Monday, May 26, 2008

Is Tom Talbott right?

John 6:44 "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day."

John 12:32 "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."

43 comments:

normajean said...

I don't know about Tom.

My buddy philosapologist aka 0 Point Calvi wisely says:

In John 6, Jesus is in a debate with the religious leaders who claim to have special knowledge and standing with God. Their charge seeks to disassociate Jesus with God, denying the former while affirming the latter. They are attempting to show that they know God but Jesus is foreign to them - that they are in a right relationship with God and they reject Jesus.

Jesus counters them by asserting that they never knew God in the first place. "You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you." (John 5:37-38). They had already rejected testimony of John the Baptist as well as Moses: "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?" (John 5:46).

The point of the passage is this: Jesus' opponents could not come to him because of their track record of rejecting his previous offerings of light. They had denied God and spurned correction. Had they fully accepted Moses, they would have belonged to God and he would have lead them to Christ. Since they did not belong to God, they would not be part of the transfer from God to Jesus (6:37, 39). If they dropped their presuppositions and surrendered to God's teaching, they would have been taught by God and lead to Jesus. (6:45)

There is no reason to think that this passage teaches that people need some special permission from God in order to come to Christ. The point is that one cannot affirm God while denying Christ. All that God has he gave to Jesus, thus all who were in his care, he handed over to Jesus to shepherd.

The answer to the question to whom does "no one" refer is quite simple: it means no one who has a relationship with the one true God and creator of the universe refrains from coming to Christ. Part of the confusion may lay in our point of view. One might assert that we come to God through Christ. We meet with Christ and are then able to get to the father. That is quite correct, but it is not the situation Jesus was addressing. Jesus had just come to earth. The Jews supposed they already had a relationship with God.

Paul Manata said...

Victor,

This isn't a *defeater* for the John 6:44 argument.

At best you have a *contradiction* (if universalism is assumed false, which you've said you do, for now . . .).

You're playing philosophers games again, not doing exegesis.

Posting two single verses is not exegesis. It's not even an argument.

Btw, did you read that paper I've linked to three times now?

Here's another one on John 6.

http://vintage.aomin.org/johnchapter6.html

Anyway, no, I do not think Talbott is right.

Here's some brief responses to this post:

i) John 6:44 *clearly* states that NO ONE can (is able) to come to Jesus unless the father draws him.

ii) Since the sentence is a conjunction, and if all men are drawn, then all men are raised. All sides must take this view, then. Victor, if you reject universalism, then you *must* reject the belief that all men are drawn in the John 6:44 sense.

iii) Since universalism is false (as you seem to grant for now), then it can't be that John 12:32 refers to all men whoever. The context seems to indicate that it is classes of men being referred to as right before v.32 some *gentiles* now come and are seeking Jesus.

iv) Other passages would also seem to indicate that not all men whoever are drawn to the cross: 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 says, "For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

v) Dr. White James white comments: "To whom is Christ the power and wisdom of God? To "the called." What is the preaching of the cross to those who are not called? Something that draws them or repels them? The answer I think is obvious. The cross of Christ is foolishness to the world. These considerations, along with the immediate context of the Gentiles seeking Christ, make it clear that if He is lifted up in crucifixion, He will draw all men, Jews and Gentiles, to Himself. This is exactly the same as saying that He has sheep not of this fold (John 10:16), the Gentiles, who become one body in Christ (Eph. 2:13-16)."

vi) It is not clear that "draw" is used the same in John 6 and 12. And in John 6 it is the *Father* who does the drawing and in John 12 it is *Jesus* who does the drawing. Radically different situations going on.

vii) It is clear that many, many people, especially those living back in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc., centuries, never heard of Jesus. For example, no one who knew the Gospel traveled over to the Americas until roughly around 1492. How, then, were *they* drawn???

viii) See Carson's acclaimed commentary, p. 44.

ix) Apropos (iv), notice the immediate context:

20Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus." 22Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

You can see that *types* of peoples were coming to Jesus. Previously it was just the Jews who Jesus was preaching to. But he now indicates that all types of people groups will be drawn to him. This is the better reading because the other reading is contradictory and ridiculous (e.g., point (vii)).

x) It furthermore looks odd when Jesus speaks of *judgment*:

31Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

And we read that Jesus, the one who is supposedly going to draw all men whoever, is responsible for *blinding* these men to his ministry! Speaking of the Jews who would not believe his miracles testifying to his person:

39For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40"He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them."[h] 41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.

xii) Again, we have a failure Jesus. If all men are drawn to Jesus (which we have seen is dubious. This is why the Mormon's needed to invent a Jesus who came to the Americas), why are not all saved:

48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

Can't Jesus accomplish his mission?

xiii) Odd that we have this "loving" "drawing all" God who just wants to save everyone and DOES ALL HE CAN to help this libertarian free creatures out, doing something like THIS:

Mark 4:11 He told them, "The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables 12 so that,
" 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'

This idea of Jesus just doesn't fit the Jesus we read of in the Bible.

I know that this view won't win friends at those bulbous, candlelight dinners. It's not popular. But, this is the real deal.

I want to know the truth, not placate to fallen man's assumptions of what God must do for them if they are to "believe."

xiv) Why even bother drawing all men, evangelizing, etc, if all are going to heaven.

&rew said...

I was taught that that word "ἕλκω" could be translated as a more forceful action, stronger than a wooing action. The same word is used in Acts 16:19 to say Paul and Silas were dragged before the marketplace; and again in in James 2:6 about the rich who drag the poor into court.

Please note: I don't know greek, this is just what I have been taught.

normajean said...

Has anyone seen the debate between Dongell/Walls and Shreiner/Ware? I thought it was decent =P

Glenn Peoples said...

This blog is interesting most of the time... but what's with the recent Calvinism obsession?

Saint and Sinner said...

Paul hit the nail on the head. The passage in chapter 12 is about people groups, not every single last person.

Greeks come seeking Jesus. Instead of meeting them, He starts speaking of His crucifixion and hides from them.

The point is that, while His mission was initially to the Jews, all people groups would be drawn to the true worship of God after His atoning sacrifice. This was something that was unthinkable to Jewish ears and almost got Christ killed on several occasions (e.g. Luke 4:14-30).

Of course, the next few verses after John 12:32 destroy any universalist interpretation:

39For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40"He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them."[h]
41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.

Christ's mission, like Isaiah's (which is the text being quoted), was to harden the hearts of many of His hearers ***so that they wouldn't believe***. Of course, this was a judicial hardening of an already unrepentant heart so that they wouldn't give a surface-level repentance. However, it still destroys any universalist interpretation of v.32 since, according to Arminians, God is trying to "woo" as many people as possible into the kingdom, but this text makes it clear that He hardens some and softens others.


You see, the difference between an Arminian and a Calvinist is this:

While an Arminian will conform his view of Scripture to his autonomous thoughts and emotions, a Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to Scripture.

Tom said...

However, it still destroys any universalist interpretation of v.32 since, according to Arminians, God is trying to "woo" as many people as possible into the kingdom, but this text makes it clear that He hardens some and softens others.

Careful Arminians wouldn't say this. They would deny however, that God hardens totally irrespective of any decision or thought that a person makes.

Calvinism (at least some forms of it) doesn't allow for God to make any genuine response to His creatures: He irresistibly determines all their desires, thoughts, and actions, and then "responds" to what He ultimately caused to do in the first place. How does judicial hardening even make any logical sense, then, if the ones being hardened sinned irresistibly even before they were hardened?

Ilíon said...

S-and-S: "While an Arminian will conform his view of Scripture to his autonomous thoughts and emotions, a Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to Scripture."

Sometimes, you Village Calvinists are as amusing as the Village Atheists of yore.

Let's hope you (collective) don't become as amusing at the new Internet Atheists.

Rob Grano said...

"While an Arminian will conform his view of Scripture to his autonomous thoughts and emotions, a Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to Scripture."

More like, "A Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to his own reading of Scripture, which, of course, has nothing to do with his own thoughts and emotions, since he, as a completely objective interpreter, brings absolutely nothing to the text, but simply allows it to speak for itself."

Ilíon said...

Exactly, Mr Grano.

And that's why the Village Calvinists are so amusing!

Anonymous said...

while the Calvinist will make an argument and then throw in some sarcasm, the village Arminian throws in sarcasm and then leaves out the part about the argument.

Ilíon said...

Anonymouse,
If an argument (so-called) cannot stand up to some mild sarcasm, then it isn't much of an argument to begin with.

Why would one use a cannon to swat a fly, when a fly-swatter is more effective?

Anonymous said...

ilion,

Ah, I see, mocking the comment about conforming your views to Scripture has LOADS to do with the EXEGETICAL points made.

Quit fooling yourself.

Fly swatter, cannon, whatever... you still need to shoot at the ARGUMENTS not the sarcastic (though true) remarks.

Anonymous said...

Rob Grano said...
"While an Arminian will conform his view of Scripture to his autonomous thoughts and emotions, a Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to Scripture."

More like, "A Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to his own reading of Scripture, which, of course, has nothing to do with his own thoughts and emotions, since he, as a completely objective interpreter, brings absolutely nothing to the text, but simply allows it to speak for itself."

6:44 AM

***********

I didn't know that you like to sleep with sheeps if it is cold enough? Odd.

Oh! You didn't say that? You actually blame me for not being able to *know* what your text said.

Run along, post modern man.

Rob Grano said...

"Oh! You didn't say that? You actually blame me for not being able to *know* what your text said.

Run along, post modern man."

To state that a reader inevitably brings something to the text with him makes one a postmodernist? Please.

Anonymous said...

To state that Calvinists don't think that readers bring something to the text . . . please.

If you're not post modern, then you admit that we CAN know the text. So what's the problem. Please.

Run along, irrelevant point maker.

Rob Grano said...

"If you're not post modern, then you admit that we CAN know the text. So what's the problem."

Please refer to the Saint-and-Sinner quote that I referenced. The implication that Calvinists somehow handle the text more "objectively" than other Christians is nonsensical, as is the further implication that because of this supposedly objective handling they have a more accurate interpretation of it.

Ilíon said...

Well, assuming that this Little Mouse is the same Little Mouse who imagines that pointing to the self-refuting nature of determinism is to be "still pushing that stupid argument that got shot to pieces way back," one cannot immediately discount the possibility that the Little Mouse just doesn't have to foggiest idea of what is referred to by the term "postmodernism."

Whatever that case may be in that regard, it seems clear to me that this particular Little Mouse is just out to yank chains.

normajean said...

Saint and Sinner says about John 6: according to Arminians, God is trying to "woo" as many people as possible into the kingdom, but this text makes it clear that He hardens some and softens others.

But not all of us (Arminians) take the position that the “all” in John 6 is a universal calling. Some of us read it like Walls and Dongell. See their piece in “Why I’m not a Calvinist.”

Victor Reppert said...

It seems to me that it is just a false dilemma to say that either the text of Scripture is perfectly analyzable and we can figure out to the nth degree exactly what it means, or postmodernism is true. I think Wesley was spot on: there are many passages of Scripture that are very difficult to penetrate on the part of people living two thousand years afterwards.

Robert said...

Hello Victor,

The John 6:44 passage makes the point that all who come to Jesus (which in the context of John 6 itself means that they have a faith response and put their trust in Jesus, eat his body, etc.) **must have been drawn**. You cannot come to Jesus/have a faith response, on your own, unless you are drawn.

Calvinists attempt to proof text from John 6, particularly v. 37 and v. 44 and they mistakenly **assume** that God **only** draws the preselected elect to come to Jesus. Their assumption is contradicted by the other text cited by Talbott, John 12:32, which says that God draws all men to himself (a text like other texts which Calvinists will seek to evade by saying that it just means “kinds” of men not all men; I once heard James White a calvinist apologist when a noncalvinist cited Jn. 12:32 try to argue that Jn. 12:32 should not be allowed to be used when interpreting Jn. 6:44 and 6:37, why not? If the same biblical author is involved it is from the same gospel and the issue concerns whom God is attempting to save, so in such a case we ought to be comparing scripture with scripture to derive our conclusions).

We know from other passages that not all men have a faith response to the gospel (cf. Matt. 25:31-46 the sheep who represent believers and the goats who represent nonbelievers each receiving eternal destinies, not all going to heaven for eternity). So what is the false assumption that Talbott has in John 12? He assumes (as do the calvinists) that whoever God draws will always come to Jesus in faith. So he concludes mistakenly that all will be drawn and so all will be saved. But there is a third option that can handle both of these truths (that one cannot become a Christian without being drawn; and that God draws all men through the cross) without difficulty.

The Arminian position and I believe the right one on this issue, is that only those drawn can come to Jesus in faith (Jn. 6:44), all men are drawn to Jesus (Jn. 12:32) and some come in faith and some resist God and reject Jesus in unbelief (Matt. 25:31-46). Calvinism is wrong in assuming that only the preselected elect are drawn by God, or are people that God wants to save (He says in other places that he wants to save all, and He says He loves the world, Jn. 3:16 which includes some persons who will never believe). God says in the OT that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. In the NT the apostle Paul when speaking to the philosophers at Mars Hill in Athens made an interesting statement:

“and He made from one, every nation of mankind [that is everybody] to live on all the face of the earth [that is all over the place] having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation [God predetermined what their territories would be] THAT [statement of purpose of this predetermination of their territories] THEY SHOULD SEEK GOD [the purpose being that all people should seek God], if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him [so God wants everyone to seek after him, to find Him and be in personal relationship with him, this verse says the opposite of what calvinism teaches; it involves predeterminism of certain events but not salvation, so why don’t we ever hear calvinists citing this verse? Especially when they are arguing for their conception of total depravity and their claim that no one seeks after God, did God **fail** in his stated purpose here in these verses?] though he is not far from each of us”. [Acts 17:26-27]

I guess the apostle Paul did not know his calvinism very well: why clearly say to Pagan philosophers at Mars Hill in Athens [at the time a “Mecca” for philosophers] that God set things up so that everyone from every nation could seek him and find him, if calvinism is true and he only wants to save the preselected elect so he **only wants them** to seek him and find him, he does not want all to seek him and find him?

Or could it be possible that what the bible says is true and calvinism is false?

Calvinists and Talbott are also mistaken in assuming that all who are drawn will become believers (that the drawing work of God cannot be resisted). Universalism is wrong in assuming that all men will be drawn and all will believe (while again the calvinists is wrong in assuming that only the elect are drawn). All will be drawn but not all will believe.

Here are the three alternatives that I have discussed here:

(1) Calvinist view = all drawn will come to Jesus in faith, and God only draws the preselected elect so only the preselected elect can be saved;
(2) Universalism view of Talbott = all drawn will come to Jesus in faith, and God draws all men, so all men will be saved:
(3) Arminian view = all will be drawn, not all drawn will be saved, only those who are drawn and have a faith response will be saved.

Robert

Robert said...

Victor wrote:

“It seems to me that it is just a false dilemma to say that either the text of Scripture is perfectly analyzable and we can figure out to the nth degree exactly what it means, or postmodernism is true.”

I believe we seek to interpret the biblical text as best that we can. I also believe the Wesleyan quadrilateral principle is a wise one (compare what the four things say about a given subject: what does scripture, reason, experience and church tradition say about a text?). Some scriptures are clear and easy to understand, some are not, and some are so difficult that there are zillions of theories on them. When it comes to salvation I believe the biblical texts are clear. Texts such as John 3:16 are clear and easy to understand unless you have a calvinistic agenda in which the bible texts have to be made to fit what the system holds to (not vice versa).

“I think Wesley was spot on: there are many passages of Scripture that are very difficult to penetrate on the part of people living two thousand years afterwards.”

Right, some are more difficult than others. And yet some are not that difficult. John 3:16 is easy and clear to understand and has been understood correctly for most of church history and across the theological spectrum (Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and Independents have all seen it to be teaching that God loves the world which means he loves for all of the people of that world to be saved so he provides Jesus on the cross for that world). The only ones who deny the proper meaning of John 3:16 are calvinists.

The children’s song that refrains: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the bible tells me so” is based upon texts such as John 3:16. Taking away the clear passages and making them obscure for the sake of a false system of theology is making a big mistake. That children’s song is false if calvinism is true.

Robert

Paul Manata said...

The funny thing about Reppert's "the verse is a mystery" maneuver is that it is at odds with a major part of his defense of my arguments in our debate:

The funny thing here is that this out grants my theodicy I used on you.

I maintain that your agreement with Wesley either forces you to be inconsistent in your arguments against me, or forces you to allow one of my main arguments to go through.

When I resorted to Skeptical theist arguments, resorted to mystery and the secret council of God, you responded:

REPPERT: "It seems we should prefer positions that offer something in the direction of an explanation over positions that offer nothing."

And,

REPPERT: "If you have one scientific theory that says "I have no idea why there are gaps in the fossil record" and someone else says "I have a way of telling you how they got there" the second theory has an advantage."

And,

REPPERT: "As I see it, there is an epistemic cost involved in appealing to mystery and unknown or unknowable reasons, and so you want to bring that pitcher in as late in the game as possible."

And,

REPPERT: "It's my contention, however, that the more you appeal to mystery, the worse it is for you epistemically. The more of an explanation you can have for suffering, the better your theology is, all things being equal."

That's enough.

So, it is my contention, that Victor's endorsement of Wesley offers evidence against his previous responses to my arguments to the effect that he must (a) admit my arguments are sufficient to answer his ethical objections to Calvinism, or (b) self-except himself from his own critiques.

Anonymous said...

"Please refer to the Saint-and-Sinner quote that I referenced. The implication that Calvinists somehow handle the text more "objectively" than other Christians is nonsensical, as is the further implication that because of this supposedly objective handling they have a more accurate interpretation of it."

I did refer to the quote.

Your response was to say, "Yeah, sure, like no one comes to the text with background knowledge."

That's when I threw in the jab about postmodernism (which ilion can't seem to grasp how my dilemma argument functioned). You denied postmodernism.

So, given that, what the heck does "more objective" have to do with "background assumptions?"

Are you denying that person A can be "more objective" than person B, even though *both* have "background knowledge?" It is not my claim that is nonsensical, it is yours. Since you deny postmodernism, you must deny that just because A has background knowledge like B has that A can't be more "objective" than B.

Victor rightly noticed the false dilemma. But it's not made by me. The false dilemma is "either no background knowledge and so objectivity" or "background knowledge and no objectivity."

So care to try again?

Victor Reppert said...

The less mystery you appeal to in Scripture the better, just like everywhere else. Pretending to understand something better than you actually can isn't much of an improvement.

Rob Grano said...

'Victor rightly noticed the false dilemma. But it's not made by me. The false dilemma is "either no background knowledge and so objectivity" or "background knowledge and no objectivity."

So care to try again?'

No, it wasn't made by you, it was made by Saint-n-Sinner. Read his quote, then follow his implications. Your beef's with him, not me. I'm in agreement with Victor.

normajean said...

I was hoping to get some feedback from my initial post. Thanks

Saint and Sinner said...

First of all, what I meant above is that when all is said and done and when these debates have run their course, the Arminian's last-ditch defense is that the Calvinist reading of the text would make God "evil," "a divine rapist," blah, blah, blah. The underlying motivation behind the Arminian interpretation is almost always emotion. That has been my experience. I never said that Calvinists are perfectly objective in their exegesis. That is most certainly not true.

Most Calvinists that I have talked to (in addition to myself) have said that when they came to the exegetical conclusion that Calvinism was true, they found it emotionally hard to accept at first but accepted it nonetheless. Eventually, that acceptance grows into a love for it once you understand it more and more. I find great comfort knowing that everything happens for a reason. All my suffering, all my friends suffering, all my persecuted brethren's suffering over seas... It all has a purpose. There is no gratuitous evil.

"But not all of us (Arminians) take the position that the “all” in John 6 is a universal calling. Some of us read it like Walls and Dongell. See their piece in “Why I’m not a Calvinist.”"

I was specifically making a reference to John 12 and the Arminian use of it to take away the force of John 6. If you have an interpretation of John 6 that doesn't run off to John 12 and instead interprets John 6 within its own context, great!

Rob Grano said...

"Most Calvinists that I have talked to (in addition to myself) have said that when they came to the exegetical conclusion that Calvinism was true, they found it emotionally hard to accept at first but accepted it nonetheless. Eventually, that acceptance grows into a love for it once you understand it more and more. I find great comfort knowing that everything happens for a reason. All my suffering, all my friends suffering, all my persecuted brethren's suffering over seas... It all has a purpose."

And this is what I wholeheartedly reject, as it implies that God in some sense "needs" evil to bring about His will. As David B. Hart's discussion of Ivan Karamazov's objection points out, there is, in fact, no comfort in telling an abused child that his abuse has some ultimate purpose, and indeed, many abused children grow up blaming God, rather than thanking him for the great opportunity they were given to participate in his plan, as Calvinists would have him do.

Ilíon said...

Saint and Sinner: "First of all, what I meant above is that when all is said and done and when these debates have run their course, the Arminian's last-ditch defense is that the Calvinist reading of the text would make God "evil," "a divine rapist," blah, blah, blah. The underlying motivation behind the Arminian interpretation is almost always emotion."

The "underlying motivation" for *everything* human beings value is emotional. So, even if this latest accusation were actually true in all its parts, what of it?

And then, look at yourself:
"Most Calvinists that I have talked to (in addition to myself) have said that when they came to the exegetical conclusion that Calvinism was true, they found it emotionally hard to accept at first but accepted it nonetheless. Eventually, that acceptance grows into a love for it once you understand it more and more. I find great comfort knowing that everything happens for a reason. All my suffering, all my friends suffering, all my persecuted brethren's suffering over seas... It all has a purpose. There is no gratuitous evil."

The fact is, there *is* gratuitous evil in the world. All evil is gratuitous. But *you* have such an emotional repulsion to understanding this truth about the reality in which we find ourselves that you attempt to make the terms 'good' and 'evil' empty of content by making them equivalent, such that either may be equally applied to God and his actions.

In this regard, you (singular and collective) are really not much different than the typical 'atheist' who rails against God for all the gratuitous evil in the world ... and then, having "disposed" of God, "resolves" the problem by declaring that there are actually no such things as 'good' and 'evil.'


Saint and Sinner: "First of all, what I meant above is that when all is said and done and when these debates have run their course, the Arminian's last-ditch defense is that the Calvinist reading of the text would make God "evil," "a divine rapist," blah, blah, blah."

Calvinism (that which distinguishes 'Calvinism' from the rest of Christendom) is false. Period. Among the fundamental intellectual commitments of 'Calvinism' are things which we *know* are false about ourselves and things which we *know* are false about God. Eliminate these false committments from one's thinking, and one is no longer a 'Calvinist.'

Specific examples of the fundamental falseness of 'Calvinism:'
A) Human beings are not morally free agents: we do not "possess" (one really must put quote marks around that "possess") "libertarian free will;" we do not initiate our acts, but rather mechanically and deterministically react to the specific nexus of the causal-web in which are entangled.
B) God is a liar ... or, at best, he is *unable* to meaningfully and sensibly communicate with his own creatures. God repeatedly tells us that he loves all of us, he repeatedly tells us that he does not desire that any one of us be lost ... he is a Jealous God, exceeding *jealous* in his love for his creatures ... he repeatedly tells us that he loves us even in our active rebellion against and hatred of him, and via some of Jesus' parables he gives us to understand that had only one of us been in rebellion against him, he'd still turn his creation upside-down to rescue that lost creature. But NO! 'Calvinism' must have it that all of these repeated declarations are either blatantly false or (at best) so idiosyncratically expressed (God doesn't understand the common meaning of our common words! ... And, moreover, never seems to figure out that we keep understanding these things backwards!) that we must needs use a special dictionary to understand what God tells us.


If there are 'Arminians' making "last ditch" efforts with you Internet Calvinists, the problem is that they are trying to be "nice" above being honest. And you (too many of you), are not above taking advantage ... dishonest advantage ... of that error in their part. Essentially the same dynamic plays out when (some) Christians try to be "nice" with the typical Internet Atheist (see here for a recent mild example).


Saint and Sinner: "The underlying motivation behind the Arminian interpretation is almost always emotion. That has been my experience."

In the Age of Oprah, some 'Arminians' (though, 'Pelagians,' or at least 'semi-'Pelagians' may be more accurate) reason poorly. That is a problem of human nature, not of the doctrines which distinguish 'Arminianism' from 'Calvinism.'

Ilíon said...

[oops! the tail-end of my prior post is missing]

But similar cannot be said of 'Calvinism:' the problem with 'Calvinism' is 'Calvinism' itself. 'Calvinism' *begins* with false committments: even with perfectly logical reasoning, it cannot help arriving at false conclusions.



Rob Grano (to the Anonymouse): "Please refer to the Saint-and-Sinner quote that I referenced. The implication that Calvinists somehow handle the text more "objectively" than other Christians is nonsensical, as is the further implication that because of this supposedly objective handling they have a more accurate interpretation of it."

Saint and Sinner: "I never said that Calvinists are perfectly objective in their exegesis. That is most certainly not true."

Perhaps, if you don't really understand how to use the English langueage, you ought to lay off sarcasm and satire? Else, you are likely to come across as either ignorant or dishonest. For, after all, your eminently amusing claim was that:

Saint and Sinner: "While an Arminian will conform his view of Scripture to his autonomous thoughts and emotions, a Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to Scripture."


Also, for another amusement, you seem to have forgotten that ... if 'Calvinism' is true ... then it is logically impossible for any human being to possess "autonomous thoughts and emotions" or autonomous anything-at-all.

Robert said...

Hello Ilion,

You’ve made some good points against calvinism. A really good one was your response to Saint and Sinner’s comments which were:

"While an Arminian will conform his view of Scripture to his autonomous thoughts and emotions, a Calvinist will conform his thoughts and emotions to Scripture."

You responded:

“Also, for another amusement, you seem to have forgotten that ... if 'Calvinism' is true ... then it is logically impossible for any human being to possess "autonomous thoughts and emotions" or autonomous anything-at-all.”

That’s a keeper.

If S & S is correct that God predetermines and controls all things including our thoughts and emotions, then it is impossible for anyone, Arminian or otherwise, to have “autonomous thoughts and emotions” (because then there is no autonomy, everything is exactly what God wants it to be, including everybody’s thoughts and emotions). So what is S & S talking about? If he is right about his calvinism then there can be no **autonomous** thoughts (so he is wrong about Arminians have autonomous thoughts and emotions). On the other hand if he is right about some having “autonomous thoughts and emotions”, then his calvinism is wrong. Nice work Ilion.

Robert

Ilíon said...

Robert: "You’ve made some good points against calvinism. A really good one was your response to Saint and Sinner’s comments ... Nice work Ilion."

Well, thanks. I'm trying to be "nice," along with trying to be bluntly honest, with S&S ... he or she doesn't seem to me to be an ass, such as some of these other Calvinists are being (and as nearly every 'atheist' I've ever encountered has been).

I'm a computer programmer ... I earn my daily bread employing a specialized sub-set of "formal logic" (I'm not trying to claim any sort of expert authority ... I have no training in "formal logic," and when certain people switch from making their arguments in English to making them in symbols, I just want to scream). But, anyway, by both temperment and training, I notice and hone in on contradiction.


No human being can actually believe 'Calvinism' to be true, because no human being can actually believe 'determinism' to be true. Or, to be a bit more precise, those few human beings who do *actually* believe 'determinism' to be true are typically regarded by the rest of us as "insane."

So, since no 'Calvinist' *ever* really believes Calvinism to be true, it's not really that difficult to find a self-proclaimed 'Calvinist' contradicting his intellectual committments without even realizing he's doing so. Though, the important thing is how they deal with the information when it's pointed out.

steve said...

robert said...

“If S & S is correct that God predetermines and controls all things including our thoughts and emotions, then it is impossible for anyone, Arminian or otherwise, to have ‘autonomous thoughts and emotions’ (because then there is no autonomy, everything is exactly what God wants it to be, including everybody’s thoughts and emotions). So what is S & S talking about?”

In context, I think he’s talking about a couple of things:

i) Theological method. Reppert and others have been starting with their intuitions or preconceptions. However, an autonomous methodology is not at odds divine determinism. That would commit a category mistake by confounding methodology with causality. So your argument is invalidated by a fallacy of equivocation. Theological method isn’t the same thing as metaphysics.

ii) He’s also talking about sin. And sin isn’t contrary to the decree. God has decreed that sinners rebel. They think they’re rebelling against his will, yet their rebellion was decreed.

In neither respect is this at odds with Calvinism. Try again.

Ilíon said...

Steve: "[various silliness]... Try again.
"

Please don't take this wrong (but you will, and NormaJean certainly will) ... but, respectfully: You're a liar.

normajean said...

Illion, NormaJean isn't keeping tabs on your comments. I think you're a fine thinker who is frustrated with various behaviors. Write as you wish? Just know that attitude doesn’t change hearts or minds. I know this very well as I’ve made all sorts of mistakes on these boards. Conversation isn’t easy. I piss against the wind (forgive the picture) quite often. Struggling with the flesh I suppose.

Moving onward, I'm waiting for some good comments on John 6. I want someone to explain to me why this section is used to describe how believers "get saved.” Perhaps some of you see (or are reading into the section) an ordo salutis. I don’t know. What I see is Christology (Jesus identifying Himself with the Father to unbelieving Jews). Comments?

Ilíon said...

NormaJean: "Illion, NormaJean isn't keeping tabs on your comments."

Now that's a bummer, 'cause Ilíon tries to keep tabs on NormaJean's comments.


NormaJean: "Just know that attitude doesn’t change hearts or minds."

Nothing I say or do will change hearts and minds. They are not robots and I the programmer; if they change, they will change themselves.

But, I can perhaps *shame* them into changing themselves ... or give them the "excuse" to be exactly what they want to be in the first place.

Really, haven't you ever read the Gospels without wearing the Victorian-era "Gentle Jesus, Meek And Mild" glasses? If you think I'm a big ol' meanie, you ought to take a gander at how Jesus treated non-serious persons. Of course, he had the advantage of seeing into the heart, whereas I must rely upon inference; I may be wrong.


NormaJean: "Moving onward, I'm waiting for some good comments on John 6. ..."

I'm less into telling others what to believe than into telling them what not to believe (and why). I tend to be more concerned with the process of reasoning than with the specific results.

To put it another way: I'm not aware that I have a relevant opinion and when I do not have an opinion I try to keep silent.


NormaJean: "I want someone to explain to me why this section is used to describe how believers "get saved.” Perhaps some of you see (or are reading into the section) an ordo salutis. I don’t know. What I see is Christology (Jesus identifying Himself with the Father to unbelieving Jews)."

Yes, the specific audience is 1st century Jews (both believing and not) ... but, much of the language is universal ... "no man," "anyone who" and so forth.

normajean said...

Illion, do you see an order of salvation? I don't.

Robert said...

Hello NormaJean,

“Moving onward, I'm waiting for some good comments on John 6. I want someone to explain to me why this section is used to describe how believers "get saved.” Perhaps some of you see (or are reading into the section) an ordo salutis. I don’t know. What I see is Christology (Jesus identifying Himself with the Father to unbelieving Jews). Comments?”

I was looking over this thread and I really like John 6 and have preached and taught on it often. So I would be glad to answer your questions here, but not exactly sure what you mean here. Could you clarify a bit?

Robert

PS - I looked at your profile and it mentions two things of curiosity to me. First, you have an interest in **inmates**. I work with inmates may I ask why you have this particular interest? Second, you mention that your favorite movie is POINTBREAK. It is also one of my favorites as well. I love surfing (at least I used to, before family commitments came along). Some in the prisons have nicknamed me “Bodhi” after the character so named in that movie (that's another story). There are differences though between me and the movie character including: he is shorter than I am, he looks to be about 5 ft. 10 while I am 6 ft. 4; he is much smaller than I am, I have been playing sports and hitting the weights for years; and he is better looking. :-)

Ilíon said...

"PS - I looked at your profile and ..."

I don't believe I have ever looked at NormaJean's profile. Apparently, I've taken the screen-name "NormaJean" at face value, so to speak.

Robert said...

Ilion wrote:

"I don't believe I have ever looked at NormaJean's profile. Apparently, I've taken the screen-name "NormaJean" at face value, so to speak."

And how many guys do you know that are named "NormaJean"? :-)

Robert

PS- people will go by lots of other names for various reasons, recently I dealt with an inmate named "Jesse James", not his real name, but usually male persons have male "names". I am assuming that "Normajean" is some sort of fan of Marilyn Monroe, or something like that! :-)

normajean said...

I'm on my way to Carmel Beach, Ca with my wife (I'm a man), so I don't have time to comment much. Jonathan (Jon) is my real name. NormaJean is actually the name of a Christian hardcore band. Sounds a bit like an oxymoron, eh (Christian hardcore)? Anyhoo, The inamte deal is that I work in education at a Prison in California (I won't mention where--the internet has strange people). I enjoy working with that population for some apparent reason. I've been on break this week which has been nice. They can where you out emotionally. i love point break (that's my era -- I'm in my 30's). My favorite line from that movie is when Keanu tells Bodhi, "you gotta go down, it's gotta be that way!"... ""people trusted you and they died." ... Bodhi replies: "you know I can't handle a cage man..." lol.

Gotta run. John 6 is Christocentric! Jesus wants all to come =)

normajean said...

I'm orginally from Huntington Beach, Ca. That explains the surfing.