Thursday, March 12, 2009

Plantinga on TULIP

Plantinga claims that the Five Points of Calvinism is a misnomer.

34 comments:

unkle e said...

I'd love to read that but the link doesn't get me there - says I don't have permission to access. Any alternatives??

Perezoso said...

A Calvinist mob boss, the mocker of the American revolution (see Jefferson's notes on Calvinism for hints). Sort of like the dreck who post at DI.

Rob G said...

I know there are "modified" Calvinists (3- or 4-pointers), but it always seemed to me that if one accepted the T (total depravity), then U, L, I, and P logically followed. Plantinga is implying otherwise, which is interesting, but not much more than that from my perspective, which is that of a non-believer in T.

normajean said...

When Al said he was a Calvinist, I knew he meant something different than what neo-Calvies mean when they use the term.

normajean said...

I’ve heard Al’s consent to Total Depravity but he didn’t appear to draw the further conclusion that we are not able to cooperate with the work and instigation of an active Holy Spirit.

Robert said...

Hello Rob G.

“I know there are "modified" Calvinists (3- or 4-pointers), but it always seemed to me that if one accepted the T (total depravity), then U, L, I, and P logically followed.”

It depends upon what **conception** of depravity you are talking about. Personally, I take “depravity” in the way Plantinga describes it: it does not mean that people are as bad as they can be (that is a misconception of the doctrine), what it does mean is that sin has effected every aspect of man’s being. Put simply the effects of sin are ubiquitous. That conception of “depravity” can be supported biblically.

On the other hand, some calvinists/necessatarians take “depravity” to mean that because of or due to the effects of sin, no person is capable of having a faith response to the gospel message (unless they are first regenerated, and of course according to them, God only regenerates those whom he unconditionally elected to salvation).

Some necessatarians have rightfully pointed out that perhaps rather than calling their view “total depravity”, it should more properly be called “total inability” (i.e. due to the effects of sin people have a total inability to have faith unless regenerated first). I think they are right about this, “total inability” better represents their view than “total depravity”(which often confuses people, again seen in the statement:”does that mean that each person is as bad as they can be?)

Now Rob if a person endorses and accepts the latter conception of depravity (as “total inability” to have faith unless first regenerated), then I think you are right, holding to “T” logically entails the rest of the points of TULIP as well.

“Plantinga is implying otherwise, which is interesting, but not much more than that from my perspective, which is that of a non-believer in T.”

According to the citation of Plantinga, Plantinga is operating from a different conception of depravity. In my opinion, a more biblical conception. It seems to me that those who take the bible seriously, whether they be Catholics or Orthodox or Protestants or Independents, agree on the doctrine properly conceived (i.e., that the effects of sin are universal and effect every aspect of man’s being). Seen in **this** way, Rob G. do you hold to this conception of “depravity”?

Robert

Robert said...

Hello Normjean,

“When Al said he was a Calvinist, I knew he meant something different than what neo-Calvies mean when they use the term.”

The “neo-Calvies” as you call them, hold to what in my previous post I designated as the latter view/conception of depravity (i.e., the doctrine of “total inability”). Plantinga does not hold to this conception of depravity, so he does mean something different than they do when he uses the term.

“I’ve heard Al’s consent to Total Depravity but he didn’t appear to draw the further conclusion that we are not able to cooperate with the work and instigation of an active Holy Spirit.”

If a person holds to “total inability” then they believe that “we are not able to cooperate with the work and instigation of an active Holy Spirit”, because of our inability to have faith UNLESS REGENERATED FIRST. Once regenerated, then the person has the ability to cooperate with the Spirit.

In addition to their conception of depravity they also have a conception of spiritual death which makes the person **like a physically dead corpse** (unable to respond to, understand, cooperate with, do anything in response to the work of the Spirit).

Since Plantinga does not hold the “neo-Calvie” view of depravity, he can believe that people are “able to cooperate with the work and instigation of an active Holy Spirit.” And in this belief he is in agreement with Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Independents that believe that while we are effected by sin, this has not completely wiped out our ability to respond to the work of the Spirit who seeks to lead people to Christ for salvation.

Robert

Rob G said...

Seen in **this** way, Rob G. do you hold to this conception of “depravity”?

If that's all it means, then yes, although I'd qualify that by rejecting any conception of it that required a monergistic, rather than a synergistic understanding of salvation.

Thing is, if you don't hold to the "stricter" version of T, don't U, L, I, and P cease to be necessary?

Mike Darus said...

Ther are also "softer" versions of U, I, and P. I have not heard of a good way to defend L especially in light of I John 2:2.

normajean said...

Yes, Robert, I believe you said things well.

Robert said...

“If that's all it means, then yes, although I'd qualify that by rejecting any conception of it that required a monergistic, rather than a synergistic understanding of salvation.”

So we agree, we hold to what I take to be the biblical conception of depravity. We also agree that a synergistic understanding of salvation is the right way to go.

“Thing is, if you don't hold to the "stricter" version of T, don't U, L, I, and P cease to be necessary?”

Interesting that you should say that.

Some years ago I was talking to a prominent calvinist/necessitarian who is a co-host of a weekly radio broadcast. I made the same point that you make here, his response: Yes, the key to establishing calvinism (in his mind TULIP since in his mind calvinism and TULIP are synonymous) is to prove total depravity. Once you prove **that** then everything else follows necessarily” (note - the guy who said this is a former college debating champion, so he knows a bit about arguing!). Now consider, if he is correct, then logically speaking isn’t the converse also true: refute this conception of depravity, and doesn’t the whole house of cards come tumbling down? :-)

If you want to attack the necessitarian system that holds to TULIP, a good strategy is to go after their conception of “T” (show that the bible does present that all have sinned and that all are effected by sin and that the work of the Spirit is necessary to overcome these effects of sin, that one can be biblical without holding to their conception of “T” that in fact their conception of “T” is not biblical). Topple **that** and the whole thing shows itself to be the house of cards that it is, as it falls.

Robert

Anonymous said...

LOL

Robert said...

The book of Proverbs has as one of its main themes how a young man should conduct himself wisely. Part of the instruction is the sad but real fact that there are certain people which are designated as “fools”. Various things are said about them, so that you can be aware of them and their ways, but one verse which comes to mind here and which I have seen to be true (including in the context of on-line discussions) is Proverbs 29:9 (“When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.”).

Now what this means is that what you can **expect** from a fool is not reasoned argument and civil behavior. No, the fool is not going to respond in that way. What you can (and should) expect is that the fool will react to what is said with either anger (“rages”) or ridicule (“laughs”)not reasoned argument or civil behavior.

Ironically, some of these “fools” are quite knowledgeable about formal principles of logic (including the fallacy of ad hominem = mock or ridicule the man instead of rationally dealing with his argument, and believe that that will somehow make their argument false or go away). This logical fallacy is to be distinguished from taking a position to its logically absurd conclusion to show the falsity of the position. In one (argument of reductio ad absurdum) you actually engage the position to show its problems, in the other (the fallacy of ad hominem) you simply ridicule and mock the other person, as if **that** refutes their words. If someone automatically responds with ridicule rather than a reasoned argument, then their actions suggest that Proverbs 29:9 applies to them.

Robert

Perezoso said...

Ezra Pound saw the Reformer in a rather cheap section of the Malebolge, next to like some decaying British bankers and aristocrats, etc.

Perezoso said...

In one (argument of reductio ad absurdum) you actually engage the position to show its problems

No kidding. Let's see a theological argument, ONE theological argument, with true premises, ie confirmed (synthetic, or empirical if ya prefer), or axiomatic (tautology of some sort/mathematical). For that matter, hate to break the news to you, but Aristotle was sort of passe by like 1900, if not by Descartes (and I doubt you know modus ponens from su mamacita). Plantinga did not invent logic (and modal logic itself still a matter of debate. Quine does not allow it).

Tu eres el tonto

Arguments are only as good as their premises; the forms fairly trivial. That applies even to the POE chestnut.

Victor Reppert said...

Perry: You are the best argument for Proverbs 14:1 that I have seen in a long time.

Perezoso said...

Let's compare our GRE scores, Doc. You did take them, right? Or GPAs.

Respond to the question: I defy one theist on DI to provide a necessarily true theological premise (not the little syllogisms).

Victor Reppert said...

A fool need not be stupid.

philosophyandbubblegum said...

This article is taken from a book entitled, Philosophers Who Believe which I highly recommend; it's a good read while the house is quite and you have time to reflect on the personal testimonies of some great Christian philosophers (Alvin Plantinga among them).

philosophyandbubblegum said...

Victor,

A fool need not be stupid if he is a fool for Christ.

philosophyandbubblegum said...

Perezoso,

I'd try to meet your challenge but since you used, "Aristotle", "Descartes", and "Quine" in the realm of two short sentences, I think I may be outmatched here. I was, however, disappointed that you did not include Frege and Russell among your name-dropping!

Perezoso said...

Typical spineless response/evasion. Then even Aristotle above the usual sunday schooler.


Also amusing how defensive the SSer's of DI get when someone dares question their faith in Jeezuss.

normajean said...

Perezoso, you're behaving like an upset howling thug. Who'd want to deal with you?

Perezoso said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Perezoso said...

Ah had any of the biblethumpers read something about the history of europe (catholic, and evangelical), not to say early America you might think otherwise.

No thugs. Jefferson's no thug. Jefferson, quite well read in British empiricists, simply perceived the madness of Calvinist predestination, not to say the bogus puritanical aspects, ala original sin/depravity. The Founding fathers (yes, not quite as precious as Acquinas, or yr Rev. Billy Sunday) were nearly all opposed to calvinism, and evangelical wingnuts. That didn't change until like after the civil war (due to wingnut dixie protestants, mostly).

normajean said...

For reflection, what do you suppose your latest comment accomplished? Are you new to life?

Rob G said...

Perezoso, you seem to have an arthropod up your anus about Calvin. Fine. But not everyone here is a Calvinist. Do you really think all Christian thought "defaults" to that of the Genevan reformer? As I said on another thread, as an Eastern Orthodox I have no truck with Calvinism whatsoever, yet you continue to throw the "C" word around like everyone here was Dutch Reformed or something.

You strike me as a person who's read a lot of philosophy and history, but are woefully deficient in your knowledge of Christian thought and the history of theology.

In any case, anyone who'd compare Aquinas with Billy Sunday is either completely clueless or a loudmouthed boor (or both).

Likewise this masterstroke of idiocy: "That didn't change until like after the civil war (due to wingnut dixie protestants, mostly)." A simple read of one book, Mark Noll's "The Civil War As a Theological Crisis," ought to disavow you of this ludicrous notion.

normajean said...

Perry, AND MOREOVER (I'm joking but serious), you don’t seem so reflective really or at all self critical. You probably don’t know too much philosophy. My bet is that you’re one of those folks we giggle about in phil class—the girl who knows enough philosophy to be dangerous. Am I right?

Perezoso said...

It sounds like you have Billy Sunday up your anus. You make some queer cracks, be prepared to rumble: not everyone who objects to Xtianity Inc is with the same sex people.

Capiche, punk?

Ill knock yr ass out, like legal and proper. Marquess of Queensbury, in a ring.

You don't know jack about post-bellum south, or American history. All biblethumpers, or masons, and klansmen--nearly all protestants as well (baptick, prezbo, metho-dist, etc). Jeff. Davis, biblethumper extraordinaire himself thought the "papists" and freethinkers were as blame as northerners.

Perezoso said...

Put yr blog online, or email , punk. set it up, Norma.

Yr the mockery of Kant--and empiricism-- like all sunday school little punks

capiche, punk puto?

Victor Reppert said...

Perezoso: You're banned. This site gets good atheist representation. We don't need you.

normajean said...

FLUSH!

Anonymous said...

hey Norma grrl, perezoso called you a punk. Looks like that was the correct assessment, puto.


You have no arguments, Victor. Just spamming in bad theological chestnuts

Jim S. said...

I think "pervasive" describes the effect of sin better than "total." The latter leads to precisely the problem Plantinga gives; C. S. Lewis apparently understood it that way, and rejected Calvinism as a result. But "pervasive" doesn't make a nice acronym. Maybe if we change some of the others, we can make it spell POLYP.