Saturday, March 27, 2010

Responding to a Few More Issues for Marcus

This is a response to this post from Marcus.


I think Swan's argument was that the Arminian position does not really answer why God is not responsible for evil.

Marcus, if you read the quote I cited from Mr. Swan you'll see that He says God simply by knowing beforehand and having the power to stop it means God "shares the responsibility" for that sin. I assert that that would not make God responsible for that specific sin, but at most would be a different sin if it were a sin at all. Clearly as I point out, however, God has morally sufficient reasons to allow sin.

Decreeing events and decreeing sins are no the same thing.

If God decrees an event that happens to be a sin, how could it not be the same thing? If God determines all events and we cannot do otherwise that what God decrees, how are the sins our own?

We see that God can and has stopped people from sinning. This means that he could stop all people from sinning. Why doesn't he?

God warned Abimelech not to sin. He didn't infallibly cause him not to sin. Abimelech still could have sinned if he had chosen to disobey God and face death. If God's purpose is to allow people to have volitional wills, then if He were to stop all sin, He would be working against His purpose. Given free will, God has to also accept the possibility of rebellion. On the other hand, if the determinist is correct and there is no free will, then God could have determined that there would be no sin at all.

God tells Abimelech that he did not touch Sarah not because he didn't want to but God stopped him from doing it.

God stopped Him not by irresistibly causing Him to stop, but by appearing to Abimelech and telling Him if he didn't stop he would be killed, implying that Abimelech could have still gone on with it. This makes much more sense on the LFW view because God intervenes and speaks with Abimeleh to get him to stop. Otherwise, why not just determine the events that would take place and cause Abimelech to not bed with Sarah?

It's like if I said I caused you to reply to my last post. I didn't determine that you do that, but my actions prompted your volitional will to respond, though you could have chosen not to.

I distinctly said that God did not force His brothers to do evil.

Well I don't want to get hung up on the nuances of the word "force" but I didn't say that either. Determinism holds that God has necessitated all events that happen. That means events aren't contingent, they are necessary. God has made it so they can't not happen. If you think the brothers could have acted otherwise, then you're not a determinist, at least not a consistent one.

How do you reconcile that God could have stopped Joseph's brothers from selling Joseph into slavery

I did that in my post. God knew by allowing this sin there would be a far greater good that would occur. That is why God allows any sins.

What God did was use them to save the whole world from famine - the greater good.

Marcus, this was my exact argument that you took issue with. I essentially used the greater good argument, but you said, "This is the argument that I keep hearing from JP Moreland and William Lane Craig. The problem is that it does not answer the issues raised in Scripture that we see that God does not just ordain events but also decrees them."

God could have done all of this a different way, but He did it this way. Why? I don't know.

I think that should tell you something. It's a big gratuitous puppet show, in my opinion, for God to be determining all things and appearing to His creatures and seemingly giving them choices, but not really. Plus, as JC said, it impacts the character of God. Is God good if He acts in this way?

Brennon, is that really what the passage say?

It doesn't say it explicitly but we can surely deduce it from how we know God works in other places. God can use sinful nations as His tools. He certainly doesn't cause them to be a sinful nation, does He? No, in knowing that God allows freedom (as seen in passages like 2 Samuel 24:11-13, Jonah, Ezek. 24:13, anywhere a choice is involved) we can determine that God uses for His purposes whatever He chooses to use to accomplish His ends. God foreknew that the Assyrians would sin in this manner, and He also purposed to judge other nations by using the sin of the Assyrians, then He judged them for their sins.

If God had not put Pilate and the Jewish leaders in those situation, could they have chosen to crucify Jesus? No. Sounds like God was in control.

Marcus, when have I ever argued that God isn't in control? He's in so much control that His purposes are accomplished in spite of our sinful free choices. That doesn't diminish God, it exalts Him!

If we can't initiate it, why should we think we can reject it? Apostasy is explained in 1st John 2:19

Well apostasy wasn't at issue here, but I'll address it anyway. The case in 1 John 2 is a specific case and I see no reason to universalize it. Jesus, in the parable of the sower, says that apostasy is possible.

Luke 8:
11"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved ((!!!notice that the result of belief is salvation!!!)). 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away"

Notice that belief means you are saved. There are some who believe for a while and then fall away.

Then there's also the Romans 11 passage and the numerous Hebrews warnings.

Anyway, free will is definitely assumed by Jesus here.

I'm sorry I don't understand. Can you recognize that God can choose who to have a relationship with and who not to have a relationship with and then argue that God must extend at least enough grace to everyone to give them the option to chose to come to Him or reject Him at the same time?

You need to read everything I am writing, Marcus. I never said God must do anything. I said that God has the right to choose whoever He wants to extend His grace to. I think He purposed to show it to ALL PEOPLE. If that is His purpose then it is an eternal purpose, and God doesn't break His promises.

Let me give an example. I agree that everything God does is good, but it depends on your point of view about what is good.

If this is true, Marcus, and God does everything, in that He makes everything happen that happens, then you'd have to conclude that everything is actually good. There is no real bad, because since God does everything then everything is good. That is not a Biblical teaching.

I am saying that we have no other choice but to sin unless God chooses to save us

While I disagree based on Matthew 7:11, that really isn't at issue here.

but I don't think we are qualified to define what irrational or illogical really is because until God reveal his will and the plan to us we have no idea - our view point is tainted alway

There have to be some things that we are qualified to figure out. If you are going to rely on this excuse to get out of the logical inconsistencies your view creates, then you could explain away anything. Just because sin does cloud our thinking in spiritual matters (and others) doesn't mean that the human intellect is so totally destroyed by it that we can't reason logically. If that were the case then we couldn't function because we wouldn't be able to distinguish truth from fiction! God hasn't left us in such a sorry state. We still retain the vestiges of the imago dei in our humanity and still have the God given ability to reason. If we don't then we are no different from animals.

Marcus, I suspect your commitment to Calvinistic theology is keeping you from acknowledging these problems with your theology. It's easy to pass it off as mystery or antinomy, but I don't think we should appeal to antinomy unless we have no other recourse. The Christian religion is 100% rationally unobjectionable, and that is one reason I reject Calvinistic determinism.

Why would God doing whatever He wants, whenever He wants, however He wants invalidate God's goodness?

If God causes people to sin, that goes against His own Law; His on standard of goodness. God will not hold others responsible for what He Himself won't do.

16 comments:

Marcus McElhaney said...

Thanks, Brother!

You said that "Clearly as I point out, however, God has morally sufficient reasons to allow sin." And I agree. The issue to me is that we don't know what all those reasons are, so how can we know that the actions God allows is not the only way those reasons can be satisfied? I'd say we don't know and have to trust God.
I'd say that God judges us for the sins in our life based on what we desire not on whether or not we could have made another decision. For example God takes credit for Assyria persecution of the Jews but then comes back and says He was going to punish them because of what they did to His people. Our sins our own because of the lusts and greed in our hearts.

I agree Abimelech was given the choice to either let Sarah go or die, God took the credit for Abimilech not having sex with her.

Brennon, where doe the Bible tell us that God has purposed to give us volitional wills? God clearly stopped Abimelech from going too far but then gave him a choice not about going further. I would not say that there is no free will, but we have what we have is what God give us when he gives it. Somethings He sovereignly does and others he gives us some choice.

I'd like to ask how do you know that I replied to your last post just because I wanted to and not because God decreeed that I would. I asked God to help me understand this stuff and I thank him for this interaction. It's doing notning but helping understand your position better and understand God better.

I think Joseph's brothers acted according to God's will just like the people who persecuted praised God for the crucifixion Acts 4:28

Brennon, we agree that God allows sin for the greater good. I think the disagreement is whether or not those things are free choices or decreed beforehand. We cannot make the blanket statement that they all (I mean "all" - meaning every single thing here) are! I don't see how it impacts God's character. God is above us being able to tell him that anything he does is wrong. The clay hasn't any right to judge anything the potter does.

I'm sorry Brennon, if I made it sound like I think that you think that God is not in control. I realize that you don't think that. The thing I am confused is about how can God be in control if we have the power to tell him "No, I won't do what you want. I am going to do something else."

As for the parable of the sower, there are different kinds of belief. There is head knowlege and actual saving faith. The person who is like rock, does not have true saving faith...so I don't think Jesus was talking about apostasy. I mean the demons believe too yet they are not going to be saved.

I don't see anywhere where Jesus assumes free will.

If you say that God has purposed to show grace to all people,then you are saying that God must give everyone the same level of opportunity to accept Jesus. Is that what you are saying?

Marcus McElhaney said...

When you concluded that I was saying that everything that happens is good because God does everything, I was not saying that at all. If you look at my examples, I was referring to Romans 8:28,29. ALL things do work together for the good of God's people so that we can be more like Jesus.
This includes the bad things that happen.

How does Matthew 7:11 show that we can make other choices other than to sin? The Bible says that there is nothing good in us. Isaiah 64:6

If we are so totally bound by sin that the Bible says that we were dead in our sins, and we are still unable to even know how to pray as we ought, and the heart being desperately wicked (Jeremiash 17:9) I'd truly hate to put any stock in what I think about what God is doing beyond what scripture says about God and God's character. We were so hopelessly lost that the Bible says that we didn't even know we needed a savior. I dont't think I'm qualified to judge God's actions or know if there was any better way for God to do something. I did not mean to imply that we can't distinguist between truth and fiction once we accept Christ and he frees us but I would definitely say that we could not know the truth until the Father draws us. I think we don't really fully understand what God has saved up from. It's not that we can't choose its only that before God saves us we can only choose to reject Christ.

I agree Christianity is 100% rational and unobjectionable no mattter what we choose to think.

bossmanham said...

The issue to me is that we don't know what all those reasons are, so how can we know that the actions God allows is not the only way those reasons can be satisfied?

Well I think we can deduce that one reason is God wants free people to come to Him for a relationship. I won't claim to know all the reasons, but I know that there is a greater good that will come at the end of this age. I agree that we need to trust God even through tough times.

I'd say that God judges us for the sins in our life based on what we desire not on whether or not we could have made another decision.

Well I agree, but I think that God's law, which prohibits certain actions, assumes that we can and should do otherwise. That's what morality is all about. We should do some things and should not do others. When we do things we shouldn't, we are guilty for it because we should have chosen to not do them.

Somethings He sovereignly does and others he gives us some choice.

There are things that God has determined will happen. The creation is one. The judgement day is another. There are clearly things that God has made necessary, I think scripture makes it clear that human sin isn't one of those things.

I'd like to ask how do you know that I replied to your last post just because I wanted to and not because God decreeed that I would.

Because I think God gives us the ability to choose or choose otherwise. I think that's part of the imago dei.

I asked God to help me understand this stuff and I thank him for this interaction

And I think He allows these things to help His people grow. If He wanted this discussion to happen, He could have interacted in such a way that we would freely choose to do this.

I think Joseph's brothers acted according to God's will just like the people who persecuted praised God for the crucifixion Acts 4:28

Well then we'd need to distinguish between His permissive will and His decreed will.

God is above us being able to tell him that anything he does is wrong

But if He makes necessary what He forbids, isn't that like a parent lying or something after punishing their child for doing it?

The thing I am confused is about how can God be in control if we have the power to tell him "No, I won't do what you want. I am going to do something else."

He allows us to refuse His salvation and to sin against Him, but there are things we obviously don't have the power to do.

The person who is like rock, does not have true saving faith

That's not what the parable says though. It says that if people believe they will be saved (v. 12) and it says that there are some "who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away."

So if they believe for a while, are they not saved for a while? Jesus is not making the distinction you are making.

If you say that God has purposed to show grace to all people,then you are saying that God must give everyone the same level of opportunity to accept Jesus. Is that what you are saying?

If anyone doesn't have the same opportunity, then God foreknows they will not believe under any circumstance.

ALL things do work together for the good of God's people so that we can be more like Jesus.

Right, they work together for good for those who love God, but they are not all good.

How does Matthew 7:11 show that we can make other choices other than to sin?

We can still do good things even though we are evil. Those aren't sin.

bossmanham said...

BTW thanks for interacting with me on this, Marcus. I think it helps us both grow closer to Jesus.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Hey, Brennon, what I am amazed about is how much you and I really do agree. The truth is most of the stuff on your blog I agree with. In your latest response to my comments I think we are fine tuning exactly where the disagreement between us really is.

I did not understand how you see the Parable of the Sower in light of 1 John 2:19 which plainly says an apostate was never really part of the Body. Therefore I don't think we can say that Jesus was saying that a person can be saved for a finite amount of time because they believed for a finite amount of time.

Also I agree with you that we can do some good things but none of those have eternal value apart from Christ. I mean it's plainly taught that you can martyr yourself and it's nothing if it's done without love. We know that the love being discussed is impossible without Christ.

I really appreciate you talking these things over with me.

drwayman said...

Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other. John 13:35

Darren said...

Dr Wayman,

I see you read Max Lucado's daily devotional "Grace for the Moment". If you dont, thats crazy because thats the scripture (John 13:35)for March 29!

drwayman said...

Marcus - I wrote that yesterday. So does that mean that God intervened, He meticulously caused that to happen, or it was just a coincidence ;-) ?

Any way, it was meant as a compliment for how you and Brennon have not lost sight of the big picture in your responses to each other :-)

Marcus McElhaney said...

@drwayman

thanks, I had no problem with the quote. It helped. Jesus' words always helps! And I'd say that yes, God moved on you to write it because we needed to be reminded.

drwayman said...

Marcus - I would say that God prompted me but He did not make me do it. I have a choice to respond to the Holy Spirit's prompting or ignore His prompting.

Marcus McElhaney said...

DrWayman...did you Johnah have the choice to igrnore God's call to go to Ninevah?

Did Abimelech have the choice to take Sarah to Bed?

I agree with you. But I think that we can say that sometimes we are only prompted, sometimes we are directed, sometimes we do things and we can't be sure why we want to do something and not do others, and sometimes God forces his will and allows us to know that we are going against him but His will wins.

drwayman said...

I would certainly agree that God can override a person's will if He desires. However, I would contend that is the exception rather than the rule.

BTW - I'm going off line for the rest of the evening.

bossmanham said...

I did not understand how you see the Parable of the Sower in light of 1 John 2:19 which plainly says an apostate was never really part of the Body. Therefore I don't think we can say that Jesus was saying that a person can be saved for a finite amount of time because they believed for a finite amount of time.

In light of the scriptural evidence stacked against your interpretation, I have to continue disagreeing on this point. I think John is either referring to something other than salvation in saying "if they were of us they wouldn't have left" or is just referring to these individuals specifically. The context has John dealing with certain false teachers in the church, so I think that is a better reading than to apply it to all Christians at all times.

Joseph Dillow, who holds to eternal security, writes, "There is no statement here (1 John 2:19) that true believers will persevere to the end. Nor is there the statement that, if a man departs from the faith, this proves he was never a Christian in the first place. What is taught is that, if these so-called apostles were really apostles, they would have listened to the apostles John and would have continued in the fellowship with the Twelve" (quoted on this blog which would be good to read).

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Brennon

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. - 1st John 2:18-23

I'm sorry but I think given that John contrast those who leave the church with those who have anointing of God and has the truth. I can't see how those who have truth and accepts that Jesus is the Christ are not saved. I mean John is saying that those apostates have turned away from those truth. He must therefore be referring to salvation. John isn't just referring to false teachers he calls them anti-christs! People who were in the church but left. I see no reason not to apply the characterization today because we all know people like this.

bossmanham said...

But he isn't talking about apostates in general. He's talking about false teachers in the church.

Marcus McElhaney said...

@Brennon. Okay I think we are using different definitions of "apostate". If a person is outside the church and never claimed to be a believer, they can never have been an apostate. A apostate isn't someone who doesn't believe. An apostate is someone whom claimed to have believed and then leaves.