Michael Horton, author of the new book For Calvinism, responds to Roger Olson’s charge that Calvinism’s logical leads to God being a “moral monster” indistinguishable from the devil.

Any view that makes God the author of sin does indeed turn the object of our worship into a moral monster.

However, any deity who merely stands around reluctantly permitting horrible things for which he has no greater purpose in view, is equally reprehensible.

In the one, God is sovereign but not good; in the latter, God is neither.

Once you acknowledge that God foreknows a sinful act and chooses to allow it (however reluctantly) when he could have chosen not to, the only consolation is that God never would have allowed it unless he had already determined why he would permit it and how he has decided to overcome it for his glory and our good.

Mercifully, Scripture does reveal that God does exactly that. Roger agrees that God “chose to allow” suffering and sin (72). The Calvinist says that God chose to allow them for a reason. It’s permitting rather than creating, but it’s permission with a purpose. Permission without purpose makes God a “moral monster” indeed.

You can read the whole post here.

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247 thoughts on “Does Calvinism Make God a “Moral Monster”?”

  1. Olsen disqualifies any validity for his comments by refusing to engage serious dialog or exegesis. Opinions are like “ZITS”, everyone has some but they are worthless!

  2. Timothy says:

    Does Tom’s remark about the absence of exegesis limit the discussion to those belonging to the biblical studies guild? If so that would exclude Michael as well which would be ridiculous. As for engagement in serious dialogue, I think Michael would vehemently reject the claim that Olsen refuses to engage in serious dialogue. The books of Michael and Olsen are precisely this dialogue and they have had serious dialogue on other occasions.
    However, I have been encouraged by Tom’s remarks to make another attempt to read John Piper on justification and where Wright goes wrong. I always get to chapter 3 where exegesis seems to be required only to read stuff with no exegesis. Clearly he gets to the exegesis in a later chapter.

  3. LoPo says:

    My problem with this ‘purpose’ defence of God permitting evil is that it appears to make God guilty of using people for some other (presumably greater) end. Isn’t this the same justification advanced by advocates of embryo selection on tissue type to aid an older sick sibling? And indeed, of abortion in itself, where the (presumably greater) importance of the mother’s health/family welfare/ …etc is sufficient justification for ending an infants life?

  4. jeremiah says:

    I thought that Calvinism teaches more than God permitting evil but that He decrees evil and everything else, meticulous providence. I think that is what Olson may have been contrasting, but who knows. Horton’s response then is letting Calvinist off the hook of a good question by a skeptic.

  5. steve hays says:

    Actually, “author of sin” is generally bandied about without any attempt at a historical definition of the phrase.

    1. J. Srnec says:

      Agreed. Didn’t even C. S. Lewis, no Calvinist, use examples which compared the God-world relationship to that between an author and a play?

  6. steve hays says:

    LoPo

    “My problem with this ‘purpose’ defence of God permitting evil is that it appears to make God guilty of using people for some other (presumably greater) end. Isn’t this the same justification advanced by advocates of embryo selection on tissue type to aid an older sick sibling? And indeed, of abortion in itself, where the (presumably greater) importance of the mother’s health/family welfare/ …etc is sufficient justification for ending an infants life?”

    That overlooks the elementary distinction between guilt and innocence. Moreover, God was certainly using Pharaoh (to take one paradigm example) to prove a point.

  7. steve hays says:

    jeremiah

    “I thought that Calvinism teaches more than God permitting evil but that He decrees evil and everything else, meticulous providence.”

    How is that relevant to Horton’s statement?

  8. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Does Calvinism Make God a “Moral Monster”?

    Not any more than Arminianism makes God a “Moral Monster”?

    I.e., if Arminians accuse Calvinism of making God a moral monster, Calvinists can turn around and make the accusation as well that Arminianism makes God a moral monster.

    The Doctrines of Grace have the advantage of being true.

  9. Don Sartain says:

    Oh boy, here we go with the Arminian/Calvinism debate again…

    I loved what Horton wrote, but I hate why he had to write it.

    1. Ryan says:

      ^^^^^This!!!

      Don is right, better off to close the comments here JT. Sadly, on the internet this conversation rarely engages the text and instead focuses on posturing and emotion.

      1. drwayman says:

        JT – I have to agree with Ryan and Don. This thread has turned rather ugly. I wonder how God is honored with such behavior.

        1. henrybish says:

          JT,

          please don’t listen to Ryan and drwayman who don’t have to read the comments, some of us actually find this discussion insightful…

  10. Clarification Dave says:

    The issue is on the understanding of the concept of “permission”.

    Who initiates the evil thought or act? Who ordains the evil nature out of which the evil thought comes?

    If God is omni-causal in his sovereignty (meticulous providence) in conjunction with his existence before the foundation of the world and its creatures, would those asserting such concepts explain how God is not the author, the initiator of the process which inevitably leads to sin and evil?

    Is anyone here saying that God’s permission comes out of his response to some other initiating agent, permitting what that one does because God will work it toward good?

    Or, does that concept of “permission” mean that God arranges for the person to think and do evil out of the sovereignly designed nature God wants for that person, who then thinks and acts out of that designed nature (God permitting that), and then that person is responsible for the sin because he is the one doing it out of a nature which was sovereignly designed for him to have?

    Or is it something else?

  11. steve hays says:

    Actually, the question at issue is whether the Arminian concept of divine permission automatically exonerates God from complicity in evil. Is that a solution to the problem which Arminians pose in reference to Calvinism? That’s the issue at hand.

    1. Clarification Dave says:

      I suggest that I would be more persuaded toward accepting Calvinism if I got a good reply to my questions about how God is both in meticulous- decreeing all things -control and at the same time not responsible for the specifics of evil that do occur by persons who are meticulously controlled by God.

      If an Arminian cannot solve the problem issues, that is their problem.

      If a Calvinist cannot provide a persuasive answer, how is that not a difficulty against their system?

      If the mystery trump card is pulled by the Calvinist, why can’t the Arminian pull one too?

  12. John says:

    The problem I have with this kind of reasoning is that it frames the debate as if we humans have a place in which to stand and judge God and determine if his actions are moral or not, a position which, interestingly enough, is shared with Christopher Hitchens et. al. I think a better approach might be to examine if our understanding of God is true (if incomplete). How we respond to that truth is a whole other issue.

  13. Godismyjudge says:

    Steve,

    There’s two distinct questions. There’s a question as to why sin is about to happen (such that God is deciding to permit or prevent it). Then there is the question as to why God permits sin. With respect to the first question, we Arminians have God on one side and sin on the other and LFW in-between. Calvinists don’t believe in LFW, so it can’t be in-between God and sin.

    As to the second question of why God permits sin, both C’s and A’s have to address it, but as you point out there can be some common ground in the way we do so.

    God be with you,
    Dan

    1. Arminian says:

      Following up on what you say here Dan, part of the problem with the Horton quote is that it gives the impression that Arminians think God has no purpose for allowing evil. But that is completely false and a strawman. Arminianism believes God allows evil for a good purpose. Yet the quote seems to imply the issue as: Calvinism has God allowing evil for a good purpose and Arminianism has him allowing it for no purpose. But the real problem is that Calvinism cannot logically account for the concept of permitting or allowing evil, since it holds that he unconditionally decreed all sin and evil. He logically first had the idea for each evil act, conceived it in his own heart, and logically then decreed for it to take place without any influence from anything outside of himself. That indeed makes God the author of all sin and evil logically, even though Calvinists incoherently deny that idea. Calvinists have to talk like Arminians to try and claim their theology does not make God the author of evil. But since Arminianism allows for genuine free will on the part of human beings and denies determinism, it has a concept of genuine divine permission, with God’s permitting evil for a purpose. So the Arminian view has that advantage of the Calvinist view without any of the disadvantage, despite Horton trying to drag Arminianism into the same problem Calvinist theology has. But that line of argument just doesn’t work.

      1. …part of the problem with the Horton quote is that it gives the impression that Arminians think God has no purpose for allowing evil. But that is completely false and a strawman. Arminianism believes God allows evil for a good purpose.

        Olson would seem to not agree with you. That’s where Horton got that idea.

        1. Arminian says:

          No, in that clip, right around 1:20-22, Olson explicitly states that he believes God has a purpose for allowing evil. What Olson apparently means is that God does not originate evil and have a purpose for it in that way, as Calvinism would entail in accordance with my comments above. But he definitely believes that God has a purpose in allowing evil. Indeed, it seems to be this very issue of allowance that is critical for Olson in differentiating Arminianism and Calvinism. Logically, Calvinism is incompatible with genuine allowance/permission, whereas Arminianism entails the concept naturally.

  14. jc_freak says:

    I would have to agree with Michael Horton that both of those descriptions of God are reprehensible. That is why I am neither CAlvinst nor Deist. Instead I am an Arminian that not only believes that God is completely out of the line of causation of sin (like Calvinists hold), but I also don’t believe that God sits back and lets whatever happen happen without reason or purpose. This is why it is great being an Arminian: it answers all of these type of questions.

  15. steve hays says:

    Clarification Dave

    “I suggest that I would be more persuaded toward accepting Calvinism if I got a good reply to my questions about how God is both in meticulous- decreeing all things -control and at the same time not responsible for the specifics of evil that do occur by persons who are meticulously controlled by God.”

    i) Actually, God *is* responsible, although he’s not *solely* responsible. What’s more, an agent can be responsible without being culpable. Responsibility is simply a necessary condition of culpability, not a sufficient condition. Indeed, God would be blameworthy if he *didn’t* assume responsibility for whatever happens on his watch.

    ii) In addition, you haven’t formulated an actual argument. All you’ve done is to posit a tension.

    “If an Arminian cannot solve the problem issues, that is their problem. If a Calvinist cannot provide a persuasive answer, how is that not a difficulty against their system? If the mystery trump card is pulled by the Calvinist, why can’t the Arminian pull one too?”

    Because some commenters are acting as if only the Calvinist shoulders the burden of proof.

    1. Clarification Dave says:

      I don’t expect a response here, since it is buried in the earlier comments and may not be recognized, but I disagree that all I’ve done is “posit a tension.”

      I asked a question which was not answered.

      Of course Arminians must offer some answers to the issue, but I asked a question to a Calvinist and received not an answer.

      I am not yet persuaded of the Calvinist position.

      But, with all that, blessings sincerely,

      David

  16. steve hays says:

    Godismyjudge

    “There’s two distinct questions. There’s a question as to why sin is about to happen (such that God is deciding to permit or prevent it). Then there is the question as to why God permits sin. With respect to the first question, we Arminians have God on one side and sin on the other and LFW in-between. Calvinists don’t believe in LFW, so it can’t be in-between God and sin.”

    How is having a buffer between God and sin exculpatory? Clever criminals often have buffers. That’s the role of the fallguy. To take the blame for what the Don ordered.

  17. Brandon says:

    Accusations of the sort by Olson make a fundamental mistake:

    God, since He is God, cannot be a moral monster. This is neither actual nor possible. The Christian God’s traits trump normal human categories of responsibility. More importantly, His Authorship transcends responsibility.

    He may do as He pleases and it isn’t wrong!

    God is God. Let’s get that straight. The Potter and the clay – We have no RIGHT to question God’s authority nor morality.

    This is really a very simple issue. Human pride clouds this issue. We ain’t that special that we can plead for exceptions and “more moral” treatment (like sinners know what would be better?).

    1. Brandon E says:

      All Christians would agree that God is not and cannot be a moral monster; the issue is whether certain views about God would make the object of our worship as such in theory when the views are carried out to their logical conclusions.

      And Michael Horton agrees with Roger Olson that this can be the case, describing two examples where Olson describes one.

      Any view that makes God the author of sin does indeed turn the object of our worship into a moral monster. However, any deity who merely stands around reluctantly permitting horrible things for which he has no greater purpose in view, is equally reprehensible.

      Michael Horton agrees with Roger Olson’s basic assumption that certain views would turn the object of our worship into a moral monster. He just disputes that Calvinism actually makes God the “author of evil” if carried out to its logical conclusion. Then in counterargument Horton points out a perceived weakness in Arminianism that he suggests would make for a “reprehensible” deity. Does Horton say this because he wants to question God’s authority and morality? Is he guilty of holding God accountable to “normal human categories of responsibility” and denying that God’s “Authorship transcends responsibility” and “God may do as He pleases and it isn’t wrong”? Or is it simply because he believes that view he is criticizing is inconsistent with God’s character as revealed in the Bible?

      I’m not siding with Roger Olson in the debate, but it does seem to me that you’re being unfair to him by accusing only him of something that both he and Horton do but from different perspectives.

      1. Brandon says:

        “I’m not siding with Roger Olson in the debate, but it does seem to me that you’re being unfair to him by accusing only him of something that both he and Horton do but from different perspectives.”

        The Truth makes men uncomfortable. In fact, it may be repulsive to them.

        Bottom Line: Olson ain’t off the hook.

  18. Godismyjudge says:

    Brandon,

    That sounds like “might makes right”, though I am not sure if you intended it to come accross that way.

    God be with you,
    Dan

    1. To me, it sounds like the presuppositional commitment to God’s righteousness, similar to the one Paul makes in Romans 3: “Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar … But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?”

      1. Godismyjudge says:

        Mike,

        I doubt Paul was presupposing his point. He cites Ps 54 as evidence (common ground between him and his opponent). But in any case, the bible does invite us to examine God’s justice (Ez 33, Is 5). He always passes, but not because might makes right.

        God be with you,
        Dan

        1. The presuppositions are:

          (a) The Bible is God’s Word
          (b) The Bible says God is judge
          (c) A judge must be righteous

          Therefore, God is righteous in all He does.

          That’s not “might makes right.” You’re the only one to say that so far. It means that righteousness is derived from God Himself. He, in His very nature, is righteous, and so by definition cannot do anything unrighteous.

          If at any point we believe that God is the chargeable cause for evil, we must submit our understanding to God’s character, and not vice versa.

        2. Let me finish the thought in my previous (11:59am) post.

          Acts 2 and Acts 4 undoubtedly describe God as actively involved in the crucifixion of Jesus.

          – Acts 2:23: this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God…
          – Acts 4:27-28: For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.

          God had a predetermined plan and purpose for the crucifixion. His hand predestined that the greatest evil in human history occur.

          Is God the chargeable cause of the sin of the crucifixion of Christ? Not at all. The rest of Acts 2:23 says, “You [Men of Israel] nailed [Him] to a cross by the hands of godless men [the Romans] and put Him to death.

          So, the ultimate cause was the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. The “intermediate” cause was the Jews’ desire to crucify Christ. The immediate cause was the bloodthirstiness of the Romans.

          Peter affirms all three of those levels of causality. God is the ultimate cause of the greatest evil in history. He is also absolutely righteous. That means (from the greater to the lesser) that Scripture teaches God can be the ultimate cause of an evil act and not be morally deficient.

          That may not make perfect sense to our natural reasoning, but that’s what Scripture says. We either stand in judgment over it, or submit our understanding of righteousness, causality, and culpability to it.

          1. Godismyjudge says:

            Mike,

            Perhaps our problem is definitional – I am not sure what you mean by saying “the Bible says God is judge” (meanwhile Paul quotes the bible saying that) is a presupposition. To me, that’s the opposite of a presupposition. But that’s somewhat off topic.

            When you say “God in His very nature, is righteous, and so by definition cannot do anything unrighteous”, that’s very close to what I believe. But I would change it slightly to by nature (rather than definition) cannot do anything unrighteous. That accounts for the passages that say God cannot lie or break a promise.

            As for Acts 2:23 and 4:27-28, they don’t say God is the cause or His plan is the cause of sin. There’s a difference between a “determined purpose” and a “determined event”. Determining a purpose is basically the same thing as saying “making up your mind” – selecting one out of many possible options. A determined event is one that is necessary, such that, given the causes involved the opposite cannot happen. One involved making up one’s mind, the other, events outside of one’s mind.

            There’s nothing in the passages that rule out the idea that God decided for His Son to be crucified, knowing that, given the opportunity, Pilate/the Jews would crucify Him, so you are jumping the gun by saying God caused it.

            God be with you,
            Dan

            1. I recognize that your position takes you there. I just don’t think it’s a biblically (or logically) defensible place to be.

              The category of a sovereign, omniscient God merely knowing that something would happen given certain conditions overlooks the fact that those certain conditions don’t operate external to Him. It’s not like the world is just some way external to God, and God learns the way the world works, and then acts accordingly. He designed things to work as they do.

              So an omnipotent and omniscient God can’t merely decide that His Son will die without making that event necessary, unless there is an ultimate reality or force external to God, which, unless we’re dualists or polytheists, there isn’t.

            2. Also, I don’t think your explanation accounts for the wording of Acts 4:27-28. Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and peoples of Israel all did whatever God’s hand and purpose predestined to occur. That’s the determination of events.

              1. Godismyjudge says:

                Mike,

                Lexicons give you either option. Grammatically it’s a bit ambiguous if the events or God’s mind was determined. But councils debate issues and reach a decision. So there’s a good reason to go with “decided beforehand” rather than predestined”.

                But let’s say you are right that the passage says God predestined the events. Predestined is not the same as predetermined. Again, God could have prearranged the outcome using His knowledge of would happen.

                As for your view that God’s being sovereign, all knowing and all powerful conflict with God knowing what man would freely do, well, I just don’t see how that follows – all depends on how God uses His power, knowledge and authority. Perhaps you were just stating your view rather than arguing for it. But in any case, hopefully you can see why people might criticize your view by saying God is the source for sin.

                God be with you,
                Dan

              2. Dan, would you say that God was the source of the crucifixion of Christ?

              3. Godismyjudge says:

                Mike,

                If by crucifixion you mean that Christ should at die for our sins on the cross, yes of course. But if you include things like Pilate going against his wife’s vision or being persuaded by the argument that if he released Christ he was no friend of Ceaser, no.

                Basically, God determined that the crucifixion happen but not every detail of how it would happen. And again those details were part of His plan, but not something He was the source of. He knew they would happen but He didn’t cause them to happen.

                God be with you,

                Dan

              4. So, God was the source of some parts of the crucifixion, and not of others. The general fact of the crucifixion, but not the particular actions of the crucifixion.

                And yet Acts 2 says that Christ was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. That is a dative of means (i.e., “by”) and is modifying the act of delivering Christ over.

                And in Acts 4 it says that Herod, Pilate, the Gentiles, and the Jews all did whatever God’s hand predestined to occur. This is plainly speaking of the actions that these people did.

                You strain these texts beyond what legitimate interpretation warrants to hold the position you do. And yet you must do so if you wish to maintain your Arminian conclusions. I’ve seen afresh the folly (and I don’t use the term lightly or just for rhetorical effect) of Arminianism in your interpretation of these texts.

                I do hope you’ll continue to carefully consider these things, and particularly how your view of God’s involvement in evil compares with those particular texts in Acts.

              5. Godismyjudge says:

                Mike,

                You seem to dismiss my comments on Acts 4:28 rather than engage them. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Read alternative translations, lexicons and commentaries and you will see where I am coming from.

                Regarding Acts 2, I agree it’s God’s intention (that’s part of my point, intention is a mental resolution rather than external causation). But there is also a contrast between God’s decision and the Jew’s actions. Peter was speaking to the Jew who not that long ago chose Barabbas over Christ and had chanted “His blood be on us and on our children”. Peter says:

                “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death

                Notice the contrast, God delivered, the Jews took and crucified. I dare say this is the very idea of permission – God allowing the Jews to go through with their evil desires.

                God be with you,
                Dan

    2. Brandon says:

      Are YOU going to argue against GOD’S Might?

      Huh? What makes you qualified to JUDGE His morality?

      Even if His moral dealings with us involved HIS might being right then we have no say against it. God is the grounds for morality – therefore He can create WHATEVER kind of morality He wants. Might Makes Right as determined by humans – bad. Might Makes Right as determined by GOD’S Might – good.

      But yes, I am more implying the presuppositional commitment to God’s righteousness.

      Still, it sounds like YOU want to challenge God’s might.
      That sounds pretty reckless.

  19. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “But the real problem is that Calvinism cannot logically account for the concept of permitting or allowing evil, since it holds that he unconditionally decreed all sin and evil.”

    i) Paul Helm has argued that Calvinism does make room for divine permission. I don’t see you addressing his argument.

    ii) More to the point, even if Calvinism can’t make room for divine permission, so what? You need to explain how that’s germane to theodicy.

    “He logically first had the idea for each evil act, conceived it in his own heart, and logically then decreed for it to take place without any influence from anything outside of himself.”

    And how does that contrast with Arminianism? Does Arminian theism deny that God “logically first had the idea of each evil act…”? Does Arminianism deny divine omniscience? Did God have no preconception of how the world would turn out?

    “That indeed makes God the author of all sin and evil logically, even though Calvinists incoherently deny that idea.”

    Why should we accept your stipulative definition? Is that how “author of evil” is used in historical theology? Or is that just your made-up definition?

    “Calvinists have to talk like Arminians to try and claim their theology does not make God the author of evil. But since Arminianism allows for genuine free will on the part of human beings and denies determinism, it has a concept of genuine divine permission, with God’s permitting evil for a purpose.”

    How does God giving a rapist the “genuine freedom” to rape and murder a defenseless 5-year-old girl (and thereby violating her “genuine freedom”) let God off the hook? How is that an adequate theodicy, even at a prima facie level?

    1. David Houston says:

      Allow me to piggyback off of Steve’s response:

      ARMINIAN SAID:
      “Following up on what you say here Dan, part of the problem with the Horton quote is that it gives the impression that Arminians think God has no purpose for allowing evil. But that is completely false and a strawman. Arminianism believes God allows evil for a good purpose. Yet the quote seems to imply the issue as: Calvinism has God allowing evil for a good purpose and Arminianism has him allowing it for no purpose.”

      On Calvinism, every act of evil fits into a sovereign plan in which no act is wasted but everything works together for good. Arminians, however, can only provide a reason for the allowance of evil in general. They can say that LFW is such a great good that God is prepared to allow evil to enter his creation but not that every evil that transpires is part and parcel of God’s plan and plays a unique role in the bringing about of a greater good. Like their view of the atonement, their view on God’s allowance of evil can only apply in a genera,l rather than a specific way, to actual instances of evil.

      The Calvinist pastor can tell the rape victim’s parents that God has a purpose in allowing the atrocity to happen whereas the Arminian must say that God so loved libertarian free-will that he allowed the possibility of gratuitous evils such as the rape of their little girl.

      1. jc_freak says:

        “The Calvinist pastor can tell the rape victim’s parents that God has a purpose in allowing the atrocity to happen whereas the Arminian must say that God so loved libertarian free-will that he allowed the possibility of gratuitous evils such as the rape of their little girl.”

        Or the Arminian can give the biblical answer and say that God is a God of justice, and will be sure that justice will be done for the girl. How exactly is “God did made this happen to you for a reason” better than “God is furious that this happened, and is with you, and will see that justice is done!”?

        1. David Houston says:

          Firstly, you merely assume that God can’t have a reason for ordaining evil while also hating evil but we’re interested in argument not opinions.

          Secondly, saying ‘God made this happen to you’ is ambiguous. In what sense did he ‘make’ it happen? I can just as easily accuse the Arminian God of ‘making’ the rape happen by creating a world in which he infallibly knows the girl will be raped.

          1. jc_freak says:

            “Firstly, you merely assume that God can’t have a reason for ordaining evil while also hating evil but we’re interested in argument not opinions.”

            I don’t assume that. I understand what the Calvinist answer is, and I understand how that can be comforting. What amazes me was more your ignorance on what the Arminian would say in such a situation.

            1. David Houston says:

              JC, of course I don’t think that the Arminian pastor is stupid enough to say what his doctrine entails. I don’t even believe that in most cases Arminian pastors believe that their theology entails what I have been saying it entails. However, it’s what the system actually entails that matters.

              The whole pastor example is simply an illustration of the absurdity of the Arminian position.

              1. David Houston says:

                Also, if you don’t make the assumption that God can’t have a reason for ordaining evil while also hating evil then I don’t understand the relevance of your earlier question: ‘How exactly is “God did made this happen to you for a reason” better than “God is furious that this happened, and is with you, and will see that justice is done!”?’

              2. Arminian says:

                Your point about JC’s assumption does not make sense, since Arminians don’t believe that God unconditionally ordains evil as Calvinists do.

              3. Arminian says:

                But what I don’t think you realize is that the whole pastor example actually demonstrates the absurdity of the Calvinist position. See my comments below. Do you not realize that most believers would hear your illustration and shudder in horror at the view of God presented in it when realizing that by “allowing” you mean unconditionally decreed, or at least that when saying “allowing” you believe that it was unconditionally decreed, and so thougut up by God without any influence outside of himself?

              4. jc_freak says:

                Likewise. Here is the problem, Arminians don’t believe that God loves libertarian free will. We believe that God loves people. The theological concept of LFW derives from His love of people (and isn’t even a major part of our theology BTW).

                Likewise, regardless of how Calvinists get around the answer, you do believe that God caused the little girl to get raped, right? Or do you disagree?

              5. David Houston says:

                I’ve responded below.

      2. Arminian says:

        Let me now add to what JC said. There is no wate of evil in the Arminian view, since God can work good out of evil.

        It is also not true that the Arminian view on God’s allowance of evil can only apply in a general rather than a specific way, to actual instances of evil. it is not apparent why the specific would necessarily be better anyway. But one good thing about the Arminian view is that it can allow for both the general and the specific, and is not tied to a cookie cutter approach to the question like Calvinism is.

        Finally, your comment to which JC responded is amazing to me. First, it misrepresents Arminianism since it is not libertarian free-will that God loves so much, but people, and freewill allows for genuine relationship and genuine love between God and people.

        Moreover, part of the point is that the Calvinist pastor cannot reasonably tell the rape victim’s parents that God has a purpose in *allowing* the atrocity to happen, since “allowing” it not logically compatible with Calvinism per my comments above to which you respond. Rather, the Calvinist pastor would have to tell the rape victim’s parents that God had a purpose for thinking up the idea without any influence from anything outside himself to have their little girl raped, and unconditionally decreeing for the atrocity to take place, including every ounce of pain and terror she would feel, the sick and twisted thoughts and desires of the rapist/molester, every emotional and physical and psychological problem she would have as a result, all birthed in the heart of God and directed toward their little girl. It astonishes me that you think that such theology would be helpful to the parents of the little girl, or to explain to the little girl herself the idea that God thought this up to happen to her and made sure it would happen to her so that the person who violated her could not do anything but rape her, because God decreed for him to do it.

        1. David Houston says:

          ARMINIAN SAID:
          ‘Let me now add to what JC said. There is no wate of evil in the Arminian view, since God can work good out of evil.

          It is also not true that the Arminian view on God’s allowance of evil can only apply in a general rather than a specific way, to actual instances of evil. it is not apparent why the specific would necessarily be better anyway. But one good thing about the Arminian view is that it can allow for both the general and the specific, and is not tied to a cookie cutter approach to the question like Calvinism is.’

          You can go ahead and claim that God can work good out of evil but I’d like an explanation as to HOW he can do that given that he has severely limited himself by choosing to work ‘through’ creatures with LFW. (How can you cash that ‘through’ out on the Arminian view anyway?) Even if you’re a Molinist you have to accept that God doesn’t get the world he actually wants since presumably he wants a world where creatures have LFW but no one sins. He may try to squeeze as much good out of evil as possible but Calvinism gets every last drop.

          ARMINIAN SAID:
          ‘Finally, your comment to which JC responded is amazing to me. First, it misrepresents Arminianism since it is not libertarian free-will that God loves so much, but people, and freewill allows for genuine relationship and genuine love between God and people.’

          Firstly, I was giving a critique of Arminianism in terms of the good that God desires that somehow necessitates the possibility of evil so my comment does not imply anything like ‘Arminians don’t believe that God loves people’ as you seem to assume.

          Secondly, I don’t think it’s at all obvious that genuine relationship requires libertarian free-will. You’d need to provide an argument for that conclusion.

          ARMINIAN SAID:
          ‘Moreover, part of the point is that the Calvinist pastor cannot reasonably tell the rape victim’s parents that God has a purpose in *allowing* the atrocity to happen, since “allowing” it not logically compatible with Calvinism per my comments above to which you respond.’

          Steve had two things to say about this objection. You haven’t responded to either so until you do I won’t be responding to you on this particular point.

          ARMINIAN SAID:
          ‘Rather, the Calvinist pastor would have to tell the rape victim’s parents that God had a purpose for thinking up the idea without any influence from anything outside himself to have their little girl raped, and unconditionally decreeing for the atrocity to take place, including every ounce of pain and terror she would feel, the sick and twisted thoughts and desires of the rapist/molester, every emotional and physical and psychological problem she would have as a result, all birthed in the heart of God and directed toward their little girl. It astonishes me that you think that such theology would be helpful to the parents of the little girl, or to explain to the little girl herself the idea that God thought this up to happen to her and made sure it would happen to her so that the person who violated her could not do anything but rape her, because God decreed for him to do it.’

          Does your God not unconditionally know all that would transpire if he chose to create? Did he not see the rape of the little girl and all of the horrible effects it would have upon her? Is your God not omniscient? If so, is he not in same way responsible for the rape taking place? Or are you an open theist? It astonishes me that you think such theology would comfort the little girl or her parents.

          You have the same issues to deal with but you choose to ignore them because it gets in the way of your attack on Calvinism.

          1. Arminian says:

            David said: “You can go ahead and claim that God can work good out of evil but I’d like an explanation as to HOW he can do that given that he has severely limited himself by choosing to work ‘through’ creatures with LFW.”

            **** Huh? First, God can work good in many of the same ways Calvinists claims he does. Second, he is not limited to work good by what free creatures do. He can act himself upon someone’s soul and work good out of what they have suffered. There are so many ways this can take place, it is surprising that you would have to ask about it. Even God’s righteous and loving response to evil is a good that comes out of evil.

            I did not take you to imply anything like ‘Arminians don’t believe that God loves people’. I was clarifying why God would allow evil, and its is not primarily because he love LFW, though I do think God loves freedom. But even more than being a good in itself, human freedom is even more for genuine relationship and the glory of God.

            David said: “I don’t think it’s at all obvious that genuine relationship requires libertarian free-will. You’d need to provide an argument for that conclusion.”

            **** Well, it is such a commonly held notion that I think the burden of proof is on you to dispute it. I could provide substantiation for it, but this is a blog after all and time is a commodity. I am happy to let those with an open mind consider whether free will is necessary for genuine relationship. A “relationship” without free will would be like a relationship with a puppet — in the case of human beings, very sophisticated puppets.

            David said: “Steve had two things to say about this objection. You haven’t responded to either so until you do I won’t be responding to you on this particular point.”

            **** The thing he had to say was that Paul Helm argues contrarily. That is hardly something I should have to respond to. feel free to bring helm’s arguments into the conversation.

            The second thing he had to say was that I need to explain why divine permission is germane to theodicy. That is an invalid response since we are talking about Horton’s argument, and Horton assumes that it is. And furthermore, this is another point so obvious that I do not think I need to explain it. The burden of proof is on Steve or you to say why it is not germane, especially as Horton thinks it is. I am again happy to leave my comments to stand against the challenge that it is not obvious why permission is germane to theodicy in contrast to God causing evil.

            David said: “Does your God not unconditionally know all that would transpire if he chose to create?”

            **** No. This shows that you do not understand the Arminian position and why the whole attempt to stain Arminian theology with the intractable problem of evil faced by Cavilnism fails. God conditionally knows all that would transpire. Divine foreknowledge of free human acts in Arminian theology is conditional. And that is not open theism.

            So God is not responsible for the rape taking place in same way as he is in Calvinism, and I do have the same issues to deal as you do. I am not ignoring them. They just aren’t there, at least not in the same way or to the same degree.

            1. Arminian says:

              Woops, the last paragpraph should have read (now with some extra emphasis): So God is not responsible for the rape taking place in same way as he is in Calvinism, and I do NOT have the same issues to deal with as you do.

              1. David Houston says:

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Huh? First, God can work good in many of the same ways Calvinists claims he does. Second, he is not limited to work good by what free creatures do. He can act himself upon someone’s soul and work good out of what they have suffered. There are so many ways this can take place, it is surprising that you would have to ask about it. Even God’s righteous and loving response to evil is a good that comes out of evil.’

                Yes, the Arminian God can work evil for good to see the extent that he acts like the Calvinist God. Of course, he is not the Calvinist God so he can’t bring certain goods about without violating LFW so he doesn’t have the ability to get the absolute most out of an evil event in the same way that the Calvinist God does.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Well, it is such a commonly held notion that I think the burden of proof is on you to dispute it. I could provide substantiation for it, but this is a blog after all and time is a commodity. I am happy to let those with an open mind consider whether free will is necessary for genuine relationship. A “relationship” without free will would be like a relationship with a puppet — in the case of human beings, very sophisticated puppets.’

                Well, so long as you poison the well with talk of puppets I wonder how open minded people will view it. There are huge disanalogies between puppets and people that do not rely on the notion of LFW (consciousness, emotions, reason-responsiveness, etc.). And even if Calvinism made people into puppets (which is a big ‘if’!) that’s a step up from God’s reference to people as mere pots (Rom 9).

                I agree that free-will is necessary for genuine relationship but that doesn’t mean LFW. Recent studies show that most people’s intuitions on free-will seem to be compatible with determinism so long as there decisions are reason-responsive. Check out the following link for an example:

                http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/is-neuroscience-the-death-of-free-will/

                (Thanks goes out to Paul Manata for making me aware of this article through his blog)

                But intuitions are not going to settle anything. This is an exegetical issue. God has revealed in his word that he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass so hang your intuitions.

                I wrote, “Does your God not unconditionally know all that would transpire if he chose to create?” I meant ‘infallibly’ but I wrote ‘unconditionally’. My mistake.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘God conditionally knows all that would transpire. Divine foreknowledge of free human acts in Arminian theology is conditional. And that is not open theism.
                So God is not responsible for the rape taking place in same way as he is in Calvinism, and I do NOT have the same issues to deal with as you do.’

                So how do you get around the issues related to God’s infallibly foreknowing that evil events will occur should he create creatures with LFW? Any solution you offer will have its own issues to work out that may not be exactly the same as the Calvinist but will be equally difficult.

              2. Arminian says:

                David said: “Yes, the Arminian God can work evil for good to see the extent that he acts like the Calvinist God.”

                ***** That’s baseless assertion. He does so to the extent that he acts like the Arminian God. To set the Calvinist view as the standard is to basically beg the question.

                David said: “Of course, he is not the Calvinist God so he can’t bring certain goods about without violating LFW so he doesn’t have the ability to get the absolute most out of an evil event in the same way that the Calvinist God does.”

                **** At what cost? To be the one who causes all the evil in the first place so that he can somehow get more good out of it? You don’t see the problem with that?

                David said: “Well, so long as you poison the well with talk of puppets I wonder how open minded people will view it.”

                **** It’s not poisoning the well. It is a standard and pervasive summary critique of the determinist/Calvinist position.

                David said: “There are huge disanalogies between puppets and people that do not rely on the notion of LFW (consciousness, emotions, reason-responsiveness, etc.).”

                **** There are disanlogies, which are covered by the modifying phrase “very sophisticated”. The problem is that LFW is the point on which the analogy turns in normal usage. if someone is under someone else’s control so that the other does exactly what the cpntroller wants, then that person is called a puppet. A puppet state does what another, controlling state wants it to do. The disanalogies you mention are not in play in such normal usage. Moreover, you mentioned “reason-responsiveness” as one disanlogy, and it is questionable whether that is a disanalogy. Certainly people have reason in determinism, but it is questionable whether they have genuine responsiveness. If they necessarily “respond” on as reprogrammed to respond, then that is not genuine response. It is more like a puppet or robotic “response”, pseudo-response.

                David said: “And even if Calvinism made people into puppets (which is a big ‘if’!) that’s a step up from God’s reference to people as mere pots (Rom 9).”

                **** But interestingly, part of the OT background for Paul’s imagery stresses the contingency of human response that can submit to or defy God’s will. So Paul’s analogy actually rings with free will, contingency, and responsiveness characteristics, making invalidating even this point of yours.

                David said: “I agree that free-will is necessary for genuine relationship but that doesn’t mean LFW. Recent studies show that most people’s intuitions on free-will seem to be compatible with determinism so long as there decisions are reason-responsive. Check out the following link for an example”

                Do you not realize that that article contradicts your point? But even if not, do you realize that part of its basis is materialism and denying the human soul?

                David said: “But intuitions are not going to settle anything. This is an exegetical issue.”

                **** Right.

                David said: “God has revealed in his word that he has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass”

                **** That’s where your wrong, makintg this statement of yours unecessary: “so hang your intuitions.” Strange though, that on your theology, God has specifically decreed that most people, including believers have the false intuition of free will.

                David said: So how do you get around the issues related to God’s infallibly foreknowing that evil events will occur should he create creatures with LFW?”

                **** God’s transcendence over time. However, other Arminians say they don’t know how God does it and don’t need to know that just like they don’t need to know how he can speak things into existence. The bottom line is that Scripture reveals that people have free will as normally understood (known technically as LFW) and that God foreknows their free choices.

                David said: “Any solution you offer will have its own issues to work out that may not be exactly the same as the Calvinist but will be equally difficult.”

                **** Maybe so, but they are not issues with God’s moral character like in Calvinism. And that’s the subject here. Arminianism on its own terms avoids the problem of God being a moral monster whereas Calvinism doesn’t.

          2. jc_freak says:

            I am not interested in engaging in one of these debates where each paragraph is broken down, so we start exchanging essay long “comments” to each other. I simply don’t have the time. I consider the paragraph below to aptly sum up your post, and so I will respond to that:

            “Does your God not unconditionally know all that would transpire if he chose to create? Did he not see the rape of the little girl and all of the horrible effects it would have upon her? Is your God not omniscient? If so, is he not in same way responsible for the rape taking place? Or are you an open theist? It astonishes me that you think such theology would comfort the little girl or her parents.

            You have the same issues to deal with but you choose to ignore them because it gets in the way of your attack on Calvinism.”

            While God does know all, and knew what would happen if He created the world, that not only includes each instance of evil, but also each instance of God. Considering that He creates the world en toto and doesn’t meticulously control each thing that happens. Nor am I Molinist and believe that would have just creating things a bit different to avoid this rape or that rape.

            The problem is that you completely misunderstand the Arminian view of the universe here. You assume that what has happened must have happened from the beginning of the cosmos, but that is not what I believe. I believe in a universe that has real continguancies: things have gone differently. As such, because the rape did not have to happen, God is not responsible for it.

            1. David Houston says:

              I understand your reluctance to get into an incredibly long, point-by-point debate but, alas, sometimes these things can’t be helped! I’ll focus on your last paragraph to save us both some valuable time.

              JC SAID:
              “The problem is that you completely misunderstand the Arminian view of the universe here. You assume that what has happened must have happened from the beginning of the cosmos, but that is not what I believe. I believe in a universe that has real continguancies: things have gone differently. As such, because the rape did not have to happen, God is not responsible for it.”

              I’m aware that, on Arminianism, God foreknows how he will respond but that doesn’t eliminate the difficulty. The fact is that he could have foregone creating and evil would never have existed. However, he thought that some greater good would make creating a world with creatures endowed with LFW preferable to this state of affairs and he knew infallibly what would happen right from the get-go. So my question is, on your view, why is God not responsible for the occurrence of the evil that he knew would result from his creating?

              You make reference to ‘real contingencies’ but I’m not sure what you mean. I believe in real contingencies to and I’m a Calvinist. Do you mean that God has infallible foreknowledge of the contingent decisions of human beings? If so, then how do you account for this without making the outcome of these contingent decisions certain? If God knows with certainty what we will do in the future then it seems that we are determined to do so otherwise his knowledge would be falsified and couldn’t really be called knowledge. Do you see the problem?

              1. jc_freak says:

                I defined real continguancies in my post, but I’ll be a bit more specific. What I mean that that I believe that there are things which are continguant upon the decisions of human actions. This means that God is not responsbility since creation is not a sufficient cause for what happened. This is dramatically different from Calvinism where God specifically choose for each and every sin to happen instead of it not happening.

              2. David J. Houston says:

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                “That’s baseless assertion. He does so to the extent that he acts like the Arminian God. To set the Calvinist view as the standard is to basically beg the question.”

                The basis for my assertion is that the Arminian God has to make due with the junk that humanity gives him while the Calvinist God has ordained all the parts to fit together perfectly. It’s like comparing two people competing to make the best car and one limits himself to look for parts in a scrap heap while the other is able to order all the parts for a Ferrari. The guy whose looking around in the scrap heap might be able to put a decent car together but the guy who has a model where all the parts are designed in such a way as to make a beautiful vehicle is obviously going to do a better job.

                If you think otherwise then I guess that’s up to you.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘At what cost? To be the one who causes all the evil in the first place so that he can somehow get more good out of it? You don’t see the problem with that?’

                If you can accuse Calvinism of causing evil than your God can be aswell. You still haven’t explained how a God with infallible foreknowledge is not responsible for the evil he foreknew would certainly occur if he chose to create.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘It’s not poisoning the well. It is a standard and pervasive summary critique of the determinist/Calvinist position.’

                I guess the standard critique of determinism/Calvinism is an exercise in poisoning the well.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘There are disanlogies, which are covered by the modifying phrase “very sophisticated”. The problem is that LFW is the point on which the analogy turns in normal usage. if someone is under someone else’s control so that the other does exactly what the cpntroller wants, then that person is called a puppet. A puppet state does what another, controlling state wants it to do. The disanalogies you mention are not in play in such normal usage.’

                I’m glad you think I’m sophisticated. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside! ;) To say that LFW is the normal usage is ridiculous. It cannot be the ‘normal usage’ because ‘normal’ people do not think in this kind of detail. The Principle of Alternative Possibilities never crosses their minds. Or sourcehood. Our understanding of freewill is far less clear when we haven’t bothered studying it. Thus the article I provided.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Moreover, you mentioned “reason-responsiveness” as one disanlogy, and it is questionable whether that is a disanalogy. Certainly people have reason in determinism, but it is questionable whether they have genuine responsiveness. If they necessarily “respond” on as reprogrammed to respond, then that is not genuine response. It is more like a puppet or robotic “response”, pseudo-response.’

                Go ahead and question it but even Victor Reppert would disagree with you. Theological determinism is not in the same class as, say, a purely materialistic form of naturalism. God ordains that we be reason-responsive.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘But interestingly, part of the OT background for Paul’s imagery stresses the contingency of human response that can submit to or defy God’s will. So Paul’s analogy actually rings with free will, contingency, and responsiveness characteristics, making invalidating even this point of yours.’

                Oh, Arminian! You’re so silly! Haven’t you ever read Romans 9? Paul takes the OT background regarding nations and applies it to individuals and even ass Romans 9:16 in for good measure just so that people will know that what you’re saying is false.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Do you not realize that that article contradicts your point? But even if not, do you realize that part of its basis is materialism and denying the human soul?’

                Well, no, I don’t, because it doesn’t. And the fact that they believe in materialism is irrelevant. The point is that your average John Doe and Joe Blow have intuitions about free-will that are compatible with determinism.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘God’s transcendence over time. However, other Arminians say they don’t know how God does it and don’t need to know that just like they don’t need to know how he can speak things into existence. The bottom line is that Scripture reveals that people have free will as normally understood (known technically as LFW) and that God foreknows their free choices.’

                If you plan on getting around the problem of foreknowledge of contingent truths then you’ll have to do better than that. The consensus among philosophers (including Bill Craig – a non-Calvinist) is that if you hold to the view that God is timeless than you must embrace the B-Theory of time which entails determinism.

                If your fellow Arminians want to chalk it up to mystery then that’s up to them but they can’t base it on Scripture because LFW is not found in Scripture. Quite the opposite in fact.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Maybe so, but they are not issues with God’s moral character like in Calvinism. And that’s the subject here. Arminianism on its own terms avoids the problem of God being a moral monster whereas Calvinism doesn’t.’

                Wrong. As Steve said, every position you put forward will have parallel problems to Calvinism. Your own preferred way of dealing with the issues leads to determinism for instance. But you can keep throwing ideas out there if you don’t believe me.

              3. Arminian says:

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                “That’s baseless assertion. He does so to the extent that he acts like the Arminian God. To set the Calvinist view as the standard is to basically beg the question.”

                David said: “The basis for my assertion is that the Arminian God has to make due with the junk that humanity gives him while the Calvinist God has ordained all the parts to fit together perfectly. It’s like comparing two people competing to make the best car and one limits himself to look for parts in a scrap heap while the other is able to order all the parts for a Ferrari. The guy whose looking around in the scrap heap might be able to put a decent car together but the guy who has a model where all the parts are designed in such a way as to make a beautiful vehicle is obviously going to do a better job.”

                **** Even if your basis were granted, it does not establish your point to which I objected, the the Calvinist view of God as the standard to which the Arminian view is measured.

                But then your basis also falls short because of the nature of the case. We’re not really dealing with cars and parts, but people and actions and effects on their lives. Ordering up evil so one can then plan how to correct it to make the best correction and a perfectly controlled outcome does not make much sense or sit well with morality. It would be like a rich guy who hires thugs to torture his wife so he can come in and save her and play the hero, having also consulted a psychologist so he could plan the best way to treat her problems, having controlled what those problems would be exactly, so he can then address the problems just as he wants to. It seems so twisted.

                David said: “If you can accuse Calvinism of causing evil than your God can be as well.”

                **** No, that’s the point. The Arminian view avoids this problem entirely.

                David said: “You still haven’t explained how a God with infallible foreknowledge is not responsible for the evil he foreknew would certainly occur if he chose to create.”

                ***** There are many answers to this. One is the very one offered by Horton, but not logically available to him. God can have good reasons to *allow* evil, but that is quite different than causing the evil. Your logic is like blaming Christian parents for the sin of their children who have children knowing that they will sin. We know our children will sin. That does not make us responsible for it. But if we somehow have all encompassing control over them, and use that to cause them to do evil so that they cannot do other than that evil, well then, we certainly are responsible for it. Isn’t that obvious?

                David said: “I guess the standard critique of determinism/Calvinism is an exercise in poisoning the well.”

                **** It’s a poor guess. You should avoid gambling.

                David said: “To say that LFW is the normal usage is ridiculous. It cannot be the ‘normal usage’ because ‘normal’ people do not think in this kind of detail. The Principle of Alternative Possibilities never crosses their minds. Or sourcehood.”

                **** Not necessarily the philosophical terminology for it, but the concepts are surely there. Ask any average Joe if someone has free will if they do not have a choice, and they will say no.

                David said: “Our understanding of freewill is far less clear when we haven’t bothered studying it. Thus the article I provided.”

                **** Our understanding of just about anything is less clear when we haven’t studied it. But that doesn’t mean the average person doesn’t know what free will is or doesn’t have a concept of free will. Most philosophers seem to acknowledge that LFW is the normal view.

                David said: “Go ahead and question it but even Victor Reppert would disagree with you.”

                **** I don’t know Reppert’s position, but it doesn’t much matter. You seem to side with Steve Hays on permission not being germane to theodicy, but Horton takes the opposite position.

                David said: “Theological determinism is not in the same class as, say, a purely materialistic form of naturalism. God ordains that we be reason-responsive.”

                **** This is question-begging. The statement that God ordains (in a Calvinist sense) us to be reason-responsive, as a response to me saying that God ordaining (in a Calvinist sense) what we do does not allow for genuine response, is blatantly begging the question.

                David said: “Oh, Arminian! You’re so silly!”

                *** Are you kidding? Do you think this supports your position?

                David said: “Haven’t you ever read Romans 9?”

                **** Again, are you kidding? We should get ready for more question-begging from you . . .

                David said: “Paul takes the OT background regarding nations and applies it to individuals and even ass Romans 9:16 in for good measure just so that people will know that what you’re saying is false.”

                **** And there it is, assuming the meaning of a controversial text that is heavily debated as if simply reading proves your position. And you’re calling me silly?

                David said: “Well, no, I don’t, because it doesn’t. And the fact that they believe in materialism is irrelevant. The point is that your average John Doe and Joe Blow have intuitions about free-will that are compatible with determinism.”

                **** Oh, I see; my point was that the article actually argues for a version of LFW as being supported by the scientific evidence, but you cited the article for the point it makes about the common view of free will. I don’t buy it. Studies such as those are notorious for being tricky for getting a right result because of the way the framing of questions and how they are conducted can affect the outcome, and other such considerations. It certainly does not seem to be the case and most philosophers do seem to think that LFW is the common view.

                David said: “If you plan on getting around the problem of foreknowledge of contingent truths then you’ll have to do better than that. The consensus among philosophers (including Bill Craig – a non-Calvinist) is that if you hold to the view that God is timeless than you must embrace the B-Theory of time which entails determinism.”

                ***** All sorts of problems here. (1) It is not necessarily true that divine timelessness entails the B-theory of time. Some philosophers hold that it does not. (2) There is more than one B-theory of time. (3) I simply disagree that the B-theory of time entails actual determinism. It entails that the future is determined, but does not prohibit the future actions of a person being determined by the person himself. (4) Moreover, I did not claim that God is necessarily timeless, but transcends time. The issue of God’s relation to time is considered one of the most difficult issues in metaphysics, and there are many many positions. You’ll have to do a lot better than that to argue that God can’t foreknow contingent truths without causing them.

                David said: “If your fellow Arminians want to chalk it up to mystery then that’s up to them but they can’t base it on Scripture because LFW is not found in Scripture. Quite the opposite in fact.”

                **** This is mere assertion. Of course LFW is found in Scripture. People are regularly shown in Scripture as being able to do one thing or another, doing things voluntarily (which involves LFW; a choice/act cannot be voluntary if it is irresistibly caused by another being), having and making choices (which determinism does not logically allow for; see http://evangelicalarminians.org/Henshaw-Determinism-Free-Will-The-Reality-of-Choice-and-the-Testimony-of-Scripture), etc.

                David said: “Wrong. As Steve said, every position you put forward will have parallel problems to Calvinism.”

                *** But Steve is wrong about that and I have responded to him, though his unbecoming posting toward me led me to bow out of discussion with him.

                David: “Your own preferred way of dealing with the issues leads to determinism for instance.”

                **** No, it doesn’t. See above.

                God bless.

              4. David Houston says:

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Even if your basis were granted, it does not establish your point to which I objected, the the Calvinist view of God as the standard to which the Arminian view is measured.
                But then your basis also falls short because of the nature of the case. We’re not really dealing with cars and parts, but people and actions and effects on their lives. Ordering up evil so one can then plan how to correct it to make the best correction and a perfectly controlled outcome does not make much sense or sit well with morality. It would be like a rich guy who hires thugs to torture his wife so he can come in and save her and play the hero, having also consulted a psychologist so he could plan the best way to treat her problems, having controlled what those problems would be exactly, so he can then address the problems just as he wants to. It seems so twisted.’

                The alternative that Arminianism offers is that the rich guy knows in advance that the thugs will torture his wife and could stop the whole thing at any point but he lets it happen so that he can come in and play the hero. I’m not seeing how the two scenarios are relevantly different. Whether the torture is determined or foreknown the rich guy sits back and watches it happen only to ride in and fix it later.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Your logic is like blaming Christian parents for the sin of their children who have children knowing that they will sin. We know our children will sin. That does not make us responsible for it. But if we somehow have all encompassing control over them, and use that to cause them to do evil so that they cannot do other than that evil, well then, we certainly are responsible for it. Isn’t that obvious?’

                Your analogy breaks down when you admit that, unlike God, (1) parents have no control over the character or personality of their children whereas God sovereignly determines it, (2) parents have little control over the environment in which their children live and the experiences they have, (3) the only reason parents can know that their children will sin is because God foreknew that they would sin if he created and yet decided to go ahead and press the start button anyway. I could list more disanalogies but we don’t have time for a doctrine of God course.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Not necessarily the philosophical terminology for it, but the concepts are surely there. Ask any average Joe if someone has free will if they do not have a choice, and they will say no.’

                You ask any average Joe to explain what they mean by choice and you’ll find it’s not enough to show an underlying belief in LFW. Their thinking is generally too vague to say either way.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Our understanding of just about anything is less clear when we haven’t studied it. But that doesn’t mean the average person doesn’t know what free will is or doesn’t have a concept of free will. Most philosophers seem to acknowledge that LFW is the normal view.’

                Most philosophers don’t do their work in matters concerning the intersection of free-will and experimental philosophy so that’s irrelevant.
                David said: “Theological determinism is not in the same class as, say, a purely materialistic form of naturalism. God ordains that we be reason-responsive.”
                ARMINIAN SAID: ’This is question-begging. The statement that God ordains (in a Calvinist sense) us to be reason-responsive, as a response to me saying that God ordaining (in a Calvinist sense) what we do does not allow for genuine response, is blatantly begging the question.’

                Might I remind you that I simply listed being reason-responsive as something that separates people from puppets given theological determinism. You were the one who made the claim that it was not and the only explanation you gave amounts to saying that it can’t be truly responsive because it doesn’t coincide with incompatibilism. So who were you saying was guilty of question-begging again?

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘”David said: “Paul takes the OT background regarding nations and applies it to individuals and even ass Romans 9:16 in for good measure just so that people will know that what you’re saying is false.”
                **** And there it is, assuming the meaning of a controversial text that is heavily debated as if simply reading proves your position. And you’re calling me silly?’

                Yes. The meaning of this text is not controversial because the meaning is difficult to grasp. The text is controversial because the meaning is easy to grasp but difficult to accept. Quite similar to how the texts that explicitly teach that homosexuality is sin are ‘controversial’ and ‘difficult’ to our friends in what’s left of the Emergent movement.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘All sorts of problems here. (1) It is not necessarily true that divine timelessness entails the B-theory of time. Some philosophers hold that it does not. (2) There is more than one B-theory of time. (3) I simply disagree that the B-theory of time entails actual determinism. It entails that the future is determined, but does not prohibit the future actions of a person being determined by the person himself. (4) Moreover, I did not claim that God is necessarily timeless, but transcends time. The issue of God’s relation to time is considered one of the most difficult issues in metaphysics, and there are many many positions. You’ll have to do a lot better than that to argue that God can’t foreknow contingent truths without causing them.’

                (1) All theories of divine ‘timelessness’ that are not based on the B-Theory smuggle in a succession of events in the life of God which means that time passes. In any case, most (all?) of these accounts entail that backwards causation is possible which is, frankly, ridiculous. (2) Not sure what you mean by saying that there is more than one B-Theory. You might be able to flesh out the principles of B-Theory in various ways but the B-Theory necessitates determinism. (3) Does it affirm possible determinism then? Determinism is determinism isn’t it? (4) The relationship between God and time is difficult but the problem of foreknowledge of future contingents is unnecessarily complicated when theological determinism is available and fits well with Scriptures teachings on the sovereignty of God.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘This is mere assertion. Of course LFW is found in Scripture. People are regularly shown in Scripture as being able to do one thing or another, doing things voluntarily (which involves LFW; a choice/act cannot be voluntary if it is irresistibly caused by another being), having and making choices (which determinism does not logically allow for; see http://evangelicalarminians.org/Henshaw-Determinism-Free-Will-The-Reality-of-Choice-and-the-Testimony-of-Scripture), etc.’

                You’re begging the question in favour of LFW. You can go ahead and point to all of the verses on choice but so long as I can point to all of the Scriptures that show God’s sovereignty over man’s choice and his control over all of history we are left with only two options: Rejecting the Bible or rejecting LFW. It’s simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it!

                Your links dead by the way.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘But Steve is wrong about that and I have responded to him, though his unbecoming posting toward me led me to bow out of discussion with him.’

                Steve was spot on. You just find him unbecoming because he won’t let you get away with anything.

                Thank you for the blessing and God bless to you too.

              5. Arminian says:

                David said: “The alternative that Arminianism offers is that the rich guy knows in advance that the thugs will torture his wife and could stop the whole thing at any point but he lets it happen so that he can come in and play the hero. I’m not seeing how the two scenarios are relevantly different. Whether the torture is determined or foreknown the rich guy sits back and watches it happen only to ride in and fix it later.”

                ***** Because God and the rich guy are quite different. God is not subject to the same laws humans are. It is perfectly appropriate as Creator that he can decide to give people free will and then hold them accountable for it and bring perfect justice in the end rather than somehow have the responsibility to stop every evil from occurring, particularly as free will is necessary for genuine relationship, and love, and allows for proper glory to God as opposed to having world full of puppets that he pseudo-relates to and causes to pseudo relate to one another, and his will being the only real will in the universe. What you need is a proper view of the sovereignty of God.

                Now I assume you would immediately want to claim that my own argument backfires and also clears God from any blame for irresistibly causing all sin and evil in Calvinism, that if he can rightly allow free human actions of evil and then hold people account for how they use the free will he gave them when it would not be right for humans to allow evil, then he can rightly cause evil when it would be wrong for humans to do so. But that does not follow. When we speak of whether it is right or wrong for God to do something, we are not judging him by mere human standards, but by what Scripture reveals about God, who he is, what is right and wrong, etc. For example, all should agree that it would be wrong for God to break his own promise. That would make God unrighteous. But as Creator, God has the right to take human life without it being murder or evil. For humans, murder is evil, because it breaks God’s law. As the Creator, God has the right to grant people free will and hold them accountable for how they use it, as well as allowing for free will choices to generally come to fruition. However, irresistibly causing people to do evil is a whole different thing and on a whole different level of responsibility. And God is too pure and holy for such connection to evil. For you to suggest that there is little difference between thinking up an evil and irresistibly causing it on the one hand, and not stopping someone else from doing evil on the other is simply astonishing. It seems like an issue of basic viewpoint that can’t be gotten behind, meaning that we are at an impasse on it. But I am happy to set the two views side by side for others to assess. I believe that the vast majority of people, both believers and non-believers, would agree with me that there is a huge difference between these. That’s one reason why Calvinism has been such a minority among Christians and even among evangelicals. But again, it seems like we might be at an impasse about this basic issue and that there is not much point in pursuing it further here.

                David said: “Your analogy breaks down when you admit that, unlike God, (1) parents have no control over the character or personality of their children whereas God sovereignly determines it,”

                **** This is invalid, as it begs the question, assuming determinism. God does not determine people’s character and personality. That’s the Calvinist view.

                “(2) parents have little control over the environment in which their children live and the experiences they have,”

                ***** Again, this assumes divine determinism, as if God determines these things for people. Moreover, parents do have quite a bit of control over these things, though obviously not absolute control.

                David said: (3) the only reason parents can know that their children will sin is because God foreknew that they would sin if he created and yet decided to go ahead and press the start button anyway.

                ***** This doesn’t follow at all, trying to connect God’s foreknowledge to human foreknowledge causally. Moreover, God can not logically change what he foreknows. If he foreknows people will sin, then for him to not create based on that foreknowledge would make his foreknowledge wrong, or take away the basis of the decision in the first place. God could certainly choose to create or not create, but his foreknowledge of what will be takes into account his actual decision about that matter and is based on it, and cannot serve as the reason for his decision about it. I said earlier that there were a number of reasons that contradict your whole approach, including Horton’s own view. This is another one. Try as you might to stick Arminianism with Calvinism’s problems for God’s character, it just doesn’t work.

                David said: “I could list more disanalogies but we don’t have time for a doctrine of God course.”

                **** Well, since none of your suggested disanalogies was valid, that doesn’t hold out much promise for you as a teacher in the matter. So it’s probably for the best.

                David said: “Most philosophers don’t do their work in matters concerning the intersection of free-will and experimental philosophy so that’s irrelevant.”

                **** That’s an unsound conclusion. They still have plenty of contact with people and their philosophical views both casually and professionally.

                David said: “Might I remind you that I simply listed being reason-responsive as something that separates people from puppets given theological determinism. You were the one who made the claim that it was not and the only explanation you gave amounts to saying that it can’t be truly responsive because it doesn’t coincide with incompatibilism.”

                **** What I said did not amount to saying that it can’t be truly responsive because it doesn’t coincide with incompatibilism. That was in the context of explaining why it is fair and right to characterize people as puppet’s in Calvinistic determinism, unless you think that the “response” of a puppet to the puppeteer is genuine response. If so, I would think we’re at another impasse that I am happy to let others assess.

                David said: “Yes. The meaning of this text is not controversial because the meaning is difficult to grasp. The text is controversial because the meaning is easy to grasp but difficult to accept.”

                ***** Ok, but the text is known for being difficult to understand. Even Peter tells us that Paul wrote things that are hard to understand (2 Pet 3:16).

                David said: “(1) All theories of divine ‘timelessness’ that are not based on the B-Theory smuggle in a succession of events in the life of God which means that time passes.”

                **** Well, that is debated by philosophers.

                David said: “In any case, most (all?) of these accounts entail that backwards causation is possible which is, frankly, ridiculous.

                **** My view does not. I don’t think you are right that most do.

                David said: “(2) Not sure what you mean by saying that there is more than one B-Theory. You might be able to flesh out the principles of B-Theory in various ways but the B-Theory necessitates determinism.”

                **** No it doesn’t, as I explained.

                David said: “(3) Does it affirm possible determinism then? Determinism is determinism isn’t it?”

                **** No, it’s not determinism in the philosophical sense. If the person determines his own actions, then that’s not determinism as it is used these discussions.

                David: “(4) The relationship between God and time is difficult but the problem of foreknowledge of future contingents is unnecessarily complicated when theological determinism is available and fits well with Scriptures teachings on the sovereignty of God.”

                *** But of course that begs the question. Theological determinism does NOT fit well with Scripture’s teachings on the sovereignty of God IMO and in the opinion of many.

                David said: “You’re begging the question in favour of LFW. You can go ahead and point to all of the verses on choice but so long as I can point to all of the Scriptures that show God’s sovereignty over man’s choice and his control over all of history we are left with only two options: Rejecting the Bible or rejecting LFW.”

                **** It is ironic that you accuse me of begging the question here. For that is what you are doing. I would think you would see that as soon as you read these comments. You say that you can point to Scriptures that support your view, but I would say that your understanding of those passages are wrong. Moreover, the Arminian view takes God as sovereign over man’s choices (and many Arminians, such as myself, take God as in control of history). But you’re begging the question again on the meaning of sovereign in assuming the Calvinist definition of the term, which is idiosyncratic and untenable.

                David said: “It’s simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it!”

                ***** So when God’s people are tempted, God did it according to you and Calvinism? Yet God’s word says that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). Rather, LFW is assumed throughout Scripture, and sometimes explicitly affirmed.

                David said: “Your links dead by the way.”

                **** Sorry. Here is the correct one: http://evangelicalarminians.org/Henshaw-Determinism-Free-Will-The-Reality-of-Choice-and-the-Testimony-of-Scripture

              6. David J. Houston says:

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Because God and the rich guy are quite different. God is not subject to the same laws humans are. It is perfectly appropriate as Creator that he can decide to give people free will and then hold them accountable for it and bring perfect justice in the end rather than somehow have the responsibility to stop every evil from occurring, particularly as free will is necessary for genuine relationship, and love, and allows for proper glory to God as opposed to having world full of puppets that he pseudo-relates to and causes to pseudo relate to one another, and his will being the only real will in the universe. What you need is a proper view of the sovereignty of God.’

                So you acknowledge that God is not subject to the same laws as humans. Excellent. We agree then that, just as God is not obligated to stop every evil that he foreknows will occur he can also determine that sin occur in such a way that he is not responsible.

                You continue to assert that LFW is necessary for ‘genuine relationship’ but all you’ve got by way of a reason for this claim is the same old song and dance about puppets. Albeit ‘sophisticated puppets’ with consciousness, emotions, etc. So not really like puppets at all…

                I’ll settle for my view of the sovereignty of God. I prefer a God who orders everything towards an amazing ultimate purpose rather than a God who prefers a hands off approach. ‘I’d really like to stop that murder from occurring but, ya know, I don’t want to violate the free-will of the murdered ‘cause I don’t want to have a sophisticated puppet’.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Now I assume you would immediately want to claim that my own argument backfires and also clears God from any blame for irresistibly causing all sin and evil in Calvinism, that if he can rightly allow free human actions of evil and then hold people account for how they use the free will he gave them when it would not be right for humans to allow evil, then he can rightly cause evil when it would be wrong for humans to do so. But that does not follow. When we speak of whether it is right or wrong for God to do something, we are not judging him by mere human standards, but by what Scripture reveals about God, who he is, what is right and wrong, etc. For example, all should agree that it would be wrong for God to break his own promise. That would make God unrighteous. But as Creator, God has the right to take human life without it being murder or evil. For humans, murder is evil, because it breaks God’s law. As the Creator, God has the right to grant people free will and hold them accountable for how they use it, as well as allowing for free will choices to generally come to fruition. However, irresistibly causing people to do evil is a whole different thing and on a whole different level of responsibility. And God is too pure and holy for such connection to evil. For you to suggest that there is little difference between thinking up an evil and irresistibly causing it on the one hand, and not stopping someone else from doing evil on the other is simply astonishing. It seems like an issue of basic viewpoint that can’t be gotten behind, meaning that we are at an impasse on it. But I am happy to set the two views side by side for others to assess. I believe that the vast majority of people, both believers and non-believers, would agree with me that there is a huge difference between these. That’s one reason why Calvinism has been such a minority among Christians and even among evangelicals. But again, it seems like we might be at an impasse about this basic issue and that there is not much point in pursuing it further here.’

                You anticipated my objection, which is good, but the defeater you offer is bad. I’m not seeing the relevant difference. I find your appeal to Scripture amusing considering the overwhelming evidence that God has determined all things and is sovereign over even human decisions (Exod. 34:24, Is. 44:28, Dan. 1:9, John 19:24, Acts 13:48, 16:14), sins (Gen. 45:5-8, Ps. 105:24, Luke 22:22, Acts 2:23-24, 3:18, 4:27-28, Rom. 9:17), supposedly random events (throwing dice), etc.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘David said: “Your analogy breaks down when you admit that, unlike God, (1) parents have no control over the character or personality of their children whereas God sovereignly determines it,”
                **** This is invalid, as it begs the question, assuming determinism. God does not determine people’s character and personality. That’s the Calvinist view.’

                You don’t believe that God is responsible for designing one kid in such a way that he is inclined to love sports, another philosophy, and another animals? That if someone is born with certain inclinations that is out of God’s hands? So much for knitting us together in our mothers’ wombs…

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘“(2) parents have little control over the environment in which their children live and the experiences they have,”
                ***** Again, this assumes divine determinism, as if God determines these things for people. Moreover, parents do have quite a bit of control over these things, though obviously not absolute control.’

                You don’t believe that God has any control over where we are born? Can I thank God for being born into a Christian family or was that not up to him either?

                But I shouldn’t be surprised that you believe God is so impotent since what you say next is quite amazing…

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘God can not logically change what he foreknows. If he foreknows people will sin, then for him to not create based on that foreknowledge would make his foreknowledge wrong, or take away the basis of the decision in the first place. God could certainly choose to create or not create, but his foreknowledge of what will be takes into account his actual decision about that matter and is based on it, and cannot serve as the reason for his decision about it. I said earlier that there were a number of reasons that contradict your whole approach, including Horton’s own view. This is another one. Try as you might to stick Arminianism with Calvinism’s problems for God’s character, it just doesn’t work.’

                Whatever God foreknows will happen he must do but he is not in control of what he foreknows since, as you said earlier, you believe (mysteriously) that WE determine our future choices, so God is forced to do whatever we have determined. Don’t you think you’ve got it backwards? Why should God slavishly do whatever we tell him to do?

                Does he foreknow his own actions aswell? If so, could he choose to do something else? You don’t leave room for that. You’re more of a determinist than I am.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘What I said did not amount to saying that it can’t be truly responsive because it doesn’t coincide with incompatibilism. That was in the context of explaining why it is fair and right to characterize people as puppet’s in Calvinistic determinism, unless you think that the “response” of a puppet to the puppeteer is genuine response. If so, I would think we’re at another impasse that I am happy to let others assess.’

                Yes it did. You said that you need LFW in order to be truly responsive and concluded that since compatibilists don’t believe people have LFW that they can’t be truly responsive and that makes them puppets.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Ok, but the text is known for being difficult to understand. Even Peter tells us that Paul wrote things that are hard to understand (2 Pet 3:16).’

                The text is know for being controversial because it so blatantly teaches that it is God’s sovereign choice that determines who will be saved. I highly doubt that Peter is referring to this text.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘David said: “In any case, most (all?) of these accounts entail that backwards causation is possible which is, frankly, ridiculous.
                **** My view does not. I don’t think you are right that most do.’

                It actually makes your view weaker since your theory entails that God must unthinkingly follow his foreknowledge which he has no control over.

                You also claim that the B-Theory does not entail determinism but I’d like you to provide a source since I’ve never heard of that. In any case, if it’s timelessly true that you will do X at t then that certainly seems deterministic to me.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘It is ironic that you accuse me of begging the question here. For that is what you are doing. I would think you would see that as soon as you read these comments. You say that you can point to Scriptures that support your view, but I would say that your understanding of those passages are wrong. Moreover, the Arminian view takes God as sovereign over man’s choices (and many Arminians, such as myself, take God as in control of history). But you’re begging the question again on the meaning of sovereign in assuming the Calvinist definition of the term, which is idiosyncratic and untenable.’

                Well, anyone reading this discussion can judge for themselves whose theology fits best with the Scriptures. It seems that I can’t say much without begging the question. It makes things very hard to debate when whenever I state my position I am guilty of this grievous sin.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘So when God’s people are tempted, God did it according to you and Calvinism? Yet God’s word says that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). Rather, LFW is assumed throughout Scripture, and sometimes explicitly affirmed.’

                Yes, God predestines THAT people will be tempted but he himself tempts no one.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Sorry. Here is the correct one: http://evangelicalarminians.org/Henshaw-Determinism-Free-Will-The-Reality-of-Choice-and-the-Testimony-of-Scripture’

                This is a joke, right? You don’t think that compatibilists can provide readings of these texts? Oyve…

              7. Arminian says:

                David said: So you acknowledge that God is not subject to the same laws as humans. Excellent. We agree then that, just as God is not obligated to stop every evil that he foreknows will occur he can also determine that sin occur in such a way that he is not responsible.”

                ***** No we don’t agree on that, as I detailed in my post to which you respond.

                David said: “You continue to assert that LFW is necessary for ‘genuine relationship’ but all you’ve got by way of a reason for this claim is the same old song and dance about puppets. Albeit ‘sophisticated puppets’ with consciousness, emotions, etc. So not really like puppets at all…”

                ***** You say this without responding to my more detailed comments on this. It is standard and common usage to refer to someone controlled by another as a puppet. You are wrong by common and widespread definition. Does it take this type of closing your eyes to obvious facts to hold on onto Calvinism? (I do not mean that in a snarky or insulting way. In this instance, I think it is undeniable that that is a normal usage and meaning of the word, that is how it is actually defined, and yet you act as if it is a crazy idea.)

                David said: “I’ll settle for my view of the sovereignty of God. I prefer a God who orders everything towards an amazing ultimate purpose rather than a God who prefers a hands off approach.”

                **** But it should not be about what you prefer, but about what the Bible says. And that yields Arminian theology. Moreover, in Arminian theology God orders everything to an amazing ultimate end, without defiling himself with sin by irresistibly causing it (i.e. authoring it), and he does not have a hands off approach. It really is stretching the limits of language and logic to the breaking point to suggest that God being fully involved in the world, influencing, guiding, directing, and bringing his his will to pass without irresistibly causing people to do evil is a hands off approach, or that sacrificing his son for the sins of the world is a hands off approach, or drawing the world toward Jesus is a hands off approach, etc., etc. It leads me to ask again, is that what it takes to hold on to Calvinism?

                David said: “‘I’d really like to stop that murder from occurring but, ya know, I don’t want to violate the free-will of the murdered ‘cause I don’t want to have a sophisticated puppet’.”

                **** Well, again, it makes perfect sense that God might not want to be the sole will in the universe and for people to have free will so that he can have genuine relationship with them and they can have genuine relationships with each other, and then hold them accountable for how they use their free will rather than preventing them from using their free will wrongly and accompanying consequences. It makes perfect sense that God would grant free will because he did not want to have a world of mere puppets, sophisticated as they might be. What is astounding is your alternative, going in almost the opposite direction. You suggest it doesn’t make sense that God would grant free will because someone might murder with it, but then suggest that he irresistibly causes every murderer that ever takes place. “I don’t really want to stop that murder from occurring, but ya know, I sure would like to cause billions and billions of murders!” Baffling!

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Now I assume you would immediately want to claim that my own argument backfires and also clears God from any blame for irresistibly causing all sin and evil in Calvinism, that if he can rightly allow free human actions of evil and then hold people account for how they use the free will he gave them when it would not be right for humans to allow evil, then he can rightly cause evil when it would be wrong for humans to do so. But that does not follow. When we speak of whether it is right or wrong for God to do something, we are not judging him by mere human standards, but by what Scripture reveals about God, who he is, what is right and wrong, etc. For example, all should agree that it would be wrong for God to break his own promise. That would make God unrighteous. But as Creator, God has the right to take human life without it being murder or evil. For humans, murder is evil, because it breaks God’s law. As the Creator, God has the right to grant people free will and hold them accountable for how they use it, as well as allowing for free will choices to generally come to fruition. However, irresistibly causing people to do evil is a whole different thing and on a whole different level of responsibility. And God is too pure and holy for such connection to evil. For you to suggest that there is little difference between thinking up an evil and irresistibly causing it on the one hand, and not stopping someone else from doing evil on the other is simply astonishing. It seems like an issue of basic viewpoint that can’t be gotten behind, meaning that we are at an impasse on it. But I am happy to set the two views side by side for others to assess. I believe that the vast majority of people, both believers and non-believers, would agree with me that there is a huge difference between these. That’s one reason why Calvinism has been such a minority among Christians and even among evangelicals. But again, it seems like we might be at an impasse about this basic issue and that there is not much point in pursuing it further here.’

                David said: “You anticipated my objection, which is good, but the defeater you offer is bad. I’m not seeing the relevant difference.”

                ***** Let’s get this straight: you don’t see the difference between the Creator allowing something he doesn’t want to happen given that he created a world in which he has granted people free will and will hold them accountable for how they use it and bring perfect justice on the one hand, and on the other hand, irresistibly causing all sin and evil and then punishing the people he irresistibly caused to sin and commit evil? As I said, it seems like we might be at an impasse about this basic issue and that there is not much point in pursuing it further here.

                David said: “I find your appeal to Scripture amusing considering the overwhelming evidence that God has determined all things”

                **** There is not one Scripture that states that or implies it. The best possibility Calvinists have for such an all-encompassing claim does not turn out to mean what Calvinists claim.

                David said: “and is sovereign over even human decisions (Exod. 34:24, Is. 44:28, Dan. 1:9, John 19:24, Acts 13:48, 16:14), sins (Gen. 45:5-8, Ps. 105:24, Luke 22:22, Acts 2:23-24, 3:18, 4:27-28, Rom. 9:17), supposedly random events (throwing dice), etc.”

                **** Well, Arminian theology, using a biblical and standard definition of sovereignty, holds that God is sovereign over all things, including the things you mention. The problem is that Calvinism takes a further, completely unjustified step, of defining sovereignty in a bizarre, idiosyncratic manner, essentially as “irresistibly causing” or something similar. As I said, I think you need a proper (= biblical) view of sovereignty.

                David said: “You don’t believe that God is responsible for designing one kid in such a way that he is inclined to love sports, another philosophy, and another animals? That if someone is born with certain inclinations that is out of God’s hands?”

                ***** It’s not “out of God’s hands.” God can do anything he wants, and he can determine those things if he wants, but he also does not have to and does not seem to generally. Keep in mind that God has created human life in a self-propagating way. There are numerous factors that go into our various inclinations. There is no reason to think that God specifically decides what each will be. This just seems to be an assumption you have because of your commitment to determinism. What about people with inclinations to all sorts of sin and evil, torturing and burning small animals, hurting other people, bestiality, etc.? Did God give people those inclinations as well?

                David said: “So much for knitting us together in our mothers’ wombs…”

                **** It’s not at odds with that biblical principle in the least. That’s a metaphorical way (he doesn’t literally knit us, right?) of referring to God creating us, not specifically and irresistibly determining every inclination we have.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘“(2) parents have little control over the environment in which their children live and the experiences they have,”
                ***** Again, this assumes divine determinism, as if God determines these things for people. Moreover, parents do have quite a bit of control over these things, though obviously not absolute control.’

                David said: “You don’t believe that God has any control over where we are born?”

                **** I didn’t say that. God can do whatever he wants. But there is no reason to think that he picks out the place where someone is born and assigns the person to that place independently if numerous other factors involved, as if people are these souls preprogrammed in a specific way that God creates and assigns to some generic body when it is conceived. God has designed the process of ongoing creation of human beings to work in a self-propagating way. It is not an accident that much of a person’s make-up comes from his parents’ genes? Do you think that is an accident, that God just happens to assign those characteristics to a person born to a couple that match that couple? Now certainly God is there upholding and sustaining his procreative design, and intervening in that process if he so chooses for some specific purpose, and all of this can be described as him knitting us together in our mothers’ wombs. But there is no reason to think that God preprograms souls to every specific inclination they have, so that this specific soul preprogrammed in such and such a way is born here rather than there, somehow a distinct matter from one’s parents and genes and other factors that go into our make-up.

                David said: “Can I thank God for being born into a Christian family or was that not up to him either?”

                **** Sure you can, but not as if you were a preprogrammed soul assigned to the specific body produced by your parents that could have been just as easily assigned to the offspring of some other couple.

                David said: “But I shouldn’t be surprised that you believe God is so impotent since what you say next is quite amazing…”

                **** Impotent? That really is ridiculous. God is all powerful. He is omnipotent. He is “hands on” with many things. But it is quite another thing to say that he has predetermined everything about you so that your free will plays no part in what you are like. It’s the difference between him creating a puppet and a genuine person.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘God can not logically change what he foreknows. If he foreknows people will sin, then for him to not create based on that foreknowledge would make his foreknowledge wrong, or take away the basis of the decision in the first place. God could certainly choose to create or not create, but his foreknowledge of what will be takes into account his actual decision about that matter and is based on it, and cannot serve as the reason for his decision about it. I said earlier that there were a number of reasons that contradict your whole approach, including Horton’s own view. This is another one. Try as you might to stick Arminianism with Calvinism’s problems for God’s character, it just doesn’t work.’

                David said: “Whatever God foreknows will happen he must do”

                **** No, that is not what I said. But that is the Calvinist view, is it not? Can God do other than he foreknows he will do in your view? if so, then can God’s foreknowledge be wrong?

                David said: “but he is not in control of what he foreknows since, as you said earlier, you believe (mysteriously) that WE determine our future choices,”

                ***** Well, he does not irresistibly cause free will actions that he foreknows. He does not irresistibly control those.

                David said: “so God is forced to do whatever we have determined.”

                **** Non sequitur. He is not forced to *do* what we have determined. Why would you even refer to him “doing” what we have determined? We do what we determine when we are free.

                David: “Don’t you think you’ve got it backwards? Why should God slavishly do whatever we tell him to do?”

                **** In light of what I have said above, this is irrelevant. You don’t seem to be tracking with the argument here.

                David said: “Does he foreknow his own actions as well?”

                ***** Yes. Do you agree? Or do you think there is something God doesn’t know?

                David said: “If so, could he choose to do something else? You don’t leave room for that. You’re more of a determinist than I am.”

                ***** God cannot choose to do other than he foreknows in that his foreknowledge takes into account what he will actually do. His foreknowledge is like a mirror reflecting what will actually happen, so it can never be wrong. But that does not mean that God can’t choose what he is going to do. it is just that his foreknowledge reflects what he will choose to do. But that foreknowledge cannot serve as the basis of his decision about what to do concerning the thing he foreknows. This point totally refutes your (as well as Steve Hays’ and Horton’s) overall argument trying to stain Arminianism with Calvinism’s’ problem. Perhaps I should have mentioned it earlier. But sometimes responding to what people are saying in a blog conversation like this can limit what one chooses to say, sometimes out of time considerations if nothing else. Anyway, do you mean to tell us that you think that God can do other than his foreknowledge, that he can foreknow some action of his, and yet be wrong about what he will do? I would suspect not, and that you would have to adopt an explanation along the miles I have offered.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘What I said did not amount to saying that it can’t be truly responsive because it doesn’t coincide with incompatibilism. That was in the context of explaining why it is fair and right to characterize people as puppet’s in Calvinistic determinism, unless you think that the “response” of a puppet to the puppeteer is genuine response. If so, I would think we’re at another impasse that I am happy to let others assess.’

                David said: “Yes it did. You said that you need LFW in order to be truly responsive and concluded that since compatibilists don’t believe people have LFW that they can’t be truly responsive and that makes them puppets.”

                ***** See the point about the puppet issue above. It is undeniable that what Calvinists posit about all human action being irresistibly caused by God fits the normal definition of a (human) puppet. So one way to get at this is to say the question turns here on whether a puppet is truly responsive. if one person unilaterally controls the “response” another gives him, is that a genuine response? I would say no, and think the vast majority of people would agree. You and many Calvinists might say yes. This could be an issue of impasse. But as I have said at other points, I am happy to let others assess that point. I think the Calvinist view on it so obviously absurd that merely stating it serves as an argument against Calvinism sand for Arminianism.

                David said: “The text is know for being controversial because it so blatantly teaches that it is God’s sovereign choice that determines who will be saved.”

                **** Ok, we just disagree about that. BTW, Arminianism believe that God’s sovereign choice determines who will be saved, just that his sovereign choice is conditional.

                david: “I highly doubt that Peter is referring to this text.”

                ***** I was not claiming Peter was referring to that text specifically. It may well have been one of the texts. But that was not particularly my point.

                David said: “It actually makes your view weaker since your theory entails that God must unthinkingly follow his foreknowledge which he has no control over.”

                ***** This is totally invalid, and I think you may well see that after reading what I said above; so see my comments about foreknowledge above.

                David: “You also claim that the B-Theory does not entail determinism but I’d like you to provide a source since I’ve never heard of that. In any case, if it’s timelessly true that you will do X at t then that certainly seems deterministic to me.”

                **** See for example, Joseph Diekemper, “B-Theory, Fixity, and Fatalism,” Noûs 41 (2007) 429–452; Dirck Vorenkamp, “B-SERIES TEMPORAL ORDER IN DOGEN’S THEORY OF TIME”, Philosophy East and West Volume 45, Number 3 (1995 July), pp. 387-408 (p. 406). I have already explained why it does not. Another, very simple and concise way I have seen it stated is this: “the B theory of time denies temporal becoming, not causal relations.” To put it another way, more like what I said before, saying that it is timelessly true that you will do X at t does not address why you will do x at t, which can be you and your free will. Nevertheless, I have not committed myself to the B-theory.

                David said: “Well, anyone reading this discussion can judge for themselves whose theology fits best with the Scriptures. It seems that I can’t say much without begging the question. It makes things very hard to debate when whenever I state my position I am guilty of this grievous sin.”

                **** We, if the shoe fits . . .

                David said: “Yes, God predestines THAT people will be tempted but he himself tempts no one.

                ***** But you said, “It’s simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it!” Applying your view as stated to temptation, if God’s people are tempted, then God did it. Let’s take your statement and make this even clearer by inserting brackets: “It’s simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God [like temptation] … God did it!”

                In response to this article: http://evangelicalarminians.org/Henshaw-Determinism-Free-Will-The-Reality-of-Choice-and-the-Testimony-of-Scripture,

                David said: “This is a joke, right? You don’t think that compatibilists can provide readings of these texts? Oyve…”

                ***** Not sound readings. Moreover, they can’t reasonably explain how there is such a thing as human choice, as Scripture shows there surely is, when we can never do anything other than we do (as compatibilism holds), pretty much the definition of not having a choice.

              8. David Houston says:

                There is simply too much quoting going on for me to keep it straight so, in the name of clarity, I’ve decided to use a new style!

                Our last few exchanges can really be boiled down to our dispute over (1) whether Calvinism turns persons into puppets, (2) whether there is a relevant difference between foreordaining evil to take place and foreknowing evil will take place, and (3) definitions on sovereignty.

                (1) Does Calvinism turn persons into puppets?

                Your understanding is that in order for there to be a genuine relationship between men and God that both parties require LFW and that if humans do not have LFW then they can justifiably be called ‘puppets’. You justified your claim by appeal to ‘common usage’ of the term ‘puppet’ to describe someone ‘controlled by another’.

                I can agree that there might be some similarities but, then again, there are some similarities between men and ants but the dissimilarities tend to outweigh them and this, I believe, is a similar case. I pointed out that there are some relevant dissimilarities such as consciousness and emotions. I’ll add that using the term ‘puppet’, much like the term ‘divine rapist’ that Norman Geisler uses to describe the Calvinist God, makes it sound as if the person’s will is being overridden when, on the Calvinist view, it is not. The way in which God determines the actions of his creatures is significantly different than any other kind so you are unjustified in using ‘puppet’ as a description. It is not as though Calvinists believe that if God has determined that I should stop typing that, try as I might, my fingers will not be able to reach the keys. I never find myself kicking against God’s decretive will over my life.

                (2) Is there a relevant difference between foreordaining evil and foreknowing evil will take place and doing nothing to intervene?

                You argued that Calvinism makes God a moral monster because he determines that his creatures will do evil and I pointed out that Arminians have a parallel problem because, on Arminianism, God foreknew that, should he create, his creatures will do evil and yet he still decides to create and, furthermore, he does not intervene in most cases. You responded by saying that he needs to allow (some? many?) cases of evil to occur otherwise it would undermine LFW. You justified God’s behaviour by appealing to the fact that God is not subject to the same laws since, if we were in such a position as to be able to stop every act of evil then, all things being equal, we would be obligated to stop them all. The Creator is relevantly different than the creatures. However, you thought it would be uncouth if I appealed to the same distinction to argue that God is within his rights as the Creator to determine that they perform certain evils. I blew a raspberry in response.

                Beyond simulated flatulence, I continued my offensive and attacked your doctrine of foreknowledge which appears to be the ‘simple foreknowledge’ view. You said that God’s foreknowledge is unfalsifiable and therefore he must do what he foreknows will occur. I thought this rather deterministic since God has always foreknown and, therefore, he has always been bound to do what he will do. You also said that WE determine our future choices and since God is determined by his foreknowledge that includes us determining our choices he determined to do so. I noted that that didn’t seem too Godly. It sounded like God was chained to his foreknowledge regardless of what he’d like to do. You responded, just now, that ‘foreknowledge cannot serve as the basis of his decision about what to do concerning the thing he foreknows’. But this runs you into a problem. Allow me to explain:

                Suppose that you shot someone a year ago and are now in prison. You have picked up a few tricks from watching MacGyver so (when the guards aren’t watching) you skillfully craft a time-machine out of your toothbrush, a pillow, and some belly-button lint. Using your brand new time-machine you are transported back in time to a minute before you took the shot that resulted in your incarceration. You could stop your younger self from shooting by knocking the gun out of his hand. You “foreknow” what will happen if you do not act and yet your younger-self remains free to shoot or not. In this way foreknowledge does not entail determinism. However, problems arise when God is the subject. Suppose God’s foreknowledge is not dependent upon his foreordination (aka causally determining a state of affairs) and that God foreknows that he will create you. Now since God is free he could choose not to create you. But then what does this say about his foreknowledge? It seems to say that it can be falsified which entails that it is not really foreknowledge since in order for it to count as knowledge whatever is foreknown must be true. But perhaps God never falsifies his foreknowledge and simply decrees what will happen based on what he foreknows. This would allow God to keep his foreknowledge and his freedom. However, the problem for this option is that it reduces the reason for God’s decision to create and act in the world to his blindly following whatever he foreknows will happen without what Dean Zimmerman calls a “deep” reason for doing so. This is obviously inconsistent with the God of the Bible! In order to have a “deep” reason for his actions then God must have decided without the use of his foreknowledge. But that makes God’s foreknowledge useless!

                So take your pick. Does God use his simple foreknowledge and have no ‘deep’ reason for any of his actions OR does God not use his simple foreknowledge and is thereby reduced, at least functionally, to the god of Open Theism?

                The way you’ve been talking, you sound like you’ve taken the functionally Open Theist route without even knowing it. It’s kinda like you were tunneling out of prison and thought you were home free only to find that you’d dug your way into the lion’s cage at the zoo just before feeding time.

                Of course, there’s always the Calvinist option that God’s foreknowledge is ‘based’ on his decree. But that would be too easy wouldn’t it?

                (3) Whose ‘sovereignty’?

                You have repeatedly stated that my understanding of sovereignty is ‘unbiblical’ and that the Biblical view is compatible with LFW. I have provided numerous Scripture references in my defense (Exod. 34:24, Is. 44:28, 46:10, Dan. 1:9, John 19:24, Acts 13:48, 16:14, Gen. 45:5-8, Ps. 105:24, Luke 22:22, Acts 2:23-24, 3:18, 4:27-28, Rom. 9:17, Eph. 1:11). You believe that LFW is consistent with these proof texts which leaves me scratching my head.

                Allow me to step back into the quoting game for a moment (old habits are hard to break, ya know?). When I said that is ‘simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it!’ You responded:

                ‘So when God’s people are tempted, God did it according to you and Calvinism? Yet God’s word says that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). Rather, LFW is assumed throughout Scripture, and sometimes explicitly affirmed.’

                I responded that God determined THAT his people would be tempted and you decided to ignore this clarification. Rather, you decided to run my earlier statement as if I had provided a formal proof rather than a simple statement using ordinary language. This demonstrates a preference for beating up on straw men rather than actual opponents. Much like the Jews, straw men have been the recipients of much unjustified violence.

                Please stop, you anti-strawite! ;)

              9. Arminian says:

                Re: Calvinism turning people into puppets:

                David said: “I’ll add that using the term ‘puppet’, much like the term ‘divine rapist’ that Norman Geisler uses to describe the Calvinist God, makes it sound as if the person’s will is being overridden when, on the Calvinist view, it is not.”

                **** That is simply not the sense of the term to me, and I would say most people. It is the idea of being completely controlled that makes one a puppet. The more thoroughly a person is controlled, the more of a puppet the person is. There can be certain levels of control that do not fall under the puppet terminology. But Calvinism definitely falls under the puppet label, for in it, people will only that which God irresistibly causes people to will. So Calvinism entails the most concentrated puppet-ness there is for human beings. Not only does the person do whatever God wills for him to do, but he wills only what God wills for him to will without there being any possibility of willing otherwise. God controls the person exhaustively and irresistibly, which makes the person a puppet by definition.

                Re: whether there is a relevant difference between foreordaining evil and foreknowing evil will take place and doing nothing to intervene,

                David said: “You responded by saying that he needs to allow (some? many?) cases of evil to occur otherwise it would undermine LFW.”

                **** And what LFW facilitates, genuine love, relationship, etc.

                David said: “You justified God’s behaviour by appealing to the fact that God is not subject to the same laws since, if we were in such a position as to be able to stop every act of evil then, all things being equal, we would be obligated to stop them all. The Creator is relevantly different than the creatures.”

                **** And that God will bring perfect justice. And that there is a huge and obvious difference between on the one hand concocting the evil, and then irresistibly causing it to take place, and then God punishing those whom he irresistibly causes to do the evil, and on the other hand not stopping someone from concocting the evil and doing it, yet bringing it all to perfect justice. Astonishinglyu, you so no real difference between these.

                David said: “You said that God’s foreknowledge is unfalsifiable and therefore he must do what he foreknows will occur. I thought this rather deterministic since God has always foreknown and, therefore, he has always been bound to do what he will do.”

                **** First, I did not talk about God doing what he foreknows will occur, but about God doing what he foreknows he will do. Second, I qualified my comments substantially, and you don’t seem to have accounted for that at this point in your comments. God’s foreknowledge does not determine or bind his actions, but his foreknowledge reflects what he will do. It’s the other way around from your mischaracterization of my view. God’s actions determine his foreknowledge of what he will do.

                I also asked you: if you believe whatever God foreknows will happen he must do, and is this not the Calvinist view? Can God do other than he foreknows he will do in your view? If so, then can God’s foreknowledge be wrong?

                David said: “You also said that WE determine our future choices and since God is determined by his foreknowledge that includes us determining our choices he determined to do so. I noted that that didn’t seem too Godly. It sounded like God was chained to his foreknowledge regardless of what he’d like to do.”

                **** This is a complete mischaracterization of what I said (which I am sure is unintentional). God is not determined by his foreknowledge. The latter part of your statement is hard to follow.

                Re: your whole argument against my view that foreknowledge cannot serve as the basis of God’s decision about whether to do the thing he foreknows is undercut by the nature of foreknowledge as non-causative in my view. It is not simply that God does not falsify his foreknowledge, but he cannot falsify his foreknowledge. He cannot be wrong. Again, his foreknowledge reflects the final outcome, what he will do. His foreknowledge of what he will do is set by what he will do, not vice versa. His foreknowledge of free acts, including his own, perceives what will be, sees it so to speak, and reflects it like a mirror. Your objection misconstrues the nature of foreknowledge in the Arminian simple foreknowledge view, and so is invalid. It would be like suggesting that a mirror causes what it reflects rather than what it reflects giving rise to the image shown by the mirror.

                Now you do actually show some understanding when you charge, “But that makes God’s foreknowledge useless!” God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless concerning the things he foreknows themselves. I.e., if he foreknows it, he can’t change it and falsify his foreknowledge, making himself wrong. But I would say that his foreknowledge is still providentially useful. He can use it to make other decisions. E.g., if he foreknows that some guys are planning to rob a bank, he can’t not create them so that they don’t plan that. But could use that foreknowledge to plan things in relation to their plans. He might lead one of his children not to be there or plan to foil their plans. But even if one thought his foreknowledge specifically providentially useless, God could still use his knowledge of all that is going on providentially. He would still be aware of when the robbers were planning and be able to plan in response and be able to respond to their planning. So I believe that God’s foreknowledge is not as flexible as often assumed, but still providentially useful. But even if it were not, he could still use his regular knowledge providentially.

                So this statement is based on false premises and invalid: “So take your pick. Does God use his simple foreknowledge and have no ‘deep’ reason for any of his actions OR does God not use his simple foreknowledge and is thereby reduced, at least functionally, to the god of Open Theism?”

                And you’re analogy misses the mark greatly: “The way you’ve been talking, you sound like you’ve taken the functionally Open Theist route without even knowing it. It’s kinda like you were tunneling out of prison and thought you were home free only to find that you’d dug your way into the lion’s cage at the zoo just before feeding time.”

                David said: “Of course, there’s always the Calvinist option that God’s foreknowledge is ‘based’ on his decree. But that would be too easy wouldn’t it?”

                **** Rather, too unbiblical, and it would seem to make God the author of sin and a moral monster.

                Re: sovereignty, there is not much to respond to there. You mostly described our difference.

                David said: “When I said that is ‘simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it!’

                I responded: ‘So when God’s people are tempted, God did it according to you and Calvinism? Yet God’s word says that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13). Rather, LFW is assumed throughout Scripture, and sometimes explicitly affirmed.’

                David said: “I responded that God determined THAT his people would be tempted and you decided to ignore this clarification. Rather, you decided to run my earlier statement as if I had provided a formal proof rather than a simple statement using ordinary language. This demonstrates a preference for beating up on straw men rather than actual opponents.”

                ***** Well, that’s a preference you have shown a number of times in our exchange, as when you charge me with believing God to be impotent. But as for this particular issue, I merely held you to your statement, which seems to betray where your theology really leads. Your qualification seems more like the now classic, “It depends on what the meaning of is is.” You have been arguing that God unconditionally decrees all sin and evil, which would include our temptations, our sinful desires that ground our temptations, every aspect of the temptations and every aspect of our response to them, whether we give in to them or not, whether we sin or not, etc. So when you said that it is “simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it!’”, it would seem to be the logical consequence of your position. You now say you were just speaking with ordinary language rather than formally. How would you make that statement formally? Does Scripture assume throughout that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it?

                As for the specific issue of temptation, your position seems to run violently against the spirit of the text. God unconditionally and irresistibly decrees our temptation and everything about it, including our response to it, as outlined above, but it’s important to say that he doesn’t tempt us? That’s like saying the crime boss never kills anyone, but he contracts killers to kill them.

                BTW, I enjoyed the “anti-strawite” comment, even though it was misplaced.

              10. David Houston says:

                When I made reference to Paul’s rebuttal of your position in Rom 9:20-24 you said:

                ‘And I have pointed out that you misinterpret that passage, and that ironically in light of your view the passage actually supports my view. Its OT background emphasizes the conditionality of God’s treatment of people and implicitly highlights their LFW.’

                Yes, the OT background does emphasize the conditionality but the most important context, you see, is the immediate context… not the context that he borrows his concepts from. And, in the immediate context, Paul specifically applies his reasoning to **individuals** (Jacob, Esau, Pharaoh) and makes **his determination** the condition and **not their wills**! (Rom 9:14-18) I mean really? This passage teaches LFW? Ridiculous!

                You take issue with Steve and I pointing out your unbiblical way of thinking, saying:

                ‘These types of comments are not helpful. I could swing that kind of mud at you, but try not to because that is what is actually unbecoming of a Christian. E.g. I could retort ,“I expect atheists to charge the biblical view of God with being the author of sin and a moral monster, but this is unbecoming of a Christian.” Would that be helpful? I don’t think you believe God is the author of sin nor am oral monster, but I think your theology logically demands that conclusion even if you are inconsistent and don’t follow where logic demands your view go. Are you saying that all non-Calvinists Christians have a problem with God being God and act truly unbecoming for Christians by virtue of their theology? It is these types comments that have earned Calvinists a bad reputation to the poin that various Calvinist leaders have noted it and caution fellow Calvinists to be more charitable.’

                (1) You too have been slinging mud. Your puppet, crime boss, and moral monster comments come readily to mind. The rhetoric hasn’t been one way. The argument is over whether one of us is justified and so far you haven’t been doing too well.

                (2) I challenge you to provide one statement that I have made which could rationally be taken as implying that I believe all non-Calvinists have a problem with God being God.

                (3) Calvinist leaders have said many things not all of which have been helpful. Arminians are just as guilty of uncharitable and harsh comments and anyone who disagrees can simply take a look at any argument between the two sides from the earliest days. Wesley himself could chirp with the best of them.

                Concerning your view of simple foreknowledge you wrote:

                ‘God can react to his foreknowledge of one thing to plan for another. See e.g., David P. Hunt, “Contra Hasker: Why Simple Foreknowledge Is Still Useful” ( http://evangelicalarminians.org/Hunt-Contra-Hasker-Why-Simple-Foreknowledge-Is-Still-Useful ).’

                I’ve read the article along with Hasker’s and I find it truly amazing that anyone would want to link to Hunt’s article in support of their position. His endorsement of Complete Simple Foreknowledge leads to determinism and this unsavory effect is not mitigated in the slightest by his distinction between knowing and endorsing. As Hasker puts it (applying his analogy of the time traveller to God so that anyone reading this who hasn’t read these articles doesn’t get confused) ‘[God] does not, after seeing himself [perform a future action], determine that he is going to perform this action. He may “decide” to perform it, in the sense that he decides to “go along with the inevitable” and do what it is already unavoidable that he should do. But the determination has “already” been made, by his future self; at most he can decide to ratify that already-made determination.’

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Indeed, God can influence the future whether he brackets off his foreknowledge or not. And I don’t believe God brackets off his foreknowledge if you mean that he does not allow himself to know some things.’

                You endorse the same doctrine of CSF as David Hunt which renders you liable to the same objections that both I and Hasker have offered against simple foreknowledge. If God does not bracket off his foreknowledge and it is complete, fixed, and unchanging then how do you suppose he is going to alter it? If by altering the future you are referring to ‘endorsing’ what is already determined to occur then God is not really altering it. He is merely endorsing his decision in keeping with what he already foreknew he would do.

                If this is what Arminians mean by the ‘usefulness’ of simple foreknowledge then I’d hate to see what uselessness would look like!

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘David said: “You also said that the Calvinist option is ‘too unbiblical, and it would seem to make God the author of sin and a moral monster.’ On the contrary, you avoid the emotional charge of making God a ‘moral monster’ only by eliminating God from the equation.”
                ***** This is another false charge. I have not eliminated God from the equation in the least. I do not have God as the only really will in the universe as Calvinism does. But God and his intimate involvement in the world pervades my view. You have been reduced to massive straw men to try and uphold your view.’

                If you mean by ‘real will’ that God’s is the only one that is undetermined then, on Calvinism, you would be correct. Ironically, however, on your view even God’s will is determined by his foreknowledge so no one really has a ‘real will’.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘David said: “When I accused you of reading me uncharitably in our exchange over James 1:13 you said ‘Well, that’s a preference you have shown a number of times in our exchange, as when you charge me with believing God to be impotent.’ But that wasn’t being uncharitable. He is impotent! He’s functionally the God of Open Theism, which means that he is functionally a creature.”
                ***** This is rich with irony in light of what I have exposed above about your comments. You have had to resort to simply mischaracterizing my view with mere assertion and avoidance of actually interacting with my comments. I think we should draw this exchange to a close because of this.’

                You claimed everything but exposed nothing. I have done my utmost to engage your views since I am not anti-strawetic like yourself. If you want to leave when the going gets tough that’s your prerogative.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘David said: “You take issue with God providentially determining all things. You have managed to avoid this implication to the extent that you are willing to let someone or something else determine all things or else to adopt something like the God of Open Theism. Neither option is open to Christians.”
                **** You continue with mischaracterization and argument by mere assertion. In the Arminian view, all things are not determined by someone or something else other than God. By definition, if determinism is false, like most Christians throughout history have believed, including the early church fathers, the God does not determine all things in the sense Calvinism means this. But God determines many things in the Arminian view, and free people determine their own free actions. So it is a much more biblical view, that God does not irresistibly cause all evil (does not author it), but sovereignly determines what he chooses, and allows others to determine certain things. Neither does it adopt Open Theism.’

                (1) I never said that, on Arminianism, all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. I argued that either God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless (practical Open Theism) OR all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. There’s a difference.

                (2) What the early church fathers said is not normative. They were wrong on a great many things and, thankfully, the church has grown in its understanding. But so long as were talking early church fathers… what do you think of Augustine? He’s probably the most influential of them all… and what do ya know? A determinist!

                (3) I never said that Arminianism is Open Theism. I said that Arminianism entails either a **practical** Open Theism or it leads to a non-theological determinism.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘But here you show again that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Calvinist behavior (not necessarily characteristic of all Calvinists), now suggesting views other than Calvinism are not Christian. Do you think non-Calvinist believers are not real Christians?’

                Here you show, again, that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Arminian behaviour now suggesting, absurdly, that I am suggesting that all non-Calvinists are not Christian. Where did you get that? Why can’t you follow an argument?

                As for the last bit about Daniel Whedon… don’t you see how this is just as fatal to the Arminian? Who is the first cause on Arminianism? God. Did he foreknow that sin would occur if he created the world? Yes. The necessity is still there but in a different form and God is still its first cause.

              11. Arminian says:

                David said: “Yes, the OT background does emphasize the conditionality but the most important context, you see, is the immediate context… not the context that he borrows his concepts from.”

                **** The most important context is the immediate, but that is often informed by the context it refers to, and is especially so in Rom 9 as has been demonstrated by scholarship. It has been shown that Paul often quotes or alludes to the OT in a way that points to the OT text as important background for his argument, and very much so in Rom 9.

                David said: “And, in the immediate context, Paul specifically applies his reasoning to **individuals** (Jacob, Esau, Pharaoh)”

                ***** Another ironic comment. Do you not realize that those are corporate references as representatives of peoples? Your lack of attention to the OT background impoverishes your understanding of Paul’s argument. Poor exegesis can feed the Calvinist understanding of Rom 9. Moreover, do you not realize that in the immediate context Paul applies his points about these individual *corporate* heads to corporate groups, Israel, the children of the promise, the seed of Abraham, etc.?

                David said: “and makes **his determination** the condition and **not their wills**! (Rom 9:14-18) I mean really? This passage teaches LFW? Ridiculous!”

                **** His determination that the bestowal of his mercy be by faith rather than works or ancestry. You should read some good exegesis of the passage.

                David said: “Your puppet, crime boss, and moral monster comments come readily to mind. The rhetoric hasn’t been one way.”

                **** I have not stated that those things are what Calvinism teaches or believes, but that Calvinism logically demands them. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to draw the most heinous picture of Arminianism as what you believe logic demands from Arminian premises as opposed to what Arminianism or me teaches or believes. Do you see the difference? Also, even saying things like “You take issue with Steve and I pointing out your unbiblical way of thinking” are unhelpful, making it seem like I know my way of thinking is unbiblical and it bothers me you point it out, when we simply disagree about what is biblical on certain issues. I have no problem with you charging my thinking as unbiblical. I think yours is massively unbiblical in these matters. But it is simply poor dialogical practice to these types of digs and implicit false charges in your way of framing things.

                David said: “The argument is over whether one of us is justified”

                ***** It should be over whether one of us is justified about the logical consequences of the other’s view, not characterizing the other as holding those logical consequences.

                David said: “I challenge you to provide one statement that I have made which could rationally be taken as implying that I believe all non-Calvinists have a problem with God being God.”

                ***** I didn’t say that you said that, but asked if that was your position based on your response to relatively standard non-Calvinist understanding of the potter/clay passage in Rom 9. You said: “I expect atheists to have a problem with God being God but this is truly unbecoming of a Christian.” Such a statement certainly raises the question. And it is provoking-style commenting in this type of discussion.

                David said: “I’ve read the article along with Hasker’s and I find it truly amazing that anyone would want to link to Hunt’s article in support of their position. His endorsement of Complete Simple Foreknowledge leads to determinism and this unsavory effect is not mitigated in the slightest by his distinction between knowing and endorsing. As Hasker puts it (applying his analogy of the time traveller to God so that anyone reading this who hasn’t read these articles doesn’t get confused) ‘[God] does not, after seeing himself [perform a future action], determine that he is going to perform this action. He may “decide” to perform it, in the sense that he decides to “go along with the inevitable” and do what it is already unavoidable that he should do. But the determination has “already” been made, by his future self; at most he can decide to ratify that already-made determination.’”

                ***** This suggests you don’t understand the issues. I have provided argumentation concerning this in the thread, and you have avoided interacting with some of that specifically. Hunt’s article responds effectively to Hasker. And what’s more, Hasker’s argument here is incoherent. He grants that God’s future self makes the determination and yet argues this means his future self does not make the determination.

                David said: “You endorse the same doctrine of CSF as David Hunt”

                **** Well, that’s not necessarily true. But that is neither here nor there since our positions share much in common and your response to his position is invalid.

                David said: “which renders you liable to the same objections that both I and Hasker have offered against simple foreknowledge.”

                **** Which misses that your and Hasker’s objections are invalid, as explained above and in other posts I have made in this thread.

                David said: “If God does not bracket off his foreknowledge and it is complete, fixed, and unchanging then how do you suppose he is going to alter it?”

                ***** I didn’t speak of God altering the future. Your trying to put some sort of standard on me you set but that is erroneous. How about responding to my comments instead of coming up with something my view is supposed to match and criticizing me for not matching your criteria?

                David said: “If by altering the future you are referring to ‘endorsing’ what is already determined to occur then God is not really altering it. He is merely endorsing his decision in keeping with what he already foreknew he would do.”

                **** I never mentioned altering the future. What are you talking about? See above. It’s like you have slipped into another conversation.

                David said: “If you mean by ‘real will’ that God’s is the only one that is undetermined then, on Calvinism, you would be correct. Ironically, however, on your view even God’s will is determined by his foreknowledge so no one really has a ‘real will’.”

                ***** That is something you have charged in this discussion, and I have refuted, so it doesn’t work to bring it up as somehow established.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘David said: “When I accused you of reading me uncharitably in our exchange over James 1:13 you said ‘Well, that’s a preference you have shown a number of times in our exchange, as when you charge me with believing God to be impotent.’ But that wasn’t being uncharitable. He is impotent! He’s functionally the God of Open Theism, which means that he is functionally a creature.”
                ***** This is rich with irony in light of what I have exposed above about your comments. You have had to resort to simply mischaracterizing my view with mere assertion and avoidance of actually interacting with my comments. I think we should draw this exchange to a close because of this.’

                David said: “You claimed everything but exposed nothing. I have done my utmost to engage your views since I am not anti-strawetic like yourself. If you want to leave when the going gets tough that’s your prerogative.”

                ***** Are you serious? I have pointed out specific places you have not interacted with my arguments and you have just offered mere assertion, argument by fiat. Your comment about leaving when the going gets tough is unhelpful. For one, I was suggesting that we draw it to a close. You don’t seer that type of comment as a bit hostile? There also seems to be an implicit accusation, especially in light of the fact that the language has been used in this thread in connection with such an accusation, that if I bow out of the conversation it is because I have found your arguments to tough to deal with. That is what is ridiculous. You don’t see that as cheap sophistry upon reflection? Is that really what you think? I have given much too much time to this discussion and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Moreover, your rhetoric has become more aggressive as we have gone along, and I do not want to continue in discussion with someone who is going to be insulting and take cheap rhetorical shots.

                David said: “I never said that, on Arminianism, all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. I argued that either God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless (practical Open Theism) OR all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. There’s a difference.”

                **** But that’s a false dichotomy, and begs the question under discussion.

                David said: “What the early church fathers said is not normative. They were wrong on a great many things and, thankfully, the church has grown in its understanding.”

                **** I agree; but they were right no many things of course, including determinism and free will. I didn’t say their doctrine is normative, but it is bizarre for you to in effect say that rejecting determinism is not an option open to Christians.”

                David said: “But so long as were talking early church fathers… what do you think of Augustine? He’s probably the most influential of them all… and what do ya know? A determinist!”

                ***** Which is more of a problem for you, since he was basically the first determinist in the Church. 400 years of Church history, and Augustine introduces the error of determinism into the Church in an influential way. Augustine was great in many ways, but he was wrong on many points as well, including eventually determinism.

                David said: “I never said that Arminianism is Open Theism. I said that Arminianism entails either a **practical** Open Theism or it leads to a non-theological determinism.”

                **** Ok, but that;s a false dichotomy again and begs question at issue in our discussion again.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘But here you show again that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Calvinist behavior (not necessarily characteristic of all Calvinists), now suggesting views other than Calvinism are not Christian. Do you think non-Calvinist believers are not real Christians?’

                David said: “Here you show, again, that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Arminian behaviour now suggesting, absurdly, that I am suggesting that all non-Calvinists are not Christian. Where did you get that? Why can’t you follow an argument?”

                ***** I did not say that you suggested that all non-Calvinists are not Christian, but that you suggested that views other than Calvinism are not Christian. You said: ““You take issue with God providentially determining all things. You have managed to avoid this implication to the extent that you are willing to let someone or something else determine all things or else to adopt something like the God of Open Theism. Neither option is open to Christians.” Now, in your argument you boiled down relevant non-Calvinist/determinist views to two options, concluding that, “Neither option is open to Christians.” That impleis that neither view is Christian, and that led me to ask – not assert—whether you think non-Calvinist believers are not real Christians. I suspoect that you do not hold that viewpointm, but your rhetoric has led me to wonder. So I ask.

                David said: “As for the last bit about Daniel Whedon… don’t you see how this is just as fatal to the Arminian?”

                ***** No, that has been one of the main issues we have been disagreeing about. The comments don’t apply to the Arminian view in the least. Responding like this is another instance of beging the question. When I have argued at length in various ways against the premise of your question, do you think it advances the argument to ask this question? Then again, maybe you really wanted to ask it to see if you were making any headway or something, or perhaps jus wanted to point toward your basic point.

                David said: “Who is the first cause on Arminianism? God.”

                ***** Not of the act or the sin of the creature. He is the first cause of the creature. You’re confusing Arminianism and Calvinism and trying to stick Arminianism with Calvinism’s problems.

                David said: “Did he foreknow that sin would occur if he created the world? Yes.”

                ***** Completely different than what Whedon describes. And I have explained why the foreknowledge point you try to make does not fly

                David said: “The necessity is still there but in a different form and God is still its first cause.”

                **** Again, I have already answered this type of point in our conversation. Based on that, your statement if false.

            2. David Houston says:

              ARMINIAN SAID:
              ‘The more thoroughly a person is controlled, the more of a puppet the person is. There can be certain levels of control that do not fall under the puppet terminology. But Calvinism definitely falls under the puppet label, for in it, people will only that which God irresistibly causes people to will. So Calvinism entails the most concentrated puppet-ness there is for human beings. Not only does the person do whatever God wills for him to do, but he wills only what God wills for him to will without there being any possibility of willing otherwise. God controls the person exhaustively and irresistibly, which makes the person a puppet by definition.’

              (1) Suppose ‘puppet’ is a good way to describe people who do not have LFW – people who are determined. Since, I will argue below, that you make moves that are unavailable to you in order to get away from the dilemma I presented concerning simple foreknowledge you are forced into believing that God is functionally an Open Theist or he does have real foreknowledge but it is just as deterministic as Calvinism. The only difference is that, while God is holding the strings on the Calvinist view, we have no idea who is holding them on your view! Who determined the world to be as it is? Chance? Logical necessity? Satan? The other option is you take the functionally Open Theist route which has its own similar theodical problems. In either case, you can avoid Calvinism only by the de-Godding of God.

              (2) As Steve and I have said earlier, there is a far less subtle and strictly Biblical response to your problem. We can simply point out that every complaint that you have concerning the puppet analogy runs parallel to the potter and clay analogy. In which case, I will simply ask you: ‘But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?’ (Rom 9:20-24)

              (3) I expect atheists to have a problem with God being God but this is truly unbecoming of a Christian.

              ARMINIAN SAID:
              ‘And that God will bring perfect justice. And that there is a huge and obvious difference between on the one hand concocting the evil, and then irresistibly causing it to take place, and then God punishing those whom he irresistibly causes to do the evil, and on the other hand not stopping someone from concocting the evil and doing it, yet bringing it all to perfect justice. Astonishinglyu, you so no real difference between these.’

              You’re argument only makes sense if you’re an Open Theist (functionally or truly) so I was assuming that you had a Christian alternative to Calvinism in mind when I said there was no difference. My mistake.

              ARMINIAN SAID:
              ‘Now you do actually show some understanding when you charge, “But that makes God’s foreknowledge useless!” God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless concerning the things he foreknows themselves. I.e., if he foreknows it, he can’t change it and falsify his foreknowledge, making himself wrong. But I would say that his foreknowledge is still providentially useful. He can use it to make other decisions. E.g., if he foreknows that some guys are planning to rob a bank, he can’t not create them so that they don’t plan that. But could use that foreknowledge to plan things in relation to their plans. He might lead one of his children not to be there or plan to foil their plans. But even if one thought his foreknowledge specifically providentially useless, God could still use his knowledge of all that is going on providentially. He would still be aware of when the robbers were planning and be able to plan in response and be able to respond to their planning. So I believe that God’s foreknowledge is not as flexible as often assumed, but still providentially useful. But even if it were not, he could still use his regular knowledge providentially.’

              (1) You seem to present God as having God reacting to his foreknowledge but that can’t be since it would lead to the ridiculous doctrine of backwards causation. Alternatively, and in keeping with your functionally Open Theist view, you could mean that God can influence the future only to the extent that it is functionally future for him since he’s bracketed off his foreknowledge in order to avoid determinism thereby rendering his foreknowledge useless.

              (2) It is because you have taken this alternative that you sound like an Open Theist in how you handle theodical issues. You’ve inadvertently proven my dilemma: ‘Does God use his simple foreknowledge and have no ‘deep’ reason for any of his actions OR does God not use his simple foreknowledge and is thereby reduced, at least functionally, to the god of Open Theism?’

              You also said that the Calvinist option is ‘too unbiblical, and it would seem to make God the author of sin and a moral monster.’ On the contrary, you avoid the emotional charge of making God a ‘moral monster’ only by eliminating God from the equation.

              When I accused you of reading me uncharitably in our exchange over James 1:13 you said ‘Well, that’s a preference you have shown a number of times in our exchange, as when you charge me with believing God to be impotent.’ But that wasn’t being uncharitable. He is impotent! He’s functionally the God of Open Theism, which means that he is functionally a creature.

              You had more to say this time since you decided to acknowledge that I had clarified my statement:

              ‘But as for this particular issue, I merely held you to your statement, which seems to betray where your theology really leads. Your qualification seems more like the now classic, “It depends on what the meaning of is is.” You have been arguing that God unconditionally decrees all sin and evil, which would include our temptations, our sinful desires that ground our temptations, every aspect of the temptations and every aspect of our response to them, whether we give in to them or not, whether we sin or not, etc. So when you said that it is “simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it!’”, it would seem to be the logical consequence of your position. You now say you were just speaking with ordinary language rather than formally. How would you make that statement formally? Does Scripture assume throughout that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it?’

              (1) My statement clarifies my position whereas Bill Clinton was simply playing with words. That said, this is the first time ever that I have been compared to Bill Clinton. I feel dirty.

              (2) You take issue with God providentially determining all things. You have managed to avoid this implication to the extent that you are willing to let someone or something else determine all things or else to adopt something like the God of Open Theism. Neither option is open to Christians.

              (3) It is generally understood that there are levels of causation within Calvinism, as you would know if you had read any number of Reformed creeds and authors, so my distinction is relevant. God determines that we will be tempted but he himself tempts no one.

              ARMINIAN SAID:
              ‘As for the specific issue of temptation, your position seems to run violently against the spirit of the text. God unconditionally and irresistibly decrees our temptation and everything about it, including our response to it, as outlined above, but it’s important to say that he doesn’t tempt us? That’s like saying the crime boss never kills anyone, but he contracts killers to kill them.’

              See (2) in the last section. Now, you could always go with the view that some of your Arminian friends in this thread roll with, a species of Molinism, but you can see Steve’s comments on how this makes god the ‘crime boss’.

              Finally, you asked ‘you believe whatever God foreknows will happen he must do, and is this not the Calvinist view? Can God do other than he foreknows he will do in your view? If so, then can God’s foreknowledge be wrong?’

              Whatever God foreknowledge is based on his decrees and God’s decrees are immutable. Therefore his foreknowledge is immutable and unfalsifiable. The logical order is decree → foreknowledge.

              I enjoyed the straw-ite comment too. Common ground at last!

              1. Arminian says:

                David said: “Suppose ‘puppet’ is a good way to describe people who do not have LFW – people who are determined. Since, I will argue below, that you make moves that are unavailable to you in order to get away from the dilemma I presented concerning simple foreknowledge you are forced into believing that God is functionally an Open Theist or he does have real foreknowledge but it is just as deterministic as Calvinism.”

                ***** This assumes your arguments are correct, which they have not been so far and turn out not to be in this post either. No cigar!

                David: “The only difference is that, while God is holding the strings on the Calvinist view, we have no idea who is holding them on your view! Who determined the world to be as it is? Chance? Logical necessity? Satan? The other option is you take the functionally Open Theist route which has its own similar theodical problems. In either case, you can avoid Calvinism only by the de-Godding of God.”

                ***** All of this is non sequitur, based on faulty argumentation, and not even following from much of the faulty argumentation!

                David said: “As Steve and I have said earlier, there is a far less subtle and strictly Biblical response to your problem. We can simply point out that every complaint that you have concerning the puppet analogy runs parallel to the potter and clay analogy. In which case, I will simply ask you: ‘But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?’ (Rom 9:20-24)”

                ***** And I have pointed out that you misinterpret that passage, and that ironically in light of your view the passage actually supports my view. Its OT background emphasizes the conditionality of God’s treatment of people and implicitly highlights their LFW.

                David said: “I expect atheists to have a problem with God being God but this is truly unbecoming of a Christian.”

                ***** These types of comments are not helpful. I could swing that kind of mud at you, but try not to because that is what is actually unbecoming of a Christian. E.g. I could retort ,“I expect atheists to charge the biblical view of God with being the author of sin and a moral monster, but this is unbecoming of a Christian.” Would that be helpful? I don’t think you believe God is the author of sin nor am oral monster, but I think your theology logically demands that conclusion even if you are inconsistent and don’t follow where logic demands your view go. Are you saying that all non-Calvinists Christians have a problem with God being God and act truly unbecoming for Christians by virtue of their theology? It is these types comments that have earned Calvinists a bad reputation to the poin that various Calvinist leaders have noted it and caution fellow Calvinists to be more charitable.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘And that God will bring perfect justice. And that there is a huge and obvious difference between on the one hand concocting the evil, and then irresistibly causing it to take place, and then God punishing those whom he irresistibly causes to do the evil, and on the other hand not stopping someone from concocting the evil and doing it, yet bringing it all to perfect justice. Astonishinglyu, you so no real difference between these.’

                David said: “You’re argument only makes sense if you’re an Open Theist (functionally or truly) so I was assuming that you had a Christian alternative to Calvinism in mind when I said there was no difference. My mistake.”

                *****This is mere assertion and once again, question begging, and does not actually interact with what I have said.

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘Now you do actually show some understanding when you charge, “But that makes God’s foreknowledge useless!” God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless concerning the things he foreknows themselves. I.e., if he foreknows it, he can’t change it and falsify his foreknowledge, making himself wrong. But I would say that his foreknowledge is still providentially useful. He can use it to make other decisions. E.g., if he foreknows that some guys are planning to rob a bank, he can’t not create them so that they don’t plan that. But could use that foreknowledge to plan things in relation to their plans. He might lead one of his children not to be there or plan to foil their plans. But even if one thought his foreknowledge specifically providentially useless, God could still use his knowledge of all that is going on providentially. He would still be aware of when the robbers were planning and be able to plan in response and be able to respond to their planning. So I believe that God’s foreknowledge is not as flexible as often assumed, but still providentially useful. But even if it were not, he could still use his regular knowledge providentially.’

                David said: You seem to present God as having God reacting to his foreknowledge but that can’t be since it would lead to the ridiculous doctrine of backwards causation.”

                **** No, it would not lead to backward causation. God can react to his foreknowledge of one thing to plan for another. See e.g., David P. Hunt, “Contra Hasker: Why Simple Foreknowledge Is Still Useful” ( http://evangelicalarminians.org/Hunt-Contra-Hasker-Why-Simple-Foreknowledge-Is-Still-Useful ).

                David said: “Alternatively, and in keeping with your functionally Open Theist view, you could mean that God can influence the future only to the extent that it is functionally future for him since he’s bracketed off his foreknowledge in order to avoid determinism thereby rendering his foreknowledge useless.”

                ***** Here you poison the well and try to establish your view by falsely labeling my view. It is not functionally Open Theist. This is not my view. Indeed, God can influence the future whether he brackets off his foreknowledge or not. And I don’t believe God brackets off his foreknowledge if you mean that he does not allow himself to know some things. This whole statement of your is a complete mess.

                David said: “It is because you have taken this alternative that you sound like an Open Theist in how you handle theodical issues.”

                ***** But I haven’t taken this alternative. You’ve completely mischaracterized my view again, which has been a problem for you in this discussion. So this comment is baseless.

                David said: “You’ve inadvertently proven my dilemma: ‘Does God use his simple foreknowledge and have no ‘deep’ reason for any of his actions OR does God not use his simple foreknowledge and is thereby reduced, at least functionally, to the god of Open Theism?’”

                ***** The same goes for this comment. But I am singling this out to point out that yet again you are merely asserting your position in response to what I have said rather than interacting with it.

                David said: “You also said that the Calvinist option is ‘too unbiblical, and it would seem to make God the author of sin and a moral monster.’ On the contrary, you avoid the emotional charge of making God a ‘moral monster’ only by eliminating God from the equation.”

                ***** This is another false charge. I have not eliminated God from the equation in the least. I do not have God as the only really will in the universe as Calvinism does. But God and his intimate involvement in the world pervades my view. You have been reduced to massive straw men to try and uphold your view.

                David said: “When I accused you of reading me uncharitably in our exchange over James 1:13 you said ‘Well, that’s a preference you have shown a number of times in our exchange, as when you charge me with believing God to be impotent.’ But that wasn’t being uncharitable. He is impotent! He’s functionally the God of Open Theism, which means that he is functionally a creature.”

                ***** This is rich with irony in light of what I have exposed above about your comments. You have had to resort to simply mischaracterizing my view with mere assertion and avoidance of actually interacting with my comments. I think we should draw this exchange to a close because of this.

                You had more to say this time since you decided to acknowledge that I had clarified my statement:

                ‘But as for this particular issue, I merely held you to your statement, which seems to betray where your theology really leads. Your qualification seems more like the now classic, “It depends on what the meaning of is is.” You have been arguing that God unconditionally decrees all sin and evil, which would include our temptations, our sinful desires that ground our temptations, every aspect of the temptations and every aspect of our response to them, whether we give in to them or not, whether we sin or not, etc. So when you said that it is “simply assumed throughout Scripture that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it!’”, it would seem to be the logical consequence of your position. You now say you were just speaking with ordinary language rather than formally. How would you make that statement formally? Does Scripture assume throughout that whatever happens to the people of God… God did it?’

                David said: “You take issue with God providentially determining all things. You have managed to avoid this implication to the extent that you are willing to let someone or something else determine all things or else to adopt something like the God of Open Theism. Neither option is open to Christians.”

                **** You continue with mischaracterization and argument by mere assertion. In the Arminian view, all things are not determined by someone or something else other than God. By definition, if determinism is false, like most Christians throughout history have believed, including the early church fathers, the God does not determine all things in the sense Calvinism means this. But God determines many things in the Arminian view, and free people determine their own free actions. So it is a much more biblical view, that God does not irresistibly cause all evil (does not author it), but sovereignly determines what he chooses, and allows others to determine certain things. Neither does it adopt Open Theism. But here you show again that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Calvinist behavior (not necessarily characteristic of all Calvinists), now suggesting views other than Calvinism are not Christian. Do you think non-Calvinist believers are not real Christians?

                David aid: “It is generally understood that there are levels of causation within Calvinism, as you would know if you had read any number of Reformed creeds and authors, so my distinction is relevant. God determines that we will be tempted but he himself tempts no one.”

                ***** Saying this simply sidesteps my comments. The levels of causation position of Calvinism as somehow keeping God from authoring sin is invalid and has been rightly critiqued throughout the history of the debate. Daniel Whedon explains:

                “In the question of responsibility for an intended effect, be it here noted, it makes no difference through how many intermediate necessary causes the causation has to pass from the first cause to the last effect. No matter how long the series of mediate necessitative causes, or how many the terms in the series, the first intentional causer is the responsible author of the final intended effect. If the necessary mediate causes are billions and billions, the intentional causer is as truly the responsible author of the effect at the far end as if it were an immediate voluntary act or a simple volition. The whole series is responsibly one act; the final effect is the one act. The line of causation shoots through the whole series, and binds the first cause to a responsibility for the last effect.

                Suppose a boy upon a high scaffold intentionally so arranges a number of standing bricks in a row, that when he pushes down the first, that shall push down the second, and the second the third and son on, so that the last brick, according to his purpose, shall fall upon the head of a sleeping man, and fulfill his intention of murdering him. Would the act be less guilty or the boy less responsible than if he had crushed the man with a single brick, or assassinated him with a dagger, or willed him to an actual death by a volition? Or if the bricks were a small number, would the increase of them be a score, a hundred, or a thousand, diminish the responsibility?

                It would be no moral exculpation of this boy to say that he merely “so disposed” the bricks that the murder, “if permitted or not hindered, will most certainly and infallibly follow.” The statement would be false, for he did more than this. He necessitated and non-alternatively caused the brick to fall; and so was the author of the murder- the murderer. The causative force from his finger ran in a right line through all the bricks and murdered the man. The intention of the act ran through all the bricks and achieved the crime. He had excluded from each and every brick the adequate power or possibility for any other effect. Mere permission and necessitation are thus very different things in the question of responsible authorship…The first cause is the responsible cause of the last effect. If the first cause is a living being, he is not only the cause. But he is the causer. And if he intended that the last effect should exist, then he is the intentional causer that the last effect should exist. And if this first supposed causer is a supposed God, and the last effect is sin, the supposed God is the intentional causer of that sin. But surely the intentional causer of a thing is author of that thing. God then, according to necessitarianism, we charge, is the responsible author of sin.

                And by the same doctrine it is further true that God is as truly the author of sin as if the sin were his own immediate intentional act. God is hereby the responsible author of the final effect as truly as it were his own act, or his own simple volition. From the Will of God to the act of the sinner the line of causation through all intermediates is a straight line. And to all the purposes of just responsibility it is a short line- a point” (The Freedom of the Will: A Wesleyan Response to Jonathan Edwards, pp. 344-46).

                God bless.

  20. Godismyjudge says:

    Steve,

    Not just any buffer will do. LFW addresses the issue of the source of sin or cause of sin, so that’s why believing in LFW does help explain why sin was about to happen (such that God was deciding to permit or prevent it).

    As for your saying God is responsible for sin, but not culpable, well, the bible says God hates sin. It seems fundamentally against God’s nature that He be the ultimate source of sin.

    God be with you,
    Dan

    1. David Houston says:

      Isn’t God ultimately the source of everything such that if God did not exist than everything, including sin, would not exist? Isn’t God omniscient such that when God created he knew which events would certainly transpire?

      That’s odd ’cause the Bible says he hates sin…

      1. Godismyjudge says:

        David,

        Yes and yes and please see my response to Steve.

        God be with you,
        Dan

  21. steve hays says:

    Godismyjudge

    “Not just any buffer will do. LFW addresses the issue of the source of sin or cause of sin, so that’s why believing in LFW does help explain why sin was about to happen (such that God was deciding to permit or prevent it).”

    That only pushes the issue back a step, for the Arminian God is ultimately the source of the sinner, which makes him (indirectly) the ultimate source of the sinner’s sin. And causing the sinner causes the sin (even if the cause/effect relation involves many intervening buffers). So you’re not going to get much mileage out of the strategy before the road circles back to where it began.

    “As for your saying God is responsible for sin, but not culpable, well, the bible says God hates sin. It seems fundamentally against God’s nature that He be the ultimate source of sin.”

    Several problems with that reply:

    i) Even if we accepted your selective appeal to the witness of Scripture, that doesn’t salvage Arminian theodicy, for the question at issue isn’t what Scripture says, but what Arminianism says. Appealing to Scripture doesn’t ipso facto harmonize Arminianism (or Molinism) with Scripture, for Arminianism (or Molinism) has its own internal logic.

    ii) Since, according to Arminianism (or Molinism), God is the Creator of the (actual) world, he’s bound to bear some responsibility for the outcome. That’s unavoidable given a generic doctrine of divine creation. He can’t very well say he had nothing to do with it. And there’s an obvious sense in which the Creator of man is the ultimate source of what man does. You may deny that he’s the sole source, but you can’t deny divine sourcehood altogether.

    iii) It’s also simplistic to say an agent can’t be the source of something he “hates,” for he may hate it in itself, but still be the ultimate source inasmuch as that’s a necessary step on the way to a second-order good.

    1. Godismyjudge says:

      Steve,

      Yes, God is a necessary cause for sin, but He is not a sufficient cause.

      As for God permitting sin knowing it would happen, again, that’s a separate question to the one about the source of sin. However, I think the answer to the permission question is somewhere between 1) despite popular opinion, God is not a care bear sitting on a cloud, 2) God is not accountable to us and 3) God had some greater good which involved allowing us to use the freedom He gave us in mind.

      God be with you,
      Dan

  22. steve hays says:

    Godismyjudge

    “Not just any buffer will do. LFW addresses the issue of the source of sin or cause of sin, so that’s why believing in LFW does help explain why sin was about to happen (such that God was deciding to permit or prevent it).”

    You can say the same thing about the hitman. On your view, the hitman has LFW. He’s the ultimately source of his own choices or actions. So does that exonerate the Don who ordered the hit? Isn’t that the point of a fallguy? To distance the Don from the crime?

    To paraphrase your distinction, you have the Don on one side and murder on the other and the libertarian fallguy in-between. So does that let the Don off the hook for murder?

    “Yes, God is a necessary cause for sin, but He is not a sufficient cause.”

    And how is that distinction ipso facto exculpatory? The Mafia Don is not the sufficient cause of the murder. He orders a hit, but the hitman carries it out.

    “As for God permitting sin knowing it would happen, again, that’s a separate question to the one about the source of sin.”

    I didn’t say it was the same question. But we’re dealing with theodicy. And God knowing the outcome, especially when God had a hand in the outcome (as your own position concedes) raises its own problems for Arminianism.

    “However, I think the answer to the permission question is somewhere between 1) despite popular opinion, God is not a care bear sitting on a cloud, 2) God is not accountable to us and 3) God had some greater good which involved allowing us to use the freedom He gave us in mind.”

    A Calvinist can also do a variation on 1-3.

    In my experience you have a habit of retreating into metaphysical distinctions as if metaphysical distinctions are automatically moral distinctions.

    1. Arminian says:

      A major problem that runs through Steve’s response to Dan is that he compares God to the mafia boss who orders the hit. But that is really the Calvinist view. In the Arminian view, God does not order the hit. He does not contract people to do evil. They do it if their own free will.

    2. Godismyjudge says:

      Steve,

      The “buffer” works with respect to the sourcehood of sin. Man, not God, is the sufficient cause of sin. The hitman, not the Don is the source of the hitman’s choices. So with respect to sourcehood of sin, Arminians have LFW as a buffer between God and man, but Calvinists don’t.

      Now you are asking “are you off the hook so long is you are not the source of sin”. And the answer is no, but as Arminian pointed out there are big differences between the Don and God.

      But there is another question here worth addressing. Is being the source of sin a bad thing? The Don example doesn’t really address this.

      God be with you,
      Dan

  23. steve hays says:

    Godismyjudge

    “As for your saying God is responsible for sin, but not culpable, well, the bible says God hates sin. It seems fundamentally against God’s nature that He be the ultimate source of sin.”

    By that logic, why is it not fundamentally against God’s nature to even allow evil?

  24. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “The second thing he had to say was that I need to explain why divine permission is germane to theodicy. That is an invalid response since we are talking about Horton’s argument, and Horton assumes that it is. And furthermore, this is another point so obvious that I do not think I need to explain it. The burden of proof is on Steve or you to say why it is not germane, especially as Horton thinks it is. I am again happy to leave my comments to stand against the challenge that it is not obvious why permission is germane to theodicy in contrast to God causing evil.”

    No, we’re not just talking about Horton’s argument. We’re also talking about Olson’s alternative. It’s a debate between Horton and Olson, remember?

    If you want to cop out when the going gets tough and tacitly admit you have no good explanation, fine. I’ll be happy to accept your concession speech.

  25. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “A major problem that runs through Steve’s response to Dan is that he compares God to the mafia boss who orders the hit. But that is really the Calvinist view. In the Arminian view, God does not order the hit. He does not contract people to do evil. They do it if their own free will.”

    Arminian isn’t following the argument. I was responding to Dan on his own terms. Dan introduced LFW as a buffer. Well, a hitman is a buffer too. According to Arminianism, the hitman commits murder of his own free will.

    1. Arminian says:

      I responded below.

    2. Arminian says:

      As I say below, I am bowing out of discussion with you in this thread. But before doing so, let me say here that my comments were spot on, because if you were responding to Dan on his own terms adequately, you would have taken the fact that God doesn’t commission the hit man’s actions. So in Arminian theology, he does not have the same relationship to the buffer that your analogy requires. Your analogy is too dis-analogous from the Arminian view to make your point.

  26. K Gray says:

    I have read Dr. Olson’s blog on this topic, and have seen that many who agree with or him appeal primarily to if-then logic.

    Dr. Olson says that IF God acts in the way ‘high federal Calvinists’ believe He does, THEN the ‘good and necessary consequences’ implied are that that God is not good (and Dr. Olson could not worship that God). If-then. IF God is meticulously sovereign, THEN He must cause sin. IF He causes sin THEN He is not essentially good. IF He is not essentially good THEN Dr. Olson would not worship Him. What a hypothetical!!

    But if-then logic often leads where few believers actually go. They are bounded by faith in the God of the Bible.

    Accordingly, most Calvinists actually believe God is very good. Dr. Olson believes this makes Calvinism logically inconsistent. Logical inconsistency is somehow equated with impossibility; in other words, it is impossible that that God is utterly, meticulously sovereign and utterly, meticulously good. It makes no sense.

    This logic-world also brings us Love Wins, IMO. IF God is love, IF God desires all to be saved and none to perish, and IF God is sovereign and all-powerful, THEN God will never ‘close the door’ to salvation on anyone. Love wins. Also, IF God is good THEN He would never allow eternal torment.

    Three more features of logic-led theology are:
    – Either/or options. For example, insistence that one must be Calvinist or Arminian and no third option or ‘in-between’ exists. This is seen as well in the idea that Calvinism leads to a not-good God, and Arminianism to a good God. The logic is inexorable and mutually exclusive, even if Scripture travels a different path.
    – Other views are too simplistic. The ultimate in simplistic is quoting the Bible or saying one believes the Bible (as your grandmother might say!). People who don’t follow the logic are not thinking deeply enough, cannot follow, lack nuance, or have ‘agendas.’
    – Arguments from faith impermissibly cloud the pristine waters of logic.

    I am not saying that God hates logic, or logic is useless, or we should all be irrational; just that logic is not a god and God does not have to follow human logic.

  27. Arminian says:

    Steve said: “No, we’re not just talking about Horton’s argument. We’re also talking about Olson’s alternative. It’s a debate between Horton and Olson, remember?”

    **** So what? Both Horton and Olson agree that divine permission is germane to theodicy. Why should I have to take the time to explain the patently obvious in a context in which the subject is a discussion of Horton and Olson’s debate when they both agree on the point you want to challenge me to explain?

    Steve said: “If you want to cop out when the going gets tough and tacitly admit you have no good explanation, fine. I’ll be happy to accept your concession speech.”

    **** If you want to rhetorically posture to try and score rhetorical debate points, go ahead. But in light of what I have mentioned, the burden of proof is on you to show why divine permission is not germane to theodicy. In fact, why don’t you explain why it is not? id you refuse to, shall I say, If you want to cop out when the going gets tough and tacitly admit you have no good explanation, fine. I’ll be happy to accept your concession speech. And if you think permission is germane, then would that make all this “to do” about it some sort of sophistic game?

  28. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “But in light of what I have mentioned, the burden of proof is on you to show why divine permission is not germane to theodicy. In fact, why don’t you explain why it is not?”

    I’ve given examples in this very thread. Pay attention.

    I realize why Arminians wish to expose a little of their flank as possible. They have a hard position to defend.

    1. Arminian says:

      Steve said: “I’ve given examples in this very thread. Pay attention.”

      **** You shouldn’t flatter yourself to think that people are looking at every comment you have made in this thread.

      And why didn’t you answer my question: So what? Both Horton and Olson agree that divine permission is germane to theodicy. Why should I have to take the time to explain the patently obvious in a context in which the subject is a discussion of Horton and Olson’s debate when they both agree on the point you want to challenge me to explain?

      On your logic, that means you did not have a good answer. That leads to this from you:

      “I realize why Arminians wish to expose a little of their flank as possible. They have a hard position to defend.”

      *** More rhetorical posturing. Is that really the point you want to make? Because I have not taken the time to argue for what Horton and Olson assume in a discussion about their debate, that means I know my position does not have good support and am trying to hide that? That just doesn’t seem like good discussion practice. I think I am going to bow out from discussion with you in this thread. I won’t be surprised if you suggest it’s because I can’t stand up against your argumentation. But that’s not the case and would just be more rhetorical posturing. (BTW, it is not as if silence cannot mean someone does not have an answer, but I have explained why I don’t feel the need to address that. There are more reasons as well, including time.)

  29. steve hays says:

    Godismyjudge

    “The ‘buffer’ works with respect to the sourcehood of sin. Man, not God, is the sufficient cause of sin.”

    Since divine creation (or choice of/instantiation of possible worlds, if you prefer) is a necessary condition of sin, human creatures are not the sufficient cause or sufficient condition. No creation, no human agents, no sin. You need a source over and above the creature to yield the result.

    “The hitman, not the Don is the source of the hitman’s choices.”

    So does that exculpate the Don?

    “So with respect to sourcehood of sin, Arminians have LFW as a buffer between God and man, but Calvinists don’t.”

    Assuming (arguendo) that LFW exists, that’s a property of agents, and the (human) agents have their ultimate source in their Creator. Therefore, your buffer is deceptive. The source of the sinner is, himself, a source of sin.

    “Now you are asking ‘are you off the hook so long is you are not the source of sin’. And the answer is no, but as Arminian pointed out there are big differences between the Don and God.”

    Yes, because God has far more control than the Don. So God would be even more responsible for the outcome.

    “But there is another question here worth addressing. Is being the source of sin a bad thing? The Don example doesn’t really address this.”

    That’s your dilemma. If you answer in the negative, then you lose your objection to Calvinism. If you answer in the affirmative, then Arminianism has a parallel problem.

    1. Godismyjudge says:

      Steve,

      A necessary cause is a different type of source than a sufficient cause – one a lot less loosely associated with the event.

      The Don is a good example of why an LFW buffer doesn’t always get you off the hook. As a counter example, I would offer that a man who chooses to have a child is not responsible for everything his son does. So sometimes the LFW buffer doesn’t work and sometimes it does. Now which is God’s creation and permission of sin knowing how things would turn out more like? I would say the father. First, God prohibits sin, and the father teaches his son not to sin and corrects him when he does sin – but the Don orders and pays for the hit (maybe even applies pressure to get the hitman to go through with it). Second, ordering a hit is intrinsically wrong, it violates express biblical sanctions – but fathering a son does not, nor are there any sanctions against God creating a world. Third, the Don’s motives seem to be evil, but the father and God’s motives are good. Even if for some reason the Don has good motives it would only be an example of doing evil that good may come (see the second reason), which is prohibited. But the father and God are permitting evil not doing evil. Fourth, the Don isn’t giving freedom to the hitman but the father and God are giving freedom. The father may know, if I give my son a car, he will end up doing something wrong with it. But he wants his son to have freedom so that in the long run he will be better off for it. Yet we don’t blame the father for that.

      God be with you,
      Dan

  30. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “I think I am going to bow out from discussion with you in this thread.”

    When the going gets tough, the fluff leave in a huff. Puff goes the Arminian.

  31. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “As I say below, I am bowing out of discussion with you in this thread. But before doing so, let me say here that my comments were spot on, because if you were responding to Dan on his own terms adequately, you would have taken the fact that God doesn’t commission the hit man’s actions. So in Arminian theology, he does not have the same relationship to the buffer that your analogy requires. Your analogy is too dis-analogous from the Arminian view to make your point.”

    The disanalogy makes things even worse for Arminianism. Unlike the Mafia Don, God creates the hitman via second causes. God providentially empowers and sustains the hitman.

    1. Robert says:

      Hello Arminian,

      Arminian wrote:

      “A major problem that runs through Steve’s response to Dan is that he compares God to the mafia boss who orders the hit. But that is really the Calvinist view. In the Arminian view, God does not order the hit. He does not contract people to do evil. They do it if their own free will.”

      It appears that you are bothered that Steve Hays would compare God to a mafia don: why?

      Steve Hays is the same guy that likes to compare God to a cardsharp.

      Here is Hays discussing with relish how he sees God as like a cardsharp who cons the unbeliever:

      “Suppose we compare predestination to a game of seven-card stud. God is the dealer. One of the players is a believer, the other an unbeliever who tries to cheat the believer at every turn. However, God has stacked the deck so that his chosen people will win over the long haul.

      Now, God is securing the outcome by securing the deal. Yet he isn’t forcing the hand of a crooked player. Since a crooked player doesn’t know that the dealer is a cardsharp, he bets and bluffs just the same as if the deck were randomly shuffled. He can only play the hand he’s dealt, but that’s true in any poker game, and he enjoys the very same choices he’d have if the cards just happened to play out in that order.

      God allows the unbeliever to cheat the believer, but feeds the believer enough winning cards to keep him in the game. God then lets the crooked player become overconfident and bet the whole jackpot on a weak hand, at which point the Christian calls his bluff and rakes in all the chips.

      To me, there’s a delicious irony in this arrangement, for a crooked player constantly tries to cheat his fellow player, but all the while he’s being cheated by the dealer.”

      And people wonder why Olson made his comment?

      When Calvinists themselves compare the character of God with that of a mafia don or cardsharp, persons who enjoy cheating others to get their way?

      And I actually agree with Hays on this: if his Calvinism, his theological fatalism is true, then **God’s character** ****is**** like a mafia don or a cardsharp. He sets up the nonbeliever for the ultimate hit: living a life of rebellion and sin in which it was impossible for you to have done otherwise, when your every sin was ordered by the don. But then it does not end with a cruel death and discarded and hidden body. No, the don of calvinism then punishes you eternally in hell for doing the very things he ordained (er let’s use Hays’ language, things “ordered” by the don).

      And people wonder why Olson could possibly say that if theological fatalism were true he would not worship that God?

      Thankfully the God of the bible does not have the character of a mafia don or cardsharp.

      Robert

  32. steve hays says:

    i) I didn’t compare God’s “character” to a cardsharp. As usual, Robert is prevaricating.

    ii) Moreover, I didn’t compare the God of Reformed theism to a mafia don. Rather, I was discussing Arminian theism, and I used a comparison to illustrate Dan Chapa’s Arminian distinction.

    ii) But as far as games of chance go, is it purely coincidental that Gabriel’s appearance to Zechariah occurred at the very time Zechariah was chosen by lot to minister in the temple? Even though lots are a classic randomizing device, God was behind the lot falling to Zechariah, to synchronize with the conception of John, in fulfillment of Malachi.

  33. Robert says:

    “i) I didn’t compare God’s “character” to a cardsharp.”
    Actually you did, I quoted your own words, words apparently you are now embarassed at having said in the past.

    Pay attention.

    You were giving your view of predestination and so you provided YOUR ANALOGY for God’s character, that he is like a cardsharp cheating the nonbeliever. It was not my analogy for predestination it was yours. So you are the one prevaricating here, not me.

    I don’t have to present God as a cardsharp, to present my views. You do.

    Pay attention.

    Robert

  34. steve hays says:

    Robert continues to dissimulate. I was making the point that a predetermined outcome can be identical to a fortuitous outcome. Hence, my statement that the player “bets and bluffs just the same as if the deck were randomly shuffled.”

    Therefore, predestination doesn’t force anyone to do other than they’d do if they had libertarian freedom. Robert’s too blinded by animus to get the point.

    1. Parsival38 says:

      I agree. You have done a masterful job as always, Steve.

      Thank you, brother.

  35. Glenn says:

    JT, Why, oh why do you allow this meaningless, seemingly never ending back and forth between people who have no interest in changing their viewpoint????

    I am all for a good debate, but this is not a debate, unless here a ‘debate’ means for everyone to talk ‘at’ each other or even round each other.

    Most of what I have read in the comments so far is just a load of theological posturing, with some seemingly trying to show what big, multi-syllable words they can wheel out, as if that makes any difference!!!

    1. henrybish says:

      I didn’t come away with that impression Glenn. I saw Arminian make some seemingly strong arguments and then steve hays answered them very well (albeit with a bit of snarkiness:).

  36. James says:

    Justin,
    This is a reply I left with Tullian on last Sundays sermon with his ongoing series in the book of Ecc. It seem tobe an ideal place here also.
    Can sustenance and government be separated? They are distinguishable but inseparable. Fathoming God’s rule is impossible (Ps. 77; 78; 96:10; 146:10; 121:8). The Psalmist recognized God’s rule: “My times are in thy hand…” (Ps.31:15). A man may make plans and follow them for a time, but he is soon diverted: “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9). “…The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). God’s rule does not follow a common path of operation. He kills, makes alive, brings down, raises up, makes the poor rich, makes the rich poor, and raises up the beggar from the dunghill (I Sam. 2:6-8). God did not restrain Adam from sinning (Gen. 3), but He restrained Abimelech from sinning (Gen. 20:6). He restrained Laban from harming Jacob (Gen. 31) and Balaam from cursing Israel (Num. 23), but He did not
    restrain Shimei from cursing David (II Sam. 16:7,11). God thwarted Pharaoh’s fury against Israel; yet He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. God gave the evil spirit a commission to go forth and do what he purposed, which was to be a lying spirit (I Kings 22:21,22). God did not kill Peter for lying about being Christ’s disciple (John 18), but He killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying (Acts 5). God gives up some (Rom. 1:24- 28), and He sends a working of error to others for the purpose of their believing the lie (II Thess. 2:11). God used Caiaphas,an unsaved person who did not know the truth, to speak the truth (John 11:51,52). God makes the wrath of men to praise Him. Conclusively, God rules and overrules for His glory. I thought it was a good connection. Hope you like it.

  37. Bob Anderson says:

    The problem with the comment in the initial post is that it builds a caricature of the non-Calvinist view. It is a strawman. Horton portrays Calvinism as protecting God’s sovereignty and everyone else as denying it. That is evident in his statement – “In the one, God is sovereign but not good; in the latter, God is neither.”

    That is irresponsible theologically since all theists have God involved with creation in some way and have God acting within our lives. The question is not whether God is sovereign, but how he exercises that sovereignty. Does God act as a despot or a parent or something in between? Theists believe that God is involved and moving us towards his goal for creation. Christian theists are never troubled by the story of Joseph in the Bible. God and His acts are declared good there and we all look back a understand his involvement. In fact, we see God’s intervention in preventing a series of things that could have resulted in Joseph’s death. The problem is not in the Joseph story, which Calvinists love to raise up for their position. The problem is with acts like the Holocaust. With the Holocaust, we cannot see the goodness of God and it is not enough to say it must be there. We simply see an abomination. Yet the Calvinist desires to place God’s sovereignty as the determinative factor in all events, including this one.

    That is why Horton, as a Calvinist, cannot agree with Olson. But Horton’s argument above is a strawman because it infers something that is not true about the non-Calvinist position. It neither addresses the true issue of the moral monster statement, nor presents a true picture of his opponents position.

    Horton himself is caught with this dilemma. He declares that what God is doing is good and overcomes evil for his glory and OUR GOOD. He even states that “MERCIFULLY, Scripture does reveal that God does exactly that.” It is not God’s sovereignty that is at stake in the question of the moral monster, but his goodness. It is inescapable, yet it is the very issue that underlies the question of worship. The Calvinist must appeal to it before they make the argument for worshiping a sovereign. And by doing so, he concedes the argument to his opponent.

    An evil, despotic dictator might force submission through power, but we would all agree that such a dictator is not worthy of worship by anyone’s standard. The Calvinist says that in theory everything must be for God’s glory, but historically we know that sinful acts do occur that bring responses from both God and humanity declaring them evil and wrong. Such acts we do not attribute to God. We all attribute the judgment of such acts to God. But the Calvinist implies that the determination of such acts must leads back to God in some way. The non-Calvinist refuses to attribute sin to God in anyway. “His ways are perfect.”

    It is the righteousness of God that is foundational in this argument, not his sovereignty.

    1. Clarification Dave says:

      Amen.

    2. Bob,
      That is an outstanding reply.

      Blessings in Christ.

      1. Bob Anderson says:

        It is interesting that Calvinists dance around this issue of true evil without really addressing it.

        Hays is right that we all define sovereignty differently. That was the point I was making above with the comment – “The question is not whether God is sovereign, but how he exercises that sovereignty.”

  38. steve hays says:

    Bob Anderson

    “That is irresponsible theologically since all theists have God involved with creation in some way and have God acting within our lives. The question is not whether God is sovereign, but how he exercises that sovereignty.”

    Actually, that is a question. For instance, Calvinists, Molinists, classical Arminians, as well asl Arminian open theists, all claim that God is sovereign. But clearly the term is used equivocally when employed to cover such a diverse spectrum.

    “The problem is with acts like the Holocaust. With the Holocaust, we cannot see the goodness of God and it is not enough to say it must be there. We simply see an abomination. Yet the Calvinist desires to place God’s sovereignty as the determinative factor in all events, including this one.”

    And what’s your alternative? To treat the Holocaust as a surd event? Even if you say God merely allowed it to happen, why did he allow it? Did he have a good reason to let it happen? If so, then it serves a purpose sufficient to justify divine permission.

    And if it’s morally permissible for God to allow it, why is it morally impermissible for God to plan it?

    Indeed, how can you avoid the implication that God intended the outcome? God’s creative fiat is a necessary precondition of the outcome. If he foreknew the consequences of his contribution to the outcome, even if the end-result is the effect of a chain reaction involving the contributions of many libertarian agents, then he surely intended the outcome. For he’s a witting participant.

    Is your fallback to say God allows horrendous evils for no good reason? Why kind of theodicy is that? How does that vindicate the goodness of God? How is that supposed to be an improvement on what you find so objectionable in Calvinism?

    “The Calvinist says that in theory everything must be for God’s glory, but historically we know that sinful acts do occur that bring responses from both God and humanity declaring them evil and wrong. Such acts we do not attribute to God.”

    That’s simplistic. For instance, God threatens the Israelites with horrific consequences if they violate the covenant (Deut 28:15-68). And in the Babylonian Exile, that becomes a reality.

    Does God approve of the consequences? The question is ambiguous. God doesn’t approve of punitive suffering for the sake of suffering. But he approves of the purpose it serves. God doesn’t approve of evil events in themselves. But he does approve of the purpose he’s assigned to them, in the furtherance of his wise and benevolent objectives.

    “We all attribute the judgment of such acts to God.”

    But before they can be judged, they must be. So divine judgment isn’t merely an afterthought, unless you’re an open theist. And open theism generates its own theodicean problems.

    “But the Calvinist implies that the determination of such acts must leads back to God in some way.”

    On any minimal doctrine of divine creation, whatever happens in the world must lead back to God “in some way.” That’s unavoidable. That remains the case if you reject determinism. Even a stochastic process still leads back to whoever or whatever originates the initial conditions.

    “His ways are perfect.”

    Indeed, his ways are perfect in the Fall. His ways are perfect in the Babylonian Exile. His ways are perfect in the crucifixion.

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      Let me as three simple questions –

      Do you think the Holocaust was a morally reprehensible event?

      Do you think God planned it?

      Does your position represent Calvinism?

  39. steve hays says:

    BTW, since a number of commenters are hung up on Horton’s permissive language, I’d just point out that there’s an obvious sense in which a Calvinist can use the lingo of divine permission. To allow something assumes the agent is in a position to disallow it or prevent it. And the God of Reformed theism is certainly in a position to prevent any event. For no event is inevitable apart from predestination. No event will happen apart from predestination. Predestination is what makes it inevitable.

    As such, there’s an obvious sense in which God allows a predestined event to take place. For he was in a position to prevent the occurrence by not decreeing the occurrence in the first place.

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      So the decree implies some level of causality on God’s part, right?

  40. steve hays says:

    Bob Anderson

    “Let me as three simple questions – Do you think the Holocaust was a morally reprehensible event?”

    i) What the Nazis did to the Jews was morally blameworthy. What God did to the Jews was morally praiseworthy.

    ii) Something can be wicked in itself, yet also be a source of good. Consider the genealogies of Christ. There’s lots of iniquity in the family tree leading up to Christ. Yet that’s not something you can myopically evaluate apart from God’s overarching purpose.

    “Do you think God planned it?”

    Naturally he planned it. Do you think the Holocaust is like an unplanned pregnancy?

    What would be problematic is not if God planned it, but if God didn’t plan it. If God simply allowed horrific things to befall people for no ultimate good or higher end.

    The book of Lamentations is appalling. Yet God planned the Babylonian Exile. Indeed, God predicted the Babylonian Exile.

    “Does your position represent Calvinism?”

    Another name for that is predestination.

    “So the decree implies some level of causality on God’s part, right?”

    What about creation?

    It doesn’t seem to occur to many Arminians that our theodicean options are severely restricted. All orthodox Christians have to work back from the fact of evil, work back from the fact of God’s omniscience and creatorship. There are very few ways in which you can combine those three facts. Orthodox Christians are hemmed in by certain doctrinal precommitments. There’s not much give. Not much play in the line.

    I’m reminded of something Richard Feynman once said. He said fundamental progress in scientific theorizing becomes more difficult as time goes on since every major new theory must find where to fit with well-established preexisting theories. Very little room for creativity. That’s because scientific creativity is constrained by inflexible external realities.

    Arminians often act as if they don’t know that bacon comes from pigs. They never suspected that connection. They go to the supermarket every week and buy their packaged bacon. They assume the display case in the meat department produces thick-cut sliced bacon in plastic wrap ex nihilo overnight while the store is closed.

    When someone points out to them for the first time that a pig has to be slaughtered to produce bacon, they wax indignant at the very suggestion. How dare you say such a thing!

    When the horrid realization slowly dawns on some of them that shrink-wrapped bacon strips aren’t the natural state of pork, that bacon doesn’t originate in the meat department (like growing vegetables), that you can retrace the process back to the abattoir, they become ethical vegans.

    1. Clarification Dave says:

      “What God did to the Jews was morally praiseworthy.”

      What did God do to the Jews in the Holocaust?

    2. Clarification Dave says:

      Would the Calvinist perspective say that God decreed the specific processes that definitively formed the specific details of the particular sin natures of each of the Nazis which then resulted in the formation of the specific thoughts that lead to specific atrocities of action?

      More specifically, was God directing the molecules of the specific bio-chemical pathways that were the vehicles of the thoughts of the Nazis so that the thoughts that generated the atrocities of action were exactly what God wanted them to think and thus produce said actions?

      Would a Calvinist say yes to such questions?

      I know that Arminians have to have an answer to such questions, and their answers have certain implications, what I would like to know is whether a Calvinist would say yes to those questions.

      I know that you could respond by pointing out Arminian problems, but could you respond with a yes or no and thus clarify what your Calvinist position is with regard to these questions?

      If you have to further explain the yes or no, feel free to do so, but could you at least offer a yes or a no?

    3. Bob Anderson says:

      I want to deal just with this question first, since you seem to be articulating the Calvinist position on predestination (although you are not being very explicit here) and I want to be clear as to what you are saying.

      My question was – Do you think the Holocaust was a morally reprehensible event?”

      Your answer –

      — Begin quote

      i) What the Nazis did to the Jews was morally blameworthy. What God did to the Jews was morally praiseworthy.

      ii) Something can be wicked in itself, yet also be a source of good. Consider the genealogies of Christ. There’s lots of iniquity in the family tree leading up to Christ.
      — End of quote
      You seem to be equating the death camps of the Nazis with the goodness of God here. Are you saying that while the Holocaust was morally reprehensible, it is actually a good thing because God did it?

      Can you describe for us the good that God was doing in the death camps? You do seem to be equating the evil of the Nazis with the goodness of God, which I find rather absurd.

      Are you suggesting that by inferring the God has done this or ordained it, it must be good simply because you are attaching the label of “God” to the source?

      Would you consider the Nazis “moral monsters” in this act of genocide?

  41. steve hays says:

    Clarification Dave

    “What did God do to the Jews in the Holocaust?”

    He exposed them to devastating harm. And that holds true for Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, and open theism.

    “Would the Calvinist perspective say that God decreed the specific processes that definitively formed the specific details of the particular sin natures of each of the Nazis which then resulted in the formation of the specific thoughts that lead to specific atrocities of action?”

    Calvinism doesn’t have a particular theory of causation. The Bible shows us examples of God using what we’d call historical causation to achieve certain ends (e.g. the Joseph cycle), but it doesn’t offer a detailed or comprehensive theory of causation.

    In Calvinism, God planned everything that happens, and everything happens according to his plan.

  42. steve hays says:

    Bob Anderson

    “You seem to be equating the death camps of the Nazis with the goodness of God here.”

    Doesn’t follow from what I said.

    “Are you saying that while the Holocaust was morally reprehensible, it is actually a good thing because God did it? Can you describe for us the good that God was doing in the death camps? You do seem to be equating the evil of the Nazis with the goodness of God, which I find rather absurd.”

    As I already explained to you, something can be evil in and of itself, but also be a source of good, (e.g. a second-order good). There are many examples of this in Scripture. For instance:

    “’Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’” (Jn 9:3).

    Blindness is a natural evil. Yet God blinded the man (by inflicting him with congenital blindness) to occasion a miracle of Christ, and thereby reveal the goodness and the greatness of Christ.

    “When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it’” (Jn 11:4).

    Death is evil. Yet Christ exploits the death of Lazarus as a means of manifesting something good.

    “11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring! (Rom 11:11-12).”

    The infidelity of the Jews is sinful. Yet, in the plan of God, that’s instrumental to something good.

    “Are you suggesting that by inferring the God has done this or ordained it, it must be good simply because you are attaching the label of ‘God’ to the source?”

    I haven’t used that argument in this thread, but as a matter of fact that’s a valid inference. God is the exemplar of goodness. Whatever he does, directly or indirectly, exemplifies his goodness.

    “Would you consider the Nazis “moral monsters” in this act of genocide?”

    Yes, but we need to distinguish God’s motivation from their motivation.

    Since, however, you’ve chosen to make the Holocaust the centerpiece of your attack on Calvinism, what’s your alternative theodicy?

    i) Since you evidently deny that God planned the Holocaust, you apparently believe that God left it to chance whether or not some, many, or all Jews would perish in the Holocaust. If a Jew perished in the Holocaust, he was just unlucky. He had the bad luck of being born at the wrong time and the wrong place. Other Jews got lucky.

    Do you think that somehow vindicates the goodness of God?

    ii) Likewise, on your view, God empowers the Nazi to toss a Jewish child kicking and screaming into the ovens of Dachau. And by giving the Nazi that unchecked power over the child, the child is powerless to resist. No match. He is big and she is small. She has no choice in the matter. She didn’t choose to be burned alive. She was robbed of the opportunity to avoid that fate–as her eyes melt and her skin peels.

    Do you think that somehow vindicates the goodness of God? On your libertarian calculus, would the world be worse off if one less child had died in the ovens of Dachau? Would that upset the delicate balance of power in the libertarian scheme of things–like pulling a tin can from the bottom of the stack?

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      We are not really dealing with my view here, but the Calvinist view, which I assume you are advocating. That is what has been questioned and what you are defending.

      So according to Calvinism (at least your form of Calvinism) we need to say that God not only allowed the Holocaust but planned it. You seem to think the works of God are evident in the Holocaust.

      But we also agree it was a moral monstrosity.

      You have not answered the question of the good that is inherent in this event. What is God’s motivation here? What exactly is the good you are suggesting in the holocaust?

      By what criteria do you judge this event as a monstrosity and yet exonerate your God who planned it?

      In fact, the only defense you seem to be able to give is that your view is the lesser of evils – at least as you perceive it.

      It seems that you have pretty much proven Olson’s case for him.

      1. I don’t mean to butt in, but Jonathan Edwards has helpfully answered the question you’re asking. He basically says that God ordains all things, including sin, yet He does not ordain sin as sin, but He ordains it for the good that He means to cause as a result of it. Here’s Edwards:

        “[It is consistent to say] that God has decreed every action of men, yea, every action that is sinful, and every circumstance of those actions; that he predetermines that they shall be in every respect as they afterwards are; that he determines that there shall be such actions, and just so sinful as they are; and yet that God does not decree the actions that are sinful, as sin, but decrees them as good. [...]

        By decreeing an action as sinful, I mean decreeing it for the sake of the sinfulness of the action. God decrees that they shall be sinful, for the sake of the good that he causes to arise from the sinfulness thereof; whereas man decrees them for the sake of the evil that is in them.” – Concerning the Divine Decrees, Works, 2:527.

        For good measure, Piper offers his explanation of this as well:

        “The infinite complexity of the divine mind is such that God has the capacity to look at the world through two lenses. He can look through a narrow lens or through a wide-angle lens. When God looks at a painful or wicked event through His narrow lens, He sees the tragedy of the sin for what it is in itself, and He is angered and grieved [Ezekiel 18:32]. [...]

        But when God looks at a painful or wicked event through His wide-angle lens, He sees the tragedy of the sin in relation to everything leading up to it and everything flowing out from it. He sees it in relation to all the connections and effects that form a pattern, or mosaic, stretching into eternity. This mosaic in all its parts—good and evil—brings Him delight.” – Desiring God, 39.

        So, the Holocaust is a moral monstrosity. I don’t think anybody is arguing that the Holocaust was inherently good. Yet even the Holocaust does not escape the foreordained decree of the God who works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11; cf. Pss 33:10-11; 115:3; 135:6; Isa 46:10). And because there is no unrighteousness with God (Rom 3:5-6), we must conclude that God has ordained such an evil as the Holocaust and yet is not morally deficient because of it, but rather has a morally sufficient reason for doing so. And, ultimately, that reason is “making His power known” (Rom 9:22), making known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy (Rom 9:23). Or, in the words of John 9:3, “that the works of God might be displayed.”

        And, as I mentioned above, Scripture is very willing to attribute to God such an active role in an even greater evil than the Holocaust: the murder of the innocent Son of God (Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28).

        1. Bob Anderson says:

          Mike,

          Thank you for the comments. Because of time, I am trying to limit my comments to what Steve thinks is a debate here. (It is not.)

          Perhaps we should assume that Mr. Hays is not speaking for Calvinism, but for his own particular form of determinism.

          I have seen Acts 2:22-23 raised up before. The concept of Jewish martyrdom – death for others – can be seen as good. But Jesus himself is very explicit, that he is laying down his life himself for others as a act of life (John 10:15,17; 15;13; 1 John 3:16). This type of self-giving, which we equate to the love of God, is a sacrifice we are all called to give and such sacrifice is manifestly declared as good. The incarnation itself is purposeful, an entry into the world for a very specific reason that all would attribute to be good. So I do not think we can compare this event to genocide. Rather it is the very opposite.

          You have stated that you “don’t think anybody is arguing that the Holocaust was inherently good.” Yet that seems to be precisely what is being argued. Hays is saying that there is no “apparent good,” but he does not seem to want to divorce the goodness of God from this event. I say this only to note that you may actually be arguing for a different position.

          As for Piper’s argument, I do not think it stands the test of evaluating an event like the Holocaust. I have used this event simply because it is one that we can all say is morally reprehensible. While we must affirm with the author of the book of Job that God himself is good and creation as a whole is good, we do not attribute sin to God.

          1. Hi Bob,

            I hesitate to comment, because I think Steve’s “November 20, 2011 at 7:29 am” comment captured my thoughts well. But I do think there’s at least a couple things to highlight.

            Regarding your comment on Piper’s argument, it seems you believe that the mass murder of Jews and countless others was more “reprehensible” than the murder of the innocent Son of God. That’s a scary place to be.

            Your confusion on this point seems to come from the fact that you think an event can only have one intention — or at least one kind of intention — from one agent. You don’t understand how the goodness of God can be present even in an evil event (or, series of events) as the Holocaust. It must either be good or be evil. And because great — indeed, infinite — good comes from the events of the crucifixion, you decide that that event was good.

            But we can’t frame the issue as: “An event is either inherently good or inherently bad, and that’s the only way to evaluate things.” Genesis 50:20 plainly says otherwise. The narrative makes plain that God did not simply make the best out of a bad situation, as if Joseph had merely said, “You meant evil against me, but God worked it out for good.” Rather, God meant the very same event for good. Same word (“meant”), exactly the same event (the selling of Joseph into slavery): (a) God’s intentions were just as active as Joseph’s brothers’ intentions, and (b) He was as sovereignly involved on the front end of Joseph’s trials as He was on the back end of his prosperity.

            Joseph’s brothers meant, and God meant. This is exactly the concept that Edwards presents above: God decreed that Joseph’s brothers would sinfully sell him into slavery in Egypt. But He did not, as they, intend it as sin. Rather, He ordained that sinful action for the good that He meant to bring about by it: the preservation of life (Gen 45:5-7). Pilate, Herod, the Jews, and the Gentiles meant the crucifixion for evil, and it was indeed evil (Lk 22:53). And God meant the crucifixion for good, and it was indeed good (Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28). The Nazi’s meant the Holocaust for evil, and it was indeed evil. And God meant the Holocaust for good, even if we don’t have the advantage — as we do with Joseph’s story and the crucifixion — of immediately perceiving the material good for which God intended to accomplish through this series of events.

            1. Bob Anderson says:

              Mike,

              I wanted to respond to you quickly, but I due to the mudslinging here, I am removing myself from participation. From what I read, your comments have not been the cause of this and I appreciate your approach.

              I want to clarify two things for you and this will be my last post.

              First, I read Acts 2:22-23 a bit differently. I thought I had posted on this, but perhaps not. Perhaps we will discuss that another time and place, where the environment is more conducive to true discussion.

              Second, concerning the argument from Job, I thought I had explicitly said I was following Elihu’s argument, not Job’s. The danger of using the book of Job is sorting through all the arguments. Elihu’s argument (and God’s, which many consider a continuation of Elihu’s) is the only valid one, which is why Job repents and his three friends fall under judgment.

              Peace.

              1. Bob,

                Your comments about Elihu were posted after my comment. Nevertheless, I still believe your handling of Job overlooks important points.

                First, Job’s errors for which he was rebuked by God in chapters 38-41 did not come from chapters 1 and 2, but from later on in the story where he says things like, “I want to contend with the Almighty and argue with God” (13:3). In fact, we must grant that Job was not wrong in chapters 1 and 2, because, as my post below outlines, immediately after Job says that he is receiving these evils from God Himself, the narrator tells us in 2:10 that “in all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

                Regarding Elihu, he does not contradict the reality that Job’s sufferings come from Yahweh. His point is to correct Job’s notion that Yahweh is harming him without cause (33:10-13). Elihu says, “Why do you complain against Him that He does not give an account of all His doings.” Again, these are God’s doings. Elihu’s defense is simply that God is righteous no matter what you and I may think, and that His righteousness extends even to Job’s sufferings. This is exactly the Calvinist position. God has put forth His own hand to Job’s ruin (2:3, 5), and He doesn’t need to give an account for why He is doing so to remain righteous, which is why Job never gets an account of the interaction between God and Satan in the opening chapters, even after he is restored.

                And that brings me to the most important point (also touched on in the below comment). In any biblical narrative, the narrator is the only guaranteed voice that carries with it the inspiration and infallibility — and thus authority — of God Himself. And in Job 42:11 — a true conclusion of the book (the importance of the consideration of which you mentioned in your comment) — the narrator ascribes the evil that was brought upon Job to Yahweh. It’s a verb in the active voice with Yahweh as the subject. (In fact, the Hebrew verb is in the Hiphil stem, which gives it a causative force, an even stronger note of active involvement on God’s part.) Scripture goes there. There simply is no getting around it. God brought evil upon Job. God is absolutely righteous. And there are numerous other examples (Isa 10:1-7; 2Sam 24:1ff cf. 1Chr 21:1ff; 2Sam 12:11-12).

                I appreciate your correspondence, Bob, and I trust you have not considered any mud to have been slung from my end, as that certainly was never my intention. Nevertheless, I continue to see the failure of your position to account for all the biblical data. I would also humbly encourage you to continue to consider these things as divested from your presuppositions as is possible.

                All we’re after is a proper understanding of God via a proper understanding of His text. At least for me, the aim of these conversations is worship that honors God for the fullness of His revelation and the fullness of His character. That is my prayer both for myself and for you.

          2. Oh, and regarding your comment about Job not attributing evil to God: in fact, Job did attribute the evil he experienced to God. He simply did not find God as blameworthy for doing so. For Job, God was the ultimate cause, even though He wasn’t the chargeable cause, for his sufferings.

            Note, first, that Job’s immediate response to his trials is to acknowledge that God gave and so now God has — not “allowed,” but — taken away (Job 1:21).

            Note also that in Job 2:10 he asks his wife, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” He regarded the events that were coming upon him as evil, and he also regarded them as from the Lord. And in all this Job did not sin with his lips.

            Finally, lest we suppose that Job was merely mistaken in his evaluation of his circumstances, the narrator, writing the inspired word of God, agrees that these adversities (lit., “evils”) were brought upon Job by Yahweh Himself: “And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11).

            According to both Job and the inspired author, God was the ultimate cause of these evils, even though He wasn’t the chargeable cause for them. Evil is part of God’s sovereign plan, and yet He is not unrighteous. I’m not saying that framework answers all my intellectual objections. I am saying that that’s the only option Scripture gives us. And we have to submit our understanding of righteousness, agency in evil, and moral responsibility to Scripture, rather than subject Scripture to our own understanding.

      2. Arminian says:

        Bob,

        Let’s remember too that when you speak of God planning such evil as the Holocaust in Calvinism, that means that without any influence from anything outside of himself he logically first had the idea for the Holocaust and every evil act that ever occurs, conceived it in his own heart, and still without any influence from anything outside of himself logically then decreed for it to take place.

  43. steve hays says:

    Bob Anderson

    “We are not really dealing with my view here…”

    Like other Arminian commenters on this thread, you wish to drop bombs on Calvinism from the safe distance of 40,000 ft. in the air, but when the debate turns to Arminian theodicy, all of a sudden we’re not really dealing with the Arminian view here.

    However, you don’t get to unilaterally dictate the terms of the debate. This thread involves a debate between Reformed and Arminian theodicy, using Horton and Olson as the jumping-off point. No doubt you’re prefer to stay out of range at a safe altitude, but I’m going to bring your own position down to earth for closer inspection.

    “That is what has been questioned and what you are defending.”

    That’s what’s been questioned by you. But questioning is a two-way street. You want me to answer your questions, but you duck mine.

    I, of course, understand why you’re so reluctant to discuss your own position. You tacitly admit the weakness of your Arminian alternative thereby.

    “So according to Calvinism (at least your form of Calvinism) we need to say that God not only allowed the Holocaust but planned it.”

    According to Calvinism, God planned every event.

    “You seem to think the works of God are evident in the Holocaust.”

    I didn’t say it was “evident.” God’s purposes are often inevident to human observers. That’s because we only see a few pieces of the puzzle.

    “You have not answered the question of the good that is inherent in this event.”

    You keep changing what I say into something else. Did I say there was inherent good in the Holocaust? No.

    “What is God’s motivation here? What exactly is the good you are suggesting in the holocaust?”

    That’s not the level at which theodicy operates. Theodicy doesn’t presume to give specific explanations for every particular event. Rather, it gives a general explanation for certain types of events. This can be illustrated by some Biblical events, where we are also given the interpretation of God’s ulterior intent.

    “By what criteria do you judge this event as a monstrosity and yet exonerate your God who planned it?”

    Your question is predicated on a false premise. You assume that it’s culpable for God to plan such an event. But that’s a key assumption which you need to establish by reasoned argument. Not something you’re entitled to stipulate.

    “In fact, the only defense you seem to be able to give is that your view is the lesser of evils – at least as you perceive it.”

    Actually, I’ve given biblical examples to illustrate the underlying principle.

    “It seems that you have pretty much proven Olson’s case for him.”

    You’re taking intellectual shortcuts. That’s cheating. You need to replace your assertions with arguments.

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      Not at all. First, this is not a formal debate, in spite of what you would like people to believe. The question at hand, according to the original post is – Does Calvinism Make God a “Moral Monster”?

      I have not changed anything you have said. Since you were answering the very straightforward questions I asked and juxtiposed two statements about the Nazis and God with reference to the Holocaust, I cannot but infer you are assigning the statement to the same event.

      You have explicitly stated that God planned the Holocaust in response to my clarifying statement about it – “According to Calvinism, God planned every event.”

      So now you are inferring that there is no apparent good in this event, yet God ordained it. You are shying away from speaking in absolutes, inferring that there must be some good because God ordained it.

      In all of your Biblical examples, you seem to be able to demonstrate the good that comes out of them. So if your principles stand, you should be able to demonstrate the good that comes out the Holocaust.

      Please do so for us.

      We are simply waiting for the good to be revealed.

      Since we have not discussed my view at all, you have no basis except your gross assumptions that I am arguing for the Arminian view. I may very well not be.

  44. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “Let’s remember too that when you speak of God planning such evil as the Holocaust in Calvinism, that means that without any influence from anything outside of himself he logically first had the idea for the Holocaust and every evil act that ever occurs, conceived it in his own heart, and still without any influence from anything outside of himself logically then decreed for it to take place.”

    Notice that Arminian is ascribing ignorance to God. God must discover things from his creatures. On his view, God is on a learning curve. God relies on outside sources of information to educate himself.

    Not only does this deny God’s omniscience, but his aseity as well. The creatures must somehow preexist for God to learn from them before he makes them.

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      Removed.

      1. Bob Anderson says:

        I removed the text here to think through the issue a bit more and to remove a sarcastic comment made. My apologies to anyone who read it.

  45. drwayman says:

    Bob A – It’s probably best to take a break from the discussion anyway, considering it’s the Lord’s Day. Maybe today, those of us who are still interested in this thread can spend time worshipping with our Christian brothers and sisters regardless of their theoretical orientation, remembering our unity rather than our differences.

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      Amen. To all – Have a great Lord’s day and period of worship.

      I also have other pressing matters to attend to so I need a break.

  46. steve hays says:

    Bob Anderson

    “I have seen Acts 2:22-23 raised up before. The concept of Jewish martyrdom – death for others – can be seen as good. But Jesus himself is very explicit, that he is laying down his life himself for others as a act of life (John 10:15,17; 15;13; 1 John 3:16). This type of self-giving, which we equate to the love of God, is a sacrifice we are all called to give and such sacrifice is manifestly declared as good. The incarnation itself is purposeful, an entry into the world for a very specific reason that all would attribute to be good. So I do not think we can compare this event to genocide. Rather it is the very opposite.”

    You’re missing the point.

    i) Was the Crucifixion good or evil? That’s a simplistic question. The same event can be good in some respects, but evil in others. The men (e.g. Pilate, the Sanhedrin) who put Jesus to death did so with evil intent. It was evil for Jews to reject their promised Messiah. And it was evil to execute an innocent man.

    On the other hand, God meant it for good. And the Crucifixion is a source of inestimable good.

    ii) In addition, God planned the Crucifixion. Something God predestined or chose beforehand (Acts 2:23; 4:28).

    So this is an example of God planning an event which is, in some respects, evil.

    We could take another example. Was the Babylonian Exile good or evil? That’s a simplistic question.

    The Babylonian Exile was an example of divine punishment for the sin of national apostasy. God’s just punishment is good.

    On the other hand, a pious remnant suffered a common fate with their impious countrymen. And their pagan captors and conquerors committed many atrocities in the course of the Babylonian Exile. So the same event can have both good and evil aspects.

    Yet you can’t very well say this was an unplanned event. To the contrary, God forewarned the Jews that they’d be exiled if they continued to rebel against his covenant.

    “You have stated that you ‘don’t think anybody is arguing that the Holocaust was inherently good.’ Yet that seems to be precisely what is being argued. Hays is saying that there is no ‘apparent good,’ but he does not seem to want to divorce the goodness of God from this event.”

    For some reason you lack a grasp of basic concepts. I’ve distinguished between intrinsic goods and instrumental goods. Between evil and second-order goods. Between means and ends.

    Yet you keep repeating your simplistic characterization as if something can only be “inherently” good or “inherently” evil. What’s your problem, Bob? Why do you keep ignoring what people tell you?

    “While we must affirm with the author of the book of Job that God himself is good and creation as a whole is good, we do not attribute sin to God.”

    Once again, I’ve explained to you why that’s a simplistic way of framing the issue. When I do that, how do you respond? Not by offering a counterargument, but by repeating your simplistic formulation. You need to learn how to interact with what others say, to actually engage the state of the argument.

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      The problem is that you seem to think that anyone who is not Reformed must believe that God does no planning and just coast along with creation to see what is going to happen. But in reality, Arminians and other non-Calvinists do believe God ordains things. They simply believe that there are some things he does not ordain – like the sin of the Holocaust.

      All of your examples fall short of reality. It is true that God ordained the coming of the Messiah. The cross is seen as intentional, as the manifestation of the righteousness of God. But even in your theology (as strange as it is), you can definitively see the good in that event. It is rather another thing to see the good in the genocide of the Holocaust. Even after 70 years, I know of no one who has declared the good – either the intrinsic goods and instrumental goods. It is one thing to propose that such good must be there. It is another to demonstrate it. You have yet to demonstrate your “second-order goods” or the “good end” of the Holocaust. The only good that came out of this event is that it did end.

      I seriously doubt that Hitler personally forced any Jew into the gas chambers. Yet we attribute the guilt to him because it was by his orders, his ordination, that such events took place. We consider him a moral monster.

      The Arminian refuses to attribute such actions to God. We begin with his goodness and move from there. That is the same approach as Elihu in his argument in Job.

      In Protestant theology, we see the love and righteousness of God manifest in the crucifixion. Even in your theology, God, knowing the sinfulness of those made in his image, sent his son as a sacrifice to save lives (souls). For God to ordain the cross as a mechanism for the saving of souls, and for his son to intentionally go to the cross is a good thing. That does not mean God initiates the sin of those who crucified Christ.

      Concerning Acts 2:22-23, you also seemed to have missed the point of this ordination completely. Let me propose an alternative understanding. Peter follows his statement of the ordination with his discourse on the resurrection and exultation of Jesus to the right-hand of God. That is the focus of the text, not the two verses constantly raised up by Calvinists to try to prove some form of election.

      Notice how the NT Peshitta translates the text of Acts 2:23 (Janet Magiera’s translation) –

      “this [man], who was set apart for this by the foreknowledge and will of God, you delivered into the hands of ungodly [men] and you crucified and you killed.”

      The primary verb in the Greek is not the delivering up by God, but the killing of the Messiah. This is not attributed to God, but to “you” – the audience. It is better to attach διὰ χειρῶν ἀνόμων προσπήξαντες, which immediately precedes that primary verb (ἀνείλετε), to that action as the means by which they killed him –

      “you killed [him], crucifying [him] through the hands of the unlawful.”

      This certainly fits the flow of the narrative better. In the narrative, Jesus was attested to them by God as a one who did the works of God. This is something they already know. This one who was delivered to them by God’s ordination and foreknowledge was crucified by them through the hands of the lawless. Yet God has raise him up from the dead and exalted him. The sermon is very Messianic.

      As for the Babylonian exile, this simply demonstrates God adherence to the covenant with the Jews. But is also presents a remolding of Israel itself into something else, something new, with a promise of restoration. God does not just deal with individuals. The covenant is with a whole people. And we must never suggest that our sin does not affect others.

  47. steve hays says:

    Bob Anderson

    “First, this is not a formal debate, in spite of what you would like people to believe. The question at hand, according to the original post is – Does Calvinism Make God a ‘Moral Monster’?”

    As measured by Arminianism. Using Arminianism as a frame of reference. So that’s a two-way street.

    But you’re welcome to doge objections to your libertarian alternative. That’s a backdoor admission that your alternative to Calvinism is indefensible.

    “I have not changed anything you have said. Since you were answering the very straightforward questions I asked and juxtiposed two statements about the Nazis and God with reference to the Holocaust, I cannot but infer you are assigning the statement to the same event.”

    You keep using the word “inherent.” Maybe you need to define your terms. What makes you think an event can only be inherently good or inherently evil? If a surgeon has to amputate a gangrenous hand, must that either be inherently good or evil? Well, it’s bad to lose your hand. But it’s better to lose your hand than lose your life.

    You need to broaden your conceptual resources so that you don’t chronically oversimplify moral issues.

    “You have explicitly stated that God planned the Holocaust in response to my clarifying statement about it – ‘According to Calvinism, God planned every event.”

    For an overview, cf. http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/warfield/warfield_predestination.html

    “So now you are inferring that there is no apparent good in this event, yet God ordained it.”

    i) Something doesn’t have to be apparently good to be divinely ordained. You keep postulating that non sequitur.

    Something may seem evil at present, but when viewed in retrospect, we come to recognize an unsuspected good. Yet that requires a future vantage-point. We gain insight through hindsight. The Joseph cycle is a case in point.

    ii) If you insist, it’s easy to come up with some apparent good that came from the Holocaust. Take Corrie ten Boom’s ministry, and the famous film The Hiding Place. That was a great evangelistic witness.

    Still, we don’t have access to God’s intentions except where he reveals his intentions, so we can’t make definitive statements about God’s purpose in ordaining the Holocaust.

    “You are shying away from speaking in absolutes, inferring that there must be some good because God ordained it. In all of your Biblical examples, you seem to be able to demonstrate the good that comes out of them. So if your principles stand, you should be able to demonstrate the good that comes out the Holocaust.”

    Once again, you’re not following the argument. For Biblical events, we not only have the reported event, but the editorial viewpoint of the narrator. A divine interpretation.

    But that’s not the case with most things that happen in life. I already explained that distinction to you. You need to keep up with the argument.

    “Since we have not discussed my view at all, you have no basis except your gross assumptions that I am arguing for the Arminian view. I may very well not be.”

    You don’t get to conceal your views, then complain about how your views have been misrepresented. No one is stopping you from showing your cards.

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      As I noted to DrWayman, I agree with him that this is the Lord’s Day and a time of worship. It is time take a break here.

  48. steve hays says:

    drwayman

    “JT – I have to agree with Ryan and Don. This thread has turned rather ugly. I wonder how God is honored with such behavior.”

    I assume you’re alluding to Olson’s characterization of Reformed theism as monstrous and diabolical.

    1. drwayman says:

      Steve – You’re a funny man.

      You assumed wrong. I know that few Calvinists actually believe that God can be charged with being the author of evil. To the average person, however, IMHO, the illogic of Calvinism easily leads to that conclusion.

      There are two Calvinist blogs that I read regularly and have TONS of respect for how they handle their blogs. The present blog is one and Parchment and Pen (P&P) is the other.

      Interestingly, on this same subject (Roger Olson), the P&P elicited this response from a contributor (I have no idea who this person is and I have just clipped part of her statement): “I was first exposed to Calvinist teaching two years ago, and it is what ultimately caused me to leave the Christian faith. The idea that from the beginning of time, God pre-selected most of mankind to bear eternal suffering, that God did not love the world so much that He would have sent His only son for everyone, but only for a few…I can’t even tell you what that did to undermine my faith in God and my understanding of Him.”

      You can find Deanna’s statement at: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/11/do-roger-olson-and-i-worship-the-same-god/

      What I find almost as discouraging, is that out of 48 comments, no one reached out to her (at least on that blog post). It made me wonder… Is Deanna correct? Do Calvinists pass over her statements and just say, “well, she must not be of the elect, so there is no need to share about God’s impeccable character with her.”

      I imagine you will react to my post as you have before, “you Arminians are just a bunch of bleeding hearts. You never engage the subject, you are just being emotional, trying to sway people with emotion.” Then you may try to find someone to testify how Arminianism caused him/her to leave the faith.

      I hope that you can see how theology matters. There are REAL people affected by the C vs A debate. Deanna is, unfortunately, collateral damage in this debate that has spanned several centuries without being resolved. I doubt this debate will be resolved on this present blog.

  49. steve hays says:

    According to Paul, God planned everything that happens (Eph 1:11). And “all things” in v11 piggybacks on the merism (“heaven and earth”) in v10, which denotes a totality.

  50. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    There were earlier comments about the crucifixion. The short excerpt below is rather relevant:

    “And incidently, along that line a little footnote, the Sanhedrin, the Jewish leaders, had not wanted Christ to be crucified during the Passover time because they did not want unnecessarily to stir up the multitude of people that would have been present. They would much rather have waited till after the Passover when it was a little quieter and that way handle Jesus. But Jesus did it in His own time and forced the whole issue, brought about the whole thing in order that it might happen exactly on the Passover day, fitting that when all the other lambs were being sacrificed, the One true Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world would be sacrificed on the very same day that all the rest of the sacrifices were going on. So Jesus was not at the mercy of the plots of men, but rather was bringing about the forcing of the issue of His own death so that it would happen on a day when He planned it and God planned it before the world began, not when the Jewish leaders decided it would happen.”

    The above comes from Pastor John MacArthur’s commentary on John 12.

  51. steve hays says:

    drwayman

    “Steve – You’re a funny man. You assumed wrong.”

    So, on the one hand, you complain that this thread has turned “ugly.” On the other hand, you don’t think it’s ugly when Olson characterizes Reformed theism as Satanic and morally monstrous. If that doesn’t fit your definition of “ugliness,” what adjective would you prefer? Is that your idea of pretty?

  52. steve hays says:

    drwayman

    “Interestingly, on this same subject (Roger Olson), the P&P elicited this response from a contributor (I have no idea who this person is and I have just clipped part of her statement): ‘I was first exposed to Calvinist teaching two years ago, and it is what ultimately caused me to leave the Christian faith. The idea that from the beginning of time, God pre-selected most of mankind to bear eternal suffering, that God did not love the world so much that He would have sent His only son for everyone, but only for a few…I can’t even tell you what that did to undermine my faith in God and my understanding of Him.’ I hope that you can see how theology matters. There are REAL people affected by the C vs A debate. Deanna is, unfortunately, collateral damage in this debate that has spanned several centuries without being resolved.”

    What this illustrates is the damage done by Arminian disinformation about Calvinism. Calvinism has no official position on the percentage of the reprobate. Yet Arminian polemicists find it useful to popularize that urban legend. Win at any cost, by any means necessary. I guess destroying Deanna’s faith was just a necessary casualty in the Arminian campaign against Calvinism.

    1. drwayman says:

      Steve – It’s sad that you continue to show your true colors.

      Now, you are blaming the victim.

      Nowhere does Deanna say that she was influenced by Arminianism. She said she was “introduced” to Calvinism and she wrote this testimony on a Calvinist blog. Then you go one step further, you insult her intelligence by insinuating that she was not smart enough to figure out where Calvinism logically leads that she had to receive “Arminian disinformation.”

      Where is your compassion for this woman?

      Do you care that she has given up on Christianity?

  53. steve hays says:

    drwayman

    “Interestingly, on this same subject (Roger Olson), the P&P elicited this response from a contributor (I have no idea who this person is and I have just clipped part of her statement): ‘I was first exposed to Calvinist teaching two years ago, and it is what ultimately caused me to leave the Christian faith. The idea that from the beginning of time, God pre-selected most of mankind to bear eternal suffering, that God did not love the world so much that He would have sent His only son for everyone, but only for a few…I can’t even tell you what that did to undermine my faith in God and my understanding of Him.’”

    And the alternative to “preselecting” who will be saved and who will be damned is to leave it up to the lost to take their chances. Some sink while others swim. How does that notably loving?

    Keep in mind that according to Arminianism, God foresaw that if he created certain individuals, they’d spend eternity in hell, yet he went right ahead and made them anyway with that hellish outcome in full view. Is that really the most loving course of action? Why make them at all if you know that’s how the story will end?

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      This is a true non sequitur because it truly does not follow –

      You said: “And the alternative to “preselecting” who will be saved and who will be damned is to leave it up to the lost to take their chances. Some sink while others swim. How does that notably loving?”

      Why do you see this as the only alternative? You act as though Arminians see God as complete passive in the role of salvation. In the argument in Romans 10, Paul clear sees God as active, even though Israel does not believe –

      21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.” (Rom 10:21 NRS)

      God’s hand is truly held out to them. He has provided the covenant, the Law, the prophets, the Messiah. The fact that they do not believe does not negate God’s activity in their lives.

      That is the problem with your argument (and maybe Horton’s, although I have not read his book or counterargument to Olson yet). You build strawmen to tear down. Like Don Quixote, you are jousting with windmills. But they are not the giants you imagine them to be. You need to think this through. Your statement does not follow from Wayman’s statement or from Arminian theology. It is a true non sequitur.

      Indeed, it is really only in your view that the lost “take their chances.” You cannot really say who wins the lottery of salvation and who does not. Some sink while other are rescued.

      If you followed my initial post, I noted that the underlying character of God in this argument is the goodness of God. That is the starting point for all discussion in this area of theology – moral theology. Arminians consider the righteousness of God to be foundational in the understanding of God and then move from there, subordinating all other attributes under his righteousness. In my experience, Calvinist focus on sovereignty and move from there, subordinating all other attributes under sovereignty.

      The consequence is that Calvinists are not able to adequately address the major moral dilemmas of our life with an appeal to an unknown goodness that must exists, but is hidden from us.

      While we certainly know there are consequences in life that we do not see, you method leaves us with no real way to judge the rightness or wrongness of the events themselves.

    2. Steve Stated:
      “… Keep in mind that according to Arminianism, God foresaw that if he created certain individuals, they’d spend eternity in hell, yet he went right ahead and made them anyway with that hellish outcome in full view. Is that really the most loving course of action? Why make them at all if you know that’s how the story will end? … ”

      I comment:
      The weak quandary you have presented is easily settled by recognizing that God desires a people who willfully love Him in truth and spirit rather than as reactionary automatons who respond to an event program settled in eons past. That people perish out of rejection of God is undesirable but also necessary if love is to be freely given. You present creation as little more than a storyboard for God’s constant pleasure rather than His desire for a loving relationship. We know from scripture that God has no pleasure in men perishing. We know that he desires that all men be saved. We also know that most men will not be saved. Are you going to suggest that the desires of God are compromised by His very own will (or two conflicting wills if Calvinist doctrine were true)?

      If God were held responsible or accountable for creating men known to be damned through His foreknowledge, then He is just as accountable for creating men for the purpose of damnation as Calvinist determinism demands.

  54. steve hays says:

    drwayman

    “Steve – It’s sad that you continue to show your true colors.”

    I could say the same thing in reverse.

    “Now, you are blaming the victim.”

    Actually, I specifically blamed it on Arminian propaganda. Why do you go out of your way to misrepresent what I actually said?

    “Then you go one step further, you insult her intelligence by insinuating that she was not smart enough to figure out where Calvinism logically leads that she had to receive ‘Arminian disinformation.”

    Explain how Calvinism logically leads to be the conclusion that “God pre-selected most of mankind to bear eternal suffering”?

    “Where is your compassion for this woman? Do you care that she has given up on Christianity?”

    You’re the one who’s exploiting her tragedy to score theological points. Your brought it up, not me.

    1. drwayman says:

      Steve said, “You’re the one who’s exploiting her tragedy…” Congratulations! You have now adopted an Arminian paradigm. A TRAGEDY is exactly what Deanna has experienced. I’m glad that you recognized what happened as a TRAGEDY.

      To reject the faith is consistent with the “decretum quidem horribile” of predestination. “Predestination we call the eternal decree of God, by which He hath determined in Himself what He would have become of every individual of mankind. For they are not all created with a similar destiny; but eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others.” (Inst. III. 21.)

      She can be expected to reject Christianity, for if she was among the elect, she would not have turned her back on Calvinism. Her fate was sealed from eternity past.

      To be consistent with the Calvinist paradigm, you would have also agreed with Beza, “Those who suffer for eternity in hell can at least take comfort in the fact that they are there for the greater glory of God.”

      Perhaps you are finally coming around to thinking like an Arminian. I’m glad that our efforts have paid off a bit. I guess you do have a modicum of compassion for her. Her reprobation does not bring glory to God in the slightest. In fact, I imagine that God’s heart is broken and He desires to have loving fellowship with her.

  55. Horton is quoted as saying, “The Calvinist says that God chose to allow them for a reason. It’s permitting rather than creating, but it’s permission with a purpose. Permission without purpose makes God a ‘moral monster’ indeed.”

    Two questions:

    1. How can God “allow” or “permit” what “horrible things” he has determined in himself to come to pass?

    2. Granted, that God “permits” and “allows”, his having a “purpose” for “horrible things” that occur the only criteria to justify what God “allows” or “permits”?

    Thanks.

    1. Robert says:

      Nelson asked a very good question:

      “1. How can God “allow” or “permit” what “horrible things” he has determined in himself to come to pass?”

      This brings up something about theological fatalism that has never made sense.

      The theological fatalist wants us all to believe as he does (i.e. that God prescripted every event that occurs as actual history, that God ordained every detail of world history, that God has a secret will in which every outcome was decided in eternity) which would mean that God like an author conceived every detail of the story that he wanted to have as his story.

      That is very **active** and **intentional**.

      When an author writes a novel he/she decides who the characters will be, who will be good and who will be evil, what actions and thoughts every character in the story will have. What events will be part of the story and what events will not.

      But then Calvinist/theological fatalists sometimes come along and SPEAK of God “permitting” or “allowing” things. Telling people that God *allowed* or *permitted* something for a good reason.

      That makes no sense at all.

      An author does not permit or allow anything to occur in their story. Likewise God would not permit or allow anything to occur in history: if everything was prescripted.

      It is also significant that while it is true that in theological fatalism/Calvinism, nothing is allowed or permitted, but instead God actively and intentionally intends every event and every outcome to occur just as it does.

      In the bible in contrast, there are clear passages where God himself speaks of allowing or permitting events or outcomes to occur. If we are to take these bible passages in a straightforward manner, then the bible itself is telling us that in fact sometimes God allows or permits things. A reality that could never occur if everything were actively and intentionally prescripted.

      Robert

    2. Just to clarify, the second question of my comment (November 20, 2011 at 10:37 pm) should have read:

      2. Granted that God “permits” and “allows”, is having a “purpose” for “horrible things” that occur the only criteria to justify what God “allows” or “permits”?

  56. steve hays says:

    drwayman

    “Congratulations! You have now adopted an Arminian paradigm. A TRAGEDY is exactly what Deanna has experienced. I’m glad that you recognized what happened as a TRAGEDY.”

    What makes you think personal tragedies are only possible on the Arminian paradigm? Where’s your argument?

    Apparently your Arminian confirmation bias incapacitates you from honestly stating what Reformed theology represents or entails, so let’s walk you through it. You quoted the following claim as true: “God pre-selected most of mankind to bear eternal suffering?’”

    Notice that this claims consists of two distinct, separable propositions:

    i) God preselected who would go to hell

    ii) The majority of mankind will go to hell.

    Calvinism is committed to (i). Show me where Calvinism is committed to (ii).

    “She can be expected to reject Christianity, for if she was among the elect, she would not have turned her back on Calvinism. Her fate was sealed from eternity past.”

    Notice how Wayman is publicly exploiting the crisis of faith of a named, living woman to score theological points. She is just a theological football.

    How is that compassionate? How does that minister to her situation? Have you no shame? Have you no sense of decency?

    Why would I presume to say anything about her? I don’t know her. She’s just a private individual.

    “To be consistent with the Calvinist paradigm, you would have also agreed with Beza.”

    Why do I have to agree with Beza? That’s just the individual opinion of a theologian who happens to be a Calvinist. But that’s not a logical inference from reprobation. There are two distinct propositions:

    i) The reprobate are damned because God damned them for his glory.

    ii) The reprobate acknowledge that they are damned for his glory.

    (i) States an objective fact about the reprobate while (ii) imputes a subjective attitude about the reprobate.

    You can’t logically infer (ii) from (i). That fact that something is objectively true about a person doesn’t entail a corresponding recognition on his part. Indeed, self-deception is a hallmark of the reprobate.

    If someone goes to hell, that’s because God predestined him to hell. I don’t have a problem with God’s wisdom and justice in reprobation.

    “Her reprobation does not bring glory to God in the slightest.”

    i) You are using a fragile person as a wedge tactic to attack Calvinism. What does that say about your priorities?

    ii) Calvinism distinguishes between apostates and backsliders. The fact that someone suffers a lapse of faith doesn’t say anything definitive about their future status.

    iii) Reprobation brings glory to God. But I’m not going to prejudge who’s elect and who’s reprobate.

    “Perhaps you are finally coming around to thinking like an Arminian.”

    Such as your Machiavellian treatment of this poor woman?

  57. drwayman says:

    Steve – Good morning, I’m glad to see that you are up.

    You said: What makes you think personal tragedies are only possible on the Arminian paradigm? Where’s your argument?

    I say: According to Calvinism God plans every event and everything that God does is good. Hence, there are no tragedies in Calvinism. Everything happens for God’s glory and is under His meticulous control.

    You said: “You quoted the following claim as true: “God pre-selected most of mankind to bear eternal suffering?’”

    I say: You are confused. I did not “quoted the following claim as true: “God pre-selected most of mankind to bear eternal suffering?’” Instead I was careful to quote Calvin accurately. “…eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others (Inst. III. 21.). “Some” is an ambiguous term, it can mean more than or less than.

    You said, “Why do I have to agree with Beza?”

    I say: You agree with Calvinist authors when it is convenient for you. Other times you divorcee them from your statements. It appears to me that you have your own idiosyncratic version of Calvinism. Hence, the realization that my discussions with you in the past have been fruitless. It appears that this one is going in the same direction. It’s like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

    You say: “That fact that something is objectively true about a person doesn’t entail a corresponding recognition on his part. Indeed, self-deception is a hallmark of the reprobate.”

    I say: I agree with this statement except I don’t believe God reprobates. Self-deception is part of the sinful condition. “The heart is desperately wicked, who can understand it?” Notice, however, that you are disagreeing with Beza not me. I’m just quoting a noted Calvinist author and developer of the Calvinist way of thinking.

    I said: “Perhaps you are finally coming around to thinking like an Arminian.”

    I say: I guess I was wrong. I can always hold out hope that you will come to a more biblical way of handling scripture. I am ending my part of the discussion. Feel free to make assumptions about why I am dropping out.

    Until next time :-)

  58. steve hays says:

    drwayman

    “According to Calvinism God plans every event and everything that God does is good. Hence, there are no tragedies in Calvinism. Everything happens for God’s glory and is under His meticulous control.”

    A fallacious inference. How does God’s meticulous control entail that reprobation can’t be tragic for the reprobate. Likewise, why do you assume that God can’t ordain individual tragedies for the greater good?

    Do you have anything beyond invalid inferences to support your contention?

    “You are confused. I did not ‘quoted the following claim as true.’”

    To the contrary, after you quoted her statement, you proceeded to defend her statement by saying that’s “where Calvinism logically leads.”

    So, once more, explain how double predestination predicts that most of humanity will be damned? Demonstrate how you validly derive that conclusion from double predestination?

    “Instead I was careful to quote Calvin accurately. ‘…eternal life is foreordained for some, and eternal damnation for others’ (Inst. III. 21.). ‘Some’ is an ambiguous term, it can mean more than or less than.”

    Which goes to show that Calvin was not a universalist. Once again, show how double predestination entails the thesis that the majority of humanity will be damned.

    “I say: You agree with Calvinist authors when it is convenient for you. Other times you divorcee them from your statements. It appears to me that you have your own idiosyncratic version of Calvinism. Hence, the realization that my discussions with you in the past have been fruitless. It appears that this one is going in the same direction. It’s like trying to nail Jello to the wall.”

    i) You yourself are selective about which Reformed theologians you quote. For instance, Warfield took the position that the majority of the human race will be saved, based on his postmillennial eschatology as well as his belief in universal infant salvation.

    ii) And I notice that you dodge my counterargument. So let’s repeat my counterargument:

    There are two distinct propositions:

    i) The reprobate are damned because God damned them for his glory.

    ii) The reprobate acknowledge that they are damned for his glory.

    (i) States an objective fact about the reprobate while (ii) imputes a subjective attitude about the reprobate.

    You can’t logically infer (ii) from (i). That fact that something is objectively true about a person doesn’t entail a corresponding recognition on his part. Indeed, self-deception is a hallmark of the reprobate.

    Now explain, if you can, the flaw in my counterargument.

    “Notice, however, that you are disagreeing with Beza not me. I’m just quoting a noted Calvinist author and developer of the Calvinist way of thinking.”

    But you don’t quote noted Reformed theologians like Warfield.

    “I can always hold out hope that you will come to a more biblical way of handling scripture.”

    You haven’t presented a more biblical way of handling scripture. What you have done is to mount a ruthless, unscrupulous attack on Calvinism by using a woman in spiritual crisis as a human shield to further your theological agenda. You hate Calvinism more than you love the woman.

    If that represents the fruit of Arminian theology, then it’s poisonous to the taste.

  59. steve hays says:

    A. M. Mallett

    “The weak quandary you have presented is easily settled by recognizing that God desires a people who willfully love Him in truth and spirit rather than as reactionary automatons who respond to an event program settled in eons past. That people perish out of rejection of God is undesirable but also necessary if love is to be freely given. You present creation as little more than a storyboard for God’s constant pleasure rather than His desire for a loving relationship.”

    Even if we grant your tendentious contention regarding what makes love possible, it isn’t necessary for unbelievers to perish unless it’s necessary for God to create unbelievers in the first place.

    So you’re now in the odd position of defending libertarian freewill on necessitarian grounds. That God was necessitated in making unbelievers. On your view, God had no choice but to make unbelievers. He was forced to make unbelievers.

    “We know from scripture that God has no pleasure in men perishing. We know that he desires that all men be saved. We also know that most men will not be saved. Are you going to suggest that the desires of God are compromised by His very own will (or two conflicting wills if Calvinist doctrine were true)?”

    Your question begs the question by presuming the Arminian interpretation of your favorite prooftexts.

    “If God were held responsible or accountable for creating men known to be damned through His foreknowledge, then He is just as accountable for creating men for the purpose of damnation as Calvinist determinism demands.”

    Which misses the point. I’m discussing Arminianism on its own terms. Is it loving for the God of Arminian theism to knowingly create hellbound individuals when he could freely spare them that dire outcome by not making them at all. Why not make only those human beings who will foreseeably believe? Or a subset thereof?

    1. Robert says:

      Steve Hays repeatedly makes a certain false claim about what Arminians and other non-theological determinists believe. I want this false claim out in the open so his deception can be exposed.

      In theological fatalism, God decides the eternal fate of every person before he creates the world and according to a total plan in which every detail is preplanned. This means that when it comes to those who end up in hell, GOD CREATED THEM TO BE HELL BOUND. He decided their every action (including their every sin) before they were on the earth. He then through controlling all circumstances ensured that they became precisely the persons he intended for them to be. So he intended their every sin, and intended their eternal fate.

      In non-Calvinist’s thinking, those who end up in hell end up there because they repeatedly chose to reject the grace of God extended to them in this life (and did so for their entire lifetimes).
      So God did not intend for them to go to hell, God did not create them to go to hell, they end up there by opposing God’s will (which is stated in the bible as Him desiring that all be saved) by their own freely made choices.

      Now it is true that if God foreknows all things that He foreknows that where people will end up at the end. But the ***cause*** of them ending up in hell according to non-fatalistic thinking is that this is caused by their self-determined choices. So it is both false and inaccurate to claim that under non-Calvinistic premises God “created them for hell.” This is known by all who are familiar with Arminian and other non-Calvinist thinking (which includes Catholics, Eastern Orthodox).

      To then claim that according to non-Calvinistic thinking “God creates or makes people into nonbelievers” is false and misleading.
      Now look at how Steve Hays does this very thing:

      “So you’re now in the odd position of defending libertarian freewill on necessitarian grounds. That God was necessitated in making unbelievers.”

      But in our view God does not “make” people into unbelievers, they do it themselves by their own self determined choices. It is only under theological fatalism that God **makes** people into unbelievers.

      “On your view, God had no choice but to make unbelievers. He was forced to make unbelievers.”

      God creates human nature with the capacity for self determination (i.e. some choices are up to us, made by us, not necessitated by God or God controlling us like puppets to ensure a predecided outcome). The choices that we then make either result in our becoming believers (if we choose to accept God’s grace towards us) or remaining unbelievers (if we repeatedly and continuously and for a lifetime keep rejecting God’s grace towards us).

      Actually it is under theological fatalism that God is “forced” to make unbelievers. Because in theological fatalism, like an author of a story, God decides who will be the good guys and who will be the villains. Once he makes this decision he is then bound by his own will to necessarily MAKE THOSE PRESELECTED INDIVIDUALS into nonbelievers who end up in hell.

      In non-fatalism much of what we become and are is a result of our own self-determined choices. In theological fatalism God has to follow his predecided script. And according to theological fatalists such as Hays God has predecided whom to reprobate, whom to be the “villains” of his story.

      Hays also reiterated his point about God making people into nonbelievers again:

      “Which misses the point. I’m discussing Arminianism on its own terms.”

      No he is not.

      Everybody needs to see this.

      Hays repeatedly misrepresents non-calvinists views by injecting his premises into what he claims is our thinking.

      He is injecting his premise (i.e. that God “makes” individuals into nonbelievers, that God “creates” people to be hell bound, which **is** true under Hays’ theological fatalism but not non-Calvinistic premises) into our thinking.

      Reminds me of an illustration of a friend of mine who said about not accepting it when others try to present your view falsely by injecting their own premises into your thinking and then claiming that that is your thinking: “If someone injects their manure into my water and then thinks I will drink the now messed up water. They are mistaken. I reject their premises and so reject their attempt at putting their manure in my glass of water.”

      Hays is not discussing “Arminianism on its own terms” when discussing our view of how people end up in hell.

      In his view, theological fatalism, God makes them or creates them to be hell bound reprobates.

      But that is not true in our view. In our view God does not make or create people for hell, they end up there as a result of their own freely made self-determined choices.

      “Is it loving for the God of Arminian theism to knowingly create hellbound individuals when he could freely spare them that dire outcome by not making them at all.”

      But he does not “create hell bound individuals” that again is Hays’ premise not ours.

      And this argument that God could spare them the “dire outcome by not making them at all” misses some very important biblical points. First sin is worthy of death. Second all sin (with the sole exception being Jesus during his incarnation). Third all who sin are worthy of death, unless an atonement is provided for their sins. Fourth, one of the ways that God demonstrates His love for us is by giving Jesus as the atonement for sin. According to biblical thinking one sin alone is sufficient for a person to go to hell. So in order for God to prevent all people from going to hell he would have to create human persons incapable of sinning. But scripture presents God as creating initial individuals who were created with the capacity for their own self determined choices (i.e. who could choose to obey God or choose to disobey God). Now we could get into reasons for God doing so, but the point is that to prevent anyone from going to hell God would have to create humans incapable of sin, which we know He did not do according to scripture.

      Hays injection of his manure into our water is not appreciated: again we do not maintain or believe that God **makes** people into unbelievers or **creates reprobates**. That is true under theological fatalism and is what Hays believes, but it is not what we believe.

      Robert

      1. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

        “Hays injection of his manure into our water is not appreciated: again we do not maintain or believe that God **makes** people into unbelievers or **creates reprobates**.”

        With regards to the manure in Arminian drinking water and Steve Hays, a more accurate and realistic perspective is that Steve Hays is merely pointing out the manure inherent in Arminian drinking water. He is not “injecting” manure, he is merely pointing what is already within it at the hands of Arminian doctrine.

        If you have Arminian blinders on, you can’t see the manure you’re drinking.

        But if your Arminian blinders are off, then you can see and understand the manure you’re slurping.

        Steve Hays is merely removing your blinders and you resent him for it. Arminian manure-tainted drinking water doesn’t taste as good with the Arminian blinders removed. That’s understandable. But please don’t impute manure-injection to Steve Hays.

        Arminians put the manure into their own drinking water, into their own Kool-Aid, out of their own Libertarian Free Will.

        ;-)

        1. Robert says:

          Someone who calls himself “truth unites and divides” wrote:

          “With regards to the manure in Arminian drinking water and Steve Hays, a more accurate and realistic perspective is that Steve Hays is merely pointing out the manure inherent in Arminian drinking water. He is not “injecting” manure, he is merely pointing what is already within it at the hands of Arminian doctrine. “

          Not true at all. Hays repeatedly engages in this tactic of injecting his own premises into non-Calvinistic thinking and then claiming his misrepresentation is what others believe.

          I was calling him on it and exposing it publicly.

          I am not bothered if someone genuinely disagrees with what I actually believe, that is an available choice for them to make. I am bothered however when someone deceitfully and intentionally misrepresents my views (as Hays does repeatedly with everyone he disagrees with).

          Incidentally the manure in the water analogy comes from a Calvinist friend of mine. I like his analogy as it is true, when someone does what Hays so often does, you really feel like someone is putting something extremely odious into your water and then wanting you to drink it. I won’t do it, and I especially won’t do it when the person doing so is someone I have seen doing so for years with so many people.

          Truth unites and divides also wrote:

          “If you have Arminian blinders on, you can’t see the manure you’re drinking.
          But if your Arminian blinders are off, then you can see and understand the manure you’re slurping.“

          This goes equally for the theological fatalist like T and D:

          “If you have Calvinistic blinders on, you can’t see the manure you’re drinking.
          But if your Calvinistic blinders are off, then you can see and understand the manure your’e slurping.”

          I want good clean water so don’t go injecting your theological fatalism into my glass of water.

          “Steve Hays is merely removing your blinders and you resent him for it. Arminian manure-tainted drinking water doesn’t taste as good with the Arminian blinders removed. That’s understandable. But please don’t impute manure-injection to Steve Hays.”

          No Steve Hays repeatedly and intentionally misrepresents what others think and believe. He has been doing so for years. Only those who share his same theological fatalism endorse either his manner of posting and attempts at misrepresenting others.
          Again, I have no problem if someone attacks a view I hold, if they are really attacking a view that I actually hold.

          “Arminians put the manure into their own drinking water, into their own Kool-Aid, out of their own Libertarian Free Will.
          ;-)”

          Actually one of the proofs of the reality of libertarian free will for me is that God actually permits people to make wrong choices (he also explicitly makes reference to this, eg. check out Romans 1 and the comments about those who are given over to . . .).

          How else do you explain how so many people can hold so many false views or ridiculous views or irrational views. They freely choose to hold to these false ideas under non-Calvinism. Under theological fatalism/Calvinism, not only do they not freely choose these errors, they have to choose them, it is impossible for them to do otherwise. God wanted them to hold to these errors, he ordained that they do so, and then he completely controls their minds, bodies and wills to ensure they hold the errors.

          The God of the bible is a God of truth and holiness, He does not get pleasure out of lies and errors, nor in ordaining that people hold so many erroneous views or put manure into their own water. But the God that results if theological fatalism is true, does intend and plan for that to happen every time he forces someone to hold false views (if he prescripts every event and controls every event to ensure the the preplanned events take place, then his type of control is very similar to the kind of control that a puppet master exercises over his puppets, so we are all being forced to do whatever we do).

          Robert

    2. Steve wrote:

      Even if we grant your tendentious contention regarding what makes love possible, it isn’t necessary for unbelievers to perish unless it’s necessary for God to create unbelievers in the first place… So you’re now in the odd position of defending libertarian freewill on necessitarian grounds. That God was necessitated in making unbelievers. On your view, God had no choice but to make unbelievers. He was forced to make unbelievers… Your question begs the question by presuming the Arminian interpretation of your favorite prooftexts… I’m discussing Arminianism on its own terms. Is it loving for the God of Arminian theism to knowingly create hellbound individuals when he could freely spare them that dire outcome by not making them at all. Why not make only those human beings who will foreseeably believe? Or a subset thereof?

      I comment:

      Aside from the truth that all theological discussions are shaded by tendentiousness, including every one of your own, the matter would have been better served if I replied using certainty rather than necessity due to the considerable distinction of terms. Even so, “tendentious” carries with it a rather negative connotation in common usage so your slight while pompous is noted. If scripture is true and we both know it is, Matthew 7:13-14 makes very clear that unbelievers perish, with certainty. This removes your objection. It should also be noted that I made no statement on “what makes love possible”. I have merely made the observation that love is freely given and if you object to that observation you have no valid ground to my use of automaton. Now, as for creating unbelievers, you are projecting your determinist theology upon the discussion. It is only necessary in your view because ultimately, God is responsible for every aspect of existence including the purposeful creation of the reprobate. If such is true, then He is also responsible for the sins they commit. For some determinists that presents no problem. For most in the body of Christ, it makes God the author of evil and contrary to His revealed goodness and character in scripture.

      As for creationism, I lean toward traducianism and sublapsarianism and as such your inquiries present no sustainable challenge. Rather than discussing Arminianism on its own terms, you are threading your own determinism throughout your responses. Until you address my original comments with something other than rhetorical devices, I am not inclined to go any further with this.

  60. steve hays says:

    Bob Anderson

    “Why do you see this as the only alternative? You act as though Arminians see God as complete passive in the role of salvation.”

    No, that doesn’t follow from what I said. Sure, the Arminian God can equip the lost. But at the end of the day, it’s still up to them whether or not they perish.

    “In the argument in Romans 10, Paul clear sees God as active, even though Israel does not believe…”

    Quoting Scripture is irrelevant to the case for Arminian theology unless you can show that Scripture is consistent with the internal implications of Arminian theology.

    “Indeed, it is really only in your view that the lost ‘take their chances.’”

    Who’s elect or reprobate isn’t a matter of random chance, but God’s deliberate choice. So your analogy fails.

    “The consequence is that Calvinists are not able to adequately address the major moral dilemmas of our life with an appeal to an unknown goodness that must exists, but is hidden from us. While we certainly know there are consequences in life that we do not see, you method leaves us with no real way to judge the rightness or wrongness of the events themselves.”

    Okay, let’s put your claim to the test:

    Say sn 18-year-old woman is engaged to be married. But she is killed in a traffic accident 3 weeks before the wedding.

    Explain to her grief-stricken parents or her grieving fiancé why God allowed her to die in the traffic accident. What was God’s specific, justificatory reason for permitting that to happen?

    That’s a hypothetical case, but there are many similar real-world examples.

    1. Bob Anderson says:

      Steve,

      You said: “And the alternative to “preselecting” who will be saved and who will be damned is to leave it up to the lost to take their chances. Some sink while others swim. How does that notably loving?”

      Since this is “the alternative” and since you now are saying God equips (hence He is active in the process), how can you say this is a matter of “chances”? That simply makes no sense.

      It is a matter of faith, believing and trusting in the One who makes and keeps the covenant.

      But I did not say the Arminian God equips the lost. I quoted Romans 10:21, which states that God is holding out his hand to them. This is clearly a picture of God’s desire to redeem them, his reaching out to them in spite of their lack of faith.

      As for your hypothetical example, you just do not get it. YOU are the one claiming the good of God in the event, not me. Your theology says, “God’s will that she should die.” I learned a long time ago that you do not speak about what we cannot understand. It seems to me that you are the one groping for an answer to this dilemma. I know that God is present in those who bring comfort, those who lift up the fallen, those who labor for peace. I can state with Eli Wiesel that God was there with the boy on the gallows of the death camp. We have real enemies in this world – sin, death, suffer.

      God is always a help in time of trouble.

  61. steve hays says:

    drwayman

    “I say: You agree with Calvinist authors when it is convenient for you. Other times you divorcee them from your statements. It appears to me that you have your own idiosyncratic version of Calvinism. Hence, the realization that my discussions with you in the past have been fruitless. It appears that this one is going in the same direction. It’s like trying to nail Jello to the wall.”

    Document where anything I’ve said in this thread represents “idiosyncratic Calvinism.”

    How do you measure up if we measure you by your own yardstick. John and Charles Wesley were Anglicans. Must Arminians be Anglican? Ben Witherington is a pacifist. Must Arminians be pacifists? I. H. Marshall is an annihilationist. Must Arminians be annihilationists? Jerry Walls espouses postmortem evangelism. Must Arminians espouse postmortem evangelism? Roger Olson rejects inerrancy. Must Arminians reject inerrancy?

  62. steve hays says:

    Bob Anderson

    “Since this is “the alternative” and since you now are saying God equips (hence He is active in the process), how can you say this is a matter of ‘chances’? That simply makes no sense.”

    It makes sense for the reason I gave. Even though the Arminian God equips the lost, the outcome remains indeterminate.

    “It is a matter of faith, believing and trusting in the One who makes and keeps the covenant.”

    Which is a sink-or-swim system inasmuch as some have faith while others lose their faith due to some personal tragedy or whatever.

    “But I did not say the Arminian God equips the lost. I quoted Romans 10:21, which states that God is holding out his hand to them. This is clearly a picture of God’s desire to redeem them, his reaching out to them in spite of their lack of faith.”

    Quoting Rom 10:21 doesn’t prove Arminianism inasmuch as Calvinists also quote Rom 10:21. Prootexting Arminianism doesn’t show that Arminian theology is logically consistent with Scripture. The question at issue is not what Scripture says, but what Arminianism says.

    Likewise, quoting Scripture doesn’t show that Arminianism is internally consistent.

    “As for your hypothetical example, you just do not get it. YOU are the one claiming the good of God in the event, not me.”

    You just don’t get it. If Arminians are going to raise theodicean objections to Calvinism, then Arminians thereby shoulder their own burden of proof. They must field theodicean objections to their position.

    If you demand that Calvinists must be able to give specific, justificatory reasons for some particular event, then that applies with equal force to your own position.

    “I can state with Eli Wiesel that God was there with the boy on the gallows of the death camp.”

    Well that’s pretty lame. God was there with the boy? What good did that do the boy?

    What about preventing the boy from being hanged? Why does the Arminian God give the Nazis the freedom to overpower the boy rather than giving the boy the freedom to overpower the Nazis?

  63. steve hays says:

    Robert

    “Steve Hays repeatedly makes a certain false claim about what Arminians and other non-theological determinists believe. I want this false claim out in the open so his deception can be exposed.”

    Actually, Robert’s tactic is to substitute his own formulations for Mallett’s statements, then pretend that I was responding to Robert’s reformulation of Mallett’s when, in fact, I was responding to Mallett’s original statements.

    “In theological fatalism…”

    Calvinism isn’t fatalism. In fact, fatalism is compatible with libertarian freedom. In fatalism, agents have can alternate routes, but every alternate route winds up at the same place. The film Final Destination is a good illustration. No matter what the characters do, they are doomed.

    But in Calvinism, it does matter what we do. A counterfactual scenario wouldn’t have the same outcome. So Robert has already bungled the issue.

    “In non-Calvinist’s thinking…So God did not intend for them to go to hell, God did not create them to go to hell, they end up there by opposing God’s will (which is stated in the bible as Him desiring that all be saved) by their own freely made choices.”

    That may be true in reference to open theism, but it’s not true in reference to classical Arminianism. Does Robert deny that God understands the consequences of his own actions? If God makes a world with foreseeable consequences, then he intends the consequences of his creative fiat.

    Take a libertarian like William Lane Craig. According to Craig, “God chooses a world having an overall optimal balance between saved and lost.” So God intends that particular outcome in contrast another world with a different ratio of lost to saved.

    If the Arminian (or Molinist) God creates Judas knowing that Judas will spend eternity in hell, then God created Judas with that end-result in mind. Given the twin facts of divine creatorship and divine omniscience, that’s the logical conclusion. Robert denying it doesn’t negate the logical conclusion, which derives from Arminian assumptions.

    This isn’t a difficult concept to grasp. Say I go to a vending machine. The selection includes microwave popcorn. That’s what I want. I input the specified amount, input the matching code, and out comes the popcorn. I knew that if I took that action, that would be the outcome. Hence, I intended that outcome.

    “But the ***cause*** of them ending up in hell according to non-fatalistic thinking is that this is caused by their self-determined choices.”

    i) Notice Robert’s bait-n-switch. He acts as if causes and intentions are synonyms. But even if God didn’t cause the outcome, it doesn’t follow that God didn’t intend the outcome.

    An agent can intend something he didn’t cause. My potted tomatoes will freeze if I leave them outside on a frigid night. But I didn’t cause them to freeze. I didn’t cause the frigid air. Yet, if I leave them outside, knowing they will freeze, then I intend that outcome (unless I just forgot to bring them inside).

    ii) Moreover, the libertarian agent’s “self-determined choices” is not a sufficient condition to achieve that effect. For God must make the agent before the agent can exercise his (alleged) libertarian choices. Therefore, even on libertarianism, God has a causal role to play in where the damned wind up.

    “But in our view God does not ‘make’ people into unbelievers, they do it themselves by their own self determined choices.”

    Notice that Robert is substituting his words for what I actually said. I didn’t attribute to Arminianism the view that God “makes people into unbelievers.” That is Robert’s bait-n-switch.

    Rather, I said Mallett acts as if God can’t make believers unless he also makes unbelievers. *Making* unbelievers and making people *into* unbelievers are not interchangeable concepts. Is Robert just dissembling, or does he really not grasp that elementary distinction?

    “God creates human nature with the capacity for self determination (i.e. some choices are up to us, made by us, not necessitated by God or God controlling us like puppets to ensure a predecided outcome). The choices that we then make either result in our becoming believers (if we choose to accept God’s grace towards us) or remaining unbelievers (if we repeatedly and continuously and for a lifetime keep rejecting God’s grace towards us).”

    Robert is burning a straw man. What was the context of my statement?

    Mallett acts as if there’s a necessary tradeoff. That you can’t have believers without unbelievers. He said: “That people perish out of rejection of God is undesirable but also necessary if love is to be freely given.”

    But must there be people who reject God? On Mallett’s view, it’s unavoidable that God create some people who will reject him. But that would be a necessitarian scheme.

    For Robert to say “The choices that we then make either result in our becoming believers (if we choose to accept God’s grace towards us) or remaining unbelievers (if we repeatedly and continuously and for a lifetime keep rejecting God’s grace towards us)” is irrelevant to the issue at hand. For the question at issue is whether the only type of world God can create will necessarily be a world containing a mix of believers and unbelievers.

    “And this argument that God could spare them the ‘dire outcome by not making them at all’ misses some very important biblical points.”

    It isn’t just my argument. William Lane Craig is a libertarian who’s admitted the existence of feasible universalist worlds. Feasible possible worlds in which everyone is saved.

    “Now we could get into reasons for God doing so, but the point is that to prevent anyone from going to hell God would have to create humans incapable of sin.”

    No, he’d only have to refrain from creating unbelievers. Just create the individuals whom he foresees will freely believe, or a subset thereof.

    “Hays injection of his manure into our water is not appreciated.”

    Well, I guess that tells you where Robert’s mind is.

    1. Robert says:

      Steve Hays likes to deny that his theological fatalism (his version of Calvinism) is fatalism. He likes to define fatalism as the idea that no matter what you do you will end up with the same outcome. But that is itself a misrepresentation of fatalism. One need not be a fatalist to see that if you do different things then different outcomes will result.

      For example – Regarding watching Monday night football tonight, I cannot be at my home and both turn on the TV and not turn on the TV and have the same result: that I end up watching the game on my TV. If I choose not to turn the TV on, then I will not see the game on my TV. And If I choose to turn on the TV (assuming it is operating properly) then I will see the game on my TV (again assuming there are no transmission problems involving the TV or cable company). So fatalism is not the idea that you can do whatever, do completely opposite things and end up with the same exact result.

      Allow me to provide a good definition of fatalism. This is provided by John Martin Fischer, a prominent philosopher in the area of free will discussions (he invented and endorses semi-compatibilism). Fischer has written multiple books that have been published by Oxford Press, so he is an expert in this area of free will.

      Here is Fischer’s definition of fatalism:

      “I now wish to sketch an argument for fatalism and compare it with the first version of the Basic Argument. Fatalism is the doctrine that it is a logical or conceptual truth that no person is ever free to do otherwise.(p. 12, John Martin Fischer, GOD, FOREKNOWLEDGE, AND FREEDOM).

      Now examine that line about fatalism carefully.

      It is a logical or conceptual truth that NO PERSON IS EVER FREE TO DO OTHERWISE.

      Now consider Hays’ Calvinism. In that thinking God preplans every event that will take place as what we call history. God decrees every event. Or as the Westminster Confession puts it: “He ordaineth whatsoever comes to pass”. So first you have the total plan, or God’s decrees. God’s plan is then actualized by God controlling every event and ensuring that every preplanned event occurs exactly as preplanned. So if this were true and God preplanned that I would watch the Monday night football game tonight: then I will watch the game tonight. And not only will I watch that game tonight, if Hays’ Calvinism is true THEN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE THAT I DO OTHERWISE, I have to watch that game tonight. The only way I could do otherwise is if God had preplanned a different world in which he had preplanned for me not to watch that game (and in that case I would not watch the game and it would be impossible for me to do otherwise).

      But according to Fischer’s definition of fatalism (“it is a logical or conceptual truth that no person is ever free to do otherwise.”) Hays’ calvinism **is** fatalism.

      Because if his calvinism is true and I always do what God preplanned for me to do (and it is impossible for me to ever do otherwise)then Hays’ calvinism is perfectly described by Fischer’s definition of fatalism.

      Now someone might want to argue against Fischer’s definition of fatalism. But if we go by Fischer’s definition of fatalism: then Steve Hays’ Calvinism IS FATALISM. Now with Fischer’s definition in mind consider Hays’ weak attempts to distance himself from fatalism.

      Hays wrote:

      “Calvinism isn’t fatalism.”

      It is according to Fischer’s definition. And others as well but I am going by Fischer’s definition at present.

      “In fact, fatalism is compatible with libertarian freedom.”

      No it is not. In libertarian free will a person can sometimes do otherwise. In fact libertarian free will is OPPOSITE Fischer’s definition of fatalism and involves the ability to do otherwise.
      If I am acting with libertarian free will tonight then I could turn on the TV and watch the game or I could choose not to turn on the TV and watch the game. While God foreknows whichever choice I make, I do have a choice and then make a choice. If Hays’ fatalism is true, then my every action is decreed by God so I have no choice (in fact if his fatalism is true then I never ever have a choice) but will only choose to do what God preplanned for me to do. Fatalism is not compatible with libertarian free will, and I challenge anyone to provide an example of a person who simultaneously affirms libertarian free will and fatalism by Fischer’s definition.

      “In fatalism, agents have can alternate routes, but every alternate route winds up at the same place.”

      This is Hays’ definition of fatalism and it is a mispresentation of fatalism. I trust Fischer’s definition of fatalism much more than that of Hays (who has an agenda which is to defend his theological fatalism/Calvinism, while Fischer is not defending calvinism nor non-Calvinism but is merely providing the philosophical definition of fatalism).

      “The film Final Destination is a good illustration. No matter what the characters do, they are doomed.”

      Hays may be confusing the certainly of an event occurring and its necessity of occurring. An event can be certain to occur though not necessitated. A good example is God foreknowing that a believer will give into a certain temptation and then sin. Though God foreknows that the person would give into the temptation and sin, the person if they acted with libertarian free will was not necessitated to sin (i.e. he did not have to sin, in which he had to sin and it was impossible that do otherwise and resist the temptation). The second coming of Christ will bring judgment for some people, so “they are doomed” assuming they do not repent of their sin prior to that event. But if they turn away from their sin and repent, then they will not be doomed when Christ returns. And while it is true that God foreknows who will be doomed and who will not be doomed when the second coming occurs, if they end up being doomed, they could have done otherwise and repented before the event occurs.

      “But in Calvinism, it does matter what we do.”

      In any sequence of events it matters what we do. We cannot do opposite actions (like turn on the TV to watch the game or not turn on the TV to watch the game) and expect the same outcome. But doing opposite things and ending up with the same outcome is not fatalism. A person cannot both repent of their sin prior to the return of Christ and not repent of their sin prior to the return of Christ and expect the same outcome.

      “A counterfactual scenario wouldn’t have the same outcome. So Robert has already bungled the issue.”

      I have not bungled the issue, according to Fischer’s definition of fatalism, Steve Hays’ calvinism ***is*** FATALISM.

      Most Christians upon hearing the theological fatalism presented by people like Hays react with the counter claim that: if that is true then God controls us like puppets or robots. We become like puppets whose every action is controlled by the puppet master. Now why do people so often react with these analogies upon hearing theological fatalism being presented?

      A major reason is that they logically deduce that if all is preplanned by God, then “it is a logical or conceptual truth that no person is ever free to do otherwise.” Just as the puppet can never do otherwise than what the puppet master controls them to do, likewise human persons and angels and everything else is never free to do otherwise than what God preplanned for them. That **is** fatalism, and most Christians reject it when they hear it. Notwithstanding the attempts of theological fatalists like Steve Hays to mask their fatalistic theology. Most of us have no problem seeing a scenario in which it is impossible for us to ever do otherwise and recognizing it as fatalism and if true meaning God controls us like puppets.

      Robert

      1. Arminian says:

        Robert,

        You are indeed correct that fatalism as commonly defined applies to Calvinism. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states,

        “philosophers usually use the word to refer to the view that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do.”

        You are also correct to raise the puppet terminology. As I have pointed out earlier in the thread, a puppet is standardly defined as a person completely controlled by another.

  64. steve hays says:

    BTW, since Robert likes to oppose Calvinism to “non-Calvinism,” including Catholicism, here’s what a Catholic philosopher has to say:

    “I want to bar the way to a familiar solution, the so-called Free Will Defense. This would work only if the exercise of free will made sin inevitable. But free choices need not be between good and bad, right and wrong; any one of us often has a free choice between two goods where it would not be wrong to choose either. So the Free Will Defence utterly fails,” Peter Geach, Truth & Hope (Notre Dame 2001), 87.

    1. A.M. Mallett says:

      Steve wrote:
      BTW, since Robert likes to oppose Calvinism to “non-Calvinism,” including Catholicism, here’s what a Catholic philosopher has to say:

      I comment:
      In most Protestant apologetics circles, this would be considered poisoning the well. It is as reasonable as a non-Calvinist using “In sha Allah” to draw comparisons between the theological fatalism of Calvinism and Islam.

      1. steve hays says:

        A.M. Mallett

        “In most Protestant apologetics circles, this would be considered poisoning the well.”

        How is it “poisoning the well” when that’s how Robert has framed his own polemic? He uses phrases like “This is known by all who are familiar with Arminian and other non-Calvinist thinking (which includes Catholics, Eastern Orthodox).”

        So he’s opposing Calvinism to “non-Calvinism.”

        “It is as reasonable as a non-Calvinist using ‘In sha Allah’ to draw comparisons between the theological fatalism of Calvinism and Islam.”

        Which is a case of well-poisoning.

        It is as reasonable as a non-Calvinist using “In sha Allah” to draw comparisons between the theological fatalism of Calvinism and Islam.

        1. Steve wrote:
          How is it “poisoning the well” when that’s how Robert has framed his own polemic? He uses phrases like “This is known by all who are familiar with Arminian and other non-Calvinist thinking (which includes Catholics, Eastern Orthodox).”… So he’s opposing Calvinism to “non-Calvinism.” …

          I comment:
          The poison is introduced when you emphasize Roman Catholicism knowing the rift between ecumenical Protestantism and Rome. You know this meaning your comment embraces subterfuge rather than honest discourse. It remains poisoning the well. I am surmising that you did not grasp the similarity of the “in sha Allah” example.

  65. steve hays says:

    Robert suffers from a cosmic authority complex. It’s a common syndrome among atheists. The fear of a God who knows us and controls us.

  66. Bob Anderson says:

    I think both sides need to take a break here. There is way too much mud slinging. It is one thing to argue and dispute about the theological nuances. It is another to begin a flurry of ad hominems and insults.

    It is inappropriate for either side, whether you are Arminian or Calvinist.

    Since the overall discourse is getting a bit offensive, I will bow out. I was preparing a few more posts, but this discussion has deteriorated rapidly.

    I am not blaming anyone in particular.

  67. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Divine Sovereignty or Divine Puppetmaster?

    Isaiah 45:7 “I form the light and create darkness,
    I bring prosperity and create disaster;
    I, the LORD, do all these things.

    Amos 3:6 “When a trumpet sounds in a city,
    do not the people tremble?
    When disaster comes to a city,
    has not the LORD caused it?”

  68. steve hays says:

    An awkward problem with Robert’s preferred definition of fatalism is that it also applies to classical Arminianism, where simple foreknowledge entails what is termed logical fatalism. So Robert’s preferred definition is self-defeating. If Calvinism is fatalistic. so is Arminianism.

    1. A.M. Mallett says:

      Steve wrote:
      An awkward problem with Robert’s preferred definition of fatalism is that it also applies to classical Arminianism, where simple foreknowledge entails what is termed logical fatalism. So Robert’s preferred definition is self-defeating. If Calvinism is fatalistic. so is Arminianism.

      I comment:
      Logical fatalism is a rather problematic notion that in this case assumes, incorrectly, that God’s foreknowledge is dependent on His decree i.e. God can only know what He has decreed. It is a uniquely Calvinist weakness and not Arminian. Logical fatalism denies any sense of the freedom of the will in contradiction to the revealed will of God. This faulty worldview is easily dismissed with a reading of Jeremiah 19:5.
      If Calvinism suffers from theological fatalism, Arminianism offers a biblical escape.

  69. steve hays says:

    Here are two philosophical definitions of fatalism that attest my definition:

    —————————————

    Oedipus was fated to kill his father and marry his mother. What do we mean when we say that? Certainly it must have been true that Oedipus would kill his father and marry his mother. But at least on one understanding, the claim seems to involve more than that: it involves the thought that nothing that Oedipus could have done would have stopped him from killing his father and marrying his mother. Somehow, no matter what he chose to do, no matter what actions he performed, circumstances would conspire to guarantee those outcomes. Fatalism, understood this way, thus amounts to powerlessness to avoid a given outcome.

    We can put the point in terms of a counterfactual: There are some outcomes such that whatever action Oedipus were to perform, they would come about

    This is a very specific fatalism: two specific outcomes are fated. There is no implication that Oedipus could not effectively choose to do other things: he was free to choose where he went, what he said, what immediate bodily actions he performed.

    R. Holtman, “From Determinism to Resignation.”

    An event is naturalistically fated just in case it occurs in every physically possible world. If there are such fated events, then in one clear sense somethings are going to happen no matter what–vary the initial conditions as much as you like (within the bounds of physical possibility) and the fated event will nonetheless eventuate. Naturalistic fatalism in this sense neither entails nor is entailed by determinism

    J. Earman, A Primer On Determinism (18).

  70. steve hays says:

    In contrast to what clueless Arminians have been saying on this thread, here’s an example of what the Arminian OT scholar John Oswalt has says on Isa 10:5-7:

    “First, it is plain that the prophet considers all peoples to be instruments of the Sovereign. Even the vilest of persons is serving God’s purposes, if only to illustrate the ultimate results of evil…It is not necessary to know oneself commanded in order to be commanded. Assyria did not see herself as the servant of Yahweh, but she was…They did not realize that they were where they were because of the larger purposes of God. The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1-39 (Eerdmans 1988), 263.

  71. steve hays says:

    Here’s another definition, from a leading libertarian philosopher, that agrees with my distinctions:

    “This is one of the most common confusions in free will debates. Fatalism is the view that whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, no matter what we do. Determinism alone does not imply such a consequence. What we decide and what we do would make a difference in how things turn out–often an enormous difference–even if determinism should be true,” Robert Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will (Oxford 2005), 19.

  72. steve hays says:

    Arminian November 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    “Robert, you are indeed correct that fatalism as commonly defined applies to Calvinism. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states…”

    Unfortunately for Arminian (as well as Robert), Hugh Rice agrees with me. I wrote him back in 2009. I still have the exchange. Perhaps I’ll post it on my blog.

    “You are also correct to raise the puppet terminology. As I have pointed out earlier in the thread, a puppet is standardly defined as a person completely controlled by another.”

    Of course, you could say the same thing about the potter/clay relation.

    1. Arminian says:

      I have bowed out from interaction with Steve Hays in this thread for what I found to be inappropriate posting on his part. But this matter is a relatively objective one and seems to call for a response.

      (1) I checked with Hugh Rice (the author of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article I cited), and he does not agree with Steve Hays in excluding determinism from the label of fatalism, and affirms the statement in his article, which was substantively revised in 2010, after Steve corresponded with him in 2009. What he meant when talking with Steve was that there is a common non-philosophical definition of the term that accords with Steve’s, which he noted when he revised the article. But as he states in the article, the normal philosophical sense of the term excludes libertarian freedom and applies to any form of determinism. Let me add that this sense is also included in a number of common, non-philosophical dictionaries as well.

      So let me now state that the fact is that there is more than one definition of fatalism. But one of the standard definitions of it applies to exhaustive determinism, the normal sense in which it is used by philosophers, and a common sense that is used in general as well. This seems to be one of the problems with Hays’ use of 2 of the 3 sources he has quoted on this. It should be noted that those sources qualify that they are speaking of a specific form of fatalism. The Kane reference does support Steve, but appears to be out of touch with this nuance of the issue. Kane appears to only consider one of the standard definitions of fatalism and misses another.

      It seems invalid for Steve (or other Calvinists) to deny that a standard definition of Calvinism applies to their view. What they should do is clarify that one of the specific definitions of the term does not apply to their view, though another of the specific definitions of it does, the one normally used by philosophers and is also common more broadly. As Hugh Rice clarified to me, he did not indicate “that fatalism is compatible with libertarian freedom. The most I agreed was that the[re] is a sense (a non-philosophical sense) of the word in which this is so.”

  73. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “As I have pointed out earlier in the thread, a puppet is standardly defined as a person completely controlled by another.”

    Which ironically confirms my diagnosis about the incipiently atheistic attitude of some Arminians. They just can’t stand the idea that God “controls” them. But, of course, “control” is just a synonym for Lordship or dominion.

    1. A.M. Mallett says:

      Steve wrote:
      Which ironically confirms my diagnosis about the incipiently atheistic attitude of some Arminians. They just can’t stand the idea that God “controls” them. But, of course, “control” is just a synonym for Lordship or dominion.

      I comment:
      Unfortunately for your argument, hard determinism is not a synonym for Lordship. Is God’s sovereignty compromised when He decrees dominion over creation to man? The answer is of course not. Is a Sovereign compromised or out of control when He delegates the free exercise of judgement to others over designated affairs. Again, the answer is no.

      The “incipient” animosity you have come to express toward most of the body of Christ in unbecoming although I have no idea if that discomfort registers with you or not.

      1. steve hays says:

        A.M. Mallett

        “Unfortunately for your argument, hard determinism is not a synonym for Lordship.”

        Most Calvinists are soft determinists, not hard determinists. Don’t you know the difference?

        “The ‘incipient’ animosity you have come to express toward most of the body of Christ in unbecoming although I have no idea if that discomfort registers with you or not.”

        i) Most of the “body of Christ” is opposed to Arminianism, viz. Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, &c.

        ii) Like a typical partisan, you turn a blind eye to the animosity emanating from your own side.

        1. Steve wrote:
          Most Calvinists are soft determinists, not hard determinists. Don’t you know the difference?… Most of the “body of Christ” is opposed to Arminianism, viz. Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, Lutheranism, &c…. Like a typical partisan, you turn a blind eye to the animosity emanating from your own side.

          I comment:
          I am well aware of the conflicted perspective of “soft determinists” who foist their inconsistency via devices such as compatibalism upon those who confront them with the implications of their determinism. However, your comment does nothing to refute the fact that hard determinism or even inconsistent “soft determinism” are not synonyms for Lordship. Were you to allow yourself to be teachable, you might grasp that fact.
          When I use the term “body of Christ”, I refer to that ecumenical orthodoxy, nearly all of which is opposed to what most have come to understand as Calvinism. As a Protestant I do not hold Roman Catholicism in good standing however I am not going to judge their standing before the LORD. Aside from that, your mentioning of such is a ruse. Lutherans are decidedly not Calvinist and generally have no part in your determinist philosophy. They are far closer soteriologically to classical Arminianism than your Calvinism.
          I generally do not turn a blind eye to any animosity however the greater expression of such animosity is by far emanating from your hand. Perhaps you should consider withdrawing to prayer and meditation.

          1. steve hays says:

            A. M. Mallett

            “I am well aware of the conflicted perspective of ‘soft determinists’ who foist their inconsistency via devices such as compatibalism [sic] upon those who confront them with the implications of their determinism.”

            Needless to say, that’s not an intellectually serious analysis of the variations on determinism. It’s just a dismissive remark which attempts to accomplish through rhetoric what it fails to accomplish through reason.

            “However, your comment does nothing to refute the fact that hard determinism or even inconsistent ‘soft determinism’ are not synonyms for Lordship.”

            You’re the one, not me, who’s recasting the issue in terms of compatibilism over against incompatibilism. Those are essentially philosophical rather than theological positions-although they can dovetail with certain theological positions.

            “Were you to allow yourself to be teachable, you might grasp that fact.”

            This is another example of Arminian spiritual pride. Unconscious, overweening pride.

            “When I use the term ‘body of Christ’, I refer to that ecumenical orthodoxy, nearly all of which is opposed to what most have come to understand as Calvinism.”

            They are also opposed to each other.

            “Lutherans are decidedly not Calvinist…”

            Lutherans are decidedly not Arminian. Eastern Orthodox are decidedly not Arminian. Roman Catholics are decidedly not Arminian. And so on down the line.

            “…and generally have no part in your determinist philosophy. They are far closer soteriologically to classical Arminianism than your Calvinism.”

            That’s an Arminian talking about Lutheranism, not a Lutheran talking about Arminianism.

            And what makes you think, say, Missouri Synod theology is soteriologically closer to classical Arminianism than Calvinism? What do you actually know about it?

            “I generally do not turn a blind eye to any animosity however the greater expression of such animosity is by far emanating from your hand.”

            Teammates make poor umpires.

            “Perhaps you should consider withdrawing to prayer and meditation.”

            Another example of Arminian spiritual pride. Saintly people don’t flaunt their sanctity in contrast to others.

            1. A.M. Mallett says:

              Obfuscation and deflection seem to be your only strengths.

  74. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “As I say below, I am bowing out of discussion with you in this thread. But before doing so, let me say here that my comments were spot on, because if you were responding to Dan on his own terms adequately, you would have taken the fact that God doesn’t commission the hit man’s actions. So in Arminian theology, he does not have the same relationship to the buffer that your analogy requires. Your analogy is too dis-analogous from the Arminian view to make your point.”

    Robert

    “The God of the bible is a God of truth and holiness, He does not get pleasure out of lies and errors, nor in ordaining that people hold so many erroneous views or put manure into their own water.”

    The mock-piety of sanctimonious Arminians notwithstanding, the God of the Bible is deeply enmeshed in human machinations. To take a few examples:

    “But Sihon king of Heshbon refused to let us pass through. For the LORD your God had made his spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate in order to give him into your hands, as he has now done” (Deut 2:30).

    “19 Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. 20 For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses” (Josh 11:19-20).

    “3 His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.)” (Judges 14:3-4).

    “If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the LORD, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death” (1 Sam 2:25).

    “Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom” (2 Sam 17:14).

    “So now the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you” (2 Chron 18:22).

    “Amaziah, however, would not listen, for God so worked that he might deliver them into the hands of Jehoash, because they sought the gods of Edom” (2 Chron 25:20).

    “24 The LORD made his people very fruitful; he made them too numerous for their foes, 25 whose hearts he turned to hate his people, to conspire against his servants” (Ps 105:24-25).

    “For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to hand over to the beast their royal authority, until God’s words are fulfilled” (Rev 17:17).

  75. Arminian says:

    I posted this above, but did not want it to be missed, so I am reposting it here too:

    I have bowed out from interaction with Steve Hays in this thread for what I found to be inappropriate posting on his part. But this matter is a relatively objective one and seems to call for a response.

    (1) I checked with Hugh Rice (the author of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article I cited), and he does not agree with Steve Hays in excluding determinism from the label of fatalism, and affirms the statement in his article, which was substantively revised in 2010, after Steve corresponded with him in 2009. What he meant when talking with Steve was that there is a common non-philosophical definition of the term that accords with Steve’s, which he noted when he revised the article. But as he states in the article, the normal philosophical sense of the term excludes libertarian freedom and applies to any form of determinism. Let me add that this sense is also included in a number of common, non-philosophical dictionaries as well.

    So let me now state that the fact is that there is more than one definition of fatalism. But one of the standard definitions of it applies to exhaustive determinism, the normal sense in which it is used by philosophers, and a common sense that is used in general as well. This seems to be one of the problems with Hays’ use of 2 of the 3 sources he has quoted on this. It should be noted that those sources qualify that they are speaking of a specific form of fatalism. The Kane reference does support Steve, but appears to be out of touch with this nuance of the issue. Kane appears to only consider one of the standard definitions of fatalism and misses another.

    It seems invalid for Steve (or other Calvinists) to deny that a standard definition of Calvinism applies to their view. What they should do is clarify that one of the specific definitions of the term does not apply to their view, though another of the specific definitions of it does, the one normally used by philosophers and is also common more broadly. As Hugh Rice clarified to me, he did not indicate “that fatalism is compatible with libertarian freedom. The most I agreed was that the[re] is a sense (a non-philosophical sense) of the word in which this is so.”

    1. Robert says:

      Hello Arminian,

      Thanks for providing the clarification, which shows once again that Hays is twisting things in order to support and defend his theological fatalism. Fischer’s definition is quite clear and simple and by Fischer’s definition Hays’ Calvinism is clearly fatalism. Hays is attempting to define fatalism in a very contrived way, a way that results in no calvinist espousing fatalism (but that is not saying much as by his contrived definition no one espouses fatalism, no one claims that you can do opposite actions and get the same outcomes, children recognize this to be true that you cannot both drive to McDonalds’ and not drive to McDonald’s and end up at McDonalds, as a point of fact some routes will take you there and some actions/routes will not).

      Richard Taylor was one of the big guns in the discussion of fatalism among contemporary philosophers. He wrote a paper on fatalism which generated all sorts of interest and response for years (similar to the response to Frankfurt’s paper). It also resulted in a thesis arguing against the Taylor paper by David Foster Wallace (in fact my citations of Wallace come from a book which in its entirety is devoted to the topic of fatalism). Here is a brief discussion by Taylor of fatalism followed by Wallace also defining fatalism (note how close their definitions support the definition of Fischer which I initially offered):

      “FATALISM AND DETERMINISM

      Determinism, it will be recalled, is the theory that all events are rendered unavoidable by their causes. The attempt is sometimes made to distinguish this from fatalism by saying that, according to the fatalist, certain events are going to happen no matter what, or in other words, regardless of causes. [note this is Steve Hays suggested definition of the term] But this is enormously contrived.[note that Taylor says Hays’ suggested definition is “enormously contrived} It would be hard to find in the whole history of thought a single fatalist, on that conception of it.[note that Taylor also says that it would be hard to find anyone in history who held to this definition of fatalism; you will however find plenty of persons who are fatalists according to Fischer’s definition, including calvinists such as Steve Hays]

      Fatalism is the belief that whatever happens is unavoidable. That is the clearest expression of the doctrine, and it provides the basis of the attitude of calm acceptance that the fatalist is thought, quite correctly, to embody. One who endorses the claim of universal causation, then, and the theory of the causal determination of all human behavior, is a kind of fatalist – – or at least he should be, if he is consistent. For that theory, as we have seen, once it is clearly spelled out and not hedged about with unresolved “ifs”, does entail that whatever happens is rendered inevitable by the causal conditions preceding it, and is therefore unavoidable. One can indeed think of verbal formulas for distinguishing the two theories, but if we think of a fatalist as one who has a certain attitude, we find it to be the attitude that a thoroughgoing determinist should, in consistency assume. That some philosophical determinists are not fatalists does not so much illustrate a great difference between fatalism and determinism but rather the humiliation to one’s pride that a fatalist position can deliver, and the comfort that can sometimes be found in evasion.” (p. 55, Richard Taylor, METAPHYSICS fourth edition)
      ——————————————————————-

      “so that it is necessary that whatever I do, O or O’, I do necessarily, and cannot do otherwise. . . . Hence fatalism: what I do is necessary, what I do not do is impossible, what does and will happen is not at all in my control. (p. 146, David Foster Wallace, Fate, Time, and Language: AN ESSAY ON FREE WILL)

      “First, it may appear to accord exactly with the fatalist’s thesis that everything that occurs occurs necessarily and that everything that does not occur cannot possibly occur;”(p.194, David Foster Wallace, Fate, Time, and Language: AN ESSAY ON FREE WILL)

      Now it should be noted that Steve Hays is arguing that we define fatalism by his definition rather than that of Fischer. He concedes this by attempting to bring up support for his own alternative definition and *****ignoring the fact***** that his calvinism is perfectly described by Fischer’s definition.
      But nobody holds fatalism as defined by Hays. So his definition does not refer to any Calvinists or Arminians and is a useless abstraction.

      It is also an intentional evasion.

      Hays wants people to accept his definition of fatalism so that his calvinism will then not be seen as fatalism. The question to ask is does Hays’ Calvinism fit the definition of fatalism offered by Fischer and supported by Taylor and Wallace? The answer is clearly Yes. And this becomes a severe problem for Hays’ version of theological fatalism. Because by Fischer’s definition, a view which denies that we can ever do otherwise **is** fatalism. So Hays’ Calvinism does not escape the charge of fatalism. But it gets worse because Fischer’s definition brings out a critical fact about Hays’ theological fatalism. If his theology is correct, then we never ever have a choice. But this claim that we never ever have a choice which logically follows from Hays’ belief that God preplanned everything is refuted by various scripture passages that present clear situations where a person had a choice (they did not simply make a choice which would be true under fatalism, in fatalism people NEVER HAVE A CHOICE but in scripture in numerous instances people not only make choices they HAVE CHOICES, something that could not be true if everything was ordained beforehand by God).

      Robert

  76. steve hays says:

    Since “Arminian” is foolish enough to question what was said in my correspondence with Prof. Rice, I’ve now posted the original correspondence:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/11/defining-fatalism.html

    1. Arminian says:

      Why would you call me foolish? That seems so hostile and is more evidence of why I stopped interacting with you earlier in this thread.

      Anyway, I checked with Prof. Rice and he clarified what he meant in his comments to you. I reported what he said in my post. It makes no sense to suggest that his original comments contradict me; I reported his clarification of what he meant by his comments to you. It’s pretty straightforward and simple. You misunderstood him (as I suspected you might have)and he has corrected your impression in response to me questioning him about it.

  77. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “I have bowed out from interaction with Steve Hays in this thread for what I found to be inappropriate posting on his part.”

    Spoken like a pure partisan.

    “It seems invalid for Steve (or other Calvinists) to deny that a standard definition of Calvinism applies to their view.”

    i) I’m using a “standard” definition of fatalism. I quoted three different philosophers who define the term the way I do.

    Robert denied that definition. So I’ve now documented my definition from unimpeachable sources.

    Of course, Arminian is a pure partisan, so he automatically exempts his own party from the same strictures.

    ii) I also pointed out that if we go with Fischer’s alternative definition, then that applies as well to Arminianism (i.e. logical fatalism). Indeed, if you study Fischer’s discussions of simple foreknowledge in relation to future action, he says as much. So both “Arminian” and Robert are shooting themselves in the foot.

    iii) At best, the label is equivocal inasmuch as “fatalism” can denote more than one position, even in philosophical usage.

  78. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “Anyway, I checked with Prof. Rice and he clarified what he meant in his comments to you. I reported what he said in my post. It makes no sense to suggest that his original comments contradict me; I reported his clarification of what he meant by his comments to you. It’s pretty straightforward and simple. You misunderstood him (as I suspected you might have)and he has corrected your impression in response to me questioning him about it.”

    Since you hadn’t read our correspondence, you were in no position to know what to ask.

    “That seems so hostile and is more evidence of why I stopped interacting with you earlier in this thread.”

    As if that’s any great loss to the world.

    1. Arminian says:

      Steve said: “Since you hadn’t read our correspondence, you were in no position to know what to ask.”

      ***** Sure I was. I reported to him the definition you used here and asked him about his comments to you. He clarified his comments that he made to you. He commented on the comments to you and said what he meant by them. And what he said refutes your understanding of what he said and your use of it in this thread.

      Steve said: “As if that’s any great loss to the world.”

      **** Hostile comments like this continue to portray Calvinists with the bad reputation for incivility they have gotten and that various Calvinist leaders have noted and acknowledged has some validity, leading them to caution fellow Calvinists to be more charitable. In fact, Justin Taylor seems to be one of those Calvinist leaders who have drawn attention to this. Here are some comments I made on this on the Society of Evangelical Arminians website in partial reference to a post by Justin on this:

      If we grant that there is a special problem among Calvinists in this area (surely the problem is not limited to Calvinists, but some Calvinist leaders seem to be observing that there is a special problem among their own), the following comments are in order:

      Beside it being contrary to Scripture, the biggest concern Arminians have concerning Calvinism is its logical implications for the character of God, that it makes God a moral monster contrary to God’s character of love and justice revealed in the Bible . . . Although it seems to be a question that Calvinist leaders do not want to consider, it is worth considering whether the character of God as entailed in Calvinism contributes to anger and harshness toward others among *some* Calvinists. Certainly there are many humble and loving Calvinists. But could it be that there is something in the Calvinist view of God that encourages harshness with the result that, while many Calvinists resist the temptation to be harsh because of the Holy Spirit and Scripture, many are led into harshness by the Calvinist view of God? Is it mere coincidence that one of Arminianism’s major criticisms of Calvinism is that it logically entails a harsh view of God, and that even Calvinist leaders have been noting a special problem with Calvinists being harsh? To put it simply, could there be a connection along these lines: harsh God –> harsh Calvinists?

      For the full post, see http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/1235.

  79. steve hays says:

    Since you wish to raise the issue of civility, here’s a nice example of Arminian civility from your pal Robert, who is also, I believe, a contributor to the Society of Evangelical Arminians:

    ————————————————-

    For the Nazis it was the Jewish race that needed to be eliminated by any means at their disposal. For the KKK it was the blacks. I find these groups and their actions to be morally reprehensible and showing the most ugly aspects of what humans are capable of.

    And yet if the calvinists are correct about God and the “reprobates”, then God is the ultimate racist.

    He decides beforehand that certain individuals will be part of the class of reprobates. He then hates everyone in this class regardless of what they do or what kind of person they are. He just hates them because they are reprobates (and he decided they would be in the reprobate class, the class of those “automatically damned”). And the calvinists just can’t understand why non-Calvinists find their system to be so morally objectionable. That is like the Grand Dragon or Imperial Wizard not understanding why non-racists find their beliefs and practices to be morally objectionable. The parallels between racists like the KKK and the Nazis and the God of calvinism who reprobates most of the human race for his pleasure are chilling.

    And my intuition that racism is wrong does not conflict with scripture but is supported by scripture. And your system of theology which makes God into the worst racist in existence is contrary to both my intuition and the scripture. So both our intuitions and scripture are against the racist Calvinistic theology. The theology that makes God a racist against the reprobates. With the non-reprobates then wearing the white sheets and justifying and rationalizing their hatred. And like the KKK the calvinists have the gall to use scripture to justify and rationalize their hatred.

    1. Robert says:

      Steve Hays brings up something that I said in the past over at Dangerous Idea, I believe.

      Allow me to provide some background for my comments and further clarification.

      I work in prison ministry and so I work with a very tough and hardened crowd. I interact with these folks have seen many come to Christ as a result of the ministry I am involved in for which I am very grateful. I also meet some interesting characters and hear some interesting takes on theology. I was speaking to some inmates who retold an encounter they had had with a Calvinist. Apparently the conversation got on double predestination, that God elected the elect for salvation and the reprobates for damnation before they were born, before they had done anything to merit either eternal destiny. One of the inmates, an ex-Aryan who had at one time strongly hated and detested all non-white persons pointed out to the Calvinist: “Let me see if I got this right, according to you, God loves all of the elect before they are born and hates all of the nonbelievers before they are born. So God hates a whole group of people before they were ever born, right? And He decided they would be part of the group that He hates, right? So that means God is the ultimate racist cause he hates a whole group before they were ever born.”

      Admittedly, I hadn’t really looked at calvinistic reprobation quite that way before, but the more I thought about it, this inmate is correct. If God hates the reprobates and makes them reprobates and then eternally punishes these folks, God is behaving like the ultimate racist. While the Aryan hates all non-whites, the God who reprobates human persons hates all non-believers (which would be an extremely large amount of people across all ethnic and racial lines). In my own mind this also reminded me of how the Nazis had hated and targeted an entire group of human persons, the Jews, for total extermination. A racist Nazi hated all Jews and desired that they all be destroyed simply because they were Jewish. Racism whether it involves and Aryan, or a Nazi involves hating an entire people group simply because they are part of that hated people group. I am not a racist and I hate racism. From my understanding of scripture I also find the bible to be strongly against racism of any type. I was fortunate to never have learned racism towards any particular group.

      Besides the thinking of this inmate regarding Calvinism. I also ran into a consistent Calvinist by the name of Angus Stewart who freely and without reservation holds to double predestination. Angus Stewart believes that God chooses some to be elect and some to be reprobates before they are born. None of this is surprising, it is standard Calvinism, the form of Calvinism held by Calvin himself. But I listened to a sermon by Stewart in which he discusses Calvin’s interaction with the Catholic Pighius who opposed double predestination. What is significant about Stewart that I had not heard so eloquently and logically expressed before from a Calvinist was that Stewart openly and forthrightly acknowledges that if God reprobates human persons as Calvin taught and Stewart believes: THEN THIS IS THE MOST HATEFUL THING THAT YOU COULD DO TO A PERSON. And upon reflection I believe Stewart is correct. Jesus said we should not fear the one who destroys the body but fear the one who destroys the soul (with the implication being fear the one who can send you to hell for your sins). Here are some quotes from Stewart’s sermon so you can see for yourself his view that reprobation is the most hateful thing that can be done to a person:

      Angus Stewart quotes from sermon about Calvin and Pighius:

      “This is talking about a will of God in reprobation to damn people forever for their sins in hell. That is hatred. There could not be a greater demonstration of hatred than that. Think about it. Any idea this is something less than hatred just will not do.”

      “If that is supposedly loved less I ask you what more could God do if He really hated them? To destroy people forever. To have indignation eternally. If that’s not hatred, I don’t know what hatred is.”

      “Regarding the elect God hates our sins and loves us: Regarding the reprobates God hates the sins and He hates them. Because they are outside of Jesus Christ. Outside of Christ God would hate you and me too because there is nothing in us but sin and corruption. “

      After hearing Stewart’s sermon and thinking about it I concluded that he was right: what could be more hateful to do to a person than Calvinistic reprobation?

      In my thinking I combined the thoughts of the ex-Aryan convert to Christ and Stewart’s comments on reprobation and then it struck me. What God is doing in Calvinistic reprobation is analogically just the way a racist acts towards those they hate. They condemn the whole group, every member of that group because they are a part of that group. And when we consider that both Christians and non-Christians sin, the hatred God would have towards reprobates could not be based solely upon the fact they had sinned (for all sin, and if God simply hates people who sin then he would hate all men since all men sin). So the distinguishing reason that God would have for hating people under double predestination would have to come down to their being part of the class of nonbelievers. If someone should counter that God needs the reprobates in order to demonstrate his hatred of sin. This fails because God’s ultimate and greatest demonstration of hatred for sin is the cross.

      Now theological fatalists can attempt any sort of spin that they want to cover the hatred involved in reprobation, but it won’t work. If God truly reprobates people as Calvin taught and as Hays and Stewart believe: then he is manifesting the worst form of hatred imaginable to most of the human race. And did these reprobates merit this condemnation? No, they just happen to be members of the wrong group, the group that theological fatalists tell us that God hates.

      Now most Calvinists that I know are not consistent in their espousal of God ordaining every event. But some such as Stewart and Steve Hays (and Calvin himself) are consistent. And it gets worse I have seen people like Hays make comments about how God reprobates people as if it were a good thing. I have seen them talk about how good God is for reprobating people in the way they believe that he does. It is with these things in mind that I wrote what I wrote which Hays cites. I do not back off my analogies, as they properly describe consistent Calvinism.

      Here are some further clarifications of my comments in brackets:

      ————————————————-
      For the Nazis it was the Jewish race that needed to be eliminated by any means at their disposal. For the KKK it was the blacks. I find these groups and their actions to be morally reprehensible and showing the most ugly aspects of what humans are capable of. [Nazis and the KKK are good examples of how racists think and operate, as was the Aryan inmate before he came to Christ]
      And yet if the calvinists are correct about God and the “reprobates”, then God is the ultimate racist. [I should have said if calvinists are consistent in their calvinism and so espousing double predestination]
      He decides beforehand that certain individuals will be part of the class of reprobates. He then hates everyone in this class regardless of what they do or what kind of person they are. [It should be remembered that in double predestination God first decides that an individual will be a reprobate, and preplans their every sin while on earth, and then ensures that these plans are carried out in history]He just hates them because they are reprobates (and he decided they would be in the reprobate class, the class of those “automatically damned”). And the calvinists [more properly consistent Calvinists such as Hays and Angus Stewart] just can’t understand why non-Calvinists find their system to be so morally objectionable. [we find it morally objectionable because we do not believe that the God of the bible hates reprobates or even that he creates people to be reprobates] That is like the Grand Dragon or Imperial Wizard not understanding why non-racists find their beliefs and practices to be morally objectionable. The parallels between racists like the KKK and the Nazis and the God of [consistent] calvinism who reprobates most of the human race for his pleasure are chilling. [these parallels are chilling if you understand racism and see the parallels between calvinistic reprobation and ethnic or racial racism]
      And my intuition that racism is wrong does not conflict with scripture but is supported by scripture. [the Bible clearly goes against racism of any form] And your system [that of consistent Calvinists such as Stewart and Hays] of theology which makes God into the worst racist in existence is contrary to both my intuition and the scripture. So both our intuitions and scripture are against the racist [consistent] Calvinistic theology. The theology that makes God a racist against the reprobates. With the non-reprobates then wearing the white sheets and justifying and rationalizing their hatred.[when I hear people like Hays or Stewart or Vincent Cheung exulting in their belief in double predestination and making attempts to justify it, how is this different from racists justifying their hatred?] And like the KKK the [consistent] calvinists [who exult in reprobation and love the doctrine] have the gall to use scripture to justify and rationalize their hatred.”

      Now it should be clear that not all Calvinists are like this, not all espouse double predestination and take glee in it. Thankfully most Calvinists are inconsistent with their espoused belief that God ordains all things. But those who are consistent end up thinking like Angus Stewart and Steve Hays. And it gets really, really nasty. Thankfully most Christians reject this theology and see the hatred involved as well as how it is inconsistent with the character of the true God revealed in scripture.

      One last thing, Hays framed this as my lack of civility towards Calvinists. As usual Hays is distorting and twisting things. I have some Calvinist friends that I get along well with and have no problems being civil and gracious towards (in fact the analogy of injecting impurities into water that I shared earlier comes from a Calvinist friend). The words which Hays quotes are in regards to my beliefs of what his double predestination and specifically reprobation entail. And I do not back down from it whatsoever. The ex-Aryan inmate is correct and Angus Stewart perfectly confirms it, Calvinistic reprobation *****is***** the most hateful and worst thing that could be done to a person.

      Robert

  80. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “Beside it being contrary to Scripture, the biggest concern Arminians have concerning Calvinism is its logical implications for the character of God, that it makes God a moral monster contrary to God’s character of love and justice revealed in the Bible . . . Although it seems to be a question that Calvinist leaders do not want to consider, it is worth considering whether the character of God as entailed in Calvinism contributes to anger and harshness toward others among *some* Calvinists. Certainly there are many humble and loving Calvinists. But could it be that there is something in the Calvinist view of God that encourages harshness with the result that, while many Calvinists resist the temptation to be harsh because of the Holy Spirit and Scripture, many are led into harshness by the Calvinist view of God? Is it mere coincidence that one of Arminianism’s major criticisms of Calvinism is that it logically entails a harsh view of God, and that even Calvinist leaders have been noting a special problem with Calvinists being harsh? To put it simply, could there be a connection along these lines: harsh God –> harsh Calvinists?”

    i) Arminians like Roger Olson and Randal Rauser think Yahweh is too harsh.

    ii) Your hostile characterization reflects Arminian confirmation bias. Naturally you view your theologically opponents less favorably than yourselves. That’s standard in-group mentality. You love your own kind.

    iii) Your invidious comparison also reveals Arminian spiritual pride. The implicit self-congratulatory contrast between pious Arminians and impious Calvinists. Needless to say, those who flaunt their superior sanctity expose their lack of sanctity. True saints don’t indulge in this sort of moral preening and mutual back-patting.

  81. steve hays says:

    Of course Robert can’t take his words back. They’re in the public domain. I have the URL. I’ve posted his comments on my blog. Many have seen his statement. So naturally there’s no going back on what he said. It’s too late for him to live that down.

    What he therefore does, as you can see, is to indulge in reams of special pleading to prettify his hateful attitude.

    But the immediate point at issue is civil discourse. “Arminian” is the one who made an issue of civility. Very well, then. Does he defend Robert’s statement? If so, then anything goes, anything can be excused.

  82. steve hays says:

    Robert

    “But nobody holds fatalism as defined by Hays. So his definition does not refer to any Calvinists or Arminians and is a useless abstraction.”

    Robert is such a phony. I’ve quoted *five* philosophers who share my definition of fatalism. I’ve also demonstrated that Fischer’s definition doesn’t apply to Calvinism, and even if it did, it would also apply to Arminianism:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2011/11/arminian-equivocations.html

  83. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “No, in that clip, right around 1:20-22, Olson explicitly states that he believes God has a purpose for allowing evil.”

    In which case, Olson’s God intended evil.

      1. steve hays says:

        To assert that it’s a non sequitur is not an argument.

        Are you going to tell us that God doesn’t intend what he purposes? Are you going to tell us that God doesn’t intend to permit evil? Are you going to tell us that God doesn’t intend the evil he permits? Does the Arminian God not understand the consequences of his action or inaction?

  84. steve hays says:

    A. M. Mallett

    “Aside from the truth that all theological discussions are shaded by tendentiousness, including every one of your own, the matter would have been better served if I replied using certainty rather than necessity due to the considerable distinction of terms. Even so, ‘tendentious’ carries with it a rather negative connotation in common usage so your slight while pompous is noted. If scripture is true and we both know it is, Matthew 7:13-14 makes very clear that unbelievers perish, with certainty. This removes your objection.”

    It doesn’t even touch my objection. You don’t seem to grasp the objection.

    Unbelievers can only perish “with certainty” given the existence of unbelievers. So your response fails to address the question of whether the existence of unbelievers is necessary in the first place.

    If, on the one hand, their existence wasn’t necessary, then it’s hardly loving (to them) for the Arminian God to create hellbound sinners when that was optional. That is not acting in their best interests. They’d be better off not to exist in the first place. So why does God made them if he doesn’t have to?

    If, on the other hand, you justify God’s creation of hellbound sinners on the grounds that freewill renders the existence of some hellbound sinners inevitable, then you’re a necessitarian. On your view, there is no possible world without some hellbound sinners. Sin is metaphysically necessary.

    That’s the dilemma you backed yourself into.

    “It should also be noted that I made no statement on ‘what makes love possible’ I have merely made the observation that love is freely given and if you object to that observation you have no valid ground to my use of automaton.”

    Of course you did. You implied that libertarian freedom is a precondition of genuine love.

    “Now, as for creating unbelievers, you are projecting your determinist theology upon the discussion. It is only necessary in your view because ultimately, God is responsible for every aspect of existence including the purposeful creation of the reprobate. If such is true, then He is also responsible for the sins they commit. For some determinists that presents no problem. For most in the body of Christ, it makes God the author of evil and contrary to His revealed goodness and character in scripture.”

    i) You don’t even seem to grasp what is being said. God creates a world containing unbelievers. How they became unbelievers is not the issue. If you wish to posit a libertarian explanation, that makes no difference to my statement.

    You seem unable to distinguish between two different propositions:

    a) God makes unbelievers

    b) God makes them unbelievers

    I stated that Arminianism is committed to (i), not (ii). Try to follow the actual argument.

    ii) You’re not entitled to bandy the phrase “author of sin” unless and until you can define that term according to historical theological usage.

    “Rather than discussing Arminianism on its own terms, you are threading your own determinism throughout your responses.”

    Your comments reflect rampant confusion over what was said. Try again.

    Perhaps your problem is that you’re filtering my statements through Robert’s prism. If so, you need to learn how to read for yourself–and not rely on Robert’s tinted lens to (mis-)interpret my statements for you.

    “Logical fatalism is a rather problematic notion that in this case assumes, incorrectly, that God’s foreknowledge is dependent on His decree i.e. God can only know what He has decreed. It is a uniquely Calvinist weakness and not Arminian.”

    You seem to have a habit of wading into these debates without acquainting yourself with basic terminology or the corresponding positions. According to logical fatalism, true propositions about the future render the future unalterable. Theological fatalism is a variation of logical fatalism, by embedding true propositions about the future in the mind of God (i.e. divine foreknowledge or omniscience).

    Logical fatalism: if every proposition must be true or false (law of bivalence), where true propositions about the future are a subset thereof, then the future must correspond to true propositions about the future.

    Theological fatalism: if God infallibly knows the entire future, then nothing can happen differently than it does.

    Classical Arminianism is on the hook for both logical and theological fatalism, viz. true propositions about the future inhere in God’s mind. That’s not contingent on predestination.

    “Logical fatalism denies any sense of the freedom of the will in contradiction to the revealed will of God.”

    Which poses a dilemma for Arminianism.

    “This faulty worldview is easily dismissed with a reading of Jeremiah 19:5. If Calvinism suffers from theological fatalism, Arminianism offers a biblical escape.”

    i) Jer 19:5 is a prooftext for open theism. Do you deny God’s knowledge of the future?

    ii) Quoting Scripture doesn’t render Arminianism internally coherent. Classical Arminianism has certain theological precommitments, such as divine foreknowledge, which, in turn, commits Arminianism to whatever logical implications flow from that prior theological commitment.

    “Unfortunately for your argument, hard determinism is not a synonym for Lordship.”

    Most Calvinists are soft determinists, not hard determinists. Don’t you know the difference?

    1. Your defense seems to be a repetitive “You can’t touch this”. The only thing missing is music.

      “It doesn’t even touch my objection. You don’t seem to grasp the objection.”

      “… You don’t even seem to grasp what is being said… You seem unable to distinguish between two different propositions: … Try to follow the actual argument…. Your comments reflect rampant confusion over what was said… Perhaps your problem is that you’re filtering my statements through Robert’s prism. If so, you need to learn how to read for yourself–and not rely on Robert’s tinted lens to (mis-)interpret my statements for you. … You seem to have a habit of wading into these debates without acquainting yourself with basic terminology or the corresponding positions … Most Calvinists are soft determinists, not hard determinists. Don’t you know the difference?…”

      I believe the greater issue is that I see no reason to recognize your authority in these matters. Aside from tossing generic definitions that are insufficient to the discussions, you have not offered any ground for accepting your perspective. In fact you haven’t really addressed anything presented to you other than to toss these generic definitions out there. Heaped on top of that are the absurd diversions used to deflect the argument. Jer 19:5 is a rebuttal to your argument. Whether or not it is used by others for other purposes unrelated to this discussion is irrelevant. You have yet to address it as it pertains to your aberrant positions. I doubt that I will hold my breath on that last note. Jer 19:5 needs to be addressed properly.

  85. David Houston says:

    I’m shamelessly re-posting a reply to Arminian that for some reason was not placed under his comment. I didn’t want it getting lost so here it is!

    When I made reference to Paul’s rebuttal of your position in Rom 9:20-24, Arminian said:

    ‘And I have pointed out that you misinterpret that passage, and that ironically in light of your view the passage actually supports my view. Its OT background emphasizes the conditionality of God’s treatment of people and implicitly highlights their LFW.’

    Yes, the OT background does emphasize the conditionality but the most important context, you see, is the immediate context… not the context that he borrows his concepts from. And, in the immediate context, Paul specifically applies his reasoning to **individuals** (Jacob, Esau, Pharaoh) and makes **his determination** the condition and **not their wills**! (Rom 9:14-18) I mean really? This passage teaches LFW? Ridiculous!

    You take issue with Steve and I pointing out your unbiblical way of thinking, saying:

    ‘These types of comments are not helpful. I could swing that kind of mud at you, but try not to because that is what is actually unbecoming of a Christian. E.g. I could retort ,“I expect atheists to charge the biblical view of God with being the author of sin and a moral monster, but this is unbecoming of a Christian.” Would that be helpful? I don’t think you believe God is the author of sin nor am oral monster, but I think your theology logically demands that conclusion even if you are inconsistent and don’t follow where logic demands your view go. Are you saying that all non-Calvinists Christians have a problem with God being God and act truly unbecoming for Christians by virtue of their theology? It is these types comments that have earned Calvinists a bad reputation to the poin that various Calvinist leaders have noted it and caution fellow Calvinists to be more charitable.’

    (1) You too have been slinging mud. Your puppet, crime boss, and moral monster comments come readily to mind. The rhetoric hasn’t been one way. The argument is over whether one of us is justified and so far you haven’t been doing too well.

    (2) I challenge you to provide one statement that I have made which could rationally be taken as implying that I believe all non-Calvinists have a problem with God being God.

    (3) Calvinist leaders have said many things not all of which have been helpful. Arminians are just as guilty of uncharitable and harsh comments and anyone who disagrees can simply take a look at any argument between the two sides from the earliest days. Wesley himself could chirp with the best of them.

    Concerning your view of simple foreknowledge you wrote:

    ‘God can react to his foreknowledge of one thing to plan for another. See e.g., David P. Hunt, “Contra Hasker: Why Simple Foreknowledge Is Still Useful” ( http://evangelicalarminians.org/Hunt-Contra-Hasker-Why-Simple-Foreknowledge-Is-Still-Useful ).’

    I’ve read the article along with Hasker’s and I find it truly amazing that anyone would want to link to Hunt’s article in support of their position. His endorsement of Complete Simple Foreknowledge leads to determinism and this unsavory effect is not mitigated in the slightest by his distinction between knowing and endorsing. As Hasker puts it (applying his analogy of the time traveller to God so that anyone reading this who hasn’t read these articles doesn’t get confused) ‘[God] does not, after seeing himself [perform a future action], determine that he is going to perform this action. He may “decide” to perform it, in the sense that he decides to “go along with the inevitable” and do what it is already unavoidable that he should do. But the determination has “already” been made, by his future self; at most he can decide to ratify that already-made determination.’

    ARMINIAN SAID:
    ‘Indeed, God can influence the future whether he brackets off his foreknowledge or not. And I don’t believe God brackets off his foreknowledge if you mean that he does not allow himself to know some things.’

    You endorse the same doctrine of CSF as David Hunt which renders you liable to the same objections that both I and Hasker have offered against simple foreknowledge. If God does not bracket off his foreknowledge and it is complete, fixed, and unchanging then how do you suppose he is going to alter it? If by altering the future you are referring to ‘endorsing’ what is already determined to occur then God is not really altering it. He is merely endorsing his decision in keeping with what he already foreknew he would do.

    If this is what Arminians mean by the ‘usefulness’ of simple foreknowledge then I’d hate to see what uselessness would look like!

    ARMINIAN SAID:
    ‘David said: “You also said that the Calvinist option is ‘too unbiblical, and it would seem to make God the author of sin and a moral monster.’ On the contrary, you avoid the emotional charge of making God a ‘moral monster’ only by eliminating God from the equation.”
    ***** This is another false charge. I have not eliminated God from the equation in the least. I do not have God as the only really will in the universe as Calvinism does. But God and his intimate involvement in the world pervades my view. You have been reduced to massive straw men to try and uphold your view.’

    If you mean by ‘real will’ that God’s is the only one that is undetermined then, on Calvinism, you would be correct. Ironically, however, on your view even God’s will is determined by his foreknowledge so no one really has a ‘real will’.

    ARMINIAN SAID:
    ‘David said: “When I accused you of reading me uncharitably in our exchange over James 1:13 you said ‘Well, that’s a preference you have shown a number of times in our exchange, as when you charge me with believing God to be impotent.’ But that wasn’t being uncharitable. He is impotent! He’s functionally the God of Open Theism, which means that he is functionally a creature.”
    ***** This is rich with irony in light of what I have exposed above about your comments. You have had to resort to simply mischaracterizing my view with mere assertion and avoidance of actually interacting with my comments. I think we should draw this exchange to a close because of this.’

    You claimed everything but exposed nothing. I have done my utmost to engage your views since I am not anti-strawetic like yourself. If you want to leave when the going gets tough that’s your prerogative.

    ARMINIAN SAID:
    ‘David said: “You take issue with God providentially determining all things. You have managed to avoid this implication to the extent that you are willing to let someone or something else determine all things or else to adopt something like the God of Open Theism. Neither option is open to Christians.”
    **** You continue with mischaracterization and argument by mere assertion. In the Arminian view, all things are not determined by someone or something else other than God. By definition, if determinism is false, like most Christians throughout history have believed, including the early church fathers, the God does not determine all things in the sense Calvinism means this. But God determines many things in the Arminian view, and free people determine their own free actions. So it is a much more biblical view, that God does not irresistibly cause all evil (does not author it), but sovereignly determines what he chooses, and allows others to determine certain things. Neither does it adopt Open Theism.’

    (1) I never said that, on Arminianism, all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. I argued that either God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless (practical Open Theism) OR all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. There’s a difference.

    (2) What the early church fathers said is not normative. They were wrong on a great many things and, thankfully, the church has grown in its understanding. But so long as were talking early church fathers… what do you think of Augustine? He’s probably the most influential of them all… and what do ya know? A determinist!

    (3) I never said that Arminianism is Open Theism. I said that Arminianism entails either a **practical** Open Theism or it leads to a non-theological determinism.

    ARMINIAN SAID:
    ‘But here you show again that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Calvinist behavior (not necessarily characteristic of all Calvinists), now suggesting views other than Calvinism are not Christian. Do you think non-Calvinist believers are not real Christians?’

    Here you show, again, that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Arminian behaviour now suggesting, absurdly, that I am suggesting that all non-Calvinists are not Christian. Where did you get that? Why can’t you follow an argument?

    As for the last bit about Daniel Whedon… don’t you see how this is just as fatal to the Arminian? Who is the first cause on Arminianism? God. Did he foreknow that sin would occur if he created the world? Yes. The necessity is still there but in a different form and God is still its first cause.

    1. Arminian says:

      I am also reposting my response:

      David said: “Yes, the OT background does emphasize the conditionality but the most important context, you see, is the immediate context… not the context that he borrows his concepts from.”

      **** The most important context is the immediate, but that is often informed by the context it refers to, and is especially so in Rom 9 as has been demonstrated by scholarship. It has been shown that Paul often quotes or alludes to the OT in a way that points to the OT text as important background for his argument, and very much so in Rom 9.

      David said: “And, in the immediate context, Paul specifically applies his reasoning to **individuals** (Jacob, Esau, Pharaoh)”

      ***** Another ironic comment. Do you not realize that those are corporate references as representatives of peoples? Your lack of attention to the OT background impoverishes your understanding of Paul’s argument. Poor exegesis can feed the Calvinist understanding of Rom 9. Moreover, do you not realize that in the immediate context Paul applies his points about these individual *corporate* heads to corporate groups, Israel, the children of the promise, the seed of Abraham, etc.?

      David said: “and makes **his determination** the condition and **not their wills**! (Rom 9:14-18) I mean really? This passage teaches LFW? Ridiculous!”

      **** His determination that the bestowal of his mercy be by faith rather than works or ancestry. You should read some good exegesis of the passage.

      David said: “Your puppet, crime boss, and moral monster comments come readily to mind. The rhetoric hasn’t been one way.”

      **** I have not stated that those things are what Calvinism teaches or believes, but that Calvinism logically demands them. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to draw the most heinous picture of Arminianism as what you believe logic demands from Arminian premises as opposed to what Arminianism or me teaches or believes. Do you see the difference? Also, even saying things like “You take issue with Steve and I pointing out your unbiblical way of thinking” are unhelpful, making it seem like I know my way of thinking is unbiblical and it bothers me you point it out, when we simply disagree about what is biblical on certain issues. I have no problem with you charging my thinking as unbiblical. I think yours is massively unbiblical in these matters. But it is simply poor dialogical practice to these types of digs and implicit false charges in your way of framing things.

      David said: “The argument is over whether one of us is justified”

      ***** It should be over whether one of us is justified about the logical consequences of the other’s view, not characterizing the other as holding those logical consequences.

      David said: “I challenge you to provide one statement that I have made which could rationally be taken as implying that I believe all non-Calvinists have a problem with God being God.”

      ***** I didn’t say that you said that, but asked if that was your position based on your response to relatively standard non-Calvinist understanding of the potter/clay passage in Rom 9. You said: “I expect atheists to have a problem with God being God but this is truly unbecoming of a Christian.” Such a statement certainly raises the question. And it is provoking-style commenting in this type of discussion.

      David said: “I’ve read the article along with Hasker’s and I find it truly amazing that anyone would want to link to Hunt’s article in support of their position. His endorsement of Complete Simple Foreknowledge leads to determinism and this unsavory effect is not mitigated in the slightest by his distinction between knowing and endorsing. As Hasker puts it (applying his analogy of the time traveller to God so that anyone reading this who hasn’t read these articles doesn’t get confused) ‘[God] does not, after seeing himself [perform a future action], determine that he is going to perform this action. He may “decide” to perform it, in the sense that he decides to “go along with the inevitable” and do what it is already unavoidable that he should do. But the determination has “already” been made, by his future self; at most he can decide to ratify that already-made determination.’”

      ***** This suggests you don’t understand the issues. I have provided argumentation concerning this in the thread, and you have avoided interacting with some of that specifically. Hunt’s article responds effectively to Hasker. And what’s more, Hasker’s argument here is incoherent. He grants that God’s future self makes the determination and yet argues this means his future self does not make the determination.

      David said: “You endorse the same doctrine of CSF as David Hunt”

      **** Well, that’s not necessarily true. But that is neither here nor there since our positions share much in common and your response to his position is invalid.

      David said: “which renders you liable to the same objections that both I and Hasker have offered against simple foreknowledge.”

      **** Which misses that your and Hasker’s objections are invalid, as explained above and in other posts I have made in this thread.

      David said: “If God does not bracket off his foreknowledge and it is complete, fixed, and unchanging then how do you suppose he is going to alter it?”

      ***** I didn’t speak of God altering the future. Your trying to put some sort of standard on me you set but that is erroneous. How about responding to my comments instead of coming up with something my view is supposed to match and criticizing me for not matching your criteria?

      David said: “If by altering the future you are referring to ‘endorsing’ what is already determined to occur then God is not really altering it. He is merely endorsing his decision in keeping with what he already foreknew he would do.”

      **** I never mentioned altering the future. What are you talking about? See above. It’s like you have slipped into another conversation.

      David said: “If you mean by ‘real will’ that God’s is the only one that is undetermined then, on Calvinism, you would be correct. Ironically, however, on your view even God’s will is determined by his foreknowledge so no one really has a ‘real will’.”

      ***** That is something you have charged in this discussion, and I have refuted, so it doesn’t work to bring it up as somehow established.

      ARMINIAN SAID:
      ‘David said: “When I accused you of reading me uncharitably in our exchange over James 1:13 you said ‘Well, that’s a preference you have shown a number of times in our exchange, as when you charge me with believing God to be impotent.’ But that wasn’t being uncharitable. He is impotent! He’s functionally the God of Open Theism, which means that he is functionally a creature.”
      ***** This is rich with irony in light of what I have exposed above about your comments. You have had to resort to simply mischaracterizing my view with mere assertion and avoidance of actually interacting with my comments. I think we should draw this exchange to a close because of this.’

      David said: “You claimed everything but exposed nothing. I have done my utmost to engage your views since I am not anti-strawetic like yourself. If you want to leave when the going gets tough that’s your prerogative.”

      ***** Are you serious? I have pointed out specific places you have not interacted with my arguments and you have just offered mere assertion, argument by fiat. Your comment about leaving when the going gets tough is unhelpful. For one, I was suggesting that we draw it to a close. You don’t seer that type of comment as a bit hostile? There also seems to be an implicit accusation, especially in light of the fact that the language has been used in this thread in connection with such an accusation, that if I bow out of the conversation it is because I have found your arguments to tough to deal with. That is what is ridiculous. You don’t see that as cheap sophistry upon reflection? Is that really what you think? I have given much too much time to this discussion and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Moreover, your rhetoric has become more aggressive as we have gone along, and I do not want to continue in discussion with someone who is going to be insulting and take cheap rhetorical shots.

      David said: “I never said that, on Arminianism, all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. I argued that either God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless (practical Open Theism) OR all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. There’s a difference.”

      **** But that’s a false dichotomy, and begs the question under discussion.

      David said: “What the early church fathers said is not normative. They were wrong on a great many things and, thankfully, the church has grown in its understanding.”

      **** I agree; but they were right no many things of course, including determinism and free will. I didn’t say their doctrine is normative, but it is bizarre for you to in effect say that rejecting determinism is not an option open to Christians.”

      David said: “But so long as were talking early church fathers… what do you think of Augustine? He’s probably the most influential of them all… and what do ya know? A determinist!”

      ***** Which is more of a problem for you, since he was basically the first determinist in the Church. 400 years of Church history, and Augustine introduces the error of determinism into the Church in an influential way. Augustine was great in many ways, but he was wrong on many points as well, including eventually determinism.

      David said: “I never said that Arminianism is Open Theism. I said that Arminianism entails either a **practical** Open Theism or it leads to a non-theological determinism.”

      **** Ok, but that;s a false dichotomy again and begs question at issue in our discussion again.

      ARMINIAN SAID:
      ‘But here you show again that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Calvinist behavior (not necessarily characteristic of all Calvinists), now suggesting views other than Calvinism are not Christian. Do you think non-Calvinist believers are not real Christians?’

      David said: “Here you show, again, that tendency toward uncharitable and unreasonable Arminian behaviour now suggesting, absurdly, that I am suggesting that all non-Calvinists are not Christian. Where did you get that? Why can’t you follow an argument?”

      ***** I did not say that you suggested that all non-Calvinists are not Christian, but that you suggested that views other than Calvinism are not Christian. You said: ““You take issue with God providentially determining all things. You have managed to avoid this implication to the extent that you are willing to let someone or something else determine all things or else to adopt something like the God of Open Theism. Neither option is open to Christians.” Now, in your argument you boiled down relevant non-Calvinist/determinist views to two options, concluding that, “Neither option is open to Christians.” That impleis that neither view is Christian, and that led me to ask – not assert—whether you think non-Calvinist believers are not real Christians. I suspoect that you do not hold that viewpointm, but your rhetoric has led me to wonder. So I ask.

      David said: “As for the last bit about Daniel Whedon… don’t you see how this is just as fatal to the Arminian?”

      ***** No, that has been one of the main issues we have been disagreeing about. The comments don’t apply to the Arminian view in the least. Responding like this is another instance of beging the question. When I have argued at length in various ways against the premise of your question, do you think it advances the argument to ask this question? Then again, maybe you really wanted to ask it to see if you were making any headway or something, or perhaps jus wanted to point toward your basic point.

      David said: “Who is the first cause on Arminianism? God.”

      ***** Not of the act or the sin of the creature. He is the first cause of the creature. You’re confusing Arminianism and Calvinism and trying to stick Arminianism with Calvinism’s problems.

      David said: “Did he foreknow that sin would occur if he created the world? Yes.”

      ***** Completely different than what Whedon describes. And I have explained why the foreknowledge point you try to make does not fly

      David said: “The necessity is still there but in a different form and God is still its first cause.”

      **** Again, I have already answered this type of point in our conversation. Based on that, your statement if false.

      1. David J. Houston says:

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “And, in the immediate context, Paul specifically applies his reasoning to **individuals** (Jacob, Esau, Pharaoh)”
        ***** Another ironic comment. Do you not realize that those are corporate references as representatives of peoples? Your lack of attention to the OT background impoverishes your understanding of Paul’s argument. Poor exegesis can feed the Calvinist understanding of Rom 9. Moreover, do you not realize that in the immediate context Paul applies his points about these individual *corporate* heads to corporate groups, Israel, the children of the promise, the seed of Abraham, etc.?’

        Well, no, I don’t know that. And neither do you because you can’t know what isn’t true. Right from the beginning Paul steps out of corporate election and into individual election. In vv 6-7, ‘“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”’ You can assume that Isaac is representative of a race but you’d need to prove that. And just in case someone read his statement and believed that whether a person is ‘spiritually Israel’ was up to them Paul added ‘when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—
        **in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls**’. (v11)

        If you have trouble comprehending such a straightforward passage I can’t help but wonder what happens when you’re given a grocery list.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “and makes **his determination** the condition and **not their wills**! (Rom 9:14-18) I mean really? This passage teaches LFW? Ridiculous!”
        **** His determination that the bestowal of his mercy be by faith rather than works or ancestry. You should read some good exegesis of the passage.’

        As if this contradicts what I said! It is God’s sovereign election that guarantees for the elect that he show mercy to them and give them saving faith. For a guy who takes so much time arguing with Calvinists you don’t seem to know anything about what we believe.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “Your puppet, crime boss, and moral monster comments come readily to mind. The rhetoric hasn’t been one way.”
        **** I have not stated that those things are what Calvinism teaches or believes, but that Calvinism logically demands them. It’s perfectly acceptable for you to draw the most heinous picture of Arminianism as what you believe logic demands from Arminian premises as opposed to what Arminianism or me teaches or believes. Do you see the difference? Also, even saying things like “You take issue with Steve and I pointing out your unbiblical way of thinking” are unhelpful, making it seem like I know my way of thinking is unbiblical and it bothers me you point it out, when we simply disagree about what is biblical on certain issues. I have no problem with you charging my thinking as unbiblical. I think yours is massively unbiblical in these matters. But it is simply poor dialogical practice to these types of digs and implicit false charges in your way of framing things.’

        You poison the well with talk of puppets and moral monsters and yet you feel justified in lecturing Calvinists on proper matters. Please! Anyone can go back and read through the comments to see if your self-portrait fits with reality.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “I challenge you to provide one statement that I have made which could rationally be taken as implying that I believe all non-Calvinists have a problem with God being God.”
        ***** I didn’t say that you said that, but asked if that was your position based on your response to relatively standard non-Calvinist understanding of the potter/clay passage in Rom 9. You said: “I expect atheists to have a problem with God being God but this is truly unbecoming of a Christian.” Such a statement certainly raises the question. And it is provoking-style commenting in this type of discussion.’

        I have a problem with people that detest God as he is described in Scripture and claim to be his followers. I don’t know how much theological error can be believed or how much of Scripture’s clear revelation can be twisted before you can be accused of worshiping a different God but it is worrying when people speak with such obvious disdain towards God as he has revealed himself. That said, I believe that the majority of Arminians are true believers.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘This suggests you don’t understand the issues. I have provided argumentation concerning this in the thread, and you have avoided interacting with some of that specifically. Hunt’s article responds effectively to Hasker. And what’s more, Hasker’s argument here is incoherent. He grants that God’s future self makes the determination and yet argues this means his future self does not make the determination.’

        A bold statement. Do you always think that people that disagree with you don’t understand the issue?

        I have responded to all of the argumentation you have provided. Go back and read through our exchange.

        Hunt’s article does not respond effectively to Hasker, nor is Hasker’s argument incoherent. He grants that God’s future self endorses what has already been determined.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “which renders you liable to the same objections that both I and Hasker have offered against simple foreknowledge.”
        **** Which misses that your and Hasker’s objections are invalid, as explained above and in other posts I have made in this thread.’

        All of your explanations lead either to determinism or practical Open Theism. I’ve demonstrated this already.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “If God does not bracket off his foreknowledge and it is complete, fixed, and unchanging then how do you suppose he is going to alter it?”
        ***** I didn’t speak of God altering the future. Your trying to put some sort of standard on me you set but that is erroneous. How about responding to my comments instead of coming up with something my view is supposed to match and criticizing me for not matching your criteria?
        David said: “If by altering the future you are referring to ‘endorsing’ what is already determined to occur then God is not really altering it. He is merely endorsing his decision in keeping with what he already foreknew he would do.”
        **** I never mentioned altering the future. What are you talking about? See above. It’s like you have slipped into another conversation.’

        Alright, so God’s CSF in explanatorily prior to his providential dealings and he can’t alter his CSF. How is this not determinism, again?

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘This is rich with irony in light of what I have exposed above about your comments. You have had to resort to simply mischaracterizing my view with mere assertion and avoidance of actually interacting with my comments. I think we should draw this exchange to a close because of this.’

        You really are fond of claiming penetrating insight but, in a dialogue, you have to demonstrate rather than simply assert it.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “You claimed everything but exposed nothing. I have done my utmost to engage your views since I am not anti-strawetic like yourself. If you want to leave when the going gets tough that’s your prerogative.”
        ***** Are you serious? I have pointed out specific places you have not interacted with my arguments and you have just offered mere assertion, argument by fiat. Your comment about leaving when the going gets tough is unhelpful. For one, I was suggesting that we draw it to a close. You don’t seer that type of comment as a bit hostile? There also seems to be an implicit accusation, especially in light of the fact that the language has been used in this thread in connection with such an accusation, that if I bow out of the conversation it is because I have found your arguments to tough to deal with. That is what is ridiculous. You don’t see that as cheap sophistry upon reflection? Is that really what you think? I have given much too much time to this discussion and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Moreover, your rhetoric has become more aggressive as we have gone along, and I do not want to continue in discussion with someone who is going to be insulting and take cheap rhetorical shots.’

        You’ve given much time but you haven’t been tracking with the arguments at all. You assert. You lecture on how the debate is supposed to go. But you don’t really interact with what I have to say. It’s been obvious throughout that you can’t handle genuine dialogue. No one is making you argue. You may freely leave.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “I never said that, on Arminianism, all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. I argued that either God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless (practical Open Theism) OR all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. There’s a difference.”
        **** But that’s a false dichotomy, and begs the question under discussion.’

        Prove it.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “What the early church fathers said is not normative. They were wrong on a great many things and, thankfully, the church has grown in its understanding.”
        **** I agree; but they were right no many things of course, including determinism and free will. I didn’t say their doctrine is normative, but it is bizarre for you to in effect say that rejecting determinism is not an option open to Christians.”’

        Of course I didn’t that rejecting determinism is not an option open to Christians. But of course you know because you quote me later. What I **did** say was: ‘You take issue with God providentially determining all things. You have managed to avoid this implication to the extent that you are willing to let someone or something else determine all things or else to adopt something like the God of Open Theism. Neither option is open to Christians.’ You can believe whatever you like if you’re okay with inconsistency but I’m trying to get you to be consistent.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘David said: “But so long as were talking early church fathers… what do you think of Augustine? He’s probably the most influential of them all… and what do ya know? A determinist!”
        ***** Which is more of a problem for you, since he was basically the first determinist in the Church. 400 years of Church history, and Augustine introduces the error of determinism into the Church in an influential way. Augustine was great in many ways, but he was wrong on many points as well, including eventually determinism.’

        The Bible introduced determinism into the church. Whether or not Augustine was the first church leader on record to explicitly affirm determinism after the time of the apostles is debatable. It is also worth noting that a popular view of the time that the early church was combating was a kind of non-theological determinism so it makes sense that they would emphasize free-will and often far too much.

        ARMINIAN SAID:
        ‘I did not say that you suggested that all non-Calvinists are not Christian, but that you suggested that views other than Calvinism are not Christian. You said: ““You take issue with God providentially determining all things. You have managed to avoid this implication to the extent that you are willing to let someone or something else determine all things or else to adopt something like the God of Open Theism. Neither option is open to Christians.” Now, in your argument you boiled down relevant non-Calvinist/determinist views to two options, concluding that, “Neither option is open to Christians.” That impleis that neither view is Christian, and that led me to ask – not assert—whether you think non-Calvinist believers are not real Christians. I suspoect that you do not hold that viewpointm, but your rhetoric has led me to wonder. So I ask.’

        Well, the truth is one and Christianity is true so doesn’t it make sense that one of us holds to a non-Christian view? This is not to say that simply because some of your theology is in error (aka ‘non-Christian’) that you are not a Christian. I addressed this above. I was arguing for what I take to be the purest form of Christianity (Calvinism) and argued you into a place where your options were obviously in contradiction with what God has revealed. In essence, I thought my argument was good. Still do! :)

        Our little exchange over Whedon’s argument isn’t going to get us anywhere since your responses assume that your views on simple foreknowledge avoid the dilemma I’ve posed.

        1. Arminian says:

          David said: “Well, no, I don’t know that. And neither do you because you can’t know what isn’t true. Right from the beginning Paul steps out of corporate election and into individual election. In vv 6-7, ‘“But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”’ You can assume that Isaac is representative of a race but you’d need to prove that.”

          ***** Simply quoting the verses does not show it does not concern corporate election. In fact, they have been shown to refer to corporate election (see Brian Abasciano, Paul’s Use of the OT in Rom 9:1-9, the dissertation of which is on the Society of Evangelical Arminians website, as is also the same author’s “Corporate Election in Romans 9”). In fact, you seem to lack understanding of the concept of corporate election. You should see this primer and the convenient resources listed there: http://evangelicalarminians.org/A-Concise-Summary-of-the-Corporate-View-of-Election-and-Predestination

          David said: “And just in case someone read his statement and believed that whether a person is ‘spiritually Israel’ was up to them Paul added ‘when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—
          **in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls**’. (v11)”

          ***** Ironically, the part you highlight shows Paul’s concern, to show that God’s purpose for election, which is to save the world, is accomplished not but works but by God’s call, which is by faith. Moreover, the election Paul speaks of there is the corporately oriented election of the covenant head of God’s people, not the election of specific individuals for salvation. You just miss so much when you don’t pay attention to a passage’s background. Again, you should look at the materials referenced above and the new book on Rom 9:10-18 also by Abasciano.

          David said: “If you have trouble comprehending such a straightforward passage I can’t help but wonder what happens when you’re given a grocery list.”

          **** Snide, insulting remarks like this is an example of what I was talking about your uncivil commenting. Unhelpful . . . really. It is surprising you don’t see that.

          David said: “and makes **his determination** the condition and **not their wills**! (Rom 9:14-18) I mean really? This passage teaches LFW? Ridiculous!”

          I mentioned: His determination that the bestowal of his mercy be by faith rather than works or ancestry. You should read some good exegesis of the passage.’

          David said: “As if this contradicts what I said! It is God’s sovereign election that guarantees for the elect that he show mercy to them and give them saving faith. For a guy who takes so much time arguing with Calvinists you don’t seem to know anything about what we believe.”

          **** I knew that about Calvinist theology, but that is not what you said the passage means. You said it refers to God’s determination being the condition whereas I said something that does contradict that, that it is about God’s determination that the bestowal of his mercy be by faith rather than works or ancestry, i.e., that it is about God’s determination of the condition of the bestowal of his mercy to be faith. So your snarkyness looks a little silly when it turns out that what I said does contradict what you said.

          David said: “You poison the well with talk of puppets and moral monsters and yet you feel justified in lecturing Calvinists on proper matters. Please! Anyone can go back and read through the comments to see if your self-portrait fits with reality.”

          ***** Again, you simply don’t interact with what I have said here. Yes, I would hope for someone to go through our conversation and see who is right about this.

          David said: “A bold statement. Do you always think that people that disagree with you don’t understand the issue?”

          **** No, but I do when someone shows evidence of not understanding the issue, such as you have here.

          David said: “I have responded to all of the argumentation you have provided. Go back and read through our exchange.”

          *** No you haven’t, and I have pointed it out several times at the points you haven’t.

          David said: “Hunt’s article does not respond effectively to Hasker, nor is Hasker’s argument incoherent.

          ***** Asserting this does not make it so.

          David said: “He grants that God’s future self endorses what has already been determined.”

          **** And he explicitly says ‘[God] does not, after seeing himself [perform a future action], determine that he is going to perform this action. . . . But the determination has “already” been made, by his future self” Both references are to the “future self”, one stating that he does not determine the action, the other saying that he does. Incoherent.

          David said: “All of your explanations lead either to determinism or practical Open Theism. I’ve demonstrated this already.”

          ***** I have refuted your alleged demonstrations. This is why I have suggested drawing this to a close. You say you have demonstrated your case. I say I have demonstrated mine. Yo uclaim you have refuted my points, I say I have refuted yours.

          David said: “Alright, so God’s CSF in explanatorily prior to his providential dealings and he can’t alter his CSF. How is this not determinism, again?”

          ***** Hunt explained it in his article. God’s foreknowledge of his own decisions is not explanatorily prior to his own decisions. His foreknowledge of other people’s decisions is explanatorily prior to certain providential acts in cases when he decides to use his foreknowledge for providential activity.

          ‘David said: “You really are fond of claiming penetrating insight but, in a dialogue, you have to demonstrate rather than simply assert it.”

          ***** The same could be said to you, I have had to repeatedly call for you to actually interact with what I am saying, to stop begging the question, etc.

          I said: “I have pointed out specific places you have not interacted with my arguments and you have just offered mere assertion, argument by fiat. Your comment about leaving when the going gets tough is unhelpful. For one, I was suggesting that we draw it to a close. You don’t seer that type of comment as a bit hostile? There also seems to be an implicit accusation, especially in light of the fact that the language has been used in this thread in connection with such an accusation, that if I bow out of the conversation it is because I have found your arguments to tough to deal with. That is what is ridiculous. You don’t see that as cheap sophistry upon reflection? Is that really what you think? I have given much too much time to this discussion and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Moreover, your rhetoric has become more aggressive as we have gone along, and I do not want to continue in discussion with someone who is going to be insulting and take cheap rhetorical shots.’

          David said: “You’ve given much time but you haven’t been tracking with the arguments at all. You assert. You lecture on how the debate is supposed to go. But you don’t really interact with what I have to say.”

          **** Gee, that sounds familiar. Oh, it’s something I have said repeatedly about your commenting. Have you resorted to parroting back what I have said about your comments? “I’m rubber, you’re glue; what you say bounces off me and sticks to you” style argumentation? That’s partly why I want to bring this to a close. And the kicker is, in these comments of yours, you did not interact much with what I said. That’s why I included my own comments that you responded to. I asked a number of questions and you sidestepped them to assert how terrible my commenting has been. Let’s look at more of the same from you in the next comments you made:

          David said: “It’s been obvious throughout that you can’t handle genuine dialogue. No one is making you argue. You may freely leave.”

          **** Ok. Here is what I’m going to do. It does not seem that either of us is going to convince the other. And I doubt many people are following our conversation. I anyone who has an open mind is finding this conversation helpful and would like me to consider continuing it, I am willing to continue participating for the time being. So, if anyone with an open mind cares to see this conversation continue, please say so, so that I will continue. But if no one says anything, I will probably just bow out. David may well charge that I am doing so because I know I have “lost the debate” and can’t handle his overpowering arguments. That’s a cheap debate tactic and no one should buy it. But hopefully he won’t take that low road.

          ARMINIAN SAID:
          ‘David said: “I never said that, on Arminianism, all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. I argued that either God’s foreknowledge is providentially useless (practical Open Theism) OR all things are determined by someone or something else other than God. There’s a difference.”
          I said: “But that’s a false dichotomy, and begs the question under discussion.’”

          David said: “Prove it.”

          ****** You were the one who asserted the dichotomy. Prove it. Moreover, I have proved it to be a false dichotomy in various comments in our discussion.

          You know, there is not too much left of your comments and it is just more of the same. I think I will wait and see if anyone with an open mind wants me to address any of what’s left before doing so in accord with what I said above. But I will respond to this too:

          David said: “Our little exchange over Whedon’s argument isn’t going to get us anywhere since your responses assume that your views on simple foreknowledge avoid the dilemma I’ve posed.”

          ***** Well, if I were going to use your style of commenting, I might say, “Well, Whedon’s comments are obviously too much for you to handle and so you want to avoid them. What Calvinist wouldn’t want to avoid comments that utterly devastate the Calvinist position?” I don’t think that would be a good or helpful comment, but I mention it to try and help you see how unhelpful some of your posting has been. What I really want to say by way of response is that this is the very reason why I think we should draw this discussion to a close. The discussion does not seem to be going anywhere. We both think we have demonstrated our case and that the other has been effectively refuted. Arguments are getting recycled and there is a tendency to assume views that have already been stated but challenged or rejected.

          1. David Houston says:

            ARMINIAN SAID:
            ‘Simply quoting the verses does not show it does not concern corporate election. In fact, they have been shown to refer to corporate election (see Brian Abasciano, Paul’s Use of the OT in Rom 9:1-9, the dissertation of which is on the Society of Evangelical Arminians website, as is also the same author’s “Corporate Election in Romans 9”). In fact, you seem to lack understanding of the concept of corporate election. You should see this primer and the convenient resources listed there: http://evangelicalarminians.org/A-Concise-Summary-of-the-Corporate-View-of-Election-and-Predestination’

            You continually (exhaustingly) refer to anyone who disagrees with you as ignorant. It gets old after a while and no one who isn’t already on your team is buying it.

            ARMINIAN SAID:
            ‘Ironically, the part you highlight shows Paul’s concern, to show that God’s purpose for election, which is to save the world, is accomplished not but works but by God’s call, which is by faith. Moreover, the election Paul speaks of there is the corporately oriented election of the covenant head of God’s people, not the election of specific individuals for salvation. You just miss so much when you don’t pay attention to a passage’s background. Again, you should look at the materials referenced above and the new book on Rom 9:10-18 also by Abasciano.’

            (1) Works are something meritorious, that you are responsible for, that you can boast in, but that is exactly what Arminians, unwittingly, turn faith into.
            (2) The whole passage refers to an individual election even within corporately elected Israel. You need to find some way to justify that these names of figures in the history of God’s are referring not to the individuals themselves but are representative of groups. So far you haven’t done this. You’d rather punt to this article and that article but why don’t you help us out and provide the argumentation yourself. Or would you be satisfied if I simply referenced Douglas Moo’s commentary as a refutation of your position?
            (3) You just miss so much when you don’t pay attention to the passage’s foreground.

            ARMINIAN SAID:
            ‘David said: “If you have trouble comprehending such a straightforward passage I can’t help but wonder what happens when you’re given a grocery list.”
            **** Snide, insulting remarks like this is an example of what I was talking about your uncivil commenting. Unhelpful . . . really. It is surprising you don’t see that.’

            Perhaps you don’t go to the grocery store… you’re so puffed up with pride you can’t get out the door. If you really believe that you haven’t made any snide or insulting comments yourself I admit that I am not match for your self-deception.

            ARMINIAN SAID:
            ‘David said: “As if this contradicts what I said! It is God’s sovereign election that guarantees for the elect that he show mercy to them and give them saving faith. For a guy who takes so much time arguing with Calvinists you don’t seem to know anything about what we believe.”
            **** I knew that about Calvinist theology, but that is not what you said the passage means. You said it refers to God’s determination being the condition whereas I said something that does contradict that, that it is about God’s determination that the bestowal of his mercy be by faith rather than works or ancestry, i.e., that it is about God’s determination of the condition of the bestowal of his mercy to be faith. So your snarkyness looks a little silly when it turns out that what I said does contradict what you said.’

            You said it in the context of a debate… with a Calvinist! If you wanted to make a point against a Calvinist you had better not argue that the position means something that is consistent with our theology. Especially when the very distinction between faith and works is dependent upon our view.

            ARMINIAN SAID:
            ‘David said: “He grants that God’s future self endorses what has already been determined.”
            **** And he explicitly says ‘[God] does not, after seeing himself [perform a future action], determine that he is going to perform this action. . . . But the determination has “already” been made, by his future self” Both references are to the “future self”, one stating that he does not determine the action, the other saying that he does. Incoherent.’

            Hasker is working with what Hunt gave him. If God sees his future self performing an action and then, when he becomes that future self that he saw performing said action, he performs the same action he is not changing anything and so his foreknowledge is providentially useless. Hunt’s analogy implies that God could change what he foreknows and that God could not change what he foreknows which is where the real contradiction lays and is what Hasker is arguing against.

            ARMINIAN SAID:
            ‘David said: “Alright, so God’s CSF in explanatorily prior to his providential dealings and he can’t alter his CSF. How is this not determinism, again?”
            ***** Hunt explained it in his article. God’s foreknowledge of his own decisions is not explanatorily prior to his own decisions. His foreknowledge of other people’s decisions is explanatorily prior to certain providential acts in cases when he decides to use his foreknowledge for providential activity.’

            But he’s not open to this move because he accepts CSF. We’ve been over this.

            You accuse me of simply parroting your own criticisms of my comments and it’s partly true. It’s what happens when you’re arguing with a hypocrite.

            ARMINIAN SAID:
            ‘Well, if I were going to use your style of commenting, I might say, “Well, Whedon’s comments are obviously too much for you to handle and so you want to avoid them. What Calvinist wouldn’t want to avoid comments that utterly devastate the Calvinist position?” I don’t think that would be a good or helpful comment, but I mention it to try and help you see how unhelpful some of your posting has been. What I really want to say by way of response is that this is the very reason why I think we should draw this discussion to a close. The discussion does not seem to be going anywhere. We both think we have demonstrated our case and that the other has been effectively refuted. Arguments are getting recycled and there is a tendency to assume views that have already been stated but challenged or rejected.’

            Since the original discussion was over whether the Calvinist God is a moral monster, and you jumped on the bandwagon, Steve and I have responded with a tu quoque. I believe that there are legitimate moves to be made for Calvinists to answer the problem of evil but the point at hand is whether or not Arminians have any right to charge the Calvinist God with being a moral monster all the while smiling knowingly at eachother.

            I submit that in this combox we have seen that if the Calvinist God can rightly be called a moral monster then so can the Arminian God. We’ve got here though a lot of arguing, bickering, name calling, snide comments and the like but here we are. Horton was right.

            1. Arminian says:

              Ok, in line with my decision to bow out of the conversation if no one with an open mind is interested in seeing it continue, I am not planning to address your comments on the Arminianism vs. Calvinism issue for the most part. But I do want to address the civility issue.

              David said: “You continually (exhaustingly) refer to anyone who disagrees with you as ignorant.”

              ***** That’s simply not true. There have been times that I have said you are missing something or not paying attention to something or don’t seem to know about a particular thing. But that is par for the course when discussing these types of issues. Often, wrong interpretation is because of these types of things. So it makes sense someone would point them out as they perceive them. I do wonder if you taking it as me referring to you as “ignorant”, is a pride issue for you. I never called you ignorant, and have not meant statements of your lack of attention to something or what have you as insults.

              David said: “If you really believe that you haven’t made any snide or insulting comments yourself I admit that I am not match for your self-deception.”

              **** I invite you to name any snide or insulting remarks that I have made. I would like to apologize for any I have made. I would not be surprised if I have made some. I am certainly not perfect. But I have tried not to do that and think there is a marked difference between the types of comments you have made and I have made. When I have gotten a little snarky at points, it tends to be concerning your hostile or derogatory comments to try and help curtail them as well as undo any sophistic impact they might have. I have called you out on several of those types of comments. IMO, your tendency toward insulting comments does fit the reputation of the “angry, uncivil Calvinist” that has been observed by Calvinist leaders and many others, and I want to encourage you to turn from it. I also want to identify it for those who read this thread, to help them see through the rhetoric and not be fooled by strong derogatory talk.

              David said: “Perhaps you don’t go to the grocery store… you’re so puffed up with pride you can’t get out the door.”

              **** Perfect example of what I am talking about. I don’t think I have said anything like this. I don’t draw the comparison to justify myself or paint myself as better, but to underscore the point that I have been making about civility etc.

              David said: “You accuse me of simply parroting your own criticisms of my comments and it’s partly true. It’s what happens when you’re arguing with a hypocrite.”

              ***** More hostility here. Do you really want to call me a hypocrite? Do you think this is helpful for dialogue?

              David said: “but the point at hand is whether or not Arminians have any right to charge the Calvinist God with being a moral monster all the while smiling knowingly at each other.”

              ***** More unhelpful rhetoric, at least as I take your comment about “knowingly smiling at each other.” I could be misunderstanding it, but it seems like you are suggesting we really know that we are wrong in our criticism, that we know that the same criticism applies to the Arminian view. Did I misunderstand you? If that’s what you mean, it seems to imply that we are dishonest and disingenuous in our disagreement with the Calvinist view and criticism of it. That would be outrageous really, and certainly an unhelpful approach in discussing theological matters with brothers and sisters in Christ. Surely you see that?

              David said: “I submit that in this combox we have seen that if the Calvinist God can rightly be called a moral monster then so can the Arminian God. We’ve got here though a lot of arguing, bickering, name calling, snide comments and the like but here we are. Horton was right.”

              **** Of course, I utterly disagree with you about that, and can only hope that people will actually read through the comments carefully and see how you did not interact with my comments a number of times, notice the difference in tone between us, be careful not to let strong derogatory rhetoric substitute for argumentation, and see that Horton completely failed to stain Arminianism with Calvinism’s problem. (It is interesting that you close with stating that Horton was right, when central to his point was something I believe you disagreed with him on, that permission to germane to theodicy.)

              God bless.

              1. David Houston says:

                Well folks, here we are! I address this to all three of you who have stuck around for our debate (the other two being Arminian and myself). As Chief Etiquette Instructor, Arminian has decided to provide a final lecture on the “do’s and don’t’s” of debating. But first, let’s take a look at his behaviour so as to remind ourselves why he is so eminently worthy of being our instructor:

                ‘David said: “I guess the standard critique of determinism/Calvinism is an exercise in poisoning the well.”
                **** It’s a poor guess. You should avoid gambling.’

                ‘Does it take this type of closing your eyes to obvious facts to hold on onto Calvinism? (I do not mean that in a snarky or insulting way. In this instance, I think it is undeniable that that is a normal usage and meaning of the word, that is how it is actually defined, and yet you act as if it is a crazy idea.)’

                [Note the ingenious move to say something snarky followed by a clarification that he was not being snarky. This places his opponent in the awkward position of being unable to retort on pain of failing to take his clarification at face value. Masterful!]

                ‘Your qualification seems more like the now classic, “It depends on what the meaning of is is.”’

                “You have had to resort to simply mischaracterizing my view with mere assertion and avoidance of actually interacting with my comments.”

                [He makes this remark while elegantly chiding his opponents for similar remarks knowing that this is a blog and that no one will notice!]

                ‘Gee, that sounds familiar. Oh, it’s something I have said repeatedly about your commenting. Have you resorted to parroting back what I have said about your comments? “I’m rubber, you’re glue; what you say bounces off me and sticks to you” style argumentation?”’

                I believe we all agree now that Arminian is certainly in the right to speak as an authority on these matters. But as if that wasn’t enough! He saves his best for last, providing a delightful encore!

                Arminian said:
                ‘I do wonder if you taking it as me referring to you as “ignorant”, is a pride issue for you. I never called you ignorant, and have not meant statements of your lack of attention to something or what have you as insults.’

                Breathtaking! He’s able to say this with a straight face because he never came out with the word ‘ignorant’. He simply implied it at several junctures but, technically, he’s right. And that’s what matters.

                But let’s continue…

                ‘IMO, your tendency toward insulting comments does fit the reputation of the “angry, uncivil Calvinist” that has been observed by Calvinist leaders and many others, and I want to encourage you to turn from it. I also want to identify it for those who read this thread, to help them see through the rhetoric and not be fooled by strong derogatory talk.’

                Aren’t you glad that we have such a wonderful shepherd? I feel particularly grateful that he has singled out little-ol’ me for a special display of love and concern. I’m touched!

                But let’s be real again for a second. Is there really a problem with “angry, uncivil Calvinists”? I’ll let anyone read through this comment box and judge for themselves whether or not Calvinists are the only theological gunslingers. The only ones given to a little rhetorical pizazz. However, I would like to say something about the difference that I’ve noticed in these debates.

                When Arminians and Calvinists go at it… how often do you see the Calvinists getting their knickers in a knot over the rhetoric? We might point out where we feel the rhetoric is empty and fire back with some of our own but where do you see Calvinists whining about how hurtful and unhelpful their opponents’ comments are? It just doesn’t happen!

                You see, Calvinists, by and large, realize that in online debates people will try to make their points as forcefully as possible. They’ll even poke fun at their opponents when they think that they’re not making sense… and there’s nothing wrong with it! I actually thought that some of Arminians comments were pretty funny. The Bill Clinton thing made me chuckle! But he ruins it when he tries to pretend like it doesn’t happen or that by making jokes along the way it’s a sign of a deep-seated anger and hatred. The difference between the two sides is that Arminians can dish it out but they can’t take it.

                My argument from the beginning was that if Calvinism can be accused of making God into a ‘moral-monster’ then so can Arminianism. Throughout my exchange with Arminian I argued that his position could avoid the charge only by limiting God’s power to the point that God functionally became the God of Open Theism or else adopting a non-theological determinism. Neither of these options is available to Bible believing Christians so I consider his position refuted.

                But go ahead and judge for yourself! You are free to do so.

              2. Arminian says:

                So David charges that my commenting has been just as uncivil as his, and provided what he thinks are instances of uncivil comments from me. But I think he has proven my point for me. When one considers my comments with his, I think it is clear that I have not been particularly uncivil, but he has. But that is not to say that David’s posting has been mostly uncivil. There seemed to be some hints of it early on, but it also seemed to increase as the discussion went on. I’ll address David’s accusations about my posting, and cite instances of what I take to be uncivil posting from him. I think setting comments from him side by side with the ones he set out from me should show a distinct difference between our tones.

                “David said: “I guess the standard critique of determinism/Calvinism is an exercise in poisoning the well.”

                I responded: “It’s a poor guess. You should avoid gambling.’

                ***** David made what I found to be a baseless assertion. So I responded with a little joke that simply asserted that he was wrong. I would not have found this uncivil if he said something like this to me. This falls under the rubric of playful rhetoric IMO. But if David let me know that he found it offensive, I would have been willing to not joke in that way. Yet, David indicated in his latest message that he did not have a problem with my posting on the level of civility and that he found things I said funny. So this hardly seems to be on the same level as his calling me silly over my interpretation of Scripture, or suggesting that I am stupid, or that my views are unchristian or that I am swelled with pride, or calling me a hypocrite. In his words:

                ********

                “Oh, Arminian! You’re so silly!”

                “Steve was spot on. You just find him unbecoming because he won’t let you get away with anything.”

                “I expect atheists to have a problem with God being God but this is truly unbecoming of a Christian.”

                “I was assuming that you had a Christian alternative to Calvinism in mind when I said there was no difference. My mistake.”

                “I mean really? This passage teaches LFW? Ridiculous!”

                “You take issue with Steve and I pointing out your unbiblical way of thinking,”

                “ If you want to leave when the going gets tough that’s your prerogative.”

                “If you have trouble comprehending such a straightforward passage I can’t help but wonder what happens when you’re given a grocery list.”

                “It’s been obvious throughout that you can’t handle genuine dialogue. No one is making you argue. You may freely leave.”

                “Perhaps you don’t go to the grocery store… you’re so puffed up with pride you can’t get out the door. If you really believe that you haven’t made any snide or insulting comments yourself I admit that I am not match for your self-deception.”

                “You accuse me of simply parroting your own criticisms of my comments and it’s partly true. It’s what happens when you’re arguing with a hypocrite.”

                “But I shouldn’t be surprised that you believe God is so impotent since what you say next is quite amazing…”

                *********

                I said: “‘Does it take this type of closing your eyes to obvious facts to hold on onto Calvinism? (I do not mean that in a snarky or insulting way. In this instance, I think it is undeniable that that is a normal usage and meaning of the word, that is how it is actually defined, and yet you act as if it is a crazy idea.)’

                David comments: “[Note the ingenious move to say something snarky followed by a clarification that he was not being snarky. This places his opponent in the awkward position of being unable to retort on pain of failing to take his clarification at face value. Masterful!]”

                ***** Remember the context here: David was denying that the word “puppet” can be validly used of people in a determinist scheme and chiding me for suggesting it, when a standard definition of the word applies perfectly to Calvinism/determinism. “Closing your eyes to the obvious facts” refers to that insistence against the cold hard fact of (IMO) undeniable definition. So I was drawing attention to that, and yet did not want to be snarky, and tried my best to draw attention to the painful denial of fact by David (IMO of course) while not being snarky.

                David’s response to this here highlights a real problem in his posting IMO that contributes to his incivility. And that is, sometimes suggesting insincerity/disingenuousness on the part of the one with whom he disagrees, even against explicit statement of motive or attitude from the person; a refusal to take the person at his word. I let him know my attitude and he implies I am just being deceptive, scheming to appear sincere when I am actually trying to be derogatory. That seems uncharitable and unhelpful to dialogue. Why not take me at my word? I genuinely wanted to keep snark out of my comments and to conduct respectful, civil dialogue that was nonetheless forceful in its argumentation.

                I said: “Your qualification seems more like the now classic, ‘It depends on what the meaning of is is.”’

                ***** This also was not meant derogatorily, though I could see David thinking it was. He actually seems to indicate that he did not take it so and found it funny. I was just trying to say by way of illustration that he was trying to rely on illegitimate technicalities about words and so forth in his position and argumentation. But the Bill Clinton aspect of that could be thought to suggest he was doing so purposely and insincerely. I did not intend that meaning, and it seems that David could tell that. So again, this hardly seems to be comparable to him calling me silly over my interpretation of Scripture, or suggesting that I am stupid, or that my views are unchristian or that I am swelled with pride, or calling me a hypocrite, or implying that I am disingenuous.

                I said: “You have had to resort to simply mischaracterizing my view with mere assertion and avoidance of actually interacting with my comments.”

                David now comments: “[He makes this remark while elegantly chiding his opponents for similar remarks knowing that this is a blog and that no one will notice!]”

                ***** I see nothing uncivil about my comment. I truly believe that was what David was doing and called him out on it. There is no insult or incivility in that. But notice again the implicit charge in David’s response of insincerity and deceptive intent, that I know that in this thread I am guilty of the thing I am calling him out on, and just hoping that the venue is of such a kind that no one will notice and I will get away with it all. Again, unhelpful, uncivil dialogue.

                I said: ‘Gee, that sounds familiar. Oh, it’s something I have said repeatedly about your commenting. Have you resorted to parroting back what I have said about your comments? “I’m rubber, you’re glue; what you say bounces off me and sticks to you” style argumentation?”’

                ***** Definitely a little sarcasm there, but I don’t think sarcasm is necessarily wrong. This comment was not heavily sarcastic, and it doesn’t insult David. I was trying to point out that he seemed to be parroting back my criticism of him, and to do so in a lively way with the “rubber/glue” reference. I suppose one might think I intended an implication that he was being childish, since that is an old children’s saying. But I really wasn’t meaning that. It was actually that I wanted to counter his accusing me with the very thing I had repeatedly called him out on. Now again, if he found that unhelpful, I would certainly have been willing to drop that sort of rhetoric.

                I said: ‘I do wonder if you taking it as me referring to you as “ignorant”, is a pride issue for you. I never called you ignorant, and have not meant statements of your lack of attention to something or what have you as insults.’

                David replies: “Breathtaking! He’s able to say this with a straight face because he never came out with the word ‘ignorant’. He simply implied it at several junctures but, technically, he’s right. And that’s what matters.”

                ***** No, it is more a matter of my attitude and intent. I was never meaning to characterize you as ignorant or what have you. I don’t think in terms of saying that someone does not know something means characterizing them as ignorant. There is a world of difference between telling someone, “I think you lack understanding of such and such certain concept” and telling someone “you’re ignorant.” Do you not see that? I think you would find a huge difference in how people respond to you if you were to approach someone by telling them you think they lack knowledge about something and you wanted to suggest resources for them to gain greater understanding, vs. saying, “you’re ignorant.”

                David said: “But let’s be real again for a second. Is there really a problem with “angry, uncivil Calvinists”? I’ll let anyone read through this comment box and judge for themselves whether or not Calvinists are the only theological gunslingers. The only ones given to a little rhetorical pizazz.”

                ***** Well, I don’t think anyone’s claiming that only Calvinists behave uncivilly, but even Calvinist leaders, such as Justin Taylor, have been taking note of it being a problem especially with Calvinists and calling for it to stop. I think our discussion does provide a good example, and I think anyone with an open mind reading through it would agree that you were slinging the gun while I was trying to be civil, though hopefully providing some rhetorical pizazz nonetheless. But I should note that even though I believe you have shown some tendency toward incivility, you’ve actually been mild compared to many Calvinists on the internet.

                David said: “When Arminians and Calvinists go at it… how often do you see the Calvinists getting their knickers in a knot over the rhetoric? We might point out where we feel the rhetoric is empty and fire back with some of our own but where do you see Calvinists whining about how hurtful and unhelpful their opponents’ comments are? It just doesn’t happen!

                You see, Calvinists, by and large, realize that in online debates people will try to make their points as forcefully as possible. They’ll even poke fun at their opponents when they think that they’re not making sense… and there’s nothing wrong with it!”

                ****** We certainly disagree about whether it is ok to make fun of brothers and sisters in Christ when discussing matters of theological disagreement with them. But it’s not whining to point out uncivil rhetoric. It is exposing the rhetoric for what it is and also attempting to better the dialogue.

                David said: “I actually thought that some of Arminians comments were pretty funny. The Bill Clinton thing made me chuckle! But he ruins it when he tries to pretend like it doesn’t happen or that by making jokes along the way it’s a sign of a deep-seated anger and hatred. The difference between the two sides is that Arminians can dish it out but they can’t take it.”

                ***** I’m not “pretending”. And making jokes is one thing, and being uncivil is another. I’m not saying you have a deep-seated anger and hatred, though some Calvinists might. I don’t feel free to insult those I dialogue with (even if I may fail at times) and don’t want to let you provide an undertone of denigration of me that might color my position, which I believe is true and biblical. I also hope to encourage you to better dialogue.

                David said: “My argument from the beginning was that if Calvinism can be accused of making God into a ‘moral-monster’ then so can Arminianism. Throughout my exchange with Arminian I argued that his position could avoid the charge only by limiting God’s power to the point that God functionally became the God of Open Theism or else adopting a non-theological determinism. Neither of these options is available to Bible believing Christians so I consider his position refuted.”

                ***** And I believe that I refuted your arguments. I leave it others to judge for themselves who made the better case. I just hope they won’t let strong, uncivil rhetoric mislead them.

              3. David Houston says:

                ARMINIAN SAID:
                ‘David made what I found to be a baseless assertion. So I responded with a little joke that simply asserted that he was wrong. I would not have found this uncivil if he said something like this to me. This falls under the rubric of playful rhetoric IMO. But if David let me know that he found it offensive, I would have been willing to not joke in that way. Yet, David indicated in his latest message that he did not have a problem with my posting on the level of civility and that he found things I said funny. So this hardly seems to be on the same level as his calling me silly over my interpretation of Scripture, or suggesting that I am stupid, or that my views are unchristian or that I am swelled with pride, or calling me a hypocrite’

                (1) As I tried to make clear in my last post, playful rhetoric is fine. I fully endorse it! If I found the gambling comment offensive I could justifiably be accused of being a little whiner and you would have every right to mock me.

                (2) However, I do find hypocrisy offensive. You’ve been painting me as the mean spirited, ‘uncivil’ Calvinist because of the little shots I’ve been taking and I’ve pointed out how I’m not the only who’s been taking shots.

                (3) You seem to have been set off by my comment about your being ‘silly’. It too was meant to be playful. It might help if you read it with the voice from the cereal commercial: ‘Silly Rabbit! Trix is for kids!’.

                (4) As for suggesting that you are stupid, I think anyone reading our exchange should realize that I don’t think you’re stupid. I think you’ve been working hard to get around the plain teaching of Scripture, yes, but you do so with a certain degree of sophistication. It’s precisely because I don’t think that you’re stupid that I jabbed harder later on in the conversation.

                (5) I stand by my comment about your being hypocritical and self-righteous and that your views on this issue are unchristian. As I said earlier, if you disagree with Scripture then, by definition, your views are unchristian.

                (6) I also don’t feel the need to qualify every argument regarding the entailments of your position with qualifiers along the lines of ‘I know you don’t believe this but I think this is what your position entails. Just sayin’…’ It’s irritating, boring, and wastes time.

                This is especially true when I already said to JC, at the beginning of our discussion, that ‘I don’t think that the Arminian pastor is stupid enough to say what his doctrine entails. I don’t even believe that in most cases Arminian pastors believe that their theology entails what I have been saying it entails. However, it’s what the system actually entails that matters.’

                (7) I won’t bother playing the quote and comment game with the rest of your comment but I will say that you have the politician’s ability to pick up on anything that contains even the slightest hint of negativity towards your position while remaining oblivious to anything comparable in your own comments or in the views of your fellow Arminians. Robert, for instance, has been a real charmer and yet you haven’t made any criticisms about angry, uncivil Arminians.

                (8) I also hope that no one reading this will be misled by more subtle but equally ‘uncivil’ rhetoric.

  86. steve hays says:

    A. M. Mallett

    “I believe the greater issue is that I see no reason to recognize your authority in these matters. Aside from tossing generic definitions that are insufficient to the discussions, you have not offered any ground for accepting your perspective. In fact you haven’t really addressed anything presented to you other than to toss these generic definitions out there.”

    i) Actually, I’m paraphrasing standard definitions of logical and theological determinism from The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. (You can find similar definitions in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.) If you prefer, I can quote them verbatim, complete with pagination. Likewise, I’ve documented my definitions of fatalism in philosophical usage.

    ii) I’ve also given specific arguments for my contentions. You respond with a flurry of hand-waving.

    “Heaped on top of that are the absurd diversions used to deflect the argument. Jer 19:5 is a rebuttal to your argument. Whether or not it is used by others for other purposes unrelated to this discussion is irrelevant. You have yet to address it as it pertains to your aberrant positions. I doubt that I will hold my breath on that last note. Jer 19:5 needs to be addressed properly.”

    I already explained why your prootexting is useless to salvage Arminianism.

    You offer no counterarguments to what I said. You’re trying to bluff your way through the conversation. That’s a backdoor admission that your own position is indefensible.

    1. A.M. Mallett says:

      Accusing me of proof-texting rather than addressing the text is nothing other than obfuscation.
      Jer 19:5 remains to be addressed however I have no more patience with you.

  87. steve hays says:

    Let’s clarify the nature of intentional action or inaction. Say I’m thirsty. I reach for a glass of wine to quench my thirst. That’s an intentional action.

    Say I inadvertently tip over the wine glass in the process of reaching for the wine glass. That’s an unintended consequence of an intentional action. Put another way, that’s an accident.

    “Arminian” seems to think that God (i.e. the God of Arminian theism) is accident-prone. According to “Arminian,” although God permits evil, God doesn’t intend evil. This despite the fact that his God even has a purpose for permitting evil.

    So evil is an unintended consequence of divine permission. A tragic accident.

    That would make a bit more sense if “Arminian” were an open theist, but he seems to be a classical Arminian.

    Let’s consider one more illustration. Suppose I’m a Muslim who’s sympathetic to terrorism. I myself am not a terrorist because it’s too risky.

    Suppose I become aware of a terrorist plot. I’m not a direct party to the plot.

    I could tip off the authorities, but because I’m sympathetic to terrorism, I do nothing. I allow the plot to go forward, as a result of which innocent Americans die.

    Did I intend the outcome? I didn’t have a direct hand in the outcome. I didn’t cause it. Instead, I didn’t thwart it. I didn’t interfere.

    But by letting it happen, I clearly intend it to happen. That’s not an unintended consequence of my inaction. Rather, that’s a calculated result of letting events take their course.

  88. Paul says:

    _Fatalism Schmatalism_

    1. It is clear to anyone familiar with the relevant literature that authorities can be marshaled who define fatalism as either identical to determinism or not. There is no standard, authoritative definition to which we can turn to settle the matter. Even the dictionary won’t help, for it gives a series of definitions some of which are compatible with indeterministic actions being fated, some not. Thus, it’s not definitionally clear that calvinism is fatalist in light of its mysterious, perhaps sui generis, affirmation of something like ‘determinism.’

    2. So why are the Arminians hammering on this? I suspect the main reason is simply scoring rhetorical points. For they know that *fatalism* has a public relations problem among ordinary folk. It’s similar to political leftists simply labeling conservative criticisms of Obama as ‘racist.’ The Arminian knows that if Calvinism were to be equated with ‘fatalism,’ then the common man would be leery of Calvinism. Indeed, they know that many professing Calvinists who are philosophically unsophisticated would drop Calvinism if it were unquestionably fatalistic. This would not be the case if they claimed Calvinism was deterministic. For as the only sustained, rigorous, and scientific studies we are aware of show, common folk don’t necessarily think determinism undermines free will or responsibility. As philosopher Eddy Nahimas wrote in his recent NYT op ed piece,

    Researchers in the new field of experimental philosophy study what “the folk” think about philosophical issues and why. For instance, my collaborators and I have found that most people think that free will and responsibility are compatible with determinism, the thesis that all events are part of a law-like chain of events such that earlier events necessitate later events.[3] That is, most people judge that you can have free will and be responsible for your actions even if all of your decisions and actions are entirely caused by earlier events in accord with natural laws.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/is-neuroscience-the-death-of-free-will/

    However, most people would not say the same if the questions were phrased according to ‘fatalism.’ This suggests to me that the Arminians are aware that they’re engaged in debate tricks and not honest dialogue. An analogous move from the shifty compatibilist would be to claim that Arminianism, in light of its affirmation of indeterminist freedom, reduces to luck or chance. Thus it reduces to an Arbitrary God who throws people in hell due to the luck or indeterminism operating somewhere in the causal chain that leads to action. Of course, Arminians would deny this view of their stance on the will. But at this point, I could cite plenty of scholars who claim that libertarianism *is* chancy or lucky. So we would be engaged in a similar authority war as the above dueling with scholars over fatalism.

    3. Of course, this is aside from one of the definitions offered above. That was: Fatalism = df. It is a logical or conceptual truth that no one ever does otherwise. On this view, it’s easy to see Calvinism isn’t fatalism, for it’s not a *logical* or *conceptual* truth, and this is quite aside from the fact that it is very hard to think of universally accepted ideas about what the generic properties of logical truths are or should be.

    4. If the Arminian wants to be an honest debater, he should drop the talk of fatalism, since the goal of its employment is to score cheap points and *scare* people away from Calvinism. So, take the above definition of fatalism, leaving aside the bit about logical and conceptual truths. Rather than use the term ‘fatalism,’ why doesn’t the Arminian simply say that Calvinism is problematic because, if true, no one ever does otherwise that what God decrees. So is this supposed to be the big problem with Calvinism? If so, why not argue that inability to do otherwise is somehow problematic for freedom or responsibility. Of course, this is one of the oldest debates in philosopher, and it’s not going anywhere. Almost all aspects of it have reached dialectical stalemates. Moreover, as the studies show, it isn’t going to be bothersome to ordinary folk to claim that Calvinism is deterministic, or that man is unable to do otherwise, except insofar as people harbor false views about what this entails. But, it is very easy to offer stories of determinist scenarios where people don’t have a problem ascribing praise or blame to ostensibly determined individuals.

    So, rather than haggle over the word ‘fatalist,’ the Arminian should do the intellectually virtuous and honorable thing and declare a moratorium on the word, for the Arminian knows it is employed to score cheap debate points. Rather, the Arminian should take what she believes to be the meaning of ‘fatalism’—apparently here that means ‘unable to do otherwise—and try to argue from *that* to some kind of problem with calvinism. That is, assuming the Arminian wants to be intellectual honest and virtuous.

  89. Paul says:

    “I have not stated that those things are what Calvinism teaches or believes, but that Calvinism logically demands them.”

    Actually, you cannot derive from Calvinist premises *alone* that God is a moral monster, puppet, etc. If you think you can, put forth the derivation, using only Calvinist premises, and inference rules. So, this is actually a false statement. What Arminians like “Arminian” really mean is this: “Calvinism PLUS A FEW LIBERTARIAN PREMISES, DEBATABLE EXEGESIS, AND QUESTIONABLE MORAL INTUITIONS logically demands that God is a moral monster, puppet matser, etc.

    But put *that* way, it’s not very enlightening or helpful. Why? Well, from Arminian premises PLUS SOME ANTI-LIBERTARIAN PREMISES, DEBATABLE EXEGESIS, AND QUESTIONABLE MORAL INTUITIONS, Arminianism logically demands that the Arminian God is a bumbling buffoon, a moral monster, and an Arbitrary and capricious deity who can’t accomplish what he wants to and is thus means-end irrational.

    Now, if you’re an Arminian reading this last remark and are given to either anger, frustration, bursting out in laughter, or simply shaking your head, now you know how Calvinists feel.

    So, let’s stop saying that *Calvinism* logically demands these things, and debate honestly.

    1. Arminian says:

      Paul said: “Actually, you cannot derive from Calvinist premises *alone* that God is a moral monster, puppet, etc. If you think you can, put forth the derivation, using only Calvinist premises, and inference rules. So, this is actually a false statement.”

      ***** I did not say it was from Calvinist premises alone. So this is a false charge. Surely you know that you can make the most ridiculous position internally consistent by intentionally defining terms to do so, even if those redefined terms are quite idiosyncratic or illegitimate.

      Paul said: “Now, if you’re an Arminian reading this last remark and are given to either anger, frustration, bursting out in laughter, or simply shaking your head, now you know how Calvinists feel.”

      ***** Remarks like that don’t bother me. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to draw the most heinous picture of Arminianism as what one believes logic demands (whether from Arminianism’s own premises alone or from some of its premises combined with other basic premises one might hold) as opposed to what Arminianism teaches or believes. There is a big difference between saying Arminianism or Calvinism believes such and such and Arminianism or Calvinism logically demands such and such.

      Paul said: “So, let’s stop saying that *Calvinism* logically demands these things, and debate honestly.”

      ***** That’s not dishonest. And it is unhelpful *if* you imply that people who speak that way are being dishonest when they might simply disagree with you. And do you then think it’s ok to say Arminianism believes what it explicitly rejects or that Calvinism believes what it explicitly rejects? It is hard to believe that is what you are advocating, but your comments seem to point in that direction. Why else would you take issue with me objecting to David characterizing me as believing things I don’t believe and insisting that it is better to simply say that that is what he thinks my position logically demands? On the logic you provide here, it seems like you would approve of me saying that Calvinism teaches God is the author of sin or that Calvinism teaches God is a moral monster. So I wonder if you misspoke or something. Perhaps you misunderstood the disagreement at that point between me and David.

      1. Paul says:

        Arminian:

        In response to asterisk set 1: You said “from Calvinism.” Now, I charitably took you as meaning Calvinist premises alone, since surely you know that with the addition of libertarian premises, you can derive unsavory conclusions about Calvinism. More precisely, if premises that entail ¬P are included among your premises, then it’s very easy to conclude ¬P!! So I didn’t want to take you as saying that “Calvinism plus anti-Calvinist premises “logically demands” to falsity of Calvinism, for that was too obvious to state! But now you want to correct me and admit that you really meant that anti-Calvinist premises really do “logically entail” anti-Calvinism. Okay, but that’s totally uninteresting.

        In response to asterisk set 2: Fine, but the point was finer. The point was that it would not be dialectically helpful for me to claim that Arminianism logically implied something about the falsity of Arminianism when what I really meant was that anti-Arminian premises logically anti-Arminianism. That’s wholly uncontroversial, uninteresting, and unhelpful. We already know that.

        In response to asterisk set 3: I think it’s ridiculous and uninteresting to have to boorishly state that Arminians don’t actually believe what they claim not to. Why would anyone bother with such a pedantic charge if not simply to obfuscate? I think it is implicit in every claim of the form “Arminianism believes . . . ” to read into the elliptical space “if they’re consistent with what else they profess.” Moreover, there are plenty of arguments that I use and others use that try to show Arminianism is in error by using only premises Arminianism accepts or should accept because they’re uncontroversial and non-question-begging. My claim you respond to here is simply that you have not presented, and cannot present an argument that *Calvinism* logically implies X, Y, and Z. So I merely wanted you to admit that you’re making the boring claim that non-Calvinsm conjoined with Calvinism logically implies non-Calvinism. That’s all; and frankly, I am struggling to see what you’re at loggerheads about.

        1. Arminian says:

          Re: Paul’s paragraph #’s 1 + 2: Well, I pointed out that I did not state that it was from Calvinist premises alone. I also did not state that it wasn’t. I wasn’t really thinking about that specific point one way or another, though I do think Calvinism logically leads to God being a moral monster, puppet, etc. from its premises alone. But even if it did not, it would still be valid and neither too obvious nor totally uninteresting as you charge to state that Calvinism logically leads to unsavory conclusions, since as I stated, and you seemed to ignore, “Surely you know that you can make the most ridiculous position internally consistent by intentionally defining terms to do so, even if those redefined terms are quite idiosyncratic or illegitimate.” Do you agree with that? I am not sure how you could disagree. It can be demonstrated quite easily. But if so, that seems to undercut your point.

          Re: Paul’s paragraph # 3: So you think it is fine for Arminians, given their perspective that Calvinism logically leads to heinous conclusions about God, to state that Calvinism believes God is the author of evil, human beings are puppets, God is unloving, unjust, a moral monster, etc.? it won’t do to say, “well, they should not conclude logic leads to those things about Calvinism, and therefore shouldn’t state that is what Calvinism logically leads to. For it is still their perspective, and on your logic, it would be fine for them to state that is what Calvinism believes, with “if they’re consistent with what else they profess” assumed. Moreover, I just disagree with you that it is ridiculous, uninteresting, and boorish to articulate in such a way that makes it clear that one speaks about where one thinks a system logically leads. It’s really not that hard to do. But in any case, courtesy and respectful dialogue calls for it. So it’s worth it to take some extra care to not misrepresent others’ views and to be civil and respectful. Being entertained is not much of a kingdom value, so even if it were uninteresting, it’s worth doing. But given your stance on fatalism (which I have not gotten to responding to yet; I plan to), your stance here is surprising. You worry people will be misled by use of a word that has as one of its standard meanings a definition that applies to Calvinism because people might assoaicate another of its meanings. Yet you think it’s ok to state that Arminianism holds things it expressly doesn’t hold because people should know to assume you really mean its what Arminian premises logically demand even though it is not what Arminianism actually holds.

          As for the rest of your paragraph 3, see my response to paragraph #’s 1 + 2.

  90. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “Ok, in line with my decision to bow out of the conversation if no one with an open mind is interested in seeing it continue, I am not planning to address your comments on the Arminianism vs. Calvinism issue for the most part. But I do want to address the civility issue.”

    This is directed at David Houston, but I’ll chime in.

    “Do you really want to call me a hypocrite? Do you think this is helpful for dialogue?”

    Actually, that comment is, itself, hypocritical. “Arminian” indicates that that it would be unhelpful in dialogue to accuse one’s opponent of hypocrisy.

    Yet “Arminian” is making moralistic criticisms of Reformed commenters like David and me. Why is that helpful in dialogue as long as an Arminian does it, but if a Calvinist returns the favor by making moralistic criticisms of an Arminian commenter, that’s suddenly unhelpful?

    So that double standard is, itself, classic hypocrisy.

    “Snide, insulting remarks like this is an example of what I was talking about your uncivil commenting. Unhelpful . . . really. It is surprising you don’t see that.”

    This is in response to David’s statement that “If you have trouble comprehending such a straightforward passage I can’t help but wonder what happens when you’re given a grocery list.”

    But over at my blog, this is what “Arminian” said to be:

    “Ok, maybe this explains why your interpretation of Scripture is often so off target.”

    How is that any less “snide, insulting, uncivil, and unhelpful” than David’s comparable statement?

    So this is another example of “Arminian’s” hypocrisy.

    “That would be outrageous really, and certainly an unhelpful approach in discussing theological matters with brothers and sisters in Christ. Surely you see that?”

    But when Robert says “And the calvinists just can’t understand why non-Calvinists find their system to be so morally objectionable. That is like the Grand Dragon or Imperial Wizard not understanding why non-racists find their beliefs and practices to be morally objectionable…The theology that makes God a racist against the reprobates. With the non-reprobates then wearing the white sheets and justifying and rationalizing their hatred. And like the KKK the calvinists have the gall to use scripture to justify and rationalize their hatred,” “Arminian” doesn’t find anything “outrageous” or even unhelpful about that approach in discussing theological matters with brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet David said nothing within hailing distance of Robert’s bile.

    So that’s yet another example of “Arminian’s” rank hypocrisy. “Arminian” wears a pair of yellow-tinted glasses when he inspects Calvinists, but switches to rose-tinted glasses when he gazes at his fellow Arminians.

  91. Robert says:

    Steve Hays a couple times now has suggested that I am afraid of being totally controlled by God.

    He first wrote:

    “Robert suffers from a cosmic authority complex. It’s a common syndrome among atheists. The fear of a God who knows us and controls us.”

    Hays coins a new term “cosmic authority complex” and says it is common among atheists. Apparently this is intended as some kind of put down of myself by Hays. He then explicitly defines “cosmic authority complex” as “The fear of a God who knows us and controls us.”

    So Hays believes that God completely, directly and constantly CONTROLS US.

    He also says that atheists and myself suffer from this complex.
    He went on to repeat this claim:

    “Which ironically confirms my diagnosis about the incipiently atheistic attitude of some Arminians. They just can’t stand the idea that God “controls” them. But, of course, “control” is just a synonym for Lordship or dominion.”

    Now Hays is writing as if he is some sort of psychiatrist making his “diagnosis” of some Arminians who supposedly suffer from this “syndrome” which he has invented.

    Besides his claim that some of us **fear** being totally controlled by God, a fear he apparently does not have being the good fatalist that he is: he also says that people who suffer from this syndrome “just can’t stand the idea that God controls them.”

    He adds a third claim regarding this syndrome: not only do people who suffer from this syndrome fear being controlled by God and not only do they hate the idea of being controlled by God, lastly, he says control is merely a synonym for “Lordship or dominion.”

    I have to say that I find Hays’ “analysis” to be comical to the extreme.

    Allow me to explain.

    First of all, Hays must believe that he himself is totally controlled by God or ***Holy Spirit possessed. That God completely controls him and thus everything that he does is exactly what God wants him to do.

    I find allusions and direct references to demonic possession in scripture but no references to Holy Spirit possession or God taking over and controlling people. The closest that we have is the Spirit inspiring prophets or inspiring the biblical writers as they wrote scripture, but they were neither continually inspired nor controlled by the Spirit at all times.

    Second, note what underlies Hays’ claims here: he actually believes that God controls Him and everyone else.

    And that control if it is real would mean that God controls our thoughts, minds, wills, bodies, movements, every aspect of our being.

    Call that “Hays’ control principle” for short (or abbreviate it as HCP, not PCP the dangerous hallucinogenic drug but HCP a crucial premise in Hays’ fatalistic theology and belief system).
    Third Hays says that I fear being controlled by God, that I fear HCP, that I hate the idea of HCP. He must be kidding! I would love to have God completely possess and control me. Why that would mean that as God controlled me in this way I would always be perfectly doing God’s will. I would always do exactly what He wants me to do, always be perfectly obedient. It would mean that everything I have said here is exactly what God wanted me to say. God wanted me to present Fischer’s definition of fatalism and argue that Hays’ Calvinism fits that definition of fatalism. It would mean that when I spoke about God doing the most hateful thing when reprobating people that I was speaking for God, speaking God’s word. Anybody who trusts and loves God and believes Him to be loving, good, kind, merciful would love to be controlled by God.

    It would make things so much easier for us to live the Christian life, right?

    I have actually met some folks in the past who believed they were controlled by God, in the past I thought they were mentally unstable or delusional, but if Hays is correct not only were they controlled by God so are all of us, we just don’t all know it (if someone believes they are controlled by God and they are not we ordinarily say they are delusional, what should we say if they did not know they were controlled by God but in reality they are? “Unknowing puppets”? “Unknowing pawns”?)!

    Fourth, I am a bit confused by HCP. Hays attacks me for being afraid of it, for seemingly being afraid of being controlled by God (not like him who supposedly welcomes it and calls it Lordship).

    But if HCP is correct, and I am afraid of HCP then God controlled me so that I would have a fear of him controlling me so that I would suffer from “cosmic authority syndrome.”

    Why is Hays attacking me for something I have no control over?

    Why am I attacked by Him who is supposedly perfectly doing God’s will, for myself perfectly doing God’s will?

    Why is one who is perfectly doing God’s will being attacked by another who is simultaneously perfectly doing Gods’ will?

    Didn’t Jesus say that a house divided against itself could not stand but would fall?

    You see if HCP is true, then we are all controlled by God, we are all doing exactly what God is controlling us to do. We are all perfectly doing God’s will.

    And why would God control one believer to get it right (i.e. accept and delight in being controlled by God) and control another believer to get it wrong (i.e. believers who suffer from “cosmic authority complex”, who is controlled in such a way that he/she hates the idea, hates Lordship though God is in fact controlling them so that they hate it, so God is controlling his own people so that they hate His Lordship, so these believers reject that they are being controlled by God)?

    The HCP leads to some very confusing and contradictory things.

    I thought that God was frustrated with Israel in the Old Testament because they were freely choosing to sin against and rebel against Him (e.g. as it says of the time of Judges that everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes). But they were all controlled by God too. So God controlled them so that they sinned against God and then God got frustrated at their rebellion which he controlled them to do. Or take the example of believers who sin today. God controls us all and yet instead of controlling us to do the right thing, he often is controlling us so that we sin. Why does he tell us to be Holy as He is holy and yet control us so that we sin so often? Why does he control believers so that they disagree about so many things?

    Why does he control some Calvinists and make them five pointers (e.g. John Piper) and control other Calvinists and make them four pointers (e.g. Bruce Ware). And then why does he have Piper trying to convince Ware to be five pointer when God is the one controlling Ware so that he is a four pointer? Why control some of his people to be old earth creationists and others to be young earth creationists? Why control some to be credo Baptists and others to be Paedobaptists? For some to be infralapsarian and others to be supralapsarian?

    Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. . . . . .

    And God is continuously controlling people who are his own people to sin against each other, attack each other, engage in verbal bullying and ridiculing of other believers (as He is controlling Steve Hays to do so often). This is all just so confusing. He also says in 1 Cor. 14 that he is not a God of disorder and yet in controlling all people (including all of his own people) he is controlling people to get into so many disagreements and divisions and disorder. He is repeatedly contradicting himself by controlling people to rebel against his Word and disobey his commands.

    It is also confusing to me how HCP works when it comes to sin. God is controlling every one according to Hays, so all those inmates that I work with, their every crime is something God controlled them to do. In each case they could not help it, they had to do it, they had to do what God controlled them to do. And that includes some serious and heinous sin.

    For example consider R. J. Donovan a prison in California, in this prison alone there are hundreds of people convicted of child molestation. According to Hays and his HCP in each and every instance God controlled these inmates so that they would engage in each of these acts of child molestation. And that is just one type of crime/sin. God also controls every adulterer who commits adultery, every rapist, every murderer, all **equally** are completely controlled by God (or does God control some of us more, Perhaps Hays believes himself to be more controlled by God than others, He also probably believes that God controls others less, like anyone who is not Calvinist?) so that they have to do exactly what they do.

    At first you might be hopeful about HCP upon first hearing it before thinking about it a bit further believing that that would mean that God would control believers so that we live the Christian life properly. But look around and that clearly is not the case. In fact if HCP is true, God apparently enjoys all sorts of sins and all sorts of evil, as He is controlling everyone (does not matter if you are a believer or unbeliever God is controlling you so that you sin) to do all of these things. At first glance, it might fit with non-believers, but believers continue to sin, sometimes ruining their own lives and other lives. And God controls them all to do exactly what they do, so everyone is perfectly doing God’s will at all times and in all circumstances. On second thought perhaps we should reject HCP, perhaps people sin freely and not because God is controlling them to do so.

    Robert

  92. Robert quoted Hays (November 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm)saying, “He [Hays] adds a third claim regarding this [cosmic authority complex] syndrome: not only do people who suffer from this syndrome fear being controlled by God and not only do they hate the idea of being controlled by God, lastly, he says control is merely a synonym for “Lordship or dominion.”

    I’m just reminded of the probably millions of people who may have had that same kind of fear – cosmic authority complex (Christian and atheist alike) – of being wholly controlled by another, of someone (even if it was just on a part of the planet rather than the whole cosmos) having complete lordship or domininon over them, in what use to be the USSR, you know…when Stalin was czar.

    So, in all honesty, Hays (without realizing it) may have picked up on something here the physciatrists – Christian and atheist – ought to research…yes?

  93. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “Surely you know that you can make the most ridiculous position internally consistent by intentionally defining terms to do so, even if those redefined terms are quite idiosyncratic or illegitimate.”

    This is another example of “Arminian’s” dishonesty. I didn’t redefine fatalism. I’ve documented my usage from multiple philosophers.

    1. Arminian says:

      “This is another example of “Arminian’s” dishonesty. I didn’t redefine fatalism. I’ve documented my usage from multiple philosophers.”

      Rather, this is another instance of your incivility. I was not referencing you at all about the definition of fatalism. I was neither talking to you nor about you.

  94. steve hays says:

    Nelson Banuchi

    “I’m just reminded of the probably millions of people who may have had that same kind of fear – cosmic authority complex (Christian and atheist alike) – of being wholly controlled by another, of someone (even if it was just on a part of the planet rather than the whole cosmos) having complete lordship or domininon over them, in what use to be the USSR, you know…when Stalin was czar.”

    So you equate God’s character with Stalin.

    BTW, Stalin was never the czar.

    1. Hi Hays,

      Silly me; I stand corrected about Stalin being a czar; he was the premier of the USSR.

      I’m not equating God as revealed in the Bible with Stalin; it’s YOUR DESCRIPTION of the God of the Bible that I am equating with Stalin.

  95. steve hays says:

    Nelson Banuchi

    “I’m not equating God as revealed in the Bible with Stalin; it’s YOUR DESCRIPTION of the God of the Bible that I am equating with Stalin.”

    Your bare assertion, minus anything resembling a reasoned argument.

    1. Hays said, “Your bare assertion, minus anything resembling a reasoned argument.”

      No argument being made; just an observation on how you describe God.

      1. Paul says:

        Nelson, quite right! Steve didn’t say you made an argument. He said you made an assertion without the benefit of argument. That’s unhelpful and doesn’t foster productive discourse. People who make assertions they either won’t or can’t back up with an argument are a major reason for our debased public discourse. Rather than confirm the status quo, you might want to consider taking a brave stand against the marching forces of anti-intellectualism, disenchanted discourse, and incivility (defined as os Guinness Steve Smith do). Your call.

        1. Hi Paul. My apologies. Did not intend to debase the public discourse. I will desist…

          Thanks for the check!

      2. steve hays says:

        Nelson Banuchi

        “No argument being made; just an observation on how you describe God.”

        No. That’s an inference you draw from my description, a fallacious inference.

        1. Hays said, “No. That’s an inference you draw from my description, a fallacious inference.”

          Observe: ‘to state by way of comment; remark’

          Yes, that is an inference, which I observed from your descriptions of God (and, in my unscholarly opinion, valid).

          Just to let you know, no response is necessary. I just wanted to make my thoughts known and, therefore, made a comment. I’ve no intention to debate. Besides, I can wait for God to correct you when He arrives…He knows the Bible better than me, anyway.

  96. steve hays says:

    Robert

    “Now Hays is writing as if he is some sort of psychiatrist making his ‘diagnosis’ of some Arminians who supposedly suffer from this ‘syndrome’ which he has invented.”

    Which Arminians constantly illustrate. Indeed, Robert’s response is a further confirmation.

    “Besides his claim that some of us **fear** being totally controlled by God, a fear he apparently does not have being the good fatalist that he is.”

    I’m not afraid of God controlling me, that’s true.

    “First of all, Hays must believe that he himself is totally controlled by God or ***Holy Spirit possessed. That God completely controls him and thus everything that he does is exactly what God wants him to do. Second, note what underlies Hays’ claims here: he actually believes that God controls Him and everyone else. And that control if it is real would mean that God controls our thoughts, minds, wills, bodies, movements, every aspect of our being.”
    Such as:

    “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov 21:1).

    “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11).

    “Call that ‘Hays’ control principle’ for short.”

    Better yet–why don’t we call that biblical predestination and providence.

    “Third Hays says that I fear being controlled by God, that I fear HCP, that I hate the idea of HCP. He must be kidding! I would love to have God completely possess and control me. Why that would mean that as God controlled me in this way I would always be perfectly doing God’s will.

    In fact, Robert is doing God’s bidding, just like Pharaoh.

    “…but if Hays is correct not only were they controlled by God so are all of us, we just don’t all know it (if someone believes they are controlled by God and they are not we ordinarily say they are delusional, what should we say if they did not know they were controlled by God but in reality they are? ‘Unknowing puppets’? ‘Unknowing pawns’?)!”

    As in:

    “6Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. 7But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think” (Isa 10:6-7).

    “Why am I attacked by Him who is supposedly perfectly doing God’s will, for myself perfectly doing God’s will?”

    God uses some people (e.g. Robert, Pharaoh) as a foil.

    “The HCP leads to some very confusing and contradictory things.”

    No, it’s just the difference between means and ends, normative characters and foil characters.

    “I thought that God was frustrated with Israel in the Old Testament because they were freely choosing to sin against and rebel against Him (e.g. as it says of the time of Judges that everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes). But they were all controlled by God too. So God controlled them so that they sinned against God and then God got frustrated at their rebellion which he controlled them to do.”

    Was God frustrated with Joseph’s brothers for selling him into slavery? No. That was part of God’s long-range plan. A way of fulfilling the prophetic dream he gave to Joseph.

    “He is repeatedly contradicting himself by controlling people to rebel against his Word and disobey his commands.”

    When people like Robert rebel against God’s word, that also serves God’s purpose. For instance, the Crucifixion was contingent on Jewish disobedience. Yet that was part of God’s plan (Acts 2:23; 4:28). So there’s no contradiction. It’s a means-ends relation.

    “It is also confusing to me how HCP works when it comes to sin. God is controlling every one according to Hays, so all those inmates that I work with, their every crime is something God controlled them to do. In each case they could not help it, they had to do it, they had to do what God controlled them to do. And that includes some serious and heinous sin.”

    Of course, the Arminian God empowers sinners to commit heinous sin. They couldn’t do it without divine assistance.

  97. steve hays says:

    Arminian

    “Rather, this is another instance of your incivility. I was not referencing you at all about the definition of fatalism. I was neither talking to you nor about you.”

    Rather, this is another instance of your duplicity. Compare the following statements, both by you:

    “It seems invalid for Steve (or other Calvinists) to deny that a standard definition of Calvinism applies to their view.”

    “Surely you know that you can make the most ridiculous position internally consistent by intentionally defining terms to do so, even if those redefined terms are quite idiosyncratic or illegitimate.”

    1. Arminian says:

      It continues as an instance of incivility now doubled by this response accusing me again of duplicity.

      It is a massive non sequitur on more than one level to conclude from comparing these statements made to different people that the latter refers to you and your definition of fatalism. You have no basis for that whatsoever. As I already stated, I was not referencing you at all about the definition of fatalism. I was neither talking to you nor about you.

      Not only that, but I expressly don’t believe that you are redefining fatalism, and have stated it in the thread. As I mentioned, there is more than one form of fatalism, including the definition you have offered. However, determinism is one form of fatalism. It remains invalid for you (or other Calvinists) to deny that a standard definition of fatalism applies to Calvinism/your view. It is undeniable that it does.

      1. Paul says:

        Of course, as you just note, since there’s *many* definitions of ‘fatalism,’ then it’s unhelpful to insert it into the dialogue unless one wants to win cheap points. Since, as you admit, there’s *many* definitions of determinism, then it’s not at all clear that your intended audience will apply to *proper* (and actually rather more harmless) definition of ‘fatalism’ to ‘Calvinism,’ rather than applying an equivocal and more problematic definition to Calvinism. The term is simply unhelpful, and for *precisely the reasons you note*! Thus as I suggested, calmer heads and heads that care more about reasoned argument and advancing the discussion should declare a moratorium on the word. Unless, of course, your goal is to obfuscate and take by *theft* what needs to be earned by honest toil. Or, I guess we can both be politicians and simply speak to our “base” and siply try to win by *labeling,* e.g., “Republicans are racists!” “Democrats are lazy and mushy-headed!” Etc.

        1. Arminian says:

          So you must agree with me about Steve’s massive non sequitur, right?

          I do plan to respond to your point about fatalism when I get the time.

  98. steve hays says:

    The context is the same. But you’re welcome to your self-denial.

    1. Arminian says:

      It is not the immediate context, and even if it were, that would not change the fact that I was not referencing you at all about the definition of fatalism and was neither talking to you nor about you. And quite ironically, the context you do appeal to disproves the point you are defending, as I pointed out.

  99. steve hays says:

    At the risk of stating the obvious, you don’t need to address someone directly to allude to them, especially given the background discussion in this very thread.

    In the meantime, you continue to strain gnats of perceived “incivility” while you swallow in one gulp Robert’s dromedarian incivility (comparing Calvinists to Nazis and Klansmen).

    “Arminian” illustrates the clannish, cliquish double standard endemic to internet Arminians. They proclaim universal love, but only love their own kind.

    1. Arminian says:

      “At the risk of stating the obvious, you don’t need to address someone directly to allude to them, especially given the background discussion in this very thread.”

      ***** But you and the issue of fatalism was not in the4 immediate context, and the broader context totally contradicted your point. Furthermore, I was not alluding to you.

      As for your other comments, I have been planning to address your main post on that with regard to me, but have not gotten to it yet timewise. But your incivility continues on display with this post and is unhelpful.

  100. steve hays says:

    As usual, what we get from “Arminian” is a string of assertions.

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Justin Taylor


Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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