Thursday, July 9, 2009

In Defense of Resistible Grace Part 2: Wading Through a Sea of Logical Fallacies

I was hoping we would be able to skip the straw men in our discussion, but it wasn't predetermined by God to happen that way, apparently (that's a little Arminian humor).

Right off the bat, Peter (click here) begins with a Red Herring. He tries to discredit my argument by claiming I have missed the point. Peter asked:

What kind of person would reject the grace of God? What kind of person resists the Holy Spirit?"


to which I responded:

Good question. Why do some repent and others not?


I then proceeded to answer the question. Peter claims this isn't the question he was looking for an answer for. However, as I made clear, if the individual did not resist the grace of God, they would convert, which entails repentance. I'm sure Peter can follow the logic from there. I simply said the same thing he did in a different way.

Peter then comes up with a wonderful little story about a million dollars and a bottle of vodka. He asserts that if a man is offered a bottle of vodka or a million dollars on the condition he can never have another alcoholic beverage again in his life, if the man takes the vodka, it proves he is an alcoholic. This is a conclusion based on many assumptions, but is not a logically necessary conclusion. Simply because the man chooses the vodka over the money does not necessarily mean he is an alcoholic. The man could be stupid. The man could also be in desperate need of liquid, say if he had been wandering through the desert for several hours. Granted, the alcohol would dehydrate him, but a fat lotta good a million bucks is going to do in that situation. The man may be rich already. The point is that Peter's conclusion is not certain, and just like his Calvinism it is based on a priori assumptions.

He then presents another story that follows the same logic about a porn subscription or the million dollars. He concludes that only a porn addict would refuse the money. I assert that that is not a logical necessity.

He then tries to present the same logic in the salvation process. He wonders why a person presented with the grace of God would resist it. The first problem here is the situation does not contain two elements, as the first two did, but only the grace of God. Second, he makes many more assumptions and concludes that, "only the most depraved sinner would rather resist that grace than submit to it." Again, another logical faulty conclusion. There have been brutal serial killers, some of the most depraved men alive, who have accepted the free gift of God. There have been simple, yet unregenerate business men who have died and gone to hell. The level of the human view of man's depravity is not what is at issue.

Peter then asserts that, "He even goes so far as to say that Christians remain depraved," something I never actually said (which makes this a straw-man). Do I think men are suddenly made perfect and have no sinful nature at all when they are regenerated after placing their faith in Christ? No, and I doubt Peter does either, unless he secretly ascribes to Wesleyan Christian Perfection. Is there something you're not telling us, Peter? Paul himself struggled with his sinful nature after his salvation (Romans 7:13-25). Thank God for the forgiveness of those sins and the process of being made holy, in the image and likeness of Christ through the Holy Spirit. When we are saved by Christ, we are set free from the bondage of sin and become slaves of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:22) but we are not completely sinless, which is why Christ acts as our advocate with the Father if we do sin (1 John 2:1). We are, in this state, obviously no longer Totally Depraved.

Peter then follows his faulty assumptions to the conclusion that, if we assume God gives the same grace to all men, we must say some men are more depraved than others. Again, this isn't necessarily true, and does not follow logically without many presuppositions. He then asks:

[I]f we are all depraved to begin with, why couldn't God bring us all to the point where we would not make those depraved decisions—especially since He obviously does do just that for those who do believe...Why can't God do the same for the sinner who is so depraved that he would actively resist God?


First I want to make clear that I think God supplies sufficient grace to any who hear His gospel to believe in Him. Whosoever will may come! Second I want to point out the assumption Peter has that is causing him to beg the question (another fallacy). He assumes there must be something that necessitates a choice that is not necessitated. This is begging the question. Actually, J.C. Thibodaux dealt with this fallacy in this post (click here). I will quote him in part:

This line of questioning is not only logically absurd, but also requires assuming that all of our decisions must be necessitated, when that is in fact the proposition he is trying to prove. This fallacy is more formally known as ‘begging the question,’ a form of circular reasoning.

Calvinistic apologists often employ such fallacies in attempts to prove that libertarian free will is nonsensical, but looking to God as an example of how the will functions, we can see that a being with a free will can make choices without them being necessitated by something outside of its own will. For example, there was no principle in God that impelled Him to save anyone, but He chose to anyway. If God is truly free, then it’s absurd to argue that that there are conceptual problems with the very idea of free will, and hence no tenable logical basis to argue that it couldn’t exist in human beings.


So now that we've "chewed on that" we'll move on. Again, Peter claims I don't think God's grace changes people and again I'll say that isn't true. God's grace is the only thing that changes people. He goes through some common Calvinist proof-texts which he claims prove that regeneration preceeds faith. I think you must eisegete quite a bit to reach that conclusion.

I will present one verse that clearly states the opposite. Colossians 2:13 says, "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions." A clear exegesis of this statement shows that the cause of God's regeneration (making the sinner "alive") is based on the sinner's justification (having forgiven us all our transgressions). A Christian doctrine that I'm sure Peter agrees with is that a person is justified by faith (Romans 5:1) and faith alone (Romans 4:4-5). Therefore, a sinner is "made alive" when he or she is justified by faith, and therefore, faith precedes regeneration (thanks to William Birch for pointing this out to me).

I also like the comment by left by Dan on Peter's post, which refutes Peter's use of Titus 3:5-7. Titus 3:5-7 says:

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


Dan then pointed out:

We are saved by the washing of regeneration. That, in my opinion, occurs when we receive Christ as articulated in JN. 1:12 "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name..."


Notice, it is those who receive Christ who are given the right to become Children of God, and that is through belief in Him.

I also want to address his point on 1 Peter 1:3-5. He has bolded "he has caused us to be born again" and "who by God’s power are being guarded through faith." As if the Arminian doesn't believe we are born again by the power of God? Come on, Peter, you know better than that. But look at what it is based on (hint, he bolded it). FAITH!!! Even God's guarding of us in the passage is contingent on faith. So Peter presents a passage that clearly refutes his own point.

Peter then rightly says I am not a Roman Catholic, but then goes on to give a false account of what Roman Catholics believe. I can't believe I have to correct this, but he says, "Since Brennan is not a Roman Catholic, I can be confident that he would agree that we do not have to cease practicing sin before we can be saved, nor that we must do righteous acts before we can be saved, for that would be to say our salvation is by works.

Roman Catholics don't believe we must "cease practicing sin" to be saved. And they also think that any good work they do is totally ascribed to the grace of God. Apparently he missed the ECT Statement on Faith (click here).

Somehow Peter thinks 1 John 5:1 favors his position. That's just another case of eisegesis.

And that's all folks.

29 comments:

Steven said...

Hey Bossmanham

I've been considering something for the last few days as I've been writing and thinking about Owen's argument for limited atonement. Roughly my feelings are thus: why would Christ suffer for the sins of a person S who would never believe in him knowing S would also suffer for them eventually? If God makes the Son to suffer for persons who God will damn anyway, it seems like God is not being fair in making Christ suffer for them too. If the Son is willingly laying his life down and dying the place of persons who are going to be damned anyway, it seems like an utter waste of time, like paying the debts of a person who is going to end up paying them in the future anyway.

These two ideas make me think that if Jesus' death is in any way substitutionary, in the place of another for that person's sins, then that person must be saved.

What say you?

Steven said...

Also, there is the modified Euthyphro dilemma that I recently posted on as well: if God wants everyone to be saved, why aren't they? If he is able but not willing, he is malevolent. If he is willing but unable, he is impotent. If he is not able and not willing, then his not God.

As for a potential defense against the first of the three: wanting that all men come "willingly" is not really a good defense. It is often times the case that the wrong thing to do to require a person to willingly evade themselves of danger. If you know your son is going to hurt himself doing activity X, then whether or not he wants to do X, you ought to keep him from doing it. Likewise, if God knows sinful persons are going to suffer eternally if they don't repent, if he truly wants them all to be saved and truly loves them all, then why doesn't he save them all, whether they are willing or not? It would not be immoral or improper from stopping your children from hurting themselves; neither could you say it would be immoral or improper of God to stop persons from going to hell if he really wanted them too.

Onesimus said...

On Steven’s blog he describes himself as a Calvinist and a philosophy major. I have pointed out to him what a dangerous combination this is proving to be. His arguments start with Calvinist doctrine, which he then attempts to prove through the application of philosophical reasoning.
In the process he ignores the clearest of scriptural statements merely because he can come up with a hypothetical scenario that he thinks is a logical illustration to disprove the clear meaning of scripture.

I see that he is demonstrating this same approach to this topic here. Maybe if he turned away from “Owen’s argument” and “Euthyphro dilemmas” and searched the scriptures instead there would be a greater chance of him discovering the truth: as long as he could approach scripture without projecting his Calvinist preconceptions into his reading.

1) if God wants all to be saved why aren’t they?

Because all don’t want to be saved. Many prefer to remain in their sin and resist the Holy Spirit. God is neither a Calvinist nor a Universalist and does not force people into a salvation they do not desire.

2) if He is able but not willing He is malevolent.

He IS able and He IS willing but not all men are willing to be saved. God is neither a Calvinist nor a Universalist and does not force people into a salvation they do not desire.

3) If he is willing but unable, he is impotent.

He IS able and He IS willing but not all men are willing to be saved. God is neither a Calvinist nor a Universalist and does not force people into a salvation they do not desire.

4) If he is not able and not willing, then his not God.


He IS able and He IS willing but not all men are willing to be saved. God is neither a Calvinist nor a Universalist and does not force people into a salvation they do not desire.


The whole of Steven’s “modified Euthyphro dilemma” is built upon a false premise and upon false logic. The only TRUE foundation for truth is God’s word in it is categorically stated in the clearest of terms:

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires ALL people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”(1Ti 2:3-4)

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that ALL should reach repentance.” (2Pe 3:9)

According to a logic based on scripture: if God does NOT desire all to be saved then He is a liar, considering what is said in the verses quoted above.

According to Steven’s Calvinist doctrine, God is malevolent because according to Steven’s view, “God elects some unto salvation and others unto damnation”. (This is a quote from Steven in correspondence with me.) Of course those who consider themselves to be among those elected for salvation do not see this as being malevolent; which perhaps reveals something about their lack of compassion for the lost.

Steven said...

Hey Onesimus!

I am glad you responded to the dilemma, though it isn't actually a Euthyphro dilemma at all (I was mixed up here), it is actually Epicurus's famous "problem of evil" argument; that was my mistake. I was foggy in the head.

However, I anticipated your response: it is not always the best or good thing to do to allow a person with a will to get what he wants. I gave an example of perhaps your child wanting to hurt himself. If God is all-good, then we would expect to him to disallow certain persons from behaving in destructive manners, even if it is violence done to their will--wouldn't you say that? Would you call a parent wise who allows his children to not attend school or church, eat only candy, and watch late-night TV, just so he doesn't do violence to the will of his child?

Onesimus said...

alerAgain Steven
You are relying on what YOU think is reasonable and applying your own logic to the situation.

What does that have to do with the truth as revealed in scripture?

Truth does not come from human reasoning, it comes through revelation from God through His word and by His Spirit.

Steven said...

Hello Onesimus :)

What does that have to do with the truth as revealed in scripture?

Imagine I think X is true. Imagine I find that I can interpret a passage so that it either means Y or Z, where Y would be compatible with X, and Z would be incompatible with X.

I would naturally interpret it as Y of course, even if Y is not the most clear or most immediate of interpretations; you would have me believe Z, but I think you'll have to give me reasons to disbelieve X in that case.

Truth does not come from human reasoning, it comes through revelation from God through His word and by His Spirit.

You don't deny, however, that God gave us our rational faculties and our ability to reason, as well as our moral sense which tells us when things are right and wrong? My moral sense seems to be telling me that it would be wrong if God punished Christ for my sins, then also punished me for them anyway. Is there any reason to disbelieve that? I should think not, especially when I am not so compelled to accept an interpretation of scripture that runs contrary to that!

Thanks for your reply :)

Onesimus said...

Steven,
You really don't get it do you?

Your faith is in your own thought processes and not in God's revelation through His word.

You can argue in philosophical circles as much as you like but you will never come to the truth while you trust in your own mind and your own idea of reason instead of the word of God.

Steven said...

Hey Onesimus!

Ah, but it was not my philosophical reasonings or unguided thought that led me to believe what I do--it was scripture itself! I probably wouldn't believe what I do regarding human will and so on if it wasn't taught in scripture, but it is, and I accept scripture as true. Paul's writings, Jesus' sayings, even the words of Peter, Solomon, and so on, all led me to believe as I do; and I am more convinced of what I believe regarding salvation than I am of any other doctrine I hold, because I think plainly the scriptures teach it as I see it.

However, if anyone does not see the scriptures as clearly as perhaps I do, then the arguments I post and consider also help to incline a person that way. I think Calvinism is the only really reasonable and proper position to hold to, and I have scriptural and extra-scriptural reasons for saying this.

Among those extra-scriptural reasons would be the modified Epicurean dilemma, and John Owen's argument which I've blogged on; what do you think of them?

Onesimus said...

Steven said:
"Among those extra-scriptural reasons would be the modified Epicurean dilemma, and John Owen's argument which I've blogged on; what do you think of them?"

-----

I have no interest at all in the various philosophical "dilemmas" you continue to mention. Truth will NOT be found in your vain philosophies.

And frankly I would have to say that your received NOTHING related to your calvinist beliefs from scripture. You received them from men's teachings read INTO scripture.

There is absolutely NO support for Calvinism to be found in the scriptures. Even Calvin had to get his doctrines from Augustine, and Augustine got them from a background in Greek thought.

Hey, we've just come full-circle; from your reliance on (mainly greek) philosophy right back to one of those most responsible for introducing that philosophy into the church in the first place.

Put your faith in God and HIS word, not in men and their corrupt teachings.

Robert said...

Hello Onesimus,

I appreciate your points about the priority of what God reveals over philosophical arguments (e.g. famous philosophical dilemmas) and theologicalarguments (e.g. the arguments of Owens on the atonement). We ought to start with what God reveals to be HIS PLAN OF SALVATION, and then submit our philosophical reasoning or theological reasoning to that. God's plan of salvation is clear: He desires the salvation of all men, provides an atonement as a provision for the world (which is a group larger than just those who eventually become Christians) and yet this provision of atonement is only applied to those who trust Him (thus universalism is false as it conflates the provision and application of the atonement as are Owen's arguments which do the same thing), there will be a final judgment in which each individual person will be judged with only two eternal destinies depending on how people responded to the gospel message and how they lived their lives.

Steven you keep bringing up Owen's arguments, Onesimus is right, you seem to start with calvinist premises and then attempt to find scripture and/or arguments to "prove" these calvinistic premises. That is doing things backwards. We should start with what God has revealed about His plan of salvation, then develop our conclusions based upon what He has said.

Steven you seem particularly interested in Owen's arguments concerning the atonement. A friend of mine named Dan has a blog called ARMINIAN CHRONICLES which you should check out. In his blog he once took each of Owen's arguments and refuted them one by one.

Onesimus I say again that I respect and appreciate you as you are truly attempting to be a Berean in the way you understand scripture. You do make scripture the priority over the imaginings and inventions of man. Some may not appreciate your words because they challenge their cherished man made systems of theology. But that is OK because you are doing the right thing in God's eyes.

Robert

Onesimus said...

Thank you Robert.

Maybe there's no benefit in trying to debate an issue when different authorities are being used. There is no common ground when scripture is used as the authority by one side, and the other side relies on "reason" and philosophical "wisdom".

But this example highlights the significance of the topic title: "Wading through a sea of logical fallacies".

Robert said...

Hello Onesimus,

"Maybe there's no benefit in trying to debate an issue when different authorities are being used. There is no common ground when scripture is used as the authority by one side, and the other side relies on "reason" and philosophical "wisdom"."

You may be right about this. For a fascinating example of this very thing in scripture, carefully study the interactions that Jesus had with the Jewish leadership, the Pharisees. Jesus represents the side that has one supreme authority, God's Word alone. The Pharisees represent the side that claims to be following the Word of God but in reality their supreme authority is man-made traditions, the teachings and logic and authority of men. Note especially how Jesus' use of the Word always shows them to be not holding the truth. Note how angry and hostile they are towards Jesus for threatening and refuting their man made tradition, their man made interpretations of scripture. This dynamic between those who truly hold God's Word as the highest priority and authority (Jesus, true believers) versus those who have substituted man made tradition for God's Word (the Jewish leadership, the Pharisees, professing believers, those who esteem the traditions of men higher than the Word of God) can be seen over and over in church history.

"But this example highlights the significance of the topic title: "Wading through a sea of logical fallacies"."

Again, you want to see a master logician destroying the mere reasonings of men, the mere traditions of men that are substituted for God's Word, just look at how Jesus over and over logically destroys the Pharisees reasoning using scripture and logic, but a logic that is always in subjection to the Word of God properly interpreted.

This reminds me of some of the most precious "laymen" (a term I can't stand because it suggests they know the bible less than trained "experts") I have ever met and taught. These are the people who never went to seminary, never learned Greek and Hebrew, and yet they have carefully studied the bible for many years, and lived it out for many years, so they actually end up knowing and practincing the bible better than the seminary professors and seminary attendees that I know. These people know their bibles inside and out backwards and forwards and they not only know it they live it out. And these folks are a real threat to the self-rigtheous and proud who think they know the bible better, but in reality they merely are protectors and defenders and maintainers of man made theological systems. Onesimus have you ever met folks like this? If not, you strike me as someone who is actually becoming one of them. And I love interacting with that kind of Christian!

Robert

Steven said...

Hello Onesimus and Robert

I don't think Owen's argument starts with Calvinistic assumptions; as I've formulated it, it roughly answers the question, "Who, if anyone, does Jesus die for?" and you need not assume Calvinism to answer the question.

I also have not read much by way of reply to the Epicurean argument. There hasn't been any interaction with that.

As far as use of scripture is concerned, I have and do read scripture, and Calvinism leaps off the pages when I read it. It is clear and plain. I have said just as much as Onesimus and others have said about other texts, that speak to God allegedly wanted everyone to be saved. We don't get anywhere if we simply assert one side is clear and the other side is in error; I'd like some interaction regarding Owen's argument, that's what I posted for.

Thanks :)

bossmanham said...

Steven,

Does Calvinism leap off the page at 1 John 2:2?

"And He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."

Not for ours only but also for the whole world. That doesn't sound like Calvinism.

Steven said...

Hey Brennon!

I have heard it, from a Reformed pastor friend of a friend, that he looks upon text like that, and the bit in Timothy about him being the savior of all men, like this:

There is no other propitiation for sins apart from Christ; now that does not mean that he actually does pay for everyone's sins, lest everyone be saved, but rather, he is the only way by which any man could possibly be saved.

Same with the 1 Tim 4:10 text. Christ is the savior of all men in the sense that there are no other persons by whom men can be saved. Christ is the "potential savior", I guess you could say, of everyone--he is the only way men can be saved, and he is the only way men can have propitiation of their sins.

There's nothing inconsistent with Calvinism about that.

One of these days I'm going to write the blog post to end all blog posts, a complete essay on Owen's argument in defense of it, and maybe then we can get all the discussion in one place. Until then, Brennon, if you are willing ;), what would your replies be to the two comments I posted earlier on this entry?

Thanks

bossmanham said...

I say you're relying on human logic rather than the scripture.

I have already explained that the atonement was provided for all and applied to those who believe. God's grace to save whoever hears the gospel is available to all; it is a genuine and amazing grace, not limited to a pre-fixed number based on an eternal decree, but available to all who will receive Christ Jesus by faith, when enabled by the Spirit of the Lord!

Steven said...

Brennon

Ok, because that's basically the only response I've received for my argument: what is "human logic" and why is it bad?

bossmanham said...

Ok, because that's basically the only response I've received for my argument: what is "human logic" and why is it bad?

Human logic is what you are using to ignore huge portions of scripture that display God's love for His entire creation and His desire to have all come to repentance. You seem to be struggling to reconcile the penal substitutionary view of the atonement with the Biblical teaching (which we've shown not to be hard to reconcile at all). So here, you are relying on your own logic than on the Bible. Logic and reason do play a part in the discovery of truth, but they are always subservient to scripture.

You think it impugns God's character that He provides atonement for all men, somehow. We think it shows the amazing grace of God. Christ asked the Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him. What does that say about the character of God?

Steven said...

Hello Brennon! :)

What I think is not that I'm having difficulty making sense of a penal substitutionary atonement from scripture, but rather, I'm having trouble finding the reason for believing in an irrational Jesus who dies for reprobates he knows will be damned. Your understanding of the scripture makes no sense at all; Christ suffers pointlessly for billions of people he knows will never believe in him and somehow that is consistent with the Jesus of scripture.

Your view of Jesus makes him means-end irrational and quite a weirdo.

And the "human logic" response is not a response at all; you haven't really interacted with any of my claims, but rather just asserted that God's ways are in some way beyond our own conceptions of rationality and that we ought to just believe in it; but such a defense is weak because Muslims and other religious persons will present a notion of God you find strange and irrational and you can't say anything about them if they use this defense on you. Either you accept that God's ways are somehow beyond our capacities to understand, in which case you can't even make a critique of other religions and religious conceptions of god, or you defend the claim that Jesus is rational even though he suffers for reprobates' sins to save them from suffering.

Thanks for your reply! :)

bossmanham said...

Steven, I haven't interacted with everything you've written because 1) much of it is addressed in several recent posts 2) Onesimus and Robert have said pretty much the same thing I would say and 3) I am tired of going over and over the same things with Calvinists constantly. Nothing new is being presented. And I tire of the contorting of plain scriptural texts to conform them to a Calvinist a priori assumption.

Steven said...

Hey Brennon

First, well no doubt you can tell I don't find Onesimus's responses all that compelling, otherwise I wouldn't continue to argue against them. I've already given a reason why the "free will" response to the "Why doesn't God save all if he wants all saved?" question is inadequate; if there is no rebuttal to that, then I suppose the problem still stands unanswered.

Secondly, if you would rather hold to a very strange view of Christ and his death just so that you can read the scriptures without "contorting" them (though I don't think it is contorting them), then that is fine for you; but the view of Jesus you hold doesn't seem to make any sense at all to me. And I think if someone thought about it long enough, then they too would be convinced that a Jesus who suffers for reprobates' sins makes no sense at all. You somehow respond to this by claiming that "human logic" is insufficient in this area, and that we ought to stick to what scriptures say in this area. But if that is the case, then Arminians have complaint against Calvinists who say God caused Hitler to massacre millions and yet holds Hitler accountable for his crime.

Thank you for the brief discussion Brennon!

bossmanham said...

Steve,

I appreciate the irenic tenor the discussion held. I would like to continue the discussion in the future. I'm a little burnt out at the moment.

Thanks,
Brennon

Onesimus said...

Steven said...

“ I'm having trouble finding the reason for believing in an irrational Jesus who dies for reprobates he knows will be damned. Your understanding of the scripture makes no sense at all; Christ suffers pointlessly for billions of people he knows will never believe in him and somehow that is consistent with the Jesus of scripture.”


-------


I thank God for that “irrational Jesus”. Without that “irrational Jesus” everyone would be damned.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. “

You seem to have trouble accepting that Jesus would suffer “pointlessly for billions he knows will never believe in Him”.

But Calvinists have no trouble believing in a God who creates billions of people with the sole intention of tormenting them in hell for all eternity. Firstly He brings them into the world with a “Totally Depraved’ nature, then He allegedly condemns them for having that nature. BUT since their eternal destiny was determined PRIOR to them coming into the world and prior to the existence of their Totally Depraved nature, their condemnation was determined entirely by God’s choice and not because of their sin.

Which do you choose to believe?
I suggest you look to the foolishness of the cross? (1 Cor 1)

Onesimus said...

Steven said:
"But if that is the case, then Arminians have complaint against Calvinists who say God caused Hitler to massacre millions and yet holds Hitler accountable for his crime".
-----------
Steven,
Do you say that God caused Hitler to massacre millions?

Steven said...

Hello Onesimus!

Well, in some distant and cosmic sense, I suppose, sure. I don't know if every Calvinist would agree with me. But roughly my understanding of Calvinism is this: that God is the ultimate cause of all things that come to pass, though he uses secondary causes to achieve his ends (for example, God is the ultimate cause of my salvation, but he uses the preaching of the gospel, among other things, to achieve that end). Likewise, God might be the ultimate cause of not only the holocaust but all the evils in the world, but He is the cause in an ultimate and removed sense.

Secondly, I don't agree that the foolishness of the cross is what I am pointing out; rather, I think the idea of a deity dying for sinners and a man being raised from the dead are precisely the issues Paul was thinking of as "foolishness".

Thirdly, reprobation may be a sticky and difficult doctrine but it is taught in scripture. Even Jesus' eschatological parables in Matthew 13 teach that there are individuals whose ultimate destiny is destruction. Now, I hold that men are not damned simply because God wanted to damn them; it is true that God wanted to damn them, but also they are justly damned because of their sin. God doesn't have to be merciful towards those persons, but rather chose that those persons would be those vessels of destruction through whom God would reveal his wrath and anger. Also it is important to note that men come into the world with an inherited sinfulness from Adam; I believe that Adam was a proper representative of the human race, and that his sin counts for every man because he was such that if anyone else was in his place, they'd do the same. So that God brings people into the world with a "depraved" nature doesn't mean God is unjust.

But also, I can reply like this: true, you may find it unfair that God makes men with a depraved nature by default, and that he damns billions of them for eternity for no reason other than to show his wrath in them, but you ought not trust in your human reasoning and emotions--you ought to stick closer to scripture than your rational faculties! :)

Thanks for your reply!

Onesimus said...

Steven,
You have proven that you do not know God, you do not know Jesus, you do not know the gospel and you do not know the scriptures that reveal all of the above.

All I can suggest (again)is that you put aside your philosophy, your reasoning and your theology for long enough to search the scriptures for yourself and to discover God, Jesus and the gospel AS THEY ARE REVEALED IN THE SCRIPTURES. And not as they have been taught to you by the traditions of men.

Steven said...

Hello Onesimus!

Do you mean to say you think I'm unregenerate?

Onesimus said...

Salvation is available through believing in Jesus. Through my correspondence with you it has become clear that you do not believe in Him.

It is clear you follow a different Jesus to the one revealed through the scriptures.

Elsewhere you have described the Jesus who died on the cross for ALL of mankind, as being “a strange fellow indeed”, as “someone who is wasting His time” and that He “doesn't seem quite right in the head”.

You used all of those descriptions because you can't accept a Jesus who would die for ALL of mankind - even those who reject His sacrifice.

Instead you try to create a Jesus who will conform to your own philosophies.

So sorry Steven, I cannot recognise anyone who has that view of Jesus as being a brother in Christ.

Such a recognition would do you no favours because it would merely encourage you to continue on your current path, when in reality you need to repent and believe in the REAL Jesus; the Jesus who died on behalf of ALL, knowning full well that most would continue to reject Him.

bossmanham said...

Guys maybe we need to step back and breathe for a bit. I don't want to step on any toes, but I don't think we should necessarily question anybody's commitment to Jesus. I'm going to stop discussion on this thread for now.