Nature of God

Providence

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Harvey

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #45 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.

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Will

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #46 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).  


Will

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Harvey

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #47 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?

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demurph

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #48 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.

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MG

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #49 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


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Properly Basic

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« Reply #50 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!

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #51 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

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #52 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.

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« Reply #53 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

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Tripp

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #54 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.  

10

demurph

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #55 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.

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Tripp

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #56 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.


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demurph

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #57 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?


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Tripp

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #58 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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   P style="MARGIN: 0px">

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.


14

demurph

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Calvinism and Romans 9
« Reply #59 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.