Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dear people who wander into my blog

Hi I'm Phil, and this is for you if you just sailed in from Triablogue.
I'm a full time engineer, father, and husband. In my down time I think about theology, such as when I take my dog for a run, or when I commute to work.  During my lunch hour I study and try to write a commentary book thing on Romans, but most of the time I'm doing other things.
I have a good mind, very practical, but I tend to think like a digial engineer (binary fashion, what's useful, I'll be honest about my limitations). This blog is really the dumping grounds for my thoughts that I want to remember for later (writing them down helps imprint them firmly in my brain).
So that's as much to say that although I'm smart I'm not anything like the smartest, and for that reason I'm always willing to listen to a well placed argument from the scriptures. It's a big world out there and there are plenty of people who are smarter than I and have a lot more time to dedicate to theology. If that's you and you want to come help me by pointing me to your blog, by all means! If you want to leave a comment, then do so.
However none of this applies to you non-Christians.  That means you hyper-Calvinists.  The mark of a disciple of Christ is patience and grace, so if you cannot take what I say and point out the problem without using a strawman or ad hominem then keep walking hombre. And consider submitting to Christ.

94 comments:

Ryan said...

Phil, anyone who came here from Triablogue is likely someone you would classify as a hyper-Calvinist... so who was this for?

Phil said...

Not everyone who wanders over will be hypers however.

David J. Houston said...

Please define hyper-calvinism for me.

I want to know if I'm a Christian or not.

Phil said...

Sarcasm is one of the many services you offer?
Phil Johnson has a good primer on it http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm
But I would say anyone who denies the centrality of faith is a hyper.

David J. Houston said...

Sarcasm is a Biblically supported tool for combatting all sorts of silliness.

I assume by those who deny the 'centrality of faith' you mean those who would deny sola fide? If so, none of the writers at Triablogue are hyper-calvinists. Nor am I. It feels so good to be a Christian again!

Phil Johnson? Would you be aware of the fact that Phil heartily recommends reading Triablogue? (I believe his link is titled, 'Steve Hays and the Amazing Triablogue') That he himself is not a 4-Pointer? Wouldn't it be strange if he linked to a blog that he considers heretical?

Ryan said...

Phil, you've called me a hyper before. Can you point to an instance in which I have denied the centrality of faith?

Phil said...

No hyper ever embraces the label you know.
Being a hyper is not only in the denial of faith, it also resides in the denial of essential aspects of Scripture or God's character.

Further, there are degrees of the sickness as well.
Outright stating there is no common grace and no need for faith is pretty blatant.
The denial of a sincere offer of salvation makes one ultimately a hyper as it accuses God of being a liar.
Ascribing a pecuniary form to justification makes one a closet hyper.
And frankly, being a jerk leads down the road to hyper-Calvinism.

If I remember right Ryan you deny God offers salvation to the non-elect, or that they have any kind of ability to be saved, or that there is such a thing as common grace. Last I knew you argued that common grace was given in order to bring greater condemnation.

And David, really? He does? Johnson is a Calvinist? I honestly had no idea.
He also affirms common grace that exists to keep men from sinning.

Here I'll help you out. Notice that Ryan heckles me sometimes but is always, informative, neutral,w whatever word you want to use. Want to challenge me on something? Don't assume you're smarter than I am.

Ryan said...

I deny common grace and the idea anything apart from the decree of God can occur, yes. I don't see how either amounts to a denial of the centrality of faith.

The "hyper" label doesn't interest me so much as your equating it with unbelief. I don't see where you find that such doctrines must be denied if one is saved.

Phil said...

No thanks Dave, I don't need that, but if you like you can try again.
Some of what you said was good and constructive, but the jabs just aren't cool.
Either common grace means that God restrains men from sin, which means less condemnation, or it means it's not, and that makes for greater condemnation. There is no middle ground there. You seem to be asserting the condemnation, but I would say Genesis 20:6 says otherwise.
As to the last I've known Ryan for awhile now, back from when he was an Arminian, so just like my friends can tease me but strangers doing the same is offensive, he can assert things by dent of knowing me longer that I would find offensive in people I don't really know. Perhaps it wasn't out of bounds to you, and perhaps under other circumstances it wouldn't be to me, but I really don't want that at the moment.

Phil said...

Denial of explicit scriptures comes from unbelief, I can't see what else is the source of it.
Take supralapsarianism for example. On the surface it makes logical sense, but then you have to contend against John 15:19. And I just can't see holding that viewpoint against scriptures.

David J. Houston said...

I’m glad that you feel a certain comradery to Ryan but did you know Steve and Paul particularly well when you jumped in? This is why I haven’t been pulling any punches. I joined in the verbal fist to cuffs because it was already in progress but if we’re done with all that now then fine. We can move on.

Allow me to answer your objection to my (and Ryan’s?) understanding of common grace. True, in Genesis 20 Pharaoh was restrained from sinning in that particular situation. I would put this under the ‘many temporal blessings’ category of common grace. However, the kindness that God has shown him in this matter makes him more culpable should he ultimately reject God’s salvation than someone who has been shown less kindness and so it will result in a harsher judgment for him. More divine kindness shown in this life with no faith and repentance will result in more condemnation in the next.

I’d like to show you how John 15:19 is consistent with supralapsarianism but first I need to ask you a question: do you realize how harsh your standard is? I take it you realize that no supralapsarian or conservative Christian of any stripe would ‘deny’ the truth of any passage of Scripture so I assume that by denying Scripture you mean misinterpreting it. But are all misinterpretations a sign of unbelief? Don’t we all misinterpret certain passages? Who then could be saved? We need to be careful on how we define who’s in and who’s out so that we don’t mistakenly shoot the sheep when we go wolf hunting.

Now for the explanation of John 15:19. I think the reason you’re having trouble reconciling this passage to the supralapsarian schema is shared by the infralapsarians. Both of you make the same mistake of thinking that the logical order of the decrees will match the chronological order of the execution of the decrees but supralapsarians disagree. We say that the logical order will follow this guiding principle: whatever is last in order of execution is always first in order of thought. For example, if I want to eat a McNasty burger from McDonald’s I’ll first need to get dressed and then put my shoes on and the drive to McDonald’s and then order the burger and then eat it. But I don’t start putting my shoes on until I have first decided to get my McNasty on. So in order of thought I decide to eat a McNasty burger and then I consider how I will get there and I realize that I will need to drive (I could walk but who am I kidding?) and then I realize that that will require me to go outside so I’ll need shoes and then I realize that public nudity is frowned upon so I get dressed… and so on and so on. So how does this relate to John 15:19? The Scriptures, in the main, don’t speak in terms of logical order. They speak in terms of chronological order. (One could argue that whenever an overarching purpose is given to creation such as in Rom 9 and Eph 1-3 it is referring to logical order but I digress…) So when we read John 15:19 the supralapsarian can say, ‘Amen! We were of the world but thank God that he chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him and that in time I was effectually called and given saving faith!’

Does that help?

THEOparadox said...

I would like to point out that Phil Johnson not only links to Triablogue, but also has a bold link to David Ponter's "Calvin and Calvinism" site. He also has a link to what he calls "uber-apologist" James White's site. You may recall that White and Hays recently butted heads over something Jamin Hubner posted at White's site. Phil Johnson strikes me as a centrist Calvinist who is able to appreciate the good offered by many different apologists for many different reasons. However, I suspect if he saw the direction Hays has been heading he would have some words of caution. This is just based on the many words of caution he has offered in the past on similar (or even the very same) subjects. Phil affirms common grace and the sincere offer of the Gospel, and he heartily recommends Curt Daniel's work. Curt Daniel is about as anti-hyper-Calvinist as you can get.

These are a few interesting notes for those who care to know.

David J. Houston said...

I have a question for you... why talk about high calvinists and moderate calvinists and centrist calvinists. Why not stick to the usual names? Supras, infras, and amyraldians? Even the hyper calvinist label is most often unhelpful. Better to define our terms as we go or else stick to traditional terms.

THEOparadox said...

David,

I think that's far too limited a way to classify them. Supra and infra describe only one isolated aspect of a person's theology. And while there are many supras who are not hyper, there are no hypers (that I know of, historically speaking) who were not supra. Much depends on the way one applies the supra mindset to other areas of soteriology. Amyrauldianism is a viewpoint that has only ever had a few adherents (relatively speaking). On the other hand, hypothetical universalism (of which Amyrauldianism is a subset) is a viewpoint that has had a great deal of popularity among mainstream Calvinists (by "mainstream" I mean orthodox and not hyper). But hypothetical universalism refers more to one's atonement theory than one's view of the decrees. Of course, most of those Calvinists would be called "moderate" and would either be infra or posit that the order of decrees is an unknowable mystery. Attendant to both the moderate and high Calvinist viewpoints is a belief that God loves and desires the salvation of the non-elect in some real and significant sense. Hypers would strenuously deny those points, and in fact Houksema includes them as defining aspects of common grace (which he denies). There are a lot of ways to slice one's Calvinism, but if someone denies common grace and/or the free/sincere offer of the Gospel, that has historically been an indication of hyper-Calvinism. I think all of these labels are useful, but yes, at the same time, we have to define what we mean. There is a huge amount of church history and a wide array of systematic theology involved in the discussion. It's quite a lot to sort through, but the broad categories are clear enough. This is part of the reason I took Steve Hays to task for mislabeling his opponents as "anti-Calvinists." That's simply inexcusable for anyone who claims to know anything about the history of Calvinism.

For the record, I don't agree with Phil about Hypers not being Christians. I view Hyperism and Arminianism as equal and opposite errors, and I think there are Christians among both of those camps. But there is plenty of room for disagreement amongst moderates. Phil is (in my opinion) a most brilliant theorist regarding the difficult conundrums of Calvinism.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Phil, as someone who agrees with you as regards the extent of the atonement, but who also appreciates Hays & Manata's apologetic efforts, I have to say I think you've been quite unfair here.

The way I'm reading you, you're taking a pretty hostile tone in complaining about people taking a hostile tone. Patience and grace aren't just requirements that apply to your opponents.

Outright stating there is no common grace and no need for faith is pretty blatant.

Sure, but where have Hays or Manata stated this?

The denial of a sincere offer of salvation makes one ultimately a hyper as it accuses God of being a liar.

Again, to the best of my knowledge, neither Hays nor Manata have denied the sincere offer. In fact, most of the spent cartridges in this debate have originally contained rounds dedicated to upholding the sincere offer. Hays & Manata's objection is not to the sincere offer itself, but to our view that limited atonement cannot underwrite it. Is it not?

Ascribing a pecuniary form to justification makes one a closet hyper.

In what sense? The Bible itself describes justification with pecuniary metaphors. Now, I certainly agree that it's an error to explain the mechanism of justification in purely pecuniary categories—but even doing that, how does it entails "closet" hyper-Calvinism?

And frankly, being a jerk leads down the road to hyper-Calvinism.

No kidding? And here I thought that jerks were spread pretty evenly throughout the theological spectrum!

Phil said...

Thank you Dave, I appreciate how you framed that. I'll think that over as I had not considered that was speaking to the chronological, it's quite an interesting proposition.

And I'll take your comments into consideration Tennant. I suppose I should have been more specific, there is no repentance when you tell a hyper they have gone too far. There is no give, just take, they feel no remorse when they misrepresent a point, ignore it or whatnot. If I recall Derek tried to reconcile and didn't get too far, that would be my example.

And might I say, thanks to everyone here, I have appreciated how well this dialogue is going.

Phil said...

Oh and to answer the question, if justification is only in purely pecuniary terms then when Christ makes a satisfaction from the cross (it is finished!) it is sufficient to resolve the debt. But then if the debt is settled ahead of time, and it doesn't matter what I do or don't do since I'm saved. That's really hyper Calvinism.

On a different note, (I should have put this in the last post), the mark of a Christian is not that they are perfect or have no theological errors, the mark is that when confronted with the truth they repent and cast out the old.
BTW Tennant, your book was very interesting, in-spite of it's cruel and bitter ending.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

There is no give, just take, they feel no remorse when they misrepresent a point, ignore it or whatnot.

I don't think Steve or Paul have misrepresented anything. But I haven't been following the discussion as closely as you, perhaps. Could you point me to where you think they've done this?

Equally, they're under no obligation to interact with every point made. Sometimes a point is just not important enough to warrant comment.

If I recall Derek tried to reconcile and didn't get too far, that would be my example.

Well, that's one way of looking at it. But since Paul and Steve don't feel wronged by Derek, the request is at best misplaced. How can they agree to forgive someone they don't think has sinned against them?

Additionally, it's my own opinion that Derek has used piousness as a bullying tactic. Maybe not intentionally, but the result is the same. He consistently interprets Paul and Steve's positions in the least charitable light—again, maybe not intentionally, but he still doesn't have any grounds to complain when he feels the same has been done to him.

As far as Steve & Paul's alleged wrongdoing against Derek and others, they have openly acknowledged the possibility of such—but when they asked for just one concrete example, no reply... See the last few comments at http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/10/phil-on-phreedom.html.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Oh and to answer the question, if justification is only in purely pecuniary terms then when Christ makes a satisfaction from the cross (it is finished!) it is sufficient to resolve the debt. But then if the debt is settled ahead of time, and it doesn't matter what I do or don't do since I'm saved. That's really hyper Calvinism.

I agree—but many Calvinists hold to a pecuniary view yet deny this kind of eternal justification. Just because they're inconsistent doesn't make them "closet hypers".

If you're going to criticize others for misrepresenting the position of those you agree with, you should at least do them the courtesy of also representing their positions as charitably as you can. Seems like you're going out of your way here to offend people with hyper-Calvinist leanings, and smear them as "non-Christian" from the start...

On an unrelated topic, I'm glad you liked my book :) I take it you're referring to The Ash and the Air?

THEOparadox said...

Bnonn,

You may call it pious bullying, but I'm sincerely concerned about their lack of self-criticism and total unwillingness to admit to any fault.

In a previous conversation, I launched insults at them and they launched insults at me. We had a conversation that broke down into pure mud slinging. Go back and read the comments we exchanged on the various posts at Triablogue. Does anyone need to "prove" logically that it's sinful for Christians to launch insults at each other? Doesn't Scripture have the authority to judge our behavior? Does becoming a philosopher prevent one from admitting the obvious? It's not that complicated.

I don't need to present anything more for them to "consider." They've already got plenty to consider if they are willing to. If it matters to them, they can go back and read the comments that were exchanged and evaluate their hearts and words in light of the Scriptures.

I presented my case in the blog post I wrote. They have read it. I also directly and politely asked Hays to back up his descriptions of me as a "cheerleader" and a "yes-man". That was answered with complete silence because it was nothing but slander. Read it here:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/09/yes-men.html

Paul has repeatedly said he didn't see my remarks at that post. Well, he has seen them now, and how has he responded? He's reiterated Steve's indefensible "yes-man cheerleader" accusation, added a few more of his own, and found new ways to twist my words.

(Part 2 to follow)

THEOparadox said...

No objective observer can read through the history of the discussion and come away saying they have conducted themselves in a manner that is consistent with Biblical standards, fair-mindedness, or basic decency and respect. Their actions do not represent proper conduct for any Christian. Are they doing everything they can to be "at peace with all men"? Are they filling their speech with grace? Are they letting their gentleness be known to all? Are they being patient with the weak? Are they being sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted?

I'll admit to my failures in these regards (in fact I have, and I'll admit to more if need be). They won't. At least not so far.

It is one thing to do wrong. It is another thing to not admit it. It is another thing to blame shift and attack the one who points out the wrong. It is yet another to justify ungodly behavior as somehow being okay. What could be more terrifying to a professing Christian than his own unrepentance?

Here's what I'm saying to them:

By objective Biblical standards, my conduct was wrong. Yours was, too. Please forgive me. Please stop violating Biblical standards. Please reconcile with a brother who has sinned against you, and against whom you have sinned. That's it. This isn't a philosophical problem that needs to be analyzed. It's basic daily Christianity.

You said: "He consistently interprets Paul and Steve's positions in the least charitable light"

Are you serious??? Feel free to demonstrate how I have done this.

Read over Hays' "Yes-Men" article and tell me if you think he represented me fairly. Tell me if you really can say with a straight face that I responded in the way you said.

I'm very impressed by the skills and abilities possessed by Manata and Hays. But I find no shred of Christian virtue in their responses to me or almost anyone else who disagrees with them. Do you really believe their behavior is consistent with the NT ethic? Do you really believe they are totally guiltless? Even James White believes Hays misrepresented him.

The worst part is they have done all of this in public while acting as apologetic representatives of the Christian faith.

When we stand before God, they won't be able to say I didn't tell them the truth about their deplorable conduct - conduct that they will then finally be ashamed of. Unless they are willing to lie to the face of God. But He is going to say, "What you did to the least of these (for example, that wretch Derek Ashton), you did to Me."

I wish you all the best, Bnonn.

In Christ,
Derek

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Does anyone need to "prove" logically that it's sinful for Christians to launch insults at each other? Doesn't Scripture have the authority to judge our behavior?

Well, I'm not Triablogue's bodyguard. Steve can speak for himself if he wants to. In the past he has made a strong Scriptural case for his argumentative approach. You'd have to interact with that if you want to let Scripture be the judge of you both.

I presented my case in the blog post I wrote. They have read it. I also directly and politely asked Hays to back up his descriptions of me as a "cheerleader" and a "yes-man"

I imagine Steve believes he documented his view in the post you cite.

That was answered with complete silence because it was nothing but slander.

This is the kind of comment Paul has taken you to task for. What is the logical correlation between Steve's "complete silence" and his prior assertions being nothing but slander?

What you're doing here is imputing (without comment) the worst possible motive to your opponent. "Because Steve did not answer when I objected to his comments, that proves they were slander". That doesn't follow like you've made out. You have to psycho-analyze Steve to arrive at your conclusion.

But maybe he simply forgot. Maybe he didn't care enough. Maybe he had other priorities. Steve hits hard, he hits fast, and he moves on quickly when he considers a topic exhausted. He doesn't get distracted dredging up arguments he has already dealt with. He doesn't interact with them all.

A lot of people dislike his apologetic style. I can understand that. But while he's no stranger to both sarcasm and satire, I've never seen him purposefully slander anyone.

Again, I'm not saying I agree with him. I'm just pointing out that you're helping yourself to some pretty hostile assumptions even after you've said you want to shake hands.

No objective observer can read through the history of the discussion and come away saying they have conducted themselves in a manner that is consistent with Biblical standards, fair-mindedness, or basic decency and respect.

What do you think biblical standards on this matter are? Just because someone is harsh doesn't mean they aren't fair. Was the apostle Paul inconsistent with basic decency and respect when he said he wished the circumcision party would cut their bits off?

Their actions do not represent proper conduct for any Christian. Are they doing everything they can to be "at peace with all men"?

I think you need to come up with a view of discourse that harmonizes the various examples we have in Scripture. It's all very well to appeal to those sorts of verses, but how do they fit in with the kind I just mentioned?

"He consistently interprets Paul and Steve's positions in the least charitable light"

Are you serious??? Feel free to demonstrate how I have done this.


See above for an example from this very exchange :)

Do you really believe they are totally guiltless?

Nope. I'm just the guy standing in the middle.

But He is going to say, "What you did to the least of these (for example, that wretch Derek Ashton), you did to Me."

Trouble is, God is never wrong. So it's hard to judge the appropriate way to talk to him about that.

THEOparadox said...

Bnonn,

Thanks for the interaction. I hear what you're saying.

To clarify regarding the charge of slander: I'm not saying Hays' silence is proof of slander. That would be ridiculous, as you have pointed out. I'm saying his statement itself could not have been anything other than slander. He doesn't know enough about my character or patterns of behavior to make the accusation in the first place. Thus, he can't possibly have a reasonable ground for making the accusation, which means it can only be a slanderous accusation on his part. Even if it was true, he would have no way of knowing. He reached way beyond the boundaries of the discussion we were having and went to character assassination. And not merely in the form of an offhand remark - he wrote a whole post about it! Can there really be a Biblical justification for such behavior?

Putting it more simply: pinning negative character judgments on a person about whose character you know practically nothing is by definition slander. Steve clearly slandered me.

Can he admit it?

I hope he will because I would like to move forward peaceably and leave all of this behind.

I do get your point in saying that I can't assume Steve didn't answer because it was slander. Yes, there could have been many other reasons for his not answering.

That's helpful. Have you ever considered becoming a professional mediator? :-)

Derek

David said...

Hey DavidH,

You say: Allow me to answer your objection to my (and Ryan’s?) understanding of common grace. True, in Genesis 20 Pharaoh was restrained from sinning in that particular situation. I would put this under the ‘many temporal blessings’ category of common grace. However, the kindness that God has shown him in this matter makes him more culpable should he ultimately reject God’s salvation than someone who has been shown less kindness and so it will result in a harsher judgment for him. More divine kindness shown in this life with no faith and repentance will result in more condemnation in the next.


David: Thats actually correct as far as it goes. But just in case, its not that God does kind things to the non-elect, but that in classic mainstream Calvinism in all its wings, the "kindness" shown to the non-elect flows from a truely favorable disposition. And the kindness is given to the non-elect to direct them to repentance and salvation. Thus, the proper aim of God's grace in temporal blessing is that men should seek him: Acts 17:26-27 with Romans 2:4, etc.

The increase of culpability arises only on the supposition of the sinner's rejection of this favor: and here I think you would agree.

David said...

DavidH says:

Now for the explanation of John 15:19. I think the reason you’re having trouble reconciling this passage to the supralapsarian schema is shared by the infralapsarians. Both of you make the same mistake of thinking that the logical order of the decrees will match the chronological order of the execution of the decrees but supralapsarians disagree.


DavidP: well not exactly. No classic infralapsarian proponent has asserted that, or grounded their arguments upon that supposition or claim. The approach has been to look at what "order" is logically presupposed. Infras are not committed by any necessity to follow an ordo historia decretum.

DavidH: We say that the logical order will follow this guiding principle: whatever is last in order of execution is always first in order of thought.

DavidP: Are you not now doing the same thing, though inversely, that you have suggest the infralapsarians are doing?


The problem with the Aristotelian axiom with regard to the decrees is that it presumes a complete univocal unity in the divine plan. But as Turretin rightly says, we must see "sin" as a break up of the divine order, and which provides the supposition for the economy of redemption. Institutes 2:348. Bavinck makes the similar point about seeing the decrees in terms of simple unity, without complexity and diversity.

DavidH: For example, if I want to eat a McNasty burger from McDonald’s I’ll first need to get dressed and then put my shoes on and the drive to McDonald’s and then order the burger and then eat it. But I don’t start putting my shoes on until I have first decided to get my McNasty on. So in order of thought I decide to eat a McNasty burger and then I consider how I will get there and I realize that I will need to drive (I could walk but who am I kidding?) and then I realize that that will require me to go outside so I’ll need shoes and then I realize that public nudity is frowned upon so I get dressed… and so on and so on. So how does this relate to John 15:19? The Scriptures, in the main, don’t speak in terms of logical order.

DavidP, but of course that leads to absurdity if not blasphemy that God decreed to damn some before even before the supposition of sin. And it means the Fall was a simple means to an end: Adam advanced the plan of God.


DavidH: They speak in terms of chronological order. (One could argue that whenever an overarching purpose is given to creation such as in Rom 9 and Eph 1-3 it is referring to logical order but I digress…) So when we read John 15:19 the supralapsarian can say, ‘Amen! We were of the world but thank God that he chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him and that in time I was effectually called and given saving faith!’

DavidP, I cant help thinking that Jn 15:9 speaks against you. They were chosen out of the corrupt mass. Thats the prima facie reading for sure. The objects of the election here as men considered in the world. If not, then we have to start separating the sign from the thing signified, etc.

Thanks,
David

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

but of course that leads to absurdity if not blasphemy that God decreed to damn some before even before the supposition of sin. And it means the Fall was a simple means to an end: Adam advanced the plan of God.

Hey David. I'm not sure what's absurd and/or blasphemous about this? Assuming God started with the purpose of glorifying himself, as is the Reformed view, he would want to glorify all of his attributes, including wrath. That logically entails that there must be something towards which he can direct his wrath. That logically entails moral agents acting in opposition to him. That logically entails sin.

I don't get what's absurd about this, let alone blasphemous...

David said...

hey Dominic,

The blasphemy comes in when extreme supralapsarianism has God decreeing men to be damned apart from the supposition of sin. That is, men in the pure mass, unfallen, decreed to be damned apart from the supposition of sin and transgression.

But this then gets tricky. If the supralapsarian says that the decree of condemnation is on the basis of sin, then this must presuppose creation and fall.

Turretin and others before and after him, point out that in Romans 9:23-23, the supposition is sin and fallenness as marked by the terms "mercy" and "wrath" both of which presuppose misery and punishment.

One possible way to avoid the problem is to make election prior to the supposition of the fall, while preterition and pre-damnation posterior to the supposition of the fall. Ive seen this argued, but not cogently.

I think Turretin's treatment is one of the best, even tho it is not original to him. Ive blogged some of his comments here: Francis Turretin’s (1623-1687) Critique of Supralapsarianism

I should add, as Dabney says, that the whole lapsarian project should be abandoned altogether.

David

David said...

Hey Dominic, see also this from Dort:

The ‘Eodem Modo’ (in the same manner) clause in the “Conclusion of the Synod of Dort”

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Hey David, well, obviously I'm not super well-read on this issue, but that objection certainly seems to suppose that God decreed to create everyone who ever existed before he decreed the fall.

I don't really have an opinion on that. The causal relationships involved in creating all people ever is more than my mind can handle. I don't know whether it would make sense to work forward from Adam or back from the final number, or both.

I was speaking more generally. God determines to (1) glorify himself, which implies (2) he must create sinful creatures through whom to accomplish this, which implies (3) a fall. As I say, I don't have a considered opinion on whether God determines every single creature he will create at step [2]. It seems problematic on the face of it though. Wouldn't he work out the broad details of the plan before filling in the minutiae?

The passage from Dort is interesting, but since it also seems to teach baptismal regeneration, or something akin to it, it's a bit of a two-edged sword eh.

Ryan said...

"As to the last I've known Ryan for awhile now, back from when he was an Arminian..."

That's not true.

Anyways, John 15:19 is about that election of the disciples to their office as disciples and those who were to reveal the mysteries of God's word to the world after Jesus left. It does not refer to that election which is spoken with reference to salvation (15:16, 21, 26-27, 16:1-26). I think I have told you this before, and at any rate, to refer to me as a non-Christian for disagreeing with you on the interpretation of this passage as it pertains to lapsarianism is absurd, in my opinion.

Paul said...

For a world with "greatest love" to be instantiated, there must be a fall. So even apart from the "glorifying himself" argument, we can make an argument from wanting a world where "greatest love" is shown. (greater love has none . . . that a man would lay down his life for his friends).

Phil said...

It's true He did predestine a fall, but as I was saying in another post, there are decrees, and then there are decrees.
Plus, it seems to me that if the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever then it's not good to flatten God's decree to merely His glory.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "there are decrees, and then are there decrees". What's the difference between a decree and a decree?

Did you see the comment I left on that post? http://philipcomer.blogspot.com/2011/10/one-more-for-arminians-and-hypers-alike.html

Paul said...

Phil, with Bnonn, I'm struggling to understand the relevant difference between 'decree' and 'decree'. Secondly, there was no flattening of God's decree merely to his glory. In fact, I made an argument from wanting a world where "greatest love" was shown. Indeed, I think this pulls the carpet out from under the Arminian. They think their theology is more "loving" than mine. But if one wanted to *make sure* the "greatest love" would obtain, how would one *ensure* this without determining it? And, why wouldn't a most loving being *want* a fall? Then, from there, I argue that once there's a fallen world than, since in any given created theatre God must maximize all of his attributes, then he must punish some sinners in hell since justice would not *truly* or *fully* be maximized by Christ's death alone, since it seems to me that for a *full* magnification of the attribute of God's justice to obtain, a *truly* guilty person must be punished. That's not Jesus.

David said...

Hey Dominic,

I had sent off a post previous to the one referencing Dort, but somehow it disappeared.

I didnt keep a copy as I normally do. Basically my point was... what was my point? :-)

Supralapsarianism when pushed entails that God decreed to create some men to be elect and some men to be reprobated in the "pure mass," creatable, but not yet created. And in reprobation, there are two components, preterition and predamnation. Its the predamnation aspect that makes it all tricky for the supralapsarian. Normally, predamnation is a decree whereby God determines to damn or punish a sinner on account of his or her sins. In predamnation, God acts not as sovereign but as judge. If supralapsarianism is correct they have a case where God has decided to predamn a body of creatable people, apart from the supposition of sin and due-condemnation. This has to follow, for the moment the predamnation decree is on the supposition of sin, then creation and fall are now logically presupposed and we are back to the infralapsarian ordering.

If they press that, then that makes God monstrous. Ive seen one attempt to get around the problem, and that was separating preterition and predamnation. Preterition is before the logical supposition of creation and fall. However, predamnation is posterior to creation and fall. Ive not seen this argued very cogently; only that it was asserted.

Turretin, though not original in his critiques of supralapsarianism gives the best systematic refutation of it. Bavinck does a good job too. All sides want to posit a basic unity in the divine decrees, but how we do that is the tricky part.

I agree with Dabney that they entire lapsarian project should never have started, and having started, it should be abandoned. It was the Supralaparsarians such as Beza and Perkins who started us down this road.

Hope that clarifies.

You can read a lot of sources I have posted on this by going to my main index and clicking on the headers, Divine Decree, and Predestination and Reprobation.

David
Calvin and Calvinism

David J. Houston said...

Hello Mr. Ponter,

Am I guilty of following the historical order but backwards? Yes, but I’ve already provided my rationale. Ideas have structure. Means are logically dependent upon ends. God does nothing without a purpose. He doesn’t decree to create with no goal in mind. He has a goal and each of the following decrees serves the purpose of bringing this goal to fruition.



I agree that sin is, in some sense, a ‘break up of the divine order‘ but it is a planned break up. God is sovereign over all events and declares the end from the beginning. His purposes are never frustrated so the ‘break up of the divine order‘ must be taken in a similar sense to God’s ‘repenting’ in certain passages. Unless we think that God’s purposes can be thwarted.

I don’t see how saying that Adam’s sin advanced the plan of God is blasphemous. God’s goal was to glorify himself and in his wisdom he decided that the best way to do so would be through electing some sinful men and reprobating the rest. In order for that to happen the fall was necessary. Adam did advance the plan. As did every sin that ever occurred since it was part of God’s plan. Again, he declares the end from the beginning. He governs all things according to the counsel of his will. Would you prefer to serve a God who thought to himself when Adam sinned, “Uh oh. I was planning on that happening!” That would be blasphemous!



You said that the prima facie reading of John 15:19 is in favour of infralapsarianism but looks can be deceiving! I don’t think you can interpret it this way for several reasons. Firstly, Jesus was speaking to the disciples using ordinary language rather than technical language (better to go to Rom 9 and Eph 1-3 where the divine purposes are more clear). Secondly, the context, as Ryan has pointed out, is more likely a vocational call. Thirdly, if we were to press your hermeneutic we would have to take James 2:5, which says that God chose ‘those who are poor in the world’, as meaning that the decree to make some impoverished preceded the decree to elect which is absurd.

I think the same mistake of trying to gain insight into the decrees from verses that don’t speak to the issue lead you to bring up Acts 17:26, 27 and Romans 2:4. The temporal blessings that are spoken of in these verses that ought to bring fallen man to the place where he repents and seeks after God will ultimately be used by God in his plan to judge each according to their works. Those who have had the blessing in this life of receiving his revelation will be held more responsible because of it. Is this not the stated purpose in Rom 1:18 – 2:29? Isn’t it Paul’s argument that the revelation is necessary to hold them responsible? If God is an electing God and has no intention of saving them then why would he reveal himself to them?

God bless.

David said...

DavidH I agree that sin is, in some sense, a ‘break up of the divine order‘ but it is a planned break up. God is sovereign over all events and declares the end from the beginning.


DavidP asks: But how was it planned tho?

Take the WCF for example:

"3:1, God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established."

The plan of God did not void the liberty of the second causes, namely Adam's free will. The decree did not impose a restraint upon him, causing him to sin, etc. The confessional approach is to see the fall as part of God's permissive decree. Secondly, the issue of ends can be tricky. For example, the "end" of the gospel preaching is that men should be saved. When God sends his gospel, even to the non-elect, his "end" or intent is that they should be saved. The fact that their rejection of the gospel increases their culpability, and which was included in the plan (as per WCF 3:1) does not thin-out or eviscerate the "end" of the gospel message, as if that end was a mere shadow, a straight-forward means to the end of increasing the rejector's guilt.

Creation is just like that. In acts 17, the end of God's placing men in their circumstances in life is that they should "seek" God. As Christians we have to see this a serious and meaningful "goal" or "end" or "intent." Hypercalvinism more often than not seeks to flatten out these subordinate ends making them wholly subservient to a final end. Supralapsarians tend to do the same thing with regard to creation.

David said...

Turretin, for example, wisely says:

"The common axiom which supralapsarians like to use here (and with which Twisse makes himself hoarse and on which alone he seems to build up the artfully constructed fabric of his disputation on this argument) is: “That which is last in execution, ought to be first in intention.” Now the illustration of God’s glory through mercy in the salvation of the elect and through justice in the damnation of the reprobate (as the last in execution, therefore it ought to be the first in intention) admits of various limitations. First, it holds good, indeed, as to the ultimate end, but not as to the subalternate ends. Otherwise it would follow as well that what is next to the last in execution is the second in intention, and what is next to that is the third and so on."

And

"Second, it holds good only in the same order of things and where a necessary and essential subordination of things occurs. They, with whom we treat, do not disavow this but maintain that it only holds good in things subordinated by nature. But no necessary connection and subordination can exist between the creation and fall and redemption. Rather all must see between them rather a gap and great abyss (mega chasm) (on account of sin) which has broken up the order of creation and given place to the economy of redemption. Sin is against nature. It is not the means either with respect to salvation (unless accidentally, i.e., the occasion) or with respect to damnation (for damnation is on account of sin, not sin on account of damnation)."

Another way to look at is that of the covenants. On the supposition of the fall, God institutes a covenant of grace.

Take care,
David

David said...

ack ignore the last para there about the covenant of grace. I accidentally included it in cut and paste.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Hey David, a couple of questions or observations for you:

The decree did not impose a restraint upon him, causing him to sin, etc.

I'm not clear on how this can be possible. To say that God decreed the fall is to say that God determined it. And to say that something is determined is to say something like:

If, and only if, for an agent choosing whether to act (A) at a given time, the outcome A or ¬A is actualized inevitably because of a prior action on the part of God.

Thus, while God did not directly cause Adam's sin, his decree certainly placed a restraint on Adam such that he could do no other than sin. That is what theological determinism entails—and any Christian theology requires theological determinism as far as I can see, whether it's Calvinism or Arminianism or Molinism or something else.

When God sends his gospel, even to the non-elect, his "end" or intent is that they should be saved.

This is very problematic given that God has determined/decreed that they will not be saved. To say that God does X with the intent of obtaining Y, even though he has previously decreed that ¬Y will obtain, is to give a pretty good definition of means-end irrationality. I don't think we should adopt theologies that make God irrational.

Now, perhaps God sends the gospel to the non-elect because, in a purely contingent sense, his benevolence longs for their salvation—despite his prior decree to reprobate them. Paul Manata reckons that's iffy, but I disagree. I think it's quite reasonable to believe that God has "nested" desires, and I'm happy to define a desire differently to Paul. I think Jesus's lament over Jerusalem is a perfect example of this mechanism in action. It's not as if Jesus wasn't involved in decreeing the very thing he lamented. Yet it's not as if the lament was not genuine either.

But holding to "nested desires" is a very different thing to saying that God's intent or desired end in sending the gospel is actually the very salvation he has already decreed against.

In acts 17, the end of God's placing men in their circumstances in life is that they should "seek" God. As Christians we have to see this a serious and meaningful "goal" or "end" or "intent."

Yet Acts 17 also indicates that they seek in vain—"groping in the dark" is one translation I have seen. So presumably while God intended for them to seek him, he did not intend for them to find him—thus we can hardly infer the opposite as a meaningful end or goal, can we?

David said...

Hey Dominic

Old DavidP: The decree did not impose a restraint upon him, causing him to sin, etc.

Dom: I'm not clear on how this can be possible. To say that God decreed the fall is to say that God determined it. And to say that something is determined is to say something like:

cut

Dom: Thus, while God did not directly cause Adam's sin, his decree certainly placed a restraint on Adam such that he could do no other than sin. That is what theological determinism entails—and any Christian theology requires theological determinism as far as I can see, whether it's Calvinism or Arminianism or Molinism or something else.

DavidP: But this is the part where we as humans and as Christians must hold to tension. This whole question goes back to Augustine, and the idea that Adam was able to not sin. Once we throw that under the bus, we've made God the author of sin.

Back to the WCF statement again: 3:1:

God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established

For Christians, that's a non-negotiable. The decree does not put a constraint upon the second cause, ensuring by any direct operation of efficient causation a certain outcome. Rather the decree works within the bounds of the creature's freedom. Indeed, the confession goes on to say that the decree establishes the liberty of the second cause.

The decree never works directly to effect sin. The decree as manifested in providence always works permissively.

David said...

Old David: When God sends his gospel, even to the non-elect, his "end" or intent is that they should be saved.

Dom: This is very problematic given that God has determined/decreed that they will not be saved. To say that God does X with the intent of obtaining Y, even though he has previously decreed that ¬Y will obtain, is to give a pretty good definition of means-end irrationality. I don't think we should adopt theologies that make God irrational.

DavidP: Well here is the rub, the rejection of that very distinction is the heart of rationalism. That is why hypers so easily fall into denying the well-meant offer of the Gospel.

The Reformed in all its evangelical wings has affirmed that God by secret will can will that someone not be saved, and yet by revealed will desire that the same person should be saved, even to save them, whereby by this will seeks their salvation. This is the heart of the matter, Dom. Hypercalvinism always throws the revealed will under the bus.

I posted two verses which speak to this [revealed will] intention. Acts 17, where it says clearly that God places men in all their respective circumstances so that they should seek God. That's intent. Rom 2:4 the goodness of God is given to lead men to repentance. We can expand this list. John 3:16-17, God loves the world, that he sends his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. Given that "world" for John denotes apostate mankind, in opposition to God and the church, here is evidence of purpose.

Dom: Now, perhaps God sends the gospel to the non-elect because, in a purely contingent sense, his benevolence longs for their salvation—despite his prior decree to reprobate them.

David: Well, you have it there, he longs, so he sends to the gospel. What is that? If it is not a true intention in a meaningful sense, its a sham.

David said...

Dom: Paul Manata reckons that's iffy, but I disagree. I think it's quite reasonable to believe that God has "nested" desires, and I'm happy to define a desire differently to Paul. I think Jesus's lament over Jerusalem is a perfect example of this mechanism in action. It's not as if Jesus wasn't involved in decreeing the very thing he lamented. Yet it's not as if the lament was not genuine either.

David: Sure, I would agree, though I would call it a desire and will that all men be saved, even the non-elect, and that this desire inclines God to actively seek the salvation of all men. Dabney called this a benevolent propensity, and elsewhere a desire.

Dom: But holding to "nested desires" is a very different thing to saying that God's intent or desired end in sending the gospel is actually the very salvation he has already decreed against.

David: However, Scripture speaks of an intention in God which does not come to pass.

Old David: Re: Acts 17...

Dom: Yet Acts 17 also indicates that they seek in vain—"groping in the dark" is one translation I have seen. So presumably while God intended for them to seek him, he did not intend for them to find him—thus we can hardly infer the opposite as a meaningful end or goal, can we?

David: Ive cited Turretin on Theology Online before, that God can will by revealed will, what he nills by secret.

God by revealed will seeks and desires and by it intends that men should live and not die. This is why God sends prophets, Messiah, preachers and evangelists. This is why God calls all men to salvation by the external call.

As an side, a few of have detected in the comments of others that they really do seem to speak of the decree of God regarding sin as if it is an active constraining agent, that it actively constrains and ensures sin, that he actively desires sin to come to pass. That's the very idea Dort detested. None of the classic Supralapsarians, like Gomarus, Beza, etc, moved beyond permissive causation with regard to sin. In terms of the Reformed spectrum, itt is only those who void the revealed will who are prepared to deny any permissive causation, eg Gordon Clark and Herman Hoeksema in our modern times. Permissive causation is so inexplicable to the modern hypercalvinist rationalist that he must deny it because they cannot get their mind around how a permissive causal mechanism works in the context of decree. There is only so far the human mind can go with this. Nonetheless, the Christian mind must stay within the boundaries of orthodoxy, else we reduce God to a monster and his dealings with men a sham.

David: A really good book to read is John Favel's, "Christ knocking at the door of sinners' hearts." Flavel, a puritan, illustrates Christ's active and ardent desire and intention to seek the salvation of all those whom he encountered, that he desired to be the shepherd of all men.

Hope that helps.
DavidP

David said...

Derek has posted on Calvin on a topic related to all this:

GOD'S FREE AND SINCERE OFFER: Calvin on Isaiah 65:1-6

David J. Houston said...

Mr. Ponter, the reason you have a problem with our criticisms is because you insist on cashing out the confession's understanding of freedom in terms of libertarian free will. However, like Bnonn pointed out, so long as you are a theist who holds to the classical doctrine of omniscience, then you must believe in some kind of determinism. Saying that people have the liberty to do other than what God has expressly decreed leads straight to Open Theism.

And calling everyone who acknowledges this a rationalist just won't cut it. Saying that we have to hold these truths 'in tension' is simply a sophisticated way of saying 'in incoherence'. Why not simply cash out talk of 'freedom' in terms of compatibilism or semi-compatibilism? It removes the worries about man's accountability while maintaining everything we want to say about God.

Another issue I'm having is how so many 4-pointers hide behind the secret/revealed will distinction as if Rom 9 and Eph 1-3 aren't revealed along side John 3:16. These verses have to gel or God is contradicting himself and we must conclude that he is either incompetent or a liar and neither attribute is worthy of the God of Scripture.

THEOparadox said...

DavidH: "These verses have to gel or God is contradicting himself ..."

Derek: Sure, but in whose mind do they have to gel? We can't say the logical coherency of Scripture is dependent on a human person's ability to reconcile everything. The logical implications of these verses must make perfect sense to God, but that doesn't guarantee we won't find them mystifying, and find have to trust His wisdom above our own attempts at explaining things logically.

DavidH: "... and we must conclude that he is either incompetent or a liar and neither attribute is worthy of the God of Scripture."

Derek: Those aren't the only options. We could also conclude that He is incomprehensible, and wise beyond our imagination. We could conclude that we have limited understanding. After all, we're made out of dirt. It would be very proud of me to imagine I can reconcile all that has been revealed by the eternal God after less than 40 years of conscious existence, having being born spiritually blind in a fallen body with limited intellect and a natural proneness to error.

David said...

Hey DavidH

You say:

Mr. Ponter, the reason you have a problem with our criticisms is because you insist on cashing out the confession's understanding of freedom in terms of libertarian free will.

David: How exactly have I done that? Can you define "libertarian free will" for me so I can see if we are tracking each other correctly?

You say: However, like Bnonn pointed out, so long as you are a theist who holds to the classical doctrine of omniscience, then you must believe in some kind of determinism. Saying that people have the liberty to do other than what God has expressly decreed leads straight to Open Theism.

David: I suspect you are not tracking me. I hold to determination. But its the mechanics of how God "determines" sin that often causes dispute. God causes sin by a willing permission of sin, whereby the natural liberty of the creature is established. Right? The divine decree never efficiently effects or produces sin in the sinner, Right?

You say: And calling everyone who acknowledges this a rationalist just won't cut it.

DavidP: Who is "everyone" and acknowledges what exactly?

You say: Saying that we have to hold these truths 'in tension' is simply a sophisticated way of saying 'in incoherence'. Why not simply cash out talk of 'freedom' in terms of compatibilism or semi-compatibilism? It removes the worries about man's accountability while maintaining everything we want to say about God.

DavidP: who said I was not a compatibilist in how I understand divine determination and human freedom? And the idea of tension or paradox or mystery is a fairly standard Reformed category. It was only the Clarkians and Hoeksemians who began to deny paradox in modern times.

DavidH Another issue I'm having is how so many 4-pointers hide behind the secret/revealed will distinction.

DavidP: Now a motive charge, we are "hiding"? Really? :-)

Ive directed you to Turretin and Bavinck. Nothing I have said depends upon the expressions of classic-moderate Calvinism. I could ask, but it would only be a tangent I think: what is 4 point Calvinism in your mind?

The secret-revealed will distinction IS Reformed theology, David.

You say: as if Rom 9 and Eph 1-3 aren't revealed along side John 3:16. These verses have to gel or God is contradicting himself and we must conclude that he is either incompetent or a liar and neither attribute is worthy of the God of Scripture.

DavidP: You've set up some either/or dilemma there. I had every intention of asking you about those two verses, David, but first I thought it fit to present Turretin's argument against the Aristotelian axiom that the last in action is the first in intention. Did you scope out Turretin? Can you tell me why is wrong?

Thanks,
DavidP

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

DavidP: But this is the part where we as humans and as Christians must hold to tension. This whole question goes back to Augustine, and the idea that Adam was able to not sin. Once we throw that under the bus, we've made God the author of sin

If the shoe fits. Since I have no idea what "author of sin" even means, I don't see why we should think it does not apply to God. So I have no reason to hold a tension where no tension seems to exist.

You'd need to explain in what sense Adam was "able" to sin given the decree. Your position seems to imply the principle of alternate possibility, as David H has noted (he said libertarian free will). But that certainly can't be in view, not only because of the decree, but simply because of perfect definite foreknowledge. Besides, you've said you're a determinist.

Perhaps you think ability cashes out in some other way, but you'll need to explain it then.

The decree does not put a constraint upon the second cause, ensuring by any direct operation of efficient causation a certain outcome.

Well, I explicitly agreed that the constraint was not in the form of efficient causation. It is in the form of the decree. The decree establishes the second causes themselves. They cannot but happen as they do.

The decree never works directly to effect sin. The decree as manifested in providence always works permissively.

I don't really know what you're saying here. It seems like you're confusing the decree with the causation. But decreeing something is not the same as causing something. A decree is a plan. It isn't the doing of the plan.

What is the difference between God decreeing the fall "permissively" and God decreeing the fall in some other sense? Either way he is planning the fall. You need to explain the distinction between a permissive decree and just a plain old decree.

Well here is the rub, the rejection of that very distinction is the heart of rationalism. That is why hypers so easily fall into denying the well-meant offer of the Gospel.

Whatever the consequences are, it is a brute fact that holding to the "distinction" here is to make God means-end irrational. Do you really believe that God is irrational?

I posted two verses which speak to this [revealed will] intention. Acts 17, where it says clearly that God places men in all their respective circumstances so that they should seek God. That's intent.

As I observed, an intent for men to seek does not imply an intent for them to find.

As an side, a few of have detected in the comments of others that they really do seem to speak of the decree of God regarding sin as if it is an active constraining agent, that it actively constrains and ensures sin, that he actively desires sin to come to pass.

This seems very confused. The decree is not itself causally efficiacious, so I'm not sure what it would mean for a decree to be an "active constraining agent". It's also not clear what it means for God to "actively desire sin to come to pass". In some sense he must desire it, because otherwise it would not happen. But one can have a desire for something in view of a larger goal, while simultaneously detesting the thing itself.

Permissive causation is so inexplicable to the modern hypercalvinist rationalist that he must deny it because they cannot get their mind around how a permissive causal mechanism works in the context of decree.

Again, I don't really know what you're saying. You started off talking about the permissive decree, but now you're talking about permissive causation. I don't know what that is. There are two kinds of causation that I know of: natural causation, with which we're all familiar, and existential causation, which is the sui generis power of God to hold things in existence which otherwise would not exist.

David J. Houston said...

Derek, when people claim to hold two apparently contradictory statements (see, I read Anderson’s book too! :P) in ‘tension’ one of the statements almost always takes a back seat. In this case, you claim to hold that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass but then you also want to say that man has libertarian free will but by affirming the one side you deny the other. If I say, ‘my car is in the parking lot’ and ‘my car is not in the parking lot’ you can hold these two statements in tension all you like but it’s either my car is in the parking lot or it’s not... or I’m equivocating somewhere. So if any of your proofs for God’s desire for all to be saved go through then God is equivocating somewhere and I’d like to know, on your view, where that is.

If I were you and believed that some verses show that God desires all to be saved I’d say the equivocation is likely to be with his ‘desiring’ since it’s an anthropopathism. We can look to other revealed truths in order help us figure out where the equivocation is taking place and since we have a plethora of passages that tell us all about the efficacy of God’s decrees and purposes we can use them in our search (Ps 115:3; 135:6; Dan 4:35; Isa 46:10). If it is the case that all of God’s purposes and desires are fulfilled then he would have to [desire1] that the elect will be saved (since the desire is fulfilled this must be the kind of ‘desire’ that is being referred to in the passages above) and that when God [desires2] that all should be saved then he is doing so in some non-accomplishing way and the meanings of [desire1] and [desire2] are equivocal. So we found that missing equivocation! If you want to believe that the omnipotent God ‘desires’ to save the non-elect but in a non-effectual way that’s fine. You’re free to believe that if you wish. But I can’t make heads or tails of it.

Don’t think that I rule out paradox. I believe that there is a place for it but, roughly stated, it is only when God is referring to his own being and he hasn’t given us very much to work with that we can legitimately appeal to it. Following Anderson, I would place the Trinity and the Incarnation in this category.

As I’ve made clear, I don’t even think the question of paradox arises in this case since I don’t see any apparent contradictions in the Scriptures regarding a supposed universal desire to save all men along side a desire to save only the elect. Nor do I see any tension between God’s exhaustive determination of all things with man’s responsibility. In order to make ‘God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass’ and ‘Man is responsible for his actions’ apparently contradictory you’ll have to fill in some missing premises that are not provided by the Scriptures.

Also, don’t forget that God didn’t write the Bible so that he could read it to himself. He wrote it so that finite, fallen, and imperfect creatures could read it.

I just finished reading David and Bnonn's last two comments before I posted this. Bnonn, you're saving me a lot of time! My thoughts exactly!

David J. Houston said...

Just thought I should add a little bit of a response to Mr. Ponter...

By saying you are 'hiding' it doesn't necessarily attribute a bad motivation. You 4-Pointers seem to be sensitive folk. I was implying that you make the secret/revealed will distinction do more work than it is able. Lay off the poor guy! :P

I have not looked into Turretin since (in theory) I've been working on an essay for the last couple of days. >.< I will be writing it (in actuality) for the next couple of days so if you think that Turretin has some knock-down arguments if you could produce them in your own words I would be more than willing to respond.

Phil said...

Ye high Calvinists are starting from the wrong end. Start instead from the character of God and person of Christ and see what happens. If you start with the notion of eternity you will end up in the swamp.
It's like this logic puzzle:

Three men rent a hotel room. Each pays $10 for a total of $30 spent on the room. The next day the hotel owner tells the three men that they over paid for the room as it only costs $25. The three men tell the owner to give them each a dollar back and he can keep two dollars.

If you do the math, each man paid $9 a piece for the room for a total of $27. The owner kept $2 which brings the total to $29.

The question is where did the other dollar go?

Start at the wrong place and you won't be able to navigate out to see our point of view.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Phil, an analogy is not an argument. Are you trying to say that our position relies on a misunderstanding or intentional misstatement of the facts?

If you do the math, in fact each man paid $9 a piece for the room and the $2 the owner kept. Which makes $27. Since the owner gave all three of them back $1 each, $27 + $3 = $30.

There is no missing dollar. It's not a case of starting at the wrong place, but of intentionally describing the situation falsely so as to give the appearance of a confusing puzzle.

You'll need to explain in what sense you think "high Calvinists" are doing this with theology. Just saying that we're getting it wrong because we're starting with the notion of eternity instead of with the character of God doesn't explain in the slightest how this is the case. Nor does it explain how your puzzle fits in. Really, this is the kind of nonsense statement I expect from Arminians who don't like the logic of Calvinism over their wishy-washy intuitions about how God ought to act.

For one thing, we're not starting with eternity. We're starting with the more perspicuous data, which is what God has done. This tells us God's decrees. If you think that the more perspicuous data is actually the nature of God's character, you're going to have to give a really good argument for that, because surely you know that Arminians and Open Theists arrive at their theology on the same supposed basis!

No, we have to start at God's decrees, and figure out what they tell us of God's character in combination with what God has revealed about himself. So we know God has determined to reprobate some, and save some. But we also see that God seems to want to save the reprobate in some passages. Thus we ask, how can we reconcile these data into a coherent theology?

Phil said...

Yes, you say that, but to that the majority of Calvinists simply squash the 'revealed' will under the guise of 'what God has done.' God wanted the reprobates damned so He did that. Then when we come to verses that speak to Him wanting their salvation it's just easiest to ignore them or pretend they are talking to the elect.

Knowing the decrees is not enough, we must know the character of God first or we will be led astray.
It might be said of Washington that he didn't love major Andre because of what he did in condemning him to death.
The example of the puzzle serves to show the point of making a wrong beginning, in trusting the narrator to the solution.

If you fail to start with His character you will end up in the weeds, having your own logic supplying His motivation.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Phil, I'm sorry but I don't see anything you're saying as actually advancing the discussion.

I've never tried to ignore passages that speak of God's desires or intentions toward the reprobate. And your example of Washington just falls flat since I expressly talked about harmonizing the decree with the revealed character.

You seem to see high Calvinists as all being disguised hyper-Calvinists with no interest in what God really says because they've already decided from the decrees what his character is like. And you've already said you think hyper-Calvinists are non-Christians. That kind of attitude ironically sounds a lot like the attitude of hyper-Calvinists, and it makes reasonable discussion impossible.

I could equally say that you've decided ahead of time how God's character must be, and so you just ignore the decrees, however contradictory they might be to the character you've invented. You're really just a closet Arminian. That's what it looks like to me. Is that how this discussion is going to end?

I'm still looking forward to your comments in the other thread, btw, where you condescendingly talked of me going off the rails with language that flattens the truth. Like a slightly slow Grade 3 student, I'm anxiously waiting for my teacher to explain my error.

THEOparadox said...

DavidH said: "you claim to hold that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass but then you also want to say that man has libertarian free will ..."

I do hold the former (that God has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass) but I have never maintained the latter (libertarian free will). I did not even us that language when I was Arminian, much less now that I am a true-to-life Calvinist.

The very idea of LFW is abominable, hearing it makes me want to scrub my ears. It's practical Pelagianism, and that I cannot abide.

I hold, rather, to the compatibilism which posits that God 's sovereign foreordination does not deny the liberty of the creature, but rather establishes it. So, we are free insofar as God has sovereignly ordained. He is meticulous in His sovereignty, yet we make free (uncoerced) choices (decisions regarding our conduct). How that all works together is a mystery to everyone, no matter what they claim.

As an example, I freely chose a pair of socks this morning. From my own perspective, I could have chosen a different pair, or I could have chosen to go sockless. I chose a particular pair for my own reasons. Yet I believe that the selection I made was sovereignly foreordianed by God for His own reasons. From that standpoint, I couldn't have chosen otherwise. But from the standpoint of actually standing there looking at the socks in my drawer, there were various choices I could have made, and no factors I know of pre-determined my choice. God's hidden decree determined it, but bear in mind that until the choice is made the decree is just that: hidden. So God determined my socks but I freely chose them as well. I chose them for my reasons, He chose them for His. His choice was sovereign and good, while mine was significant and could have been good or evil. I hope I selected my socks by faith and to the glory of God ... but we all stumble in many ways.

If I try to leave the position of a creature and place myself in the position of God, attempting to view things from His perspective, I will be in danger of trampling on divine matters I know not of. So as a creature I must learn to live with mysteries.

Blessings,
Derek

Paul said...

Since the discussion turned to Adam's ability to sin or not sin, I thought I'd shamelessly plug my post on the matter.

http://analytictheologye4c5.wordpress.com/2011/09/19/of-posses-piccares-and-freedoms/

David said...

Hey Dom:

It looks like Ive got two discussions going on here, one on supralasarianism, one on God's providence with regard to sin.

Dom: If the shoe fits. Since I have no idea what "author of sin" even means, I don't see why we should think it does not apply to God. So I have no reason to hold a tension where no tension seems to exist.

David: In classic Reformed literature, and even classic Gordon Clark, Author is defined as source-cause.

So for example, in classic Reformed theology, God is the author of a believer's faith. The ability is sourced in God. And so God is praised, not the human agent. Faith for the human agent takes on the role of instrumental cause.

So in this sense, the classic Reformed position is to distinguish "cause" from "author" and note that while God authors all things good, he does not author anything evil, tho he can "cause" it.

Now in terms of "cause" in terms of classic, and I will say confessional Reformed theology, God causes sin only by a willing permission. He willingly allows the sinner to follow his own desires. God never ensures that the sinner sins, never directly causes the sinner to sin. Indeed, God never properly wants the sinner to sin, as it denies his holy nature.

Dom: You'd need to explain in what sense Adam was "able" to sin given the decree. Your position seems to imply the principle of alternate possibility, as David H has noted (he said libertarian free will). But that certainly can't be in view, not only because of the decree, but simply because of perfect definite foreknowledge. Besides, you've said you're a determinist.

David: Adam was able to not sin in the sense that there is nothing in his created nature or person which necessarily led to his sin. Nor did God author or directly cause him to sin.

WCF 4:2: After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image; having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it: and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Beside this law written in their hearts, they received a command, not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept, they were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

WCF 6:2: Our first parents, being seduced by the subtlety and temptation of Satan, sinned, in eating the forbidden fruit. This their sin, God was pleased, according to his wise and holy counsel, to permit, having purposed to order it to his own glory.

David: For all Augustinians Adam was created perfect but yet mutable.

David said...

Dom: Perhaps you think ability cashes out in some other way, but you'll need to explain it then.

David: Saying this s a friend Dom, I dont think I can fill in 1500 years of Augustinian theology in a few snippets here.

Dom: Well, I explicitly agreed that the constraint was not in the form of efficient causation. It is in the form of the decree. The decree establishes the second causes themselves. They cannot but happen as they do.

David: Personally I dont like the language of "restraint." There is no restraint on Adam. He was not subject to any internal necessary propensities, or any external causation upon his will, person, mind, etc, etc. I would prefer to use confessional language of bounded and governed. Perhaps that is what you mean.

Dom: I don't really know what you're saying here. It seems like you're confusing the decree with the causation. But decreeing something is not the same as causing something. A decree is a plan. It isn't the doing of the plan.

David: Not really, or not quite so. Again in classic Reformed literature, "decree" is used to denote the sovereign determinative will of God in bringing about all the events God as determined to bring to pass. Decree has a broad range of meanings in Reformed literature, everything from determining cause, to divine presciptions to the Word of God.

Dom: What is the difference between God decreeing the fall "permissively" and God decreeing the fall in some other sense? Either way he is planning the fall. You need to explain the distinction between a permissive decree and just a plain old decree.

David: You keep saying, "you need to..." :-) As the eodem modo clause of Dort: in the same manner. God does not will sin in the same manner he wills the good. He only willingly permits the free agent to sin. How that all works, I dont know. Can I make it explicable to you, probably not. But that's where we need to stop. There may be some extra stuff one can plug in, but if it turns into God wanting sin, or God ensuring sin, thats the off the Reformed map.

David said...

Dom: Whatever the consequences are, it is a brute fact that holding to the "distinction" here is to make God means-end irrational. Do you really believe that God is irrational?

David: Well its about submitting to Scripture Dom. And no, I dont believe God is irrationally. Rather, it is more like this: there are two sets of premises, how these sets are compatible I do not know. I do know, tho, that these sets of premises are true. In God's mind, however, the sets are compatible and all the connecting premises are established.

Dom: As I observed, an intent for men to seek does not imply an intent for them to find.

David: But that is where we must posit the revealed will. God does have an intent that they should seek and find. What is your position on the revealed-secret will distinction?

Dom: This seems very confused. The decree is not itself causally efficiacious, so I'm not sure what it would mean for a decree to be an "active constraining agent". It's also not clear what it means for God to "actively desire sin to come to pass". In some sense he must desire it, because otherwise it would not happen. But one can have a desire for something in view of a larger goal, while simultaneously detesting the thing itself.

David: Turretin:

However when we say that permission is occupied positively with sin (if not on the part of the term, at least on the part of the principle, inasmuch as it includes a positive act of the will), this we understand not as if the divine will has sin as an object precisely of itself. For since his will can have for its object nothing but good, it cannot will evil as evil, but as terminated on the permission of that which is good. God, therefore, properly does not will sin to be done, but only wills to permit it. And if at any time sin is called the means of illustrating God's glory, it does not follow that God (who wills the end) ought also to will sin as such (which is the means to it).

Turretin here follows the standard Augustine-Thomist theology.

Dom: Again, I don't really know what you're saying. You started off talking about the permissive decree, but now you're talking about permissive causation. I don't know what that is. There are two kinds of causation that I know of: natural causation, with which we're all familiar, and existential causation, which is the sui generis power of God to hold things in existence which otherwise would not exist.

David: Sure, but as I said, I cant fill in 100s of years of historical theology and systematic theology here. You will have to some reading of the classics, Dom. I dont say that in a mean way, but as a friend.

I will take a stab: Permissive causation is a phrase used to denote that God so govern and bounds sinful operations that he brings to pass what will. The proper cause of all sin is the secondary cause agent. As Calvin would say, man is the proximate cause of his own sin, even his own damnation, while God is the ultimate cause, in that he willingly allowed it. However all culpability stops with the second cause-agent.

DavidP

David said...

DavidH says:
Just thought I should add a little bit of a response to Mr. Ponter...

By saying you are 'hiding' it doesn't necessarily attribute a bad motivation. You 4-Pointers seem to be sensitive folk. I was implying that you make the secret/revealed will distinction do more work than it is able. Lay off the poor guy! :P

DavidP: Well no, it speaks to intent and motives. When someone is hiding something or hiding behind something, in every day English, even in American English and Canadian English it speaks to evasion. :-)

Its not that we are sensitive, not at all. I would not be here talking to you if I was. Its rather that some of your team-players are just historically ignorant. We know that in some aspects of this you speak of things you of which you know very little about.

For example, can you define what a 4-pointer is? Dont look it up. Dont go ask someone whom you may think knows, tell me in your own words off the top of your head. Then we can go with that perhaps.

DavidH I have not looked into Turretin since (in theory) I've been working on an essay for the last couple of days. >.< I will be writing it (in actuality) for the next couple of days so if you think that Turretin has some knock-down arguments if you could produce them in your own words I would be more than willing to respond.

David: :-) Well get back to me when you can find the time to read and think about what Turretin says. Then we can talk some more about that, perhaps, and also, again perhaps, discuss Roms 9 and Eph 1, etc, etc.

Thanks,
DavidP

THEOparadox said...

WCF says of Adam and Eve: "and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change."

How can we justify describing Adam and Eve's transgression as a "possibility" if God's eternal decree rendered the event a certainty and rendered them unable to do otherwise? Should we revise the WCF, abandon confessionalism, or hold to a mysterious compatibilism?

I'm just talking out loud here.

How about this proposed revision? "and yet under the certainty of transgressing, being bound by the constraints of the decree and unable to do otherwise."

That makes more sense. Let's send it out to all of the Presbyteries and see what they say. :)

Paul said...

Derek,

"How can we justify describing Adam and Eve's transgression as a "possibility" if God's eternal decree rendered the event a certainty and rendered them unable to do otherwise?"

I don't get it. Are you suggesting that the fall wasn't certain? Are ypu suggesting that God could have decreed the fall and yet, given that decree, the fall might not have come about?

Second, I linked above to a post I wrote where some of this is covered. A couple of TEDS PhD students liked my post, and one of them is wrting his diss. on the very topic.

Paul said...

Derek,

How can we justify describing Adam and Eve's transgression as a "possibility" if God's eternal decree rendered the event a certainty

Here's the confessional argument for "certainty."

1. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath he not decreed anything because he foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

2. In his sight all things are open and manifest, his knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent, or uncertain.

3. according to his eternal and immutable purpose

So, notice that God's decree is NOT based on his foreknowledge, but his foreknowledge is based on his decree. Notice that his foreknowledge is CERTAIN, and his decree UNCHANGEABLE. Thus, if God decrees X, then X is CERTAIN, since X is known by God, and God's knowledge is certain. Moreover, if God decrees X, then not-X cannot obtain given that decree; otherwise, the decree would be MUTABLE, but it is immutable, hence, etc.

THEOparadox said...

Paul,

Thanks for your thoughts. I was not suggesting that the decrees are mutable or that anything is uncertain from God's perspective. I was asking why the Westminster divines chose to express Adam's fall in terms of possibility, given the fact that the decrees are immutable. The fall certainly was certain, but they didn't say that in the passage quoted. They said Adam had the "possibility" of transgressing. This, I believe, is an evidence of their compatibilistic viewpoint. On the one hand, they said God ordains everything including the fall, but on the other hand they said Adam possessed liberty with regard to the fall. For me, compatibilism doesn't explain this so much as explain that it is inexplicable from the perspective of human beings. It doesn't resolve a tension so much as affirm one. And that is where my faith rests. The position is Biblical and it is confessional, and given divine incomprehensibility it is also rational. God knows things I don't, and He holds all of these things together with incomprehensible wisdom.

David J. Houston said...

Hey Derek,

I see that I’ve made the mistake of attributing some of Ponter’s language, which I believe entails a commitment to LFW, to you. I apologize. I’m glad you hold the view that God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. We actually agree on something for a change!

Blessings,
David

David J. Houston said...

Hello again Mr. Ponter,

I’m going to have to disagree with your assertion that ‘hiding’ is a motive evaluation. Avoiding arrows by hiding behind a shield is not cowardly. Far from it! In this case, your hiding behind the secret/revealed distinction against my arguments is a legitimate move if you think it can stand the strength of my arrows. Of course, I think that using the distinction against my argument is not like using a shield to repel arrows but more like using a shield to repel a battering ram. It’s just not the right tool for the job. In any case, I never intended to imply that you were arguing in bad faith and I hope that you will take me at my word.

I’m willing to admit that our ‘team’ does not have the same historical knowledge that you bring to the table but I’m also convinced that we have a better understanding of the philosophical considerations involved.

You wanted me to give you a definition of a 4-pointer without any help so here goes: Roughly, a 4-Point Calvinist believes that the atoning work of Christ was not limited to the elect. This is not to say, as Charles Hodge did, that there are some benefits for the reprobate that come through the atonement but that the atonement made it possible for every single person to be saved rather than making actual the salvation of the elect. How’s that?

As we’ve continued this thread I’ve realized that I’ve made a basic mistake in saying that Supras are high Calvinists whereas Infras are low Calvinists so I don’t think it will be useful to continue our debate over supralapsarianism. I don’t know the subject well enough.

What I’m most concerned with is your contention that God in no way determined the Fall. I can’t see how that jives with Scripture, the confession, and sound reason. I think you should take a look at Paul’s excellent post on the subject to see how I believe we should interpret God’s decree that Adam should commit the first sin.

God bless,

David

Paul said...

Derek, I guess I don't understand where your struggle is. The confession is an entire document, so since they said that God's decrees are certain and unchangeable, they don't need to say it again. They claimed it was possible for Adam to transgress, because it was. Possibility is not the contradictory of certainty. None of the claims in the confession suggest Adam had a metaphysical ability to "do otherwise" than what was decreed. It claimed, simply, that Adam's transgression was not impossible (the contradictory of possible). In the post I linked to above, I put forth a way to view this which makes sense of posse peccare and the decretal language of the Confession. Your question seemed to suggest that since the confession said that it was possible for Adam to transgress that this somehow put a kink in the idea of inability to do otherwise. I'm suggesting that it suggests no such thing.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Derek, a couple of thoughts if I may:

He is meticulous in His sovereignty, yet we make free (uncoerced) choices (decisions regarding our conduct). How that all works together is a mystery to everyone, no matter what they claim.

Er, so any philosopher who argues for a position wherein freedom and determinism can be seen to be harmonized is either lying or simply mistaken? That's a heck of a claim! To support it, you'd have to show that determinism and freedom are paradoxical in principle (rather than just to your own mind). But how do you propose to do that?

From that standpoint, I couldn't have chosen otherwise.

You seem to think that our intuitive sense of PAP somehow implies PAP, and that since PAP is incompatible with determinism, there is a mystery there. But why think that?

If I try to leave the position of a creature and place myself in the position of God, attempting to view things from His perspective, I will be in danger of trampling on divine matters I know not of. So as a creature I must learn to live with mysteries.

Since God gives us the tools and the revelation to view things from his perspective, even if in a limited way, it would be strange if he didn't intend for us to at least give it a shot. Do you think God doesn't want us to grow in our understanding of him and his relationship to creation?

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

David P, I'm not sure there's much benefit in continuing this discussion. We have fundamentally different approaches and I don't think we can harmonize them.

I'm interested in what we can deduce given what we know from Scripture and general revelation. Those are my delimiters. I don't really care what Augustine thought, or the Reformers, or anyone else for that matter. Studying them is obviously valuable, but I'm not interested in defining my theology in their terms or being bound to their conception of orthodoxy.

You seem to use Reformed orthodoxy as your delimiter. If a conclusion doesn't fall within Reformed orthodoxy, or if it seems to go further than people hundreds of years ago were willing to go with their much less advanced understanding of the philosophy of action theory etc, then you stop and say there must be a mystery or a tension or something.

I don't get that. What's the point? It doesn't advance our understanding of theology. It just clings to old understandings which in some cases seem to not extend far enough, and in other cases are just plain wrong.

When we try to understand things like God's desires, our freedom, his decrees, even causality and so on, we aren't doing historical theology. We're doing philosophical theology. Understanding where we've come from is helpful, but we need to look forward, not backwards.

So, I think we should call it a day for now :)

David said...

Hey Dominic,

No worries. And I am not ashamed to say that I self-consciously seek to Reformed and Catholic in my approach to historical theology and theology. Theology should be "church" theology as well as "Scripture" theology (tho in different regards of course).

As much as Reformed theology is not "nuda scriptura" it is not "nuda sapentia," either.

The catholic Reformed creeds and theology set some good boundary markers which I think is very wise and good to stay within.

So by all means, look forwards, but looking backwards can have benefits as well. One should neither be a slave to the past or the present or the future. But one is bound to repeat the errors of the past if one ignores it.

Your friend,
David

THEOparadox said...

Bnonn,

Thanks for the questions. These are very important issues. I'm glad you brought them up, and I will try to answer as best I can. Accept my advance apologies for the length of what follows.

"... so any philosopher who argues for a position wherein freedom and determinism can be seen to be harmonized is either lying or simply mistaken?"

Presenting a model is not the same as solving the mystery. If someone believes he has solved the mystery, he is probably overconfident, or he might have an epistemology that is inconsistent with Scripture. I'll explain why below.

Bnonn: "That's a heck of a claim! To support it, you'd have to show that determinism and freedom are paradoxical in principle (rather than just to your own mind). But how do you propose to do that?"

I did not say they are paradoxical, but mysterious. Mysterious because God has not revealed how the interplay between them works. Paul says something similar in his Free Will paper: "Moreover, the issue of free will and moral responsibility requires a lot of extra-biblical theorizing.... In fact, the biblical data is underdetermining for most (all?) of the models of how freedom and responsibility fit with RT [note that Paul defines RT as a "species of determinism." ] .... neither the Bible nor the Confession ... give us a worked out theory of any view of freedom and responsibility. (p. 53)

For me the designation of "mystery" is objective and does not depend on any person's perceptions or theories. There is a metaphysical relationship that God has not defined for us, therefore it is mysterious. To counter this, you would have to argue that God has defined the relationship between determinism and freedom somewhere in Scripture. That would be some groundbreaking, earth-shaking exegesis, for which the world has waited many centuries!

As I take Scripture to be the highest epistemological authority (and I trust you do as well), it is quite natural for me to say the metaphysical issues it leaves unrevealed are mysterious. A philosopher may devise a helpful and tenable theory, but apart from divine revelation we have no way of knowing whether his model describes actual reality. We can call it a good theory or model, but we can't say he's solved the mystery in the authoritative (or magisterial) sense.

(Part 2 to follow)

THEOparadox said...

Bnonn: "You seem to think that our intuitive sense of PAP somehow implies PAP, and that since PAP is incompatible with determinism, there is a mystery there. But why think that?"

Exactly the opposite. I believe our undeniable experience of what can only strike us as PAP is compatible with determinism (defined as "God ordains whatsoever comes to pass"). How it is compatible remains a mystery (because it's not defined by Scripture). Scripture actually reinforces our perception of PAP, but at the same time affirms determinism/meticulous sovereignty. By implication, the two concepts appear to be incompatible; but because they are Biblical concepts they can't truly be incompatible or contradictory. This is one reason I believe all who truly hold to the authority of Scripture are eventually forced to embrace paradox (assuming they logically work out their epistemology and don't abandon Biblical authority in the process).

Bnonn: "Since God gives us the tools and the revelation to view things from his perspective, even if in a limited way, it would be strange if he didn't intend for us to at least give it a shot.

I deny that God has given us the tools to view things from His perspective (that is, from the perspective of a Divine Being). He has given us truth, but we can only view that truth from our own creaturely perspective. He gives us the information needed to view things properly from our own standpoint as creatures - but never from His standpoint.

As an illustration, we might say God's perspective of reality is 3-D, while ours is 2-D. He can reduce that 3-D knowledge to a 2-D format (like taking a photo of an object and showing it to someone who has never seen the object). But we cannot expand our 2-D knowledge to the point of actually seeing the thing in 3-D as God sees it.

For your consideration: can we fathom what it be like to be a Divine Being, to think as a Divine Being, or to act as a Divine Being? Imagine that you were omniscient right at this moment. Think of the implications. It's mind-boggling to even consider, and the actual experience would probably drive one to insanity (unless he had all of the corresponding divine attributes to go along with it). We can logically define omniscience, but trying to put ourselves in God's shoes proves to us we really don't get it, experientially speaking. Now try the same exercise with aseity, eternity (imagine being uncreated!), immutability, omnipotence, etc. etc.

Since we can't grasp what it would be like to actually possess individual divine attributes (I'm assuming you agree), how can we imagine the perspective that would result from having all of them together at one time? The best I can do is imagine is some sort of "cosmic robot logician" - that would obviously be a blasphemously reductionistic vision of God. So God's perspective is totally unique to God.

Bnonn: Do you think God doesn't want us to grow in our understanding of him and his relationship to creation?"

He does want us to grow in our understanding, but He doesn't want us to go beyond what is written in the process. The story of Job is one evidence of God's desire that we submit ourselves to the grandeur of His concealed wisdom and refuse to pry into matters too lofty (this was also a big theme for Calvin).

Better to cast off any dependence on the proud sophistry of would-be philosophers and maintain our humble dependence on the word of God.

We all like to speculate and try to explain things. But we shouldn't be surprised when we run into the limits of our creaturehood and find we must humble ourselves once again before the awesome, omniscient majesty of the incomprehensible God.

Paul said...

Derek,

PAP = same past different futures. That's *incompatible* with determinism, *by definition*.

THEOparadox said...

Paul,

I agree that they appear to be incompatible, just as squares and circles appear to be incompatible. Squares and circles truly are incompatible if we are limited to two dimensions. However, with a third dimension we can have a cylinder (which at a given height and width would be a square circle).

Likewise, our perception that PAP and determinism are incompatible might be the result of our logical limitations. God may have logical dimensions of which we cannot conceive. Along that line, Peter Pike has a great article on supra-logic which argues that there cannot be logic without supra-logic. Well worth the read.

That's my model of mysterious compatibilism. It may be right or it may be wrong (and it may well need some tweaking), but it makes more sense to me than anything else I've seen up to this point. It seems to comport with Scripture and ironically explains a lot by positing there is a lot we cannot explain.

I would add, though, that I have only said we have a perception of PAP which is reinforced by Scripture, not that PAP actually exists outside of our perception. There is the possibility of accommodating language or anthropomorphism in Scripture. On the other hand, one might argue that PAP is true in the sense that God could have decreed otherwise than He did. Thus, the PAP would be rooted not in human LFW but in God's own freedom. You have repeatedly used the qualifying phrase, "given identical decrees," which is a little bit question begging because the things decreed for the future are always unknown to us. One might ask, "identical to what?" because at this point in time we have no experience or knowledge of those decrees. Until I actually make the decision, I can't know what God decreed concerning the decision.

THEOparadox said...

Paul, in the process of researching on a completely unrelated topic I think I accidentally discovered your mother is a nouthetic counselor. Is this true? Just today I enjoyed 3 hours of teaching from Jim Newheiser, who happened to be visiting here locally. Small world.

Derek

Paul said...

Derek,

You said you weren't arguing for paradox but mystery, now you admit to paradox. You may want to clear these things up in your mind.

Now, the first problem is that you do not have the biblical or creedal affirmation of PAP. You may have some intuition that it is true, but you have zero scriptural support for a garden of forking paths, i.e., an open future. Your entire case for the paradox is a "might be." It resembles NOTHING like James case for paradox. Actually, your position contradicts James' account of paradox. As I point out here, you've made an invalid appeal to paradox and mystery.

http://analytictheologye4c5.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/mysteries-paradoxes-and-pulling-the-trigger/

The second problem is that this isn't an implicit apparent contradiction, as are all theological paradoxes (cf. Anderson's book), but an explicit one. PAP is *defined* as contradicting determinism. So, the matter is *analytic*.

Third, "given identical decrees" is not hard to understand. Your *knowledge of* what god decreed is not what is being talked about, but rather the *eternal and immutable decree from the foundation of the world*. You're confusing epistemology with metaphysics. If you want to apply PAP merely to *epistemic* probability, fine, but then there's ZERO "inconsistency" between determinism and *epistemic* PAP (cf. my paper and the Kapitan paper cited).

So, identical decrees mean just that, the same decree . Put it this way: in ALL worlds that God decrees that you will X, then necessarily you will X.

Next, the issue isn't whether God can decree other than he did. That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about whether *humans* can do otherwise GIVEN AN IDENTICAL PAST LEADING UP TO THE DECISION. In the terms above, that means given that God decreed that you would X.

What's your REFORMED answer to get around this? Arminians will say that God decrees what he foresees we freely do, thus he bases his decree on his foreknowledge. But this is NOT Reformed confessionalism. or, you could go Molinist, which has similar problems, and then others.

Lastly, Pike's post has NOTHING to say in contradiction to what I wrote and he'd agree with me and not you here. Moreover, your "account" of "compatibilism" isn't an account of compatibilism at all!

This will be my last response on the matter to you.

THEOparadox said...

Paul said: "What's your REFORMED answer to get around this?"

I have presented and defended a well-argued appeal to mystery that is both legitimate and compatible with Reformed theology. See previous comments.

Paul said: "Arminians will say that God decrees what he foresees we freely do, thus he bases his decree on his foreknowledge. But this is NOT Reformed confessionalism. or, you could go Molinist, which has similar problems, and then others."

Those positions are irrelevant. I haven't taken any of them. I don't need to. I have already nullified your arguments without departing from Reformed orthodoxy. Anyhow, I thought I was conversing with Bnonn. Are you his surrogate? I hope you're not becoming Bnonn's yes-man.

Paul said: "Lastly, Pike's post has NOTHING to say in contradiction to what I wrote and he'd agree with me and not you here."

A non sequiter. Even if he agrees with you overall, it has no bearing on whether I can appeal to aspects of his work. James Anderson appeals to Plantinga even as he acknowledges clear differences. But why am I telling you what you already know? This is elementary logic.

Paul said: "Moreover, your "account" of "compatibilism" isn't an account of compatibilism at all!"

These guys don't seem to agree with you:

"Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism."
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

You appear to be claiming to support compatibilism while in effect taking an incompatibilist position. I'm not sure you understand what compatibilism is. But thanks for trying.

Dominic Bnonn Tennant said...

Derek, I don't think suggesting Paul doesn't understand what compatiblism is will be a good way forward. I wager he knows more about this area of philosophy than all the rest of us put together.

I have just one question for you right now:

What do you think free will is? Can you give me a simple definition so I understand where you're coming from?

Paul said...

"Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism."
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

You appear to be claiming to support compatibilism while in effect taking an incompatibilist position. I'm not sure you understand what compatibilism is. But thanks for trying.


LOL. Derek, you crack me up, bro. Have a good one.

Paul said...

Anyhow, I thought I was conversing with Bnonn. Are you his surrogate? I hope you're not becoming Bnonn's yes-man."

Previously Derek called this "slander" and said he "apologized" and said he "would not engage in this behavior anymore." But now he is engaging in it. Derek is a hypocrite, but worse than that, he's clearly ignorant of the issues involved in this discussion and doesn't even understand the issues enough to know how to answer me or even what's being asked of him.

Schopenhauer gave true advice, and now I'll take it for interacting with Derek Ashton. Says Schopenhauer:

As a sharpening of wits, controversy is often, indeed, of mutual advantage, in order to correct one's thoughts and awaken new views. But in learning and in mental power both disputants must be tolerably equal: If one of them lacks learning, he will fail to understand the other, as he is not on the same level with his antagonist. If he lacks mental power, he will be embittered, and led into dishonest tricks, and end by being rude.

The only safe rule, therefore, is that which Aristotle mentions in the last chapter of his Topica: not to dispute with the first person you meet, but only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to cherish truth, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong, should truth lie with him. From this it follows that scarcely one man in a hundred is worth your disputing with him. You may let the remainder say what they please, for every one is at liberty to be a fool - desipere est jus gentium. Remember what Voltaire says: La paix vaut encore mieux que la verite. Remember also an Arabian proverb which tells us that on the tree of silence there hangs its fruit, which is peace.

THEOparadox said...

Paul,

You will only hang yourself in your own noose with this charge of slander and hypocrisy.

You have overlooked the fact that the English language has different types of sentence, each with its own implications. Here are some examples:

Declarative: "You killed Paul's cat."
Interrogative: "Did you kill Paul's cat?"

See the difference?

It's important not to conflate these, as it will cause you to grossly misunderstand the most basic communications.

You know very well that my question was not a slanderous accusation. It was a question, a.k.a. an interrogative sentence. You could have answered or ignored it, but labeling it slander (by anyone's definition) is ridiculous.

Steve Hays: "Derek is a yes man" (declarative)
Paul: "... your constant yes-man attitude" (declarative)
Derek: "Are you Bnonn's surrogate?" (interrogative)

See the difference? I didn't slander you by asking you to examine your own conduct. Since I don't know your motives or character well enough to make a judgment, I respected you enough to ask the question rather than foolishly declaring an indictment. Had I confidently stated something undetectable or false about your character, that would have been slanderous (simply because I don't know you well enough to make such a judgment). It also would have been presumptuous and ignorant.

Hoping that you aren't a yes-man isn't the same as saying you are one. I've been asking you to examine your heart and character, and I will continue to ask you to do that because you haven't shown any signs of repentance for the ungodly behavior you have persistently engaged in.

The statement, "I hope you didn't kill Paul's cat," does not have the same meaning as, "you killed Paul's cat." I do sincerely hope you aren't becoming Bnonn's yes-man, just as I hope you aren't a liar or a cheat. I also hope you aren't a fool or a reprobate, but none of that is slander. In normal, everyday conversations between rational people it's typically called "goodwill." I have much goodwill toward you, Paul.

That's your grammar lesson for today. Once again, I am telling you obvious facts that shouldn't need to be pointed out to a person with developed logical skills.

Having said all that, and given your general rudeness, I think we can see who the Schopenhauer quote best applies to. "Physician, heal thyself!" Your own medicine would do you much good.

Declarative: "Derek is a hypocrite."

Since the premises behind this accusation have been shown to be false, you can either recant the charge or let it stand as just one more slanderous accusation in a long list.

You still haven't interacted with my arguments, and have instead continued to insult and slander me. I find your conduct more mystifying than the matter of free will and determinism.

In contrast, my hunch is that Bnonn will interact respectfully with my arguments and perhaps challenge my views on free will. That is a welcome and refreshing conversation.

Blessings,
Derek

PS - Bear in mind that it was not I, but you, who brought up the issues of slander and hypocrisy. I was content to move on.

David J. Houston said...

Derek, I have a question for you: Are you a ridiculous, hypocritical nancy that can't get over himself?

Just felt the need to, err... I think you said this was interrogating? I'm not declaring anything so we're totally best buds! LOL

THEOparadox said...

Bnonn asked: What do you think free will is? Can you give me a simple definition so I understand where you're coming from?"

Good question.

First, a couple of boundary markers:

Negative: it's definitely not "Libertarian Free Will".
Positive: At a minimum, it's the ability to act according to one's own desires (i.e. Edwardsian freedom).

It is compatibilistic in that it neither conflicts with nor denies determinism.

As a working definition, I might propose this: "The ability to choose between two or more alternatives"

I think God can endow us with this ability to choose, yet at the same time determine the choices we will make. In other words, He can determine the outcome without removing the choice. Thus, while we possess this "natural ability" to choose between real alternatives, God regulates our "moral ability" in such a way as to control the outcome.

In conversion, for example, He gives us the desire (moral ability) to choose repentance and faith. We infallibly turn to Christ. Yet all the while we retained the "natural ability" to refuse. Grace was irresistible, but not because we had no choice. Rather, grace infallibly influenced the choice that we made.

This may not be as tenable as I believe, so any help in thinking through the matter is appreciated.

It goes without saying that we are heading toward extra-biblical "mystery land" here.

Blessings,
Derek

THEOparadox said...

David,

No. Thanks for asking.

Blessings,
Derek

Phil said...

Paul that's really out of line. Derek has not sufficent intelligence nor self respect to refrain from continually saying absurd things? He refuses to appeal to reason? He refuses to cherish truth? When you point out something to him he has not the brain power to grasp it? No matter how you tutor him he remains a fool?
Let's assume you are right, and that Derek is a mental pigmy compared to you. So?
My computer has vastly more knowledge than you, does that make you inferior to it? Obviously what matters is how wise you are.
And your assertion is unwise.

Two people can disagree without name calling. See my post where I assert Charismatics make for bad Reformed belivers, and he disputed it. We don't need to act like high schoolers.

Speaking for myself I've been truely unimpressed with your mental caliber. It's like I'm dialoguing with Barak Obama, so smart he says stupid things all the time. Only a true genuis would continually appear to be such a tool. But since he's the smartest man alive he must only sound dumb to me because I'm dumb.

David said...

DavidH says:

I’m willing to admit that our ‘team’ does not have the same historical knowledge that you bring to the table but I’m also convinced that we have a better understanding of the philosophical considerations involved.

DavidP: There is part of the problem, you see things in terms of "teams," with this team versus that team, and not about engaging in a Christian conversation about a Scripture truth: even tho the parties in the conversation may disagree.

And I am not convinced that your team has a better philosophical understanding simply considered. I admit some of your players are more active in current developments. My own philosophical background degree was in classical philosophy. But I have to say, some of the arguments I’ve seen from your players, like pizzas and school children and stolen cars etc, have just been so badly argued we’ve been astounded at how irelevant and bad the examples were.

DavidH: You wanted me to give you a definition of a 4-pointer without any help so here goes: Roughly, a 4-Point Calvinist believes that the atoning work of Christ was not limited to the elect. This is not to say, as Charles Hodge did, that there are some benefits for the reprobate that come through the atonement but that the atonement made it possible for every single person to be saved rather than making actual the salvation of the elect. How’s that?

David: woefully inadequate. Let's tackle the last sentence first, as that should set it on the right track. Note your either/or: Make salvation of all possible or make effectual the salvation of the elect. Classic Moderate Calvinism says Christ sustained a universally sufficient satisfaction by bearing the sins of any given man, which equals the sins of all men, thereby making all men savable. And in doing this, Christ also laid down the exact means whereby the elect may be unconditionally and effectually saved. The classic-moderate Calvinist says the limitation is in the intent to effectually apply the satisfaction to the elect alone, and not in the extent.

David said...

You’ve been fighting a strawman, a caricature created by your own "teams" hatred and propaganda. You’ve not spent any time asking us what we believe, which is the first thing your team should have started doing, if they want to carry themselves as Christians. (And no, I am not saying a hypercalvinist is necessarily unsaved.)

DavidH: As we’ve continued this thread I’ve realized that I’ve made a basic mistake in saying that Supras are high Calvinists whereas Infras are low Calvinists so I don’t think it will be useful to continue our debate over supralapsarianism. I don’t know the subject well enough.

DavidP: I would say that those who deny the well-meant offer are hypercalvinist. Then there are high Calvinists who affirm the well-meant offer and the properly defined revealed will, along with a limited satisfaction for sin. This would be the John Murray and/or Banner of Truth tradition.

Classic Moderates are those who affirm the original Lombardian sufficiency-efficiency formula, along with the proper import of the revealed will and the free offer, in accord with the Banner tradition.

*IN* the Reformed tradition, all supralapsarians were high Calvinists. Outside the Reformed tradition, Gill, Hoeksema, Clark, etc, these supralapsarians were also hyper (using the hyper taxonomy I posted to Dom the other day).

DavidH: What I’m most concerned with is your contention that God in no way determined the Fall.

DavidP: Where do you get that from? What have I said that has denied that? All I have denied is what’s called in the classic Reformed literature a symmetrical causation of sin and righteousness. God does not cause sin in the same manner in which he causes righteousness: eodem modo, says Dort. Yet God foreordains all things. Words like decree, ordain, foreknow, cause, have a wide conceptual range in Reformed theology.

DavidH: I can’t see how that jives with Scripture, the confession, and sound reason. I think you should take a look at Paul’s excellent post on the subject to see how I believe we should interpret God’s decree that Adam should commit the first sin.

DavidP: You cant see it because you have drunk the kool-aid and believed your own team's propaganda instead of acting as Christian in a conversation. Your team has effectively polarized and then poisoned the discussion. As I see it, its essentially unsalvageable at this point. And yes, I am passing on Paul; perhaps another day.

And I've run out of time.

David

David said...

I should have picked up on something else too. We reject the idea that the mnemonic TULIP represents Dort or Reformed theology. TULIP was invented around the turn of the 20th century and does not accurately reflect the teachings of Dort or the consensus of confessional teaching. The idea of quantifying points based on TULIP is therefore problematic and anachronistic. In short, TULIP is not Dort.

David

David J. Houston said...

Mr. Ponter,

Throughout our conversation I have spoken to you respectfully, sometimes even playfully, while even adding a few “God bless”s in for good measure. I’ve also admitted where I’ve noticed my understanding to be inadequate. The only thing that I have said to you that could legitimately be taken as insulting was my comment about 4-pointers being sensitive and I stand by that statement regardless of whether or not you feel that TULIP is inadequate. You have insisted on reading me in the most uncharitable way possible, looking for subtle insults where none exist. When you’ve done this I’ve attempted to explain my language to show that I was not in fact trying to communicate any such thing. Of course, you ignore this and move on to berate me for introducing a highly offensive word (‘team’) into our discussion.

If you read through the comments you’ll notice that YOU introduced the ‘team’ language when you referred to my ‘team’ as ‘historically ignorant’ and I followed you in your language. In any case, I reject the view that ‘team’ carries the connotation of a combative or unchristian attitude. If I’d come out and said ‘heretic’ or used phrases like the ‘army of God vs the army of Satan’ or something of that nature then perhaps I could understand your being upset but I don’t think I’ve said anything that warrants this kind of reaction. You, on the other hand, obviously do consider it to carry negative connotations and since you introduced this term into our discussion you are guilty on your own terms.

I’m glad you’ve corrected my ‘woefully inadequate’ understanding of your position. No seriously! I’d like to engage you on your own terms and I actually can’t find anything to disagree with in your explanation. We might have more to disagree upon if we continue the conversation and flesh out the implications.

As for my own teams ‘hatred and propaganda’ I would like you to document this propaganda since I’m sure Paul and Steve would love to know how they’ve sinned. Paul, for one, has asked Derek on numerous occasions to pony-up and make good on that claim. But if it looks anything like the kind of sinning I’ve supposedly been up to then they have nothing to worry about.

If we define ‘well-meant offer’ as any real intent in God to save the reprobate and ‘hypercalvinist‘ as one who rejects the ‘well-meant offer‘ then sign me up for hypercalvinism. To say otherwise is nonsensical pace John Murrary and/or the Banner of Truth tradition.

I could understand Gill being considered outside the Reformed tradition but it’s just silly to put Hoeksema and Clark outside the camp. And that’s coming from one who has many disagreements with Clark! (I haven’t read enough Hoeksema to know if I disagree with him on anything)

That’s fine that some terms in Reformed theology have a wide range of meaning. I didn’t say otherwise. However, what gave me the idea was your apparent affirmation of PAP that is inconsistent with God’s foreordaining whatsoever comes to pass. If I’ve misread you then, by all means, correct me! If not then it is you who has stepped outside of Reformed orthodoxy.

You’re right, this conversation is going nowhere but not because of any poisoning coming from our side.

I’m off to drink some more kool-aid,

David


David said...

DavidP: Well that is your choice to adopt that meaning for youself. It is not the meaning I have in the use of the term. And I saw "team" as playful, sporting, based on the fact that it has already been in play in the history of the general conversation. I cant stop you taking it personally, all I can say that was not my intention.

DavidH: If I’d come out and said ‘heretic’ or used phrases like the ‘army of God vs the army of Satan’ or something of that nature then perhaps I could understand your being upset but I don’t think I’ve said anything that warrants this kind of reaction. You, on the other hand, obviously do consider it to carry negative connotations and since you introduced this term into our discussion you are guilty on your own terms.

DavidP: No, and I think Ive cleared that up. It's like when I chided you about hiding, I placed a smilie there. This around I had no need to as the word and the concept has already put out into the conversation by other actors in all this.

DavidP: Well again I actually did not mean to upset you. I was working with the same give and take I perceived to be coming from your side of the conversation.

DavidH: I’m glad you’ve corrected my ‘woefully inadequate’ understanding of your position. No seriously! I’d like to engage you on your own terms and I actually can’t find anything to disagree with in your explanation. We might have more to disagree upon if we continue the conversation and flesh out the implications.

DavidP: I am sorry that upset you. I think I was just being honest. Your definition told me this: that on the L in the TULIP, we insert a purely Arminian concept and construct of atonement, and that;s it. That is what we do and what we believe.

Regarding what I said, this may bring the focus home: For whose sins was Christ punished? I believe that your answer and my answer would be incompatible.

DavidH As for my own teams ‘hatred and propaganda’ I would like you to document this propaganda since I’m sure Paul and Steve would love to know how they’ve sinned. Paul, for one, has asked Derek on numerous occasions to pony-up and make good on that claim. But if it looks anything like the kind of sinning I’ve supposedly been up to then they have nothing to worry about.

DavidP: sure the very tag "4-point" Calvinism is itself the propaganda, DavidH. Its self-evident. It was used without warrant, without historical or theological justification: just a nifty tag to poison the well. And the hatred is clear coming from Hays, the utter disdain he expressed regarding myself and Tony Byrne, even to the point of implying by pathetic sarcasm that Tony Byrne was a homosexual. There is no way this can be defended, and no way one can attempt to say this is not disdain and scorn. It is a perverse way to carry on a theological conversation.

DavidH:
That’s fine that some terms in Reformed theology have a wide range of meaning. I didn’t say otherwise. However, what gave me the idea was your apparent affirmation of PAP that is inconsistent with God’s foreordaining whatsoever comes to pass. If I’ve misread you then, by all means, correct me! If not then it is you who has stepped outside of Reformed orthodoxy.

DavidP: I have not even been following all that stuff. I mean no sleight to Derek but Ive only had time time to read what was in direct response to me, either from you or Domm.

DavidH: I’m off to drink some more kool-aid,

DavidP: what happened to justified sarcasm, DavidH?

To close, I will say this, I said what I said under the assumption that 1) you were identifying yourself with the previous actors in the general conversation and 2) that you were tracking the terms and issues that had been discussed. I sincerely apologize that I have caused needless offense.

DavidP

David said...

The first section is the second half. The second section is the first half.

You can work it out.

David J. Houston said...

Mr. Ponter,

You didn’t offend me when you called our (dare I say it?) ‘team’ ignorant nor when you called my view of 4 point Calvinism ‘woefully inadequate’. I’ve said worse to friends! The bit about ‘kool-aid’ I thought was an unjustified temper-tantrum but it makes more sense now that I know you’ve connected with previous statements that you’ve been offended by on other blogs.

When I used the first-person plural I was referring to my ‘team’ involved in the current discussion consisting of Bnonn and Paul aka the guys who were arguing that God, in some sense, caused the fall and that God does not indicate in Scripture that he wants to save the reprobate. I’ve read very little of your exchange with them up until now. I’ll let them defend themselves since I’ve already dedicated too much time to this discussion.

I accept your apologies. I'm sorry for the communication fail.

God bless,

David

THEOparadox said...

Bnonn,

Having re-examined my previous comments regarding PAP and studied the way Frankfurt uses the term (he's the one who coined it), I now realize I misunderstood the term.

You said: "You seem to think that our intuitive sense of PAP somehow implies PAP ..."

I really should have disputed that. Nothing I had said had any reference to PAP. I subbed in the definition of what I had been describing (the ability to choose between alternatives) as a definition of PAP. In reality, PAP is an assumption about moral responsibility, not the ability to choose between alternatives. Since I had not made any mention of moral responsibility, PAP was irrelevant to my argument and didn't even need to enter into the discussion.

Sorry for any confusion. I hope this clarifies my stance. For the record, I strongly disagree with PAP's assumption regarding moral responsibility, and I don't see it (or even the perception of it) supported with any real strength in Scripture.

My compatibilism rests on the mysterious interplay of human freedom and divine sovereignty. Scripture does teach that we are morally responsible, but not because we have the ability to do otherwise than we do.

Derek

David said...

DavidH says:
When I used the first-person plural I was referring to my ‘team’ involved in the current discussion consisting of Bnonn and Paul aka the guys who were arguing that God, in some sense, caused the fall and that God does not indicate in Scripture that he wants to save the reprobate.

DavidP: Ah I see. I assumed you meant the previous discussion cos Ive had no current discussion with Paul on this topic, and I had no assumption that Bnonn was in agreement with Paul on this topic. Sorry about that.

DavidH: I’ve read very little of your exchange with them up until now. I’ll let them defend themselves since I’ve already dedicated too much time to this discussion.

DavidP: That's fine. I try to stay way from the personal side of interactions as its always a dead-end street: it all becomes about challenging, then defending and vindicating and then qualification, nuancing, and then retracting (hopefully in the right cases).

And Ive always been taught that when one conversation partner "plays the man" it is because they know the argument from their side has been lost.

The Christian should always "play the argument" and never resort to godless scorn which is the spirit and tool of the unbeliever persecuting the church, which must not be the approach of a
Christian brother interacting, even tho disagreeing, with another Christian brother.

Regarding the theology side,

there are now two extra questions you may want to converse about at a later time:

1) Following from the Lombardian formula, classic and revised: the question is: for whose sins was Christ punished.

2) How and in what sense is the "fall" ordained or caused.

The original issue that started this interaction regards the supralapsarian ordering of the decree. If you ever want to come back that, that's fine.

You can email me any time to resume either a public or private conversation. You will need to contact me by some other means as eventually I will stop checking in on these particular threads' comments."

Thanks,
DavidP