between human freedom and divine sovereignty is a function of block logic and the Hebrew mindset. What this boils down to is that Paul presents us with a paradox in Romans 9, one which he, as a Hebrew, saw no need to explain. The Hebrew mind could handle this dynamic tension of the language of paradox" and saw no need to unravel it as we do. And that means that we are not obliged to simply accept Romans 9 at "face value" as it were, because it is a problem offered with a solution that we are left to think out for ourselves.

This is all to say, there's no problem in suggesting the Jews had an idea of sovereignty that hardly resembled western thought.

Bless the Lord!

Magnum Philosopher said...

Hi Brian:

You said, “My point was showing that Paul specifically gives a purpose for some going to Hell. That purpose being "in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory".

Brian, I did misunderstand you before, but now that I’m aware of your standing I disagree with you more strongly now than ever! The vessels of wrath in this context and throughout Romans and even Jeremiah have always referred to Israel. Knowing that, are you then suggesting all of Israel is damned to hell? You might read ch. 11.

Rom 9:22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

Rom 9:23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy,
which He prepared beforehand for glory,

Ben Witherington wisely says, Paul uses two different verbs when talking about the vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. The latter are [framed/prepared/fit/put]together for wrath, while the former are prepared beforehand for glory. Katertismena, used of the vessels of wrath, is a perfect passive participle. Proetoimasen, used of vessels of mercy, is an aorist active indicative. This change cannot be accidental, and it suggests that Paul means that the vessels of wrath are ripe or fit for destruction (“vessels of wrath,” signifying Jews in this context, see, Jer 18; or unbelievers, principally for today). Indeed, one could follow the translation of John Chrysostom here and understand it in the middle voice: “have made themselves fit for” destruction. If so, this verse certainly does not support the notion of double predestination. Rather it refers to the fact that these vessels
are worthy of destruction, though God has endured them along time.

Furthermore, it is not said that the vessels of mercy are destined for glory beforehand, but that they are prepared for glory beforehand. So the subject is not some pretemporal determination, but rather what ch. 8 has referred to – namely that God did always plan for believers to be conformed to the image of his Son, and during their Christian lives, through the process of being set right and being sanctified, they have been prepared for such a glorious destiny. Thus Paul would be alluding to the process of sanctification here, which has a pretemporal plan behind it. Moreover, as Eph. 2:3-4 makes quite evident, someone can start out as a vessel of wrath and later become a child of God by grace through faith. The issue is where one is in the story of a particular vessel, not some act of divine predetermination of some to wrath.

In short Paul is thus referring to two groups of people, Israel and Christians. In v. 30-33 Paul sums up some of the implications of what he has just said. Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness attained it, but it was a form of righteousness that came through faith. On the other hand, Israel pursued the law of righteousness (performed works) and did not attain it. We can therefore conclude that the vessels of wrath here refer to Israel and that the vessels of mercy are Christians. Though Israel in this context represents “children of wrath,” God is not at all through with them as you’ll see in ch. 11.

In short, the Calvinistic thesis is undermined on almost all fronts, presumably, because it ignores the flow of Paul’s arguments throughout Romans. The children of wrath are not destined for hell but have hope since God wants all men to be saved! Israel therefore can place their hope in Christ just as any “Gentile of wrath” could today.

I recommend Paul’s letter to the Romans: A Socio Rhetorical Commentary by, Ben Witherington III and The Climax of the Covenant by, N.T. Wright.

Bless the Lord!

I do apologize for any typo's. It's 2:30 in the morning and I'm half asleep. =(

Righteous Sinner said...

Magnum,

Wow, I'm using philosophy! Cool! ;-) So giving a word or labeling a teaching of scripture is stepping outside of scripture as my authority? I am submitting to what I see in scripture, and what I see is one event in which man acts as a free agent and yet God says that He has ordained man’s very act for His purposes, and the text does not indicate that by God doing so, man’s accountability has been altered. This revelation of scripture is given a name, that name being compatiblism. The word compatible is defined as – “Capable of existing or performing in harmonious, agreeable, or congenial combination with another or others”. So in compatiblism there is no contradiction, but instead a harmony that is difficult to completely understand because we have no similar relationship from which to draw understanding. Now I think I have said that I hate using mystery, and if you’ve read what I said in the past you’ll know that I have not left it there. I do believe positive causation (God actively wills) and negative causation (passively wills) give a satisfactory answer that removes this from the realm of contradiction. I only come back to mystery in that I do not want to arrogantly think I have this problem wrapped up in some neat little package, and say “there, done, I completely understand this.” So I haven’t “pulled the mystery card” without giving some explanation, and yet I only refer to mystery because I do not want to arrogantly say this covers every possible dilemma. I think it covers problems you have raised, but I suspect there are areas that are beyond anyone’s ability to answer because we simply have no comparative category from which to draw understanding. I say this because it is helpful to know WHY we cannot understand. Yet I do think I understand this and I do give explanation, I just don’t want to be this little ant arrogantly saying I understand my creator.

As far as Saul committing suicide and the scriptures saying, the Lord slew him; this is no different than “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it (antecedent is evil) for good”. I would refer to Romans 1 and its example of God causing or ordaining in such a way as to not violate man’s will. That would be negative causation or God passively willing by removing His hand of restraint and allowing the creature to do what he wants to do. God being the creator and possessing perfect knowledge knows what the creature (Saul in this case) will do. In this sense the Lord slew Saul, AND Saul is responsible for the sin of suicide because he acted according to his own evil heart and not some positive influence (actively willing) of God.

You’ve written so much, and honestly I have only read the beginning of your first post. I hope to read more and comment more. Normally I’d be at work these past couple of days, but I’ve been home nursing my back after a fall off a ladder – ouch! I suppose God negatively caused this event by removing His restraining hand. Not restraining my own stupidity that is. He ordained this to occur, and yet this does not remove my stupidity. Thanks for helping me pass the time. I’m bored, hurting, and foggy from the percocet.

Take care.

19 more! – that’s the percocet talking.

philosapologist said...

Brian,

What's interesting is you almost sound like you're endorsing a middle knowledge landscape without realizing it. You should do some research into it. The Only Wise God, by William Lane Craig is a great resource. I think you'd really find it to be a fruitful way of reconciling God's providence with man's freedom. It makes much more logical sense than the calvinist thesis. And I think we all agree that we don't completely understand this stuff. I think what magnum means is that there are better ways to understand the problems, even if our attempt at an answer is not perfect.

Bless God

Magnum Philosopher said...

Brian:

You said, “I do believe positive causation (God actively wills) and negative causation (passively wills) give a satisfactory answer that removes this from the realm of contradiction.”

In point of fact, all things are conceived in God’s intellect in eternity, are planned and ordered in time according to His wisdom, and then “fall out” (from the Westminster Confession) by His will in time as either necessary, contingent or free actions. This is the logical and real-time progression. I’m glad we’re on the same page here. What I think is remarkable is that your concept actually tends toward Middle Knowledge. I think Phil is right, you might find Craig’s, “The Only Wise God” quite meaningful.

God Bless You!

J

Righteous Sinner said...

This is interesting because I don't believe I am departing from a Calvinistic view. Hey, maybe you guys are closer to endorsing Calvinism than you realize? ;-) I do appreciate your desire to understand, and to not settle with the mystery card. When Phil says that I'd find it fruitful to look at The Only Wise God by Craig so as to reconcile God's providence with man's freedom I think of Spurgeon saying, "I never try to reconcile friends". I may look at this book. Have you guys read Gordon Clark's book "God and Evil"? You might might find this to be meaningful. I'm curious if someone who holds to middle knowledge has a biblical view of depravity, which then helps define man's freedom. I'd appreciate your comments. Thanks for the good dialog.

Hey is this the percocet or might we be getting along?

Brian

philosapologist said...

I think it's important that we get along in spite of the fact that these debates can become heated. I know I am probably most guilty sometimes. The most important commandment is love. I haven't read Clark, although Alvin Plantinga also has a great book on the subject called God, Freedom, and Evil. He's sort of an interesting Molinist/Calvinist hybrid. He's pioneered work in what he calls "Reformed Epistemology." I can't explain it too well yet though as I'm still working through it.

Bless God

Magnum Philosopher said...

Hi Brian:

You said, "Hey, maybe you guys are closer to endorsing Calvinism than you realize? ;-)"

Well, not as long as Calvinist' misread Paul's letter, specifically, his discussion of Jews and the Church, wink wink chuckle chuckle =)

Take Care my friend and enjoy your weekend.

J

ThankfullySaved said...

As a former student of philosophy and theology, I sometimes check these blogs out to see what's up nowadays.

Nothing has changed.

I figure there's about 30 hours of research and writing here. and absolutely nothing was resolved. Nothing.

Thirty hours that could have saved the lost, fed the poor, prayed for the hurting. Thirty hours, gone forever. For absolutely nothing. Just so one person could appear smarter and "more right" than another.

I wonder what our Savior thinks about this?

Thirty hours of pride-pumping under the guise of "I just want to know my Savior more". Want to know Him more? Really? Go out and do His work.

This comment will be erased, I'm sure. But just in case...

Magnum Philosopher said...

thankfullysaved: I actually appreciate your comments since I sometimes wonder where my heart is in these discussions. Thanks for your words. J

Julianne said...

ditto

philosapologist said...

I wonder what our Savior thinks of you judging the hearts of others you don't even know...

ThankfullySaved said...

Philosapologist is right...

That was judgmental of me. I don't know your hearts. Maybe you are all good people and are really trying to work out Christ's Kingdom.

I'm sorry.

I was reacting to myself--that's what I did. I guess I would just say that IF you think you're doing that, like I did, then please pray about it.

Again, I'm sorry to all. Please accept my apology.

Righteous Sinner said...

Oh great! Now I went and waisted a bunch of time writing a snappy come-back only to erase it because you had to go and apologize.

Just kidding.

There was some truth to what you said. Certainly anything can be done to excess or with wrong motives. So if we blog to boastfully show what we know, then ... get a life, and if we blog in humble submission to God's word, which involves time spent in study, discussion, and defense ... don't feel guilty.

Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31).

Thanks for a good reminder.

stephen said...

Is it just me, or are you guys just going in circles?

Righteous Sinner said...

It's just you.

stephen said...

thanks for the clarification

stephen said...

keep going brian, you're almost to 100!

Righteous Sinner said...

Steph-o, I'm a little afraid of what will happen. There may be some centennial bug that will blow this blog to smithereens. Save your food and water!

stephen said...

or maybe just fireworks

Keanu Philosopher said...

Well, the circle is interesting!

Magnum Philosopher said...

I don't think any "system" gets it 100% i.e. Thomistic, Augustinian, Lutheran, Calvinist, Arminian, whatever...

I just wanted to be #100

=)

Righteous Sinner said...

Are you guys alright? What a relief. Hey, does anyone want to buy some extra water, toilet paper, and powdered milk?

Congratulations on being #100 Tom!