Steve Hays has responded to me on Triablogue, with his usual tone and his usual tendency to read into the text all sorts of things I didn't say. I won't comment on his tone, except to say that no matter how strong his case is, he certainly makes Calvinism unattractive by the way he argues. But I am far more concerned with his eisegesis of my arguments than with whatever names he might call me.
In the debate on Calvinism, I would have to admit that the Calvinists have more debating endurance that I have, so I may not end up tracking down and responding to all the responses on the Reformed side, which will no doubt result in a claim of victory for their side. I will admit, further, that I have learned a great deal about how Calvinist think, and how they set up and understand the issue. As you know, my background is in philosophy; I have studied biblical scholarship some, and theology some as well, but that is not my area of specialization by any means. I hope I have managed to advance some considerations on the basis of my specializations that have been helpful to critics of Calvinism. However, there are some aspects of the critique of Calvinism that are better left in the hands of other than in mine.
I hold that since I find Calvinism to be morally repugnant, you need an overwhelming biblical argument to persuade me of it. That means, when it comes to the Calvinist proof texts, there has to be no logical way for the passage to be understood as teaching anything but Calvinism, and the anti-Calvinist texts have to provide no evidence whatsoever against Calvinism. I know you think this shows a lack of respect for biblical authority, but to me it's just good Bayesian epistemology.
I don't think you have to be a biblical positivist in order to accept biblical authority, or even to accept inerrancy. It's just a fact that no one comes to the Bible as a tabula rasa to be written upon by Scripture, however much they might pretend otherwise. We just have to agree to disagree on this one.
We also have to consider the possibility that a full case for or against Calvinism is not given by Scripture.
Steve says: In order to make an exegetical case for Calvinism, two and only two conditions must be met.
a) Calvinists must furnish prooftexts which, on the best interpretation, positively teach Calvinism.
b) Calvinists must show that other passages are neutral on Calvinism.
Now exactly what we mean by the "best" interpretation is going to be open to debate. Does it mean that P (the biblical passage) entails Calvinism? Or that P is more probable given Calvinism than given non-Calvinism? And what does it take to show that passages are neutral on Calvinism? Does it mean that they just have to be logically compatible with Calvinism? Or the truth of the statement is a likely given Calvinism as given non-Calvinism?
But now let's get down to what I really want to talk about.
Before you start name-calling, you might want to be a little more careful in "exegeting" what your opponent has said. What I was defending was the doctrine of divine compassion for all persons, including those alienated from God. Let's call it DUC, for Doctrine of Universal Compassion. Now the doctrine of universal compassion is held by some Calvinists, apparently including some as high up the Calvinist food chain as Carson and Piper. Bnonn seems to buy it also. I was also very explicit in saying that, up to this point, I am not claiming a proof that Calvinism is false. Now I did read your reply to Walls and Dongell and it looks as if you don't hold the doctrine of universal compassion. But some Calvinists do, and in order to provide an complete argument against Calvinism, these people have to be answered. In short I am doing the same thing that you are here, I am showing what would ordinarily be thought of as "Arminian" interpretations of these texts are in fact held by Calvinists. So let's get the issue right. The issue is the doctrine of universal compassion, not Calvinism itself. Are we clear on this?
Further, did I ever deny the doctrine of divine judgment? No.
Yes, there's going to be an argument that looks like this.
1) The doctrine of universal compassion is clearly taught by Scripture, and is therefore true.
2) If the doctrine of universal compassion is true, then Calvinism is false.
3) Therefore, Calvinism is false.
But since I'm an inductivist, you probably need a "probably" or two in there. But so far all I have defended is 1. You can be a Calvinist and accept 1. That's going to involve you in some inconsistencies, on my view, but it harmonizes better with Scripture than its denial.
But can we please correctly identify the topic under discussion?