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Nature of God => Providence => Topic started by: Harvey on May 20, 2007, 09:13:21 am

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 20, 2007, 09:13:21 am
To be honest, I wasn't sure to address this issue under Providence (e.g., predestination) or the "Problem of Evil" or the "Moral Argument." Coming from an Arminianist and Wesylian background I find the Calvinist view of God to make the problem of evil irreconcilable with a good God, or a God that establishes moral truths. On the other hand, I do not so much want to discuss the philosophical problems with Calvinist predestination, I'm more interested in its scriptural basis--almost completely construed from what I think is a terrible misinterpretatio of Romans 9. Let me quote the Calvinist theologian John Piper:

We concluded in Chapter Three that in Rom. 9:6-13 Paul teaches that God predestines individuals to their respective eternal destinies. The unconditionality of this election is judged by Paul's opponent to be unrighteous because when a righteous God makes his choices he must take into account the things that distinguish one person from another. As we have just seen, Paul does not share the opponent's narrow view of God's righteousness.(John Piper, "The Justification of God," 1993, p. 96)


So, here we find a nice summary of what a Calvinist believes: God predestines people to hell, and that since most people who have ever lived are non-Christian, we have a whole populace within Christianity that believe that most people go to hell, and there's nothing odd or strange about this. Can this be one main reason why there are so many people who despise Christianity and leave the religion to attack it? I think so.

But, I'm not sure that such an argument will have any effect on most Calvinists. One of my friends became a Calvinist, and they think God can do whatever He wants, and therefore they aren't a bit phased by a philosophical argument. Perhaps though, the scriptural argument is better to discuss since Calvinists feel justified solely on their interpretation (usually of just Romans, and often of just Romans 9, and specifically Rom 9:6-13.).

So, to start off, I have one question. In Romans 2:6-8, 14-16 it says the following:

6God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger... (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.[/qoute]

Now, here's my question. If Paul in Romans 2 is saying that God will judge those Gentiles who live according to the law even without the law, and this is their defense in the day of judgment, then why in the world would a few chapters later would Paul suggest that God will turn a blind eye to their "persistence in doing good" when in fact God is just storing them up for destruction?
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 20, 2007, 09:15:28 am

Is it possible to be put an "edit post" capability to this website?

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Roger Marshall on May 20, 2007, 01:32:08 pm
A very good question, and one that must inevitably come up in any serious Christian forum. There is so much about reformed theology that I admire and have been nourished by, but the doctrine of unconditional election is one that I just cannot, however much reformed theology I read on the subject, take on board. The idea that God could apply the "Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated" principle to every human being before their birth, the idea that Christ did not die for ALL the ungodly, does not square with the God of love who revealed Himeslf in Jesus. The idea that most of the human race is iremediably condemned to hell, that they are born with the dice already cast against them, is not worthy of the God who "does not desire (as we are told) the death of the wicked". The fact is that the Bible takes human choices very seriously. In fact that is one of the underlying themes from beginning to end. Therefore there can be no Biblical basis for a soteriological paradigm within which human choice actually means nothing.


Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 21, 2007, 11:18:48 am

Now, here's my question. If Paul in Romans 2 is saying that God will judge those Gentiles who live according to the law even without the law, and this is their defense in the day of judgment, then why in the world would a few chapters later would Paul suggest that God will turn a blind eye to their "persistence in doing good" when in fact God is just storing them up for destruction?



Could you rephrase this question?  I'm not following what your concluding or suggesting.  

Where does Paul say God "turns a blind eye" to those who "persevere in doing good?""

"...glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (v.10)."
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 21, 2007, 11:28:27 am
So, here we find a nice summary of what a Calvinist believes: God predestines people to hell,



Piper definitely believes in double predestination, but the nature of those acts are not necessarily the same (as you suggest).  Predestination to hell is more of a passive act, i.e., not saving them.  Whereas, all men being dead equally in sin, requires more of a proactive approach to destining them to heaven, changing them from their deadness to life.  Thus, the problem is not God's acts in reprobation or predestination that poses the problem, but the untenable claim, prior, that man is not worthy of death and separation from God due to sin.  If man is truly worthy of it, then there is no philosophical argument that could be posed to claim injustice to God.  What usually happens from the non-reformed camp is that they admit, oh yes were worthy of death, but the claim is only made under the certain context that we have a sure way not to suffer that consequence and redeem ourselves through faith.      

 
and that since most people who have ever lived are non-Christian, we have a whole populace within Christianity that believe that most people go to hell,


At least in traditional evangelicism, this is true regardless of your view of predestination.  And thus, if this concept poses a problem for God in the realm of the POE, then it is equally a problem for the non-reformed, unless you become an open theist.  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 22, 2007, 06:55:23 am
Will wrote: Where does Paul say God "turns a blind eye" to those who "persevere in doing good?"


To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) (Rom. 2:7-15)


Paul seems to be saying that those who act for themselves disregarding the law, will be judged harshly. Doing good, however, brings its own rewards by following the law. Those who obey the law will be declared righteous. Even Gentiles, who don't have the law but live with the law in their hearts, these consciences will defend them in this judgment. If Piper is right in that God has reserved them for damnation, then how could these righteous Gentiles (as Jews even call them today) be defended by their conscience? All who have never heard Jesus and believed are reserved for damnation.

We also see in Acts 17:29-30 (Paul is speaking):

"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.


According to Calvinists, God doesn't ignore the past times. They should have known to believe in Jesus and repented in what they never heard, because it's too late and now they should really suffer in hell forever and ever. Too bad, that's the way the cookie crumbles. I'm not sure if this was actually said, but John Wesley is rumored to have said to Calvinism, "Your God is my Devil." I wonder how many would not agree.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 22, 2007, 09:53:00 am
Will,

I realized that I did not correctly answer your question. I misread it thinking that you were questioning that God turns a blind eye to those who seek good by the way they live their lives. Reading it again I see that you are questioning that God will indeed turn a blind eye to righteous living.

However, this is the basis of Calvinist theology on predestination, as I understand it. Esau's rejection by God represent the plight of all those who are not called by God to be part of the elect, and therefore their efforts to live a good life are not good enough to warrant an out of jail card from hell. All have sinned and the wages of sin is death. If unpaid by accepting Christ's sacrifice, then those folks go to hell. This includes not just adults, but also children and babies born to those who are part of the unsaved (i.e., 99%+ of humanity that has ever lived). Here's some quotes from Jonathan Edwards who I think many Calvinists believe spoke accurately:

Hence no mercy in Hell... Though their pain is extreme... God don’t pity ’em. Though their wishes for deliverance are great... though their cries are loud... though long continued... though it be exceeding intolerable.  By being longer in Hell, they have not become any more fit for any other state... don’t make ’em better... although indeed their judgments are convinced, yet their hearts are the same. No change in their dispositions. There are no conversions in Hell. he wrath makes a great change indeed; but no saving change. The wicked in Noah’s days were most of them very wicked on earth, yet, in some respects, they become worse when they went to Hell. Not fit for Heaven. Not fit to come and live in this world. Fit for no other place. hat is the place provided and fitted for such...

May be of warning: Let sinners in these days take warning. Those that now live in unbelief and impenitence are in danger of the same...

Not only have many generations gradually come upon the stage and have died; but many great and populous nations have come into being, and have flourished, and made a great figure in the world for many ages, and then by degrees have dwindled and wasted, swallowed up by other nations and come to nothing, and nothing of them now know but by history. And some of them very ancient and powerful, so that even the very history of them is almost come to nothing and vanished; and all since they have been suffering the flames of Hell, without any cessation or rest...

How we may suppose the things which they remember of their past lives now affects them... their worldly enjoyments... the length of the time of their past ease and pleasures... they lived long lives... their past opportunities... their long warnings... the preaching they had... their folly and stupidity... obstinacy...  (Jonathan Edwards, Wicked Men of the Past are Still in Hell. June, 1749)[/quote]

God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. But surely they have no interest in the promises of the covenant of grace who are not the children of the covenant, who do not believe in any of the promises, and have no interest in the Mediator of the covenant. So that, whatever some have imagined and pretended about promises made to natural men's earnest seeking and knocking, it is plain and manifest, that whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes, till he believes in Christ, God is under no manner of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction. So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God. The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation. This that you have heard is the case of every one of you that are out of Christ. -- That world of misery, that take of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you. There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up...

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell...

How dreadful is the state of those that are daily and hourly in the danger of this great wrath and infinite misery! But this is the dismal case of every soul in this congregation that has not been born again, however moral and strict, sober and religious, they may otherwise be. Oh that you would consider it, whether you be young or old! There is reason to think, that there are many in this congregation now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity. We know not who they are, or in what seats they sit, or what thoughts they now have. It may be they are now at ease, and hear all these things without much disturbance, and are now flattering themselves that they are not the persons, promising themselves that they shall escape. If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing would it be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But, alas! instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell? And it would be a wonder, if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, even before this year is out. And it would be no wonder
    if some persons, that now sit here, in some seats of this meeting-house, in health, quiet and secure, should be there before tomorrow morning. Those of you that finally continue in a natural condition, that shall keep out of hell longest will be there in a little time! your damnation does not slumber; it will come swiftly, and, in all probability, very suddenly upon many of you. You have reason to wonder that you are not already in hell. It is doubtless the case of some whom you have seen and known, that never deserved hell more than you, and that heretofore appeared as likely to have been now alive as you. Their case is past all hope; they are crying in extreme misery and perfect despair; but here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor damned hopeless souls give for one day's opportunity such as you now enjoy!  (Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741)


It's no wonder why John Wesley was walking around thinking these people believe that their God was Satan.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 22, 2007, 10:58:27 am

I misread it thinking that you were questioning that God turns a blind eye to those who seek good by the way they live their lives. Reading it again I see that you are questioning that God will indeed turn a blind eye to righteous living.

However, this is the basis of Calvinist theology on predestination, as I understand it. Esau's rejection by God represent the plight of all those who are not called by God to be part of the elect, and therefore their efforts to live a good life are not good enough to warrant an out of jail card from hell.



I think this summary ignores a huge hurdle to jump.  You are assuming, or suggesting, that those whom are non-elect are damned to hell regardless of their desire to do "good" or "seek" God.  This is highly umbilical...as the natural man thinks the things of the Spirit are "foolishness" (2 Cor. 2:14).  Or, as Jesus said (paraphrase) "you will not come to the light because you love the darkness."  Namely, those who are non-elect are not those pounding down the doors of God's kingdom trying to get in, only to be turned away by God's decree of election.  This is not to confuse the pseudo element of "seeking God" or religious hypocrisy, which in a flawed way the Jews did.  

Your statement: "therefore their efforts to live a good life are not good enough to warrant an out of jail card from hell," is descriptive, at times, of the logical conclusion of Arminian theology...i.e. salvation by works through grace, rather than salvation by grace alone.

Further, as you move into Rom 3. you have Paul quoting the Psalms when describing our depraved state...

None are righteous,

None do good,

None seek for God.

The Calvinist would contend that that is the natural state of all man apart from the special saving grace of God, thus, those who "persist" in doing good (who are also said to receive eternal life (Rom 2:10) are those that have been saved by God.  

I'm honestly trying to understand your point, but I just don't see how Rom. 2 hinders the Calvinistic understanding of salvation.  It appears that you have a misunderstanding of Calvinism which teaches that election and man's will do not reflect each other.  Meaning, those who are non-elect will have a will that hates or thinks the concept of God or the cross is foolishness, while those elected, through the regeneration of the Spirit, will receive a new heart that loves God (Ezk. 36:26-27, Heb. 8; Heb. 10).    

My understanding, generally, of Rom. 2 entails.

1.  Paul is making the argument that possessing the actual Mosaic Law does not grant eternal life...
2.  For, it is the doers of the Law that will be justified...
3.  Even the Gentiles, who do not have the Law, have a "law" written on their hearts (their conscience) which either condemns or commends their actions.
4.  Yet, these Gentiles, who do not have the Law, but the law, will be judged not necessarily by the Law but by the law which is in their hearts.
5.  Overall, both Jews and Greeks are equally condemned whether they posses the Law of Moses or not (3:9), for it is the doers of the Law that will be justified (2:13).
6. Climaxed upon this, is the fact that being privileged by God is not limited to being a Jew (those of the circumcision of flesh) but being the circumcised of heart by God (v.29), which can be true of either Gentile or Jew.  

7.  Conclusion...ultimate salvation rests on whether one is a true Jew or not, yet the determination of being a "true Jew" rests on God's regenerating work on the heart (2:29), not man's keeping of the law of circumcision.

Moving on...

Paul concludes that both Jew and Greek are all under sin (3:9)

There is none that does good, righteousness, or seeks for God etc... (3:10-18)

Now, based on man's sinful depravity, Paul concludes (in seeming paradox with 2:13) that no flesh will be justified by the works of the Law (because all have sinned and are unrighteous) (3:20).

Thus, the dilemma is this, it is the doer of the law who will be justified before God, yet all have sinned and cannot keep the law...thus...none could be justified.

Yet

"even the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all those who believe..."

We are justified, not by our keeping the Law, but through the faith of Christ and perfect obedience (c.f. Rom. 5:19), and being joined to Him through God's grace.  (I am taking the subjective genitive for "faith of or in Christ," which a large number of Greek scholars are showing as most valid (Piper doesn't take that view though)).  

This just doesn't seem to warrant the concept that there will be those "worthy of heaven" whom God rejects based on election.







Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 22, 2007, 11:06:11 am

This includes not just adults, but also children and babies born to those who are part of the unsaved (i.e., 99%+ of humanity that has ever lived).



The Calvinist contends that there is no natural merit or innocence of any man born in sin after the fall (as clearly stated in Rom. 5:12-14).  This being the case, one cannot conclude that a man is saved by necessity based on birth place or condition.  Yet, to conclude that children and babies born to "unsaved" have no chance of going to heaven is unfounded.  The Calvinist cannot say that a baby who dies in infancy could not have been saved by the grace of God, nor that all aborted babies or mentally handicapped persons are not elect by God.  What the Calvinist is saying...is that none are innocent and that if any are or is to be saved, it must be by the grace and work of God.  If all babies who die in infancy go to heaven, then all babies who die in infancy are recipients of saving grace, not beings who are "innocent" based on age.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 22, 2007, 12:03:24 pm

Thanks for responding. Okay, I see that your view of Romans 2 is similar to my friend that said that Romans 2 is referring to Christian Gentiles, not the general populace of Gentiles who seek morality. I have to approach this economically, since the problem with scriptural discussions especially is they quickly blossom into a so many diverse issues that it is not possible to find a point by which we can agree upon. So, I think this particular issue of whom Paul means by "Gentiles" in Romans is an important issue. Would you agree that if Paul were talking about moral Gentiles, and not necessarily Christians that this would wreck havoc onto the Calvinist's limited atonement doctrine?

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 22, 2007, 03:03:27 pm


Would you agree that if Paul were talking about moral Gentiles, and not necessarily Christians that this would wreck havoc onto the Calvinist's limited atonement doctrine?


Limited atonement?  I assume your just throwing substitutionary atonement into the mix with "unconditional election," even though you understand the distinction?

Its hard to answer this question because I don't see the connection.  For the sake of argument, if Paul is talking about non-Christian moral Gentiles, I don't see why this has any bearing on the doctrines of Grace.  You would have to come to the conclusion that Paul is teaching, exclusively, salvation by morality.  This, of course, would not just be against Calvinism, but all forms of evangelical protestantism.    

Anyways, I don't believe Paul believes in such a thing as a "moral Gentile," or a "moral" natural man, apart from being a Christian Gentile.  Granted, there may be such a thing as, for lack of a better term, human morality or a common goodness of man.  Such as, not killing everyone you see, but having a general respect for life.  Obviously one can have that kind of "goodness" and not be a Christian.  But, in the context of salvation, that is "dirty rags."  

So all in all, I don't think it would bring trouble to Calvinism's view...but trouble to all evangelical views of salvation by grace.  Not because Paul is talking about Gentile believers or non-believers, but because I don't think Paul is talking about gaining salvation through behavior, but is rather proving you can't; and he then gives the answer to the dilemma by gaining justification via the redeemer (3:24-27).  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Roger Marshall on May 22, 2007, 03:50:40 pm
I think it's relevant to bring Cornelius into the discussion at this point. In relation to him we read in Acta 10: "In every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him". Not that Cornelius' good deeds saved him, but they did incline God's heart towards him, with the result that the gospel of God's unmerited grace was brought to his attention. But Cornelius was not just an example of a good pagan of course. He had become a Jew, and worshipped the one true God. But even before he became a Jew, it is clear that he was "seeking God", and in his own way he reverenced the One True God, who led him first to Judaism and then to faith in Jesus. There may not be many, but I am sure that there have always been, in every civilisation, those who, in their heart of hearts, genuinely seek God. How is God going to deal with those people in judgement? Well that is only for God to decide of course, but I somehow feel that they will be judged on the basis of how they would have responded to the gospel if only they had known. I love CS Lewis's "The Last Battle". The animals and all the creatures in Narnia and beyond approach Aslan, some with their heads hung in shame and others defiant. Many of the former didn't know Him, but He knew them. He accepted them because He saw deep into their hearts and knew that they would have followed and loved him if only they had known about him. I know this take on it is seen as heresy by many, be they Calvinist or Armenian, but there is something deeply redolent of grace in that picture.

It will be objected that Cornelius did actually hear and respond to the gospel. He was not accepted by God on the basis of his goodness. I am not claiming any merit on his part. But I'm not sure that he doesn't somehow represent those who die before they actually get the gospel preached to them.

I would like to hear Dr Craig's take on this one

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 22, 2007, 04:04:19 pm
Will wrote: Limited atonement?  I assume your just throwing substitutionary atonement into the mix with "unconditional election," even though you understand the distinction?


Abbreviations:

Limited atonement (LA)
Universal atonement (UA)
Unconditional election (UE)
Conditional election (CE)

The reason I mention limited atonement (LA) versus unconditional election (UE) is because UE as I understand it technically doesn't spell doom for the non-elect unless LA is applied. If universal atonement (UA) were applied to UE, then we'd have a situation where a Calvinist has a valid reason for not saying that "a baby who dies in infancy could not have been saved by the grace of God, nor that all aborted babies or mentally handicapped persons are not elect by God," right? In other words, if UE were valid and UA also valid, then God could atone for the sins of infants who died outside of the faith by graciously applying UA. This is still an example of UE remaining since the infants do not conditionally accept to be among the final elect. Yet, it is a rejection of LA since atonement is applied on a universal scale beyond the original elect (i.e., since God instead provides universal atonement for the baby category).

Thus, I suggest the following matrix:

UE/LA: traditional Calvinist (John Calvin)
UE/UA: traditional Amyraldism (Moses Amyraut)
CE/UA: traditional Arminist (Jacobus Arminius)
CE/LA: Arminist--middle knowledge (William Lane Craig)

If Romans 2 refers to moral Gentiles as participating in universal atonement, then only Amyraldism or traditional Arminist views would be correct. This excludes traditional Calvinism.

Will wrote: Its hard to answer this question because I don't see the connection.  For the sake of argument, if Paul is talking about non-Christian moral Gentiles, I don't see why this has any bearing on the doctrines of Grace.  You would have to come to the conclusion that Paul is teaching, exclusively, salvation by morality.  This, of course, would not just be against Calvinism, but all forms of evangelical protestantism.


Not necessarily. You already alloted the possibility for grace for the non-elect by referring to babies. Their election (assuming they are atoned and saved in the next life) is unconditional since they have not conditional elected to be saved. However, their atonement is universal since God has not restricted their category (i.e., the category of being a baby). If God saves moral Gentiles, then it is under the same offer of universal atonement to the unconditional elect.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 23, 2007, 09:35:36 am



Abbreviations:

Limited atonement (LA)
Universal atonement (UA)
Unconditional election (UE)
Conditional election (CE)

The reason I mention limited atonement (LA) versus unconditional election (UE) is because UE as I understand it technically doesn't spell doom for the non-elect unless LA is applied.


I think one more important distinction needs to be made and I am not exactly clear as to how you view it.  When you mention the UA view I assume you are referring to the traditional hypothetical/potential atonement as opposed to universalism (all will be saved by the atonement)?

For your quote above to be true, you have to establish some huge holes in this argument.  What your suggesting is that a non-elect person could be saved if UA were true vs. LA.  Now, of course, if that were true UA would be universalism and not the Arminian view of hypothetical atonement (where as Christ's atonement may or may not be effective in a person's life, as it depends on whether they apply it to themselves through faith).  I am not sure if this is your view, but I have sensed a hint of universalism in some of your comments thus far (this being the greatest), which changes a lot of things in the manner of dealing with this topic.

If universal atonement (UA) were applied to UE, then we'd have a situation where a Calvinist has a valid reason for not saying that "a baby who dies in infancy could not have been saved by the grace of God, nor that all aborted babies or mentally handicapped persons are not elect by God," right?


No, not necessarily.  One would have to first determine, which is impossible, that God didn't ordain that all these infants/mentally handicapped would have been given to the Son by the Father to redeem via the atonement.  IOW, LA could still hold true because one doesn't have to hold that LA necessarily means Christ didn't die for all infants -- if He did, then they are part of the group given to the Son by the Father whom Christ died to redeem.  

In other words, if UE were valid and UA also valid, then God could atone for the sins of infants who died outside of the faith by graciously applying UA.


Again, this has universalism written all over it, which changes everything I have assumed prior about your view.  


If Romans 2 refers to moral Gentiles as participating in universal atonement, then only Amyraldism or traditional Arminist views would be correct. This excludes traditional Calvinism.


I haven't seen that established at all via Romans 2?  



Not necessarily. You already alloted the possibility for grace for the non-elect by referring to babies.


Actually I didn't, what I said was...

1.  If all babies go to heaven (for the sake of argument)
2.  Then  all babies who die in infancy are elect.  

If saving grace can be given to the non-elect, the concept of election means nothing.  Election is the choice of persons to receive grace; which coincides with predestination speaking more directly to what they are determined to receive, namely, eternal life/glorification.  

If God saves moral Gentiles, then it is under the same offer of universal atonement to the unconditional elect.



Frst, going back to some basics, I don't see that Paul believes in a natural/non-regenerate man as "moral" in the salvific sense (just in the sense of exemplifying attributes of common grace such as a conscience).

Where does it say God saves non-believers who are moral (which is a paradox).  Going back to Romans 2, I don't think it matters whether they are understood as believers or unbelievers (for what were talking about), because I believe the entire argument of Paul climaxes that Gentiles who have the natural law of conscience vs. Jews who have the special Law of Moses are both equally condemned because both show that we are violators of those laws respectively.  And thus, if Jew = saved, then a Jew is one who has been circumcised in the heart (2:29) (whether Jew or Gentile by race), and that speaks directly to regeneration and the reception of elective grace (thus the concept of salvation for non-regenerate doesn't seem valid).  The theme of Romans 2-3 is that of judgment and declaration that none are "good/moral" enough to be saved, thus, as I pointed to earlier, we have the need of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ (3:26-27).          


Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 23, 2007, 10:06:55 am
But Cornelius was not just an example of a good pagan of course. He had become a Jew, and worshiped the one true God. But even before he became a Jew, it is clear that he was "seeking God", and in his own way he reverenced the One True God, who led him first to Judaism and then to faith in Jesus.


Granting:

1. Cornelius genuinely sought God,
2. worshiped God,
3. came to faith in Christ.  

The relevant question, in my opinion, is not whether those things are true but if they are true why did Cornelius do them?  Does the desire to seek God, worship God, and believe in Christ come from the natural heart? (c.f. Rom 3:10-18; Rom 8:6-7; 2 Cor. 2:14)


There may not be many, but I am sure that there have always been, in every civilization, those who, in their heart of hearts, genuinely seek God.


In my opinion, this must be reconciled with: "There is none who seeks for God" (Rom. 3:11).


He accepted them because He saw deep into their hearts and knew that they would have followed and loved him if only they had known about him.


I understand your sentiment, but applying it to the Christological atonement, I think there are problems.  Man's salvation is based on the "goodness" of his heart?  Further, assuming that, God is unable to bring a potential receipient of salvation to a circumstance of hearing the gospel, if that is all it would take for them to love God?  
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Roger Marshall on May 23, 2007, 11:58:34 am
The desire to seek God does not come from one's natural instinct. That is what Paul means, I think, by "There are none who seek after God". This was what Jesus meant too when he said "No one can come to me unless the Father calls him" (or words to that effect). Of one's natural one does not seek God, but "the Spirit enlightens everyone who comes into the world", meaning that there is SPIRITUALLY and not NATURALLY, ie placed by the Spirit within every human being, the capacity to be awakened  by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The initiative is from God in the sense that the call comes from God and not from within our own sinful natures which are "dead in sin". But the call of God, this prompting within the individual's soul is not irresistible. We naturally kick and scream against it, or we simply switch off and connect with something else, or having seemed for a while to take root, the seedling of faith gets drowned amid the concerns of our earthly existence. Surely that is what the parable of the sower is teaching us. that we can resist, to our eternal loss, the desire on God's part that we enter a relationship with Him.

Exactly how God illuminates the mind of every man and woman coming into the world, exactly how it is that he prompts a person to seek Him, and the precise ways in which each individual responds is something that we cannot even begin to fathom, even as regards people in "evangelised" countries, let alone places where the gospel has never arrived.

As for election, yes there is clear teaching in Scripture about that. Nevertheless, Ephesians (and by extension other places where it is referred to) makes it clear that it is Christ who is the Elect. All of those who are "in Christ" are "the elect" in so far as they are in Christ. "Election" however is not a matter of God singling out individuals for salvation or destruction. Christ is the "Elect of God" and our becoming "the Elect" is conditional upon our responding to the call of God within our hearts.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 23, 2007, 12:48:50 pm
The desire to seek God does not come from one's natural instinct. That is what Paul means, I think, by "There are none who seek after God".


I agree.


This was what Jesus meant too when he said "No one can come to me unless the Father calls him" (or words to that effect). Of one's natural one does not seek God, but "the Spirit enlightens everyone who comes into the world",


This is where we part.  Paul never suggests the concept that regenerate and un-regenerate have common ground in the Spirit.  It is always those in the flesh, lacking the Spirit, and those in the Spirit, regenerated.  It is the former that are said to be unable to understand or please God (2 Cor. 2:14; Rom. 8:6-7), and they are set in contrast to regenerated believers.  

Nonetheless, when you look a passages such as John 6, which you quoted.



The initiative is from God in the sense that the call comes from God and not from within our own sinful natures which are "dead in sin". But the call of God, this prompting within the individual's soul is not irresistible.


Not that I want to get involved in defending Calvinism, that would encompass way to much effort.  

But, the concept of having prevenient grace upon all people, that which enables man generally to respond to God, doesn't solve the problem either.  For, then, why do some respond while others don't if they both have an ineffectual call of God?  The answer is that one person more so than another is more smart, good, or righteousness; in that they see the value of choosing God.  Which, puts us back to square one that salvation is dependent on man's goodness.

Further, your use of "enlightens every man" is wanting, in my opinion.  Or is a stretch to say that it applies to the "calling" or "drawing" of God.

What do you do with: "Many are called few are chosen?"

Or, Romans 8:29-30 "Those whom he called...he also glorified."  

The problem with the above, and your view of ineffectual general calling, is that Paul could not say those whom are called are also glorified if in fact the calling could be resisted.  It is an unbreakable chain of events.  

Further, you mention John 6.  It is first important to note that the following discourse occured in response to the "unbelief" of those who were seeking miracles (John 6:36).  Jesus doesn't reply that they choose not to believe even though they could, rather, they choose not to believe because they are not given to Him by the Father nor drawn by the Father.  

v.37 says "All that the Father gives me Will come to me..."

There is not an uncertainty whether those given to the Son will come.

v.44 ..."no one can come to Me unless the Father draws him AND I will raise him up on the last day."

If the object of the drawing includes those that won't come, or resist the drawing, than the second clause is contradictory, or teaches universal salvation..."AND" I will raise Him up on the last day."  The one that is raised is the same as the one that is drawn.  

Surely that is what the parable of the sower is teaching us. that we can resist, to our eternal loss, the desire on God's part that we enter a relationship with Him.


I agree that God and the gospel can be resisted generally, yet that type of grace is not what Calvinism terms as effectual/irresistable grace.  Thats the difference.  To give examples of people rejecting God only points to the depravity of man, but seeing people choose God evidences that God has performed a sovereign miracle in their heart.  
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Roger Marshall on May 23, 2007, 01:47:49 pm
I do wish that Dr Craig would get involved in this debate. I believe there are Biblical responses to all the Scriptures which seem to require belief in individual unconditional election. But I'll need to work on it. We would condem as unjust any judicial system which had it in for the vast majority while singling out a minority for a free pardon, even if all of them did deserve to die by virtue of inheriting the guilty condition of their forbears.


Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 23, 2007, 01:48:55 pm
Hey Will,

I'm having trouble accessing this site, so maybe I said something to offend the webmaster...? In any case if my time here is short, I would like you to know that you can meet up with me at www.philosophyforums.com. I very much enjoy discussing Christian topics with you as we share the same faith and face the same obstacles, so if I suddenly show up missing, you know where to find me.

Regarding your post. Let me reply as follows:

Will wrote: I think one more important distinction needs to be made and I am not exactly clear as to how you view it.  When you mention the UA view I assume you are referring to the traditional hypothetical/potential atonement as opposed to universalism (all will be saved by the atonement)?


I'm not a universalist in that I think hell is avoidable, or that there is an eventual exit from hell. I do think the numbers are much lower than Calvinists, however. How God will manage to save those who die outside the faith is not given for us to know. God has many options and still remain consistent with Christian theology. For example, the elect may be a key as I believe the later chapters of Romans hints upon.

Will wrote: What your suggesting is that a non-elect person could be saved if UA were true vs. LA.  Now, of course, if that were true UA would be universalism and not the Arminian view of hypothetical atonement (where as Christ's atonement may or may not be effective in a person's life, as it depends on whether they apply it to themselves through faith).  I am not sure if this is your view, but I have sensed a hint of universalism in some of your comments thus far (this being the greatest), which changes a lot of things in the manner of dealing with this topic.


I don't see why that would necessarily be the case. Afterall, the hypothetical atonement of Christ is not hypothetical if God capitalizes on it in some way other than how God saves the elect. Universalism as I understand it generally rejects hell, whereas in the Old Testament there was a judgment and condemnation for evil doers that did not result in their salvation.

Will wrote:
If universal atonement (UA) were applied to UE, then we'd have a situation where a Calvinist has a valid reason for not saying that "a baby who dies in infancy could not have been saved by the grace of God, nor that all aborted babies or mentally handicapped persons are not elect by God," right?
No, not necessarily.  One would have to first determine, which is impossible, that God didn't ordain that all these infants/mentally handicapped would have been given to the Son by the Father to redeem via the atonement.  IOW, LA could still hold true because one doesn't have to hold that LA necessarily means Christ didn't die for all infants -- if He did, then they are part of the group given to the Son by the Father whom Christ died to redeem.


I see what you mean. However, in that case UE (unconditional elect) combined with LA (limited atonement) doesn't mean converted to Christ in this lifetime. This seems to be what Calvinists are chiefly against since if atonement and being unconditionally part of the elect is possible beyond this life, then why suggest that non-believers will go to hell? If UE/LA doesn't entail this for babies, then why must it entail this for unbelievers in general?

Will wrote:
Not necessarily. You already alloted the possibility for grace for the non-elect by referring to babies.

Actually I didn't, what I said was...
1.  If all babies go to heaven (for the sake of argument)
2.  Then  all babies who die in infancy are elect.  
If saving grace can be given to the non-elect, the concept of election means nothing.  Election is the choice of persons to receive grace; which coincides with predestination speaking more directly to what they are determined to receive, namely, eternal life/glorification.


I should clarify this. By "non-elect" I should have said, "not converted to Christ or be a child of a converted Christian in this lifetime." It would be easier if we had a name for this. How about "unconverted"?

Will wrote: Where does it say God saves non-believers who are moral (which is a paradox).  Going back to Romans 2, I don't think it matters whether they are understood as believers or unbelievers (for what were talking about), because I believe the entire argument of Paul climaxes that Gentiles who have the natural law of conscience vs. Jews who have the special Law of Moses are both equally condemned because both show that we are violators of those laws respectively.


I realize that this is the direction we must go, but I want to clarify first what is the criteria for Calvinism being wrong. This is why I want to first establish what happens to Calvinism if specifically LA is biblically false. It's tough getting to this point, so I appreciate your patience.

Like I said, I think I might not be able to access this site since my network address is no longer bringing up this site. Perhaps the webmaster is Calvinist? (*Smile*.) Anyway, if I'm cut off I hope you look me up at www.philosophyforums.com. Thanks for your time. You're a great debater.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 23, 2007, 03:08:02 pm
Hey Will,

I'm having trouble accessing this site, so maybe I said something to offend the webmaster...? In any case if my time here is short, I would like you to know that you can meet up with me at www.philosophyforums.com. I very much enjoy discussing Christian topics with you as we share the same faith and face the same obstacles, so if I suddenly show up missing, you know where to find me.


Hey Harvey,

Interesting.  I had trouble once accessing the site, but it cleared up the next day, not sure if this is your problem as well.  Nonetheless, thanks for the link to the other forum.  I doubt the web-master is a Calvinist

I'm not a universalist in that I think hell is avoidable, or that there is an eventual exit from hell. I do think the numbers are much lower than Calvinists, however. How God will manage to save those who die outside the faith is not given for us to know. God has many options and still remain consistent with Christian theology.
Interesting.  I happen to be a different breed, in some sense, from the reformed understanding of justification and LA.  I find the traditional understanding of LA, presented by John Owen, to be utterly persuasive when viewed as a whole.  Yet, I go a little further then him, or at least in a different direction if not further.  
He rejected the concept of eternal justification despite his strong view concerning the effectual nature of the blood of Christ.  Namely, he still held that one is not justified by the effectual atonement until the time of faith, where as I have come to find the concept of eternal justification both biblically and logical fluent with the doctrine of LA.  
To put this in words, I find that when it says one is justified by the "blood of Christ" that it literally means that, and that faith represents not the time nor the effecting act of justification, but is the evidence of it.  This is a stretch, but "faith is the evidence of things not seen..." (Heb. 11:1), and that which is not seen includes the concept of eternal justification through being joined to Christ (Eph. 1:4) before the foundation of the world whence he was slain (Rev. 13:8).  
Not that I want to get off on this, but, this is somewhat similar to what you are arguing to a certain extent.  At least to the point that you are arguing that one can be saved apart from the "faith," and I agree with that in the sense that I don't believe faith effects salvation but evidences it.  

I don't see why that would necessarily be the case. After all, the hypothetical atonement of Christ is not hypothetical if God capitalizes on it in some way other than how God saves the elect.
I agree...and if it is no longer hypothetical atonement (by definition) than it is no longer an Arminian atonement, which was the original premise of the discussion I thought.  

I see what you mean. However, in that case UE (unconditional elect) combined with LA (limited atonement) doesn't mean converted to Christ in this lifetime.
This issue gets technical.  Its hard to concede that because we start speculating beyond scripture.  My point with babies I wouldn't necessarily apply to "non-babies," probably looking back to Jesus' words that "all that the Father has given Me, will come to me (paralleled to believing v.38-39)" (Jn. 6:37).  My statements concerning babies was more speculatory than the biblical view of "normal man's" salvation , and I don't think we should take the clear understanding of salvation as properly belonging to those who have faith in Christ and obscure it with the less clear.  
This seems to be what Calvinists are chiefly against since if atonement and being unconditionally part of the elect is possible beyond this life, then why suggest that non-believers will go to hell? If UE/LA doesn't entail this for babies, then why must it entail this for unbelievers in general?
Because, apart from speculating on babies or mentally disabled, it is counter to the clear teaching that those who are saved by Christ will also be brought to faith by Christ, IMO.  
Further, I never said that UE/LA absolutely entailed this concept for babies, but merely stated that if you want to, hypothetically, argue all babies go to heaven you have to do so based on their election and union with Christ not on their innocence.  

I should clarify this. By "non-elect" I should have said, "not converted to Christ or be a child of a converted Christian in this lifetime."
Yes, this does help clarify, for the theological usage of elect does not imply at all that one is or is not converted yet in time.  Election, as I understand it to be presented bibically and in reformed theology, refers to the act of God in selecting objects of His Grace according to the good pleasure of His will before the foundation of the world.  Thus, to be an elect one does not imply you are yet converted, but implies the certainty that you will be based on the will of God in orchestrating it.  

This is why I want to first establish what happens to Calvinism if specifically LA is biblically false. It's tough getting to this point, so I appreciate your patience.
I agree, and believe LA to be at the heart of Calvinism and if it is biblically false the entire biblical view of Calvin crumbles.  Further, I don't believe in the existence of 4 point Calvinists, rather they are just inconsistent Arminians.  

Like I said, I think I might not be able to access this site since my network address is no longer bringing up this site. Perhaps the webmaster is Calvinist? (*Smile*.) Anyway, if I'm cut off I hope you look me up at www.philosophyforums.com. Thanks for your time. You're a great debater.
Thanks for the kind words and I appreciate your thoughts and time.  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 23, 2007, 04:41:25 pm

Will wrote:
I don't see why that would necessarily be the case. After all, the hypothetical atonement of Christ is not hypothetical if God capitalizes on it in some way other than how God saves the elect.
I agree...and if it is no longer hypothetical atonement (by definition) than it is no longer an Arminian atonement, which was the original premise of the discussion I thought.

I think we ought to distinguish a strong sense and a weak sense of the term. If sacrificial atonement is scripturally impossible for the unconverted dead, then atonement is denied in the strong sense. If sacrificial atonement is soteriologically possible (but not determined) for the unconverted dead, then atonement is denied in the weak sense. It seems you agree that Limited Atonement is in some sense true in the strong sense when you said, "it is counter to the clear teaching that those who are saved by Christ will also be brought to faith by Christ [when they (except non-babies/non-mentally handicapped) have passed away]."

The problem I have with your view here is consistency. How do you stay consistent with your theology regarding your speculation about babies and the handicap possibly being saved? This suggests a definition of sacrificial atonement in the weak sense (see above). If so, then I don't see how you can commit to LA. I realize that you "never said that UE/LA absolutely entailed this concept for babies." However, even for you to hypothetically "argue [that] all babies go to heaven you have to do so based on their election and union with Christ not on their innocence" seems inconsistent with LA to me. Let me try to diagram this:

UE(1) --> refers to those unconverted to be part of the elect at some point in their physical life prior to death
UE(2) --> refers to those unconverted to be part of the elect at some point in the future (speculatively including babies and mentally handicapped after their physical death)
LA(1) --> refers to those unconverted to have Christ's sacrificial atonement applied at some point in their physical life prior to death
LA(2) --> refers to those unconverted to have Christ's sacrificial atonement applied at some point in the future (speculatively including babies and mentally handicapped after their physical death)

Now, in the speculative case of babies and mentally handicapped, if UE(1) and LA(1) both obtain, then there's no way that babies or mentally handicap can be saved, right? Let me know if we both agree to this. This is what I call sacrificial atonement is denied in the strong sense (see above).

In case of UE(2)/LA(x) or UE(x)/LA(2), there is a speculative possibility for babies and mentally handicapped to be saved according to Calvinism. This is what I call sacrificial atonement interpreted in the weak sense. However, if that's true, other than a few scriptures which you cited (e.g., Jesus' words: "all that the Father has given Me, will come to me"), I don't see that there is any soteriological reason why God is restricted from saving those who would have believed if they would have heard (i.e., "counterfactual believers" or "counterfactual Christians").

Further, I don't see how you can distinguish UE(2)/LA(x) or UE(x)/LA(2) from UE/UA (universal atonement) since UE/UA says that anyone who is part of the elect will be saved, and this hypothetically includes anyone in the world.  If we give UA the same possible configuration options as LA, then UE/UA(1) remains a hypothetical atonement, but UA(2) is no longer hypothetical since it designates whomever in the world is the elect. Therefore, LA(2) and UA(2) have the same meaning, and since UA is a weaker version of sacrificial atonement than LA, it makes sense to say that LA(2) is inconsistent with LA--whereas UA(2) is consistent with UA.

In any case, if you accept LA(2) as a valid possibility (soteriologically speaking), then I have no problem with your form of Calvinism other than your scriptural interpretation on how wide of a net God can save after death. I think there are many counterfactual Christians in the world throughout the universe's timeline, and therefore Christ's sacrifice is much more significant for the world than the few that have actually heard the Gospel in a personal way, in my opinion (of course).
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 23, 2007, 04:43:16 pm

Correction:


If sacrificial atonement is soteriologically impossible for the unconverted dead, then atonement is denied in the strong sense.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 23, 2007, 08:59:31 pm



The problem I have with your view here is consistency. How do you stay consistent with your theology regarding your speculation about babies and the handicap possibly being saved?


Harvey,

I will respond to more later, but the wife is requesting my attention; but, just for a quick response to the opening part about consistency.

Simply put, the way I am consistent is to state that coming to faith doesn't make the atonement effectual, but rather proves that the atonement has had its effect (babies dying in infancy lack that proof, but it doesn't negate the effectual application of Christ's work (assuming the application)).  

Namely, a baby may be saved by the death of Christ because that baby was joined to Christ before he/she was ever born/conceived or the world was even formed.  The only difference is that I can't say for certainty that God so chooses to apply it to every baby, He may or may not, but that isn't for me to decide or judge -- although, I wouldn't be surprised if every baby was saved.  

Now, in terms of normal humanity, I believe we are saved the same way (God placing us in union with Christ (c.f. 1 Cor. 1:30: "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us...righteousness and sanctification, and redemption").  Yet, I think that part of God's plan, with conscious, moral, and mature beings (for whatever tha means), was that all those who are saved eternally, also come to faith in Christ and experience redemption from the flesh temporally, yet the latter doesn't effect the former.  

Is it logically possible, under this theory, that a normal person could die prior to faith and be saved based on the death of Christ?  Yes, but, going back to what I said, I believe that God has revealed that He chooses not to do it that way and rather decrees that they will reach the point of 'faith.'  

And, as I have stated, coming to faith doesn't make the work of Christ have its effect (i.e. satisfying the wrath of God), but proves that you belong to the body of Christ.    

I find 2 Peter 3:9 interesting in light of the above.

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, now wishing for any [of you] to perish but for all to come [lit. Greek to reach] to repentance."

Promise = the return of Christ

Patient toward you = patience towards the beloved (v.8) or elect (the general description to whom the letter is addressed.

Interestingly Peter is responding to why hasn't Christ returned yet, and the response is that God is not just being slow about it, but is being patient towards the beloved allowing them to come/reach repentance (or faith).  If He returned now there may be, theoretically, those "elect" who are alive but haven't reach repentance and moreover there are "elect" that haven't even been born yet, let alone reach repentance -- thus, God is waiting till all the beloved have reached repentance before Christ returns (v.10).

So, my simple conclusion concerning salvation and faith, is that one must come to faith in order to be saved because God has decreed that all those whom he saved via Christ's work will reach that point...and one who never reaches faith is proven to be one that was never joined to Christ.  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 24, 2007, 06:47:31 am
Again, Will, thanks for all of your delightful responses.

Will wrote: Is it logically possible, under this theory, that a normal person could die prior to faith and be saved based on the death of Christ?  Yes, but, going back to what I said, I believe that God has revealed that He chooses not to do it that way and rather decrees that they will reach the point of 'faith.'


Okay, then sacrificial atonement (using my terminology) denies salvation to the unconverted dead in the weak sense. It's soteriologically possible God could save them, it's just not mentioned that way in scriptures.

In that case, though, it seems that you ought to give the benefit of doubt to God in allowing God to work the revelation that God sees fit. Afterall, it does no good by revealing His plan to Christians for the unconverted dead only to find that these same Christians say, "well, in that case I'll just have my fun today and when time's up, then I'll change my ways and come to Christ." If God did such a thing, then the Gospel would be of no effect.

In any case, it seems we're ready to start dissecting the book of Romans for an answer to what Paul is actually talking about when it comes to the plight of the unconverted (next post). I prefer to lay out our overall perspective from beginning to end, so that we can get a coarse grain image of what it is that Paul is referring to throughout. I'll point out how Paul gets narrowingly close to talking about the salvation of the unconverted dead, but then suddenly backs off and goes no further. He just leaves the insinuation that God's arm is not short in this.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 24, 2007, 11:02:07 am
Okay, then sacrificial atonement (using my terminology) denies salvation to the unconverted dead in the weak sense. It's soteriologically possible God could save them, it's just not mentioned that way in scriptures.


Dividing out this proposition in 2 categories, I agree with one but not the other.

sacrificial atonement (using my terminology) denies salvation to the unconverted dead in the weak sense. It's soteriologically possible God could save them

1.  This means Christ's atoning work doesn't save the unconverted because God doesn't apply it to them, even though he could if He willed (resulting in their salvation).

2.  This means that God could save man, had Christ died for him, apart from any act of man (theoretically).  (Kind of like someone paying my debt to my credit card company and them then recognizing me as debt free, regardless of what I do or if I believe it actually happened (the fact remains that it did)).    

I agree with (2) but not (1); and, the reason why, is because I think all for whom Christ died must and will be saved.  It would be an injustice of God to punish a man for whom Christ already actually took to the punishment (double punishment).  Therefore, it is not soteriological possible that God could save one who ultimately perishes, but doesn't, because all for whom Christ act as as a substitute are saved by the necessity of justice (Rom. 4:25).  (If I am expressing my view clearly).  

For a brief example, scripturally...

1.  2 Cor. 5:14: "...having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore the all died."

I translated all, as "the all (o pantes)," as in the Greek the article helps clarify that Paul is talking about the same "all" in the clause following the therefore.

Therefore = ara, literally, "as consequence."  

So, all for whom Christ died, as a consequence of Christ's substitutionary death, also died in that death; and we know that if we have died with Christ and to sin, then we shall have eternal life.

Rom. 6:5-8 "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

v.8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him."
 

2 Tim. 2:11: "For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him."  

1.  All for whom Christ died, died with him (2 Cor 5:14; making their payment for sin (Rom 6:23) via Christ)

2.  All who died with Christ will also live with Him (Rom. 6:5-8; 2 Tim. 2:11).

3.  Therefore, none for whom Christ died will be lost (all that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and I will raise Him up on the last day (Jn 6:37)).

4.  Therefore, all men individually who ever lived will be saved (universalism); or Christ did not die for every man (limited atonement).

5.  Not all men individually will be saved.

6.  Therefore, Christ did not die substitutionarally for all men individually.


Or, Consider Romans 8:32-38

Just some highlights...

v.32 "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

v.35 "who will separate us from the love of Christ?" (exemplified in the sacrificial atonement)

v.38-39a: paraphrase: "nothing" including any "created thing"

v. 39b: [nothing] "will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  

Thus.

1.  All for whom Christ died God will also freely give all things (heaven at the least)

2.  The love of Christ is in relation to the act of love in sacrificial atonement.

3.  Nothing or anything, created or non-created, can separate us from that act of love in sacrificial atonement.

4.  This love originates from eternity past in the mind and plan of God in redemption.

5.  Man and his will are created things.

6.  Therefore, even man can't separate himself from the death of Christ.

7.  Some Men perish and go to hell.

8.  Going to hell results in a separation from God's love as seen through Jesus Christ's atonement.

9.  Therefore, if premise (3) is correct, not all men are connected to the inseparable love of Christ; which means, Christ did not die for all men, which further means that it is not logically possible for some men to be saved which are not saved based on sacrificial atonement.  


Ok, that turned out to be a long answer to the statement that God could possibly save some who are not saved.  



I'll point out how Paul gets narrowingly close to talking about the salvation of the unconverted dead, but then suddenly backs off and goes no further. He just leaves the insinuation that God's arm is not short in this.


I'll look forward to this.  
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 24, 2007, 01:42:23 pm
Will wrote: sacrificial atonement (using my terminology) denies salvation to the unconverted dead in the weak sense. It's soteriologically possible God could save them

1.  This means Christ's atoning work doesn't save the unconverted because God doesn't apply it to them, even though he could if He willed (resulting in their salvation).

2.  This means that God could save man, had Christ died for him, apart from any act of man (theoretically).  (Kind of like someone paying my debt to my credit card company and them then recognizing me as debt free, regardless of what I do or if I believe it actually happened (the fact remains that it did)).    

I agree with (2) but not (1); and, the reason why, is because I think all for
whom Christ died must and will be saved... Therefore, it is not soteriological possible that God could save one who ultimately perishes, but doesn't, because all for whom Christ act as as a substitute are saved by the necessity of justice


Okay, but how does this soteriologically rule out the possibility that God will apply Christ's sacrifice to the counterfactual Christian (Matt. 11:21-23)? If doesn't, then (1) is valid.

Will wrote: Therefore, if premise (3) is correct, not all men are connected to the inseparable love of Christ; which means, Christ did not die for all men, which further means that it is not logically possible for some men to be saved which are not saved based on sacrificial atonement.


I see no reason to argue against this point. I'm only concerned about salvation of the unconverted that involves in some way sacrificial atonement.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 24, 2007, 05:27:40 pm
Okay, but how does this soteriologically rule out the possibility that God will apply Christ's sacrifice to the counterfactual Christian (Matt. 11:21-23)? If doesn't, then (1) is valid.


For (1) to be valid, person X would have to have a theoretical possibility of both being saved by Christ's death or not being saved.  My argument is that no such possibility exists.  IOW, can God apply the death of Christ to whom He wills, or is it only applied to those for whom He (Christ) intended and actually substituted?  I am arguing for the latter.  

However, this doesn't really address what you appear to be asking, namely, that Christ's could have died for non-christians?


I see no reason to argue against this point. I'm only concerned about salvation of the unconverted that involves in some way sacrificial atonement.


So your now a Calvinist?


Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 24, 2007, 06:26:30 pm

Will wrote: For (1) to be valid, person X would have to have a theoretical possibility of both being saved by Christ's death or not being saved.  My argument is that no such possibility exists.  IOW, can God apply the death of Christ to whom He wills, or is it only applied to those for whom He (Christ) intended and actually substituted?  I am arguing for the latter.

Hey Will. Let's take the latter case then. What information do you have that states that God cannot put a "counterfactual Christian" before the judgment seat  and allow Christ's sacrificial atonement to be applied at that time?
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Sam on May 24, 2007, 07:26:39 pm

harvey1 wrote: Coming from an Arminianist and Wesylian background I find the Calvinist view of God to make the problem of evil irreconcilable with a good God, or a God that establishes moral truths.
You should check out Jonathan Edwards book on The Freedom of the Will.  He answers several philosophical arguments against Calvinism and developes the case that compatibalism is necessary of moral accountability, and that it reconciles God's sovereignty with man's responsibility.  I wrote a series of blogs about that here
On the other hand, I do not so much want to discuss the philosophical problems with Calvinist predestination, I'm more interested in its scriptural basis--almost completely construed from what I think is a terrible misinterpretatio of Romans 9.
Personally, I think the strongest case for Calvinism comes from John 6, not Romans 9.  But I do think John Piper gives a very strong case for double predestination from Romans 9 in The Justification of God.
Can this be one main reason why there are so many people who despise Christianity and leave the religion to attack it? I think so.
I doubt it since Calvinism isn't what most people who reject Christianity are exposed to.
Now, here's my question. If Paul in Romans 2 is saying that God will judge those Gentiles who live according to the law even without the law, and this is their defense in the day of judgment, then why in the world would a few chapters later would Paul suggest that God will turn a blind eye to their "persistence in doing good" when in fact God is just storing them up for destruction?
Because, as Paul said, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  Since the Gentiles who do not have the law nevertheless have the law written on their hearts, they are without excuse.  They know right from wrong, even though they don't have the law handed down to Moses.  Even though they know the moral law and strive to keep it, they still fail just like those who DO have the law.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 24, 2007, 07:45:31 pm
Hi Sam. It's tough for me to debate two of you at the same time. I realize that Calvinists have their scriptures too. The reason for talking about Romans, though, is because Paul lays out one of the foundational views of Christian sotierology from beginning to end. If Paul is supporting Calvinism, then it ought to be very clear from Romans. Of course, we can talk about other scriptures too.

My focus here is to quickly locate the key stumbling blocks and see how close we can come to each agreeing on those issues, and hopefully better understand each other's positions.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Sam on May 25, 2007, 07:25:01 am

Sorry, Harvey.  I was just responding to the initial post.  I probably should've read the rest of the thread before responding.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 25, 2007, 10:12:14 am
Hey Will. Let's take the latter case then. What information do you have that states that God cannot put a "counter-factual Christian" before the judgment seat and allow Christ's sacrificial atonement to be applied at that time?


Hi Harvey,

Just to set the stage, you said lets take the latter case.

Latter case = The death of Christ, or the appeasement of God's wrath, is only beneficial for those whom Christ acted as an actual substitute in His sacrifice.

Counter-factual Christian = One who was never been converted to the faith in his/her lifetime.

(The issue of regeneration here is important but I am not sure if you are including it in your definition).  

 
What information do you have that states that God cannot put a "counter-factual Christian" before the judgment seat and allow Christ's sacrificial atonement to be applied at that time?


There's a lot that could be thrown in the mix, as your aware, but here's a few.

John 3:18:  "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."  

Mark 16:16: "...he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."  

John 3:3: "...unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."

           1 John 5:1: "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God..."

 
and allow Christ's sacrificial atonement to be applied at that time?


This is what I was pointing about before with my longer post.  To suggest that Christ's atonement could be applied at that time would suggest that it could equally not be applied at all, or at least prior.  If Christ died for him, in reality (the latter case), than it is true long before one reaches the judgment seat.  If Christ actually propitiated the wrath of God for all for whom He died (1 Jn. 2:2), then God's wrath is removed in that sacrifice, and thus its not possible to apply it later...that would be hypothetical atonement (not the 'latter case').  Rather, once God is appeased towards one's sin he is appeased and thus the atonement already has its effect; yet, if God still could send one to hell or has His wrath upon them it would be unjust for him to do so, if in fact Christ died for Him and already appeased that wrath.  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 25, 2007, 11:15:18 am

Will wrote: To suggest that Christ's atonement could be applied at that time would suggest that it could equally not be applied at all, or at least prior.  If Christ died for him, in reality (the latter case), than it is true long before one reaches the judgment seat.  If Christ actually propitiated the wrath of God for all for whom He died (1 Jn. 2:2), then God's wrath is removed in that sacrifice, and thus its not possible to apply it later...that would be hypothetical atonement (not the 'latter case').

Maybe this is not related, but surely the prophets (Abraham, Elijah, etc) are covered by the sacrifice of Christ since they died in the faith (Heb.11). However, they didn't know Jesus. In what way could they be accounted as Christians whereas law obeying Jews who didn't known Jesus (let's say Jews living in Persia in the middle ages) will go to hell?

But, regarding your scriptures, I didn't see a specific biblical passage that suggests that it is not possible for God to offer these counterfactual Christians the blood of Christ as an atoning sacrifice as payment for their sins. Your argument as I understand it is as follows:

A1) He who believes is not judged at the Judgment (John 3:18)
A2) He who disbelieves will be condemned at Judgment (Mark 16:16)
A3) He who is not born of God cannot see the Kingdom (John 3:3)
A4) Whoever believes in Jesus is born of God (I John 5:1)
A5) Hence, those who are judged at Judgment do not see the Kingdom

But, surely I don't have to go through a few examples of how erroneous results can be obtained by quoting scriptures as in this manner. I think you know well that we could come up with all sorts of ludicrous justifications by making this kind of argument. Well, just in case others don't see that possibility, I'll construct one:

B1) The Church is the body of Christ (I Cor. 12:27)
B2) Jesus is Christ (John 20:31)
B3) Jesus and the Father are One (John 10:30)
B4) Therefore, the Church is the Father
B5) Jesus was sent by the Father (John 5:36)
B6) Therefore, the Church sent Jesus

If I had more creativity, I'm sure we could really construct some real doozies with this kind of reasoning method. What I'm looking for is an actual perspective where it is clear that the New Testament rules out those counterfactual Christians coming before the Judgment seat and accepting Jesus' blood as atonement for their sins.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 25, 2007, 12:35:56 pm

Maybe this is not related, but surely the prophets (Abraham, Elijah, etc) are covered by the sacrifice of Christ since they died in the faith (Heb.11). However, they didn't know Jesus. In what way could they be accounted as Christians whereas law obeying Jews who didn't known Jesus (let's say Jews living in Persia in the middle ages) will go to hell?


This is where I believe in eternal justification.  In the mind of God the lamb was slain from eternity past (Rev. 13:8), and all the elect were joined to Christ from eternity past (Eph. 1:4).

Further,

Rom. 3:25-26: "Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.  This was to demonstarate HIs righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over teh sins previously committed...so that He would be just and the justifier of the oen who has faith in Jesus."

My argument from this passage is that God did not judge the sin of previous generations, before the historical death of Christ, based on the fact that Christ would die for those sins.  Thus, in order for God to be righteous, a just judge, he could not just pass over OT sin and forget it, He had to demonstrate His righteousness for doing so by the death of Christ.

Based on the certainty of the payment/sacrifice in accordance with the will and plan of God, God could forgive previous sins, just as latter sins, based on the death of Christ.

Now, more directly to your question, I wouldn't say they didn't know their Messiah.  Rather, that was their hope.  Again, I am not saying the exact content of the faith is what effects or ensures salvation, there was definitely more revelation OT to NT; but, rather, the faith itself is evidence that you are born of God (saved, among the elect).  Namely, I am saying that God regenerates on earth those whom He ultimately saves in eternity, faith, OT or NT, represents that you are among the regenerate.        

But, regarding your scriptures, I didn't see a specific biblical passage that suggests that it is not possible for God to offer these counterfactual Christians the blood of Christ as an atoning sacrifice as payment for their sins. Your argument as I understand it is as follows:


Strange.  I wasn't trying to build some sophisticated argument based on scriptures.  Rather, the verses I quoted said exactly the opposite of what your saying.  It is not contengent on multiple verses, but all the verse say essentially the same thing.

You say God doesn't necessarily have to condemn an unbeliever at the judgment.

The scripture says,

An unbeliever is condemned already; namely, before he even comes before the the judgment throne he has already been judged and condemned, there is no hope.

This says exactly contrary to what you say.  I don't see the parallel that you made to possible irrational conclusions upon proof texting.  If I am misunderstanding the verse, explain why.  Namely, explain what it means to be judged already (and its obviously a negative judgment) or to be condemned already before you reach the final judgment.  Kind of like the phrase "Dead man walking," hes still alive but is judged and is no different than dead, it just hasn't happened physically yet.  This is not a good analogy, but I see a similar concept with Jesus' statement;the unbeliever is condemned already even though he hasn't been condemned experientially in the actual judgment yet.  

What I'm looking for is an actual perspective where it is clear that the New Testament rules out those counterfactual Christians coming before the Judgment seat and accepting Jesus' blood as atonement for their sins.


I think you're agreeing that one won't be saved apart from union with Christ, exemplified through faith, but that it doesn't have to happen in this lifetime?

My problem with this is that thus far you are just presenting it as pure speculation and haven't substantiated it yet.  Thus, in my opinion, you have to take the clear teachings...which suggest that unbelievers in this earth are "condemned."  

You can always say "what if," but that doesn't make a point.  If you want to get less "absolute" about the issue, what is the most resonable conclusion based on what we do know?  The most resonable conclusion, based on the texts I quoted and the lack of evidence even remotely suggesting some form of evangelistic conversion service at the judgment, would be along the lines of what I am proposing.  Unless you can show reasoning otherwise.    

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 26, 2007, 06:42:12 am

Will wrote: An unbeliever is condemned already; namely, before he even comes before the the judgment throne he has already been judged and condemned, there is no hope.

Well, our hope is only in Christ. That's what it means to repent.

Will wrote: I think you're agreeing that one won't be saved apart from union with Christ, exemplified through faith, but that it doesn't have to happen in this lifetime? My problem with this is that thus far you are just presenting it as pure speculation and haven't substantiated it yet.  Thus, in my opinion, you have to take the clear teachings...which suggest that unbelievers in this earth are "condemned." You can always say "what if," but that doesn't make a point.  If you want to get less "absolute" about the issue, what is the most resonable conclusion based on what we do know?  The most resonable conclusion, based on the texts I quoted and the lack of evidence even remotely suggesting some form of evangelistic conversion service at the judgment, would be along the lines of what I am proposing.  Unless you can show reasoning otherwise.


This somewhat confuses me because this is not what the Jewish nation believed about those outside the faith. Your suggestion that this is speculation that God would save an unbeliever at judgment doesn't mesh with the beliefs of the day when Paul wrote, so right off the bat I think Calvinism is more a reflection of the events that surrounded late Christianity than it is of early Christianity. As Christianity developed, it had to deal with motivational issues as to why would someone need to be Christian if salvation were at least possible after one's life had ended. In that sense, it's understandable why Christians would become stricter on this issue, and that's in fact what history showed what happened.

However, we now live in an age where we can look back and honestly examine the beliefs of the world in which Paul wrote, and this I think gives us good reason to think that in Romans 2 Paul was speaking according to the understanding of the day. In fact, Paul was much more enlighted since he saw the value in moral philosophy of the Greeks, and he saw that this was justification to talk about moral Gentiles apart from the law and Christianity. That was a great insight by Paul. Unfortunately this is lost by those who anachronistically interpret Paul by the events that came centuries later.

Just a couple of scriptures to show what the Hebrews believed about the Gentiles:

In the last days the mountain where the Lord's temple is located will be famous. It will be the most important mountain of all. It will stand out above the hills. All of the nations will go to it... He will judge between the nations. He'll settle problems among many of them. They will hammer their swords into plows.  They'll hammer their spears into pruning tools. Nations will not go to war against one another. They won't even train to fight anymore. (Isa. 2:2,4)


People from many nations will go there. They will say,  "Come, let us go up to the Lord's mountain. Let's go to the house of Jacob's God. He will teach us how we should live. Then we will live the way he wants us to." The law of the Lord will be taught at Zion. His message will go out from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:2)


"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)


He continued, "At that time many men from all nations and languages will take hold of one Jew. They will grab hold of the hem of his robe. And they will say, 'We want to go to Jerusalem with you. We've heard that God is with you.' " (Zech. 8:23)


Even the Lord said:

What I'm about to tell you is true. On judgment day it will be easier for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.(Matt. 10:15)


(It's hard to visualize how a judgment could be easier than the other guy if both of you are going to hell for an eternity of absolute pain.)

Anyway, I agree that none of us know what God's intention at judgment are. We have no idea how or what any of this means once we look beyond this physical confinement, but I just don't see the reason that we should drastically re-interpret Paul outside of the views of his day. Sure, Paul was expounding heavily on the meaning of the righteousness of Christ obtained apart from the law, but it is another matter to suggest that he's drastically re-writing first century views on eschatology. So, I don't this as speculation, I see it more as following hermeneutical precedent established long before Paul.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 28, 2007, 09:06:53 pm
The concept of the Gentiles being part of the covanent relationship between God and man, I don't think, implies some form of salvation at the judgment as you are purposing.  I don't see the relationship or understand where your taking this?  

You keep mentioning Romans 2 and the "moral Gentile," but I think you fail to take into account that the entire point is that, despite the Jew having the Law and the Gentile having the law, all are equally condemned because none are truly moral or follow those laws respectively (as made plain in ch. 3).  
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 28, 2007, 10:30:13 pm

Will wrote: The concept of the Gentiles being part of the covanent relationship between God and man, I don't think, implies some form of salvation at the judgment as you are purposing.  I don't see the relationship or understand where your taking this?

We have to go into the context of the times to understand Paul. It's not appropriate to anachronistically read Paul based on the view that the unconverted have no part in the kingdom of God. This wasn't the eschatological views of his day, as those scriptures indicate. Before we start talking about Romans, can we agree that the popular Jewish understanding at the time of Paul was that the majority of the Gentiles were to be saved at the judgment? In other words, if this is the popular understanding, then we should give hermeneutical priority to maintain this popular understanding unless such a hermeneutic is not feasible. Can we agree on this point?
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 29, 2007, 09:04:51 pm

Before we start talking about Romans, can we agree that the popular Jewish understanding at the time of Paul was that the majority of the Gentiles were to be saved at the judgment?



No, I don't think we can.  The conversion of the Gentiles, eschatologically, Ihaven't seen to imply being saved at the actual judgment seat.  I suppose you need to define what the judgment seat means to you.

As you read Is. 2:2 it speaks of the nations coming to God in the "last days."  Or, Rom. 11:25, God has hardened Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles have come in.  What your implying just seem untenable or unsubstantiated to speak of this conversion as happening before the bema or great white throne judgment (despite the controversy as to the differences of judgments etc...).    


Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 30, 2007, 12:02:53 am

Will wrote: No, I don't think we can.  The conversion of the Gentiles, eschatologically, Ihaven't seen to imply being saved at the actual judgment seat.  I suppose you need to define what the judgment seat means to you.

In first century Palestine the judgment referred to God judging the deeds of the living and the dead of all men. The book of Daniel describes this well:

9 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.  10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened... 26 " 'But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.' (Dan. 12:9-10, 26-27)


2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Dan. 12:2-3)


Jesus also speaks of this judgment:

20 Jesus began to speak against the cities where he had done most of his miracles. The people there had not turned away from their sins. So he said, 21 "How terrible it will be for you, Korazin! How terrible for you, Bethsaida! Suppose the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon. They would have turned away from their sins long ago. They would have put on black clothes. They would have sat down in ashes. 22 But I tell you this. On judgment day it will be easier for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 "And what about you, Capernaum? Will you be lifted up to heaven? No! You will go down to the place of the dead. Suppose the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom. It would still be here today. 24 But I tell you this. On judgment day it will be easier for Sodom than for you." (Matt. 11:20-24)


Paul even speaks of this judgment in Romans:

15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts. The way their minds judge them gives witness to that fact. Sometimes their thoughts find them guilty. At other times their thoughts find them not guilty. 16 People will be judged on the day God appoints Jesus Christ to judge their secret thoughts. That's part of my good news. (Rom. 2:15-16)


I see no reason not to identify this event as speaking of the same event by each scripture, do you?

Will wrote: As you read Is. 2:2 it speaks of the nations coming to God in the "last days."  Or, Rom. 11:25, God has hardened Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles have come in.  What your implying just seem untenable or unsubstantiated to speak of this conversion as happening before the bema or great white throne judgment (despite the controversy as to the differences of judgments etc...).


I'm confused by the eschatology that you are attributing to the early Church (i.e., prior to 70 AD).  As far as I can see from the early writings of the Gospels, the epistles of Paul, the late prophets (e.g., Daniel), and even the apochrypha, the common view of the end time was that the Son of Man (later understood by Christians as Jesus) would descend from heaven, defeat the armies gathered against God, restore Israel, and judge humanity. Is this not your understanding? Do you think Paul would have known what a bema was?
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 30, 2007, 06:24:28 am

That should be Pseudepigrapha (not Apochrypha).

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 30, 2007, 09:48:07 am
OK, I don't disagree with your texts about judgment, but they don't, IMO, suggest that there will be conversions at that actual event.  You may suggest, which is debated, that there will be lesser degrees of punishment, but to suggest that this is referencing when "all the ends of the earth" will turn to God is stretching it.

When it speaks of "all the Gentiles coming in" before the hardening will be lifted on Israel, what does that mean?  It would suggest a longer period of time in the Gentiles being converted, and not one instance or time (before the final judgment).  

I'm confused by the eschatology that you are attributing to the early Church (i.e., prior to 70 AD).  As far as I can see from the early writings of the Gospels, the epistles of Paul, the late prophets (e.g., Daniel), and even the apochrypha, the common view of the end time was that the Son of Man (later understood by Christians as Jesus) would descend from heaven, defeat the armies gathered against God, restore Israel, and judge humanity.


I never suggested otherwise.  But, the end times happen over time, and you are attributing this conversion to the time of actual judgment before God at the end of the millennium (not sure of your stance on this).  After the ascension it was understood often that they were already in the "last days."  This logically follows the commission of Christ to evangelize all the ends of the earth.  

 
Is this not your understanding? Do you think Paul would have known what a bema was?


I don't understand your reasoning.  The reason I know about the "bema" is because Paul wrote about it?  So yes, I think Paul knew about it.  Further, when Jesus talks about the Judgment, such as separating the goat from the sheep, does He suggest that this is conversion time?  I don't think so, but rather up to that point, in the end times, there will be conversions but not at the actual judgment and condemning the goats to separation from God.    
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 30, 2007, 11:00:05 am
Okay, that's good. We're making some progress. I always appreciate your charitable interpretations of my text and it's good to see that we can agree on some basic points.

Since we agree that Judgment is being spoken about in Matthew 11, then why can't we agree that Jesus speaks quite clearly that the so-called evil societies of former times (e.g., Sodom) would condemn those who heard the Gospel for not repenting? Are you suggesting that 2nd century Chinese who are condemned to eternal hell--where all those nice grandmothers and their families suffer forever and ever like the Holocaust with God looking on in approval--would then condemn others for not repenting? I mean why would they do that since obviously they were unlucky to be born in a world with a Calvinist-understood God?
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 30, 2007, 01:40:04 pm

I'm not following what you mean?  Quote the text your referencing where an evil society condemns another society for not repenting?  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 30, 2007, 01:44:24 pm
[QUOTEl]41The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. 42The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. (Matt. 12:41-42)


Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on May 30, 2007, 02:00:15 pm
Are you suggesting that 2nd century Chinese who are condemned to eternal hell--where all those nice grandmothers and their families suffer forever and ever like the Holocaust with God looking on in approval--would then condemn others for not repenting? I mean why would they do that since obviously they were unlucky to be born in a world with a Calvinist-understood God?


Thanks for the text you were referencing.

Your statement above doesn't make sense to me.

The Matt. 12 passages states that Nineveh will "condemn" other generations for not repenting.  The condemnation, however, I don't think you can say is that the Nineveh people act as judges, but that there presence at the judgment, as those who repented, stand as a condemning evidence for the later generations who didn't repent when they had something greater (Christ instead of Jonah).

Where does 2nd century Chinease people, who are condemned, fit into this?  

You ask, why would they do that, and I don't think they would or could because if they are condemned they haven't repented, and thus would serve no basis for condemning a different non repentant people.

Further, this is a tangent, but your description of people suffering like the holocaust with God looking down in approval is definitely a misrepresentation of the Calvinistic view.  Since this was originally on Romans 9, and Paul gives the concept of God making one vessel for honorable and another for dishonorable use, the judgment is not the condemnation of a flower pot to serve as a dog dish...but is the condemnation that the dog dish will not serve as the flower pot and that the flower pot will serve as the flower pot.    

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on May 30, 2007, 03:57:34 pm

Will wrote: ...I don't think you can say is that the Nineveh people act as judges, but that there presence at the judgment... You ask, why would they do that, and I don't think they would or could because if they are condemned they haven't repented, and thus would serve no basis for condemning a different non repentant people.

Yet, the scripture says that the Ninevites will condemn the people of Jesus' generation, even though they are hell bound, right? Unless of course you are suggesting that they aren't hell bound? I don't see how that would jive with your view of sacrificial atonement where must accept Jesus as Lord prior to dying, and not just repent of their immoral livelihood without any knowledge of Jesus.

Will wrote: Further, this is a tangent, but your description of people suffering like the holocaust with God looking down in approval is definitely a misrepresentation of the Calvinistic view.


I didn't mean to say that God takes pleasure in suffering, rather God approves of their day and night struggle in horrible agony (i.e., according to Calvinism). If God didn't approve of hell, then God could stop the suffering by making them unconscious.

Will wrote: Since this was originally on Romans 9, and Paul gives the concept of God making one vessel for honorable and another for dishonorable use, the judgment is not the condemnation of a flower pot to serve as a dog dish...but is the condemnation that the dog dish will not serve as the flower pot and that the flower pot will serve as the flower pot.


Will, Will, Will. Beautiful human beings being compared to dog dishes. That bothers me that you say that even though I know in your heart you would never mean that if you were asked to meet the people who would undergo this amount of infinite suffering forever and ever.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Will on June 02, 2007, 09:16:36 am
Yet, the scripture says that the Ninevites will condemn the people of Jesus' generation, even though they are hell bound, right?


The context of the issue is that they were repenters and those condemned were not.  


Unless of course you are suggesting that they aren't hell bound? I don't see how that would jive with your view of sacrificial atonement where must accept Jesus as Lord prior to dying, and not just repent of their immoral livelihood without any knowledge of Jesus.


I never said anything of the sort in relation to the OT.  What I did say is that one must be regenerated (that is the effective cause of salvation); further, one must repent/come to faith because God decreed they would reach it and it evidences their regeneration.  The content of the faith is in accordance with the revelation given.  I never suggested OT repenters had to have a NT Christology.  


Quote:
Originally Posted by Will
Further, this is a tangent, but your description of people suffering like the holocaust with God looking down in approval is definitely a misrepresentation of the Calvinistic view.


I didn't mean to say that God takes pleasure in suffering, rather God approves of their day and night struggle in horrible agony (i.e., according to Calvinism). If God didn't approve of hell, then God could stop the suffering by making them unconscious.


Ok.  But, this is true for non-reformed views of hell as well.  God approves of it in accordance with His justice.


Will, Will, Will. Beautiful human beings being compared to dog dishes. That bothers me that you say that even though I know in your heart you would never mean that if you were asked to meet the people who would undergo this amount of infinite suffering forever and ever.


Interesting, when reading about the wickedness of man's heart and them being compared to an open grave, the thought of how beautiful man is spiritually just jumps out of the pages?  

Harvey, I understand your sentiment, however, as is often mistaken, this is not the ranting analogy of some Calvinist...but Pauls', and I don't think we should ignore it because it doesn't suit our present feelings and emotions.  Paul says a vessel for honorable use and dishonorable use...ok, choose two different "vessel" types (a vessel for carrying water and a vessel for holding wine?), the point is the same.

My point was not to compare a person to a dog dish or a flower pot directly (we are all dog dishes apart from God's intervention), but to explain the concept of how God is righteous in His judgment.  That is what Paul is addressing, is there unrighteousness with God, for no one can resist His will (according to what Paul just said, they are what God wills them to be, thus how can He hold them accountable for it?)

A righteous judgment would say, a dog dish is not allowed to serve as a flower pot because it is a dog dish (it is not suited to be a flowerpot, thus no injustice in saying it can't, it is a true judgment).  The dog dish needs to be remade by the Potter in order to serve as a flower pot (glorified in heaven).  


Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on June 05, 2007, 07:45:52 am

Will wrote: I never said anything of the sort in relation to the OT.  What I did say is that one must be regenerated (that is the effective cause of salvation); further, one must repent/come to faith because God decreed they would reach it and it evidences their regeneration.  The content of the faith is in accordance with the revelation given.  I never suggested OT repenters had to have a NT Christology.

Well, then, if moral repentence of the Ninevites, then what of Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims, etc., who have come to know God through the moral argument for God's existence? This would suggest that we shouldn't be too concerned about the billions of people who have lived throughout history since many people "by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves." If the Ninevites "show[ed] the work of the law written in their hearts" then it would seem that all over the world we'll find billions of people at judgment with "their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or excusing them in the day when God will judge..." (Rom. 2:14-16).

So, why did you reject Rom. 2 referring to people like the repentant Ninevites when we discussed this earlier?
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on June 12, 2007, 09:11:40 pm

Will wrote:
So, here we find a nice summary of what a Calvinist believes: God predestines people to hell,



Piper definitely believes in double predestination, but the nature of those acts are not necessarily the same (as you suggest).  Predestination to hell is more of a passive act, i.e., not saving them.  Whereas, all men being dead equally in sin, requires more of a proactive approach to destining them to heaven, changing them from their deadness to life.  Thus, the problem is not God's acts in reprobation or predestination that poses the problem, but the untenable claim, prior, that man is not worthy of death and separation from God due to sin.  If man is truly worthy of it, then there is no philosophical argument that could be posed to claim injustice to God.  What usually happens from the non-reformed camp is that they admit, oh yes were worthy of death, but the claim is only made under the certain context that we have a sure way not to suffer that consequence and redeem ourselves through faith.      

 
and that since most people who have ever lived are non-Christian, we have a whole populace within Christianity that believe that most people go to hell,


At least in traditional evangelicism, this is true regardless of your view of predestination.  And thus, if this concept poses a problem for God in the realm of the POE, then it is equally a problem for the non-reformed, unless you become an open theist.  

  Just a quick terminology correction.  Piper does say that he's a double predestinarian, but double predestination isn't a passive position.  

  1.)Single Predestination says that God actively create faith in the elect and lets the rest go on to their own fate.  This is the Augustinian-Calvinist position.  
  2.)Double Predestination is a Hyper-Calvinist position which states that God not only regenerates those he decides to elect to salvation, but also creates active resistance among those that he decides to elect to damnation.  

  I know Piper's position doesn't actually say this, but he makes it sound worse than it actually is.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: MG on July 06, 2007, 02:38:23 pm
I find this to be an extremely interesting discussion that parallels a debate that I was just involved in, a debate that I am now involved in, and a debate I am soon to be involved in .  Over at this site: www.faceofgod.wordpress.com I took the non-Calvinist side against Calvinists over how to interpret Romans 9, claiming that Romans 9 can be plausibly interpreted in a non-Calvinistic manner (see "The Romans 9 Debate: Parts 1-6").  I am currently arguing the same can be done with John 6, and in a later debate I will be doing the same with Romans 8.

Having read Piper and Schreiner's arguments (I read parts of Justif. of God, Schreiner's article in Still Sovereign, and the Schreiner/Abasciano debate in the Journal of the ETS) for Calvinism in Romans 9, I remain unconvinced by Calvinist exegesis.  I don't think any of the exegetical arguments for the five points of Calvinism from Romans 9, John 6, or Romans 8 are very strong.  If you are interested in seeing how the discussion goes, please take a look.  I will try to participate in this forum discussion as well; but I'm just giving a heads up for the time being if anyone is interested.

--MG

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Properly Basic on July 19, 2007, 07:25:44 pm

Thomistguy’s thoughts on Predestination

Courtesy of the Thomisticguy at http://simplegodstuff.blogstream.com/Predestination--Doctrine of a Big-Hearted GodThe Big Picture

Perhaps the single most overlooked fact about predestination is its biblical purpose. What I mean by this is not its theological purpose which is the salvation of souls. Rather, what is overlooked is its purpose in regard to why Paul wrote about predestination in the first place. The two places where Paul writes about predestination are in Romans 9-11 and Ephesians 1-2. In both of these sections of Scripture Paul is making a case for the inclusion of Gentiles into the household of God. In both of these sections of Scripture Paul refers to the “mystery” that has been hidden and now revealed (Eph. 1:8-10 and Rom. 11: 25). He explicitly describes what that mystery is in Ephesians 3.

Ephesians 3:4-6 "4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."

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.

The problem arises with predestination when people turn its purpose on its head. To Paul predestination meant that God has sovereignly thrown open the gates of heaven to all of humanity and wants His (as Jesus said in Luke 14:23) “house full.” Unfortunately, some people now want to re-define predestination as a restrictive doctrine. The impression one gets from this redefinition of predestination is that God is a miser in heaven choosing a few special “elect” out of humanity and consigning the rest of the world to hell. According to this view God does this because it proves He is in charge and that He is a glorious God. However, such a view of God violates the love-drenched spirit of the New Testament and would likely horrify the Apostle Paul. Paul gloried in predestination because it validated extreme evangelism. A proper understanding of predestination puts it in its biblical context as connected to the mystery of Jew and Gentile being saved. It is a generous and wonderfully outrageous doctrine of God’s love for all of humanity. All humans are now invited to come to God’s salvation banquet--the blind, the lame, the rich and poor, all are welcome.

1 Tim 2:3-6 "3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men"

Bless the Lord!
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Properly Basic on July 19, 2007, 07:27:31 pm

Romans Chapter 9

Romans chapter 9 is completely misunderstood by far too many readers. It’s the chapter that allegedly demonstrates how God chose a few for heaven and a bunch for hell. But as we shall see this interpretation is unfounded and I think entirely unbiblical! Now, before we begin it’s important to note that Paul wrote to a 1st century Jewish/Gentile audience, NOT ours. We might say, it was written to them, but for us. This is note worthy since Paul frequently quotes Old Testament passages, presumably, for Jews and also Gentiles. His audience is therefore quite familiar with the people and stories of the past.

Now why did Paul use words like “predestination” and “election in Romans, Ephesians, and Corinthians?” Was this Paul’s way of describing how God hand picked some for heaven and others for hell? Well, I don’t think so! In fact I see something entirely different.

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! Predestination is therefore by no means exclusive but radically inclusive in that God wants all men to be saved! 1 Tim 2:4, 2 Pet 3:9.

It's worth noting that Paul was addressing the condition of an arrogant an unbelieving Israel (Rom 9:2-3). There was an ongoing Jewish notion that since ethnic Israel are God’s chosen people, those to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the law and the temple service and the promises (Rom 9:4-5) they are therefore automatically positioned with God because of their nationality, tradition and works --- BIG MISTAKE! Since ethnic Israel failed to recognize the sovereignty and grace of God, and how the terms of Salvation are God’s prerogative, NOT mans, Paul's message was that Salvation depends solely on God who is merciful (Rom 9:16).

Throughout the letter Paul incorporated OT stories to illustrate the sovereignty and grace of God. Paul described ways in which God has already worked with individuals and nations. But in the end he was simply delivering the Gospel to the Romans (Rom 4:5 & Eph 2:8-9). He was NOT describing a God who arbitrarily chose some for salvation and others for damnation.

Let’s begin!

V 1-5 Paul is pained by Israel’s unbelief. He wished he could be cursed in their place so that they would be saved.

V 6-8 God’s Word did not fail! Although some of Israel had rejected God and as a result were cut off like dead branches from a tree, they were replaced by Gentiles who would believe.

V 9-13 A few things are clear: 1. God chose Jacob (Israel) over Esau (Edom) to deliver the gospel and be an example to the surrounding pagan nations. This was based upon God’s sovereign choice, and not the will or works of man. 2. “the older will serve the younger…” Gen 25:23 indicates how the line from Esau (Edomites) would serve the line from Jacob (Israelites) - Mal 1:1-3 and 2 Sam 8:11-15 illustrate this point further i.e. David crushed the Edomites. This in no way refers to the election of individuals for salvation but rather a nation being used by God.

V 14-15 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION." The quotation is taken from Exodus 33:13-19, where Moses intercedes for Israel. In the context, God is assuring Moses that His glory will be seen. Individual election is not being taught here.

V 16 God is in control. His grace is sufficient.

V 17- 18 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." 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"

With respect to Pharaoh, check out, Philosapologist's Thoughts on Pharaoh's Hard Heart: A Middle Knowledge Perspective And A letter to a 'Piperian' Pastor: Responding to his good (could have been better) sermon!

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 N.T. Wright says, "The point is not that the Creator decides, arbitrarily, to save some and condemn others. Rather, he sees that the only way of rescuing the world at all is to call a people, and to enter into a covenant with them, so that through them he will deal with evil. But the means of dealing with evil is to concentrate it in one place and condemn-execute-it there. The full force of this condemnation is not intended to fall on this people in general, but on their representative, the Messiah. But, insofar as they become the place where sin is thus initially focused (5.20), Israel necessarily becomes the 'vessel of wrath.' And insofar as Israel clings to her privileged status, and to the Torah as reinforcing it, refusing to recognize the crucified Messiah as the revelation of God's covenant faithfullness, she is bound to remain in that condition.

The vessels of wrath in this context and throughout Romans and even Jeremiah have always referred to Israel. Could all of Israel truly be damned
   to hell? I think not! We might read ch. 11.

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.

And so, 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.

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
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Properly Basic on July 19, 2007, 07:31:26 pm

Philosapologist Catches Jesus Red-Handed...

Rebuking Religious Types! (An explanation of John 6:37-45)

Jesus is in a debate with the religious leaders who claim to have special knowledge and standing with God. Their charge seeks to disassociate Jesus with God, denying the former while affirming the latter. They are attempting to show that they know God but Jesus is foreign to them - that they are in a right relationship with God and they reject Jesus.

Jesus counters them by asserting that they never 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). They had already rejected testimony of John the Baptist as well as Moses: "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?" (John 5:46).

The point of the passage is this: Jesus' opponents could not come to him because of their track record of rejecting his previous offerings of light. They had denied God and spurned correction. Had they fully accepted Moses, they would have belonged to God and he would have lead them to Christ. Since they did not belong to God, they would not be part of the transfer from God to Jesus (6:37, 39). If they dropped their presuppositions and surrendered to God's teaching, they would have been taught by God and lead to Jesus (6:45).

There is no reason to think that this passage teaches that people need some special permission from God in order to come to Christ. The point is that one cannot affirm God while denying Christ. All that God has he gave to Jesus, thus all who were in his care, he handed over to Jesus to shepherd.

The answer to the question to whom does "no one" refer is quite simple: it means no one who has a relationship with the one true God and creator of the universe refrains from coming to Christ. Part of the confusion may lay in our point of view. One might assert that we come to God through Christ. We meet with Christ and are then able to get to the father. That is quite correct, but it is not the situation Jesus was addressing. Jesus had just come to earth. The Jews supposed they already had a relationship with God.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Properly Basic on July 19, 2007, 08:25:11 pm
Moreover---->

A letter to a 'Piperian' Pastor: Responding to his good (could have been better) sermon!

FYI: I enjoy this pastor and love the church. None of my comments are meant to insult. I’m only presenting a response to a sermon I heard last week ( http://www.thebridgebiblechurch.com/audio/3-12-06.html ).

Pastor, it’s unwise to suggest because God is sovereign He is therefore the direct cause of every single event in life. I hope you weren’t suggesting God is 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.

Precision and detail were never primary functions for Hebrew authors, but story telling was huge. That’s one reason I believe Western bible readers interpret the bible so poorly. We read it like the Greeks!

Dr. William Lane Craig put's it like this: '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 1 Samuel 31:4, 5 and 1 Chronicles 10:14. 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. It seems to me there is a Jewish understanding of God’s directive will (a will in which he is the effective cause of an event) and 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 thereby 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.

The Westminster Confession understand that 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. The whole process is called Providence.

As Witherington wisely says, "The problem with John Piper and other 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, which involves allowing there to be more than one source of causation in the universe. The alternative is indeed to make God the author of what God in fact calls evil repeatedly in Scripture--- which is a huge besmirching of the character of God. It is equally problematic to make God's sovereignty the hermeneutical key by which then one tries to fit God's other attributes into a procrustean bed. For example God's love or God's desire that none should perish but all have everlasting life (see e.g. Jn. 3.16-17; 1 Tim. 2.6) do not fit the Augustinian understanding of sovereignty. And while we are at it, Ephes. 1.11 simply tells us that God is almighty to save. It is in no way a commentary on the cause of evil and tragedy in this world."

BWIII continues, "But perhaps the greatest failure of the Piper model of sovereignty is that it gets wrong the whole nature of God's love, which involves freedom not only on the part of God but also real freedom of response on the part of those he is wooing and loving. It is a case of "freely you have received, freely give". Love is not something that can be predetermined and still be love. Automata are not capable of love. And as 1 John reminds us in so many ways God is love. This I would suggest must affect the way we think about God's sovereignty or else we are actually Moslems, not Christians with a belief in pure fatalism, all things predetermined. The alternative to Augustinianism is not Deism-- it is rather a full orbed view of all of God's attributes including God's love. God is not the only actor in the universe whose will matters, and this is because God chose for it to be otherwise from before the foundations of the universe."

As an aside, Open theism is not the only alternative to the Augustinian conception of Soveriegnty. There’s a great book by William Lane Craig, “The Only Wise God,” that I’ve found to be very fruitful in these matters.

Bless the Lord
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Tripp on October 16, 2007, 03:27:02 pm
Good evening gentlemen!

I noticed the discussion was on Calvinism and Reformed Theology.  These views I have had to reject myself unfortunately.  I believe that the primary reason that reformed theology is unbiblical is its belief in particular providence (God foreknows because He foreordains).  Despite centuries worth of mental gymnastics with the capatiblist view of the will, particular providence succeeds in making God the author of sin and evil and any distiguishment between right and wrong or good and evil is obliterated.  This follows because, by neccesity,  God is ignorant of whatever He is not the efficeint cause of.  For example, God could not have foreknown yesterday that today I would be typing this response unless he is the cause of not only my decision to type of this response but is also is causing all of my actions and thoughts that are involved in typing this response (otherwise He could not know them).  Yet the Calvinist, contrary to the open theist, firmly holds that God is omni-foreknowing. Not only does this make God the sole cause of all creature volition, but God would be the sole cause of all effects in the universe.  This necessarily entails an bizzare doctrine known as occasionalism.  In billiards, when the que ball strikes the nine ball, for example, what causes the nine ball to move from point A to point B would be God causing the the nine ball to exist in a different space-time region as it appears to be moving if one grants an A theory of time.  Thus particular providence, vital doctrine of Reformed Theology, entails the two views that morality and any second order causation in the universe is illusory.  Now I perfectly familiar with attempts by Calvinists to try to have moral accountablity in the creature via the compatiblist view of the will.  But not only is compatiblism itself problematic (since it tries to make the agent morally responsible for hypothetical situations) but the form of compatiblism that is typically advocated be Calvinists (Jonathan Edwards' form with its belief in moral necessity and natural necessity) is logically ruled out by particular providence and is thus inconsistently held by Calvinsts.  Therefore Calvinism and Reformed Theology reduce to and evil theological fatalism and a form of pantheism where God is the only mind that exists in the universe.  Therefore the God of Calvinism and Reformed Theology is virually the same as the god in Spinoza's Tractatus and is not at all the God of the Bible.  
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on October 17, 2007, 12:03:50 pm

Tripp wrote: Good evening gentlemen!

I noticed the discussion was on Calvinism and Reformed Theology.  These views I have had to reject myself unfortunately.  I believe that the primary reason that reformed theology is unbiblical is its belief in particular providence (God foreknows because He foreordains).  Despite centuries worth of mental gymnastics with the capatiblist view of the will, particular providence succeeds in making God the author of sin and evil and any distiguishment between right and wrong or good and evil is obliterated.  This follows because, by neccesity,  God is ignorant of whatever He is not the efficeint cause of.  For example, God could not have foreknown yesterday that today I would be typing this response unless he is the cause of not only my decision to type of this response but is also is causing all of my actions and thoughts that are involved in typing this response (otherwise He could not know them).  Yet the Calvinist, contrary to the open theist, firmly holds that God is omni-foreknowing. Not only does this make God the sole cause of all creature volition, but God would be the sole cause of all effects in the universe.  This necessarily entails an bizzare doctrine known as occasionalism.  In billiards, when the que ball strikes the nine ball, for example, what causes the nine ball to move from point A to point B would be God causing the the nine ball to exist in a different space-time region as it appears to be moving if one grants an A theory of time.  Thus particular providence, vital doctrine of Reformed Theology, entails the two views that morality and any second order causation in the universe is illusory.  Now I perfectly familiar with attempts by Calvinists to try to have moral accountablity in the creature via the compatiblist view of the will.  But not only is compatiblism itself problematic (since it tries to make the agent morally responsible for hypothetical situations) but the form of compatiblism that is typically advocated be Calvinists (Jonathan Edwards' form with its belief in moral necessity and natural necessity) is logically ruled out by particular providence and is thus inconsistently held by Calvinsts.  Therefore Calvinism and Reformed Theology reduce to and evil theological fatalism and a form of pantheism where God is the only mind that exists in the universe.  Therefore the God of Calvinism and Reformed Theology is virually the same as the god in Spinoza's Tractatus and is not at all the God of the Bible.  

    Hey,
    I'm neither a Calvinist nor an occasionalist, but, I can't help but think that you're over-stating the case against Calvinism (at least, the Brand of Calvinism established by Jonathan Edwards).  
    First, occasionalism avoids saying that God is everything in the way Spinoza claimed by saying that the world is distinct from him.  It no more commits the occasionalist to monism than interactionism commits the dualist to reductionism.  This leaves us with a different problem, namely, it seems to make the world God's body.  Similar, I will grant you, but not the same thing.  
    Secondly, it seems a non-sequiter to say that because God influences the will as the Edwardsian Calvinist wants to say that God is the only mind in the world.  If one takes the mind to be an object with certain intentional and qualitative properties, whether or not God gives it the intentional properties it does have is a non-issue as to whether or not it counts as a mind.  
    Thirdly, the Calvinist doesn't have to believe that God's foreknowledge is based in God's being the efficient cause of every thing that happens.  I think that Calvinism simpliciter is best thought of as depending on middle knowledge.  The difference then between Molinism and Calvinism reduces to what God's will is toward those that are not saved, rather than that and the specific role God plays in the causal chain.  
    Fourthly, I'm not entirely sure that particular providence necessitates that God is "the author of evil," in the sense that He himself is evil.  Granted, there is a lot of pressure to say that He is, since He is the ultimate cause of all things that cause suffering, but, there is still something else to be taken into consideration.  It might be the case that God's good intention behind causing a particular state of affairs that is bad in itself prevents us from saying that God performs evil in causing that state of affairs.  As an analogy, if we take a toddler, and jab it with a needle for fun, that is cruel and evil, but, if we use the needle to inject a vaccine, then, we are not performing an evil act but rather a very good act regardless of the fact that the same amount of suffering on the part of the toddler results.  It is not inconceivable that God might have a really good reason that we can't understand for doing what he does.  I'm not saying that this is the case, but that it prevents us from simply writing Calvinism off as resulting in the claim that God is evil.
    As I said, I'm not a Calvinist, so, don't mistake me for being a Calvinist apologist.  I think there isn't as strong a base for it in scripture as Calvinists think there is (in fact, I think there isn't really a strong base for either Calvin or Arminius' positions in scripture as people would like to think), I can't make heads or tails out of what God's love is supposed to be in it, but, nonetheless, it is not nearly as indefensible as you seem to think.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Tripp on October 17, 2007, 11:12:56 pm

I’m grateful for your criticisms!  Its good to have a fellow non-Calivinist keep me in check from overstatement.

Perhaps a little explaining and clarification is order on my part as well as a little revision.  The argument that I’m seen Calivinists use to prove particular providence runs something like this:

           1.  God’s foreknowledge is immutable.

           2.  At t1 God knows x at t2.

           3.  Therefore necessarily x at t2.

Now this argument is invalid since what follows from 2. is not 3 but:

           3”.  Therefore x at t2.

The only way to make the argument valid would be to formulate it this way;

           1.  God’s foreknowledge is immutable.

           2.  Necessarily, God knows at t1 that x at t2..

           3.  Therefore nessessarily x at t2.

This would make the argument valid but I am aware of no Calvinist that would agree to 2.  2. would entail the conclusion that no contingency exists in the universe, the universe exists necessarily, and that God has no free will.  (Jonathan Edwards claimed 2 in Freedom of the Will but did not conclude the impossibility of counterfactuals, a necessary universe, and God’s loss of freedom; all of which I believe inescapable follows).

But suppose I wave all of this and conclude that the first argument is sound.  The argument claims to prove a necessary causal relationship between God’s knowledge and all effects that He foreknows, which would include all effects that exist given God’s omniprescience.  This means that, to borrow your analogy, that if we jab the baby with the needle with the intention of torturing it that God would be the cause of not just the action but the intention.  This follows because God would have foreknown both and therefore have been the cause of both. Now I am well aware of Calvinists attempts to claim that while God may be the cause of the action that He would have been so for a longer range good motive and would not be the cause of the intent.  But the only way to make this hold would be to make God ignorant of the intention given that He necessarily foreordains what He foreknows.  This would result in a sort of semi-open theism that the Calvinist would reject.  Furthermore, Given that there is no distinguishment between my own thoughts, emotions, decisions etc…as well as actions and God’s will, there would be no distinguishment between God’s mind and my own.  Given that this would be true of all creatures, then God would be the only mind that exists in the universe.  The only sense in which a dichotomy between my mind and God’s mind would exist would be that my mind would be a spirit entity that would exist as a co-extension of God’s mental volitions.

Now the reason that I conclude that particular providence entails occasionalism I will explain here.  As I stated, my argument only follows of the Calvinist believes on both particular providence and an A-theory view of time.  A-theory time (also called dynamic time) holds that temporal becoming is objectively real and not an illusion of our consciousness as in B-theory (or static time).  This means that the present moment is the only moment that exists but in the process of temporal duration changes as time moves forward toward the future.  Now suppose we have an atom in which it’s the protons and neutrons that make up the atom’s nucleus are being held together through each successive moment in time by the strong nuclear force just like any other atom. Given that God knows all future events via foreordination, this means that each successive temporal moment that the atom’s nucleus is held together is caused directly by God. Thus the strong force is not a natural law but a direct divine act.  This would be true not only of all natural laws but all temporal states of affairs that exist in the universe.  All would be direct acts of God as God foreordained each successive temporal moment and thus time itself would be nothing but a direct divine act. This constitutes a form of occasionalism.  

Now I’m aware of Calvinists who believe in middle knowledge and libertarian free will put to my knowledge these people are known as Congruists (Congruism being the brain child of Francisco Suarez).  I know that Congruism holds to particular election but affirms libertarian freedom and middle knowledge and that they are often called Calvinsts as well but I don’t think that they would hold to particular providence like mo
   st adherents to the Reformed Tradition since it would be mutually exclusive with those two views.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on October 18, 2007, 12:00:06 am
Tripp wrote:

The only way to make the argument valid would be to formulate it this way;

           1.  God’s foreknowledge is immutable.

           2.  Necessarily, God knows at t1 that x at t2..

           3.  Therefore nessessarily x at t2.

This would make the argument valid but I am aware of no Calvinist that would agree to 2.  2. would entail the conclusion that no contingency exists in the universe, the universe exists necessarily, and that God has no free will.  (Jonathan Edwards claimed 2 in Freedom of the Will but did not conclude the impossibility of counterfactuals, a necessary universe, and God’s loss of freedom; all of which I believe inescapable follows).

    The argument here still doesn't work.  You're right in that Calvinists would reject (2), but (1) is suspect as well, actually.  Does (1) refer to immutability across possible worlds or simply within a world?  There's a huge difference in the consequences.  If God's knowledge is immutable across possible worlds, then, frankly, there are no other possible worlds and everything happens necessarily.  But, if it's the case that God's knowledge is immutable within one world, then, one can say that this is due to the fact that these truth values of these propositions were logically prior to God's knowledge (assuming that a world is a set of abstract propositions, and the actual world is the set of propositons that correspond to the states of affairs that were,are and will be ...actual; the truths are still contingent because the world itself is contingent).  Also, I think that Edwards would accept (2) only in the context of saying that the necessity involved is due to the logically prior truth of x at t2 (in Edwards' case, due to logically prior event of God's willing it to be so, which is a free act).  To put it more succinctly, God doesn't know that "x at t2" necessarily unless it is already the case that it is necessarily true that "x at t2".

Tripp wrote: But suppose I wave all of this and conclude that the first argument is sound.  The argument claims to prove a necessary causal relationship between God’s knowledge and all effects that He foreknows, which would include all effects that exist given God’s omniprescience.  This means that, to borrow your analogy, that if we jab the baby with the needle with the intention of torturing it that God would be the cause of not just the action but the intention.  This follows because God would have foreknown both and therefore have been the cause of both. Now I am well aware of Calvinists attempts to claim that while God may be the cause of the action that He would have been so for a longer range good motive and would not be the cause of the intent.  But the only way to make this hold would be to make God ignorant of the intention given that He necessarily foreordains what He foreknows.

Here is where you've lost me.  I'm not entirely clear on reasoning you have here, but I'll give it a shot.  Even if God is the cause of the offender's intention, then, you push back the issue another level.  What is God's intention in giving this person the intention He does?  See what I mean?  God would still will a kind of suffering on the part of the individual, but it seems plausible to say that, given his intention, he could still be good while doing so.

Tripp wrote: This would result in a sort of semi-open theism that the Calvinist would reject.  Furthermore, Given that there is no distinguishment between my own thoughts, emotions, decisions etc…as well as actions and God’s will, there would be no distinguishment between God’s mind and my own.  Given that this would be true of all creatures, then God would be the only mind that exists in the universe.  The only sense in which a dichotomy between my mind and God’s mind would exist would be that my mind would be a spirit entity that would exist as a co-extension of God’s mental volitions.

The difference here is how we stand to these intentional and phenomenal states and how God stands to them.  God causes these states that I have and experience.  God's experiences are not what I'm experiencing, but rather, he is causing me to have my own subjective experience x or y.  The possible disjoint between what God intends and what I intend in the above example shows this.  And, even if you don't believe that God is causing these things, then you still have to think that something is, like sunlight reflecting off a surface and hitting my retina, starting a complicated chain of events in my brain, etc creating my experience of the color yellow.  You wouldn't say that the sunlight and I are the same in this situation, so why say that God and I are the same in this state of affairs?

Tripp wrote: Now the reason that I conclude that particular providence entails occasionalism I will explain here.  As I stated, my argument only follows of the Calvinist believes on both particular providence and an A-theory view of time.  A-theory time (also called dynamic time) holds that temporal becoming is objectively real and not an illusion of our consciousness as in B-theory (or static time).  This means that the present moment is the only moment that exists but in the process of temporal duration changes as time moves forward toward the future.  Now suppose we have an atom in which it’s the protons and neutrons that make up the atom’s nucleus are being held together through each successive moment in time by the strong nuclear force just like any other atom. Given that God knows all future events via foreordination, this means that each successive temporal moment that the atom’s nucleus is held together is caused directly by God. Thus the strong force is not a natural law but a direct divine act.  <
   /SPAN>This would be true not only of all natural laws but all temporal states of affairs that exist in the universe.  All would be direct acts of God as God foreordained each successive temporal moment and thus time itself would be nothing but a direct divine act. This constitutes a form of occasionalism.
 

Since the argument for God's foreknowledge causing everything doesn't work, that proposition can't be used to prove occasionalism.  Besides, assuming that this view of foreknowledge is true, why couldn't it be the case that God foreknows that the strong nuclear force holds the atom's nucleus together?  That would seem to avoid occasionalism, in that God seems to delegate a causal role to strong nuclear force.

Tripp wrote: Now I’m aware of Calvinists who believe in middle knowledge and libertarian free will put to my knowledge these people are known as Congruists (Congruism being the brain child of Francisco Suarez).  I know that Congruism holds to particular election but affirms libertarian freedom and middle knowledge and that they are often called Calvinsts as well but I don’t think that they would hold to particular providence like most adherents to the Reformed Tradition since it would be mutually exclusive with those two views.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure that I know of anyone that currently defends this view, so I'm not sure what level of providential control it implies (or its defenders take it to imply).  I'll have to look into it.  Do you know of anyone that holds it?

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Tripp on October 18, 2007, 05:30:31 pm

The argument here still doesn't work.  You're right in that Calvinists would reject (2), but (1) is suspect as well, actually.  Does (1) refer to immutability across possible worlds or simply within a world?  There's a huge difference in the consequences.  If God's knowledge is immutable across possible worlds, then, frankly, there are no other possible worlds and everything happens necessarily.  But, if it's the case that God's knowledge is immutable within one world, then, one can say that this is due to the fact that these truth values of these propositions were logically prior to God's knowledge (assuming that a world is a set of abstract propositions, and the actual world is the set of propositons that correspond to the states of affairs that were,are and will be ...actual; the truths are still contingent because the world itself is contingent).  Also, I think that Edwards would accept (2) only in the context of saying that the necessity involved is due to the logically prior truth of x at t2 (in Edwards' case, due to logically prior event of God's willing it to be so, which is a free act).  To put it more succinctly, God doesn't know that "x at t2" necessarily unless it is already the case that it is necessarily true that "x at t2".

I actually screwed up when I used the term “immutable”.  What I meant to say was “infallible”.  Calvinists and those who hold to a theological fatalism believe that the infallibility of God’s foreknowledge necessarily makes the old fatalist argument “at t1, x at t2, therefore necessarily x at t2” sound.  But in any case, if I read him right in Freedom of the Will, Edwards put forth the argument that that because of His divine wisdom, God will necessarily make the best possible decision.  His conclusion was that this meant that God by necessity created the universe.  Though I don’t remember him explicitly claiming so, it wouldn’t be a big step for Edwards to conclude that God also necessarily knows all state of affairs in creation, since He would will them all necessarily. Thus God would hold all of His knowledge by necessity.

Here is where you've lost me.  I'm not entirely clear on reasoning you have here, but I'll give it a shot.  Even if God is the cause of the offender's intention, then, you push back the issue another level.  What is God's intention in giving this person the intention He does?  See what I mean?  God would still will a kind of suffering on the part of the individual, but it seems plausible to say that, given his intention, he could still be good while doing so.

I think you understood me well here and also raised an important issue that leads to my point.  Suppose that God caused the evil intention for a larger good purpose.  It would be the case that the immediate evil purpose of the creature and the larger good purpose both come from God’s will.  If one holds to the divine essentialism view of morality as I and most Calvinists do, then distinctions such as good and evil become meaningless since all acts and intentions come from God.  

The difference here is how we stand to these intentional and phenomenal states and how God stands to them.  God causes these states that I have and experience.  God's experiences are not what I'm experiencing, but rather, he is causing me to have my own subjective experience x or y.  The possible disjoint between what God intends and what I intend in the above example shows this.  And, even if you don't believe that God is causing these things, then you still have to think that something is, like sunlight reflecting off a surface and hitting my retina, starting a complicated chain of events in my brain, etc creating my experience of the color yellow.  You wouldn't say that the sunlight and I are the same in this situation, so why say that God and I are the same in this state of affairs?

Well the reason for my claim here would be given that, logically prior to God causing me to have any mental state, God would have absolute perfect knowledge of the state before implementing it.  His knowledge of it would be better, or at least as good as, my own knowledge of it as the experiencer. Therefore God would have experience of the mental state itself logically prior to my experience.  But here I think your argument has some force in that we can’t conclude that God has the mental state in the same sense that that I would.  But needless to say my mind would not be a mind in the essential sense that none of my mental or physical volitions or mental events would originate with me and therefore it could not be said that I truly possess my own intellect or will.

Since the argument for God's foreknowledge causing everything doesn't work, that proposition can't be used to prove occasionalism.  Besides, assuming that this view of foreknowledge is true, why couldn't it be the case that God foreknows that the strong nuclear force holds the atom's nucleus together?  That would seem to avoid occasionalism, in that God seems to delegate a causal role to strong nuclear force.

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Well I know that it won’t prove occasionalism since I think the argument is fallacious.  I’m not at all an occasionalist.  My argument is that if this if this argument were sound, then occasionalism would be true. The reason for this is that the strong nuclear force is a law of nature that the continuous action of subatomic particles binding together to form atomic nuclei. But according to particular providence, all events that occur (including actions in the natural world) are caused by God since they were all foreknown by Him.  Thus the strong force, as well as any and all actions and events, are divine acts.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure that I know of anyone that currently defends this view, so I'm not sure what level of providential control it implies (or its defenders take it to imply).  I'll have to look into it.  Do you know of anyone that holds it?

I certainly don’t either, to be honest.  It may very well be true that few people if anyone holds to Congruism today.  I’ve actually entertained the idea of becoming one, but very grudgingly so, since I loath the very idea of particular election.  I’ve been forced to have to admit it as a possibility based on certain passages in Scripture that I’ve been at a loss to explain.  For example, Matthew 11: 20-24 where Jesus is pronouncing woes on the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Caperneum.  He said that if the miracles that had been done in these cities had been done in Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom that they would have repented and remained to this day.  If it is true that God is working to achieve an optimal salvific balance, then why weren’t those miracle done in those cities?  If someone can answer this for me, then I’ll be saved from having to affirm particular election.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on October 19, 2007, 01:35:19 am
Tripp wrote:  

I actually screwed up when I used the term “immutable”.  What I meant to say was “infallible”.  Calvinists and those who hold to a theological fatalism believe that the infallibility of God’s foreknowledge necessarily makes the old fatalist argument “at t1, x at t2, therefore necessarily x at t2” sound.  But in any case, if I read him right in Freedom of the Will, Edwards put forth the argument that that because of His divine wisdom, God will necessarily make the best possible decision.  His conclusion was that this meant that God by necessity created the universe.  Though I don’t remember him explicitly claiming so, it wouldn’t be a big step for Edwards to conclude that God also necessarily knows all state of affairs in creation, since He would will them all necessarily. Thus God would hold all of His knowledge by necessity.

    Well, if this is the case, the non-Edwardsian Calvinist is giving us a false dilemma, in that he doesn't seem to take it into his consideration that God's knowledge might be the other way around.  It is infallible, but the truth of the propositions themselves are prior to his knowledge of them.  Along with this, if the Calvinist objects that this undermines God's freedom, one can simply claim that there are a lot of truths that it is not possible for God to change, like logical or mathematical claims.  Perhaps, there are other truths that God cannot change as well, like his Middle Knowledge.

    Also, Edwards is assuming that there is no freedom in the libertarian sense by the claim that God will create the best possible world, since it seems to be the case that if we are free in the relevant sense, we have a part in shaping how the world is (this is the reasoning behind Karl Barth's rather misleading statement that we are co-creators of the world with God).  Minor point, but I wanted to say it.

Tripp wrote: I think you understood me well here and also raised an important issue that leads to my point.  Suppose that God caused the evil intention for a larger good purpose.  It would be the case that the immediate evil purpose of the creature and the larger good purpose both come from God’s will.  If one holds to the divine essentialism view of morality as I and most Calvinists do, then distinctions such as good and evil become meaningless since all acts and intentions come from God.

     Well, this isn't an essential aspect of Calvinism, and many Calvinist are actually Divine Command Theorists of differing sorts.  The role that God's character plays in these versions of DCT is for God to be a personification of the Platonic notion of the Good, but, the Calvinist has no reason biblically to be an essentialist in the notion that you hold to be problematic.  Also, even if one isn't a Calvinist, we have to hold that God is able to do things that we can't.  For example, God takes life for whatever reason he feels like, but we cannot do this.  So, if your argument works, it might prove too much.

Tripp wrote: Well the reason for my claim here would be given that, logically prior to God causing me to have any mental state, God would have absolute perfect knowledge of the state before implementing it.  His knowledge of it would be better, or at least as good as, my own knowledge of it as the experiencer. Therefore God would have experience of the mental state itself logically prior to my experience.  But here I think your argument has some force in that we can’t conclude that God has the mental state in the same sense that that I would.  But needless to say my mind would not be a mind in the essential sense that none of my mental or physical volitions or mental events would originate with me and therefore it could not be said that I truly possess my own intellect or will.

    Okay, I see where you're getting tripped up.  The Calvinist can make a distinction between the ways in which God knows my mental states and the way I know and experience them.  God knows my phenomenal states from a third person perspective, whereas I experience them in a first person perspective.  God knows them in the sense that His conceptions of them are paradigmatic (or are exemplars) of what I am going to experience.  To assert otherwise is to beg the question against the Calvinist.

Tripp wrote:  

Well I know that it won’t prove occasionalism since I think the argument is fallacious.  I’m not at all an occasionalist.  My argument is that if this if this argument were sound, then occasionalism would be true. The reason for this is that the strong nuclear force is a law of nature that the continuous action of subatomic particles binding together to form atomic nuclei. But according to particular providence, all events that occur (including actions in the natural world) are caused by God since they were all foreknown by Him.  Thus the strong force, as well as any and all actions and events, are divine acts.

  You're moving too fast in this argument.  Occasionalism says that God directly causes all events in the world, but, this position need only say that God directly causes certain things to happen in the world on a regular basis.  For example, God's causing the strong nuclear force to hold the atoms together is actually causing a great deal of other phenomena consequentially and indirectly.  It's like a domino effect.  God directly causes one domino to fall which causes an infinite number of dominoes to fall.  God indirectly causes the other dominoes to fall through the one direct act of causation.  So, it could reasonably be maintained that God isn't directly causing everything, but rather, a handful of phenomena that in turn cause other phenomena ad infinitum, thus avoiding occasionalism.

Tripp wrote:  

I certainly don’t either, to be honest.  It may very well be true that few people if anyone holds to Congruism today.  I’ve actually entertained the idea of becoming one,
   but very grudgingly so, since I loath the very idea of particular election.  I’ve been forced to have to admit it as a possibility based on certain passages in Scripture that I’ve been at a loss to explain.  For example, Matthew 11: 20-24 where Jesus is pronouncing woes on the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Caperneum.  He said that if the miracles that had been done in these cities had been done in Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom that they would have repented and remained to this day.  If it is true that God is working to achieve an optimal salvific balance, then why weren’t those miracle done in those cities?  If someone can answer this for me, then I’ll be saved from having to affirm particular election.

 

    While this does seem to cast doubt on the optimal salvific balance proposition (though it might be argued that in destroying these cities and making examples of them, God could actually raise the number that repent of their sins overall), I'm not sure that you would have to hold particular election for these situations, because God destroyed these cities for their sins.  It is fallacious to assume that because God judged these cities that he particularly elected the particular individuals in them to damnation.  Election in the Jewish mindset was a communal notion, so, keep that in mind while reading passages like this.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Tripp on October 19, 2007, 05:21:43 pm

Well, if this is the case, the non-Edwardsian Calvinist is giving us a false dilemma, in that he doesn't seem to take it into his consideration that God's knowledge might be the other way around.  It is infallible, but the truth of the propositions themselves are prior to his knowledge of them.  Along with this, if the Calvinist objects that this undermines God's freedom, one can simply claim that there are a lot of truths that it is not possible for God to change, like logical or mathematical claims.  Perhaps, there are other truths that God cannot change as well, like his Middle Knowledge.

    Also, Edwards is assuming that there is no freedom in the libertarian sense by the claim that God will create the best possible world, since it seems to be the case that if we are free in the relevant sense, we have a part in shaping how the world is (this is the reasoning behind Karl Barth's rather misleading statement that we are co-creators of the world with God).  Minor point, but I wanted to say it.

I couldn’t agree with you more nor could I have stated the case better myself.  But I’ve heard not only non-Edwardsians but Edwardsians (not to mention Edwards himself) argue along these lines.  Edwards was a staunch compatiblist who believed that all volitions by free agents were caused by what he called “the strongest motive”.  I guess it would only be natural on his part to use this assumption to claim the necessity of God’s choices.  I have a professor, a neo-Thomist from the Reformed Tradition, who is a huge fan of Edwards.  His Ph.D thesis (at Westminister Seminary) was an in-depth analysis of Edwardsian compatiblism.  He uses this Theological fatalist argument all the time claiming that it proves particular providence.

I ,on the other hand, am a ardent molinist and a firm believer in divine middle knowledge.  Needless to say, he and I have gotten into some heated debates over this issue.

Well, this isn't an essential aspect of Calvinism, and many Calvinist are actually Divine Command Theorists of differing sorts.  The role that God's character plays in these versions of DCT is for God to be a personification of the Platonic notion of the Good, but, the Calvinist has no reason biblically to be an essentialist in the notion that you hold to be problematic.  Also, even if one isn't a Calvinist, we have to hold that God is able to do things that we can't.  For example, God takes life for whatever reason he feels like, but we cannot do this.  So, if your argument works, it might prove too much.

That’s certainly true that many Calvinists hold to different sorts of DCT.  Many Calvinists are voluntarists while many others are essentialists.  I would argue with the Calvinist that affirms both particular providence and essentialism that he is trying to have his cake and eat it too.  Being that he believes that God wills both good and evil, The very distinction between good and evil is rendered vacuous.  But as for those of us who are not Calvinists, we are free to claim that God has a right to take life while we don’t because He is omniscient.  God certainly my have reasons that are entirely justifiable that are either beyond our understanding or that he chooses not to reveal to us at the time for our good as to why He is taking a particular life.  Given that human beings are entirely limited in their understanding and have no way of fully knowing all of the consequences involved, for us to take a life constitutes murder.

Okay, I see where you're getting tripped up.  The Calvinist can make a distinction between the ways in which God knows my mental states and the way I know and experience them.  God knows my phenomenal states from a third person perspective, whereas I experience them in a first person perspective.  God knows them in the sense that His conceptions of them are paradigmatic (or are exemplars) of what I am going to experience.  To assert otherwise is to beg the question against the Calvinist.

Your insight here opens the way for me to clarify further what I mean.  It would indeed be the case that even with particular providence, God’s conceptions of my mental would be paradigmatic and only know by Him from a third person perspective whereas I would know them first person.  But God would also have to foreordain the first-personhood knowledge of each and every mental state that I have.  But setting that aside, I’ll explore a rough analogy of my central claim:  Suppose we are two scientists in a lab that are sitting around a brain in a vat of chemicals and causing it to have sensations of various mental states such as perceptions in a fictitious world and exercising subsequent actions in this world where the brain is experiencing a fictitious self awareness and an illusory life in an illusory world.  We could make the brain believe it was Muhammad Ali boxing in the 1970’s or C.S. Lewis in the 1940’s writing the Chronicles of Narnia.  But any and all beliefs and men
   tal states that the brain has are caused by us as we stimulate it with electrodes. Now it may depend on how one views the essential properties of a mind, but it doesn’t seem that the brain would qualify as a mind in any true sense.  In like manner, we would be nothing more that stimulated automata in relation with God as He continually endowed us with various mental states.

You're moving too fast in this argument.  Occasionalism says that God directly causes all events in the world, but, this position need only say that God directly causes certain things to happen in the world on a regular basis.  For example, God's causing the strong nuclear force to hold the atoms together is actually causing a great deal of other phenomena consequentially and indirectly.  It's like a domino effect.  God directly causes one domino to fall which causes an infinite number of dominoes to fall.  God indirectly causes the other dominoes to fall through the one direct act of causation.  So, it could reasonably be maintained that God isn't directly causing everything, but rather, a handful of phenomena that in turn cause other phenomena ad infinitum, thus avoiding occasionalism.

Well, suppose that God is presented with a row of dominos and knocks over the first one knowing in advance that this will knock over the second, knocking over the third, fourth, and so on.  But for God to know anything in advance He must foreordain it.  Therefore for it to be true that, say, the 7th domino to knock over the 8th , God would have to cause it to happen and this would be true for any domino in the chain. Likewise, if God acted as the strong nuclear force at any time t and it caused the law of gravity to act at that same moment, it could only do so because God caused this consequence.  Thus occasionalism is not avoided.

While this does seem to cast doubt on the optimal salvific balance proposition (though it might be argued that in destroying these cities and making examples of them, God could actually raise the number that repent of their sins overall), I'm not sure that you would have to hold particular election for these situations, because God destroyed these cities for their sins.  It is fallacious to assume that because God judged these cities that he particularly elected the particular individuals in them to damnation.  Election in the Jewish mindset was a communal notion, so, keep that in mind while reading passages like this.

A valuable insight that I overlooked!  I will certainly keep it in mind!  

But then I’ve hit another snag in the concept of libertarian freedom, the problem of evil, and the Free Will Defense.  The central thesis of the Free Will Defense is that if God had not created man with the ability to tharwt Him and choose evil, Then He would not have created him with a true free will.  But as theists we believe that God is free in the libertarian sense yet it is impossible for Him to choose evil given that He has a necessary character as His character is the foundation of the moral law.  Given this, the question arises as to why God didn’t give His creatures a necessary character?  If it be said that God did so in order to avoid creating a robotic-type humanity, then we must believe that God is a comic robot.  But then if God is, whose to say that there is no intrinsic value in this and why not create a robotic humanity to avoid the evil that is in the world?  These questions are admittingly a little off topic given this has no consequences for particular election, but I think more Christian libertarian philosophers need to be aware of them which is why I thought it best to mention this issue.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on October 22, 2007, 07:00:36 pm
Tripp wrote:

I couldn’t agree with you more nor could I have stated the case better myself.  But I’ve heard not only non-Edwardsians but Edwardsians (not to mention Edwards himself) argue along these lines.  Edwards was a staunch compatiblist who believed that all volitions by free agents were caused by what he called “the strongest motive”.  I guess it would only be natural on his part to use this assumption to claim the necessity of God’s choices.  I have a professor, a neo-Thomist from the Reformed Tradition, who is a huge fan of Edwards.  His Ph.D thesis (at Westminister Seminary) was an in-depth analysis of Edwardsian compatiblism.  He uses this Theological fatalist argument all the time claiming that it proves particular providence.

I ,on the other hand, am a ardent molinist and a firm believer in divine middle knowledge.  Needless to say, he and I have gotten into some heated debates over this issue.

  Oh, God help me, I can't stand the strongest motivation position on free will.  First, even if it is true that we always act in accordance with our strongest desires, it doesn't follow that we are caused to act by our strongest desires.  The libertarian can simply say that that gives us the best reason to act, and thus, it plays a telelogical role rather than a functional role.  For more explanation, see my posts on the thread "Does God have Libertarian Free Will?"  So, if this the case, we're still acting independently of God, even though He still has influence (in a loose sense) over our actions.  Secondly, the strongest motivation position strikes me as the Edwardsian or (let's face it, Humean) grasping at straws or begging the question.  Introspection seems to give us instances where we act contrary to our greatest immediate desires with no really strong desire the other way.  To move away from this definition of "greatest motivation" seems to move toward simply stating it as a tautology that whatever motivates us to act a certain way is the "greatest motivation."[/QUOTE]

Tripp wrote: That’s certainly true that many Calvinists hold to different sorts of DCT.  Many Calvinists are voluntarists while many others are essentialists.  I would argue with the Calvinist that affirms both particular providence and essentialism that he is trying to have his cake and eat it too.  Being that he believes that God wills both good and evil, The very distinction between good and evil is rendered vacuous.  But as for those of us who are not Calvinists, we are free to claim that God has a right to take life while we don’t because He is omniscient.  God certainly my have reasons that are entirely justifiable that are either beyond our understanding or that he chooses not to reveal to us at the time for our good as to why He is taking a particular life.  Given that human beings are entirely limited in their understanding and have no way of fully knowing all of the consequences involved, for us to take a life constitutes murder.

    Well, I have to disagree, because we still have to make a distinction between two wills in God, in that he wills that all people come to him, and at the same time, he wills their freedom knowing that it will result in people not coming to him.  Secondly, God's omniscience is not what gives him his right to kill, but his sovereignty.  What you're discussing is his immediate reasons for acting in particular situations, not where he gets his authority to take life.  If I somehow became omniscient, I still wouldn't have the right to kill people because my knowledge doesn't necessarily impart sovereignty over human life.

Tripp wrote:  

Your insight here opens the way for me to clarify further what I mean.  It would indeed be the case that even with particular providence, God’s conceptions of my mental would be paradigmatic and only know by Him from a third person perspective whereas I would know them first person.  But God would also have to foreordain the first-personhood knowledge of each and every mental state that I have.  But setting that aside, I’ll explore a rough analogy of my central claim:  Suppose we are two scientists in a lab that are sitting around a brain in a vat of chemicals and causing it to have sensations of various mental states such as perceptions in a fictitious world and exercising subsequent actions in this world where the brain is experiencing a fictitious self awareness and an illusory life in an illusory world.  We could make the brain believe it was Muhammad Ali boxing in the 1970’s or C.S. Lewis in the 1940’s writing the Chronicles of Narnia.  But any and all beliefs and mental states that the brain has are caused by us as we stimulate it with electrodes. Now it may depend on how one views the essential properties of a mind, but it doesn’t seem that the brain would qualify as a mind in any true sense.  In like manner, we would be nothing more that stimulated automata in relation with God as He continually endowed us with various mental states.

    The thing is, to some extent, we are like that, in that our beliefs and experiences are the result of our interaction with the world, the difference is the degree to which this happens.  I experience the computer that I have because of the causal relationship that I stand in to the rest of the world.  (I would go as far to say that almost all of our phenomenal experiences can be conceptualized as the causal results of external forces).  I form beliefs because of that, as well.  I don't infer from my sense perceptions that there is a computer, but rather, my belief is caused by my perceptions.  (As you can tell, I'm somewhat of an epistemological externalist).  It seems to be the case that you're building the concept of autonomy into the definition of a mind, which I think the Edwardsian will take to be question begging.

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Tripp wrote: Well, suppose that God is presented with a row of dominos and knocks over the first one knowing in advance that this will knock over the second, knocking over the third, fourth, and so on.  But for God to know anything in advance He must foreordain it.  Therefore for it to be true that, say, the 7th domino to knock over the 8th , God would have to cause it to happen and this would be true for any domino in the chain. Likewise, if God acted as the strong nuclear force at any time t and it caused the law of gravity to act at that same moment, it could only do so because God caused this consequence.  Thus occasionalism is not avoided.

  That's just plain wrong.  In principle, God can foreknow it because he set up the laws that govern how the dominoes fall if pushed, but it doesn't have to be the case that his knowing the dominoes fall causes each one to fall in succession, but that his knowledge is based in a logically prior state of affairs.

Tripp wrote:

The central thesis of the Free Will Defense is that if God had not created man with the ability to tharwt Him and choose evil, Then He would not have created him with a true free will.  But as theists we believe that God is free in the libertarian sense yet it is impossible for Him to choose evil given that He has a necessary character as His character is the foundation of the moral law.  Given this, the question arises as to why God didn’t give His creatures a necessary character?  If it be said that God did so in order to avoid creating a robotic-type humanity, then we must believe that God is a comic robot.  But then if God is, whose to say that there is no intrinsic value in this and why not create a robotic humanity to avoid the evil that is in the world?  These questions are admittingly a little off topic given this has no consequences for particular election, but I think more Christian libertarian philosophers need to be aware of them which is why I thought it best to mention this issue.

    God need not be thought of in terms of a "cosmic robot" simply because of the fact that there isn't a possible world in which He does anything evil.  I think that this is cashed out in the functional/teleological distinction that I made earlier.  Again, see my posts in the thread on whether or not God has freedom in the libertarian sense for a better explanation.  However, give me a little more time to process your problem.  I have a midterm in one of my classes, and I'm not really able to think about it too deeply right now.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on October 24, 2007, 11:55:07 pm
Tripp wrote:

But then I’ve hit another snag in the concept of libertarian freedom, the problem of evil, and the Free Will Defense.  The central thesis of the Free Will Defense is that if God had not created man with the ability to tharwt Him and choose evil, Then He would not have created him with a true free will.  But as theists we believe that God is free in the libertarian sense yet it is impossible for Him to choose evil given that He has a necessary character as His character is the foundation of the moral law.  Given this, the question arises as to why God didn’t give His creatures a necessary character?  If it be said that God did so in order to avoid creating a robotic-type humanity, then we must believe that God is a comic robot.  But then if God is, whose to say that there is no intrinsic value in this and why not create a robotic humanity to avoid the evil that is in the world?  These questions are admittingly a little off topic given this has no consequences for particular election, but I think more Christian libertarian philosophers need to be aware of them which is why I thought it best to mention this issue.

    Here are the preliminary thoughts that I have about this issue.  They are open to revision later as new things come to my attention.  First, I don't think that there is a need to say that God is a "cosmic robot" because of the fact that he doesn't commit evil.  God's character need not be thought of as functional in it's role as explaining actions, but rather teleological.  Given the assumption that we as rational creatures act for reasons, then it seems to be the case that we can say that our character is what gives us our reasons for actions (at least in part) without actually causing us to act a certain way.  God has the power to do these things in that he has causal power to actualize any broadly logically possible state of affairs, but there is not a possible world in which he commits evil actions.  His character is such that he never has a motivation to do evil.  

    Now, why couldn't God have given us this kind of character where we would never have the motivation to do wrong?  Perhaps it is the case that He could not have given this kind of character to his creations.  Perhaps it is the case that one would need an infinitely good character in order to guarantee that one never sins ever.  Any movement away from God's infinity and perfection is to move toward the feasibility of choosing the wrong instead of the right.  If this is the case, then it seems that finite creations cannot have this kind of character by definition.  Perhaps that is also why there are more angels that have not sinned while every human that wasn't also God incarnate has sinned.

    But, even if this is not the case, I don't think it could be the case that God would see the value in creating a world full of rational creatures with the exact same character.  It strikes me as a boring world.  And, perhaps there is something good about a world in which humans falling short is a really feasible possibililty that would not be obtained if humans were god-like in motivations.  At least this is my thoughts for now.  Have a good one, Tripp.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: sirhemlock on October 30, 2007, 11:47:10 am
Quote from: harvey1
I do not so much want to discuss the philosophical problems with Calvinist predestination, I'm more interested in its scriptural basis--almost completely construed from what I think is a terrible misinterpretatio of Romans 9. Let me quote the Calvinist theologian John Piper:

We concluded in Chapter Three that in Rom. 9:6-13 Paul teaches that God predestines individuals to their respective eternal destinies. The unconditionality of this election is judged by Paul's opponent to be unrighteous because when a righteous God makes his choices he must take into account the things that distinguish one person from another. As we have just seen, Paul does not share the opponent's narrow view of God's righteousness.(John Piper, "The Justification of God," 1993, p. 96)


Romans 9 is indeed one of the central struts of the inductive system of Calvinism, and there are strong exegetical reasons to be well-assured that Calvinists are very badly twisting that section of the Bible to fit their assumptions. On the aside, it has always interested me that Calvin's first book was not on the Bible, but an approving treatment of the Stoic doctrine of Fortuna (i.e. the Greek notion of Fate). If anyone's interested, here is my own treatment of Romans 9.

Romans 9:
In the epistle to the Romans as a whole, Paul's thoughts do not come in piecemeal bites, but rather extend in broad sweeps. This means the components must be understood in their relation to the whole, and not piecemeal, as if Paul's purpose were to provide proof-texts which have little or no relation to the central thrust of the epistle or section of the epistle within which they are found. Chapter 9 is no different, forming as it does, according to the consensus of scholarship, a part of a major division of the epistle which extends through chapter 11. The description by the term "division" should however not obscure the very strong connectedness of chapter 9 with chapter 8. After ending chapter 8 on the note of God's purpose as the ground of our certainty (see 8:28-30) Paul addresses an urgent theme concerning this purpose which runs through the next three chapters (9-11), namely the exclusion of a majority of Jews from salvation. "If the truth is that God's purpose with Israel has been frustrated, then what sort of basis for Christian hope is God's purpose? And if God's love for Israel (see for example Deut 7:7f; Jer 31:3) has ceased, what reliance can be placed on Paul's conviction that nothing can separate us from God's love in Christ?" (Cranfield, C. E. B, Romans: A Shorter Commentary, p. 215, italics added). The focus of chapters 9-11 is concerned with the central theme of showing that the claim that God is faithful, reliable, and merciful is fully compatible with the fact of Israel's unbelief (compare for example 9:1, 10:1 & 11:1 where the focus is on Israel.). The details within chapters 9-11 are properly understood only in relation to this central emphasis. For these reasons, a majority of contemporary scholars hold it to be most improbable that the any of the elements of this chapter are disjoined from Paul's central theme (eg. it is the rejection of elected Israel rather than the rejection of the reprobate to hell (Augustine, Calvin), with which Paul is dealing). "Many have failed to recognize that Paul's consideration in Rom 9:6-29 is the question of the circumstance of Israel rather than the personal salvation of individual men… (Shank, Robert, Life in the Son, p. 343; cf. Appendix C of that work for additional comments on this section).
   ................................................. .  ................................................
Rom 9:1:
Rom 9:2:

Rom 9:3: could wish can be also rendered "would pray" (if it would benefit the Jews), meaning Paul would pray that he might be accursed (Gk: anathema indicates exclusion from final salvation) if it could benefit the Jews.

Rom 9:4:
Rom 9:5:

Rom 9:6: failed: the original word denotes a permanent failure (perfect tense, indicative voice); they are not all Israel (cf. Matt 3:9).

Rom 9:7:
Rom 9:8:

Rom 9:9: the word of promise... Sarah shall have a son:  Through this act the promise is made visible; only God could have enabled the considerably aged Sarah to have a son!


Rom 9:10-11: The working out of the promise in human history by necessity took one specific course. Many nations came from Abraham as God had promised, but only one nation was to have the role Israel was to play. God's election of Jacob as the line of descent through whom the promises to Abraham would be carried out for His purpose was a sovereign decision made irrespective of human merit (that Paul's discussion of Jacob centers on the line of descent and not the individual will become plain in the following verses).


Rom 9:12: The elder shall serve the younger: The context of Gen 25:23, quoted here, makes it plain that nations and not individuals are in view: "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger" (Gen 25:23). Fulfillment of this prophecy, also corporate, occurred when David and Solomon subjugated Edom as a vassal state (2 Sam 8:13-14; 1 Ki 9:26-28) and afterward (e.g. 1 Ki 22:47; 2 Ki 14:7). Esau the individual never served the individual Jacob (for further extensive notes on Edom in history and prophecy, cf. my commentary on Obadiah).


Rom 9:13: Even as it is written, "Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated": As with the previous verse, this second quotation (Mal 1:1-2) has the nations of Israel and Edom in view, not the individuals Jacob and Esau. The nation Israel was chosen to inherit the covenant and promises to Abraham, while Edom suffered subjugation (see comments on previous verse). The contention of a majority of commentators that the words "love" and "hate" carry the force of election and rejection of the nations respectively as heirs to the promises to Abraham finds further support in the fact that Esau was the recipient of God's blessing (Gen 27:38f) and further in that God continued to treat the "hated" nation Edom as an object of His tender care (e. g. Deut 2:4-5; 23:7).


Rom 9:14: Is there unrighteousness with God? Was the rejection of the nation Edom as heir to the promises on the sole basis of God's decision unjust? God Forbid.


Rom 9:15: I will have mercy on whom I have mercy: Paul is quoting verse 19 of Exodus 33 where God told the Israelites to go to the promised land alone, for He would not go with them (Ex 33:1-3), after which Moses complained "You say to me, 'Bring up this people.' But you have not let me know whom You will send with Me... consider that this nation is your people" (Ex 33:12f). God's response "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy..." (Ex 33:19) emphasizes that God is not bound to act on the basis of man's desires (or merits) or opinions, but alone decides what He will do, just as He did in selecting Israel and not Edom for His purpose.


Rom 9:16: not of him that willeth or him that runneth: God does not decide how to rule over his creation on the basis of man's desire or merits, but of His own wisdom, as demonstrated in the context of Exodus 33 (see comments on previous verse).


Rom 9:17: God similarly raised up Pharaoh, for no other reason other than to accomplish His purpose: that I might show My power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout the earth. "Power" is probably, in keeping with Paul's usage of the term elsewhere, God's saving power, specifically here His saving power as seen in the Exodus from Egypt which not even the great Pharaoh could stand in the way of. Even though Pharaoh, like most of Israel, rejected God (and was under judgment for having decreed the killing of
   Israel's male children) God's power and name were declared nevertheless. Similarly Israel's rejection of Christ need not contradict Gods election of the nation for His mighty purpose.


Rom 9:18: Therefore He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth: God is free to show mercy on whomever He pleases, and to influence whomever He desires, or make them stubborn, whenever it suits His given purpose (Classical Calvinism extrapolates universal determinism from particular instances where God determines individual action; Arminianism extrapolates universal indeterminism of the will from particular instances where individual responsibility e.g. for rejecting the light are in view. Both positions are inductive; it is better to simply admit that God can determine individual actions whenever he wishes to, but also that it cannot be proven deductively/exegetically that he always does so). In the case of Pharaoh the purpose was not his eternal damnation, but that God's power and name would be made known (vs 17), the same reason for His election of Israel. "The assumption that Paul is here thinking of the ultimate destiny of the individual, of his final salvation or final ruin, is not justified by the text" (Cranfield, p. 236).


Rom 9:19-20: Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault" For who hath resisted His will? The objection is utterly fallacious, for although God appoints individuals and nations (especially Israel) to specific functions, all persons (and specifically the Jews of Israel) are nevertheless held personally responsible for their own acts of rejection and disobedience. Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? If God affirms, as He does, that we are at fault, i. e. responsible for our sins (and Israel for its rejection of Christ) which God sees fit to judge, who are we to deny God?!! The fact that God acts sovereignly in the affairs of men if and when it pleases Him to do so does not make God responsible for all of our choices (especially our evil choices!); God is certainly not the minister of sin. Where there is fault in men, the fault is with men, not God, for there is no unrighteousness with God (vs 14). To man it is granted to reap as he will, but he will sow as God wills.


Rom 9:21: Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? God retains the indisputable right to use the vessels of His creation for different purposes, some more honorable than others. The vessels in view in Romans 9 are not "the saved versus the damned," but Israel versus the church (cf. vss. 22-33). For Paul even the vessels of dishonor can be given the opportunity to repent and be made vessels of honor: "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor..." (2 Tim 2:19b-21a; Paul specifically indicates in Rom 10:1 that Israel, the vessel unto dishonor, may repent). Certainly Paul was at one time appointed to dishonorable service, as in the period of his persecutions of the church prior to his conversion. Service it was nonetheless! God triumphed in spite of Paul's persecutions, for the church spread out from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria as a result of it (Acts 8:1-3). When Titus later destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, the church was not wiped off of the face of the earth only because it was no longer concentrated in this soon-to-be-doomed city, as was the case before the stoning of Stephen and the Holy Spirit's gift of Himself to the Gentiles. In spite of Paul's "dishonorable services" God made him into a most honorable vessel. "...there is naturally not the slightest suggestion that the potter's freedom is the freedom of caprice... it is, therefore, perverse to suppose that what Paul wanted to assert was a freedom of the Creator to deal with His creatures according to some indeterminate, capricious, absolute will" (Cranfield, p. 238).


Rom 9:22: What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction? It is possible grammatically that the vessels of wrath are "fitting themselves" to destruction (only context can determine whether katertismena is perfect passive or a middle participle since the passive and middle have the same form in the perfect), but ultimately this makes little difference if it is kept in mind that not only does Paul tell us elsewhere that believers were themselves once "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:3), but also that the some of these very vessels of wrath, the unbelieving Israelites of chapters 9-11, can still come to know Christ savingly: "And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again" (Rom 11:23; cf. Jer 18:4-10 where the wrath the Potter (God) appointed towards His vessel (Israel) can be averted by repentance). That vessels of wrath may become vessels of mercy if they embrace Christ as Lord is the essence of the Gospel message!!!


Rom 9:23: And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory: That this making known is for the benefit of unbelieving Israel can be seen from Rom 11:31: "...so these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy." It is important to note that only the vessels of mercy are said to have been "afore prepared unto glory," i. e. predetermined. This need not be understood fatalistically; God prepared a glorious end for those who would not reject him. The thought of divine predetermining is not, by contrast, connected with the vessels of wrath. As in Rom 8:28, "... whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His son..." This foreknowledge is of the fact that specific individuals are in Him (Eph 1:4), which is only knowable to the Christian on the basis of the criteria of assurance that we "abide" (remain, continue, endure) in Him (e.g. "by this we know" 1 John 2:3-6; 3:14, 18,24; 4:13, 15, 5:1-2).

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Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Tripp on October 30, 2007, 08:08:42 pm

Oh, God help me, I can't stand the strongest motivation position on free will.  First, even if it is true that we always act in accordance with our strongest desires, it doesn't follow that we are caused to act by our strongest desires.  The libertarian can simply say that that gives us the best reason to act, and thus, it plays a telelogical role rather than a functional role.  For more explanation, see my posts on the thread "Does God have Libertarian Free Will?"  So, if this the case, we're still acting independently of God, even though He still has influence (in a loose sense) over our actions.  Secondly, the strongest motivation position strikes me as the Edwardsian or (let's face it, Humean) grasping at straws or begging the question.  Introspection seems to give us instances where we act contrary to our greatest immediate desires with no really strong desire the other way.  To move away from this definition of "greatest motivation" seems to move toward simply stating it as a tautology that whatever motivates us to act a certain way is the "greatest motivation."

I believe you’re correct here.  I was in a discussion with my Calvinist professor not too long ago and he claims that since the libertarian will is non-caused (in the efficient sense) then it is equivalent to an anachronist view of the will were volitions are totally non caused, and therefore does not provide an adequate basis for moral responsibility.  But my own position is that mind itself is the efficient cause of the will and when we ask why the mind chooses A rather than B, the only answer can be because it is a mind, which is its own non-reducible property and therefore asking such a question would be like asking why blue exemplifies blueness.  I think the chief problem with compatablism is that it has an event that determines the will (desire-a mental event) and thus offers no more moral responsibility than epiphenomenalism, which also has events that determine the will.

Well, I have to disagree, because we still have to make a distinction between two wills in God, in that he wills that all people come to him, and at the same time, he wills their freedom knowing that it will result in people not coming to him.  Secondly, God's omniscience is not what gives him his right to kill, but his sovereignty.  What you're discussing is his immediate reasons for acting in particular situations, not where he gets his authority to take life.  If I somehow became omniscient, I still wouldn't have the right to kill people because my knowledge doesn't necessarily impart sovereignty over human life.

As to the first, I think only us non-Calvinists can make such a distinguishment.  But the Calvinist’s beliefs in particular providence and particular election are inconsistent with this affirmation, which is why no Calvinist would accept that (they would call such a thing an Arminian idea).  As to the second, God’s sovereignty flows from His universal authority and his omnipotence.  But given that might doesn’t make right, God’s own nature will forbid Him take life without sufficient reason (just as it forbids Him to violate creaturely freedom). Thus it seems most plausible that God rightfully takes life for reasons unknown to us.  We can’t make affirmative claims about what we would do if we were omniscient, since this presupposes that we know what it would be like to be omniscient, and-needless to say- no of us knows this.

The thing is, to some extent, we are like that, in that our beliefs and experiences are the result of our interaction with the world, the difference is the degree to which this happens.  I experience the computer that I have because of the causal relationship that I stand in to the rest of the world.  (I would go as far to say that almost all of our phenomenal experiences can be conceptualized as the causal results of external forces).  I form beliefs because of that, as well.  I don't infer from my sense perceptions that there is a computer, but rather, my belief is caused by my perceptions.  (As you can tell, I'm somewhat of an epistemological externalist).  It seems to be the case that you're building the concept of autonomy into the definition of a mind, which I think the Edwardsian will take to be question begging.

True, but even if our external beliefs are mainly caused by are experiences, this wouldn’t mean that we are controlled by them.  But the Edwardsian who believes on particular providence, would have to believe that the experiences were also forordained by God, since He foreknew them.  It also seems true that if an entity is no autonomy whatsoever, could indeed not be called a mind.  My Calvinist professor (himself an Edwardsian) conceded to this.

That's just plain wrong.  In principle, God can foreknow it because he set up the laws that govern how the dominoes fall if pushed, but it doesn't have to be the case that his knowing the dominoes fall causes each one to fall in succession, but that his knowledge is based in a logically prior state of affairs.

As a proponent of Middle Knowledge and a libertarian, this is what I would affirm.  But the Calvinist who holds to particular providence could not escape this entailment.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on November 04, 2007, 05:23:50 pm

   This is mainly to let you know that I'm still interested in this thread.  This is only a preliminary post to get some of the main objections I have out there.  Will post in more detail later on.  

Tripp wrote:

I believe you’re correct here.  I was in a discussion with my Calvinist professor not too long ago and he claims that since the libertarian will is non-caused (in the efficient sense) then it is equivalent to an anachronist view of the will were volitions are totally non caused, and therefore does not provide an adequate basis for moral responsibility.  But my own position is that mind itself is the efficient cause of the will and when we ask why the mind chooses A rather than B, the only answer can be because it is a mind, which is its own non-reducible property and therefore asking such a question would be like asking why blue exemplifies blueness.  I think the chief problem with compatablism is that it has an event that determines the will (desire-a mental event) and thus offers no more moral responsibility than epiphenomenalism, which also has events that determine the will.

    I think that you're substantially correct, but I think that the will shouldn't be treated as a mechanism that has to be causally acted on.  The libertarian will say that there is no need to count our acting a certain way as an example of event causation, but rather as agent causation.  Your professor should read up on agent causation (William Hasker or Timothy O'Connor would be good individuals to start off with).  He might actually develop a decent argument against the libertarian point of view.

Tripp wrote:

As to the first, I think only us non-Calvinists can make such a distinguishment.  But the Calvinist’s beliefs in particular providence and particular election are inconsistent with this affirmation, which is why no Calvinist would accept that (they would call such a thing an Arminian idea).  As to the second, God’s sovereignty flows from His universal authority and his omnipotence.  But given that might doesn’t make right, God’s own nature will forbid Him take life without sufficient reason (just as it forbids Him to violate creaturely freedom). Thus it seems most plausible that God rightfully takes life for reasons unknown to us.  We can’t make affirmative claims about what we would do if we were omniscient, since this presupposes that we know what it would be like to be omniscient, and-needless to say- no of us knows this.

    Well, actually, it's usually been the opposite in that Arminians have been unwilling to admit two wills, but Calvinists have.  It's the distinction between teleology and actual state of affairs.  God in making A and B as humans wills that they have the teleological goal human beings in virtue of humanity, but God only actualizes the fulfillment of that goal in A, but not in B.  This could be construed as two wills in God in a way that the Calvinist could approve of.

    Also, we want to say that God has some kind of sovereignty over right and wrong, such that he is not being forced to conform to a standard that he has no control over.  So, it might be the case that his sovereignty allows him to do things that we are not able to do.  But, you've shown me that I'll need to think about this more.

Tripp wrote:

True, but even if our external beliefs are mainly caused by are experiences, this wouldn’t mean that we are controlled by them.  But the Edwardsian who believes on particular providence, would have to believe that the experiences were also forordained by God, since He foreknew them.  It also seems true that if an entity is no autonomy whatsoever, could indeed not be called a mind.  My Calvinist professor (himself an Edwardsian) conceded to this.

    Again, I'll have to think about this.  But, I have to say, if your professor has accepted this, it seems that he's falsified Edwardsian Calvinism.  That's utterly absurd and you could argue that scripture presupposes the opposite.

Tripp wrote:

As a proponent of Middle Knowledge and a libertarian, this is what I would affirm.  But the Calvinist who holds to particular providence could not escape this entailment.

    That's only if the particular providence claim can only hold for those that think that God's knowledge is the cause of things.  There seems to be room for particular providence without making the latter dubious claim.  That's all that I've been saying.  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Tripp on November 07, 2007, 04:01:53 pm

demurph,

I apologize for taking so long to reply.  Like yourself, I too get busy and bogged down in other things and I have to put my disscusion forums on hold.  But here's my latest.  As promised,  I'll also respond in our marijuana debate.

I think that you're substantially correct, but I think that the will shouldn't be treated as a mechanism that has to be causally acted on.  The libertarian will say that there is no need to count our acting a certain way as an example of event causation, but rather as agent causation.  Your professor should read up on agent causation (William Hasker or Timothy O'Connor would be good individuals to start off with).  He might actually develop a decent argument against the libertarian point of view.

I think I agree that my prof. doesn’t really have a convincing argument.  Many libertarians do claim that the will is not caused (i.e. Peter Van Inwagen) but there are many who would claim no such thing (i.e. Thomas Reid).  I haven’t studied the agent causation theories of other libertarians and whether or not my view is similar to others, but my claim is that by the very definition of “mind” or “agent” the answer as to what causes the will is simply the mind and when we ask questions about how the mind chooses and what it is that causes the choice or “why does the mind choose A rather than B” the answer is simply that the mind is an entity that is non-reducible to anything other than itself so we can only say that it just does since it is a mind.  Asking these questions about the mind is really akin to asking what quarks are made up of.  Naturally, quarks aren’t made up of anything but simply are what makes up everything in the physical universe.

Well, actually, it's usually been the opposite in that Arminians have been unwilling to admit two wills, but Calvinists have.  It's the distinction between teleology and actual state of affairs.  God in making A and B as humans wills that they have the teleological goal human beings in virtue of humanity, but God only actualizes the fulfillment of that goal in A, but not in B.  This could be construed as two wills in God in a way that the Calvinist could approve of.

Also, we want to say that God has some kind of sovereignty over right and wrong, such that he is not being forced to conform to a standard that he has no control over.  So, it might be the case that his sovereignty allows him to do things that we are not able to do.  But, you've shown me that I'll need to think about this more.

That actually reminds me of something.  John Calvin himself actually did believe in two wills, one of which he called the “secret will” of God.  In the secret will, God wills all of the evil occurrences that happen in the universe and what God’s will is in causing evil is mysterious and something that cannot be known by us in principle.  But it’s important to remember that, whether the particular providentalist wants to admit it or not whatever God does not will and ordain, He cannot foreknow.  But when I was speaking of an Arminian notion of two wills, I had in mind what is popularly called God’s “perfect” and “permissive” will.  In the broad sense, these two would indeed constitute one will; but they’re the thesis that God has an ideal that humans have thwarted through free decision to sin and thus God works through the circumstances to accomplish a greater purpose.  I prime example is the fact that God wants all to be saved but He knows that not all will choose Him, therefore He works to save as many as possible to achieve an optimal salvific balance.

As well we need to keep in mid that God does indeed have sovereignty over right and wrong, but this is because His immutable nature is the measuring stick for objective right and wrong...hence divine essentialism.

Again, I'll have to think about this.  But, I have to say, if your professor has accepted this, it seems that he's falsified Edwardsian Calvinism.  That's utterly absurd and you could argue that scripture presupposes the opposite.

Autonomy, I believe, is in fact essential to the mind.  But keep in mind that I would reject that human beings are totally autonomous. I don’t believe we have contra-causal freedom in everything (i. e. falling in love or getting angry in certain situations) nor do we have the ability to choose our intrinsic nature.  On the contrary, if we were wholly autonomous, this would make Pelagianism true.

That's only if the particular providence claim can only hold for those that think that God's
    knowledge is the cause of things.  There seems to be room for particular providence without making the latter dubious claim.  That's all that I've been saying.

The problem, however, would be that this is what particular providence affirms.  After all, its creed is “God foreknows because He foreordains” and theologians of the Reformed Tradition usually use the theological fatalist argument that I showed as a proof.  But even if the Calvinist affirms particular providence but doesn’t want to explicitly claim that God’s knowledge is the cause of all things, it would bring us to the issue of what qualifies as a cause.  Now needless to say, this is still a very hotly debated issue in metaphysics, but it seems that most people would affirm that the minimal criteria for a cause would be a simple counterfactual definition like the following:

1.  C is a cause of E if and only if it is such the case that if C had not occurred, E would not have occurred.

Now if this definition is correct (and I believe it is) then the theological fatalist argument entails that God is necessarily the cause of any and all events that He foreknows.  If the Calvinist wants to consistently claim otherwise, then he would have to show that 1 is false.  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on November 08, 2007, 12:28:40 pm
Tripp wrote:

demurph,

I apologize for taking so long to reply.  Like yourself, I too get busy and bogged down in other things and I have to put my disscusion forums on hold.  But here's my latest.  As promised,  I'll also respond in our marijuana debate.

    No need to apologize.  These things happen, and honestly, I'd be a little hypocritical to get upset with you for doing what I tend to do on a regular basis.  Truth be told, I don't really think that the marijuana debate is all that fruitful.  I don't know.  Anyway, on to the really fun stuff...

Tripp wrote:

I think I agree that my prof. doesn’t really have a convincing argument.  Many libertarians do claim that the will is not caused (i.e. Peter Van Inwagen) but there are many who would claim no such thing (i.e. Thomas Reid).  I haven’t studied the agent causation theories of other libertarians and whether or not my view is similar to others, but my claim is that by the very definition of “mind” or “agent” the answer as to what causes the will is simply the mind and when we ask questions about how the mind chooses and what it is that causes the choice or “why does the mind choose A rather than B” the answer is simply that the mind is an entity that is non-reducible to anything other than itself so we can only say that it just does since it is a mind.  Asking these questions about the mind is really akin to asking what quarks are made up of.  Naturally, quarks aren’t made up of anything but simply are what makes up everything in the physical universe.


    I think that I misunderstood you beforehand.  You seem to have the beginnings of an agent causal theory of action.  However, I think that your attempt to give a sufficient reason for why one course of action is chosen rather than another is in danger of collapsing into determinism.  To say that A is chosen by some subject S simply because S is a mind could be interpreted as a deterministic, law-like manner, which is something that a libertarian would be best off avoiding.

Tripp wrote:

That actually reminds me of something.  John Calvin himself actually did believe in two wills, one of which he called the “secret will” of God.  In the secret will, God wills all of the evil occurrences that happen in the universe and what God’s will is in causing evil is mysterious and something that cannot be known by us in principle.  But it’s important to remember that, whether the particular providentalist wants to admit it or not whatever God does not will and ordain, He cannot foreknow.  But when I was speaking of an Arminian notion of two wills, I had in mind what is popularly called God’s “perfect” and “permissive” will.  In the broad sense, these two would indeed constitute one will; but they’re the thesis that God has an ideal that humans have thwarted through free decision to sin and thus God works through the circumstances to accomplish a greater purpose.  I prime example is the fact that God wants all to be saved but He knows that not all will choose Him, therefore He works to save as many as possible to achieve an optimal salvific balance.

As well we need to keep in mid that God does indeed have sovereignty over right and wrong, but this is because His immutable nature is the measuring stick for objective right and wrong...hence divine essentialism.

    As for the argument about God's two wills, I think that it comes down to a matter of semantics.  Depending on what one thinks these two wills are in one's thinking is going to determine what one thinks about saying that God has two wills.

   As for the appeal to Essentialism, I don't remember why it was that you said that Calvinists couldn't make an appeal to the Divine character in order to ground the rationality of his actions.

Tripp wrote:

Autonomy, I believe, is in fact essential to the mind.  But keep in mind that I would reject that human beings are totally autonomous. I don’t believe we have contra-causal freedom in everything (i. e. falling in love or getting angry in certain situations) nor do we have the ability to choose our intrinsic nature.  On the contrary, if we were wholly autonomous, this would make Pelagianism true.

    Actually, if we were wholly autonomous, we wouldn't just be Pelagians...we'd be gods.

Tripp wrote:

The problem, however, would be that this is what particular providence affirms.  After all, its creed is “God foreknows because He foreordains” and theologians of the Reformed Tradition usually use the theological fatalist argument that I showed as a proof.  But even if the Calvinist affirms particular providence but doesn’t want to explicitly claim that God’s knowledge is the cause of all things, it would bring us to the issue of what qualifies as a cause.  Now needless to say, this is still a very hotly debated issue
    in metaphysics, but it seems that most people would affirm that the minimal criteria for a cause would be a simple counterfactual definition like the following:

1.  C is a cause of E if and only if it is such the case that if C had not occurred, E would not have occurred.

Now if this definition is correct (and I believe it is) then the theological fatalist argument entails that God is necessarily the cause of any and all events that He foreknows.  If the Calvinist wants to consistently claim otherwise, then he would have to show that 1 is false.  

    The problem with the definition you give us in (1) is that while it may be necessary condition for something to be a cause (and even that might be questionable), it doesn't seem sufficient condition to make something a cause.  For example, let's take three events, A, B, and D.  Let's take for granted that B and D are temporally simultaneous necessary causal consequences of A.  It is the case that if B had not occurred, then D would not have occurred, but B is not the cause of D.  Also, I think that it might be the case that the two events, B and D might not be simultaneous temporally, and still have a common cause in A.  So, it still needs a lot of work in order show that there is a necessary causal connection between God's foreknowledge and the events that he foreknows.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: demurph on November 08, 2007, 12:29:47 pm
Tripp wrote:

demurph,

I apologize for taking so long to reply.  Like yourself, I too get busy and bogged down in other things and I have to put my disscusion forums on hold.  But here's my latest.  As promised,  I'll also respond in our marijuana debate.

    No need to apologize.  These things happen, and honestly, I'd be a little hypocritical to get upset with you for doing what I tend to do on a regular basis.  Truth be told, I don't really think that the marijuana debate is all that fruitful.  I don't know.  Anyway, on to the really fun stuff...

Tripp wrote:

I think I agree that my prof. doesn’t really have a convincing argument.  Many libertarians do claim that the will is not caused (i.e. Peter Van Inwagen) but there are many who would claim no such thing (i.e. Thomas Reid).  I haven’t studied the agent causation theories of other libertarians and whether or not my view is similar to others, but my claim is that by the very definition of “mind” or “agent” the answer as to what causes the will is simply the mind and when we ask questions about how the mind chooses and what it is that causes the choice or “why does the mind choose A rather than B” the answer is simply that the mind is an entity that is non-reducible to anything other than itself so we can only say that it just does since it is a mind.  Asking these questions about the mind is really akin to asking what quarks are made up of.  Naturally, quarks aren’t made up of anything but simply are what makes up everything in the physical universe.


    I think that I misunderstood you beforehand.  You seem to have the beginnings of an agent causal theory of action.  However, I think that your attempt to give a sufficient reason for why one course of action is chosen rather than another is in danger of collapsing into determinism.  To say that A is chosen by some subject S simply because S is a mind could be interpreted as a deterministic, law-like manner, which is something that a libertarian would be best off avoiding.

Tripp wrote:

That actually reminds me of something.  John Calvin himself actually did believe in two wills, one of which he called the “secret will” of God.  In the secret will, God wills all of the evil occurrences that happen in the universe and what God’s will is in causing evil is mysterious and something that cannot be known by us in principle.  But it’s important to remember that, whether the particular providentalist wants to admit it or not whatever God does not will and ordain, He cannot foreknow.  But when I was speaking of an Arminian notion of two wills, I had in mind what is popularly called God’s “perfect” and “permissive” will.  In the broad sense, these two would indeed constitute one will; but they’re the thesis that God has an ideal that humans have thwarted through free decision to sin and thus God works through the circumstances to accomplish a greater purpose.  I prime example is the fact that God wants all to be saved but He knows that not all will choose Him, therefore He works to save as many as possible to achieve an optimal salvific balance.

As well we need to keep in mid that God does indeed have sovereignty over right and wrong, but this is because His immutable nature is the measuring stick for objective right and wrong...hence divine essentialism.

    As for the argument about God's two wills, I think that it comes down to a matter of semantics.  Depending on what one thinks these two wills are in one's thinking is going to determine what one thinks about saying that God has two wills.

   As for the appeal to Essentialism, I don't remember why it was that you said that Calvinists couldn't make an appeal to the Divine character in order to ground the rationality of his actions.

Tripp wrote:

Autonomy, I believe, is in fact essential to the mind.  But keep in mind that I would reject that human beings are totally autonomous. I don’t believe we have contra-causal freedom in everything (i. e. falling in love or getting angry in certain situations) nor do we have the ability to choose our intrinsic nature.  On the contrary, if we were wholly autonomous, this would make Pelagianism true.

    Actually, if we were wholly autonomous, we wouldn't just be Pelagians...we'd be gods.

Tripp wrote:

The problem, however, would be that this is what particular providence affirms.  After all, its creed is “God foreknows because He foreordains” and theologians of the Reformed Tradition usually use the theological fatalist argument that I showed as a proof.  But even if the Calvinist affirms particular providence but doesn’t want to explicitly claim that God’s knowledge is the cause of all things, it would bring us to the issue of what qualifies as a cause.  Now needless to say, this is still a very hotly debated issue
    in metaphysics, but it seems that most people would affirm that the minimal criteria for a cause would be a simple counterfactual definition like the following:

1.  C is a cause of E if and only if it is such the case that if C had not occurred, E would not have occurred.

Now if this definition is correct (and I believe it is) then the theological fatalist argument entails that God is necessarily the cause of any and all events that He foreknows.  If the Calvinist wants to consistently claim otherwise, then he would have to show that 1 is false.  

    The problem with the definition you give us in (1) is that while it may be necessary condition for something to be a cause (and even that might be questionable), it doesn't seem sufficient condition to make something a cause.  For example, let's take three events, A, B, and D.  Let's take for granted that B and D are temporally simultaneous necessary causal consequences of A.  It is the case that if B had not occurred, then D would not have occurred, but B is not the cause of D.  Also, I think that it might be the case that the two events, B and D might not be simultaneous temporally, and still have a common cause in A.  So, it still needs a lot of work in order show that there is a necessary causal connection between God's foreknowledge and the events that he foreknows.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: TrippFields on December 16, 2007, 01:47:58 am

No need to apologize.  These things happen, and honestly, I'd be a little hypocritical to get upset with you for doing what I tend to do on a regular basis.  Truth be told, I don't really think that the marijuana debate is all that fruitful.  I don't know.  Anyway, on to the really fun stuff...

I think that our debate on the marijuana issue is very important actually.  This is an issue that has practical importance and often divides families and friends.  As a dedicated layman philosopher, I’m very interested in merging the theoretical with the practical.  I believe that what we rationalize in our minds is what will determine our behavior and outlook on life (in the libertarian sense, of course!)  I’ve had many friends that were dear to me in which this became a large issue, so I feel a very strong motivation to find answers to it. I only hope that my feelings won’t get in the way of my rational judgment, of course.  But I think it serves as a reminder to me that the honest truth is one of the greatest gifts we can give to those we love.  Real truth and real hope is what I pursue relentlessly for this very reason.

I think that I misunderstood you beforehand.  You seem to have the beginnings of an agent causal theory of action.  However, I think that your attempt to give a sufficient reason for why one course of action is chosen rather than another is in danger of collapsing into determinism.  To say that A is chosen by some subject S simply because S is a mind could be interpreted as a deterministic, law-like manner, which is something that a libertarian would be best off avoiding.

An agent causation libertarianism is what this would be, actually.  If a particular subject S chooses A rather than B, B might well be a choice to refrain to act whereas A would be the choice to act.  My definition of mind is as follows:

1.  X is a mind if and only if X produces or has the capacity to produce directed effects that are controlled by itself.

Here by mind I mean the “I” or the “self’ that makes the agent the agent.

Recently, I sent this proposal to Peter Van Inwagen at Notre Dame for his assessment.  This was his response:

Well, I'm not sure I understand your proposal as well as I'd like. In
order to understand it better, I'm going to ask you to consider a
hypothetical case, and answer a question about it.

Suppose that Sally has to choose between A and B, that she chooses A,
that she was able to choose B, and that the ability to choose
otherwise than one does is incompatible with determinism.

Suppose further that (for some reason) God has made a thousand
perfect duplicates of Sally as she was at the moment before she chose
A (and that He has placed each of them in an identical environment).
A few seconds have passed, and each of the duplicates (like Sally)
has chosen between A and B.

Before I can evaluate your hypothesis, I have to know how you would
answer a certain question based on this case. First, I'll have to set
the stage for the question. Here's the stage-setting.

One or the other of these two propositions must be true:

(1) All the duplicates chose A--just as Sally did.

(2) Unlike Sally, at least some of the duplicates chose B.

The question is: Which of those two propositions, (1) and (2), do you
think is true?

You can give any of the following answers:

Proposition (1) is true.

Proposition (2) is true.

There's no determinate answer; if God really did such a
thing, either one might be true.

I don't know.

When I know what your answer is, I'll be better able to evaluate your proposal.

--Peter van Inwagen

My reply was as follows:

Either answer seems to catch one on the horns of a dilemma if one is to avoid both determinism or anachronism. If (1) is true then it could be asked what the sufficient reason is for all of the duplicates of Sally for choosing A.  One could suppose that it is within Sally’s disposition to choose A and that therefore each of the duplicates chose A given that they are all exact copies of Sally.  The compatiblist would say that Sally’s disposition therefore is the necessary efficient cause of her choice of A.  But as libertarians we would claim that Sally’s disposition was not the efficient cause but part of a teleological cause and thus Sally’s choice of A was contingent.  After all, there may have been something in the environment that encouraged Sally to make the choice that she made and provided her with a sufficient reason for her choice (perhaps A was eating ice cream and B is refraining) but the sufficient reason itself would not be a necessary efficient cause but a teleological or final cause.

But then this would mean that (2) would be true if all of the Sally duplicates were placed in an environment that offered no sufficient reason for her to choose between A and B and therefore the choice was entirely random and without sufficient reason. And even if it were the case that A contained a larger sufficient reason (like eating    ass=yshortcuts>ice cream) as libertarians we believe that Sally still possess freedom to choose B instead and therefore Sally’s choice is still just as random as a coin flip.  In order to avoid what is called the ‘randomness” objection to libertarianism one might say that if no sufficient reason to choose between one alternative than the other existed within the environment then it was the case that Sally chose to dispose herself to randomness in this case.  But then one is landed back in the environment again.

But it seems here that all of these objections assume a cause beyond Sally’s mind.  The way in which I use the term mind here is in the sense of the “self” or the “I” that qualifies Sally intrinsically as a free agent.  We might define “mind” as this:

1.  An entity is a mind if and only if it causes directed effects that are controlled by itself.

These directed effects are what we call volitions and neither chance nor any environmental factors would qualify given that if their effects are directed at all then source of there direction or teleology must lie beyond themselves.  This is likewise true with mental events like desires.  Desires are not controlled and if they are (for example, being voluntarily restrained by the agent possessing them) then they are controlled by something beyond themselves (like a will, which is the effect of mind).  None of these causes contain any property of personhood, and thus are incapable of controlling themselves. Only minds possess this.  Thus to attach the will to any of these antecedent causes is determinism and determinism actually would reduce the mind to something that it is not given that it attaches the cause of the volitions to something that is not autonomous and, if true, would entail that you and I do not really posses minds after all but are nothing but machines. Therefore each of the duplicates of Sally might cause either (1) or (2) to be true, but what determines this in the efficient sense is the individual mind of each of the Sally duplicates.  No matter which is true, the external factors of the choice are a cause in the teleological or final sense only.  The efficient cause is Sally herself given that being a free agent, Sally necessarily has a mind.

Admittingly, this hypothesis is probably not entirely original, but another agent causation thesis.  But it may not be the case that the free will need be a mystery.

Now I’m not sure if my thesis provides a way in which a sufficient reason can be provided for volition without avoiding determinism, and thus truly avoiding the randomness objection (a point I didn’t think about until after I sent this response!) But it would at least highlight my own view of the will thus far.

As for the argument about God's two wills, I think that it comes down to a matter of semantics.  Depending on what one thinks these two wills are in one's thinking is going to determine what one thinks about saying that God has two wills.

   As for the appeal to Essentialism, I don't remember why it was that you said that Calvinists couldn't make an appeal to the Divine character in order to ground the rationality of his actions.

The two wills that John Calvin held to that I had in mind were God’s “secret” and “revealed” will.  These concepts were derived from his belief in God in se (God as He is in Himself) and God quoad nos (God as He reveals himself to us).  Calvin essentially believed that God wills evil for reasons that can only remain mysterious to us, but that God commands the good from us in His revelation to us (Paul Helm gives an excellent treatment of this in his book John Calvin’s Ideas).  In divine essentialism, God’s immutable nature is the determination of what is ultimately good and His will flows from this.  Therefore anything contrary to His nature is evil.  But if God wills everything that occurs in the universe, then we must conclude that evil does not exist and therefore no good and evil distinction can be made, thereby rendering the very terms meaningless.

Actually, if we were wholly autonomous, we wouldn't just be Pelagians...we'd be gods.

Quite true, I would say.

The problem with the definition you give us in (1) is that while it may be necessary condition for something to be a cause (and even that might be questionable), it doesn't seem sufficient condition to make something a cause.  For example, let's take three events, A, B, an
   d D.  Let's take for granted that B and D are temporally simultaneous necessary causal consequences of A.  It is the case that if B had not occurred, then D would not have occurred, but B is not the cause of D.  Also, I think that it might be the case that the two events, B and D might not be simultaneous temporally, and still have a common cause in A.  So, it still needs a lot of work in order show that there is a necessary causal connection between God's foreknowledge and the events that he foreknows.

I think your correct that my definition 1 my be a little too quick.  I gave a better metaphysical definition of causation a while back when I wrote a responsive essay critiquing Quentin Smith’s 1996 paper Causation and the Logical Impossibility of a Divine Cause.  It is as follows:

C.  An event is a causal event = def.  The event consists of at least two events, c and e, and it is the case that c occurs logically prior to e, as a logically sufficient condition of e, and it is such the case that if c had not occurred, then e would not have occurred.

This definition requires four criteria:

The event consists of at least two events.  This point seems pretty obvious.  We at least would expect any causal relationship to have logically distinguishable cause and effect. Naturally an event cannot be both the cause and the effect, since then it would be a self-caused cause, which is impossible.  This distinguishment is necessary so that events we don’t normally consider causes don’t then become causes (e. g. saying “hello” loudly causes the act of saying “hello”.).  Also a cause with no effect would not be an actual cause, and an effect with no cause is not an effect.

The event which is the cause must be logically prior to the event which is the effect.  The logical priority of the cause avoids the incoherency of an event causing itself (self causation) and an effect causing the cause (backward causation).  A self-causation would be impossible since the effect would not yet exist to perform any causal act and backward causation would suffer the same problem or else the effect would then be the cause and vice versa.  There seems to be no reason why temporal priority must be included along with logical priority here.  Granted that in our everyday experience, temporal priority is always included in empirical cases of cause/effect relationship. But this can easily be explained by the fact that we exist in a spatio-temporal universe and as finite beings, we are spatio-temporally bound.  Thus it would seem that logical priority alone will suffice and is not in any way logically contradictory.

The cause is a logically sufficient condition of the effect.  This criterion would be necessarily since we would expect the cause to possess the capacity to bring about the effect.  For example, since I am only human and not a bulldozer, I would not have the capacity to walk up to a 50-foot pine tree and push it to the ground, since the strength since the strength to required to accomplish such a feat is beyond human capability.  Another example would be that it would be impossible for water to ignite gasoline because there is nothing in the chemical makeup of water that would catalyze gasoline into combustion.  Thus the criterion of logically sufficiency of the cause is required.

The counterfactual necessity of the cause to the effect.  This criterion would also be necessary because if the effect occurred independently of the cause then logically it is not an effect of the said cause.  It is also true that if it is possible that the effect occur independent of the cause that we have no way of inferring that the effect is a result of the cause, but if such did occur, then the cause would in fact not be a cause.  Therefore a counterfactual relationship is required between cause and effect.

I have considered modifying the third criteria to be actually sufficient condition.  But either way, it is sufficient to describe any type of divine causation.  Now the question is to whether or not God is the cause of all events if it is true that His foreknowledge necessarily exemplifies all events in the future.  It would seem here that if the theological fatalist argument above is granted, then God’s knowledge meets all four of the criteria.  

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Peter on June 06, 2008, 08:19:58 pm

Its fine to talk about theologies, but if it interferes with you're faith, then you shouldn't do so, If you know you believe then why does someone need to question it with a theology, but anyways.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: TrippFields on July 23, 2008, 05:10:07 pm

Well talking about these things helps us better understand how God operates in the universe.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Peter on July 23, 2008, 09:36:19 pm

Yeah thats what i've figured, its philosophy(although not actual philosophy) of God, but the scriptures are our sole authority.  Yes I like theology, but i've got other issues.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: TrippFields on July 25, 2008, 01:44:37 pm

That it is. More specifically, philosophical theology.  Being that Scripture teaches what is in fact true this means that it is possible in principle to describe it coherently and thus what is taught in Scripture conforms to the laws of logic.  Thus philosophy is used to clarify the truths that Scripture reveals to us. As it is said: philosophy is the handmade of theology.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Peter on July 25, 2008, 02:50:40 pm

Wisdom is what defines both, but Philosophy is a way of life while theology is the study of the Divine.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: TrippFields on July 25, 2008, 03:48:46 pm

I would rather define philosophy as an intellectual dicipline that studies all of reality.  To make make a more precise definition, Alvin Plantinga said that philosophy is just "thinking really hard about something".  I concur.  To illustrate this; your statement that you just made about philosophy and theology is a philosophical one.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Peter on July 25, 2008, 04:03:01 pm

If wisdom is even linguistically defined the same as philosophy and theology then there would be no sense in deciding to use either one.  There is no sense in having those words.  I don't know your background, but for me i'm a philosopher and i'm not a realist.  I don't think "thinking hard about something"  is adequate way to define it, if that were so then anyone could be a philosopher, you could say that everyone is a philosopher because everyone has wisdom, but in the origin of the word, it was used by specialist, lovers of wisdom, am I right??  Some people criticize it by what it actually is.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: TrippFields on August 01, 2008, 12:01:32 pm

I don't exactly agree that wisdom as Scipture defines it is identical to philosophy.  The Bible seems to broadly define wisdom as the truth about reality (i. e. God, man, and the world, etc.).  Now this is slightly different than what the term 'philosophy' is used to describe.  We usually use the term to denote an intellectual activity (e. g. one is philosophizing about something. This is when its used as a verb)  Or a system of beliefs someone has about something.  (e. g. one's philosophy about baseball or economics or whatever.  This is when it is used as a noun).  It is widely recognized that every thinking human being is technically a philosopher.  This is true because all of us hold beliefs about reality that we attempt to logically systematize.  In much the same way every religious person is technically a theologian because all such people hold beliefs about God and various religious doctrine that they attempt to systematize rationally.  We would do well to remember that just because a word has a certian etymology that this is the meaning of the word.  For example the word 'consider' used to mean 'with the planets' but when we ask someone to consider something, we certainly aren't talking about astronomy.  It is true that the term 'philosophy' comes from the Greek word philien and sophia which together mean 'lover of wisdom' but it is still hotly debated what exactly is and isn't philosophy.  many philosophers (mostly secular ones) would equate it with true wisdom but I would not agree.  I do agree that philosophy plays an essential role in discovering wisdom but I define it as more of a mental exercise rather than identify it with wisdom itself.

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Ryan Cortney Dozier on August 30, 2008, 12:57:06 am

Why does God predestine some and not others? Is it because God is omnicient and knows who will choose him (with their libertarian free-will)? If so does that mean God chooses some because of something they did that the others did not (namely willfully choose him)? Some condition must be met in order to be predestined. It sounds to me like works. Maybe you can help me understand. The Bible says in Eph 2:8-9 faith is a gift, right?

Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on August 30, 2008, 07:42:29 am

RC wrote: Why does God predestine some and not others? Is it because God is omnicient and knows who will choose him (with their libertarian free-will)? If so does that mean God chooses some because of something they did that the others did not (namely willfully choose him)? Some condition must be met in order to be predestined. It sounds to me like works. Maybe you can help me understand. The Bible says in Eph 2:8-9 faith is a gift, right?

Well, in my view of time, time is emergent. The pre-emergent layer is a tenseless reality. If we were to take an electron microscope, we begin to see a different view of reality which is motionless and foreign to us. If we had a microscope powerful enough, we would see the same sub-elementary world that anyone in history or the future would see if they performed the same experiment. In other words, the timeline bubbles up from this point.

Similarly, if we could take a time machine and go to the past, at the big bang we'd see the size of the universe smaller and smaller, until it was the size of this sub-elementary world, and we would be in the same pre-emergent layer.

If we think of emergent time as a boiling pot where bubbles come to the surface, and the surface is our timeline, the location where a bubble surfaces is our "now" experience. One of those bubbles represent who we are. Predestination is how God directs that bubble to the surface.

Some people are not predestined at this time because they don't meet certain criteria. Perhaps they don't belong in this era. Abraham Lincoln, for example, "fit" in the era of the mid-Nineteenth century. Some people "fit" to be kings in ancient Persia, and some people "fit" to be starship captains in the distant future. Some people "fit" to be in God's church today. They are predestined to be called today.

By the way, this doesn't mean that we have no say so or nothing to do with what happens to our lives. Far from it, we chiefly chart our own course, but God knowing that course is able to fit us in the timeline where our choosing and God's needing us to be works out together for good.

So, we each belong in our place in history for a reason. We each belong in the church for a reason. God even places us within the church where God wants us. He is not asking us to accept a role, but rather he is expecting us to be who we are and strive to be a better Christian.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: TrippFields on September 17, 2008, 08:24:45 am
Few questions I'd like to ask, Harvey.

If time emerges from a timeless sub-atomic world to a temporal atomic world, wouldn't this be a before/after senario in which the sub atomic world is a part, which would mean that the sub atomic world is in time.  If however we are not speaking of temporal priorty but logical priorty what causes the temporal atomic world to come from the timeless sub-atomic world?

Another question is that if God elects by bringing certain people and not others bringing them into the temporal era, wouldn't this make God's process of elect wholly gratuitous?
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Harvey on September 17, 2008, 11:05:29 pm

TrippFields wrote: If time emerges from a timeless sub-atomic world to a temporal atomic world, wouldn't this be a before/after senario in which the sub atomic world is a part, which would mean that the sub atomic world is in time.

I don't think so. Let me give you an example. Let's say our sub-atomic world w1 is composed of dominos that are perfectly lined up. If w1 is governed by a quantum superposition principle, we could say that all of the dominos are both in the up and in the down position at the same time. That is, w1 is in a "superposition state."

However, if there is another world w2, and in this world all the dominos are all down, then w2 is not in a superposition state, but is a "collapsed state." Now, let's say that it is a mathematical fact that w2 is an emergent state of w1, meaning that there is a map that exists which makes w1 and w2 into one super-object.

This map contains the full mathematical details on how w1 transitions to w2 via a "collapse function" thereby connecting both objects into one macro object. Let's say this collapse function is due to a conscious presence that eternally observes w1 and therefore eternally brings forth w2. w1 is causally antecedent to w2 (or pre-emergent), but this emergence does not take place in time since there is no temporal moments looking from the outside of the whole macro (w1-w2) object.

Trippfields wrote: If however we are not speaking of temporal priorty but logical priorty what causes the temporal atomic world to come from the timeless sub-atomic world?


Both w1 and w2 are timeless from outside those worlds. However, by entering "inside" the macro object at the logical point where the conscious observer "interacts" with w1, the "collapsing effect" caused by conscious observation brings about a temporal transition for the conscious observer. The reason is that the observer can see all the dominos lined up, but because conscious observation collapses the superposition state of each domino, each domino must either be in the up position, or it must be in the down position.

The up or down position of each domino is determined by a probability function. Let's say that the first domino in the line has the highest probability of being in the down position, and then the second domino has the next highest probability to be in the down position, and so on until the last domino in sequence has the least probability to be in the down position. Now, if we make a rule that as the first domino is found collapsed into the down position, the probability for the next domino to be found collapsed into the down position is higher (given the subjunctive conditional that if domino 1 (d1) is in the down position, then d2, and then d3, and then d4, and so on have increased probabilities to be found in the down position).

What we see happening then is that this conscious observer experiences "temporal becoming" because the laws of physics prevent the observer from experiencing the collapsed state of the dominos with equal probability of being found in that state. Hence, time emerges orthogonally to the static object. From the perspective of the conscious observer, they see a temporal transition from w1 to w2, but from the perspective of an outside observer, they see consciousness as part of an eternal collapse function acting as an eternal mapping function that connects w1 and w2 as a static object.

Trippfields wrote: Another question is that if God elects by bringing certain people and not others bringing them into the temporal era, wouldn't this make God's process of elect wholly gratuitous?


Well, God might see that a conscious observer has a freely chosen mindset that at most will have a very minor effect (perhaps he will obviously cause the collapse of domino 2,382 in 182 CE with very little effect in history), and instead God decides that he needs a Pharaoh who hardens his heart and this person is the right fit for the job. As time emerges, this person whose temporal timeframe was still ambiguous and uncertain (but probability was increasing to living in 182 CE), suddenly has a much higher probability of living in the 15th century BCE. As more of the timeline becomes certain, the probability of this person living in the 15th century BCE increases to the point of being actual. The Pharaoh, whom might have likely lived in another century, is suddenly the right person for the task at hand for hardening his heart.

Is this a wholly gratuitous view? I don't think so. The person can decide how they will decide an issue, and that is their decision on what kind of person they want to be, but God gets the ultimate decision of where in the body (of time or even in the church) where he wants to put someone. An individual increases their likelyhood of being put in a position to serve God as his servant if they willingly submit to God's will. However, mostly God chooses small and insignificant positions in history for us since those are the most abundant. But, I think that God is merciful in giving us an opportunity to repent or to deconvert if we are desiring in our hearts to do so.
Title: Calvinism and Romans 9
Post by: Shiloh on December 19, 2009, 02:17:18 pm
RC wrote:  

Why does God predestine some and not others? Is it because God is omnicient and knows who will choose him (with their libertarian free-will)? If so does that mean God chooses some because of something they did that the others did not (namely willfully choose him)? Some condition must be met in order to be predestined. It sounds to me like works. Maybe you can help me understand. The Bible says in Eph 2:8-9 faith is a gift, right?

If God ordains the means (faith) as to how a person is 'in Christ', and not just the ends (glorification) then I do not see a problem here. The Scriptures start with God's perspective from the standpoint of those who are 'in Christ' - this is what he foreknows before the foundation of the world. It is from this point that a person is elect and predestined to glory or to be conformed to the image of Christ. The Bible never says that they are predestined to be in Christ. It only by faith that one is in Christ. This is why predestination is never spoken of about the non-elect or damnation.

So basically these are the two reasons why this does not violate Sovereignty or constitute a work.

1)God ordained faith as the means, and

2)God does not see faith as a work - it is quite the opposite in God's economy.

Also, Ehp.2:8-9 does not say that faith is a gift but the unstated CONCEPT of a SALVATION that is by grace through faith- that is the gift. The word 'that' does not refer to grace or faith but the Salvation which comes by grace through faith.